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|Darren||NIMBASA CITY, UNOVA REGION
Darren said he'd get you tickets. What he didn't say was that he'd get you the best seats to watch the game from. Front row, home sideline. Nimbasa City's Big Stadium earns its name handily, seating 90,000. All around you, there are fans, human and Pokemon alike, bedecked in blue and yellow livery, eagerly awaiting the start of the game. It's not just shirts, jerseys and ball caps, either. Some of the fans have painted themselves in Nitros colors, or else donned elaborate 'battle' costumes despite the cold weather.
Your spot allows you to overlook the field only a scant few feet above ground level. Every ten yards is marked with a solid line, all the way up to the two 'end zones' at the north and south ends of the field. At the back of each is a neon yellow goalpost.
The jumbotron at the south endzone begins playing clips of Nitros players, successful plays, highlight reels. Over the PA system, the announcer' booming baritone heralds the start of the game, as hype music somehow manages to be heard over the roar of a packaed stadium and the boom of the PA. "And now... the two top-ranked teams in the country... the Gateon Gales!" Boos erupt from all around you as players clad in orange-and-white, human and Pokemon alike, storm the field, cheers coming from the opposite end of the stadium as the Gales fans go wild for their team.
"AND YOUR VERY OWN NIMBASA NITROS!!" Blue and yellow uniforms storm the field, and the cheers of Nitros fans drown out the jeers of visiting Gales fans. "Leeeet's give a warm welcome to a returning legend--two-time Master Bowl ring recipient, back on the field to make a drive for charity, DARREN SPEARS!" Darren looks a lot different in pads, cleats and a jersey, but he wears it all like a second skin. Helmet held in one hand by the facemask, Darren works the crowd like a natural.
Jogging out onto the field, he keeps pace with the rest of the team, arms sweeping upwards in a bid for more noise. The crowd obliges, as he bounces up and down along the way, fist pumping triumphantly. The number on the back and shoulders of his jersey reads 15. while his little friend the alien wears 42. "With him is fellow Master Bowl ring recipient and record-holder for single-game passing touchdowns, the little green man with the plan, the wide receiver for true believers, ROSWELL!" The alien-looking Pokemon levitates alongside Darren, breaking off to fly alongside the home sideline and offer the front-row seats (including you!) a row of high-fives. The midday stadium is awash in the flashes of cameras and the glint of cell phones, as the players filter onto the sidelines, save eleven on each team.
"Just for old times' sake," continues the announcer's booming baritone as the music dies down, "We'll start this drive with a kickoff--the first team to score gets the larger of two donations to a charity of their choice, courtesy of Galar's famed archaeologist and inventor, Cara Liss!" A woman in a labcoat and coke-bottle glasses, with posture that might be described as 'goblinesque' watches from the Nitros sideline with clear interest. She's presiding over some kind of contraption with a small satellite dish that swivels to track Darren. She waves absent-mindedly, focused almost wholly on her contraption. The crowd still cheers for her, because when you're this hyped up, it's really not hard to be impressed.
|Darren|| From your seats, you can see and sometimes hear the two commentators for the PHOX Sports Network broadcast--Chloe Parker and Larry Drednaw. Thankfully, the back of Larry's bald head is not reflecting the sun into your eyes.
CHLOE: Fans of Spears are no doubt hoping the Nitros will win the coin toss here.
LARRY: They surely are--but it don't look like Gales cornerback Lattrell Thomas is a fan!
CHLOE: Let's tune into the mic feed and see what's up.
One of the superfans behind you is apparently tuned into the broadcast on a portable radio, for Maximum Engagement. On the field, you can see the referree discussing something with the captains of each team--but Darren is occupied with Gales number 45, who's currently right up in his face. Lattrell is taller--in fact, Darren is the shortest human player on the field. He isn't at all bothered.
TRELL: Don't think I'mma take it easy on you just 'cause this is for charity.
TRELL: I been waiting for a runback on you since you punked out five years ago. You ready to get blown up?
DARREN: We call Unova the Show Me Region.
DARREN: Don't tell me you gonna blow me up. Show me.
|Cantio||Cantio's here on a much needed break from working, although that doesn't mean she's taking it completely easy. Even as she's relaxing in her seat up front, she has her attention split three ways: One on the field directly, another on the jumbotron to see things from another perspective, and also on the earpiece that she's still wearing even though it's been completely silent for several hours already.
She still needs to listen in for stuff just in case.
Darren and Roswell get high-fives in return as they swing by, of course, and she cheers loudly for them (cheating a bit with her drones to amplify the volume, of course) before turning towards the rest of the group in that primo seating area. "So... Um. Do any of you know the rules to this game? I see all those lines, and they mentioned something about kicking and touchdowns, but I haven't seen a bowl anywhere."
Owing to the colder weather, Cantio's also wearing some actual pants today! And a real jacket, even, rather than her usual white and purple fare. Instead, she's wearing a thicker winter jacket in blue with yellow lining and a matching Nitros-branded t-shirt in support of the same team, and her pants are... Well, they're pants. Track pants, so they're considerably lighter than the jacket, but it's still enough to keep her warm.
Spotting Cara Liss as she's identified, meanwhile, Cantio squints briefly to try and make heads or tails of whatever that dish might be for. She only does that for a whole three seconds before turning her attention back to the field, though, and noticing that rather close exchange between Darren and Trell.
She can't hear them from this distance, though, so instead she just watches them wide-eyed. "Wh... What do you think that's all about?"
|Forte||Albeit across factional divides, Forte feels something of a kinship with Darren. Enough to get him out of his shell, and get him to here, seated firmly in the provided seat instead of floating above the ground like he usually does.
This is a new experience. An interesting experience. He can find things to compare and contrast with his own world - one which has no lack of tournaments and competitions involving pairs of two different species. He can take notes on the cooperation and teamwork being displayed, the quality of the seats that Darren's gotten them, the spectacle on the field, the color commpentary coming in...
... all of which would make for one very nice day out, if not for one thing that Forte had not taken into account, and would have made an excuse to stay home if he had - the sensory overload.
He's spent more than half of his lifespan floating alone in the void at the end of the internet - bereft of sights, smells, things to taste or to touch - and most prominetly, bereft of noise. Silent, as silent as the grave - moreso, really.
Whereas here - the roars of singular sound, spontaneously erupting with every event on the field - no battlefield can compare. The glints of cameras and lights, the smells of overly-fried food, even the *feel* of the ground vibrating with the waves of noise washing over the stadium...
When Roswell swings around the seats for high-fives, Forte's so distracted that he doesn't get his hand up till a moment after the pokemon passes, and keeps it awkwardly raised for a moment before lowering it again.
"It's a bowl. It... is like throwing the competitors into a bowl, and mixing it up till only one team is left," says Forte, to Cantio. He doesn't actually know the rules or what's going on here, either, but he's trying to stay in the moment and not drift away (emotionally or literally/physically).
|Persephone Kore|| Phony might be cruising for some dirty looks, given the livery of the opposing team and her own orange-accessorized outfit, but that's okay- it's impossible to dislike her for long!
