DISCLAIMER: This work is fiction. The work has no relationship with any person existing at any time anywhere whether real, imaginary,or copyright. Everything in this work is mea culpa.
You should not read this work if you are under the age of legal consent wherever you reside. This work may or may not contain any and/or all of the following: death, cannibalism, dismemberment, violent acts, implied sex, explicit sex, violent sex, rape, blasphemy (depending on your religion), BDSM, torture, mimes (just thought I'd reiterate the torture part), necrophilia, and just about anything unwholesome that you could consider.
Pokegirls is owned by everyone with a love of the genre.
By Platinum Otter
Chapter 19 - Floaters
The day of our departure dawned like any other except for the noise. At first I wasn’t sure what I was hearing. I just lay there in bed wondering how early it was. I got the nagging sensation I was missing or forgetting something, but my brain just wasn’t awake enough to process it yet. Then the noise was joined by a bass beat. The beat resolved into thumping as my brain warmed up and I finally recognized it for what it was. Something was beating on the walls of the house.
I kicked fully awake and sat bolt upright which woke up Scarlet and Alice who had slept on either side of me last night. They too heard the thumping and we scrambled out of bed.
“Alice, wake Friday!” I said, urgently but quietly. “Get her to wake the others telepathically and warn them to keep quiet but prep to move fast. And get me Ellie immediately. Scarlet, with me.”
We moved swiftly but with little noise to one of the upper windows and I peeked out it. The garden was swarming with zombabes. They were crawling over the short bluff formed at the bend of the river, the same one with the bench overlook where I’d had my discussion with Rachel. They shouldn’t be able to reach the top unless...unless there were so many of them that they were piling up high enough for the ones on top to reach. There was a slow part of the river forming a pool at that bend. If a big horde was washed downstream it would dump many of them there and then...
“Shit,” I swore before turning to Scarlet. “They’re coming out of the river. We need to seal the basement door before we leave so they can’t get in. Could you handle that?”
She nodded and scurried off. I moved back toward the bedrooms. If worst came to worst we could go out through an upper floor window or even the roof but I was hoping it wouldn’t come to that. I ran into Ellie in the hallway.
“Ellie, we’ve got zombabes everywhere. I want you to wall in the house, as close to the actual walls as you can. Then I want an open path from us to the Pinnace (it was unanimously agreed that calling it a fan boat at this point wasn’t right).”
She nodded and summoned her Dwarven Hold card. It glowed brightly and there was a rumbling sound as thick stone walls sprouted from the ground outside and rose to shield the building from the zombabes pounding. Unfortunately a few of them were in just the right places and had just enough balance to ride the walls up and immediately started pounding on the upper story windows. Ellie quickly switched to her Conflagration card. We’d discovered that she couldn’t use the holy fire granted by her blessed status the way she used to but she could channel it through a red mana or fire card. She concentrated and all the zombabes on the walls burst into a brilliant golden flame. In moments they were nothing but ash.
I briefly debated having her try to take out the entire horde, but we had no idea how many there were. If they came from a major metropolitan area the horde could extend for half a mile or more. Ellie would eventually run out of mana.
I could still hear the zombabes outside but now they were hitting solid stone that wasn’t part of the building so their beating was somewhat muted. Of course this just made their scratchy throat noises and cries more prominent.
We found the rest of the girls gathering near the head of the stairs. “Girls,” I said, “we’re going to have to leave and not come back for a while. The zombabes will eventually move on if there’s no food to draw them here, but it’ll take time and when we do return the house may be trashed. If Ellie can shift the walls out a few feet I want Scarlet to go around the house and reinforce the exterior walls with silks. I especially want you to seal the doors and windows. Hopefully it will be enough to keep them out. After that we fly away. Scarlet already sealed the basement door so hopefully we’ll be able to use it as a supply depot if the zombabes take a long time to scatter. Any questions?”
Friday piped up with, “How about leading them away from the house?”
“That’s a good idea,” I said. “We’ll just have to see how feasible it is.”
Noone else seemed to have anything so I went back to the master bedroom to throw clothes on and grab my pack. Sadly we were on the clock so there was no time for one last shower. My bar for cleanliness had dropped precipitously since coming to this world. I came back out and led the girls toward the front door. We paused there while Ellie activated the Dwarven Hold card again. Another rumble filled the air and we felt the vibrations coming up through the floor. Then she gave me a thumbs up. I opened the door. There was a good three foot space between the stone walls and the rest of the house now and a walled pathway led from the front door to a stone enclosure surrounding the Pinnace.
