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It was a late evening. A boy was crouching overlooking the city of Penrose from a rooftop, rolling his shoulders and flexing his arms. He had spiky blonde hair and dark clothes, long pants and a dark jacket hanging from his shoulders, his steely gaze speaking of experience.

This was Bowen Collins. He'd come to see what all the fuss about Penrose was about, on suggestion from his Puchuu, Aarton.



This city was ridiculous. A half-abandoned city with monsters and Ascendancy running about, multiple horror-themed crises, and who knows what else. It had a reputation for people moving out of it and some magic vortex bringing trouble. Bowen stood up straight, leaning to stretch his back.

‘Well, let's see what happens if I take a walk,’ Bowen said, before leaping and falling down into an alley, crouching perfectly upon impact from the long fall. He stood up again, put his hands in his pockets, and started walking, his eyes suspiciously estimating the chance of each shadow leaping out and attacking him…

With a flash of lightning, he suddenly darted aside, as a beam of multicoloured light and a reinforced spider web struck at his location. The young man spun around, his arms and an eyebrow raised, a smile on his lips. Facing him wordlessly was a blonde girl in a purple dress and a drider monster-girl, prepared for battle. Bowen chuckled.

‘Man, Aarton wasn’t kidding about Penrose! What happened, did I wander onto your turf?’ he asked, his smile going away as he inspected his opponents, who weren’t answering. They were strong. The blonde one was positively bursting with power, and the spider had both magical and physical threats to him. But, he wasn’t about to make this easy for them. He brought his left hand to his raised right arm, and started slowly pulling a giant, magical sword of lightning out through it, his opponents taking a step back as the bolts surged over the sides of the alley.

‘Right, but I don’t plan on losing on my first night here. I’m Bowen Collins, veteran magical boy. I trust the two of you won’t disappoi-’

A sudden sharp pain struck the back of his neck, and his right hand flew to slap at the spot. He stumbled and turned his head, blinking in surprise as he saw a single green butterfly drifting away.

‘Tha-that’s ridiculous, butterflies don’t, uh, bite…’ Bowen said, as the poison from the butterfly surged through his body, his vision blurred, his lightning sword dispersed onto the alley walls and he collapsed. The butterfly drifted to a corner, where a hand raised itself to let the butterfly land on it, and the green-haired girl which it belonged to stepped forth to look down at him with an unimpressed expression.

‘See? That’s how you do an ambush,’ Lea stated, very simply.




Bowen blinked awake. Stared at a featureless ceiling. He was lying on a bed. He stretched out his arms and yawned as he slowly sat up, scratching the top of his spiky-haired head as he considered… why was he here again…?

‘Oh, yeah!’ he said, hitting one fist into the other’s palm. ‘I was joining the Ebon Mint!’ he said. Right, he’d heard they had a significant presence in Penrose! Aarton recommended he went to Penrose to fight the monsters and evil there, and he did so, but secretly planned to go to them! That would spice up the boring life he lived now! ‘Well, better get to it!’ he said, opening the window to jump away, not noticing the numerous tiny spiders watching him leave.




It took a couple days of searching, but he finally managed to get into contact with a Mint operative and got himself escorted to a room with a Coin Broker. He sat there confidently, one leg over the other, knowing fully well he came with a sought-after skillset. Then came the question…

“Why come to us?”

Honestly, Bowen had considered that for a while. Why was he so insistent on meeting the Ebon Mint and becoming part of their organization? He could so clearly remember swearing off them for so long… still, every time he considered it, he arrived at the same definite answer. He leaned forward, his hands together.

‘… Whenever I defeat monsters or save the world, I feel like I’m on top of the world. It’s the Job Satisfaction part of the Puchuu agreement. It’s meant to make us do what we do forever. However, between jobs, do you know what I realized that I am? A junkie. A junkie addicted to the high of beating monsters, to the drug known as Job Satisfaction, which the Puchuu can provide for me in spades. I realized it, and I hated it. Hated it with every fabric of my being. And since then, I can’t hunt monsters the same again. We’re just expendable tools for the Puchuu to fight monsters with, using Job Satisfaction to keep us in line. They don’t care about us,’ he said, shaking his head.

‘Yet, what is a boy to do with his immortal life, if not serve his purpose? What’s the alternative? … That’s when I realized, I have eternity to play around. Morals and virtues matter a lot less when such things come to light. And as such, I decided. Today I will be an Ebon Mint operative, in your debt and willing to work, because that’s what I want to do. Not what they want me to do, what I want to do. I trust you’ll make it fun for me, won’t you? I always rather liked the crime-family-aesthetic, hah,’ he finished and chuckled.

The mobster in front of him nodded, and reached for some papers to place in front of Bowen.

“Sign here.”

Bowen wasted no time leaning forward and checked the paper he’d be signing.




Now he was back, wandering the streets of Penrose again, hands in his pockets. It was weird how little seemed to have changed, yet some things had changed. He’d received the means to contact the Ebon Mint, and he’d received a Black Coin…

He held out the Black Coin to inspect it. It invited extra powers, a chance to become corrupted, a monster. Yet, honestly, Bowen didn’t feel like using it. As a criminal, wasn’t it smarter for him to blend into a crowd? Not to mention, he didn’t really feel like possibly needing to go through the hassle of getting himself purified at the end of it, and handling Beacon’s an issue. Yeah, honestly, this coin felt like more trouble than it was worth.

