Session 91

After rendezvousing at the edge of town (the note was apparently destroyed in the chase, though none of the party directly witnessed its destruction), it's off down Route 11!
Linnea: "Can't believe we nearly got ratted out by one of our own allies. What the fuck."
The route is actually a paved road at start. Moving by car is at least 10, maybe 15 times faster than walking - and could be faster, if the road did not lazily curve and loop to roughly follow the coast, with several pedestrian-only shortcuts along the way. This is its own class of scenic route.
Skel being in the trunk, it is hard to tell if she can hear the party, but probably not.
Linnea: "Everyone else doin' okay?" Lin was at ease somewhat amidst the scenery, but still had the steering wheel in a tense grip.
Haley having handed over the driver's seat at the rendezvous.
Those who were looking at Lin would noticed that her hair had grown out a fair bit, and was now a vivid green with blue highlights here and there. Lin herself either didn't notice or didn't care.
Max Thorn: "…Did you stop by a salon before we left, Lin?"
Esme is leaning out of the passenger side window, contemplating as the scenery passes by. "More or less."
Suddenly up ahead, pothole. Easily dodged, though.
Sam Spade: "Probably the same one you went to for your hair coloring, Max."
Max Thorn: "Someone in the same chain, maybe."
Linnea steers the car aside. Fun as it would be to jolt Skel around, she's not that cruel. "Yeah, something like what Sam said. Probably."
Esme looks over. "Oh. It's spreading."
Linnea chuckles. "You make it sound like a plague, Esme."
Then a crack, then another crack, then what looks like the blackened, half-rotted remains of a tree blocking the right, inland half of the road.
Linnea pulls the car to a gentle stop. "Oi oi, end of the road?"
It is possible to drive around after a few moments' inspection, but slowly.
Linnea slowly proceeds, then.
Sam Spade: "…We're getting close to the defenses, I take it?"
The trees are starting to look wilted and withered. Grass is yellowish, just plain missing in several patches.
Linnea: "Speakin' of plagues. Gross."
Here and there can be seen skeletons - most of them obviously pokemon, a few either human or humanoid pokemon. Most of them are bleached clean and white, though a few have rotting bits of meat attached.
Sam Spade: "And that's a yes."
Sam Spade: "…Esme, is it supposed to be like this?"
Linnea: "I got a bad feelin' about this."
Max Thorn: "…"
Max Thorn: "Looks like another job for Shaymin."
One of the humanoid skeletons can be identified as probably-human by the remains of equipment nearby, such as what looks like a pokedex, and various shaped metal and plastic bits.
Esme is very much pinching the bridge of her nose. "…No. It's a swamp. Yes, there are some less-than-hospitable parts, but…"
Esme: "Sam, I'm going to entrust you with a very important task."
Esme: "That when we get there, to remind me to /speak/ before I /act/. Because it's going to be very difficult!"
Max Thorn: "…Someone's killing trainers?" There's a dangerous gleam in Max's eye now. Well. There was one when we first came across the skeletons, but even moreso now.
Linnea: "Oh. Ohhhhhhh."
The swampy part starts up some miles later, as the ground on either side of the road starts looking liquid. The road might once have been paved, but is now basically a gravel path. At least it it up out of the muck.
Sam Spade: "I can do that."
Haley is a few shades whiter and silent as a ghost, taking this all in.
Max Thorn: "I'm not quite strong enough to bring them back to life by my own grace, not when they were already dead when I arrived, but…"
Given what the party had previously been told, it is an easy guess that the death toll, especially among young new trainers that would have been "classmates" of the party, on the far side of Petro Swamp is much higher.
Max Thorn: "…I'm going to need quite a bit of time once we've sorted the cause out."
Esme: "Well, the Jaeger's have been pretty clear about doing that. We'd probably have been roasted on the way to Blaston if we hadn't been with Iggy at the time. And then the whole Rustle Fields thing, Sky City…"
Esme: "The method they chose this time just leaves a bit more evidence."
Max Thorn: "Even fire leaves bones, though."
Esme: "They literally shot at us the first time we left for Ice Cove."
Visibility soon mercifully drops, as a silver-purple haze begins to emerge. Fortunately it does not seem able to eat through the car. A few muks and grimers outside seem to be trying to inhale it as fast as they can, but there is just so much.
Sam Spade: "Well, getting trainer badges grants power within the Jaegers."
Esme has rolled up her window quite some time ago.
