Welcome to another exciting installment of Spacemon, the tale of a Pokemon TRPG campaign! This is the second installment of a three part mini-series following some behind-the-scenes events that has been inserted at the appropriate point in the story. You can get caught up on our previous adventures here!
The men of OmniGuard Industries’ 23rd “Drapion” company were renowned for their skill, professionalism, and tenacity. As long as he was under contract, Commander Samuel Rodriguez would damn well see to it their reputation stayed that way. Like the majority of military and naval forces in Alliance space, OmniGuard Industries was a privatized security organization that licensed its forces to governments and various corporations. Today, “Drapion” had been assigned to Starlight, LLC.
Except this man, Aarn Hondo, did not seem at all like a representative of an interstellar charting company. Commander Rodriguez had been notified that he was actually an independent party Starlight’s CEO had endorsed for this op as some kind of personal favor. Unusual, but he would be treated no differently than any standard client.
This Hondo continued his briefing. “Now, the objective in question is traditionally known as...” He flipped through the references Gilgamesh had provided him earlier. “Ah, here we are! The Sinai call it the ‘Eye of Aether.’ It is said to be an artifact of... mystical persuasion.” This earned a few snickers from some of the soldiers.
“Hey!” barked Rodriguez. Everyone else immediately fell silent. “I won’t hear any disrespect from you lousy ‘compactors! The client gives you instructions, and you follow them! He says ‘jump,’ the only thing I wanna hear outta you is-”
“How high, Sir!”
“Damn right!” nodded Rodriguez. “Continue,” he gestured to Hondo.
The smuggler captain chuckled. “Look, I don’t particularly care about this mumbo jumbo myself, but my client has good information. All that really matters is that this thing is worth a lot of money! Now then! We know it’s located deep within hostile Romanov space... which is where you come in!”
Hondo proceeded to explain further details about the mission itself. Rodriguez frowned: it seemed like good intel and it wasn’t a bad plan, but there were still too many unknowns. He waited for Hondo to finish speaking, then dismissed the men. “So... big op, sir,” he said.
“Oh! There’s no need for such formality between us, I assure you!” Hondo laughed back. “What’s on your mind?”
“Well... an operation this size, you’re gonna need more than just a bunch of guns and muscle. And I have a feeling you ain’t too keen on purchasing our... I think the suits upstairs are calling it our ‘Tactical Plus Package.’” Hondo raised an eyebrow, and Rodriguez continued: “We’re gonna need access to a few more key resources, in my opinion, if we want to be able to pull this thing off.”
“Well, for starters, we’re gonna need one helluva techie...”
Dazzling city lights flashed past as the skycab drifted downward to the grittier surface. The three men inside glanced at one another. “So, tell me again,” said Hondo. “Why are we here.” They had gone to Xiaou, an urban world on the fringes of Federation core space. It was also a former Romanov colony.
“Right. Gentlemen...” Rodriguez began, opening a holochart with relevant information. “We’re here because of her. We need a techie, and scuttlebug says she’s the best in the business. Although we don’t know much about her, including her real name, we do know that she goes by ‘Meta,’ and we’ve been able to narrow location her down to this city and district.” Gilgamesh raised an eyebrow, and Rodriguez continued his briefing. “See, OmniGuard has partnerships with various firms that work in data tracking and trafficking. Anyone with a Spacenet presence, you can be sure we know something about them. Kinda scary, actually... but if she’s as good as they say she is, she’ll know we’re coming so stay keen.”
The three stepped out of the car as soon as it landed, and onto the littered pavement. “So what do you want to do, wait for her to come to us?” Rodriguez asked.
“No no. I think,” Hondo’s nose twitched as his underworld intuition kicked in. “That she will not be so hasty to reveal herself. We must draw her out.”
Gilgamesh closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. The entire area was permeated with desperation and despair; not surprising for such a poverty stricken place. Such was unfortunately quite usual for the lower levels of tall cities. Gilgamesh focused deeper, and sensed a cluster of minds further down an alleyway. He walked forth, and the other two followed him.
Eventually the alley opened into an elevator station; here there were too many minds in one place to single anyone out, but he definitely had a feeling. “We’ll start here,” he said.
