DISCLAIMER: This work is fiction. The work has no relationship with any person existing at any time anywhere whether real, imaginary,or copywrited. 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 12 - The Open Road...ish
After half an hour heading south I took us up high in the sky. From the ground we would disappear in the cloud cover. I pulled out my pokedex, checked our location, and adjusted our heading west. Since we were already so far away from home I decided we might as well continue on to Springfield. I'd have to sort and catalog how much food we picked up but I was sure we had plenty of supplies for the expedition.
At first light I decided it was time to check on Friday. I found a pleasant-looking hilltop and landed so everyone could stretch their legs and asked Seren to organize some breakfast. First, I plugged my dex into my new PPHU, ran Friday's ball through a healing cycle, and scanned it. The breed came back UNKNOWN. Jane reached over to scroll the screen to the bio data and frowned.
"What is it?" I asked.
"This data is all wrong," she replied. "Her pulse is depressed and her temperature is low, but she doesn't seem to be in any physical distress. Do you have any idea what happened back there? That Phoenix Down shouldn't have worked with MegaZombie poison in her system. That stuff is almost as bad as hyper venom once you have enough in you."
"I...might have some idea..." I replied. "Have you ever heard of the Authors?"
"Like people who write books?" she said.
"Kind of but with a capital A," I said. "They are beings from other worlds."
She slowly shook her head while giving me the "oh my god, I'm sitting next to a crazy person" look.
"Honestly they may have never come to this world," I continued. "This definitely qualifies as one of the more fringe pokegirl worlds I've ever heard of. It's certainly not one of the primes."
"What does 'prime' mean?" asked Alice as she joined us.
"Well," I said while getting comfortable, "multiverse theory tells us that there are an infinite number of universes. My presence on this world means that the theory is correct, at least on that point. The Authors-"
"Wait!" Jane interjected. "What do you mean 'your presence on this world'? What, are you some kind of alien now or something!?"
"No. I'm a pure strain human. Where I came from pokegirls only existed as stories on the internet. The revenge war never happened. James Scott never existed."
"Who?" Jane asked.
"James Scott, a.k.a. Sukebe," I replied, "but we're getting a bit off track."
Jane turned to Alice, "Has he been scanned for head trauma lately?"
"Don't shrug it off," Alice replied. "He seems to know things noone else does. Besides, we're pinning our hopes on that he's right and we can find a way to another world, remember? Stop trying to poke holes in the balloon."
"I'm right here, you know," I said grumpily.
"I'm sorry," Jane said with a contrite look. "You were talking about authors?"
I sighed. "The Authors were people from my world who either could see into pokegirl worlds or were actively creating them. The argument of which it was never really came up since everyone believed they were just writing stories. The prime worlds are the agreed upon canon of the pokegirl universe based on MetroAnime's works. He's the forefather of the genre. Primes are worlds where a specific set of events happened in a specific order and where no other stories have majorly affected that timeline."
"While I could say a lot about the Authors most of it would not be germane to this conversation. The important bit is that they were all dragged from their universes into a pokegirl universe and the best theory I've heard is that in moving through some of the universes on their way from A to B they somehow gained power from the passage. These powers ranged from low-level things like being able to identify all pokegirls on sight, even while they were disguised or transformed, to abilities that altered reality around them."
"I wasn't an author before I came to this world, but I may have gained some of their powers on my way here. One of those powers is the ability to evolve pokegirls and women without catalysts like stones or even to skip evolutionary steps or evolve them into breeds which have no place in their genetic history. Some even created entirely new breeds. I think something like that may have happened with Friday."
"So what is she now?" Jane asked.
"No idea," I said. "I never wrote any stories and never created new pokedex entries. The most I had was the occasional passing idea for a new type of pokegirl but nothing I ever really wrote down and defined. The only thing I can say is let's let her out and see what's happened."