Scarlet got to work immediately reinforcing the structure of the lower floor of the house. Fortunately they built them tough in this day and age and this house, being in the wilderness, was built sturdier than most in expectation of ferals. There were only a few places where zombabes had even damaged the walls which were made of steel-reinforced concrete. Scarlet spun a layer of thick silk over the entire lower floor of the building to reinforce and protect the structure, paying special attention to the doors as the only exposed weak points.
When she was done we all piled into the Pinnace to take off. We were planning to leave today anyway so we had loaded supplies for our trip last night. We had a three month supply of food and other gear and each girl had her own pokepack with clothes, medical supplies, some emergency food, and other gear. The PPHU was in my pack. I hoped we found another as if this one broke we’d be in trouble. Each of us also wore several matching magical rings.
We all boarded the Pinnace and strapped in before Alice raised the armor and we launched. I’d opted for her to fly this first leg since she had better reflexes. She was arguably one of our best pilots. At about fifty feet up she opened a window in the armor so she could stick her arm out and fire a few lightning bolts at the zombabes. She’d debated using the Pinnace’s main weapon to get the zombabes’ attention but decided it would cause too much collateral damage. The lightning bolts certainly were eye-catching as evidenced by a few attacks and a spray of needles directed our way, all of which bounced off or were absorbed by our shiny new shields.
With their interest secured, Alice proceeded to slowly fly away leading the zombabes back toward the river and then turning to follow it’s downriver course so the zombabes would have an easy time. As we neared the river I realized just how fucked we would have been if we hadn’t left as soon as we did.
The horde filled the river edge to edge and extended as far upstream as the eye could see. In a few spots the banks were lower and I could see zombabes pooling out onto the shore and spreading out into the woods beyond. There must have been hundreds of thousands just in the section of river I could see. The only thing I could think of was that somewhere upstream there was a major city underwater and that the runoff had eventually rejoined the river bringing the horde with it. Or possibly they had simply been playing follow the leader and tried to ford it.
“Girls,” I began, “forget what I said. If we come back here for any reason it will be via portal, to gather stuff from the basement, and we won’t be staying long. There will always be zombabes in those woods after this. At least until they rot away. Do zombabes rot away?”
Noone really had an answer to that particular question so we just let the subject drop.
Before we hopped across the pond to try our chances in Europe I’d decided to head for Tenochtitlan with the hope that the professor Rachel had discovered survived or at least his notes did. The odds were low, but they weren’t zero and we only had a few leads. The plan was to head there, then Blue for their lab, then Ruby for theirs. After that we’d try Vale, assuming they hadn’t used some sort of magic to seal the place off completely.
Only if none of these panned out would we head for the places I knew from stories. The magical library in the Blood League where Micah Hakubi found the missing link for inter-dimensional portals and the Glasgow uplink were much more iffy than the leads Rachel had dug up because they might not exist in this universe and in the case of Glasgow every person Kerrik Wolf sent there needed some external force to get back. If we could not find any form of device or spell which could get us off this world I’d consider the Glasgow option, but if we went there we’d be taking everything we needed to start a new life because we might live out the rest of our days stuck in space.
Sadly, while it meant slower speeds and thus longer travel times, we were more or less banished from suborbital space. I did not want to encounter either a group of Limbecs with a Starlight Xpress or a pissed off and by now probably feral Starlight whose former master I had killed. With my luck she probably went feral and was recaptured so now the Limbecs would have TWO Starlights. Yup, definitely not heading up to easily detectable ranges. Keeping to the lower atmosphere made finding us like spotting a needle in a planet-sized haystack.
We did not encounter any more aerial ferals. By now I guessed most had been turned into zombabes. There was one determined former Blastits who fired off a poisonous water stream at us in passing. We were high enough that her first shot missed and apparently her body had degraded enough that the shot ruptured something. There was a splashy explosion out the side of her back and thereafter the fluids just seemed to gush out the side instead of forming a stream. Just when I thought I’d seen everything.
Since we weren’t heading home and had a long way to go before we needed to worry about our destination we didn’t bother to hide or fly at night. We detoured to hit a few towns on the way, taking the time to start fires to lure the zombabes away before entering them to search. There was something I was looking for from another story I’d read. The salesman in the story mentioned that they weren’t selling well anymore due to the rising popularity of the Vale tent spell, but I considered the things to be superior to the tent spell and since price wasn’t an issue I wanted one.
