Welcome to another exciting installment of Spacemon, the tale of a Pokemon TRPG campaign! This is the fourth 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!
“His name is Doctor Sorin Young.”
Images of a thin, dark haired man displayed on the holotable screen. Four people stood around the table in the briefing room: the Captain, The Inspector, the Knight Commando, and the Lieutenant.
The Knight Comando continued speaking. “Until recently, he was working on a secret project cybernetically bridging humans and Pokemon together.”
“Hold on, Major,” Inspector Gorovich interrupted. “Are you saying he was making hybrids?”
“No,” Major Lebedenko answered. “Young’s experiments only involved cybernetic neural connection between brains and high level grafting. They weren’t true hybrids in the sense you’re thinking of. Still, I trust everyone here understands the potential of what augmenting the capabilities of Dark type Pokemon onto people could mean.”
Unspoken nods and glances shifted around the table. It meant immunity to psionics. A grim silence filled the room with that thought.
“So,” Lieutenant Anastasia Long cut through the quiet tension. “What … happened with this project?”
“Doctor Young’s initial tests were … messy,” the Knight Commando shuddered inside his armored suit. “The results were mixed. He claimed that if he could use actual soldiers in his tests, their stronger physical and mental conditioning would dramatically improve the end result. That is when I was sent in by Command to observe and advise them regarding his request,” his helmet amplified voice took on a darker tone. “I was … not impressed, to put it lightly. And I refused to put good men and women through that procedure. So I recommended cancelling the project in my report, and Command agreed. With his work over, the Doctor packed up his personal effects and was sent away, back to a normal life of obscurity. Or so we thought.”
“And now he’s gone rogue,” Captain Zheleznaya concluded, glowering at the image splayed across the screen. “And he’s continuing his work using our people.”
“So it would seem,” said the Knight Commando. “So, what is your plan to deal with this, Captain, now that you know the truth? Do you have orders?”
“You’re asking for my orders, Sir?” Zheleznaya almost blushed.
“Really, there’s no need for you to call me ‘Sir’ anymore. You are the ranking officer here, after all,” Lebedenko chuckled. “Or did the Navy go and change its officer ranks while I wasn’t looking, Captain First Rank Deva Zheleznaya?”
“Well … I,” she stammered before clearing her throat and composing herself, standing just a little bit straighter. “My first inclination would be to lure this man in then surround him, crushing him and preventing any escape.”
“Should be easy enough,” Inspector Gorovich spoke up. “We already know his motive, the Major here says he wants soldiers. And we have a solid enough idea of his hunting patterns by now.”
“Except we still need to locate his captives. And as much as I like the thought of beating it out of him,” Zheleznaya countered. “A proper interrogation would take time. Time I’m not sure our people have.”
“It looks like what we need is a way to trick him into leading us to his lair,” Anastasia commented, anxiously tapping her trigger finger on the table as she felt all the eyes in the room turn toward her. “I mean, what better way to find everyone than to follow him, right?”
“That is actually a very good idea, Lieutenant,” Zheleznaya commended the sniper. “Inspector, I trust you have experience tailing a target?”
“Sure. But I can do you one better,” he replied. “The Police Force has a couple quantum microtrackers stashed away for just such an occasion. These things are great; they never lose signal and they’re virtually undetectable unless you have the receiver. It’s just a question of how you want to stick it on him.”
“Trying to covertly plant it on him in the middle of a fight would be a mistake. He would be too alert not to notice,” Zheleznaya judged, then pondered for a moment. “But we can use them to create tracer rounds in the armory here. The principle would be the same as the tracking properties on our starships’ magnetic weapons; we hit him and he can no longer hide. We will have to be careful, however: the shot must not be enough to kill or incapacitate him, and yet it must still wound him enough that he can’t simply remove it before returning to his base of operations.”
“I can make that shot, Captain,” said Anastasia, her hand motioning back to her stowed sniper rifle.
“I know, Lieutenant. I’m counting on it.”
“Great,” the Inspector said, then turned towards Major Lebedenko. “Now all we need is bait for the trap.”
The Knight Commando nodded back at him. “I will do it.”
“Are you sure … Major?” Zheleznaya resisted the urge to say “sir.”