Neither Alice nor Jane seemed to have any better ideas so, suiting actions to words I pulled Friday's ball from the PPHU and thumbed the release button. She rematerialized standing in front of me. Her skin was a bit paler than it was before although still within normal range for a human, but her veins stood out visible all over her body. I could even see them under the parts of her clothing that weren't too thick because the veins were glowing a bright electric blue. It kind of reminded me of Electro from the Amazing Spiderman 2 albeit not quite as cartoonish. I could see the lines brightening and slowly darkening in keeping with her pulse.
She slowly scanned her surroundings until her eyes fell on me. Then she leaped at me. I barely had time to get my arms up before she had wrapped herself around me and started crying.
"I thought...I'd never...see you...again!" she managed to get out between sobs.
I gently rubbed her back and tried to soothe her. Eventually she subsided but she didn't let go. Seren brought over some sandwiches which finally perked Friday up enough to pull her head away from my chest to sniff the air. She took one arm from around me to grab a sandwich and nearly inhaled it.
"I think we might need a few more," I said in fascination as Friday had killed her first and was already halfway through her second.
Seren smiled, handed me the plate, and went to get more. I held the food while Friday continued eating, slightly afraid to get my fingers between her mouth and the plate's contents. After her fifth sandwich she finally started slowing down.
"Feeling better?" I asked her with a grin.
She nodded while chewing her sixth sandwich in a more thoughtful manner. Finally she paused and looked up at me. "What happened to me? I should be dead."
"I think I happened," I said. Now that she was a little more settled I sat back down on the edge of the boat with her and explained once more about the Authors and my potential gain of powers.
She listened while polishing off the rest of the plate of sandwiches before asking, "So what am I now?"
"I'm not sure," I said. "We're in uncharted territory here. I think you're something new, but we'll have to feel out what new abilities you may have."
We spent another hour on the peaceful hilltop before we got back into the air. We managed to reach the outskirts of Springfield in a few days with little incident flying above the clouds. It was fortunate we hadn't hit a clear patch of weather yet.
During the trip we'd figured out that Friday's electric powers had been massively boosted and she was capable of transforming her entire body into electricity. I warned her against using that form near anything like a Maggymite. I didn't want to see what a magnetism controller would do to her.
I landed before we got too close to the city center. We wouldn't want the kind of attention we might attract there. Even if this was a long abandoned mostly demolished city there would still be many ferals nesting in the ruins, assuming of course they weren't just turned into zombabes.
We hid our ride in what used to be the entryway to a school. Most of the building had collapsed but the extra supports and stonework around the entry had allowed it to remain standing creating a large cave area. The girls quickly captured a trio of eva who had been living there by using rune chains and some well placed shots to spike one runner to the ground by her feet. I pokeballed them and then we moved our boat in before I pocketed the metal rune so it couldn't wander off.
After that we sat around while Alice cast her locating spell to find the materials we would need. Once we had a direction Friday took point with Seren on rear guard and we were off. I figured between psychic ability and her nose Friday had the best chance of finding any trouble before it found us. She also had a new ability to sense life around her. She said we all seemed to glow slightly but she could see it with her eyes closed.
Alice led us in a circuitous path through the ruins occasionally pausing to consult her spell again for direction. At last we came to one rubble pile in a long line of rubble piles at which she stopped. "The gems we need for the armor rings are here," she said, pointing at the collapsed building.
"All right," I said. "Let's clear the surrounding area to make sure we aren't disturbed. We can set up camp here and set watches while the rest of us dig."
We started to walk a circuit of the area but hadn't gone far when we came across someone's camp. The remains of a fire that had been kicked over revealed still warm coals when I scraped them over. A popup tent lay nearby tipped on its side. Whoever was here hadn't gone quietly though. We found a Gunvalkyrie with her throat slashed out and a torchick who'd put up some fight, based on the scorch marks, before something ripped her head off. Her body had numerous thumb-sized chunks of flesh missing and was covered in round stab wounds like someone had gone at her with a sharp tent pole. Make that lots of sharp tent poles. A little searching revealed drag marks leading off through the mud.
