Welcome to another exciting installment of Spacemon, the tale of a Pokemon TRPG campaign! This is the third installment of a mini-series that was written concurrently with the final volume, but it has been inserted at the appropriate point in the story. You can get caught up on our previous adventures here!
Arlon stepped off the crowded mag-train into the pleasant night air of Harmonia. Unlike the slums he had been in on his last visit to this planet, this part of the megatropolis world benefited from high quality air filtration to keep the skies clear of smog for its richer inhabitants. This shit wouldn’t happen back in the Confederacy, the Genevan mercenary thought as he walked along the walkway bustling with nightlife. Unlike the Alliance, the Geneva Confederacy provided clean air for all its citizens.
After several minutes, Arlon arrived at a bar with a large neon sign out front. “This must be the place,” he said as he entered. The Red Suns leader walked down a flight of stairs into the main room, then surveyed the crowd. Several people were seated at the bar, but most of them were scattered around at the various tables, enjoying the music of the jazz-punk band playing that night. This wasn’t Arlon’s kind of place, but this was where his potential new pilot wanted to meet.
Eventually, Arlon spotted a young man with a short red mohawk sitting alone at a table in the corner, sipping a beer. That must be him, Arlon reasoned. He sat himself down in the seat across from the man and locked eyes with him. “You Matt Suzuki?”
“The one and only,” the young Alliance man responded. “I take it you’re Arlon Jett? I hear you need a pilot.”
“Well, look no further. I’m your guy.” Arlon detected a hint of arrogance in his voice.
“Not so fast, mate,” Arlon told him. “Why should I hire you?”
“I think my record speaks for itself, pal.” Matt paused to sip his beer before continuing. “Top of my class at the Federation Naval Academy, and I’ve worked with mercs all over the Galaxy.”
“If you were the top of your class, what the bloody hell are you doing here?”
“What, you think I want to spend my time flying a bunch of military stiffs around? Fuck that shit, man. Why be a Federation pilot when I can make four times as much working freelance? The merc life is just so exciting.”
“I’ll give you that, mate, but with skills like that, people should be lining up to hire you.”
“Yeah, well, my last employer didn’t seem too keen on keeping me around. What did he say again? Oh, right, ‘fucking asshole,’ I believe, were the words he used.”
“So, what you’re saying is that you’re difficult to work with?”
“I guess you could say that,” Matt answered, a slight smirk on his face. “Look, man, I get paid to fly ships, not to be anybody’s friend. If you’ve got a problem with that, go find someone else. If not, when do I start?”
“Right away, mate. I can tell you’re at least as good a pilot as I am, if not better. That’s all I need. You can be the biggest fucking prick in the Galaxy, as long as you get the job done.”
“I can tell that we’re going to get along,” Matt said. He extended his hand and was met with a firm handshake from Arlon.
“Welcome to the Red Suns, mate.”
“So, you may be wondering why I’ve called you here today.” Arlon glanced around the Corsair’s war room at his small, handpicked team for the Red Suns’ upcoming operation on Harmonia.
“Well, clearly not to stand around looking pretty,” Matthias Antoniou, the Red Suns’ computer specialist, commented.
“Speak for yourself, pal,” Carmen Martinez shot back. The Alliance woman gave the hacker an irritated glance as she spoke.
Arlon knew that Carmen’s fiery temper wouldn’t mesh well with Matthias’s laid back, joking attitude, but the pair, who were some of the Red Suns’ leader’s more recent acquisitions, both had skills that made them the best choices for this operation.
“I meant no offense, my dear,” Matthias replied, attempting to sound charming, but finding little success.
“Alright, enough chatter,” Arlon told them. “We’ve got business to discuss.” The Red Suns’ leader stepped forward and pressed a button on the holotable. The image of a large skyscraper appeared. “ASI Consolidated,” Arlon continued. “The Alliance’s largest corporation that no one knows what it actually does. They get rich by taking other people’s money and… doing shit with it. If there’s money to be made, you can count on them trying to get a piece of the bloody action.”
“Let me guess, we’re going to steal some of that money, aren’t we?” Matthias asked.
“Of course, mate,” Arlon answered. “All those credits are going into the pockets of rich assholes who are worth more than the entire Sinai Ascendancy, so why not snag a bit of it for ourselves? And that’s not even considering the shady business practices and exploitation. Since Jonathan Pierce took over as CEO a year or so ago, that shit’s only gotten worse. I think we’re perfectly justified in ripping these bastards off.”