Sam Spade: "I wonder what they do with the kids they think will actually be Jaggies?"
Linnea: "This is…ugh."
And then there is an etched sign by the side of the road, brass bolted onto corroded steel, possibly once inked but the ink has long ago sloughed off. "SLOW DOWN AND PREPARE FOR AIRLOCK"
Sam Spade: "…Okay…"
Linnea brings the vehicle to a slow roll forward.
Suddenly, out of the mist, looms a large glass tunnel around the road, waiting to swallow up the car.
Linnea: "Okay that's kinda cool." She drives forward, easing the vehicle into the tunnel.
The tunnel is large enough for a truck, but the far end is not visible until after entering. An iris valve seals up behind, and the murk is quickly pumped out, replaced with clear air. Finally you can see the city ahead…
…or rather, what was once a proud city like any other, open plan, now crisscrossed with glass tubing like some hostile environment colony out of some space opera science fiction. But this is no television show; this is what the party now sees with its own eyes.
Max Thorn: "…"
Esme ties her hair back into a ponytail with a heavy sigh. "Business mode."
Linnea: "Whoa…"
Esme: "Impressive how quickly they got it set it up, but still disappointed."
An attendant in a Team Jaeger uniform waves to what looks like an impromptu glass garage with a few other vehicles parked inside. None of them seem to be the stolen military vehicles.
Linnea pulls the vehicle toward a parking spot, waiting for any personnel in case they step up with further instructions.
Sam Spade: "Remember, Esme. Speak, then act."
Esme takes a deep breath. "Thank you."
Linnea: "You can do this!"
Only the attendant is in evidence - a mid-height lady, maybe 24 by the looks of her, brunette with a single ponytail. She double-checks monitors, apparently making sure the outside air is all pumped out, before approaching the car. "Welcome to Petro Swamp. We don't get much traffic from Brooktale. What is your business?"
Linnea tilts her head toward Esme.
Linnea: "Business."
Linnea: "She can give you more detail."
[OOC] WC GM: Everyone's getting out, then?
[OOC] Linnea: Yup.
Attendant: "I have to ask. Poli-" Then she sees Esme.
[OOC] Max Thorn: Yes.
Esme glares.
Esme: "You know why I'm here."
The attendant freezes for a moment, then grins and kneels. "Oh sweet Arceus you FINALLY GOT HERE!"
Sam Spade: "…That was unexpected."
Linnea: "Abuh?"
Esme blinks. She wasn't expecting people to still actually respecting her station. "Ah-Oui…I…took too much of a leisure in making my way back. Sorry. But! Mad. Going to fix things. With my friends here!"
Linnea waves.
Sam Spade gives Esme a quick hug.
Esme: "Oof!"
Linnea: "Cuuuuuute."
Attendant: "Maybe you can talk some sense into your brother, and his wife."
Linnea: "Oh! That sounds like fun!"
Attendant: "I swear, not all of us are on board with the, err, 'deterrent'."
Linnea sounds…maybe a little too chipper about that.
Esme: "I figured as such." She smiles softly. "Point me in their direction."
Attendant: "By the way, you just came from Brooktale, right? Do you know if Tim - err, Moth's son - is there? There's, ah, kind of a hit order out on him if he shows up here."
The trunk loudly slams shut. No Tim, Sands, or Skel in sight here.
Sam Spade: "There's a what?"
Sam Spade: "From who?"
Sam Spade: "On who's authority?"
Esme: "That would end /incredibly/ poorly."
The dangerous gleam in Max's eye is back.
Attendant: "Rimsha. Dominic's wife. She's making a bid for power - I hear she's kind of Ignacia's pet." The attendant nearly spits.
Max Thorn: "Now /that/ I can't abide."
Esme: "Of COURSE Iggy had something to do with it."
Attendant: "She's in charge. And, err, frankly most of us are terrified of her."
Attendant: "We don't dare go against her."
Attendant: "But you might. Just, ah, don't directly contest her, to her face."
Sam Spade: "…Or?"
Attendant: "Or you'll be skeletonized, like the others who've tried."
Sam Spade: "Interesting."
Linnea: "Gross."
Esme snorts. "Well, we'll see."
Max Thorn: "She's not gonna like what happens if she tries to do that to us or those under our protection."
Attendant: "I hear she used to be an apprentice professor, studying under Dojji's main professor, experimenting with a certain accident from Kanto many decades ago, trying to reproduce it on purpose and harness a pokemon's power. They say she succeeded eventually."