"This didn't happen that long ago," Friday said. Someone may still be alive if we find them soon enough."
I didn't even debate it. "Okay, traveling formation. I don't think it's a widow or there wouldn't be any bodies but keep on your toes. That Gunvalkyrie may have been ambushed from the look of things. At least if she weren't I'd have expected to see some scattered plasma burns...well, unless she was firing at a flyer. Anyway, Seren, stay in your small form and ride on my shoulder looking backward. Friday, lead on."
We followed the trail for an hour occasionally losing it as we passed over rubble or the rare piece of mostly intact road. At last Friday came to a stop and we gathered behind her.
"I can smell her," she said quietly. "Insect, possibly spider although not the same breed as Scarlet. There's a building just around the pile behind me that rises enough out of the rubble I'd bet part of the interior is intact. There's a good chance that's the lair."
"Good job," I said. "Did you see an entrance?" As she shook her head I continued. "Okay then. We move as a group, no stragglers. Seren and Jane, you're my guards. Scarlet, you lead us in. Friday and Harley are your backup. Alice, you've got rear guard. Remember, everyone, we save anyone we can, but a stranger is not worth any of your lives to me. Be safe."
We moved as stealthily as six non-special-forces grown adults could toward the nest. With all the debris that was still only somewhat stealthy. The drag marks appeared to have been swept away in the area around the building so we took our time searching for the entrance. The front door was choked with rubble, but we found a basement door around the side and down some stairs. The door was locked when Scarlet tried the handle so we circled the whole building but found no other entrance.
We went back to the basement door with the intention of cutting the lock but when Scarlet went down the stairs the door and the wall around it suddenly popped open. It was hinged at the top with webbing and as it swung open I realized this was something like what a trapdoor spider would use. Giant spider legs darted out and grabbed Scarlet, then pulled her back inside letting the door swing closed in only a couple of seconds.
As we all crowded the stairwell trying to get to the door to get it open we heard a shriek from inside. The door slammed open as Seren and Friday both lifted it with telekinesis to reveal Scarlet covered in gore standing over an arachnae clutching at the stumps of six legs with her only pair of arms. Scarlet had waited till the girl used all six legs to pin her arms and drew her in for a sting before activating a combination of spincut and energy blade with her hair. The resultant buzzsaw action could only be described in terms appropriate to an abattoir. I balled the girl and it barely rocked once before it was still.
"Everyone stay on your guard," I said. "A single arachnae would have been hard pressed to take down both of those girls so she might have a partner."
We proceeded further into the ruins and found a large central chamber created by knocking down select walls and reinforcing others with webbing. We found what was left of a man. The lower half of his body was partially crushed and his head had been chewed off at the neck. The rest hadn't been chewed on yet so I assumed this was the remains of the tamer whose camp we'd found.
We searched the area and found his pokedex, and a few other pocket items but nothing much of note until Seren did a psychic scan. That's when she drew us all away from the webbing near one wall.
"There are arachnae kits in there and someone else," she said.
Scarlet quickly formed a firing line and then had Harley Fire the web. A quick whoosh was followed by an ash cloud and the sound of young girls shrieking as four kits were exposed and started rolling on the floor trying to put out the flames. Alice quickly doused everything with water and then she, Harley, and Seren wrapped the kits in Rune Chains. Seren and Friday used Hypnotize and Psychic attacks on each kit in turn until they passed out while I dug some pokekit balls out of my pack to capture them.
While I put the kits in storage Seren flew into the revealed room and rummaged around on the floor before coming up with a pokeball. "This is who I was detecting," she said, flying back to hand the ball to me. "She doesn't sound like she's feral."
"Unless she has a low feral state," I countered. "Still, let's see what she is."
I scanned her with my pokedex. "Oh good grief. I need a Harlequin like I need a hole in the head."