My soothing psychic aura is palpable even down on the field; rich and sweet, smoke and honey, warm yet possessed of an ominously vast gentleness. If one looks at the stands from far enough away, one can make out an immense circular radius within which the fans' good cheer is boosted according to the square-cube law, with Persephone at the center of the psycho-gravitational well.
Roswell gets an armwarmer-padded high-five as he flies by. Ahaha! Aren't you precious? Persephone herself is doing the absolutely impossible: munching on a loaded hot dog without getting any of it on her sweater.
"Awwww, poor Cantio!! Don't worry; I know them. It's easy! See those colored zones at either end? There's these things called 'downs', and you want to-" Persephone cheerily regurgitates a succinct yet comprehensible approximation of the rules, scanned directly from the mind of the nearest superfan.
Then, resting her cheek in her hand dreamily: "Romantic tension." A little pause; her expression falls a bit. "Well, I'd like to say it's romantic tension. If it were me it'd be romantic tension. But, you know-" a little dismissive fingerwiggle- "boys. I'm sure they'd put on all these dramatics just for something dumb like 'rivalry', too."
She does, at least, make a simple attempt to feel the hearts of both Darren and Latrell. What are their thoughts, feelings, overarching personalities?
|Darren||Wonder of wonders, Phony gets a response from the little Pokemon! YOU KNOW WHAT THEY SAY, THE PERSEPHONE. IT AIN'T NO FUN IF THE ALIENS CAN'T HAVE NONE. Blessedly, Forte's hand may stay in the air, but it is not left hanging. Despite the fact that the Pokemon has passed, there is a definite, unmistakable tactile sensation of five being slapped from across the field. Should he glance towards Roswell, Forte will see the Pokemon's little glowy-light hand waving and flashing.
On the field, Darren slaps the side of Lattrell's helmet, and the coin toss is made. Larry Drednaw unwittingly provides a bit of context for Cantio's question--at least regarding the back and forth between the two players.
LARRY: Now for y'all watching at home who might not know, there's a bit of history between Lattrell Thomas and Darren Spears--Trell's consistently gotten at least one interception every game he's in, -except- for games where Spears was QB.
CHLOE: That rivalry seems to be alive and well here today, even under the circumstances.
And what about the hearts of the two players? Phony isn't wrong--there is decidedly a romantic element, in that Trell secretly admires Darren, but is also frustrated by the one QB in the league he's never been able to make an interception on. He has a daughter who means the world to him, a little girl for whom he wants to be a hero, and Darren, charming and talented though he may be, is seen as an obstacle he must surpass in order to truly be her hero.
Darren, meanwhile, respects Trell immensely and even crushes on him a little despite the rivalry, but has always disapproved of his style of play. Darren is a team player, and Trell, though he diligently studies footage and shows up to practice, is not. He doesn't appreciate how dismissive of Pokemon Trell is, nor the attitude that he has to do everything himself, and hoped that he would grow out of it.
|Darren||The Nitros will have possession of the ball. And thankfully for Cantio, as well as anyone else unfamiliar, Darren explains to each of you telepathically that the team that's got the ball wants to run it into the opposite endzone for six points, then kick it through those uprights for an extra point. Each quarter starts with a kickoff, and they kick to try and put the receiving team in the hardest spot possible. We can try and run it down the field as soon as we catch it, but that's risky unless you got a really good kick returner. The safe play is the 'fair catch' rule.
Indeed, when the kick is made, the player intending to catch the ball, Nitros number 39, raises her hand above her helmet and waves before the ball is caught. The Gales players rushing her position slow down and stop.
CHLOE: Ball's caught at the 25 by Holly Margave who calls a fair catch.
Players shuffle onto and off of the field, and begin taking their positions. Darren's team is lined up in front of him, with four stocky human players forming a wall, and a sumo-looking pokemon in the center of that wall. Roswell is off to the left side, a ways away from this wall, partnered up with a tall, lanky player. Meanwhile, on the right of that wall, there are two more players, also slightly apart. The last player is behind Darren--
LARRY: Today's full of surprises! Looks like Spears has brought a halfback with him, if I'm seeing this field position right. Chloe, what Pokemon is that?
CHLOE: That's Saucer, Darren's Orbeetle. He's a Bug and Psychic type Pokemon from the Galar region.
LARRY: Spears loves those unconventional picks. We saw a lot of success with Roswell as a wide receiver--Elgyem... hah, well, I guess he's a Beheeyem now, but they ain't the fastest Pokemon! Spears would have him run so far down the field that a lotta times, it wouldn't matter--no one would be paying attention 'till it was too late.
CHLOE: And we'll probably see some of that today, Larry. Gales defense is setting up some zone coverage, here...
The Gales, by comparison, are spread out, across the back end. The mic feed picks up Darren calling some sort of coded adjustment, because they're running a blitz. The idea is to have three or four guys bearing down on me, one from the blindside, to scare the mess outta me and get me to either throw it away, throw an interception, or get tackled for a loss of yards. But this play we're running can account for that. You guys're lucky--you boutta see a trick play.
|Darren||With a call of HIKE from Darren, the sumo-pokemon snaps the ball to him. One of the players on the offensive line shifts, giving Darren a clear view of Trell to eliminate the risk of getting blindsided. The Gales defense rushes down the field to try and swarm Darren, none more furious in their advance than Trell, whose height belies his speed, his long braided locs swaying behind him with each furious pump of his legs.
The three players who had lined up on the edges of the Nitros' line take off down field, setting up routes in the holes opened by the blitzing defense--setting up options for Darren to pass to, if he can just overcome the pressure of the blitz. But he doesn't pass. Instead, Darren wheels around, towards Saucer, and makes a handoff so discreetly that the advancing defense is now confused as to whether Darren or Saucer has the ball. The two of them take off in different directions.
Trell is laser focused on Darren, even though both he and Saucer tuck their arms as if they've got the ball. Darren has got the ball but I gotta get rid of it. Trell clocked it. Haven't built up enough speed to get past him, he's leading the league in interceptions so I gotta trick him. Pump fake a forward pass. Then throw a lateral.
LARRY:...a fake handoff to the running back that fooled our camera crew! Spears is in trouble, Thomas has his number--fakes a forward pass, THOMAS BOUGHT IT AND OVEREXTENDS! Spears throws a lateral to Saucer, with seconds to spare! Caught at the 40! Saucer's not quite home free, in heavy traffic... And he's forced out of bounds at the 80!! YEEHAW! That is one FAST bug!
CHLOE: A gain of 65 yards on the best passing defense in the country? He certainly is, Larry! ...more back-and-forth between Thomas and Spears now, Thomas letting him have a piece of his mind...