Sam Spade: "So Petri's actions strike again."
Esme: "So…how bad is it, right now."
Esme: "How are the pokemon holding up?"
Attendant: "She also controls the food vats. I…we're all sick of algae and recycled food, but it's what's available. I came here because I wanted cranberries!" The attendant tears up a bit.
Linnea: "Now that's just wrong."
Attendant: "They're either under cover, able to eat the poison, or…" She blanches. "…no longer here. Even the ghost types get chased away, though I hear they all head to Elysium like it's some kind of beacon to them."
Max Thorn: "I mean, it /is/…specifically to ensure people who're able to handle them are handling them."
Esme frowns. "I figured the water types would be having it rough…"
Attendant: "A few of us are trying to coordinate the local poison type pokemon to clean this all up - we're kind of rangers. We even dug up an old Pokemon Ranger handbook to figure it out." She looks around, then places a hand on a holster on her hip. At first it looks like it would conceal a pistol, but when she opens it - using her body to bl
WC GM: ock any views from behind - the party can see a capture styler briefly, before she shuts the holster again.
Max Thorn: "Is networking impaired here at all?"
Attendant: "No, thankfully. I don't know if *she* monitors communications, though, so those of us who work against her try not to talk about it on the network."
Max Thorn: "I could enable encryption on your communications, but that might raise flags. On the other hand…hm. Do you folks share pictures of cute pokemon often?"
Attendant: "There…haven't been many cute pokemon to share pictures of. Most poison types aren't photogenic."
Esme: "Uhh, what? Grimers are adorable!"
Max Thorn: "Doesn't have to be ones you take yourself, nor of poison-types."
Max Thorn: "…Nidorans are pretty cute too."
Attendant: "If you say so."
Esme releases Lucrece.
Esme: "There you go."
The attendant rises and tilts her head. "Something's…off, about this one…?"
Linnea: "It's special."
Luc bubbles and chirps excitedly, then forms into a quizzical question mark.
Linnea: "…And that's still a bit unnerving."
Attendant: "Huh. You know…it might just fit in the contest. Oh! You were here for that, right?"
Max Thorn: "Aaaaaanyway. Photos in general would work, but having pre-existing material floating around wouldn't raise any flags if someone's smart enough to notice changes in message patterns."
Sam Spade: "Contest?"
Attendant: "Yeah! Uggh, seriously, Rimsha basically just stole it from Brooktale. There's going to be an exhibition of cuties, to 'drum up town pride' or something."
Sam Spade lets out the evilist of grins.
Linnea: "Oh lords, she's at it again."
Sam Spade: "What?"
Sam Spade: "I have no idea what you're talking about."
Attendant: "If you're thinking of entering, be warned, it'll probably be rigged so only a Duval can win."
Sam Spade: "….That's fine."
Sam Spade: "It just means it'll also be rigged in favor of Esme."
Attendant: "…"
Linnea: "Nnnnnnneat."
Sam Spade: "Besides, a good pokemon contest isn't about winning."
Sam Spade: "It's about giving it your all - and your pokemon giving it their all - in front of the audience."
Sam Spade: "If you don't play because you can't win, then what's the point of it at all?"
The attendant BEAMS. "Oooh, you're right! Registration closes tonight, so make sure to register at the pokemon center. Ah…" She points. "Down that way, second right, curve around, you'll see it but you can't get in until you're in line with the front door."
Sam Spade: "Thank you!"
Esme: "Mmm. I'll of course give it a Try, though Luc is as 'conventionally' cute as I've got."
Linnea: "So is Cute the official theme of the contest, then?"
Max Thorn: "I could loan you Antheia, but I'm sure they'd expect a poison-type from you."
Attendant: "It is. That's why it was supposed to be in Brooktale."
Linnea: "Hm, that's…Ah."
Esme: "Makes sense."
Linnea: "Sounds like it's Mia's turn to shine."
Attendant: "But you're not a Duval. Unless…"
Linnea: "Oh, uh."
Attendant: "Are…are you planning to counter-cheat?"
Linnea: "I didn't know it was-"
Linnea: "I'm just goin' along with my friends, here."
Attendant: "It has to be open to everyone, to be an official contest. But everyone knows they're going to rig the points and scoring."
Esme: "…Hm."
Linnea: "I mean I don't care, I just wanna have fun after what I just went through."
Attendant: "Hmm?"
Linnea waves the thought away. "Rough day."
