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[Dave] Zealot Temple

Namohysip

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  1. charizard
  2. milotic
Dave awoke to a gray-blue sky in a gloomy city. Cars with no passengers drove by on the concrete roads and a horn sounded from far away. Despite this, Dave wasn't able to see much further out behind him than a few tens of meters. Instead, the way to go was forward, onto the property of a large and strange looking temple. One that was perhaps etched into Dave's mind from a long time ago.

There weren't many cars parked in the parking lot in front of it, so it probably wasn't service time. It probably wasn't even Sunday. Did Sunday exist here? Who knew.

There were a few cars, though. One was parked next to another, and there seemed to have been a collision, but only a minor one during parking. Probably someone who wasn't very good at driving. There was a distant hymn coming from inside the building from what felt like countless voices...

And then gunfire deeper in.
 

Dragonfree

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Dave looked wildly around. One moment they were approaching the storm, the moon looming ominously overhead; the next he was here, alone, in some kind of grotesque reenactment of that day. (The fucking parking accident. Of all things to put here.)

“Soda?” he called at the air. “Come on, let’s… let’s talk.”

No response. The streets were empty. He tried hard to ignore the sounds coming from the church. Whatever illusory horror bullshit Soda had lovingly picked out for him, he was pretty sure he didn’t want to see what was going on in there. (Could only wonder why he hadn’t been placed inside in the first place.)

“…Mia?”

It wasn’t like anyone else was here; clearly this was designed for him. But he reached out warily through the psychic link anyway.
 

Namohysip

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But there was something strange about this presumed illusion. Soda's illusions had a certain flair to them, a certain tell when someone was familiar with his antics. Dave, by now, would know what Soda's illusions were like--and even if he was so twisted by his own lunacy, would they be this unrecognizably different? Did Soda have this much omniscience to depict something like this with such detail...?

What if it was...

---

Deeper into the temple, Dave passed by shadowy figures that were crumpled on the ground. They looked like humans with terrible, mortal injuries.

Further still, a scuffle. Young voices cried out and a few ran right past Dave like he wasn't even there.

A choir was singing amid the gunfire, the voices coming from nowhere...

Deafening pops slammed against Dave's sensitive ears.

In the back room, there were a few young looking, shadowy figures on the ground, motionless. There were several human figures standing, pointing equally featureless weapons forward, all toward a single target--Mia, who had another human figure held by her scythes. It was trembling. Mia was not. But her eyes were a bright, yet just as expressionless, red.

Mia is attacking the churchgoers!
Mia: 1,000

Churchgoers: 5,000
 

Dragonfree

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Over the psychic link, there was only a deafening silence - silence, and a crystal-clear awareness that Mia, this Mia, was inside the church.

A cold shiver went down his spine. "Mia, I-- fuck." He stared at the church, heart racing as the ominous echo of choir singing rang in his ears. Goddamn it.

Another muffled gunshot, and every muscle in his body tensed, his hackles rising, stomach roiling.

He gritted his teeth and took off in a sprint towards the church before he could think better of it.

---

Inside, everything was shadowy and vague. Should've known; this had to be made from his memories, and all he'd ever had to go on was the kids' accounts, Jack's mainly, unsteady wavering words from a child. Human figures, lying there, crumpled, dead. Barely-there phantoms with unintelligible voices that sounded like them. Every now and then, a gunshot tearing through the air, freezing the blood in his veins.

None of them reacted to him, though. Just some dumb fucking shadow theater. He gritted his teeth again. "Mia?" he called. No response, again. There was an open door at the back, light flooding through it.

Inside, there she was, eyes blank and red, holding a shaking shadow figure, scythe at its throat. More meaningless crumpled forms, they weren't fucking there. And a bunch of other figures, weapons raised.

The world slowed, another chill running through him. "Mia, wait!" he screamed, and Radiance bloomed into a set of shields around both of them.