TRELL: You think you slick with that offensive blitz, huh.
DARREN: It fooled -your- ass.
TRELL: Just call me Delibird, 'cause I'mma sack the hell outcha, Spears.
DARREN: Okay, bet!
LARRY: You feel that rumbling, Chloe?
CHLOE: I'd ask if you took your medication today, but I do feel it, yes. Was there a flyover scheduled for today? Looks like the officials feel it, too...
|Cantio||Forte's actually a familiar face to Cantio, although this is the first time she can recall seeing him in a non-combat-related sense. It's actually rather strange seeing him even relaxing in general, but he still gets her attention when he explains the bowl part of all this. "Ah, so it's a metaphorical bowl rather than.. I see! That does make a lot more sense than... Er. Throwing bowls or something."
She says that last part rather quietly, as though realizing how stupid that would be as she's saying it. She doesn't NOT say it, though, since the rules are still an arcane mess to her. "YEah, that ball definitely isn't... A-anyway. Do you want a drink or antifreeze or something?" She asks Forte, still boggling for a while longer right until Persephone and Darren starts to explain all of that through the power of MIND INSERTION.
"So they're not always kicking it, and there's a lot of math involved if... Oh, so that's what those lines are for! Yeah, that would make it easier." She's learning! Slowly, but still. "And the strategy involved... No wonder each team needs so many people. Just keeping track of all this must be dizzying for them."
Of course, Persephone's description of that tension between Darren and Trell have Cantio's face burning red. "R-really? They must really have a strong relationship to be able to get that fired up, then..." Naturally, Cantio's willingness to believe almost anything has her staring ahead blankly once Larry explains what their actual/visible relationship is.
Thankfully, the game starts sooner rather than later, and it's time to try and make sense of what's going on after getting the rundown! It all goes way faster than she's expecting, and it's enough to have Cantio's head spinning already thanks to trying to actually keep all of that info straight along with who did/didn't pass to who, how many people are in what positions, the conversion of yards to meters...
Cantio also hears cheering. That's good, right? She joins in on some cheering, then leans forward to keep her head as close to ground level as she can while trying to do more of that mental math. "So if they got that far in only that many seconds, then... Just how many scores-er. Downs are there going to be by the end of this game?!"
The rumbling mentioned by the Phox casters, thankfully, let her get her mind off the math for a bit. Cantio turns her gaze skywards to see what might be flying be that's actually large enough to cause such shaking, although she doesn't suspect anything too strange just yet.
|Persephone Kore|| 'The' Persephone? Haha, I guess I *am* inimitable. I know Darren will be proud of you no matter what, but try to impress me anyway~
<J-IC-Scene> Persephone Kore says warmly, "Hello, new heart."
<J-IC-Scene> Persephone Kore says, "Ahaha, I really love your sense of humor! But are you really okay?"
<J-IC-Scene> Forte, while not fine, "I'm fine."
<J-IC-Scene> Persephone Kore says firmly: "You're not fine."
<J-IC-Scene> Persephone Kore says, "I can help. Is that alright, new heart?"
<J-IC-Scene> Cantio says, "There was a joke in there? Ah... H-hey, do you need water or anything?" Beat "Or... Coolant? Antifreeze?"
<J-IC-Scene> Forte says, "... Fine. Go ahead."
Phony leans over and rests her hand on Forte's forearm. She gives it a little squeeze; her eyes restfully half-lid, despite the chaotic goings-on. "It's all a little too much, isn't it? The sights, the sounds, the shaking. But don't worry."
Tidal forces are the shaping forces imposed on one body by another through gravity. When you pull on one part more than another, the body deforms. Luna shapes Terra's tides. Cronus breaks Titan's ice. Jupiter one day will rip Enceladus apart. With a heart as strong as mine, I can't help shaping other people! Everyone else here is hopelessly in my orbit- you can feel it, can't you? The warmth of the crowd. Their simple happiness.
But if I pull in *just* the right places...
The sense of being overwhelmed fades. More precisely, it doesn't go away, but merely stops feeling bad. There are still a thousand things tugging at Forte's attention, but without disorientation or irritation or fatigue. Whatever he isn't focusing on simply fades to the background, like a veteran subway rider barely registering the chimes and announcements.
I take my hand off your arm and smile. Doesn't that feel better? I'm so glad you let me help!
Despite her comprehensive (stolen) knowledge of the rules, Persephone watches the game with fascinated confusion- mind-reading can't teach her how to actually read the flow of the game, so I'm so glad you're here to help me understand, Darren~
For some reason, she starts chewing on her pinkie fingernail when it seems like Darren might get tackled.
When the rumbling starts, she doesn't look up, but down. Oh no! Should there be people down there? I hope they're safe. Just in case, she feels their hearts too. Just what are those mysterious mole-men thinking and feeling?
|Forte||"... Research data," says Forte to Cantio. "Whatever works, as long as it's meaningful."
The overwhelming sensory input is dampened thanks to Persephone. Forte is quietly appreciative, but doesn't say so out loud.
(He also makes a mental note to run a self-diagnostic later, just in case.)
And with his issues mitigated, he's actually able to start enjoying himself. He takes in the battle (of sorts) down on the field, watching it intently, matching the actions to Persephone's explanation of the rules... yes.
This is the sort of thing he would have missed, if he had stayed in exile.
And so on cue things start happening in order to ruin Forte's day out. He sits up a bit in his seat, looking around, trying to pinpoint the source of the rumbling...
|Darren|| The casters were mistaken, Cantio finds--as even scans from her drones don't detect anything but the Macro Cosmos blimp, which moves much too slowly to have that sort of effect. Persephone feels hearts--easily a dozen or more--beneath the stadium. Beneath the turf. What are they feeling?
They're feeling resolve. They aren't part of the stadium crew. In fact, they have nothing but contempt for this game. People and Pokemon alike are down there, ready to put a stop to it. Before the next play can be called, the south endzone erupts from beneath, a dramatic plume of dirt and painted astroturf flying up as a scream of a different sort erupts from the crowd.
"Remain in your seats." A bearded, brown-haired man with intense violet eyes in an honest-to-god kamishimo and a real-ass katana emerges from the hole in the ground, flanked by retainers with similar weapons and, in place of pokeballs, what appear to be hollowed-out berries of some kind.
"Industrialization has been a disaster for humans and Pokemon alike," his authoritative voice booms over a commandeered PA. "We of Team Future will succeed where Team Plasma failed--none of us are free until all of us are. Hand over your pokeballs, your phones, any Rotom devices, to my retainers. Those of you who comply will be escorted to one of our rehabilitation retreats, and taught to live in joy and harmony with nature." His 'retainers' swarm the stands, hollowed-out berries opening to reveal a spread of woodland Pokemon of varying sizes. Already, there is conflict in the stands.
