Disclaimer:

          This work is fiction. The work has no (intentional) relationship with any person existing at any time anywhere whether real or imaginary or copy written.

         Feedback will be read, processed, and if it’s a flame it will be given the finger, then I will burst into hysterical laughter. Constructive feedback, be it criticism or praise, will be read, processed, given a smile, and filed away. To contact me, please send an email to socom.seal@(SPAM)yahoo.com. Remove (SPAM) for a valid email.

         You should not read this if you are not of legal age where you reside. This work can contain rape, BDSM, cannibalism, and probably anything else my sick, twisted mind can come up with.

Note: All times are in a mix of military and standard times. For example, 1AM = 0100 hours = 1:00, while 1PM = 1300 hours = 13:00. I hope this will make it easier on readers to understand the timeline while leaving me in a format that I understand better. If it causes too much of a problem I will switch to standard. 

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“<<Text>>” Means that it is being spoken in a language other than English.

This is telepathic thought”

 

Chapter 27

 

         <22:00, South Ireland>

 

         Andrew gently stroked the S-Goth’s hair as she slept. “You do understand she is one of the ones who did this to you, right?”

 

         Andrew sighed. “She was used. Just as much as I was, just as much as Braxton was. Just as much as you were, Cristina.”

 

         The Ophanim grimaced. “Alright. I get it. But what if she wasn’t?”

 

         Andrew shrugged. “I was a part of her every memory back there. I saw everything she saw, felt everything she felt. She was ordered to fill a role, lived it, then came back and had her memories read before she was wiped. She barely had a life of her own, and it occurred intermittently, weeks, months, sometimes even years in between each memory. So, no. She wasn’t.”

 

         Cristina turned when Lyn opened the door, closing it quietly behind her. “Is that really her?” Andrew nodded. “What do we do?”

 

         “We let her decide her own path.” Andrew said, standing. “If she chooses to leave, she can leave. If she chooses to stay, she stays. I’m glad you’re here, by the way. When she wakes up, she’s going to be pretty disoriented. I was hoping you could help with that.”

 

         Lyn frowned. “I can try, I suppose. What do you want me to do?”

 

         “Help her segment her life. Treat her like an amnesia patient recovering their memories. Use magic if you can.”

 

         Lyn’s frown disappeared and she rolled her eyes. “Oh, you want magic. I can definitely do that.”

 

         Andrew chuckled. “Good.”

 

         Lyn stopped him as he made his way out of the room. “You have a visitor, by the way.”

 

         Andrew sighed in exasperation but walked to the mess, looking around for someone out of place. When he didn’t see anyone, he frowned and made his way to his seat.

 

         Halfway there he stopped, something barely registering in the corner of his eye. Not seeing it again, he slowly walked to his chair and sat down.

 

         “Find me.” Came a whisper.

 

         Andrew didn’t move. “Is this supposed to be a test?”

 

         “Find me.” It repeated.

 

         Andrew glanced around the room. The few pokegirls that were there all watched him expectantly. With a sigh he stood. “Fill me in?”

 

         Aella shrugged at him from where she sat with Phial and the twin Nereidames. “It’s an old friend. That’s all I’m allowed to say.”

 

         “I don’t have many friends.” Andrew muttered, casting his gaze around. After a few moments of thought his pupils shifted and he began peering into the shadows.

 

         “Getting warm.” The voice whispered, Andrew feeling something slip past him. With a laugh his eyes suddenly burned with magic, pinning the Vampire down.

 

         “Draken. Why the hell are you here?” He asked cheerfully.

 

         The Vampire slipped back through the floor, dispelling her phase. “It’s good to see that you can control that now.”

 

         Andrew shrugged. “Better than before, but still not all there. Then again, I doubt I ever will be.”

 

         Draken grinned. “A fair assessment of magic.” Her smile faded. “And, it’s Daria, now. I ran out of time.”

 

         “Well, at least you had time to prepare.”

 

         Daria nodded. “That’s why I’m here. I don’t need your Enchantress’ help anymore. Actually, I’d like to change the favor.”

 

         Andrew cocked his head. “To?”

 

         “Take me with you. I no longer have anything tying me here.”

 

         Andrew took a breath. “Am I correct in assuming you’re… A pokegirl, now?”

 

         Daria nodded. “It’s an annoyance, but like you said, I had time to prepare. I’m not here to ask you for anything like that.” She grimaced. “Fuck no.”

 

         Andrew snickered. “Interesting choice of words.” His expression grew serious. “How do I know you don’t have an ulterior motive here? You’ve insinuated that you’re a powerful mage. I bring you with me, and you’ll find a way to open a portal back here eventually. What will you bring back?”