Dave used Shining Burden on Mia!
+2 Protect, +40 Radiance, -40 stamina
 
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Namohysip

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BANG!

An ethereal clang meant the Protect did their job. It pinged against a nearby wall, leaving a small mark, but several more bullets followed, every single one bouncing off of the barriers before destroying them completely.

"What... How did he do that?!" one of the shadows said.

"It's still outnumbered. Fire again!"

"W-wait! P-please!" the shadowy one under Mia's scythes begged. "Y-you'll hit me!"

"That mutt's dangerous," another man said. "Kill that thing first! Fucking abomination's in league with the Devil like all the others!"

Mia looked annoyed. Despite lacking pupils, it seemed like her gaze trailed to the man's throat. But then she looked at Dave with that same blank expression. "Wait?" Mia asked. "They want to kill me. Does that mean I can kill them?" Her eyes flickered. "It's called self-defense."

Mia: 1,000, +1 Defense and Resistance

Churchgoers: 5,000

The churchgoers are aiming at Dave!
 

Dragonfree

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Dave flinched as a series of gunshots shattered the barriers, his heart hammering in his chest. Shadow puppets or not, the bullets were real. With another burst of Radiance, he conjured more barriers to replace them, his fur buzzing with light.

Dave used Shining Burden on Mia!
+2 Protect, +40 Radiance, -40 stamina

Mia looked annoyed. Despite lacking pupils, it seemed like her gaze trailed to the man's throat. But then she looked at Dave with that same blank expression. "Wait?" Mia asked. "They want to kill me. Does that mean I can kill them?" Her eyes flickered. "It's called self-defense."

He stared at Mia, his stomach twisting as the shadows aimed their guns at him instead. Did it even matter, technically? It wasn't like these were even real people. (They talked like real people, though, the man she was holding quivering in her grip.)

"Mia, look, we've got seconds to get the fuck out of here. The other Mia got shot for killing this guy. Let him go and we can talk about why later." Could he just grab her, pull her along? Not without her scythes slicing this guy in half. "Mia, please."
 

Namohysip

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Dave's Radiance is very high!

Mia stared at Dave, unblinking as always--she didn't really have eyelids. But Dave would know that stare. Contemplative, in that calculating way. Weighing options, somewhere between utilitarian and a computer. But perhaps, and it was a very shaky perhaps, there was something more to it that led to her final decision.

She released the man. He whimpered and scrambled away on all fours just as the others shot a volley of bullets at Dave, each one flying off of the barrier. One got through and grazed his cheek, leaving a small, bleeding cut, but no true harm. Those bullets were real.

The bullets destroyed Dave's barriers!

"Okay," Mia said. "You'll explain when--"

"AAAAHHH!" The formerly cowering man had dug into his pockets and pulled out a gun of his own, aiming it at Mia.

Mia: 1,000, +2 Defenses, +1 Protect

Churchgoers: 5,000
 

Dragonfree

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Dave's claws dug into the church floor as Mia thought about it, against every instinct telling him to run while he still could. What were they waiting for? Why weren't they shooting yet? Come on, bastards--

As soon as she released the whimpering man and he scrambled away, a hail of bullets clanged against the barriers. Adrenaline shot through his veins as the last golden light above him popped out of existence, and with a last, deafening bang, there was a sharp, stinging pain in his cheek that turned his insides to liquid. That was it. No more barriers. Nothing standing between him and several gunmen.

But the guy Mia'd been holding was aiming at her, her and the one paltry barrier left around her.

"Mia, run!" Dave screamed, heartbeat thundering, lightheaded with nausea. With a vicious snarl, he whirled toward the churchgoers, Shadows gathering in his shaking paw as he slugged the man in the side of his face.

Dave's Intimidate activated! (-100 Attack toward the churchgoers)
Dave used Umbral Barfight on Mia's near-victim! (+100 Taunt)
+40 Shadow, -40 stamina
 
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Namohysip

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  1. charizard
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Mia agreed and ran past the humans and out of the main chamber room. The humans looked like they were about to fire, but then Dave's snarls--his attack on the human--made everyone suddenly pause and shudder. "Wh-what the fuck is wrong with these... abominations?!"