"Those of you who do not, or who attempt to stop us, will be brought to heel by force," says the man over the PA in response, as scenes of attempted separation begin playing on the jumbotron. His eyes narrow, his thumb flicking the sword from its sheath. With one stroke of the sword, he sends a solidified blade of air across the field, striking the monitor and killing the feed with a shower of sparks. "There are six Pokemon beneath this stadium, under orders to use Self-Destruct if necessary. Cling to this system of exploitation and be buried with it, or cast off your chains and stand with us in the future." This incites a panic--but out from one of this man's hollowed berries springs a man-sized dragon, whose roar silences the panicked screams, with even the players on the field backing away--except one. One voice rings out above the silence.
"RED! HELIX! 87!"
The man and his dragon both turn to face Darren Spears. "Are you blind? Your game is over."
"Nah," says Darren. "It's just getting started, fam. HIKE!"
Quarterback Darren challenged Future Daimyo Theodore!
Darren sent out Saucer!
Theodore sent out Kommo-o!
Saucer used Reflect!
Hard-light screens wash over Darren, Saucer, Roswell, and everyone in the stands.
"I see. You wear the clothes of an athlete, but your heart is a fighter's." The dragon rockets forward, fists pummeling the ladybug--but the barrier holds strong. "You anticipated my attack well--but I still have the upper hand. Even if you force my retreat, my soldiers are still under orders to bury this place."
Saucer is overflowing with energy!
"Trick play, my man."
Saucer swells to enormous sizes, no longer a ladybug but a legit UFO hovering over the stadium and casting an immense shadow. The tractor beam of this ufo blasts the ground hard enough to make the earlier rumbles seem like someone tap-dancing. Six startled earthen Pokemon--big bulky living rocks--are uprooted from the earth and held in the air.
Get his ass. I'll grab his goons.
|Persephone Kore|| Ahaha, you don't need to say 'thank you' out loud, new heart! I can tell you're feeling better already. That makes me happy enough~
Persephone is oddly transfixed on the ground in the middle of the stadium, even before anything happens. When strange armed men emerge from the hole in the ground, she's surprised, but not shocked. She lets go of her loaded hot dog, which remains hovering in the air, and stands up to float over to the field.
One of the grunts starts menacing people near her. He gets gently, but firmly, yeeted onto the field, where he'll skid along his back and dig a furrow in the grass. Phony herself floats gently down onto the grass a moment later. Even now, she retains her enthusiastic warmth; Saucer gets a fawning, admiring wave from her as he levitates the (Gravelers?) out from underground. You're doing so well! Haha, I almost don't want to steal your spotlight.
Most, but not all, of that warmth drains from her face as she turns to regard Theodore. Her hand cradles her cheek thoughtfully. "This is really important to you, isn't it? It must be, if you were willing to do something as horrible as blowing up a stadium to make it real. But, this game is really important to my friend Darren too. I think that means I have to crush you."
Rather than attacking him directly, Persephone attunes herself to the frequency of his cognitonarrative residue. Why are you the way that you are, Theodore?
|Forte||Oh hey, another point of comparison. Anti-technology terrorists back at home, anti-technology terrorists here. Plus or minus one jealous roboticist who is secretly the one propping things up from behind the scenes - though it's too early to tell for certain that that's *not* the case here.
"So much for enjoying the game..." says Forte as he stands up. "And I'm afraid I'm not going to let someone hold hostages against me," he adds, neutrally, to the other elites sitting nearby.
The appearance of the gigantic saucer capturing the prospective martyrs forestalls that conundrum, fortunately, leaving Forte and the others open to focus on the new threat. "I'm also afraid that I'm not particularly able to give up my technology," he says, as he self-examines his available arsenal. It's still a chaotic mess on the field and the stadium, with uneven ground and multiple sources of potential interception...
... Ah, of course. An attack that was practically designed for uneven ground.
"Autonavi slot in," intones Forte, holding both hands up. "BARRLROLLR D - execute."
And rezzing into his outstretched hands is a large barrel - a classic wood with metal binding design, one that looks practically mundane aside from popping into existence from seemingly nowhere. Forte pulls his arms back, and throws it down the stadium seating...
... where it rolls along, veering and bouncing to miss absolutely everything and everyone it could conceivably hit, as if it had a mind of its own, down the seating and stairs, bouncing over the stadium wall into the field, and then ramping off of the disturbed ground to come crashing down towards Theodore!
|Cantio||Research data's not the type of drink Cantio was thinking of. Or a drink at all, really. What could she provide that couldn't be used by or used against herself, though?
She'll have to mull over that one later. Right now, there's the danger of something coming in to interrupt the match, but where is it? It's not coming from above, as Cantio sees that blimp moving way too slowly, but rather... From below!
Alas, it's not any kind of mole people, but regular people that don't look like they belong underground or in a bowl field! It's only natural, then, that Cantio has no idea how to actually react to their appearance at first, or to their pitch.
"They're called Team Future, but they're dressed in such dated period clothes...?" She asks aloud, furrowing her brow before sighing and climbing out of the viewing area. She offers a hand to Persephone and Forte should they need it, then turns her attention to those swarming the stands. "But attacking civilians when there's not even military forces around... That's not going to win you any kind of public support!"
Indeed, instead of criticizing Theodore about attacking civilians, Cantio's focused more on criticizing his tactics. "You're just muddling your own legitimacy this way! That's..." She sighs, then shakes her head before recalling her viewing drones to her hand and grabbing one by the leg. It readjusts its shape, as do several others, until she's holding a claymore and resting it against her shoulder.
Instead of actually charging out to attack, however, she leaps backwards as another Cantio, dressed up like a ninja in white and purple for some reason, appears where she had been standing.
Cantio sent out Cantio B!
Cantio B used Fury Swipes!
The ninja Cantio leaps forward brandishing a pair of short glowing purple blades, charging right for those giant rock creatures and swinging wildly at them with more speed than actual technique or power. Rather than making purely physical contact, however, they're vaguely-light based beam swords! They don't make any cool vwooshing noises, though, but they do leave a lot of horribly bright sparks in their wake.
Cantio herself, meanwhile, starts heading for the stands with her oversized claymore in hand while keeping her gaze fixed on those trying to separate people from their Pokemon and stuff (aside from the ones Phony's already got her attention on). "Please don't make us hurt you. We will if we have to, though, so... Um."
She can't think of how to finish that sentence in a cool way. Instead, she just brings that claymore forward, gripping it in both hands in front of her like some kind of spiky-haired anime protagonist. She doesn't have to let anyone know that she's not used to actually using it in that stance.
|Darren|| Why IS Theodore the way that he is?
A little boy has learned to hide the stray Pokemon from the big kids that come down to harass them. This run-down street is where aspiring trainers go to abandon Pokemon they don't want; to take advantage of the kindness of an old lady. She isn't as spry as she used to be. Someone has to help her. Otherwise, the factory will come and take them, work them near to death.