"Master, you should give her a chance," Scarlet said. "If she was conscious and with that dead tamer she might be able to tell us more about what happened to this world."
On reflection Scarlet was right. I pocketed the girl intending to wait until we set camp to release her.
We made our way back, stopping to loot what we could from the tamer's campsite, and then completed our perimeter sweep. When we were sure nothing else had been sharing territory with the spider we set up camp. We unanimously decided to post two guards in rotating shifts so everyone would take turns sleeping, guarding, and working while we were here.
While Scarlet spun our tent and Seren started dinner I decided it was time to talk to the Harlequin. First I tried to access the tamer's pokedex but found it locked. I thought I might try using the terminal from the pokecenter to see if I could unlock it but that could wait.
I had Harley, Friday, and Alice fan out to my left and right and then tossed the girl's ball ten feet away as I released her.
The girl who materialized was...interesting. She popped out facing away from us so my first impression was of shoulder length hair that was black on the right and strawberry blonde on the left running to various shades of pink and purple at the ends and tied back in pigtails. (If that was a dye job her stylist was a master.) She was wearing a dark green leather halter top, dark blue leather pants, and black and red leather knee boots.
Her clothes were enticingly tasteful and I realized she was the first pokegirl I'd seen here who hadn't come to me already naked. When I saw her face I instantly compared her to a girl I had a crush on in school. She had a natural beauty but nothing over the top. She was solidly in the top ranks of the girl-next-door category.
"It's about time James! I thought..." she ground to a halt as she turned around to face me and the smile fell from her face. She looked around at my girls and took in our campsite before her shoulders took a defensive set. "Who are you?" she asked stormily.
"My name is Sean, and we found you in an arachnae's nest along with the remains of what I assume was your tamer. I'm sorry."
Her eyes teared up as a hand went to cover her mouth. "Oh, God, James..." she said as she started to cry.
I hesitantly stepped forward to give her the hug she so obviously needed and she latched onto me like I was a floating log in the middle of the ocean. After a few minutes of her crying against me I gently picked her up and moved over to sit on a chunk of concrete with her in my lap. It took her a while to cry herself out and I let her. Jane surreptitiously scanned her while she wasn't paying attention and then mouthed 'she's fine' behind the girl's back.
When she finally came up for air and realized she was sitting in my lap she was a little embarrassed but didn't immediately move. I knew there was no disloyalty to her former master in this. It's the nature of pokegirls and one they can not fight.
About this time Seren announced that dinner was ready and I gently leaned back away from the Harlequin until I could see her face. "Would you like something to eat?" I asked her.
"...yes..." she hesitantly replied.
'Will wonders never cease,' I thought. 'A demure Harlequin.'
She climbed out of my lap and we both went to get our food. She sat near me but not right next to me while we ate. Seren had become one of the best cooks in the group after everyone used the Cooking T2 and tonight was no exception. She had made a savory vegetable stew and a separate pot containing some smoked fish in gravy to add to it for those who wanted meat. I suspect part of her skill was either that she could talk the veggies into tasting better or that her innate knowledge of plants simply let her be better with the spices. At any rate we rarely worried about leftovers. Anything that survived the meal would be put in a pokepack for someone to snack on later.
When it looked like the Harlequin was about finished I asked, "Do you feel up to answering some questions now?"
She paused a moment as if thinking over the question before nodding.
"To start with, what's your name?" I asked.
"James called me Gretchen, but that was just between us. I think I'd rather have a new name if I'm starting over with you."
"Well, that hasn't been decided yet," I said. She got a frightened look on her face and I quickly continued, "Don't be afraid! We're not going to leave you out here alone. I just meant that if you don't want to join us or don't get along well with the others then I could put you in storage and release you when we reach somewhere safe to find another tamer."
She looked askance at me. "And where would this magical safe place be? Unless you've been living under a rock you know about the zombabes. They're everywhere. My master even took out a few roamers we found when we got here and this place is over a hundred miles from anywhere."