Sadly either they weren’t invented on this world or the tent spell takeover had occurred and the common stores didn’t have any. We were going to have to start looking in antique stores for one which meant cities as most small towns didn’t have antique stores. To boost our chances I had Rachel uplink through my pokedex and start looking for any listings or other mentions of ownership of them online.
The trip across Typhona’s Gulf was relatively quiet but took several days since we weren’t just heading across to what was left of North America but also southwest towards the Sunshine League. Or perhaps I should call it the league formerly known as Sunshine? I can’t picture that any of the league governments survived this. Maybe a few bigwigs were holed up in bunkers somewhere but you could hardly call that a government.
Somewhere over the gulf we saw the answer to the question of what the black wave did to the sea life. I think the thing we saw on the surface of the water used to be a Leviathaness. It kept trying to dive but the decay it’s body had undergone must have left numerous large gas pockets trapped inside it’s flesh and the thing just couldn’t keep itself below the surface. It would hump up out of the water and curve back down in but would almost immediately be dragged back to the surface by it’s own mass.
Assuming the zombabes dealt with the other aquatic pokegirls and the fish weren’t all killed off this could mean the real long term purification of the seas. The seas were always the big sticking point on humans ever reclaiming the planet from the ferals because even at the height of human civilization before the Revenge War humans had only been using about 3% of the oceans and the deepest areas were largely unexplored. This left aquatic pokegirls with somewhere to run and breed where humans were mostly incapable of following. If the zombabes claimed all the living pokegirls and then decay banished them all to the surface the reclamation of the environment of the planet suddenly became a real possibility. You know...if everyone wasn’t dead, anyway. *sigh* Idle thoughts for a tedious trip.
We finally reached the Sunny shores after a few weeks’ travel to find that her beaches were choked with the dead. I don’t know if the noise and motion of the waves attracted them or if maybe they held memories from previous life, but we did not see a single stretch of sand the entire trip that didn’t have zombabes spread around in strings and clusters. As soon as one would see us it would send up a cry that was echoed by others and zombabes as far as the eye could see would turn and move toward us.
Tenochtitlan was probably the biggest city in the region, or close to it, and we had put some serious thought and effort into how we could draw the zombabes away from the university and keep them away for hours while we searched for the Professor Garcia de la Vega’s notes.
When we arrived ay Tenochtitlan we found large portions of the city gutted by fires, some still smoldering, but as we neared the edge of the city where the university was our hopes were dashed. There was a raw wound in the earth where the university should be. It wasn’t burned or anything, more like someone had taken an icecream scoop and just removed the entire campus and about half a mile of the surrounding land. The edges curved down to the bottom of the hole which was something like a hundred feet deep and mostly flat. We just stared at it for a few minutes. It kind of reminded me of the time my family went to the Grand Canyon, not as deep but with the same sense of scaled distance.
Alice started speculating about what had happened to it, but after flying all this way just to be let down I really wasn’t in the mood. Fortunately Rachel managed to raise my spirits by finding a few promising antiques stores. With the hope that the trip might not be totally wasted I turned us back towards the city.
Many neighborhoods were blackened by fire and streets were frequently choked with rubble and collapsed buildings. After finding one of the shops that wasn’t gutted we circled the area to get the lay of the land before formulating a plan. I brought us around to an intersection north of the shop. Then Alice, Friday, and Rachel all gripped the crystals in front of their seats and began pouring electricity and magic into them. Harley moved from her seat to lay down on the forward saddle so she could sight in the main gun.
With a blinding flash a massive Megidolaon tore from the focusing crystal on the front of the Pinnace and pulverized the lower floors of a building down the street with enough energy left over to continue through and strike the next building down. Both buildings shuddered and quaked under the assault before the first one pivoted on what was left of it’s support columns and crashed to the ground, choking the entire street in a cloud of dust and debris. The second building was visible above the cloud for a few moments as it’s weakened superstructure caused it to slowly tilt further and further. Finally it lost it’s bout with gravity and proceeded to join it’s brother, vanishing from sight in the dust.