The young man is fresh out of high school, watching the news on TV of a new system to be implemented at Pokemon Centers--trainers with Pokemon not currently in use can loan them out to businesses and people in need, giving them an opportunity to stretch their legs and interact with people. The program launches in his home town--a week goes by before he sees a Sunflora getting berated by the owner of a restaurant, in front of all of the patrons.
Some months have passed. The young man sits opposite the polished desk of a loan officer. Though the bank employee is trying to break it to him gently that noble ideas don't necessarily get loans, it doesn't appear to be necessary, nor does the denial seem to dim his determination.
The young man is out of college now. He lives a happy life in the woods of upstate Unova, where he has made a refuge for Pokemon either abandoned or mistreated by their trainers. It is kept running by donations from good-natured people--but as the representatives Macro Cosmos Unova were keen to tell him, he never obtained legal ownership of the land. What money he could gather together went towards care for Pokemon--with none left over for lawyers. He remembers watching from the treeline as something he built with his hands and his heart was bulldozed to make room for a shopping center.
The angry young man is wearing the outfit of an extremist, swearing himself to sages and knighthood that they might all free Pokemon from exploitation. He gave years of his life to this cause--but even they succumbed, with their original leader gone and replaced by a treacherous general. Pokemon and people were under the same tyranny--the tyranny of instant gratification, of constant commodification. It wouldn't be enough to simply free Pokemon.
Theodore watches over his retainers as they train alongside, not above, their Pokemon. If people and Pokemon are to be freed, they must start from a place as equals, rather than exploited and exploiter. From that strong foundation, Team Future would dramatically restructure society, return to simplicity and care and community.
|Darren|| Theodore's eyes gleam as he turns his head towards Persephone as his grunt is sent flying. "A psychic, are you? Troublesome. Your mind must be honed to a deadly point, to command such strength."
Forte's barrel catches him and his dragon by surprise, and Theodore is forced to defend himself with his sword. Though his skillful cut slices it in half, he is still struck by debris from the split barrel, knocking him off balance.
While Darren and his team handle grunts one-by-one in the background, the foreground is no less chaotic. Cantio finds that Saucer's telekinesis makes the Gravellers easy targets, each one easily knocked out by her sword strikes.
Theodore fights back in tandem with his Pokemon. Kommo-o, after a nod from Theodore, takes on Persephone, banging its scales together to create a piercing noise. The dragon isn't immune to the effects of its own cacophony, but the directed nature of the soundwaves means that Persephone is meant to take the brunt of the attack. Moreover, it appears to have been chosen precisely because Theodore, Kommo-o or the both of them, believe it may impair her ability to concentrate.
The man himself is no less dangerous than a Pokemon--he leaps into the air after Cantio, sword drawn, and clashes blades with her, his eyes full of an unnerving calm and certainty even as their blades are within inches of each other. Sparks fly from his, as well, and he finishes a rapid flurry of strikes with another one of those solidified air projectiles, intending to knock her into the wall near the sideline!
Doing an agile flip in midair, he hurls two more of these projectiles at Forte on the way down, switching his dragon out for a large, humanoid bee surrounded by swarms of smaller bees. The bees form a hexagonal shield-wall around Theodore and his Vespiquen...
|Cantio||Ninja Cantio is an agile and less-armored/dressed version of the real thing, but she goes toe to toe with Theodore when he comes in slashing hard with his sword against hers. Their clash is one of steel against weird light stuff, real human against weird time clone, but it ultimately gets pushed into his favor as the last flurry pushes her back. That gives his air projectile ample space to pick up speed and blast her into the wall, drawing the gaze of the actual Cantio moments later.
"The barrier's holding, so... Okay then." Stepping forward, Cantio (Actual) launches herself forward in a massive leap towards Theodore and his beexagonal shield, oversized raised overhead and poised to strike! Instead of bringing it down on the shield, however, Cantio instead lands on the shield!
Facefirst. She just sort of crashes into it face first with a pained wince, but it's all according to a weird plan! There's a strange-looking distortion effect around Cantio as she starts sliding through the shield slowly, not unlike something in a crafting game slowly clipping their model through a solid block of dirt overhead, until she just pops out on the other side and starts falling at Theodore again.
"If you really wanted to attack the root of industrialization, then why not go after..." Cantio pauses her sentence as she brings her sword down at Theodore, aiming entirely to slam it right through his if he stays where he is. Whether or not he avoids the hit, she brings the sword up to shoulder level with the tip still pointed at his Vespiquen, then fires off a focused blast of light at the queen bee to try and disrupt its...
Actually, she's not sure if it's controlling the shield or if it's the smaller bees. Either way, though, she's hoping to disrupt that shield so Persephone and Forte have an easier time getting back in!
"Why not go after someone's main offices? Or their factories? I've done it before, and that worked!" She offers as an alternative, not yet realizing how bad that might sound at the moment.
|Forte||Forte's readying another barrel throw when Theodore flips, throwing out solid-air projectiles, taking him by surprise. He's forced to abandon his throw-
-and abandoning his position altogether, AREASTEAL-ing away to a spot behind cover to let him regroup. He needs another edge...
... And, there. He looks up at the giant Saucer. There's an edge right up there. "Hmm."
"Ten. Autonavi Slot In - AREASTEAL A, loading. Twenty. GETABILITY.BAT - read mode ready. Thirty. ASYNC Autonavi Slot In - &SLOTSEVEN *, execute. Forty. Autonavi Slot In - STEPSWORD S, loading. Program plan ready, execute."
He recites it to himself like a magic spell, and then he moves. Or - moving might not be the right word, given that he vanishes once again from his spot in cover...
... Reappearing in the air right next to Saucer, glowing hand outstretched. It stings, momentarily, like touching a hot stove - but only for a moment.
And then again he vanishes - and reappears in front of Theodore, sword already swinging at the shield as he reappears from the teleport!
|Persephone Kore|| "That's the first time anyone's ever called me sharp," Persephone replies with a sweet little laugh. "But I'm really not deadly at all! And neither are you, I feel like."
Her expression drops to something more serious as she mulls over the things she's just felt. "You've been let down a lot, haven't you? So many people have promised to make things better, for you and Pokemon, and then hurt you or came to nothing in the end. Technology, society... even that order of knights you once belonged to."
The Kommo-o directs a blast of clattering sound at her. Persephone doesn't gesture or look. I don't want to be hurt, and so she isn't- the deafening sound can ruffle the grass around her, but Persephone herself is surrounded by a wedge of stilled air which the sound breaks around like a river striking a rock.
She turns to the dragon sedately, giving it a fawningly earnest look, and steps forward whle holding out her hand to try and rub its head affectionately. "You're being so brave, aren't you? Did someone else treat you badly, before Theodore took you in and treated you well? And now you want to help other Pokemon, too."