 

         Daria gave him a small grin. “Nothing?” She sighed when Andrew’s frown didn’t move. “I have no interest in being used by my mother any more. She’s gone too far this time.”

 

         Andrew’s eyes flickered but he kept his expression neutral. “Roth isn’t giving you up this easily.”

 

         Daria chuckled. “It’s my last birthday gift from her. I’m afraid I insisted.” She sighed. “I’ve already burnt my bridges. Please don’t make me go rebuild them.”

 

         Andrew nodded. “Fine. But you’re on your own. If you came here looking for orders, you came to the wrong place.”

 

         Daria exhaled in relief. “Thank you. No, I didn’t. Thank you.”

 

         Andrew tapped his earpiece. “Cortney, get everyone up. We don’t have time to wait around for Sierra to recover. If there are broadcasts from the Omega tree, we need to be in the area.” He clenched his fists. “Here we go.”

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

         <14:00, Dingle Peninsula>

 

         “Area is clear. Third patrol has no reports.” Cristina’s voice said in Andrew’s ear as he waited. “Nothing seems to be changed.”

 

         Andrew nodded to himself and blinked as Kuu teleported him to where Fu waited. He began walking towards where he knew the clearing was, a handful of guards surrounding him. “Set up camp, get the others out. I want to look well established by the time Iain gets here.” His attention wavered as he felt something change nearby. “What the…” He muttered, slowing down slightly.

 

         Fu glanced at him but whirled back as a few figures seemed to step from the trees. A man in front raised his hand as the guard moved to intercept. “You’re a bit late, neighbor. I’m Iain Grey. I don’t like to issue threats, but I’d suggest not doing anything provocative. Now, who are you?”

 

         Andrew glanced at the man’s two escorts and cleared his throat. “Fu, Shamira, Kuu. Back down.” His eyes flicked to Shamira, the Goldina already halfway bulked up and growling. “NOW.

 

         Fu muttered but did as he said, joining Kuu to uneasily look at the new arrivals. Shamira’s growl changed pitch to one of uncertainty and she stopped moving. “…?” She whined.

 

         Andrew patted her reassuringly. “We’re ok. Calm down.” He gave Iain a half-grin. “We are ok, right?”

 

         “Adria, Noira has a tie in with Cortney, right?” He thought.

 

         Adria’s response came back immediately. “Yes. What’s wrong?”

 

         “Nothing. Ask Cortney to scan the area, will you? Make sure you stress that she should appear as non-threatening as possible.”

 

         Adria sent him a quiet affirmative.

 

         Iain gave him a slight smile. “We are ok in that nobody is bleeding yet. It is my hope that situation will remain unchanged.” He paused for a moment before continuing. “The rather large Elfqueen on my left is Ninhursag and the pretty lass on my right is Dominique.” His smile faded. “You said you wanted to look well established by the time I arrived. Would you care to elaborate on that statement?”

 

         Dominique piped up. “You can also tell us who you are, as Iain has already asked, as well as telling us how you know us. I have certainly never met any of you.”

 

         Andrew nodded. “I am Andrew. The Elfqueen is Kuu, the Warvern is Fu, and the Goldina is Shamira. As to how I know about you, and wanting to look well established…” He trailed off, trying to decide how much he could disclose. Everything that had happened matched what he knew about Iain perfectly, but what if it was still a trick?

 

         “Cortney has found… something.” Adria sent to him. “She has no idea what it is, but it’s attached to her sensors. She thinks it might be a jammer of some kind.”

 

         “Tell her to stop looking. If it can jam her sensors it can jam her, too.

 

         Andrew let out his breath and nodded, his decision made. “I know about you, Iain, because where I come from,” he shook his head. “you’re just a story.”

 

         Andrew could feel the mood shift instantly. “I’m a story.” Iain said slowly. “I suppose this story is being told by Kerrik Wolf,” He continued, “which happens to be me on what is likely yet another world. Your presence and that knowledge suggest you’re what our kidnappers would call an Author, as am I.” His smile tried to return. “However, I didn’t know real names on the websites. What were you called there?” Andrew blinked when Iain’s face reset before his smile came back. “It just so happens that I am a Celestial tamer and my two Megami-Sama would like to join us. Their names are Eve and Lucy. May they join us?”

 

         Andrew shifted slightly, the tension starting to transfer to his legs. “I have a feeling that when I agree, we’d just be left standing here for hours. How about this; My campsite has probably been set up by now and the others are waiting for me. You can bring whoever wants to come, and we’ll have one big powwow.”

 

         Kuu tapped his shoulder. “Can I check in with my court?”