“Think about it,” Inspector Gorovich told her. “As an ultimate soldier, he’s exactly what this guy wants. And he’s high profile, too, bound to get his attention, I’m betting. Plus I imagine it’ll be personal for him, since the Major here is the one who shut down his project in the first place.”
“He is right, Deva. I will not run from this. Besides,” the Knight Commando pounded himself on the chest, his mechanized fist resounding with a clang as it hit the armored plate. “You don’t need to worry about me, I can handle whatever monsters he can throw at me. And if that’s not enough, I know I have you watching my back, so I’m not worried. I have faith in you.”
Zheleznaya opened her mouth, but no words came out, so she instead simply nodded and saluted.
With the plan outlined, the four of them dispersed from the briefing room to begin preparations. As the official ranking officer, Captain Zheleznaya was the last one out of the room, pouring over her datapad for a good engagement location, when she looked up and saw Isolde Gudsky standing just outside, waiting for her.
“Look, I know you asked that I stay here. But I also know that something strange is going on,” the Champion said to her. “And whatever it is, I want to help.”
The Captain walked briskly down the hallway with the Champion following not too far behind. She was certainly a persistent one.
“You may be a talented Pokemon battler,” Zheleznaya began, before Isolde interrupted her.
“The most talented Pokemon battler. Give me a chance.”
“But you’re still just a civilian. I will not allow it.”
“I can take care of myself and I can carry my weight, just let me help you.”
“That may be,” Zheleznaya stopped walking and turned to face her. “But this is a real fight. This is nothing like a regulation match. It’s difficult, and dangerous.”
“Are you saying a championship match is easy?”
“Well, no, but … Isolde,” she placed a hand on the young woman’s shoulder. “You are a Champion of our people. You didn’t just defeat a man in a Pokemon match last year, you gave your country a very much needed win. You became a symbol, a hero to all of us. And if something were to happen to you … I could never forgive myself.”
“When you put it that way,” Isolde said, giving the Captain hope that this would be the end of it. “Wouldn’t braving the danger to help you, no, help my country be the heroic thing to do?”
“That’s not what I … bah!” she removed her hand. “Why must you be so difficult? Why are you so insistent on putting yourself in harm’s way?”
“I think … I’m bored,” came the Champion’s response. “But I don’t mean like here in your outpost right now!” she was quick to add as the Captain drew a deep breath. Isolde walked over to the nearest window, pressing the palm of her hand against the cold, still glass as she watched the blizzard rage on outside. “What I’m trying to say is, I trained really hard out there, dedicated a portion of my life to get to the level I’m at now. When I walked onto that stage at the Championship, I thought it was going to be the defining battle of my entire life. I thought it was going to be a real challenge ... but it wasn’t. I don’t even mean to disrespect Mr. King, he’s honestly probably the toughest trainer I’ve ever fought … but the fight just felt hollow. Almost like just another day of training. So,” she turned from the window to face Zheleznaya, her voice flat. “When you tell me how difficult and dangerous this is going to be, you’re not deterring me. You’re getting my hopes up.”
“Alright,” the Captain sighed. “You want me to give you a chance? Follow me.”
“The coffee here is even worse than at the precinct,” Inspector Gorovich muttered as he sipped the hot liquid down.
“You should try the tea. It’s a little bit better.”
“Don’t mind if I do,” Gorovich said, pouring himself a mug. He had just finished contacting the force to request the tracking devices. Now he was just waiting with the Lieutenant and the Major for the trackers to be delivered to the base; it would have been a waste of time for him to go all the way to the precinct and back to fetch them, and he really didn’t want to go out in that snowstorm if he could avoid it. He shivered at that thought, and put the hot tea to his mouth. “Hmm … not bad. Thanks for the tip, Long.”
“You can just call me ‘Lieutenant’ or Anastasia,” she shifted uncomfortably. “Everyone else does.”
“Alright, Anastasia,” he shrugged, then turned to the Knight Commando. “So, Major … are you gonna take off that power suit at some point, or are you just gonna wear it the whole time you’re here?”
“I’m stuck wearing it for the time being, I’m afraid,” came the large man’s reply. “Without the proper facility and tools, it can take hours to remove and re-equip. It’s not uncommon for us to stay suited up for the entire time when we deploy on longer missions.” He patted his hand on the painted white plate. “I’ve been sealed in here for four days, now. Another day won’t be much of a difference. Still, I will be quite grateful for a warm bath once this is done!”