So he casually flicked it down a manhole grate as he passed, smirking at his rebellious little action. He’d gotten himself into debt for that coin, and now he was just casually throwing it into the sewers for some random goblin to enjoy. It was hilarious. Now, guess he’d better work his way back for that coin, huh? Well, this should be fun…







Mariette winced as along with the coin came sewer-water splashing onto the floor of the apartment she was currently occupying, grimacing somewhat from the smell. She quickly closed the portal to prevent more coming through. Completely unperturbed, Lea leaned down and picked up the coin, presenting it to Mariette.

‘… And that’s how you steal a Black Coin,’ Lea told her, holding the coin before her to Mariette, Ronja and Suzette flanking her.

Mariette hesitantly reached forward and picked up the wet coin. She couldn’t deny that Lea’s plan to brainwash someone into debt for them to get the coin worked, but the plan had doomed an innocent into thinking they wanted to be part of the Ebon Mint. It was exactly what Mariette had been avoiding doing, yet here’s Lea, with no qualms about these sort of things. What… what was Mariette supposed to do here? It wasn’t as if she could tell Lea just why she wasn’t kidnapping people anymore…

‘Is there any complaints?’ Lea asked, her feelings of superiority over Mariette audible in her voice.

‘… None. I’ll have Olivia study this coin at once,’ Mariette said, turning around to a portal. Regardless of the means, they now had a White Coin and a Black Coin.

What would be possible to do with both…?




Some time later, Mariette wandered down to where Olivia was working with both the White and the Black coin, as well as developing some prototypes for her own kinds of coins. They weren’t very useful as of yet, but maybe with this they could find something interesting. Dissecting the White Coin hadn’t been very productive, just shown that its power came from some Beacon piece incorporated into the coin, but maybe the Black Coin…?

‘I’m afraid this won’t do us much good…’ Olivia sighed, and Mariette prepared herself for disappointment. ‘The Black Coin doesn’t really contain power. More like, it’s a controlled conduit leading to a power-source, and that power source is what corrupts the girls. I can build the conduit, but the Ebon Mint probably has some failsafes to prevent someone leeching their power-source and I don’t want to mess with that…’

‘… We have… a conduit directly to the Mint’s main power source?’ Mariette asked, an eyebrow raised.

‘Er, yes, but, uh, I don’t think they’d let us play with it?’ Olivia replied.

‘… Huh.’ Mariette tried to consider what might be possible with that. ‘You could recreate and modify the conduits? Maybe link them to a new power source?’

Olivia paused for a bit, but then slowly nodded.

Mariette swallowed. It was far too easy to imagine what they could do with that. And yet… Mariette’s eyes widened a little.

‘Oh.’

&


.:⋮Friends old and new⋮:.


Time. It sometimes felt like the procession of time was the only constant in Penrose. Whether that was a good or bad thing was up to perspective and debate, but for the moment the Queen of Penrose was glad for it. A week had passed, a week of which she sored up her home, defended her title, made new friends and kept in contact with old ones.

It was also in the effort of fulfilling that last one that Penny was currently searching the networks in Penrose. There were a few different people she was still on the lookout for, and while she could always just call them, her interdimensional comm link was useful for that, she also wanted them to be in Penrose when she did so. Mainly because she had noticed them dropping in and out of Penrose’s network, and had half a mind about why and didn’t want to interrupt in case she was right.

So when she caught sight of the signal she was looking floating about Penrose once again she gave it a ring. With luck Ronin would be free to catch up.

Meanwhile.

‘Why the heck are you so much better than me? We split from the same body!’ Deni asked, mashing her controller with no success in sight.

‘I was blessed with the gift of patience. Also, you were dead for a while, so guess I’m the older sister now. I got experience on you,’ Eli replied, chuckling a bit, completely beating Deni in the fighting game they were playing.

‘Nope! Doesn’t work like that! I’m the older sister!’ Deni chuckled right back. They’d been taking some time just enjoying their newfound freedom and being reunited, not doing anything particularly amazing. Playing games together and so.

‘Are we entirely sure about that? We were two souls in the same body. Are we entirely sure you were first?’ Eli asked, her tone a bit teasing.

‘… I don’t remember that far back, but there just GOT to be a basis for why I have our original name, right?’ Deni grinned a bit. ‘Eeeeh, let’s not worry about it!’

‘Then let’s not worry about who is the older sister, either~’ Eli replied.

‘That’s still totally me, though.’

‘You sure?’

The two girls giggled together, when Deni’s phone rang. ‘Oh, gotta take this, the queen of Penrose calls me personally~’ Deni said, kind of jokingly. Eli giggled a bit more before pausing the game as Deni answered…

‘Hiya! Ronin speaking! What’s up?’ she asked, reverting to using her cover-up name.