The attendant's cheer decays a bit. "Yeah. You had to drive through all that, and see…" She shakes her head. "I wouldn't wish that on anyone."
Linnea: "Mhm."
Sam Spade: "Someone once asked us to end the war."
Sam Spade: "The drive here from Brooktale was a reminder that it still hasn't ended."
Max Thorn: "For what it's worth, I promise you, as the Messiah of Shaymin, that those who have suffered as a consequence of this…*mess*…will be restored."
Attendant: "The war? Err…y-yeah. I mean, Amoda's a much nicer place than Dojji! But I'd rather work WITH the people and pokemon here, not OVER them."
The attendant looks blankly at Max for a moment. "You can bring back the dead?"
Linnea: "…Oh boy."
Max Thorn: "…Those who die in my presence, or who are deathly ill, I can help."
Max Thorn: "The rest are, alas, in Arceus's hands…"
Esme: "I can't promise any of that. But! As the rightful Duval heir, and Champion of Lugia, I'll definitely do something about this miasma. And Rimsha."
Attendant: "Thank you. Umm…you probably want to lay low for now, but I can promise you Rimsha never goes to the pokemon center. She has people take her pokemon there when injured. It's…kind of by mutual agreement between her and Nurse Joy."
Attendant: "Rimsha's powers are all about poison and decay and death, and the kind of thing Nurse Joy won't allow in the pokemon center. Rimsha says she's just humoring Joy, but I think even Rimsha knows she'd have a tougher time lording over this place if she took out the pokemon center."
Sam Spade: "Before too long, there'd be nothing left to lord over."
Attendant: "Exactly. It's why she set up those food vats too."
Esme cracks her knuckles. "Well, let's get rolling then. You have our thanks, mademeoiselle."
The attendant salutes. "Throw my sister out of here and you'll have mine!"
Max Thorn sketches a quick, respectful bow to the attendant.
Sam Spade doubletakes.
Walking up to the car's trunk, the attendant waves toward the tunnel. "Go on. I'll, ah, get your luggage unloaded and stowed *safely*."
Sam Spade: "Thank you!"
Sam Spade: "….Wait."
Linnea: "Welp."
Sam Spade: "Um- Mad…moiselle? We can take care of that!"
Attendant: "No, no, go on ahead. The security cameras here don't have their microphones on and she can't lip read - I think - but she'll see you walking along and let me take my Tim - err, *time* unloading this where she won't see."
Linnea pinches the bridge of her nose.
Max Thorn: "It's more the other special cargo we're concerned about."
Max Thorn taps into his 'dex quickly, then steps over to the attendant as though showing her a photo; what he actually shows her is a message, "Marowak is from Gaela, transport directly to pokemon center as secretly as possible without recourse to a pokeball unless she volunteers hers."
The attendant reads quickly, then smiles. "Aww, that IS a cutie! Hehe, don't worry." She salutes again. "Your luggage is in good hands."
Max Thorn rejoins his group. "Thanks."
Attendant: "There are security cameras throughout these tunnels, so to evade them you'd need another way to move around, if you *dig* my meaning." She seems to be speaking to the trunk as much as to the party. "But you'd need good maps. I can provide maps."
Max Thorn: "Ah…are they higher-quality than the ones on the network?"
Attendant: "They are the ones on the network…and the ones I haven't uploaded yet. Some of us keep busy measuring these tunnels, in bits and pieces. They're new parts of the city, you know, and people need to know how to get where they're going."
Sam Spade: "Of course."
Linnea: "Thank you very much!"
Attendant: "So of course we make them *to scale*, so you can know exactly how far it is from point A to point B. Like a certain back room in the pokemon center, which I know has a weak floor, to…saaay, the inner door of the airlock. Or any other point you'd like to specify." She puts a hand on the trunk.
Max Thorn: "That should work."
Attendant: "But please, go on. Too much chat might seem like we're having a *suspiciously* good time."
Linnea: "Let's give the Center a stop, then."
Sam Spade: "I do have a really large library of cute eevee pics if your sister wants to see them."
Sam Spade: "Well, hopefully we'll see you once we're settled in at the pokemon center."
Attendant: "You might! Especially through the glass wall - ah, mine's the orange enviro-suit, if you see me outside."
Max Thorn sketches the attendant another bow, then gets going. He manages to fake a wide-eyed look of awe, though the other three can probably tell that not only is it fake, the face he /actually/ wants to make would be tight-lipped fury at the way the town's been polluted.