“Can’t imagine it’s very comfortable in there. Is it hard, holding back all that strength so you don’t accidentally crush everything you touch?”
“That’s part of it,” Major Lebedenko answered as he regarded his mechanized gauntlets. “But there’s more to it than that. Wielding this much power has a price; it can just as easily crush the wearer if you’re not prepared. It is a very physical burden that requires us to have incredible strength and stamina even without the armor. It’s why we train the way we do. If you are not strong enough in body and in spirit, it will break you.”
“Damn,” Anastasia whistled. “That sounds hardcore.”
The three were quiet after that. The Inspector continued sipping his tea before deciding to break the silence with another probe directed at the Major.
“You have a history with the Captain.”
“I’ve known her for years, if that’s what you mean, yes.”
“Then maybe you can help me understand her. She said something earlier today, and I can’t seem to make heads or tails of it. It’s been bugging me. Call it an old detective’s itch, but I swear I’ll lose sleep over it at some point.”
“We’re about to perform a dangerous sting operation, engaging in combat with horrific abominations,” the Knight Commando replied. “And this is what you’re worried about?”
“Pretty much, yeah.”
“Fair enough I suppose, Inspector,” the Major laughed. “Very well, what would you like to know?”
“Well, she mentioned something about her uniform and feeling exposed in plainclothes, something about her armor … didn’t make a lick of sense. She said it was a ‘military thing,’ but,” he explained. “I don’t get it. I served my time back in the day, and I still have no idea what she was on about. Seemed important to her, I could gather that much. I was hoping you might have some insight on the subject?”
“Her armor? Hmm,” Major Lebedenko nodded. “Yes, that would make sense.”
“Ahh, of course,” Anastasia commented sarcastically. “Perfect sense. I’ll admit you have me curious as well; the Captain is normally really tight lipped about this kind of stuff.” She leaned in closer to listen.
“Well, in a way, it is a military thing,” Lebedenko continued. “But it’s not something a common soldier would get either. That’s something one of us would say,” he stated, placing his hand on his chest. “You see, I first met Deva years ago when I was training recruits into the Knight Commando program; when I trained her.”
Anastasia’s eyes went wide. “No way,” she whispered.
“Are you telling me she used to be a Knight Commando?” the Inspector asked incredulously. “Shit, I’ve never even heard of a woman being a Knight Commando, is that even allowed?”
“It’s never been done before, true,” the Major admitted. “As I said, the physical demands of the program are immense due to the hard requirements to operate the suits. Most of our recruits are already very large men, and not all of them make it through the training. Still, that didn’t stop her; she was certainly determined. Her application raised a few eyebrows, but she had already passed the special forces prerequisite programs and met the initial standards, so we approved her as an … experimental case. She deserved the same shot as everyone else.”
“I take it Zheleznaya didn’t successfully make that shot, in the end, considering she’s here now,” the Inspector observed.
“No, she didn’t,” the old Knight Commando confirmed, lowering his head. “She was certainly driven; she trained harder than anyone. And it showed. In the end though, it wasn’t enough. There was a graduation mission in the armor and she … did not make it ...” his voice grew quiet and somber. Then he lifted his head and leaned forward. “But she came close.”
“You sound like you really respect her,” was all Gorovich could say.
“I do. So to answer your original question,” the Knight Commando said as he concluded his tale. “Our armor is more than merely protection or an outfit. The armor is an honor and a symbol, Inspector. She may not have passed the program, but make no mistake, Deva still understands and feels its weight. I imagine her rank as an officer is the closest thing she has to that honor now. And her uniform is her symbol of that honor.”
“I think I understand now.”
Isolde Gudsky stood on one end of the ring in the base’s training room. Eager to prove herself, she held her hand on her belt anticipating Captain Zheleznaya’s opening move.
The Captain, of course, stood on the other side of the ring. Her stance was firm and proud, and in her uniform, she seemed to Isolde like a beacon of discipline, casting a solemn gaze over everything in her long shadow. “Remember, this is a full contact fight. I won’t do anything to seriously harm you more than we can quickly take care of in the infirmary ...”
“Same. My Pokemon are all trained for nonlethal attacks only,” Isolde interrupted her to reply.