“I like the way you think, boss,” Carmen chimed in. “I hated putting up with this crap growing up, so it will be so satisfying to stick it to these guys. What’s our play?”
“The plan is relatively straightforward,” the Red Suns’ leader explained. “Their headquarters is here on Harmonia. All we need to do is sneak in and access the mainframe in the building’s basement.” Arlon pointed to the building displayed on the holotable and the image focused in on the subterranean levels. “My sources indicate that all their credit investments flow through there. The hard part is getting inside.”
“When is it ever not the hardest part?” Carmen asked.
“Good point, but we’re not going to worry about that just yet,” Arlon continued. “Matthias, I’ll need you to whip up something to divert credits back to us. The more undetectable, the better.”
“Not problem,” the Athínian hacker responded. “You get me inside and those credits are as good as ours, and they will be none the wiser. I just need a bit of time to prepare some software.”
“Excellent,” Arlon told him. He then turned his attention to Carmen. “While he handles that, the two of us will scope the place out. You cover the outside of the building, look for any potential entry points other than the front door. I’ll check inside and see what the security’s like.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Carmen agreed.
“Alright, let’s get to work then.”
Arlon looked around the walkway as he and Carmen approached ASI Consolidated’s headquarters in Harmonia’s financial district, keeping an eye out for any potential threats to the mission. If all went well, they would be in and out without being noticed, so any security out here wouldn’t be an issue.
“Alright, let’s split up,” the Red Suns’ leader said once they were near the front entrance. “Check the outside as well as you can, while I head inside to have a look. We’ll meet back here in fifteen minutes.”
“Got it,” Carmen acknowledged. The Alliance woman nodded and headed off.
Arlon glanced at her as he made his way toward the entrance. Normally, he would have picked Petra for a job like this, but she was currently on a special assignment in Romanov space with Kiril. Carmen had proven herself to be quite capable since Arlon had recruited her, and she had the right set of skills to make her the obvious choice to fill in for Petra on a job like this.
Stepping inside the building, the first thing Arlon looked for was security, and there was plenty of it. There was quite a bit of open space in the lobby, but the security desk was positioned to have a good vantage point of the entire room. He also noted at least six different cameras in the lobby alone. An automated Pokedex ID check system on the far side blocked the way to the lifts, and Arlon was pretty sure an additional one was needed to access certain floors.
The Alliance sure does love their bloody security, Arlon thought as he gave the lobby a second glance. Getting in is gonna be tougher than I thought. He took a seat on the comfy couch in the corner of the lobby, and continued to monitor the lobby in case he missed something. Once the fifteen minutes were up, he headed for the door.
Outside, Arlon spotted Carmen leaning against the side of the building. He nodded his head and motioned for her to follow him away from the building, “Any luck?” Arlon asked as they walked.
“Nope,” she replied. “We’re gonna need to go through the front door.”
“That’s what I thought,” Arlon told her. “But even that’s going to be tricky. The security’s tight as hell in there. We’re going to need to nab some Pokedexs or have Matthias whip something up.”
“I can help with that,” a voice spoke up from behind.
Arlon turned to see a green-haired teenaged girl standing just behind them. The Red Sun’s leader instinctively grabbed her arm. After all, she had been eavesdropping.
“Hey, let go!” the girl shouted in protest.
“How long have you been listening?” Arlon demanded.
“Long enough to know you need my help.”
“And what the bloody hell makes you think that we need help from some kid?” Arlon asked, tightening his grip slightly. “Now what am I gonna do with you? You’ve become a security risk just by talking to us.”
“Just let go, man!” the girl shouted as she attempted to tug her arm away. “I can have you thrown off this planet!”
“I find that hard to believe,” Arlon told her. “Just who do you think you are, anyway?”
“My name is Naomi Pierce,” the girl replied, shoving her Pokedex in Arlon’s face with her free hand. “My dad runs this freaking company! So just let go and listen to me!”
“So, you’re the CEO’s kid,” Arlon observed. “Well, alright then, little lady.” He released the girl from his grasp and she immediately yanked her hand away. Arlon had to admit, she was quite tenacious. “I’m listening.”
“So, let me get this straight,” Arlon said after listening to Naomi’s proposition. “Your father is the CEO, and you actually want to help us steal from him?”
“Like I told you, I hate him,” the girl replied indignantly. “I hate everything he stands for.”