Her eyes turn to Theodore again, and her smile drops a few degrees as she addresses him. "But while you're trying to win a better future for these people, you're threatening to hurt them too. Is it their fault that the world's so cruel to them? If you're promising to make things better, will you be careful not to let them down too?"
|Darren|| Theodore's eye widens as the real Cantio charges forward. A trick! What-- She crashes into the shield, and he is legitimately perplexed. He flinches backwards as she bizarrely phases through the Combee shield, tumbling to the right. He does indeed avoid the first of her attacks, but is in a bad position to defend Vespiquen when the true intent of Cantio's offensive is revealed.
He dashes recklessly to protect the Pokemon, her beam striking him dead center without his guard up, hurling him back-first into the tall queen bee. As flying type Pokemon from the grunts attempt to swarm Saucer, another blast from his tractor beam sends them all plummeting to the ground. Unusually, when Forte makes contact with the Orbeetle, there is a sense that it's not entirely an organic creature, and so the data transfer goes more smoothly than he might have expected. Even more unusually, Persephone is aware of a shift in the battlefield. It is now even easier for her to exert her reality than it normally would be.
The Combee shield is scattered with Vespiquen momentarily winded, but Theodore is back on his feet and ready to defend, both with a swipe of his sword and counter-rhetoric. "As long as people are comfortable, they'll never change. As long as they have something to retreat to--bread and circuses to keep them idle--they'll ignore the need for change no matter how bad it is!"
Vespiquen hastily gets the shield back up, only for Forte to teleport in and shatter it utterly with one blow. Hastily, Theodore goes on the offensive, making a quick slash to ward off another attack from Forte while swapping out the Vespiquen for a looming, haunted tree. Phony can sense that each one of Theodore's Pokemon, save Kommo-o, is a rescue of some sort--some of them even from his original refuge.
The tree has surprising brute strength, and charges in alongside Theodore's counterattack to try and drive Forte back. But Phony's question halts the latter, mid-downswing.
"...we've made our point. Allow the civilians to quit the field and make your retreat." His eyes gleam with conviction when he looks up. "I will remain--to test the hearts of those who fight on their behalf."
After a brutal overhead smash from the haunted tree, the grunts begin retreating en masse, and Theodore dashes towards Forte for a follow-up. It's a feint. Instead he backflips, landing on the boughs of his Trevenant, and makes two more of those air projectiles as he passes over Phony and Cantio, each one growing stronger than the last. When he lands, the Trevenant is switched out for the Kommo-o, which begins performing an elaborate kata alongside Theodore...
|Cantio||Theodore goes to defend the Pokemon with his body. That's not quite what Cantio was expecting from someone acting like some kind of revolutionary, so the fact that he's behaving this way means...
He might actually believe in this. The fact that he's willing to let the civilians go after Persephone gets through to him certainly helps to confirm Cantio's suspicions, and she holds up on actually lashing out at him again. Instead, she keeps her sword held in that same shoulder-ready tip-forward stance, watching Theodore as he uses his tree Pokemon as a platform of sorts.
It'd be simple enough to start shooting back at him when he does that, but she doesn't. Instead, she twirls her sword around once before raising it overhead with the tip pointed downwards, then stabs it into the ground just as those air projectiles are about to slam into her. She makes no effort to evade the projectiles, instead just absorbing them head on with her sword acting as an anchor while she grins and bears it.
Also, she transforms. A pillar of light erupts around Cantio, there's a dramatic transformation sequence with flashing lights and shrinking clothes, and she reappears in her white and pink plastic-ish armored mode!
"I understand your frustration, Mister Future. A society where inequality runs rampant while the reigning bodies do nothing to fix it or protect its most vulnerable members doesn't deserve to exist. A society where regular people are too comfortable to even think about those problems is one that stays stuck in its ways, so that's why drastic action is necessary. But..."
Once the light clears fully, Cantio starts advancing on Theodore once again at a slow, steady pace. "You're not aiming at the right people. Your enemies aren't the people that came here to watch a game and got too comfortable to worry about who else might be hurting. Your enemies are the ones in power that made everyone ignore them in the first place!"
She launches herself into the air towards Theodore and the Kommo-o, flinging the sword at them in mid-jump. It splits apart well before contact, showering the ground nearby with little fragments of what was her sword. She opens her mouth to speak, and her voice reverberates with way too much bass and volume through those scattered fragments.
"I am Cantio, Drive Core Candidate of Cadenza and Member of the Concord. If you truly believe in changing things, then join us. We can fix this world together!" As Cantio speaks, her voice echoes and amplifies itself repeatedly, bouncing from splinter to splinter in a concentrated sonic attack. She holds off on actually blasting lasers at Theodore and his Pokemon, though, instead waiting to see whether or not he'll accept her offer.
|Forte||"You've made no point," says Forte, bringing his wrist-mounted blade back to the ready. "You've made a lot of noise and a lot of mess. Neither of which have a point."
"Anyone can make a lot of noise and a mess. Making a point needs more than that. A demonstration. Of correctness, or of strength - and if you intend to prove the latter, that remains to be seen."
He brings up his sword to parry the strike, getting driven back further, and launching a counter-counterattack in response...
... And as he does so, he starts glowing. Something resontating, and charging up...
|Persephone Kore|| Persephone turns around, marvelingly, to track the arc of Theodore's jump. It takes her a third of a second to process the fact that he's attacking her; as soon as that time elapses, with the cutting wind mere inches from her face, it breaks around her in beautiful eddies and kicks up dust from the field like a star-nurturing nebula.
"'As long as people are comfortable, they'll never change,'" she repeats thoughtfully, before the cosmic dust has even settled. "Did you only change because you were uncomfortable? Haha, but I can't believe in something as awful as that. You know so well that when Pokemon are scared and hurt, they can't grow. Shouldn't the same be true of humans?"
"People took advantage of that little old lady's kindness, didn't they? And when you tried to just be kind to Pokemon, Macro Cosmos took advantage of you too. When you were hurt, you had to become less kind- at least on the outside- to survive. If you hurt other people, do you think they'll become less kind too?"
She outstretches her hand. The nebula of dust swirling around her condenses into a miniature sun in her palm, aging through the main-sequence lifespan in moments. It ought to burn everything out for a thousand feet with the heat of its fusion, but somehow it doesn't.
"Everyone has always been so good to me. More than I can ever deserve. I can always tell what everyone's thinking, and nothing can ever touch me, so of course I've been allowed to be as kind as I want. It's totally unfair."
Once it reaches the red giant phase, the sun is gently thrown underhand towards Theodore and the Kommo-o. Heat that ought to sear flesh and ash skin instead expresses my gentleness, sapping the strength to fight like a cozy crackling fireplace, like warm covers you don't want to get out from underneath.
|Darren|| It says something about his dedication to 'testing your hearts' that Theodore continues his elaborate dance with the Kommo-o even as the sonic attack from Cantio's rebounding splinters pummels their ears. "I cannot. Though I realize you were right about my actions being misplaced... that one is also right." As his body twirls, his sword flicks towards Forte; not in an attack, but to indicate who he means.