‘Hey Ronin, hope I’m not calling at a bad time.’ Penny would reply, glad that she was able to get a hold of the tiny samurai. Who wasn’t sounding as tiny as she remembered. ‘Wanted to check in on how things went with your plan since I wasn’t free to help out when you texted me’ She would go on to explain. She was currently out and about from the Sanctuary, patrolling, but the follow up was the more important thing at the moment.

‘Not a bad time at all, go ahead!’ Ronin started, then listened to the rest. ‘Oh, yeah, probably should tell you about that. Is, uh, is this line secure? Actually, would probably prefer to tell you face to face…’ Ronin said. One of Asengav's champions was a technology-girl, couldn't be too careful.

‘It’s as secure as I can make a phone call’ Penny would say amusement coloring her voice. She knew she wasn’t the only techie in Penrose, but she was the only one who had an innate connection to said tech. Which meant her protections weren’t something to scoff at ‘That said, I’m open to a face to face. Got a bit of an upgrade since we last met, so now's as good a time as any to show off the new look’ That and Penny was curious about the voice change. Not something normally so apparent over a phone line, but again innate connection to tech, so the voice difference was clear as crystal to the mechanical girl.

‘Anywhere you want to meet up at?’ She would ask as she considered a few places that should be safe to hold a conversation.

‘… You wouldn’t happen to know where I am right now? Because here would be nice,’ Ronin said, giggling a bit. They were currently one of the apartments that Eli and Mariette had once scouted out for safe places to portal into, one of a great number of safe havens that had popped up recently with many of the residents of Penrose leaving and such.

‘I don’t’ Penny would say even as she was cracking into the GPS system of Ronin’s phone ‘But I can find out easily enough’ She would add after a moment. Tipping her hand at just how easy it was for her to go ‘Big Brother’ was always something she tried to avoid, but the pros seemed to outweigh the cons at the moment.

‘Give me fifteen or so and I’ll be there’ She would add after a moment of silence. Because a simple phone wasn’t much of a challenge when she already had an open connection with it.

Ronin giggled a bit. Yes, that was a test. She wasn’t sure, but yes, now she knew. ‘Great, I’ll see you here, then,’ she said, and then turned to tell Eli.

True to Penny’s estimation she arrived on the balcony of the apartment just a bit shy of fifteen minutes later. To which she tapped on the glass door leading in to note her arrival in case neither Deni or Eli were on watch.

What she arrived too was only Ronin chilling on the sofa, arms behind her head. She looked a bit different, 11 instead of 7, yet still in a clear samurai-theme. When Penny arrived, Ronin bounced up with a grin and ran over to open the glass. ‘Heeey! Hello, I’m Ronin! I kinda used a Red Coin since last time, but I’m still pretty similar, right~?’

“When from tiny to small” Penny would agree with a smirk. Because over all that was the main difference aside from the cosmetic changes.

‘Anyways, before anything else, I want to introduce you to someone! My sister!’ Ronin said, as she spun around and gestured behind her. That was the cue for Eli to come walking out, looking very similar to Ronin but with red and a bit longer dress, nodding politely to her.

‘Hello, Penny. It’s nice to meet you,’ she said.

‘We don’t actually have a name for her yet! If I’m Ronin, we figure she should have a similar theme! Best I got was Geisha, but…’

‘I’d want something that sounds a bit more adventurous,’ Eli told.

‘Yea, still working on it!’ Ronin said with a grin.

“Well there is always Kunoichi” Penny would toss out. “It’s a female ninja” Which fit more how Ronin’s new look went, but semantics “Anyway nice to meet you” She would greet offering a hand for the ‘new’ girl to shake.

“Do have to ask though, why do you need to come up with a name for her?”

‘I considered Kunoichi, actually, but it feels a bit too long. Maybe Miko. Maybe,’ Eli said, giggling a little as she took Penny’s hand. Then, for the question…

‘… Because I don’t want Asengav’s forces to realize she’s actually their slime-girl, Eli, that I stole and had purified,’ Ronin said, grinning a little as she said. She wondered slightly if Penny had enough information to figure Ronin out based on that.

‘So, I was going to tell you. We DID manage to catch Mariette. We removed her brainwashing, but…’ Ronin sighed a little, looking a bit sad.

‘… But the choice to be purified must come from her,’ Eli filled in. ‘There’s no point in freeing her mind so she can make her own decisions if we’re just going to make those decisions for her. She’s gone back to Asengav for now, considering her options. He shouldn’t be able to find out we’ve removed the mind-bending… yet, anyway. It was Janet and Jenna that helped us remove the mind-bending, they and Su, Helga and the Djinn Sisters helped us capture Mariette.’

‘And Gaia, Connie and Magical Dream Princess helped me get to Eli, and Veronica and her Cradle were on standby to help out as Mariette’s allies during the battle even if it didn’t really result in anything. Yeah, it’s been a team effort!’ Ronin said, grinning to Penny. ‘Still. Keep this in mind next time you talk to Mariette. But, uh, don’t blow her cover! They don’t know she’s un-mind-bent!’

Penny nodded along with the explanations. Not outwardly reacting to learning who Eli was, which was enough for Penny to put together who Deni was. She had met them both briefly once before after all, last time Justine and Mariette crossed each other in fact. The reason for the lack of reaction was because she was a bit stuck on another point.