The churchgoers fired at Dave... but they missed! They're too frightened to act properly!

The one that Dave attacked was motionless; it seemed that these humans were nothing compared to what a Cibus Pokemon could do...

A blade touched Dave's shoulder. "You're running, too."

And then, she sped off again.

Mia: 1,000, +2 Defenses

Churchgoers: 4500
The churchgoers are slowly coming to their senses...
 

Dragonfree

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Dave's heart hammered in his chest, his injured cheek throbbing with pain, muscles tense in anticipation of another sharp stab of agony that'd send him crumpling to the ground. But none came. Shots tore through the air, each bang nauseating, but by some miracle none of them hit.

The man he'd hit had gone down instantly. Dave stared at the indistinct crumpled shadow-shape for a sickening moment, unable to tell if he was still alive.

(It didn't fucking matter; these weren't real people.)

Then, a prod at his shoulder. He stiffened and whirled around to find... Mia. Just Mia, telling him to run.

He started into action, sprinting after her, and tried to concentrate and calm his breathing.

Dave attempted to Focus!
 

Namohysip

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The churchgoers found their footing and fired after Dave, dealing a total of 251 grazing damage!

Bullets whipped past Dave's ears and over his head; one shot him in the back of his leg, but Mia only briefly stopped to tell him to keep running. The churchgoers weren't chasing them.

"We're leaving," Mia said, pointing at the road. They'd made it to the sidewalk, a trail of blood marking a line between the church's exit and the sidewalk. Dave was bleeding a lot... but his body's tenacity told him that he could, quite literally, walk it off with time.

Mia pointed a scythe down the road, where there was a faint light at the end. "There's--"

BANG!

Mia stopped talking. Her arm was still pointing forward, but she instead looked down. Bits of her core were scattered in front of her, along with a bullet amid the rubble. There was a huge, shattered hole in her core.

Behind them was a single man. He had a few more defined features than the rest... including an unsettling grin and an off stare. The stare of a man who had taken life before... a life once close to Dave.

The zealot appeared...
Zealot: 1,000

Mia: 401
 

Dragonfree

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Dave was limping, shaking, one of his hind legs numb and pulsing, but they were out. They were okay. Not being followed.

He took a deep, shuddering breath, then another. Mia pointed towards a light down the road. This was all some kind of illusory hellscape, who knew if going anywhere would get them out, but worth a try, probably.

And then, another gunshot tore through the air, and Mia jerked where she stood, cut off mid-sentence.

Dave's heart stopped. Shattered pieces of her core, lying on the ground. A gaping hole through the Ultra Stone, red cracks spreading out from it. "Mia? Mia, I'm..."

His voice died, the words hanging dully in the air, pointless as a cold hand clutched at his chest. She was already gone, just like before, and nothing he'd done had mattered in the end. Why the fuck would it?

Behind her, another shadow, less a shadow, grinning an unsettling grin, and his lungs filled with cold fire. Twisted Shadow phantoms contorted in silent screams above his head as he barreled forward towards the man, dragging his injured leg. Was there any point to this? Would it accomplish anything? Did it even fucking matter anymore?

Dave used Void Desperation! (+200 Flinch)
+80 Shadow, -80 stamina, -3 Attack, -3 Evasion, -25% HP
 
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Namohysip

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Dave's Void Desperation dealt 1270 damage to the zealot! In an instant, the apparition was destroyed!

That horrible smile was still etched in the thing's face even as it crashed into the ground. Shadowy wisps slammed against his body as he was destroyed, until nothing but that gaze remained, lingering in that hazy air, before that, too, was gone.

But that feeling didn't leave Dave. The Shadows enveloped him, overwhelming all rational sense. Mia was dead. Again, Mia was dead--and even if it was a replica, a seemingly immortal replica, he was still fucking it up. He still got her killed, like the whole world had it out against him. The world and whatever world this had formed into.