It's then that Phony will realize what the dance is meant to do--that Theodore and his Kommo-o are racing against Forte to bolster their power. It's a show of the bond, the mutual trust that exists between them. "I will meditate on what you've said--all of you. But I will not..." Persephone's sun induces a heavy fatigue into his and Kommo-o's movements that saps them of their grace. Despite Theodore having to lean on his sword, despite Kommo-o having to force himself to keep time with thumps of his tail, and despite Theodore having to throw the overcoat of his formal attire off, revealing a jacked mountain-man physique... they finish the dance.
"*We* will not quit the field without first showing you the strength of our hearts. Kommo-o!" Theodore tosses an herbal elixir towards the Pokemon, who downs it in one swig.
Kommo-o used Clangorous Soul!
--Kommo-o's Throat Spray--
Kommo-o's plates clang together, the man-sized dragon Pokemon throwing his head back and letting out a terrible roar that rises above the din of the clanging scales. The two stars in Phony's sight burn ever brighter, as Theodore's cry joins in.
Darren, still in his pads and jersey, sans helmet, comes sprinting in, making a flying leap, fist reared back as Slabb comes in with a flying press. The roar of swordsman and fighter in tandem intensifies, becoming an attack unto itself that cracks the cement of the bleachers and submerges the uprights into the earth, meeting Darren and his stonehenge buddy alike with force enough to completely reverse their directions. It's like being caught in the wash of a jet turbine.
|Cantio||"That's a shame, but.. I understand." Cantio pauses, looking over at Persephone when she speaks of things that Cantio herself isn't actually aware of. She smiles shortly afterwards. "... We understand, it looks like. If you ever change your mind, though, just ask for us." Cantio replies with a firm nod at Theodore before following his sword flick to Forte. "Demonstrating correctness or strength... Yeah. Sometimes, the latter's all that people will listen to, so if you can't convince them with the first..."
She trails off, frowning after a moment. "Enough strength should do it, right?" She mutters to herself rather than actually speaking to anyone specific, then shakes her head once before getting her focus back on the battle at hand. As she sees Theodore and the Kommo-o building up their strength, Cantio braces herself again while the ninja Cantio from several minutes ago finally digs herself out of the hole in the wall she had been stuck in.
The ninja cosplayer receives some orders, and she pulls out a scroll that unfurls into a drone (somehow). She points it at the battlefield, making sure to zoom in on Theodore and Kommo-o while broadcasting the battle to the local airwaves and streaming services.
That leaves Cantio (True) to prepare herself for their next attack. She holds her hand out in front of herself as her sword reforms from the scattered pieces, building itself back together into a wider, fatter shape. It reassembles itself just in time for that surge of water to come flying towards her, and Cantio starts getting pushed back in midair at the collision of water and earth-rending power against oversized tech-slab.
Just when it looks like she's about to get blasted clear out of the field, however, Cantio manages to slip out from the side of that blast, still spinning out of control for a few moments before righting herself. Her armor's cracked in several places from the impacts, but she keeps her sword braced in front of herself as she raises it to her shoulder with the pommel pointing at Theodore next.
It opens up at the bottom, revealing that the inside is glowing a bright white. "You've shown us your strength, so let us show you ours. Survive, and keep fighting!" Cantio shouts those words of encouragement at Theodore even as she grips the sword by the guard with her other hand to steady it like some kind of shoulder cannon.
Also, she fires it like a shoulder cannon, complete with a deafening laser blast that's sure to put a crater or five in the ground around Theodore and Kommo-o even if they were to take the brunt of that shot head on.
And... Forte grins.
It's easy to assume the poncho hides his expressions and emotions - and it does indeed serve as the plate armor version of a poker face at times - but even underneath it, unseen, Forte just isn't a very expressive person. But here, now, even with the cloth covering half of his face, it's easy to see the smile - it reaches his eyes.
"Then commit to it!"
He speaks forcefully, and finally with emotion behind it. "Give me your all - hold back not a bit, if you truly wish to test yourself..."
"... For if you cannot back up your claims with actions, it will be the end of you!"
The jet spray of water lashes out. Forte gets pushed back - he tries to advance, to push against it, taking his own advice to heart as he abandons defense in favor of not giving up ground, and suffers for it. At the end, he's wavering slightly - in the literal sense, as if his body is a little less 'stable', like a degraded VHS tape.
The data he'd borrowed from Saucer finally finishes processing and charging. It's suffusing his body - he forces it and focuses it, channeling it into a single spot in his hands.
"Witness *my* power... Gigantimax Wildcard, execute!"
And then he holds both hands up.
"BarrlRollr R, LOADING!"
Another barrel forms in his hands, like the one he had thrown earlier - except after this one forms, it keeps growing - and growing, and growing, the energy mass in Forte's hands feeding into the barrel, pushing it larger and larger past barrel size and into something comparable to an automotive - and from there something comparable to a *house*-
"Gigantimax BarrlRollr R..."
Straining, Forte pulls his arms back...
And he throws it - and the house-sized barrel barrels across the stadium field, not so much maneuvering as instead smashing its way through any obstacles as it homes in on Theodore and his pokemon-
|Persephone Kore|| Phony's eyes glimmer with heartfelt awe and admiration. Her fingers splay out across her face, as if they're needed to hold the weight of her emotion. "Theodore... you're really special, aren't you? You and the bonds you have with your partners. I love it! I really, really do. These bonds formed by kindness..."
The percussive galestorm erases all other sound. Whatever she was going to say is lost. Phony stands against it, completely unguarded. Her hair and scarf flutter lazily; not as if in a storm, but underwater or in outer space.
Darren... I wanted to see it! I wanted to see him really show off! Ahaha, you're really too terrible to me. But if I get to see two amazing people at three-quarters instead of one at full, that's still a good trade, isn't it? You're both fantastic. How could I ever be mad?
"You've shown me so much," she says warmly in the aftermath. There's no hostility in her tone. "It'd be greedy if I didn't show you something too, wouldn't it? Ahaha, I could never be that selfish!"
"I don't think I have anything like 'resolve'. But if you're trying to create a better world, I'll show you what the glittering children of space are like; free from Earth's pull, raised in a world without pain. If you can really bring that down to the rest of the world... I'll be so glad."
There is a sense, briefly, of overwhelming danger; rather, danger-that-is-not, a make-believe threat, a power that could never kill. It lights up the deep regions of the brain anyway. The noosphere resonates with dread Persephone's intent milliseconds before reality obeys. The deer's eyes reflect the headlights.
A hammerblow strikes the twenty-foot radius around Theodore and Kommo-o. The grass and dirt and rock around them craters, then turns to glittering diamond under the weight of a spiral galaxy. They are briefly pinned to the ground by a force impossible to contemplate existing. What ought to grind their bones to degenerate matter instead becomes a gentle pressure dissuading resistance; what ought to rip them apart is instead a light caress inviting surrender.