"Well...that's a longer and more involved conversation," I told her. "What I'm more interested in right now is if you have an immediate decision about joining us. If you want to you can take some time and talk to the girls before you decide. We're probably going to be here several days."
She hesitantly nodded and said, "I'd like to think on it," so I moved on.
"My next question may sound a little weird, but I'd like you to tell us everything you know about events surrounding the zombabes."
Her eyes widened with surprise at that. "So you really have been living under a rock then... Well, I guess the first we heard of it was when James..." Her eyes misted up again at remembering he was dead and I waited for her to continue while Scarlet moved over and put her arm around the girl's shoulders. After a moment she got herself back under control and went on.
"My master tried to contact a friend of his in the Ruby League and couldn't get ahold of him. He tried for days using messaging and email but got nowhere. He even paid extra for a live video call but still noone picked up. He was getting worried so he sent Moira, his Megami, via the transporter network to a pokecenter near where his friend lived. She was supposed to be released immediately and teleport back to get us and bring us over but she never returned. Right after that we started hearing rumors that the Blue League had gone dark. We thought it was all just talk, you know?"
"Not a lot of people travel to Ruby and few ever leave it, but Blue is another matter. When people stopped responding their friends and family went looking for them. Some made it back with stories of zombabes everywhere. It sounded crazy until we got news footage from the capitol. There was a black fog rolling in all along the coast. The wave stretched for thousands of miles, as far as anyone could reach. They said it might completely span the globe. It was a wall but with gaps and many miles thick. No one knew what caused it, but wherever it passed the zombabes rose behind it."
"No other humans or pokegirls survived where it passed. People panicked. Those who could find one got into an airtight bunker and locked themselves in but there were only so many to be had. A group of mages must have made millions selling emergency tent spells. They were basically opaque one use bubbles of fresh air that would last for a week. James bought one and that's how we survived. We sat in there for days and didn't look out until the bubble expired."
"Everyone who couldn't afford a bubble or get into a real shelter probably did the best they could, but when we came out we found zombabes around every corner. We knew we had to get away from the cities and James sometimes came here to prospect when money was tight so we knew the area and how far it is from anyone else. The zombabes we found here must have been ferals or the harem of some poor prospector who died. So that's my story and that's what I know...do you know a safe place?" she asked with barely concealed hope.
"Actually, I'm not from this world," I told her. "A couple months ago I was brought here by unknown means and, frankly, I intend to leave it for better climes."
Her eyes had grown wide at what I said. She turned to Scarlet and asked, "Is he crazy?"
"No," she said. "We really have been talking about finding a way off this world."
"In that case please take me with you," said the Harlequin definitively. "I'll join your harem."
"Well, there's one other thing I'd like to discuss with you first," I said, "but before we go on does anyone have any more questions for our guest?"
"I do," Friday piped up. "Why didn't people just fly or teleport over the fog wave?"
"I don't know. We stayed inside the bubble. We didn't have any flyers left though. The spell was our only option."
"Actually I can answer this one," I said. "You've just partially hit on it. The vast majority of pokegirls can neither fly nor teleport. Some of the land-bound could be ferried across by those who could, but such a large scale evacuation on short notice would be impossible to organize and carry out."
"It comes down to numbers. Of the humans, more than half of the population would be pet owners at best or have no pokegirls at all. Of those who were tamers not all have lift-capable flyers or teleporters in their harems by any means. Of the pokegirls, the best estimate I've ever heard was that three fifths of the pokegirls on the planet were feral and two thirds of the ferals were born that way. Let's be generous and say between having them in your harem or hitching a ride nearly a quarter of the human population got to the other side of the fog. That still leaves three quarters of them dead or zombabes."
"The numbers get even worse for pokegirls. If we assume the same numbers in civilized regions made it, twenty five percent, then three quarters of them became zombabes, but the three fifths of their total numbers who were feral mostly wouldn't have the intellect to register the danger of the fog at all meaning something like ninety percent of all the pokegirls on the planet were transformed. After that sheer weight of numbers would be sufficient to take down almost anyone."
