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    Despite appearances, Z. wasn’t ungrateful for the extra help, though perhaps what was offensive was how the Staryu they had been facing down decided Hector charging in was more of a threat than they were. “Hey, I was here first!” they said. Z. wasn’t even mad at Hector; even the gaff of running into them in the hallway had been forgotten for the moment. They might have even helped him get the Staryu off of his brass Falinks if Noibat hadn’t come in and gusted it off first. They could still act smug about it, though, as the Staryu went flying off and landed right next to them. “Yeah, that’s what you get you pentagrammic parasite,” Z. said. “Why don’t you go shoot the moon and miss like you’re supposed to?” A stream of water erupted from the Staryu’s central eye/gem thing, and even if Z. hadn’t whipped their head out of the way, it still would have missed them by a wide margin. “Yeah, exactly like that,” Z. said. Their smile, already cocksure, got even bigger. The numbers were pouring in -- in the background, the Clobbopus and Chester had started putting work on the Cleffa as soon as it had turned hostile, and up on the wall, Marv the Treeko was throwing a bundle of leaves at the other Staryu. When Z. saw that last one especially, a thought came to mind. It felt foreign, but it wasn’t the Noibat or the random voice that had already called out to them twice in the last few minutes. “I can do that too,” was that thought. They didn’t have any leaves, but they could grab at a clump of fur and pretend. As they did that, their body started to glow, and indeed, when they looked down at the fur again it had turned into materials that almost but not quite resembled leaves. “More of a copyfox than a Copycat,” Z. said, “but it’ll do all the same. You’re in for it now.” They did a big wind-up and launched the leaves, aiming right at the Staryu’s eye. The moment the leaves left their hand- paw, it was a paw now… The moment the leaves left their paw, they shifted back into a fur clump, and, having lost any sort of Poké-move mojo behind them, glanced harmlessly off the Staryu and drifted to the ground. The Staryu shook again, this time not even using Harden, just vibrating in delight. It was laughing at them. Before, even with the previous perceived slight, their attitude had been more, “provoke the thing that was hostile to them anyway,” but now it was closer to rage. Containable, maybe, but why bother containing it? There wasn’t even anything worth saying, no reason to tell the Staryu exactly how it had fucked up. Instead, Z. darted forward, raked a claw across the Staryu’s body, and watched as the thing collapsed before poofing into a state of “not here anymore.” It took a few moments for Z. to catch their breath after that. Had they done that before? Was that part of who they were before all this? It didn’t matter right now, they decided. There were still things to fight.
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