Cracks radiate outwards along the ground anyway, fissuring the field. At the edges, grass burns from the friction.
|Darren|| Darren lands in a three point stance atop the nearest row of bleachers. His stonehenge buddy simply craters the other endzone, not possessed of the quarterback's grace.
-Survive and keep fighting!
-If you cannot back up your claims with actions, it will be the end of you!
-If you can really bring that down to the rest of the world... I'll be so glad.
Look in his eyes, Phony. We ain't seen the last of him!
Theodore adopts a low, grounded stance, his body hardened by whatever mysterious force allowed him to utter that earth-cracking bellow. It allows him to survive--barely.
First, Cantio's laser. Unwisely, he attempts to block it with the sword. While his technique does divert the majority of the energy away from him, it does not account for the fact that lasers are extremely hot--the sheer convection of having done so exhausts him, and despite the barrier of air that forms before it, the blade itself is red-hot by the time her attack is over.
He is therefore possessed only of his Pokemon when Forte's gigantic barrel is hurled his way. "Gigantamax power--harnessed so quickly?!" There might be an 'incredible' on the tail end of it--but it's drowned out by the cry of Kommo-o, who leaps in much as Theodore had for Vespiquen, taking the brunt of the house-sized barrel and knocking itself out. Even with a hole in it from Kommo-o's strength-boosted shoulder-check, Theodore is still bowled over by the edge of it, sent across the turf to dig one more of many furrows across its surface.
It doesn't matter how agile he is, nor does it matter that he switches in Trevenant to try--something. The both of them are pressed down beneath the weight of aeons. He doesn't say it--how could he, under such immense, galactic pressure? But his heart does.
You've won the day. I shall take what you and your friends have said into my heart, and become stronger. With my sword and my friends, Team Future shall make this world a world without pain.
The moment that Persephone relents in her pressure, he is gone from the diamondine crater, leaving all of you in an empty, ruined stadium, absent even the drone of the Macro Cosmos blimp.
|Persephone Kore|| "Take care! Be safe!" Persephone says, but she's left waving at thin air in the aftermath of Theodore's abrupt disappearance.
The jumbotron is sparking and fuzzed with static. Parts of the field are cratered or on fire. A significant fraction of the turf is now sparkling diamond. The seats are empty, all civilians having fled.
Persephone crosses her arms as she casually looks around. Her loaded hot dog floats down from the stands and lands in her palm. She takes a bite and chews thoughtfully. "He was nice," she finally says.
Darren gets a beaming smile and a pat on the head a moment later. Spiritually, everyone is shorter than Phony, but for Darren that also happens to be physically true. "And you were amazing! That part with the big flying tackle, that was so cool. Are you okay? Nothing broken? What about Saucer?"
|Forte||Forte powers down. He resettles his poncho properly into position.
"... I don't know about 'nice'," he says.
"Driven, maybe, but we'll see what comes of it."
And then he floats over towards Persephone, coming to a stop in front of her.
"... I did not thank you for the emotional shield."
"... Thank you."
|Persephone Kore|| Persephone's eyebrows shoot up. Her hand covers her mouth as she beams radiantly. She knows on some level not to make a big deal out of it when someone ventures outside what appears to be their comfort zone- the 'oh look who finally cleaned their room' effect- but that knowledge struggles against her delighting shock.
Finally, she settles on: "People don't usually surprise me! But I'm the happiest of all when they do. You're very welcome, Forte."
Forte watches Persephone's reaction - his own hidden once again by the poncho.
"This was a mistake," Forte decides, out loud.
AREASTEAL A - EXECUTE!
And he's gone.
|Cantio||Theodore leaves after seemingly taking their words to heart, and Cantio breathes a sigh of relief while transforming back into her regular human-y mode with her regular human-y clothes. "He... Had some kinks to work out in his approach, but I don't think he was a malicious person. Just..."
She makes a non-commital noise. She's trying to be polite and not talk shit about someone behind his back! So she just doesn't elaborate from there.
Persephone does draw her attention to Darren and Saucer, however, prompting Cantio to hurry over and remember that she's actually got HEALING POWERS to get started on patching up surface wounds for everyone that'll take vague JRPG healing spells.
"I'm surprised to see people actually heading into battle with their Pokemon like that. Are you... Is that just something people do around here?" She sounds more curious than worried. Forte, meanwhile, gets a curious look as he speaks to Phony and then a giggle from Cantio when he replies to the much larger woman.
"Was it really? Ah.. Take care!"
|Darren|| "He was," says Darren in surprised agreement, straight-up levitating back down onto the field. His green eyes gleam with enthusiasm, on full display thanks to his headband. "A guy shows up with a sword, a goon squad and six Self-Destruct Gravellers, you don't expect him to do much listening."
Finger-gunning at Forte, he nods once as his shoes touch the scarcely intact turf. "That too," he says, peeling some kind of white tape off the back of his arms.
He receives the headpat with radiant aplomb--Phony could likely have guessed that he likes that kind of attention from taller people, owing to how the star of his heart flared when he was dealing with Trell. "I'm good!" As for Saucer...
The shadow over the stadium shrinks in three rapid, uneven bursts, and there is a sense that some invisible, earthly current has shifted to accomodate for this fact. No longer a looming UFO, but a funky little dude with a polka-dot EWACS array on his back, Saucer comes zipping over to Peresphone to give her a hug with his little teeny arms. He's got a few scratches, but it seems as though that play Darren called--starting the fight with a barrier--came in clutch for the little guy.
Forte disappears before Darren can clap him on the back--but Cantio is still here, at least. As the JRPG magic washes over Darren and his pokeballs, he makes a so-so gesture with his hand.
"Depends on your style as a trainer. Black Belts and Psychics do," he says. "For me, I figured if I unlocked that potential inside of me, there was no reason I shouldn't. Especially out there," he says, gesturing with an index finger in a circle to indicate the broader Multiverse.
"People can learn the techniques that Pokemon do. Psychic, Telekinesis..." He looks up at the sparking jumbotron. "Fury Cutter. I think it's 'cause of micro-organisms they brought with 'em when they landed here from outer space millennia ago." He nods sagely.
"Yo, Spears." It's Lattrell! Sans pads, jersey hanging off of him and blowing in the wind. "So you a battler now?"
Darren turns and shrugs his shoulder. "More like a truther, but, there's battling involved, def."
"So you're not comin' back?" There's a note of anticipation there.
"Nah," admits Darren honestly. Before Trell can deflate (or, Phony may more accurately guess, funnel his disappointment into taunting), Darren continues. "Pro ball's not my scene no more. But I tell you what. You want the runback so bad, you put a team together--and you find yourself a Pokemon for that team--I'll give it to you any time."
There's a moment of silent tension, in the ruined stadium. But Trell extends his hand towards Darren. "Bet."