“But I will target you personally during this sparring battle. Likewise, I expect you to do the same. Do you accept this?”
“Yes,” Isolde answered, placing her front foot forward and adopting her traditional Pokemon battling stance. “Come at me.”
Without warning, Zheleznaya suddenly released a Pokemon, a Lucario. “Vira! Attack!” The Pokemon dashed forward to close the gap and began to charge up an attack while Zheleznaya herself began circling around in the opposing direction.
Fortunately, Isolde already had her hand on her Pokeball and was quick to react. “Zima!” she shouted. “Mirror Coat!” The Glaceon leapt forward as the Lucario threw out an Aura Sphere, glowing as it took the hit. Although it was a Super Effective hit, the Champion’s Pokemon took very little damage from the attack, as evidenced by the small amount of energy it redirected back at the Lucario. The Glaceon then landed on the floor, surrounding itself with a flurry of snow and hail, becoming a white haze on the battlefield. Isolde could feel a chill in the air as its power levels began increasing and it used the miniature hailstorm around it to heal the scratches inflicted by the opponent.
The Lucario seemed equally unfazed at this point. “Vira!” yelled the Captain as she kept moving. “Get in close and hit it hard! Focus your power!” The Pokemon began focusing its aura into its fist.
“Zima,” Isolde addressed her Glaceon, deciding not to give the Lucario a chance to finish its move. “Snap Freeze.” Unleashing all the power it had quickly built up into an icy blast, it hit the target dead on with a heavy blow to disrupt its focus on its attack, but more importantly, froze it in place.
“You’re focusing on the wrong target!” Zheleznaya suddenly shouted at her, breaking into a sprint to get within striking range of the Champion. The thin layer of ice encasing the Lucario, meanwhile, was already beginning to crack. Zheleznaya threw a right hook, connecting squarely with Isolde’s chin.
Her mind now racing at the thrill of fighting two combatants at once, Isolde commanded her Pokemon to use Blizzard, utilizing the advanced training techniques she had worked on to quickly and precisely direct the area of effect. Her heart raced alongside her mind for just a moment as she wasn’t sure whether or not Zima would actually intentionally target a human, as she had never before thought to incorporate such a thing into their training together. Thankfully the Pokemon seemed to understand the imminent threat to its master, however, and arced the Blizzard wide to hit both the Captain and her Pokemon. Isolde quickly dove back to avoid being hit by the blast herself.
Like her Pokemon before her, Captain Zheleznaya found her body mostly encased in ice, though the Lucario was just finishing shaking off the last of it. “Vira!” she called out while struggling to free her arms from the frozen casing. “Focus on the trainer with Aura Sphere!”
Crap, Isolde thought to herself. There was little point to trying to dodge a move like Aura Sphere, as it was an attack that always hit its intended target. She decided her best course of action was to just get as far away from either of them as possible and throw up her arms in front of her chest and head to brace herself at the last moment. She felt a sharp, hot pain as the ball of energy impacted against her arms. She panted deep breaths; it had sure hurt a lot, but she was pretty sure nothing was broken yet. Looking up, Isolde saw the enemy trainer and Pokemon fan out, probably trying to encircle her as they continued their approach.
“Nothing like one of your regulation matches, is it, Isolde?” Zheleznaya called out to her. “You can always call it quits if the heat on you is too much!”
“Hah,” Isolde wiped the small trickle of blood from her mouth. “Not too different from fighting wilds! Zima, Snap Freeze!” Zheleznaya may have presented herself as a threat, but the Champion knew it would be best to take out the source of those unerring ranged attacks quickly. The Glaceon shot another blast of icy power at the Aura Pokemon, hitting its mark once again.
“Fight through the pain, Vira!” the Captain ordered as she brushed off the last of the ice trapping her in place. “Recover your energy with Drain Punch! Hit that Glaceon with everything you’ve got!” The red Lucario’s spiked fist connected hard with the side of the Fresh Snow Pokemon’s face through the hazy cloak of hail … and the Glaceon’s head didn’t even budge, absorbing the blow with its incredible defense and giving a negligible amount of health back to the Aura Pokemon.
Isolde couldn’t help but sigh. It was time to finish this. “Zima, Snap Freeze again.” With a final blast using the swirling energy that had been building up around it over the fight, it took down the enemy Pokemon once and for all. With it off the battlefield, the only threat left was ...