“Bah!” Hondo cried, scanning the crowd. “Everyone here is an urchin! This... is going to be difficult, I’m afraid.”
Rodriguez was the first to step forward, approaching a scrawny boy. “Hey there! What’s your name, kid?” he asked, transferring five credits to the boy’s Pokedex. Small eyes looked back up at him tentatively.
“Well Lee, maybe you can help me out. I’m looking for someone. Her name’s ‘Meta.’ Heard of her?” The boy shook his head and scampered off. “Damn.”
“I might have heard of her...” said a voice behind them.
The commander spun around, and saw another kid, slightly older, with his eyes glued to his Pokedex screen. He continued without looking away from the screen: “She’s like some kind of hacker, a bit of a local legend, I guess. She comes in and trolls the Xiaou politick forums sometimes.”
This time it was Hondo who stepped forward. “Oh? Perhaps you can tell us more?” He paused, and then added: “We are looking to hire her, you see.”
“What’s in it for me?”
“Oho! You’ll find I can be a very generous man, much like my friend here!” Hondo answered, patting Rodriguez on the back. “When I’m in the mood, of course.”
“Oh yeah? Well I’ve never heard of her taking on jobs, but who knows? If you’re looking for a place to start...” the kid frowned and pondered. “There’ve been a lot of strikes against the First Minister lately, I guess. Some people say Meta was-” His screen flashed red and emitted a sharp beep.
“Errr... gotta go! Sorry!” he stammered, and ran out of sight.
“Bah!” cried Hondo. “Kids these days!”
“I don’t know, man,” said Rodriguez. “Somethin’ spooked him. Didn’t even ask for the creds.”
Gilgamesh, meanwhile, had been searching the crowd, in a manner only one versed in the gifts as he could. He cast his consciousness out farther and farther, becoming not only aware of the surrounding aura, but each individual person that helped weave the whole as well.
And that was when Gilgamesh knew they were being watched.
This was getting out of hand; the three of them were currently dangling from and elevator cable pulling them up at a dangerous speed. Hondo still wasn’t sure what just happened.
One moment, Gilgamesh was calling them over to a girl who had been looking at them; she couldn’t have been older than twenty. The next thing Hondo knew, that girl was riding a Pokemon, a Magnezone to be specific, up, outside one of the elevator shafts.
Rodriguez had been the first to react. One released Drapion and wrecked elevator door later, the three of them were inside the empty shaft.
With only one way up.
“Remind me” said Hondo, his voice barely audible above the screeching air. “Never to follow you on th-”
The cables jerked hard as the elevator far above them stopped, slamming them into the walls. “I’m getting too old for this...” groaned Hondo.
Then the elevator began to move back down.
“Well, shit,” said Rodriguez.
Gilgamesh wasted no time sending out a Pokemon: the Gardevoir flew out of the Pokeball, and with a wordless command, teleported them all to the safety of the elevator car interior. From there, Gilgamesh simply pulled the emergency override brake lever, and the elevator stopped once more. He returned the Gardevoir, closed his eyes, and a moment later said: “She is fleeing in that direction.” He pointed out the elevator window towards a skylane whose traffic stops were beginning to all signal “Stop” one by one.
“Oh, she is good,” said Rodriguez.
“She had better be worth all this,” Hondo responded. “Let us see if we can gain an upper hand here.” He reached for the controls, and sent the elevator back up, to the top of the tower. The three of them got off and ran towards the edge of the building. Hondo looked around and spotted a parked skycar. He spent a few moments fiddling with the locking mechanism, then thought twice, pulled out his blaster, and shot the door open. The other two men hopped in as Hondo hotwired the controls, and they drove off in the direction of the runaway hacker, avoiding the artificially induced traffic jam several lanes below.
They raced forward, weaving through the oncoming traffic and signal bots far faster than the legal speed limit. Up ahead, Hondo saw a red skycar bank hard to the right, revealing Meta and her Magnezone latched to its front; she had probably remotely hacked its controls as well. He pushed forward to the intersection, zooming through the hazy Xiaou air. As he made the turn, he saw the same red skycar up ahead, once again each signal switching to “Stop” as it passed.
“Wait,” said Gilgamesh.
“Wait?! She’s gonna get away!” yelled Rodriguez.