“Please tell me that you gave her some way of keeping in touch with you both.” She would say a bit strained. “And please tell me that she has a safe place to go to if she needs.” Because breaking the mind bending wouldn’t necessarily change anything. Not without Mariette being given a reason to try and change her thought patterns. Which were entirely toxic due to the influence of the Horror. “And you realize that she’s not corrupted right? Purification wouldn’t change anything for her.” A claim Penny felt rather comfortable in making since she had seen and felt both Mariettes more well known specialization and her Power.

Both Deni and Eli blinked a little by the new tone Penny took with them. Deni was quick to make an affirming nod.

‘Yes. She has my phone number, not to mention she has Absolute Direction, she can find me whenever. She also has access to the dimensional home of the Djinn Sisters. Not even Asengav can look for her there,’ Deni assured.

‘The purification potions have the ability to sever the connection to a Horror,’ Eli explained. ‘So perhaps it’s not entirely the right terminology, but that’s what we meant.’

“Really?” Penny would be drawn short by that relviation of the capabilities of the purification potions. “Didn’t know they could do that” She would mutter to herself before shrugging it off. Content to ponder over that bit of knowledge later.

“Anyway, good.” She would relax a bit knowing that Mariette wasn’t trapped, physically at least, there. “I would like to state, for the record, that I disagree, vehemently, with leaving Mariette under the purview of her patron.” She would state firmly “It’s like leaving someone in an abusive relationship. You just got her to be able to look at the abuse rationally, but then left her at the slimeballs place. But there’s not much to do about that now.” And it was perhaps not quite the same, but Penny didn’t trust most Patrons when it came down to it, and there wasn’t really a way to ensure that Asengav didn’t already know. It was his magic that was coursing through Mariette after all.

“Would it be safe to text her and let her know that I know, in case she wanted to talk to a third party?” She would ask. “Give her more options and other ways out in case things go sideways.”

‘RIGHT!?’ Deni made a very loud agreeing noise about not liking leaving Mariette with Asengav. ‘We should have kept her for as long as necessary to make her understand in that dimensional home, and- yeah! She doesn’t even know what’s out here…!’ she looked over at Eli, who swallowed a little because she became aware she was alone to defend the decision. Su wasn’t there, who helped with it.

‘… She’s… not exactly abused with Asengav. She’s the leader. His foremost champion. The difference is that, now, she knows she was being made to work for him. I firmly believe she’s smart enough to understand the difference. We, Su and the Djinn Sisters all said our parts to sway her, but in that room, it was obvious that Mariette needed more time. That’s… how we came to that decision, and we parted ways on good terms,’ Eli explained. That was bending the facts a little, as when failing a mission Asengav dealt rather harsh punishment, which Eli believed would result in Mariette fleeing to their side… albeit it was hard to say that to Penny and Deni right now. Deni never faced that punishment.

‘… Sending a message to Mariette is dangerous. There’s a technology girl in Asengav’s charge. She could… no, probably is keeping a pretty close look on that phone, and Mariette knows that, so she won’t use that phone if it’s for this matter,’ Deni said, still looking a bit upset as a somewhat sore point from the earlier scene had been brought up again.

“It’s a good thing I have her number form before all of this then” Penny would say after a stretch of silence. Mariette’s situation was a complicated mess, and Penny was sure she was only getting half of it at best. “I can call her without raising suspicion.” Something that Penny felt she needed to do in light of everything here.

“And Eli, abuse doesn’t have to be physical to leave scars. After all, you're still defending him, and you know that he’s not worth the effort. I don’t doubt that Mariette’s smart enough to recognize things, the question at this point is if she is courageous enough to do something about it.” Because being the ‘Champion’ of a Patron was a daunting thing, at least it had been for Penny. She could still recall with clarity the feeling of always having Laat’s gaze resting on her in the presence of destruction. Perhaps it was different with Horror’s, Penny had no desire to find out, but perhaps it wasn’t.

“It…” Penny would trail off before letting out a sigh. “I get it.” She would say quieter “Breaking away from them is terrifying, and I just want to make sure she is safe.”

‘Yeah, please do so. Mariette needs all the friends she can get,’ Deni nodded to her about calling her. Eli, meanwhile, looked a bit ill at ease as Penny gave her lesson about the matter. There was little doubt Penny was probably more experienced than her, not that she knew how old Penny maybe was. Eli’s hands grasped one another before her as her confidence had taken a slight blow.

‘… There should be no happiness in continuing to work for Asengav now. We’ve thoroughly explained and shown the way out, which she can take at any time. As soon as she realizes she doesn’t like working for Asengav, she should be coming to us… was what I figured. If we had pressed the matter in that room, I was afraid we’d alienate and scare Mariette away ourselves, so…’ Eli gave further reasoning, trying to think back on why it had felt like the best move back then. Still, it felt clouded, now.