“No offense, kid, but I have a hard time believing a spoiled, rich brat like you wants to sabotage her source of money,” Carmen retorted. Having come from poor Alliance family, she despised people like this girl.
“Hey, just because I come from a rich family it doesn’t mean that I don’t have morals!” Naomi protested.
“Now, now, Carmen,” Arlon warned her. He then turned back to the teenager offering to help with the mission. “My friend here does have some valid concerns, though. What reason could you possibly have for helping us?”
“We lived on a Sinai planet for a while,” the girl explained. “My dad was there doing business. Living there opened my eyes to the horrible things his company does, the way they exploit people, the way he exploits people. When we came back here, I realized that everyone I know is a terrible person.”
Arlon was typically cautious about taking outside help, but he had a feeling that this girl was being sincere. “Alright, I think we can trust you,” the Red Suns’ leader told her. “However, I am curious about what you get out of all this.”
“Well, I guess since you’re willing to trust me, I can trust you,” the girl replied. “There’s something I want from you in return.”
“Of course she has an ulterior motive,” Carmen chided. Arlon shot her a stern look in response.
“Alright, what do you want?” Arlon asked the girl.
“I want you to copy some files for me,” she answered. “Shady business deals, off-the-books investments, anything that can help me expose this company. I want to bring them down.”
“That’s a lofty goal, kid,” Arlon told her. “We’ll get the files for you, but, even then, you’re going to have a tough time.”
“I know my way around the Spacenet; I’ll think of something.”
“I’m sure you will…” Arlon extended his hand, and gave the girl a firm handshake. “Alright, Naomi, you’ve got yourself a deal.”
“Listen up,” Arlon said to the team gathered in the Corsair’s war room. “I want to make sure we’re all on the same page.”
“Yes, yes, I would very much like to know what this girl is doing here,” Matthias replied, glancing over at Naomi.
“She’s our ticket in,” Arlon explained. “Naomi here just happens to be the daughter of ASI’s CEO.”
“Oh, really now?” The Athínian hacker’s interest had been piqued.
“Indeed, mate,” Arlon confirmed. “She’s going to snag her father’s Pokedex for us. It will get us past the ID check and let us take the lift down to the mainframe. In return, we’re going to grab some files for her.”
“That shouldn’t be too hard,” Matthias determined. “It’s much simpler than continuously, and undetectably, skimming credits.”
“That’s what I like to hear,” the Red Suns’ leader responded. “Now, once we’re inside, we’ll make our way to the mainframe. Carmen and I will take care of any guards. Matthias, you will need to disable to cameras. Once we get to the mainframe, Carmen will guard the door while I keep Matthias covered as he hacks in. Once we get what we need, we get out as fast as possible.”
“Sounds like a walk in the park,” Matthias commented.
“If all goes well, mate, it should be. Now, let’s get moving.”
“So, why do you want to bring your dad’s company down so bad?” Carmen asked. She sat in the back of the Red Suns’ skycar with Naomi as Arlon flew it across Harmonia, back to ASI’s headquarters.
“Because the things they do are illegal, and no one else is gonna do anything about it,” the girl responded.
“And why would someone like you care?” Carmen asked. No rich girl she ever knew would even give a damn about something like this.
“What’s that supposed to mean? No… I get it, you think I’m just some spoiled brat. But I really care about this, you know. Back in Sinai, I met this girl who turned out to be the only real friend I ever had. She wasn’t like me… she was an orphan who grew up on the streets, but she had the biggest heart…”
Naomi trailed off. She reached up and clenched a necklace hanging around her neck in her hand. Carmen noted that it appeared to be some sort of Sinai religious icon.
“What’s with the necklace?” Carmen asked the girl. “You don’t strike me as the religious type.”
“She gave it to me,” Naomi explained. “She’s the reason I’m here now. Remember how I said my eyes were opened? Well, it’s because of her. She was the most amazing person I’ve ever met, but it was people like her that my father was there to take advantage of… That’s why I have to do this.”
“If she means so much to you, then where is she now?” Carmen asked. “What happened to her?”
Naomi’s expression became quite somber. “I made the mistake of leaving her behind… She was head-over-heels for me, but I tried to pretend I didn’t feel the same way about her because I thought I loved somebody else.”
“Ouch, that’s rough,” Carmen commented. She could tell she struck a nerve with the teenager.
“You have no idea,” Naomi responded. “When I told her, it devastated her. It drove her mad and she scared me away… I haven’t seen her since. Breaking her heart like that was the biggest mistake I ever made… If I could just go back...”