“Only if the captain continues to pursue the car,” replied the monk. “I no longer sense her presence aboard. Now she is... inside this residence complex,” he continued, motioning to the building on their right. Hondo heeded the psychic, and parked the skycar. The three of them then disembarked and followed Gilgamesh to one of the doors.
“You sure this is the place?” asked Rodriguez, sending out his Drapion.
The Drapion ripped the door off of the wall, revealing a girl and a Magnezone inside.
“What gave it away?” asked Meta.
“Well... this is rather a lot to take in, don’t you think?” Meta mused after the three men before her had explained everything. “And you!” she said, turning to Gilgamesh; she hadn’t considered the possibility of a telepath pursuing her, which was the only reason they were even having this conversation. “I’ve heard stories about the superhuman capabilities of the monks of Sinai. But thought they were all Tauros.” Until now, of course. She peered at Gilgamesh: “Just what else can you do, I wonder?”
“I am simply in tune with the Universe,” Gilgamesh answered with an air of impenetrable mysticism; his companions seemed used to it by now, so she made a mental note to do some deeper research on the subject later.
“Alright, let’s say I believe your story. Why should I help you?”
“We can pay you a lot of money,” offered the man who had introduced himself as Aarn Hondo. The identity of an Outer Rim Gym Leader was easily verifiable, but a self-proclaimed smuggler captain was more likely than not to do business under false names.
“I have no need for your credits, I’m afraid,” she replied.
“No need for our credits!?! Child, I am offended by your poor sense. It’s not everyday a sum like this lands in your lap!”
“Maybe not for most people. Which I’m not. And I’m not a child! I’m-” she stopped herself. She saw no real reason to reveal any personal information, no matter how trivial. “So, I will ask again: why should I help you?”
“There must be something you want,” offered Commander Rodriguez. He seemed less likely to be deceptive, but Meta would be sure to double check his credentials anyway.
She stood there and thought for a solid minute before speaking. “Well, since by this point I’m reasonably sure,” she began, grinning. “That you are not, in fact, law enforcement... Xiaou, Romanov, Federation, or otherwise... I can tell you that I fancy tech. Not the kind you can just buy off the Spacenet. Or the black market. In short, tech that I could only get my hands on if I had, say, a friend inside the Alliance’s top defense contractors.”
“That would be...” Rodriguez was about to say illegal, but he doubted that would provide much dissuasion to someone like Meta. “A breach of my contract. I could lose my job if I leaked classified information and technology to a civilian or foreigner.”
“If it makes you feel any better, I can save you the trouble leaking information,” she remarked, waving a drive. “In fact, I have a shopping list ready. Get me these, and I’ll consider aiding you.”
“How do I know you’ll keep up your end, then?” Rodriguez asked.
“Smart: maybe you’re not so hopeless after all,” she smiled. “You don’t. But that’s my offer. So let’s say I am interested for now. Tell me more about this artifact. What makes it so valuable?”
“It is called the Eye of Aether. It has many properties,” replied Gilgamesh.
“It is said to transmute any material, solve any riddle, grant eternal youth, offer glimpses into the future... and resurrect the dead,” said the monk.
Meta frowned. “That’s not possible. Having just one of those properties is, frankly, unbelievable. And you’re telling me that one object is said to do all of that? That this thing is some kind of real-world deus ex machina?”
No, it was far more likely to be the product of myths and wishful thinking. Meta considered herself to have an open mind. After all she had just observed evidence of psionic abilities in a Sinai monk; she had written the rumors off years ago, but was fully ready to accept them (or at least some of them) as fact now. So perhaps... perhaps this “Eye of Aether” really was some kind of object of power, and the accounts of it grew wild and inaccurate with each telling. Yes, that was highly probable.
Meta had expected protest from Gilgamesh. She had interacted with many people from Sinai space in Spacenet forums; they typically had a habit of close minded defensiveness whenever their religion and beliefs were questioned. But Gilgamesh was quiet for a moment, then simply said: “You may be right. Of the Eye of Aether, much is said but little is known. I myself do not have the answers you seek, but I can tell you that it-”
“My friends, it might interest you to know that we have company,” Hondo interrupted, peering out through the window shaders. “There is a skycar parked just outside. Black, Genevan make. Very expensive.”