Quietly Penny would step over to Eli and place a hand on her shoulder. “I don’t doubt that you want to help Mariette, you know better than I do what you are trying to get her away from after all. And you are right, forcing her to choose right then might have caused her to flee towards him.” She met the smaller girls eyes “I don’t know all the details, Deni doesn’t know all the details either I’m guessing. We are just worried. But never feel like that means you aren’t doing everything you can to save her. Because as I said I get it. Breaking free from a Patron is terrifying, you know that as well as I do.” Penny would say earnestly. She could have kept hammering in the point that leaving Mariette alone wasn’t the best, but then again as she admitted she didn’t know all the details. It might have been the better of two bad choices. Harping on it now wasn’t helping.

“You trust Mariette to understand and to get away, then I will trust you. Because you know her better than I do.” She would give Eli a small nod “You and your sister work on making sure that she has a good place to run to when that time comes. I’ll make sure that she knows I’ll be there to cover her if she needs it. It’s one of the reasons I founded the Sanctuary after all. To be there to protect those who need some help”

“We’ll get her out of there, and get her safe”

‘Oh…’ Eli made a little unexpected noise at that Penny came over and placed a hand on her shoulder. She lifted her gaze and listened, nodding a bit at points. ‘Yes… I’ll do so. We’ll do so. Thank you…’ she said, a bit teary-eyed, nodding to the last part, too, not able to find more words to say. Deni sighed a little and walked over to hug her sister, because she was getting emotional.

‘There, there. Don’t kick yourself when things haven’t gone wrong yet. I won’t let it go wrong. We’ll manage this. Alright?’ Deni said, smirking a bit. Eli nodded again, and wondered briefly if she’d somehow unintentionally manipulated them into somehow feeling sorry for her when she was losing the argument, but decided to keep quiet, and agree.

Penny would step back while Deni comforted Eli, thoughts spinning out and about on how to approach Mariette. It wouldn’t take her long to come up with the basics of one, but she would set it aside for now.

“Now that that has been covered, anything else you two want to talk about?” She would ask with a tilt to her head. The conversation had gotten a bit heavier than expected, but with that out of the way perhaps they could move on to happier topics.

There was a moment of silence as the two twins looked at one another, but guess not, then Deni smirked at Penny. ‘Hey, Penny, you still eat, right?’ Deni asked, to make sure.

“I can still” the robotic girl would admit “Granted my tastes and preferences are kinda odd, as you might be able to guess” She would go on with a shrug. “That won’t stop me from sticking around if your offering a meal though”

Deni dashed off somewhere, leaving a slightly smiling Eli in place. ‘Not a meal.’

‘CHERRY PIE COOKIES!’ Deni suddenly came back, smiling excitedly with a tray of mostly cherry cookies, multiple occasions where the contents had spilled out of their supposed confines or where there was hardly any cherry at all. ‘I’ve been trying to get into baking! If you could tell me about your tastes and I could bake something entirely for you, that’d be really cool!’ Deni said, excitedly.

‘She still makes a lot of mistakes, but she’s trying, and I do my best to help,’ Eli said, giggling a little, as Deni so excitedly held the tray of cookies for Penny to try one. While they were haphazardly done, they probably tasted roughly how they were supposed to.

Penny would gladly take a cookie and sample it thoughtfully. Normal food always tasted very different while transformed, and this was the first bit of normal food that Penny had tried since her reforging. It wasn’t bad, but it also didn’t really do anything for her. In all likelihood it would just be charred into carbon, as her body could make use of that if nothing else.

“Not bad” She would say taking another bite “I’ll have to give them another shot once you’ve gotten a better hang of it” She would go on to say, her voice still coming out clearly despite the fact that she was chewing on cookie.

“My normal tastes aren’t something one can really bake too unfortunately.” She would go on to say as she glanced around the room, before noting a remote laying about. A small application of gravity would bring the remote to Penny’s hand where she would quickly take out one of the batteries and hold it up. ”I tend to snack on things more like this. Or bits of metal, such as nails or forks.”

‘Weee!’ Deni made a happy noise as her cookie was praised, then she looked on curiously as Penny went over to point out what it was that she normally ate. Deni blinked a bit at her, and then crossed her arms with a thinking expression. ‘Hmm. HMMMMMM…!’ she made a noise, then grinned, turned and ran off for a bit.

‘Oh, dear,’ Eli said with a giggle, before Deni came running back with the widest grin and a notepad and pen.

‘Now, Penny! What tastes the best for you? What’s fat that could be trimmed? How do you experience the texture of different things? Tell me!’ Deni said, looking so intently at Penny.

‘This could get expensive,’ Eli giggled a bit.

‘It’ll be worth it!’ Deni insisted, clearly inspired.

Penny was honestly stunned by the offer. It was a kind one and a thoughtful one. One that had never really been offered to Penny before. So it took her a moment to actually answer and even then it was slowly spoken. ”I’m not sure.” She normally took bits and pieces of scrap if she felt like eating, but even then sustenance wasn’t a requirement for her so she didn’t often think about such.

“I know that galvanizing the metal makes it taste different, same with rusting it.” She would go on as she pulled up all the little facts she had about her tastes. “Enchanting the metal adds more kick to the flavor, while plating sorta blends them. Texture isn't something that comes across, nails and screws both taste the same for example. It's more composition that I’ll notice. If there is more copper or iron in the mix. Precious metals don’t taste significantly better than any other metal, so while I can make great use of gold or platinum they don't stand out for taste, at least not that I’ve noticed.” She would rock back on her heels as she tried to consider what else might affect the taste of metal but couldn’t come up with anything definitive.