 

         Andrew shrugged. “I have no problem with that. You’ll have to ask Iain,” his eyes darted to Ninhursag. “And Ninhursag.” He extended his hand to the other man. “You may not know of me, but my handle was Socom. Socom Seal, to be precise.” He sighed. “Never expected that name to become a curse.”

 

         Iain took his hand. “Greetings, Andrew. Your name isn’t a curse and neither are we cursed. Sanctuary saw in us something that benefitted itself only. From the Authors I’ve talked to, what the Goths saw had little or nothing to do with what we actually were, and that’s what led to them losing in every single case.” He dropped Andrew’s hand and stepped back. “Kuu, neither Ninhursag nor I would dream of interfering with your activities, much less your court. Andrew, you didn’t come here expecting me to be waiting and I didn’t come here expecting your group to drop in so quickly, so we both have people to get settled. Other than Lucy and Eve, most of my command staff are already here. Of the ones that aren’t, my beta is busy setting up camp for our people and the last, whose name is Canaan, isn’t fit for being around strangers right now. She’s heavily pregnant and, it turns out, being that way makes her very aggressive towards people she doesn’t know.” He smiled. “Considering that she doesn’t understand the word moderation when she’s in a practice fight, she’s fine monitoring things from where she is.”

 

         Andrew blinked in relief as the tension in the clearing began to dissipate. “We’ll be having guests, everyone.” He sent across the Delta bonds. “Lyn, whip something up, will you?

 

         He turned his attention back to Iain as the latter continued speaking. “Eve and Lucy will be along in a few minutes. You’ve invited us to a powwow. Where I come from, that usually involves breaking bread. While I’m sure you’ve got plenty of food, the ladies are bringing a cooler full of some outstanding homebrew for us to share, compliments of our brewmistress, Joyce. So, how does that sound?”

 

         Andrew grinned. “I don’t use words lightly. When I say a powwow, I intend to fully honor it.” He nodded. “I’ll happily accept anything they would like to bring.” He turned back to Kuu. “You’re free, then. I know it’s been a tough few days away from home for you.” His mouth started to twitch into a smile. “Just make sure to keep the others from doing anything too crazy with Iain and Ninhursag here, would you?”

 

         Kuu blinked. “Crazy? Why would they do something crazy?”

 

         Andrew opened his mouth in surprise. “Oh, you didn’t… Oh, dear.” He muttered. “Iain is the person I came here looking for.” He said slowly, trying to gauge her reaction. “He lived here. Before, and, uh, after the Omega Tree was grown.”

 

         Kuu continued to stare at him blankly for a few moments before realization hit. “Oh, uh,” She stuttered, glancing quickly between them. “Forgive me, Master!” She cried in Iain’s direction before sprinting off into the woods.

 

         Andrew could see Iain and Ninhursag discussing quietly. “Is that going to be a problem?” He heard him say.

 

         “Iain,” Dominique asked with an amused smile. “do you really have to ask that question?”

 

         “No, I guess I don’t.” He said, two Megami-Sama’s appearing, the two carrying a large container between them. “We’ll worry about troubles with Kuu as they pop up. Andrew, the bluebonnet haired lovely lass is Eve, and the beautiful brunette is Lucy. As much as any Megami-Sama belongs to anyone, they’re mine. Ladies, this is Andrew, Fu the Warvern and Shamira the Goldina.” He frowned. “What’s with the backpack, Eve?”

 

         “It’s full of ice cream, cakes, cookies and other stuff you shouldn’t be eating.” The girl said with a smile.

 

         “Ok.” Iain said. “Andrew, I guess we brought more than beer. Where do we set up?”

 

         Andrew grinned and tapped his earpiece. “Girls, I’m sure you must have guessed what’s going on by now. You can break radio silence. And we need a guide to the tent.”

 

         “With pleasure.” Noira replied, and Andrew could start to hear her approach, rotors thumping quietly in the distance. “Just follow me. We’re not far.”

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

         Andrew pointed at the tent as it came into view, a handful of pokegirls milling around it. “It’s an extradimensional space. We’ve got facilities in there, if you’d like. Or we can bring things out here.” He turned to Iain. “I’d like to discuss why I came looking for you over the meal, if that’s alright with you.”

 

         “You know, it’s a pretty day.” Iain said. “Let’s eat out here.” He chuckled. “I’ve been busy breaking my harems of discussing business during meals so we can socialize, but I’m willing to make an exception this one time.”

 

         Andrew grinned. “There’s a time and place for everything, right? My philosophy is usually work first, play later, but I’d hate to set a confusing precedent for your ladies. We can talk later.”