Indeed, the town is visible through the walls of the tunnel - contained and safe where the glass tunnels are, miasma and barren mud outside.
Linnea: "Mmmh…"
There are a few traces of what the acid mist has not been able to dissolve, including what were probably a few buildings. One section of the tunnels has collapsed, with automatic bulkheads deployed; within the breach lie skeletons of buildings, people, and pokemon.
Sam Spade: "How did it get so bad here?"
Indeed, it appears the tunnels are glass not primarily to afford the view, but rather because this is the most abundant material that the acid can not touch.
Esme: "Like, seriously. There's always been a bit of miasma, but never hazmat suit bad /constantly/. This is ridiculous!"
The pokemon center does indeed need some spiraling around to get to. As the party's path curves, a particularly thick portion of miasma comes into view - and in the middle of it, a person-sized machine pumping the purple mist out.
Max Thorn: "I would think the main issue with a healthy swamp is the smell. And methane build-up."
Max Thorn: "…"
Underneath the machine are stone-faced, rifle-armed guards, in an airlock with thick glass doors.
Max Thorn 's fury leaks through at that.
At a glance, it is apparent the airlock is there to prevent people from walking up to the guards and yelling at them, to let them do their shifts in peace and quiet.
Sam Spade: "Well."
It is questionable how far the guards can see, given their dark sunglasses.
Esme: "Well, I talked already." Esme stomps up to the airlock.
The airlock does not open.
Esme: "Let's see, how do that have this mess set up."
The airlock doors are thick enough that it would take some time to break through - enough time for reinforcements to arrive.
The guards would be able to shoot through any such crack before it could be widened enough to storm through.
[OOC] WC GM: Tech Ed check for the rest.
Max Thorn rolled up 6d6: 12 (1 4 1 1 2 3) (Tech Ed)
[OOC] Max Thorn: …thanks, Chessa.
Esme rolled up 6d6+1: 23 (1 4 1 6 4 6) (Big Gas Door)
The guards are wearing caps, but under the caps glints a circlet…Esme recalls seeing the type in a passing reference before. Mind control - grossly illegal on the international market. Not complete control, but enough to influence opinions. In this case, suppressing caring and empathy seems to be the probable function.
It is likely that intrusion would see the intruders just plain dead, unless the guards could be met with overwhelming force quickly.
Esme sighs. "Of course it's mind control. Psychic-type was a mistake."
Linnea: "… . ."
Linnea: "Okay, now -I'm- mad."
Esme: "I could probably put them to sleep, but too much effort to try and bust in there now. Need another way in."
Max Thorn: "Let's…move on, so we can discuss matters."
Max Thorn sounds like he has some glimmer of a plan, though.
Linnea: "Hm, got something?"
Esme: "Mmmhm."
[OOC] Max Thorn: Does it look like the guards have sunglasses or other eye protection?
[OOC] WC GM: They do indeed have dark sunglasses.
[OOC] Max Thorn: Nuts.
At the pokemon center, one corner is occupied by machinery, crewed by a small group of pokemon, churning out bottle after bottle of pink substance. Having seen similar before, the party soon recognizes this as an antitoxin production factory. Nurse Joy is collapsed on the counter, deep asleep. A chansey notices the party enter and breaks out a needle, sticking Nurse Joy in the neck. Moments later she wakes up; as she stands, multiple injection sites can be seen along her neck and shoulders. Her half-lidded eyes droop, with deep bags underneath. Below her cap lies a tiara; a moment's inspection shows it is similar to what was upon the guards.
Linnea: "Oh no…"
Nurse Joy yawns then tries to perk up. "Hello, and welcome to the pokemon cent-aaaawn-er. How can I be of assistance?"
Linnea: "…"
Nurse Joy sways on her feet, her chansey holding her up.
Linnea: "Uh…right. Are there any open rooms?"
NurseJoy: "If you need antitoxins…" She gestures to the machine. "…our volunteers have finally been able to keep up with demand; help yourself."
Max Thorn pinches the bridge of his nose.
NurseJoy: "Rooms?" She blinks, mind clearly skipping gears and trying to re-engage. "Rooms…rooms…oh!" She blinks. "You are pokemon trainers? But…" She tilts her head. "Rimsha said there wouldn't be any?" Shrugging, she taps her keyboard. "Which means there are plenty of rooms. Don't bother with keycards, I'll just unlock the first
WC GM: one on the left for you. " She yawns again. " Chansey, can you take care of service? I don't think I can. "
The chansey nods, looking up at Joy with obvious worry.