“I’ve never really cooked or baked any of my meals before” She would admit with a shrug “Your guess is as good as mine at this point”

‘This calls for experimentation!’ Deni said, writing down most of what Penny said and with eyes glued to the paper. ‘First things first is going to be, does hot metal taste better? How hot can you handle? When you picked the battery I totally thought you meant “sources of energy”, I don’t know the first thing that’s in batteries, haha!’

‘We’d need a pretty powerful oven,’ Eli commented, looking amused. ‘And a better supply of metal. Is there a blacksmith somewhere in town?’

‘We should totally feed you a katana, see if all the folding makes it taste better,’ Deni chuckled as she said.

‘Not ours, though!’ Eli interjected with a giggle.

‘I would 100% just start picking things from inside this house, but these things don't belong to us, haha,’ Deni chuckled some more, as she kept trying to think of metal methods that could change the taste. ‘How about shapes? Anything that's more convenient? Any sauces? Drinks? Is it oil for the internal machine?’

“Never eaten hot metal” Penny would start to answer a smile growing as she recalled the last time Ronin bombarded her with questions. “Pretty sure my melting temperature is beyond most other metals. Damage likely wouldn’t happen unless I tried eating something over the Curie temp, though molten metal might cause problems before that. Metals of all kinds can be bought from Brittney, in her building supplies section. Folded metal likely will have a different taste since it homogenizes the composition of the metal in question.”

“Shape would be best as either a round cookie or a bar cookie. Not sure about sauces, but acids might be a good try. The acids in batteries taste good, but that could be due to the byproduct of them creating electricity, which I can also eat, but that’s even harder to cook I would think. As for drinks, likely the same line of thinking as sauces, so gasoline or equivalents might work. Oil I think is a stereotype, as it’s a lubricant not a fuel source so I don’t think so, but I’ve not tried it either. And if all else fails water is still perfectly fine to drink.”

She would let them recover from that deluge of answers for a moment before letting out a laugh. “Have to admit I’ve never bothered to figure out this stuff, and no one has asked before, but it sounds like it’s going to be fun.”

Deni was busy writing down every bit of information that Penny could provide, before grinning widely at that last statement. ‘It’s an entirely new field of culinary arts! Who wouldn’t be interested in trying it out!? Just because your feeding habits are a bit different doesn’t mean you can’t have good meals!’ she declared excitedly.

‘I warn that both of us are amateurs at cooking and even less knowledgeable on metal, but hey, we sure got passion!’ Eli inserted, giggling a bit more on the side.

‘Electric stuff, eh. So if I just, ran electricity through your meal, hmmm~’ Deni commented thoughtfully. ‘Right, not oil, fuel, that’s what I meant. Right. What’s NOT edible? Just to get it off the list, you’re not just able to eat anything, right? It needs to be metal and slash or electricity? Wood, plastic and rubber are as much normal junk for you as anything else?’ she asked, to make sure.

“Most things are edible, in that I can consume them, but outside of metals, electricity, or other fuels it ends up taking more energy to convert it into something I can use then I would gain from the final product.” Penny would explain picking up another cookie “For example the cookie, when I’m eating it I don’t digest it since I don’t have a stomach, it gets placed near the base of my gauss array where the Lightning in my body reduces it down to just ash which with Gravity, Metal, and a bit more electricity I can convert into either rudimentary diamonds or just raw carbon. Either can be used to assist in making metals for cheaper, mana wise, but I don’t normally store the stuff long term since I don’t have all that much storage space as is”

“Other metals or electricity just get converted on into what I’m already working with. So either actively repair me quicker, refill my mana, or supercharge my systems.” She would finish with a shrug “Granted most things outside normal food or my niche menu tend to have no taste.”

‘Diamonds, eh. Heh, do gemstones taste?’ Deni asked, but otherwise finished writing and then held up her notebook like it was now a treasure to be admired. ‘Excellent! If you’re up for it, we’re gonna do a bunch of taste-testing that needs your presence! I’m gonna need detailed reports on how each experiment goes! Got it!?’ Deni said, eyes positively gleaming.

‘Let’s just avoid ending up in-debt for a hobby, haha,’ Eli said in the background, already imagining how much Brittany would likely charge them for the materials.

“Not really” Penny would reply, “I don’t really need the crystal lattices for much. And we can start with more common things before we have to work up to buying things wholesale from Brittany I think” She enjoyed the offer, but didn’t want Deni or Eli or go broke over it.

“And I’m ready for the taste tests when you are”

‘Excellent! Alright, let’s go!’ Deni said, standing up with her notebook and turning towards the window, which happened to be the primary entrance/exit.

‘We’re going right now?’ Eli asked, looking curiously at Deni.

‘Time and tests wait for nobody! Do you want to come and help us out? We’ve got a bunch of resources to find!’ Deni asked Penny, smiling so widely.

”Sure, I’ve got a while before I have to be anywhere” Penny would agree with a grin “Let the great ingredient hunt begin” She would add moving to follow Deni.