“You still have to deal with me!” Captain Zheleznaya roared as she charged Isolde, tackling her and pinning her to the ground. “What are you going to do now?”
Thinking quickly, Isolde decided to risk having her Pokemon attack a target so close to herself. “Zima, use Blizzard! Do whatever it takes to freeze her!” The Glaceon obeyed, attacking Zheleznaya and encasing her body in another, thicker layer of ice. The risk paid off as Isolde was left untouched by the move, feeling only a few tiny pieces of ice crystals on her skin. She then tried to move and pick herself up, but found herself still stuck in the Captain’s frozen clutches. The Champion struggled to wrench herself free, but she was not strong enough to push the other woman off of her. Meanwhile, the Captain also struggled in vain against the ice constraining her. Eventually they both stopped struggling, and simply looked one another in the eyes. “Well,” Isolde said. “This is awkward.”
“This is not a stalemate,” Zheleznaya grunted. “Eventually I will break free of this ice and finish this duel. I have you as my prisoner until then”
“Perhaps, but,” Isolde replied, then beckoned her Pokemon. It came dutifully prancing over to her side. “You still have to deal with Zima.” The Glaceon growled threateningly at the Captain.
“It would seem you have me in a checkmate,” Zheleznaya relented after a moment of consideration. “Fine. I suppose you can look after yourself in a fight well enough.”
“Does that mean you’ll let me help you, then?”
“Yes, you can come with us on the mission. I knew a Champion’s Pokemon would be impressive, but I must admit that seeing it for myself is entirely different. Can you have it unfreeze me now?”
“That’s … not a thing,” Isolde laughed. “We’re stuck together until you thaw.”
“Wonderful,” the Captain groaned.
Suddenly they heard the door open. “Inspector says the trackers should be arriving any—” the Lieutenant announced as she entered the room. “What is going on here?!”
“We have a new squad member on the team,” Zheleznaya answered. “Now stop staring and help get me out of this.”
“Right away, ma’am.”
“And wipe that smirk off your face! That’s an order!”
“In short, Major, I believe we now have a sufficient cover story for your presence here,” Captain Zheleznaya spoke up to the Knight Commando. “Isolde Gudsky will be making an impromptu visit to Nolnaya City, and you are here as her escort and protection.”
“That will certainly get people’s attention,” Major Lebedenko replied. “As well as the attention of one particularly deranged doctor, I presume? A clever ploy.”
“It may be a cover, but it’s also the truth,” Zheleznaya asserted. “Isolde here showed me she can manage a fight, but she’s still just a civilian. That’s why I want you to be her shield during this operation.”
“I can do that,” the man said confidently, then turned towards the Champion to show off the decal on his massive shoulder pad. “There’s a reason I wear the image of a guardian angel on my armor; you’re in good hands, I promise.”
“Thank you,” Isolde smiled and nodded back at him.
“So, I hear you just managed to best Zheleznaya in a brawl with just a single Pokemon … and you convinced her to surrender. No small task,” the Knight Commando chuckled, turning his gaze back to the Captain. “Tell me, Deva, do you still spar against your Pokemon?”
“When I have time.”
“Good to know you’re not getting soft without me!” he let out a hearty laugh, then turned his eyes back again towards Isolde. “Color me impressed, then. I’m quite curious how you’ve managed to train your Pokemon to be so strong, if you’re willing to give up your secret. Maybe I’ll even learn a thing or two to help toughen up the new boys back at Camp Svyatogor!”
“I honestly doubt it,” Isolde giggled alongside the veteran Knight Commando. “While I could probably tell you all about diet, physiology, strategy, and whatnot … honestly? The most important thing for a trainer is learning how to wield your Pokemon as an extension of yourself. And I suspect you might have that part down already, quite literally, in fact,” she explained, eyeing the Aegislash on his hip.
“True, we Knight Commandos fight more directly with our Pokemon than most,” drawing his Pokemon, Uriel, and holding it reverently with both hands, contemplating. “I believe our enemy tonight also follows this philosophy, to a very dark and twisted extent. How much have you been told about our situation?”
“She knows the basics. Anastasia can fill her in on the minor details in the armory,” she waved the Lieutenant over. “While you’re working on the tracer rounds, get Miss Gudsky ready for the operation.”