"I suspect there may be some others still alive and in hiding out there and a lot of girls who were smart enough to just pokeball themselves, but most by now are probably running low on supplies unless they REALLY prepared for something like this and would be leery of letting anyone know where they are lest those people come and take what little they have left. The ones who didn't have supplies were most likely picked off by zombabes when they went looking for some. By now there are probably more pokegirls left in storage units than the total number who are walking around that aren't zombabes.
"In short I doubt anyone has the numbers left to push this back and few are likely to be willing to band together to try to clear and hold territory to try to rebuild. Most will cower in their holes until necessity forces them to leave at which point there are still FAR more zombabes out there than they can deal with. Eventually someone may emerge with a way to handle the situation, but we're not playing what if, and I'm not waiting around for a chance that may never come."
Everyone was quiet when I was finished so I turned back to the Harlequinn. "This is pretty big to ask of you considering we just met, but would you consider evolving into a Lady Luck?"
She stared at me for a second and then looked at the fire.
"Again, there's no rush to make a decision. Take a day or two to think about it. You can read the Lady Luck entry on my pokedex if you like. Or on your former master's if you know the access code?" I said holding it out to her.
She shook her head. "I never learned to read."
"Well, you're in luck there," I said. "We have a reading T2."
Since she didn't know how to unlock her master's pokedex I used the reading T2 on her and then pulled up the Lady Luck entry on mine before handing it to her and showing her how to scroll through.
While she spent time at that I retrieved the pokecenter laptop and fired it up. I'd have to have one of the girls charge it at some point but for now it had plenty of battery. I plugged James' dex in and poked around a bit until I found a program that would unlock it. Then I looked around the dex for a bit. Nothing important jumped out at me. I downloaded his data archives so I could watch the video footage of this black wave for myself. Fortunately he'd saved the media reports he pulled down. I'd read about the wave in some of the reports I found but hadn't found a working site with video footage.
It was pretty much as the girl described. One media outlet had gotten a flying pokegirl to lift a Cameragirl high enough to get a good vantage above the wave. The fog stretched from horizon to horizon in a long line, but, as the newscaster was pointing out, there were gaps randomly forming here and there. The area I crashed in must have been in one of those gaps for Friday, Scarlet, and Harley to have survived. Seren and Alice must have been lucky too.
There were no important saved messages on the dex so I set up a credit transfer from his account to mine and drained all his funds. (What? It's not like he needed them and they might come in handy. Waste not, want not.) Then I used the pokecenter computer to reformat the dex and set it up as a new one for myself. Rather than being another spare this was going to become my new main because when I was poking through it I'd noticed it had a satellite uplink.
Once everything was set up I disconnected and stored the laptop before going into my new dex to start adjusting my settings. While I was doing that I got a new message notification. I stared dumbly at the little blinking light for a minute. Who the hell could be sending me a message here? I didn't know a single person on the planet who wasn't within arm's reach right now. The header looked scrambled as it said it was from myself.
Throwing caution to the wind I played it. A beautiful girl with electric blue hair appeared on the screen. "Hello, Wilt." It took me a moment to remember that my official name in the dex was Wilt Chamberlain as she continued. "If you are viewing this message that means your message about Tamington was not a glitch and you are still alive. That puts you head and shoulders above any other candidate I've seen in the last three months."
"My name is Rachel. I am a video girl who worked for what was once the Indigo League and I am trapped. Everyone else here is dead or a zombabe and I can't move my life disc on my own. Please come and rescue me. I'm sure I could be of great help to you in return. I'm at the headquarters of Operation Mirror Box located in New Manhattan. I know asking you to come into a city is a lot, but I've found noone else alive and willing in this hemisphere. Please. Get me out of here. Coordinates to follow."