With that, they embarked into the city on a mission to find out just what it took to make a proper meal for their mechanical friend.

@hatakekuro

Crocus successfully skipped back and shot out some Leech Seeds at Escavalier, which gripped onto the slow Pokémon and starting to leech life from it! Lorette smiled back there.

‘Yeah, no, I can see that’s not working. Escavalier, back!,’ the Gym Leader said, calling her Pokémon back with a swirl of light back into a Pokéball. Instead, she threw out something else, a new entity forming. It also had giant lances, but it flew on great wings, had a giant stinger, a yellow Pokémon that was synonymous with aggression!



Pokédex Entry #15 – Beedrill, the Poison Bee Pokémon. Extremely territorial, should someone intrude on their grounds they attack in furious swarms. They fly at high speed and attack with their venomous stingers. A poisoned prey is then taken back to the nest to feed on.


‘Beedrill, go! Fury Attack!’ Lorette commanded, and bee would go forth to hunt after Crocus! … After he got a free move due to Lorette switching Pokémon, and then another simultaneous move that would be made at the same time as the Fury Attack, at any rate.

What will Basil and Crocus do?
@Joshua Tamashii
appropriate music

‘Wait, you have a picture of…?’ Annica asked, and raised an eyebrow at Eric, who blushed a bit.

‘Er, sure!’ Eric said, more than happy to be of service. ‘Amy is my friend and Annica’s little sister. She has a cute little Staryu! So, I figured that a Water Stone could have been a perfect gift! Though, I wouldn’t try to steal one for it,’ Eric said, his enthusiasm suddenly dying down for that last sentence because it sounded like he had an excellent motive there.

‘… And before you claim I have a motive due to that, I think a Staryu suits her just fine. She’s tiny, she can have a tiny Pokémon,’ Annica said, ending with a little smile. ‘She can evolve it into a Starmie when she’s, like, twice as old. Not now. It’s perfect for her as it is.’

‘Aw, but Starmie’s cool…’ Eric mumbled, looking down into the ground.

‘On an unrelated note, can I have that Sun Stone back? It belongs to me. Palpitoad took it when he raided our camp before overflowing the route because he couldn’t find the Water Stone…’ Annica asked, sighing a little as she asked that of Amelia.

What now?









Or she could leave.



Connected areas:
Pureplain City. You can get back without complication.
Infested Woods. You’re right next to it.
Wet Caverns. May need to cross a bridge or two to get there.



@hatakekuro

Our ratings-board appreciates the lack of use of expletives.

Basil switched to Crocus! And this is where Excalavier would have gotten its free attack move…

If Lorette had given it one. Turns out, her only order was “stay alive”.

‘Oh, um,’ Lorette made a light noise at the fact she may or may not have made a mistake in not ordering an attack.

‘Eh, we can manage this! You have a high attack stat! Twineedle it! You should be able to take it down even if it’s part poison-type…!’ Lorette commanded, and the knighted bug on a stick started skipping to stab Crocus on its lances! … Extremely slowly!

What will Basil and Crocus do?


@Joshua Tamashii
appropriate music
Amelia got some odd looks from the gathered humans as she pondered the matter. Finally, she asked a pretty simple question to Leila, who…

utterly froze up.

‘Uh. I mean. Er. Mud Bomb. Muddy Water. Aqua Tail. And, uh…’ Leila said, visibly sweating.

‘Waaaaaaaait,’ Eric suddenly remarked, raising an eyebrow at her. ‘When we had that practice battle before, didn’t you command it to use Ear-’

‘I’M SORRY!!!’ Leila called out, and was suddenly lying on the ground in front of Amelia. ‘I was- I wanted to complete my team, because I wanted to have a Vaporeon on my team, so I sent Barboach to cause that earthquake… which successfully distracted the Palpitoad…’ She then took a deep breath.

‘B-but I chickened out! Annica was right behind me, after all! If I went to pick it up, it’d be inevitable that at least one of the four of them saw! I didn’t even dare to look back at her a single time, just in case I looked suspicious! I swear, I didn’t actually steal it, I only, uh, I only plotted to do it! I’m so sorry…!’ she cried, on her knees and seemingly telling the truth.

Are there any new revelations to me made from this?









Or she could leave.



Connected areas:
Pureplain City. You can get back without complication.
Infested Woods. You’re right next to it.
Wet Caverns. May need to cross a bridge or two to get there.



__________________________


@hatakekuro

Roxanne picked up and chucked a rock into Escavalier, the armoured bug recoiling by the impact! It didn’t do a lot of damage, due to Escavalier’s significant defense.

‘You can take that, right, Escavalier? Go! Twineedle!’ Lorette commanded, and the cavalry bug took off towards Roxanne! … REALLY slowly, it bounced over towards her, more than slowly enough for her to successfully get off a Harden! Still, arrive Escavalier eventually did, and chucked both of its lances at her, and-

It basically didn’t do damage at all, Roxanne’s formidable defense and Harden combined. However, a secondary effect of the two lances came into effect, and…

Roxanne was poisoned!