“Right,” Anastasia saluted. “Come on, let’s see if we can find a tactical vest in your size,” she said to the Champion, leading her out of the room towards the armory, leaving Zheleznaya alone with Lebedenko.
Zheleznaya was eventually the one to break the silence. “So, how is the latest batch of recruits at Camp Svyatogor? Do you think they will all earn their armor?” The casual ease with which she asked the question belied the disquiet just underneath the surface.
“We’ll see. There’s one or two who have been seriously struggling so far, and I don’t know if they’ll make it past the halfway mark at this rate. But I’ve been proven wrong before.”
“I know,” Zheleznaya choked. “And I’m sorry. You believed in me, and I—”
“That’s enough, Deva,” Lebedenko placed a large, mechanized hand on her shoulder. “You have never let me down.”
“But I failed. You said I would go far, and that I would make history and … and I proved you wrong. I failed.” There were no tears. She had long moved past that point over the years since that day, but there were still times like this when the raw shame of it still burned inside her.
“But you have gone far. You don’t give yourself enough credit. Look at—”
“Don’t give me that,” Zheleznaya snapped at him, causing him to remove his hand. “Don’t tell me how proud I should be, how ... commendable it was to have almost tasted victory! That is honestly the worst part … receiving this sugar-coated praise when the truth is, my best just wasn’t good enough.”
“That’s not what I was going to say,” the older man said calmly. “Look at how far you’ve come since then. Captain, First Rank,” he gestured to her naval officer’s uniform. “You’ve done well for yourself. I hear Command was most impressed by your officer tactical aptitude examinations. There are a lot of people who would envy you right now. And if that’s not enough for you,” he pulled out an object from one of the small storage compartments on his armor, something that appeared to be a broken pendant of some kind, and showed it to her.
“What is this?” she asked, taking it into her hands to examine it.
“It’s … well, it used to be this big old crucifix, just an old trinket my mother gave to me when I was young.
“Really? It looks … destroyed.”
“Funny story, back when I first enlisted my mother told me it would keep me safe, and I wore it mostly just to humor her. Then one day, while we were still stabilizing the annexed territories, someone shot me with a hunting rifle. And wouldn’t you know it, this old thing did keep me safe: just barely stopped the bullet, this silly little good luck charm ended up saving my life that day. All but shattered from the impact, though, this is what’s left of it.”
“That’s incredible. What did you do to the man who shot at you?”
“I actually managed to talk him down after that, if you can believe it. He was just a panicked civilian, really. I just told him if he dropped the weapon and hunkered his family down in the basement, I’d make sure the rest of my unit left them alone. Couldn’t even blame him, honestly. This was back during the Cenov administration, just after the war, and things were … darker in those years than they are now, if you ask me.”
“Not a whole lot of people talk about that subject ...” Zheleznaya observed.
“Well, they should,” Lebedenko folded his arms as much as his mobility allowed in his armored suit. “It’s important to own your past so that you can learn from it and be better. That’s why I want you to have this.”
“I couldn’t,” Zheleznaya attempted to hand the memento back to him, but the Knight Commando kept his arms closed. “Are you sure?”
“Positively,” he asserted. “It already took the bullet for me. It’s served its purpose and I’ve since learned my own lesson from it. But I believe it perhaps still holds a lesson for you.”
“And what lesson might that be?” she asked.
“Look closely at the material it’s made of.”
“It looks like … a metal of some kind,” Zheleznaya studied it closely. “It’s—”
“Iron,” Lebedenko nodded. “It’s unrefined iron. A brittle thing. You can see how even just a single impact completely cracked it. It’s weak now, but if you blast iron with enough heat, if you throw enough fire and force at it until it melts completely … with all that trauma you can forge this piece of iron into something strong. Into a thing of steel. You’ve come a long way so far, Deva Zheleznaya. And you will continue to go a long way farther. In fact,” he let out a warm laugh. “With your potential, you’ll probably make Counter Admiral any day now, I just know it. I’m not saying it won’t be easy, and I’m not saying it won’t be painless … but I know you will learn from the painful parts of your past and become the person that I know you were always meant to be. Because I have faith in you.”
Zheleznaya looked down at the iron piece in her palm as she recognized the raw iron that smoldered within her soul. She said nothing.