I moved us down to the next intersection and we did it again. And again. And again. We had no time limits here so we methodically blocked off each street surrounding the shop except one. That one we floated above making as much racket as we could while killing off zombabes. When the horde seemed to have formed a solid mass I moved us away from the shop at a leisurely pace, dragging them all behind me.
Alice, meanwhile, had gone invisible and phased out of the ship to land on the roof of a rickety-looking four-story apartment building nearby. She watched the zombabes leaving the area until all who were going were gone. Then she used E=MC^2 to bomb out several buildings across the way and block off the final street.
We waited for darkness before we flew back to the area to avoid dragging back a horde which might gain enough numbers to swarm over the barriers. Then we carefully approached the shop in our shielded ship. A couple of the girls popped windows to drop holy fire on the remaining zombabes who wandered the streets. It was flashy and bright enough to be eye-catching, but the ones who approached the flames merely caught themselves alight as well. The benefits were that noone outside our barricaded area would see the flames and they were relatively quiet.
It took an hour to clear out the remaining Zombabes but we rotated who was dropping fire so noone would get too tired. Once things seemed relatively clear we set down and lowered the shields to enter the place. Antiques were probably pretty low on most peoples’ looting lists so I wasn’t surprised the door was locked and the place relatively intact once we got in. I loaded an image of our target to everyone’s dexes and briefly mentally debated on the proper syntax of calling them pokedices before we all got to searching the store.
Once again luck escaped us. There was a lot of nice furniture and other goods here, but not what we were looking for. As we trooped back toward the boat Ellie suddenly stopped and pointed.
“What about over there?”
I followed her gaze a few buildings down to a pawn shop. “Why not,” I said with a shrug. Our cavalcade turned toward the building and were halfway there when there was a loud crack followed by a cry of pain as Alice fell to the ground clutching her arm.
Before I could more than turn to Alice to see what was wrong Harley had her guns out and was blazing away towards a second-story window of the pawn shop. Her first few shots blew out the glass to little avail but then she lowered her aim and fired several right through the wall below the window. There was a muffled scream from inside. Seren and Friday both took to the air and flew right through the window, Seren allowing Friday to go first to knock off any remaining shards of glass before her entry.
There were no immediate sounds of fighting and then Friday leaned out the window and called out, “Sean, get up here! Hurry!”
I glanced from Friday back to Alice who was being tended by Jane. Jane gave me a thumbs-up. “It’s bleeding heavily but she’ll be fine. I just need a minute to pull her tendon back into place before I heal her.”
I nodded to her and then told Ellie and Rachel to guard them while she worked. Ellie summoned her Basalt Juggernaut card and suddenly there was a ten-foot-tall stone gargoyle in the street whose wings spread protectively to cover Alice, Ellie, and Jane. Then Scarlet, Harley, and I all ran toward the pawn shop. Friday didn’t even wait for us to use the stairs. As soon as we got close to the building she telekinetically grabbed us and brought us all up and through the window.
The room we entered looked like it started as some kind of workroom. Several tables were scattered around the room and stacked with cans of chemicals and other tools. Most had been pushed up against the door creating a poorly made barricade and leaving the center of the room open. There was a pallet made of sheets off to one side and some shelving holding containers of food, water, and other goods. Lying just to the left of the window was a woman clutching at two of the three holes in her chest as blood pooled beneath her on the floor.
Friday leaned over to whisper in my ear, “She’s got a punctured and collapsed lung and the other one is filling with blood plus that middle hole probably nicked her heart. She’s dying.”
“Shit,” I said. “Go get Jane.” Before she could reach the window I ammended my statement with, “Make sure Alice is going to be okay before you grab Jane, okay?”
Friday jumped out the window without acknowledgement.
I turned back to the woman. “Who are you and why did you shoot at us.”
The woman was gasping for breath and clearly not getting enough but finally managed to rasp out, “...thought...you....banditos...”
“Listen, I’ve got a healer. She’ll be here in a moment. Just hang on. She’ll fix you up in a jiffy.” (Yes, I actually used the word “jiffy” in a non-ironic sentence. Deal with it.)
“..NO..” she managed to rasp out. “..quiero....muerte...no mas....let..me be...”
“But you don’t have to die right now!” I cajoled her.
“No...” was all I got out of her.