“I take it things with the other person didn’t go well?”
“She wasn’t the person I thought she was… Like I said before, when I returned home from Sinai I realized that everyone I knew was a terrible person. All the people I thought were my friends turned out to be… fake, spoiled, and manipulative. And I pushed the only real person in my life away...”
Naomi fell silent and turned toward the window. Carmen spotted a lone tear drip from the girl’s eye. She hated to admit it, but Carmen actually felt sorry for Naomi. At first she thought this girl was some spoiled brat, but now the Alliance mercenary understood why this girl was helping them.
Carmen turned her attention back to the front of the vehicle and listened as Arlon and Matthias discussed the plan. It wasn’t much longer until they arrived at their destination.
“Alright, you all know the plan,” Arlon said once he had parked the vehicle. “Naomi goes in first, and acquires her father’s Pokedex, which she will hand off to us on her way out.” He then turned his head to Naomi. “You ready, kid?” he asked the girl.
“I think so,” she answered. She opened the door and stepped out of the skycar.
“Good luck,” Arlon told her. “See you on the other side.”
“Think she can handle it?” Carmen asked. She knew that Naomi could be trusted at this point, but she still had her doubts.
“I wouldn’t send her in there if I didn’t think she could.”
Pokedex in hand, Matthias scanned the hallway as he followed Arlon and Carmen through the sublevels of the building. His cybernetic eyes identified the cameras for him, and each one he passed was quickly fed a loop of footage with a few quick button presses. Alliance security cameras aren’t very secure, the Athínian mused.
In fact, this whole building wasn’t as secure as it was cracked up to be. Getting in had been simple enough; once Naomi handed over her father’s Pokedex, Matthias had easily tricked the Dex scanner into thinking the Red Suns’ Pokedexes were all the CEO’s. He didn’t claim to be the best hacker in the Galaxy, but Matthias knew he had more than enough skill to have the run of this place.
Of course, there were the guards to deal with. But that’s why Arlon and Carmen were here. The boss had already choked out the guard outside the elevator without the man even noticing, and Matthias was sure that any others wouldn’t be a problem either.
“Alright, this is it,” Arlon said suddenly. The Red Suns’ leader put his hand up and motioned for the other two to stop. “Matthias-”
“Way ahead of you, boss,” the hacker interrupted as the door slid open. It’s like they aren’t even trying to keep anyone out, he thought.
“Good work, mate. Let’s get moving. Carmen, stand guard.”
“You got it,” the alliance woman responded. Matthias couldn’t stand her; she had no sense of humor. She was useful, at least.
The Athínian hacker followed Arlon into the room and took stock of what he was dealing with. He scanned the rows of servers until his eyes marked a suitable entry point. “There,” he said aloud, pointing the particular machine out to his boss.
“Plug in,” Arlon instructed him as he pulled a Pokeball from his belt. “I’ll take a look around and make sure there are no guards lurking around.” The Red Suns’ leader released his Golbat and stepped further into the room.
“Alright, let’s see what we have here,” Matthias said as he interfaced with the server. Lines of code sprang up on the hacker’s custom HUD he had designed for his eyes. He quickly parsed through it, and identified where he needed to inject his own code. One swift swipe of the hand across his Pokedex later, his credit skimming worm was in place.
“Worm’s in,” Matthias communicated across the Red Suns’ comm channel. “Now for the files.”
The hacker disconnected from the credit server and scanned the room once more until he found the one containing ASI’s business records. Just as before, getting in took mere seconds, but this time, Matthias had to wait for the files to download.
“The room seems secure,” Arlon said over the comms. “How’re things on your end, Carmen?”
“All clear out here,” she quickly responded.
“Excellent. How’re those files coming, Matthias?”
“Eh,” the hacker replied. “They could be downloading faster.”
“Can’t you do anything about that?”
“Not really. It’s not like I can just make these machines run any faster instantaneously. Aha! There, it’s done.”
Matthias once again disconnected and headed back to the door. Arlon was waiting for him when he got there. “That was fast,” the boss commented.
“That’s what you pay me for, isn’t it?” the hacker asked, cracking a sly grin.
With their objective complete, the team began making their way back toward the elevators. As they approached, Matthias monitored the security feeds.
“Hold up,” the hacker warned the others. “There is a guard around the corner.”