“Now come, the others are probably waiting for us,” he motioned. “I won’t ask you to calm down, I know you better than that. Just focus your energy on the task at hand: now the hunt begins.”
Snow fell steadily down upon the rooftops of Nolnaya, collecting atop the buildings. Anastasia sat in it, completely invisible underneath her camo blind save for her frosty breath as she set up her sniper rifle. Settled in, she sent out her Whimsicott and patted it on the head. It shuddered in the cold.
Gudsky and Lebedenko were leaving the old concert hall now, their ostensive public appearance having concluded. Anastasia watched as they made their way deeper into the adjacent alleys. Event security was focused only on guiding the small crowd of fans out and back through the main avenue, leaving few eyes watching the dark complex.
Or so it seemed, with the others hiding nearby in ambush.
Captain Zheleznaya and Inspector Gorovich crouched across the alleyway from one another in the concealment of the shadows. They had gone over the plan a hundred times by now: wait for Doctor Young to take the bait and attack with his experiments, move Gudsky and Lebedenko back to lure them in further, then counterattack from concealment to defend their comrades and light up the area while the Lieutenant up top lined up the shot.
Right now, they were still on that first step. The wind howled over the sound of any approaching footsteps their enemy might have made, and between the darkness and the flurry of snow in the air, they could not see more than a few meters in front of them without turning on their high powered lights. Fortunately the low visibility cut both ways: while Major Lebedenko remained as prominent as ever in his massive Knight Commando armor, the Inspector and the Captain would remain unnoticed until it was time. The Captain may have felt wrathful, but she was also patient.
Not long after she started to wonder if the Doctor had heard the news they had put out to bait the trap, Zheleznaya saw a number of shapes moving past them. They were but blurs to her eyes in these conditions, but she could tell they were each larger than a normal person. As they passed she smelled the faint scent of stale blood and bile, and if she listened hard enough she could hear their groans and growls over the wind. She suppressed the urge to shout out a warning to her former mentor, trusting the Knight Commando to handle protecting both himself and the Champion for at least a few moments. She heard the man’s heavy, mechanized footsteps over the snow as they fell back, and waited for the signal.
“Get behind me!” Zheleznaya, in her mind’s eye, could clearly see him drawing his Aegislash. “They will get no further!”
And there was the signal.
Zheleznaya let out a roar as she leapt from cover, turning her flashlight to its highest setting and shining it on the enemies.
That was when she saw them.
They were beyond grotesque, as nothing the Major nor the man they questioned had previously said about them could have prepared her for the sight of them. They were each a person and a Pokemon, with too many limbs and too many screeching and groaning heads, some of which held faces that were all too human, twisted in rage and pain. It was like looking at a nightmare stitched together in a slaughterhouse as opposed to a proper laboratory; Zheleznaya could see places where they had literally been stapled and stitched together, with thick, unsightly cables running between their many skulls. The nearest monstrosity turned to face her, it’s main torso appearing mostly to be that of a large Pokemon, with a human head and spinal cord implanted into its back, and human arms cybernetically fixed alongside its massive paws. Zheleznaya guessed the Pokemon was perhaps a Bewear, although the bent and broken shape of the thing made it difficult to tell for certain.
“Now!” she cried out, shutting her eyes. A flood of light washed in from Major Lebedenko’s power armor, illuminating the dark alleyway. The Captain turned away then opened her eyes, allowing them to adjust as she checked to see if there were any more enemy contacts behind them. She saw two: a woman with a Weavile’s upper body crudely fused with her abdomen, and a man with an extra pair of fiery arms and legs connected to his torso and the head of an Infernape implanted where his throat would have been, displacing his human head back and out of her sight.
“Guess we found Mr. Moroi’s missing Infernape!” the Inspector grimly called out. He reached for his Pokeball and then for his sidearm. “Watson! You’re up!” he said as he sent out his Murkrow, then began aiming his pistol.
Zheleznaya sent out her own Pokemon after drawing her weapon, the Lucario landing in a fighting stance as it hit the snow. She imagined the Champion had likely already sent out her Glaceon.
“You think these Pokemon still feel type weaknesses?” the Inspector asked her. “Watson! Use Sky Slash on … whatever the hell that is.” He pointed his pistol at the Infernape abomination, then fire three shots. The Murkrow followed suit, attacking the target and dealing what appeared to be a moderate amount of damage in the process.