NurseJoy: "Done. Hmm…oh! If you are trainers…are you here for the contest?"
Esme: "…Right. We need to sign up for the Contest too, but you definitely need to get some sleep."
Linnea: "Yeah. Do you think I could volunteer for a shift?"
NurseJoy: "No, no, Rimsha says I can sleep when I'm not…" Yawn. "…helping someone." She taps away, then turns a monitor toward the party. "Contestants tap their pokedexes here to register."
Max Thorn: "Or m'self."
Max Thorn considers, then shrugs and taps his 'dex.
Linnea follows suit.
Esme taps then frowns. "Yeah, well, she's not the only Duval running around. I'm telling you, go lay down. We'll take over here for a bit."
Nurse Joy's eyes bulge. "Err! Ah…aheh…yyy…you c-could but then I would have to explain how it works and that would take a while and I'd have to be awake for all of that and…PLEASEDON'TMAKEME!" Her terrified expression freezes, then goes serene again. "Umm. Ignore what I just said, please. We have enough volunteers right now, thank you."
Esme: "…"
NurseJoy: "If you want to look around, that's fine, but I have to be awake if you need my assistance." She turns the monitor back and taps again. "Registrations complete. Is there anything else?"
Linnea: "…I'm just going to the room, thanks."
Esme: "No, nothing else. Let's move."
NurseJoy: "You're welco-" Like a puppet with its strings cut, Nurse Joy collapses to the floor, then begins lightly snoring.
Max Thorn: "…I swear to Arceus."
Esme cracks her neck. "Hoo. This is going to be a long day."
Linnea: "Mmmmmmmmmmhh."
Linnea: "I hate this."
The chansey waddles over to a monitor in the wall, then brings up what looks like security camera footage. Judging by the time index in the corner, the footage begins a week ago, then plays fast forward. Nurse Joy is awake and at her desk for most of this time, splitting her attention between endless cases brought to her desk and cobbling together the antitoxin production machinery. She crashes from exhaustion multiple times, until just this morning the machine is finished and pokemon begin running it. She is still woken up by the chansey when anyone comes to her desk (as opposed to taking antitoxin, either to go or using it on the spot), though she does get a few hours' sleep at a time, until eventually the party arrives.
Max Thorn leads the way to the room. "I /almost/ wish I'd partnered with Arceus rather than Shaymin. But only almost."
Linnea: "That's still almost too much."
Esme quietly closes the door so as not to awaken the nurse. She lets out a deep breath, which nearly whips up a small windstorm around her.
Esme: "REALLY."
Esme: "Feeling that Lugia rage right now."
Haley: "I knew things were bad elsewhere, but…"
Haley: "You…all seem used to this kind of thing?"
Max Thorn: "Resigned to, really."
Linnea: "Vaguely…"
Linnea: "Somehow, we keep going without losing hope."
Linnea: "I'm not questioning it."
Esme: "We show up to place, things are bad. Often Jaeger related."
Esme: "But…we put it right. Mostly, at least."
Max Thorn: "I'm not sure whether I'd put /this/ mess above or below the situation in Elysium Valley, before we handled that."
Max Thorn: "But I definitely wish I could send Rimsha to Arceus for judgement, in a state where she can't attempt to act effectively against him."
Esme: "Oh, we can definitely launch her into space."
Linnea: "I'm trying really hard not to consider disproportionate retribution."
Linnea: "I just want to make things…better."
Max Thorn: "Would rather have justice. Justice I can work with. Retribution…wouldn't help, not really."
Linnea: "Yeah, that's…"
Esme: "Well, we've got a few things. Win the contest, take out the pump machines, deal with these…Circlets. I still need to find Dominic."
Max Thorn: "It would be the height of irony if we ended up needing those foul crystal things to counteract the circlets."
Haley: "Dominic was your brother, right?"
Esme: "Sort-of? I mean, basically. But he's a Fontaine, and would have a little more detail on things. Also make it easier to get out to whatever safe area of the swamp the Duvals would be hanging out, now."
Haley: "I mean! He is your brother! Is…I hope. I was reading up on local news - apparently he hasn't been seen in a week, and Rimsha is now the official gym leader." She looks at Esme with pitying eyes. "I know I'm probably just imagining dark things, but…" She gestures outside.
Esme: "UUGH."

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