What was the point, indeed? Perhaps staying there was what he deserved. To wander the storm forever, even when his body wasted away, as a spirit. That seemed appropriate. Because in the end, it all didn't--

Tap tap.

A scythe's dull edge bumped against the top of Dave's head.

"Stop that."

Mia... called(?) Dave.
 

Dragonfree

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Something broke through the dark haze that had enveloped everything. A light touch. He whirled blindly, teeth bared to attack.

"Stop that."

He took a sharp, gasping breath.

Dave's Shadows flickered!

"Mia?" He blinked hard. She was...?

Some of Dave's Shadows drained away...

He reached out a paw to touch her. Solid. Real.

Dave's Shadows reduced further...

Dave pulled her into a hug, clung to her like a lifeline. She was stiff and unresponsive as ever, but she let him. His body heaved with wretched sobs that he couldn't control. After a feeble struggling moment, he stopped trying and just held her and cried, gave in to pathetic exhaustion.

Dave's Shadows calmed.
 

Namohysip

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Mia was frowning. Her face was never that expressive, but she at least knew how to express confusion and disappointment, one way or another. And while she did not resist Dave's hold, she did say, "I thought you said therapy would fix your brain. Are you going to them?"

A pause.

"Why are you sad? I'm okay. I don't need my core anymore."

Another pause while Dave gathered himself.

"Someone is controlling me. I don't like it." Her eyes flickered from red to their usual green, then back to red. "I think it's Eien."
 

Dragonfree

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Dave let out a shaky snort. "Therapy? It's... don't get your hopes up, Mia."

He released her slowly. Indeed, the core was just... gone. She looked like her normal self, but a little more solid. No core. "The fuck do you mean you don't..." Was this what the hatching was? Just, hatching into herself? What the fuck?

He looked around the deserted cityscape. "Where is Eien, anyway? How do we get out of... this?"
 

Namohysip

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  1. charizard
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Mia turned around. Little bits of her old core floated around her, but those, too, were dissolving until nothing was left. She pointed down the road again--where she had originally pointed. "There's an opening in the..." She trailed off again. The lights flickered, red to green, and then darkness. She stood there, motionless.

And then, the green light returned completely. Unceremoniously, Eien's influence had vanished.
 

Dragonfree

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Dave's heart took another lurch as Mia's eyes flickered out entirely, but then her normal green was back, as if nothing had happened.

Mia cocked her head. "She's gone. I'm just me again. That was interesting."

Dave blinked at her, wary. That was it? Eien'd just... released her? What was... Had she been trying to prompt her to hatch? By forcing her into a fucked-up replica scenario of how she'd died, and then creating shadows that'd fucking shoot them with real bullets? That Eternatus had a lot to answer for.

He exhaled. "You sure everything's all right?"

"Yes. I'm properly solid now. That's good."

She looked down, leaning forward a little. Dave followed her gaze to his injured leg, still drenched with blood.

"I can smell it. Maybe I can taste it now. I could lick the wound."

Jesus fucking Christ. He shuddered; she was back to normal, all right. "Mia, no. Let's go."

He set off limping towards the light. Mia didn't follow immediately; he was pretty sure she was trying to taste the puddle of blood on the sidewalk, and fuck, whatever. Let her have this.
 

Namohysip

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  2. milotic
While Mia seemed to, as usual, be undeterred by whatever events befall her, there was a stronger bond between the pair anyway, one that was perhaps similar yet distinct from the late, real Mia. That surge of defiant power Dave had felt against the hazy zealots resonated in both of them. And as they made their way to the eye of the storm, a new power awakened within Dave...

Dave's Eternal Spirit awakened!
"I've had enough of your shit!" - Once per battle, when Dave activates Intimidate, it will also activate for every action that targets an enemy for that turn. Intimidate targets both Magic and Attack.
 
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