‘Excellent job, Escavalier! Now, just stay alive!’ Lorette commanded, and Escavalier fell back… really slowly. Pulled by Magnet Pull, too. Roxanne’s health would be slowly decreasing…

What will Basil do now?
@Gardevoiran

Skylar headed off to the Desert Mines to train. 

Very frankly, most of his Pokémon were pretty high level for the higher levels of the Desert Mines, but here's 15 levels for your troubles. Just keep away from Rollouting Geodudes and Sandshrews, mind the Biting Samdiles and make a living on Mud-Slapping Digletts and Drilburs, and you should be fine.

Seabreeze grew to level 20! 

Paradise grew to level 20!

Jonathan grew to level 19! Jonathan learned Heal Pulse!

Mac grew to level 19! 

Pretzlcoatl grew to level 15! Pretzlcoatl learned Double Team! Pretzlcoatl learned Scary Face! Pretzlcoatl learned Pluck!

Royal grew to level 18!
 

What will Skylar do now?





Connected areas:

Route 7. Right behind you.



__________________________



@hatakekuro

Basil chose to switch Pokémon, eliciting a smile from Lorette. 

‘Teh-heh, nice choice,’ she said, and Roxanne took Butterfree’s Confusion… and got very unlucky! It struck some nerve, and did more damage than it should have! Critical Hit! Still did less than half her health, though.

‘In fact, I think I’ll do something similar. Butterfree! U-Turn!’

Now, Butterfree is WAY faster than the statue known as Nosepass, and as such blasted forth first and hit into Roxanne… for basically no damage, and then flew back into its Pokéball. Lorette smirked at Basil, before taking out another Pokéball and throwing it out.

‘Escavalier, it’s all yours!’

 



Pokédex Entry #589 – Escavalier, the Cavalry Pokémon. Karrablast evolved my wearing Shelmet’s shell, the steel armor protecting its whole body. They fly around at high speed, striking with their two lances. Even when in trouble, they face opponents bravely.


… And it immediately got caught in Magnet Pull, making it unable to escape! In any case, free turn for Roxanne, kinda.

What does Basil and Roxanne do?


@hatakekuro

There was a momentary break as Accelgor was allowed to split into five copies and then dash towards Glory. The five copies each lifted its own Acid Spray, and prepared to launch it at the Hawlucha…!

A line of light flashed by Glory’s eyes, a flash of insight and understanding. He flawlessly stepped aside, the real Acid Spray passing him by with no chance to hit his enlightened self, numerous false ones passing through his body as the fake attacks could not hit him. With that, Glory’s eyes could lock onto the true Accelgor, who winced a little at the realization she was found.

Glory dashed in for a Wing Attack. Accelgor, actually not being all that much faster than the very fast Hawlucha, has a moment of panic before-

‘It’s fine! Trade!’ Lorette commanded, and Accelgor quickly summoned another Acid Spray. At this close range, there was no way for Glory to escape being hit straight-on by the purple ball of acid… but on account of Accelgor not being a poison-type, it didn’t do that much damage and Glory continued on to hit a powerful Super-Effective Wing Attack onto the Accelgor, who was sent flying back across the room!

It was too much! Accelgor fainted!

However, the acid seeped through Glory’s defenses. Special Defense harshly fell!

‘Good job, Accelgor!’ Lorette said, beaming her Pokémon back before smirking over at Glory and Basil. ‘Haha, maybe level 12 was a little too low for this challenge? Eh, we’ll see!’ she shrugged as she took out another Pokéball. ‘Butterfree, go!’

She cast another Pokéball, and with a flash of red light a large purple butterfly with red eyes carried by white and black wings fluttered in front of Glory, preparing to attempt to dodge or otherwise.



Pokédex Entry #12 – Butterfree, the Butterfly Pokémon. It loves honey and can locate flower patches that have even the tiniest amount of pollen. Its wings are covered in a toxic rain-repellant dust, which allows it to fly even through rain. Should it be endangered, it will flap its wings at the offender, scattering the toxic dust.


The next cause of action by the Gym Leader was going to be…

‘Butterfree, Confusion!’ she commanded, and Butterfree rose into the air, preparing to summon Psychic power at Glory!

Basil and Glory’s next move?

@hatakekuro

Glory came out, and Accelgor glared at her opponent. The battle had commenced.

‘Alright. You got a champion out. Is your whole team a counter to mine, or did you send out the one most suited to the opponent?’ Lorette asked, smirking a bit. ‘Because yes, I’ll likely lose this first encounter, but he’s not going to be able to take my whole team on his own. And ninjas don’t fight fair.’

‘Accelgor, Double Team!’ she commanded, and Accelgor spontaneously split into five, a team of five speedy ninjas of which only one was real were coming running at Glory. Accelgor being Accelgor, this was unpreventable due to the ninja Pokémon's ridiculous speed.

‘aaaaaaaand Acid Spray!’ … is going to be Lorette’s second command, unless something happens in the first turn that prevents that from happening. Those are two moves, so of course Basil can have Glory make an equal amount of moves. With that command, though, the Accelgors would pull a purple ball of poisonous acid to throw upon Glory, should the Pokémon be in a state to do that at the time.

What will Basil and Glory do?
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