“Good thinking! Vira!” the Captain commanded. “Attack the enemy behind us!” The Lucario obeyed, charging up an Aura Sphere to throw at the Weavile aberration. She then turned to face the lumbering Bewear monstrosity herself.
It advanced, raising a massive paw to strike her down, but the Captain knew how to fight foes who were bigger and stronger than her. She ducked low to the ground as it began to lunge and charged forward, tackling its forward leg. The topheavy opponent lost its balance as its two left arms came down, at which point Zheleznaya jumped to the side, preparing to climb onto its back as it came tumbling down. She took a step onto its back and fired a couple of shots into its fur. Immediately one of the human arms disconcertingly swiveled around to grab her ankle and yanked, threatening to throw her off balance and knock her down as well. Sensing the beast beginning to pick itself back up, she elected to fall forward, dropping her gun to grab onto the fur along the back of its neck with both hands. She held on as it stood up, clenching her grip tight enough to dig her nails deep into the skin beneath its fluffy exterior. She saw the human head flail around agonizingly, shaking the cable connecting it to the Pokemon’s brain. Releasing her grip with one of her hands, she reached for that cord and grabbed it, then pulled hard. It was fixed tightly, however, hardly budging. She secured her grip on the wire and then, pressing her grappled foot firmly against the beast’s shoulder, pushed off against it as hard as she could, yanking the cable back with all of her might.
There was a rip, a spark, and a tear. Both of the monstrosity’s heads screamed in pain and confusion as it stumbled forward, letting go of Zheleznaya’s leg and dropping her into the snow below. She then rolled onto her arms and legs and reached her hand to where she had dropped her gun. She aimed it at the waving ursine head and unloaded the clip at it.
The beast fell to the ground, twitching as the human parts flailed around.
Taking a few heavy breaths, the Captain picked herself back up and looked around to see how the others were faring. On one side, the Major had formed an effective wall using both his armor and his Aegislash, Uriel, alongside the Champion’s Glaceon, preventing the monsters facing them from gaining an inch of ground. On her other side, the Inspector was losing ground but dealing damage to the other two abominations. His Murkrow was proving to be a more effective combatant than the last time Zheleznaya had seen it battle, and her own Pokemon was demonstrating its ability to fight while its trainer was too occupied to otherwise command it properly, focusing its attention on the woman with the Weavile in her stomach. Zheleznaya saw her fall to her knees after being winded and bloodied by a powerful punch.
As the woman hit the red snow, Zheleznaya noticed someone standing far behind her at the other end of the alley, meekly hiding half of his body around the corner as he spied on the encounter. He looked like just a plain human, with no Pokemon parts attached to him; completely normal looking, save for the night vision goggles and the lightly bloodstained lab coat he wore.
“There he is!”
Anastasia heard the Captain call out. She quickly scanned the area, moving her eyes back and forth along the nooks and crannies of the dark streets. The Lieutenant had seen the fight break out, but bided her time rather than cover them with sniper fire just as they had all discussed earlier. She spotted the Captain amidst the chaos through the scope of her rifle, noted the direction she was looking, then followed her aim along until she found the man she was looking at.
“Hello, there,” she mused quietly. “I do believe it’s time for your medicine, Doctor.” She took her time lining up the shot, making sure to get a good feel for the bitter cold wind. Anastasia felt her Whimsicott brush up ever so lightly beside her, offering a helping hand of moral support.
Lieutenant Anastasia Long took the shot.
A gunshot rang out clear through the chill air. Captain Zheleznaya watched the Doctor stumble as it hit him deep in the shoulder. She unconsciously began slowly advancing toward him. Suddenly, a second shot whizzed by, this time flying by inches away from the man’s head, judging by the impact mark on the wall behind him. He jerked his head up, fearfully looking for the source of the gunfire aimed at him. Wearily, he backed up a few paces, then pulled out some sort of device from his bloodied lab coat and pressed a button, then turned to flee.
One by one the remaining monstrosities around them began attempting to disengage, however the fierce Knight Commando behind her gave no quarter, instead continuing to cut them down, although some of the others managed to limp away, receding into the snow and shadows.
The Captain clenched her fist as she watched Doctor Young get away.
He would not escape them for long.
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!