“Then it’s not from around here, that’s for sure,” said Meta.
“Someone was following us!” Rodriguez grimaced and reached for his Pokeball. “How about we-”
“Hold on!” cried Meta. Maybe he actually was hopeless. “We don’t actually know if this is an enemy or a spy or just a bystander or what have you. Why do you think you were followed?”
Gilgamesh cleared his throat. “I revealed the Eye’s location to one who I should not have trusted. He is known for dealing in information. They call him Mr. Silver.”
Now there was a name Meta recognized: anyone who was important, actually important, had heard that name. As Meta understood it, Mr. Silver was a top player in the Grand Game of information, intelligence, and control. The man (or woman, the name could be a misdirection as far as anyone knew) was a legend. And if this was true, and one of Mr. Silver’s agents really was just outside...
“Don’t worry about it,” she said, pulling out her Pokedex. “It’s probably nothing. Just a tourist or something.” She prayed the idiot commander wouldn’t press the issue, in case the agent was listening to their conversation. It simply wouldn’t do to tip them off! She continued to type on her Pokedex. Naturally she had hacked all of Xiaou’s traffic and bots to index and track all passing vehicles on the planet. Naturally she had handheld access to the systems of each and every skycar on the list. It was just a simple matter of hacking this particular one’s wireless signal, bouncing into all passenger devices onboard, and... and she had instant access to the agent’s computer and Pokedex. Now it was time to stall while she downloaded, well, everything.
“You mentioned Romanov Supremacist space?” she asked the men. It seemed safe enough: if Gilgamesh was the one who told Mr. Silver where the Eye was, then Mr. Silver already knew not only the location, but that they knew as well. “Yes,” Gilgamesh began, and proceeded to fill Meta in on obvious details that she filtered out as mostly garbage. Rodriguez began to chip in with operational details as well, before Hondo elbowed him sharply in the rib. Good to know there was someone else around here who wasn’t a complete idiot.
Her Pokedex beeped to signal that the download was complete. She looked down, and grinned. “Let’s have some fun with our mysterious guest,” she said deviously as she overrode the skycar’s controls. They heard a very loud zoom outside, followed about fifteen seconds later by a more distant crash.
“You,” remarked Hondo, peeking outside the window once again. “Are a frightening and dangerous individual. I like you!”
Meta’s grin grew even wider. “Let’s see what goodies our friend brought us!” she said, accessing the downloaded data. After several minutes of reading, she said, “Well, this data confirms Mr. Silver’s involvement. But he wasn’t sloppy. The Pokedex was registered to a Councillor Robert Heinkel of München, nothing particularly useful. The computer, on the other hand... had recorded recent communications between Heinkel and Mr. Silver, but a failsafe began wiping the drive as soon as it detected my tampering. Here’s what I was able to recover.”
The four of them gathered around the screen that read:
“Have you received ze shipment of samples ve recovered from ze garden site on Blitzen?”
“>Yes, they have proven to be most interesting.”
“Ve had some minor trouble with a group of folk from Sinai, if zat means anything to you.”
“>Of course. The Congregate is always drawn to these kinds of ruins. Speaking of which, I would like you to monitor a certain meddling monk. You should be familiar with him.”
“Ah, yes, of course... have you an updates on... ze weapon project?”
“>You have no need to worry. I will be there to personally ensure the project’s success.”
Meta frowned as she read the last line. “That doesn’t make sense. Mr. Silver never shows up in person. Every account I’ve heard says he communicates only through intermediaries. Right?”
“When I spoke with him, it was through a Pokemon he commanded remotely,” nodded Gilgamesh. He turned to Hondo. “This bodes ill. I must go and investigate this “garden” matter. I shall be away for perhaps three months. In the meantime, prepare yourselves for this quest.”
“I don’t like this...” mused Hondo. “It smells like a trap.”
“Oh it’s definitely a trap!” Meta smiled. “I do believe I’m interested in joining you lot after all...”
Author’s Notes: This part takes place shortly before the events of Volume 2. Gilgamesh is off to Vandia, which will lead him to events where he will be encountered by the player characters. Be sure to check out Part 1 if you haven’t yet.
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!