Arlon nodded, then looked over at his Golbat. “Desmodus, fly around the corner and use Confuse Ray,” he commanded the Pokemon. The Golbat flew around the corner and unleashed a hypnotic ray at the guard, who then stumbled into view.
Carmen then gave the man a swift knock to the head with her fist, knocking him out. “I doubt he’ll remember that one,” she said to her companions.
“Nice one,” Arlon commended her. “Now let’s get out of here.”
“Thanks again for your help, Naomi,” Arlon thanked the teenager who had ensured the success of his operation. “We couldn’t have pulled this off without you. As promised, here is the data you requested.” The Red Suns’ leader held out a datapad containing the files and handed it to the girl.
“Thanks so much!” the girl replied as she took the datapad. “I’m sure I can find something here to open people’s eyes.”
“Good luck,” Arlon told her. “I hope you can pull it off, but it won’t be easy.”
“I know that, but I’ve done stuff like this before.”
“Really now?” Arlon asked. He had to admit, he was a bit intrigued.
“I post about this kind of stuff on the Spacenet all the time,” Naomi explained.
“I see. Well, if you ever need help with anything, you know where to find us.” The Genevan mercenary turned to look at the warehouse that he had rented on Harmonia that had been serving as the Red Suns’ base on the planet for the past few days. “Now, come along, I’ll take you back into town.”
“Arlon, we ‘ave a situation!” Rena shouted almost as soon as the Red Suns’ leader set foot back into the base.
“What now?” Arlon asked.
“Petra and Kiril are in trouble,” the Parisian explained.
“The Supremacist presence in Sector 19 was greater than anticipated,” Luke added.
“Alright, let’s get moving,” Arlon responded. “Rena, tell Matt to prep the engines.” He then turned to Luke as Rena headed off. “Luke, I’m leaving the base in your care.”
“You got it, boss,” the Alliance merc told him. “I’ll have this place fully operational by the time you got back. Go kick some Supremacist ass for me.”
“You can count on it, mate.”
Author’s Notes: Well, this one certainly turned out different than originally intended, but I am happy with the results. I actually had originally planned for this part to end right at the moment in Volume 2, Chapter 9 where the Helix came across the Corsair in Sector 19 just after fleeing from Heilovic in Sector 18 at the end of Volume 2, Chapter 8, but since this ended up increasing in length with new ideas, I pushed it to the beginning of the next part, which was looking like it was going to be really short anyway. So, looking at the timeline, this part takes place directly between Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 of Volume 2.
Now let’s get onto the details! The first scene is when Arlon recruits the new pilot, Matt Suzuki. It’s not really tied to the rest of the plot of this part that much, but it was a scene I really wanted to include. So, there you have it. It’s also another chance to show off Alliance diversity. If you couldn’t tell from the name, he’s at least part Japanese. And he’s also similar to the Helix’s pilot, Minerva,with sarcastic quips except he’s more of an asshole about it. Of course there are a few other new characters here too. What I was trying to set up here is that, as the Red Suns expand and the lieutenants take on more responsibility as independent leaders, we get to see new team members get to shine. Carmen Martinez is like this fiery-tempered, but stealthy, roguish fighter from the Alliance who would totally be played by Michelle Rodriguez in a live-action adaptation, and Matthias Antoniou is a kickass hacker from the Geneva Confederacy state of New Greece, specifically the capital world, the moon of Gaia known as Athína. He’s definitely not as good as Meta from Tempore Ex Machina, but he’s not a sociopath either, so there’s that.
However, the real interesting appearance here is Naomi! You may remember her from Part 3 of Alex’s Origin Story. Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of that as well. At some point I randomly decided that Harmonia happened to be her homeworld, and DragonStorm was actually the one who suggested that she make a cameo and that the corporation they stole from be the one her father runs. It’s a small Galaxy, it seems. It was also a good way to stir up more feels for Alex by showing what happened to her afterwards. It’s so sad that Naomi turned Alex down because she thought she loved somebody back home, but then found out she didn’t because of the new perspective she gained because of Alex. Now Naomi is really kicking herself for not staying with her.
As for random plot details, remember those Zubat fossils we found way back in Volume 1, Chapter 12? Well, Arlon revived it into an actual Zubat somewhere along the way thanks to the power of Genevan science! And he evolved it once so far. It seemed like an appropriate Pokemon for this mission, so I had it make an appearance. After all, this is still a Pokemon story. And, last but not least, this part wraps up with the setup for the next part of Seeing Red. Be sure to check out the previous part of Seeing Red as well!
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!