Friday finally returned with Jane but I stopped her. It was what the woman wanted. I sat there and held her hand as her breaths grew shorter and farther apart. When the light faded from her eyes I gently laid her hand back on her chest and then reached up to close her lids. We laid a sheet from her pallet over her and, after a moment of silence, got looking for what we came here for. It may seem callous, but what else could we do? She wasn’t friend or family or even someone whose story I’d learned. I didn’t even know her name.
The building had three stories. The top one turned out to be a loft, probably the owner’s home, which suggested that either the woman had just stumbled onto the place and hadn’t fully explored it or she considered the space too open to defend. The second floor contained a few workshops and a large storage room which I set some of the girls to sort both for our target and anything else of use like magic supplies.
The ground floor was the pawn shop proper and contained a variety of knickknacks. We spent a couple hours opening cupboards and packages and digging through the odds and ends. The best find by far was a PPHU behind the counter. At last! We had a spare.
As I was rooting around by the register I accidentally knocked over a small glass case of prewar soda bottles. The case smashed on the floor sending soda bottles rolling everywhere. The aluminum and plastic ones just bounced around the floor, but several glass ones shattered against the base of the counter. Everyone turned my way and the girls upstairs came storming down to see what was happening. I endured the good natured ribbing I so richly deserved and after a few minutes everyone went back to digging.
As I peered around the counter one last time to see if I missed anything I heard the distinct sound of liquid trickling and splashing downward. I followed the sound and dragged aside a rug to reveal a floor hatch. I gathered Friday and Ellie and then popped the hatch open from the back side so they could fire down the hole if needed, but nothing rushed up toward us.
The basement was apparently used for storage and had even more junk for us to sort through. We spent hours more digging through boxes and containers of all sort before I finally struck paydirt. Tucked away on a shelf in the back corner was a basket filled with packing peanuts. I plunged a hand into them and, after rooting around for a few seconds, pulled forth my prize.
It looked like a snowglobe but there was no snow. Instead it contained a small, but intricately detailed, miniature cottage. The cottage was painted red and looked solidly built. As I turned the globe I saw a pair of exterior basement storm doors on the side. I turned the globe toward the light until I could see some instructions written on the base and grinned like a maniac. This was it! I quickly stored it in my pokepack and then paused. I turned back to the basket and plunged my hands back in. There were two more! Each contained a house or cottage in a different style, the last one even having a second story.
With prizes in hand I called all my girls together. Harley had been on watch at the door and we picked her up on our way out. She had dropped a few more zombabes who wandered out of nearby buildings while we were inside but as they were only singles she hadn’t called for help.
I decided the road in front of the antique store was wide enough and set the first globe down in the middle before backing well away. Then I called the word inscribed on the base and the globe vanished in a massive cloud of smoke. When it cleared there was now a cozy red cottage in the middle of the street with a set of storm doors on the side leading down into the cellar. This was my solution to our lack of a permanent base. Now we could take our home wherever we went and not have to worry about leaving things behind.
I moved further down the street and set up the other two houses. The two story had enough bedrooms for everyone and a better kitchen but no basement. The last house was small and simple with only one room. After looking over all of them and touring the insides I turned to Alice.
“So I’m thinking we convert the small one into a garage for the Pinnace, we all live in the two-story, and we convert the other into your lab with the basement for storage. What do you think?”
“...Doable,” she replied after giving it a moment’s thought. “We’ll have to rebuild the front on the garage to make a big enough opening but as the structure is mostly wood I don’t think it’ll be a problem. Plus it’d be really nice to not have to set up and abandon another lab.”
“Yeah, sorry about that. Maybe when the zombabes clear the area right around the camp we can try to salvage some of your gear.”
She nodded but didn’t look hopeful.
We spent another hour rearranging the insides of each building, dumping excess items we didn’t need in a pile on the street and raiding the antique store and surrounding shops for furniture and other goods to kit them out. When we were decently satisfied with our lodgings I intoned the second command word for each of them and they vanished in another puff of smoke leaving the snowglobes sitting on the street.
I grabbed all three and stored them in my pack, then we all boarded the Pinnace again. As the first rays of dawn crept over the horizon I lifted us up out of the city canyons and set a course northeast. With Tenochtitlan a bust we had a long journey to our next target.
Friday - Blessed Lazarus
Scarlet - Blessed Wolf Spider
Harley - Blessed Gun Bunny
Serendipity - Blessed Psifey
Alice - Blessed Archmage+
Jane - NightAngel
Ellie - Blessed Duelist
Rachel - Video Girl Upgrade