 

         Cristina emerged from the tent and snapped him a quick salute. “Commander. I apologize for the failures of the patrols. We believed the area was clear.”

 

         Andrew shook his head. “You did fine. If Iain didn’t want to be found, you were never going to detect him.” He nodded at the cooler. “We’re going to be having a powwow. Let Lyn know we’ll need food, and get somebody moving tables and chairs from the mess outside. Your team can do that, right?”

 

         Cristina nodded and turned away, Shamira drifting off to find Adria. Fu tapped Andrew on the shoulder. “And what should Delta do?”

 

         “Just pass the word around. Let everyone know we have guests.” He grinned and turned back to Iain as Phial walked by, hefting one of the long tables. “It might get busy here for a moment.” He cocked his head. “By the way, I highly doubt Eve and Lucy came just to bring the refreshments. Did I do something Celestially interesting?” He asked jokingly.

 

         “Obviously you have.” Lucy said. “You have an Ophanim in your life, and from the way she looks at you, you are the one who must have evolved her from a Fallen Angel. While Ophanim are technically not Celestial, it is but the tiniest of technicalities and the path that they walk is often trod by many other Celestials as well.” Her eyes twinkled. “If she wishes and we get along well enough, perhaps she might find herself Blessed so that tiny technicality can be removed.”

 

         Iain looked at her with a slight smile. “Lucy and Eve are part of my command staff and I listen to their advice. As for them having to be here, I think they’re hoping that their presence will prove I’m unlikely to leap up and start butchering people randomly.”

 

         “You never do that.” Ninhursag said.

 

         Iain blinked at her intercession. “What?”

 

         “Randomly butcher people.”

 

         “Oh. Yeah.”

 

         Andrew watched Eve put her hands on her hips. “Then listen to this advice, Iain; no lies from the beginning.”

 

         Iain watched her for a few moments. “Does no lies mean complete truth?”

 

         “Of course not.” She replied. “We will all hedge around the truth while seeking to discover what the other truly wants and, more importantly, what the other is truly like. That’s why we’re having this discussion out loud. In front of Andrew. He needs to hear this.”

 

         Andrew nodded absently as they continued, Iain looking back to him. “That’s good. Fine, no easy lies. I was going to try to avoid those in any case since Andrew knows me from some stories. And, the other reason Eve and Lucy are here is that they’re both powerful fighters so I have more defense in case things go sideways, and, slightly more importantly, can taste lies around them. Ah, and Lucy is a nickname. Her full name is Lucifer and the origin of that name is a story in and of itself, but you may already know that.” His smile faded. “Now we’ll eat and we’ll chat and we’ll sound each other out, but in the end it’s going to boil down to one simple question that we both know I’m going to ask at the end of this little soiree. You wanted me and mine to come here. So, while we apparently showed up early, you did want this series of events to unfold. I don’t have a problem with that. If I did, this conversation would be a lot less friendly, and,” he looked around appraisingly, “without whatever food smells so good. But after the festivities I am going to want to know what it is you want from me.”

 

         Dominique winced at his tone. “You don’t have to be so blunt.”

 

         Iain’s smile returned. “I am who I am. Andrew doesn’t have to answer right now, but it would be in his best interest to answer eventually.” He chuckled at the look she gave him. “So, Andrew, where do we go so we don’t get trampled by the girls setting up?”

 

         Andrew grimaced slightly as Fu drifted away, leaving him mostly alone. “Well. I heard a lot of questions hidden in there. Some I can answer now, some I’d rather wait.” He sighed. “Lucy, you might appreciate the ironies of the offer you just gave. But I won’t spoil it; ask Cristina yourself, and see what she says. Dominique, I actually appreciate Iain’s bluntness. I hate circular conversations, and avoiding something usually will lead to me abandoning the conversation entirely.” He chuckled. “As to what I know, imagine that I was following you around for the time you were on this world, Iain. An eavesdropper, I guess you could say. While I can make some very specific assumptions, and know a lot of names, I don’t know everything.”

 

         “Heads up! Coming through!” Nami yelled, wading through the middle of the group with chairs piled across her shoulders. “Oi, there you are, sir. These the guests?”

 

         Andrew nodded. “Iain, Lucy, Eve, Dominique, Ninhursag,” He said, gesturing to each in turn, “This is Nami. Nami, is there a reason for the intrusion?”

 

         The Sharptits grinned, showing her sharpened teeth. “Of course. You’re standing on the main table.”

 

         Andrew glanced around and sighed when he noticed the structure of the tables around them. “Of course I am. Where can we go then, while you set up?”

 

         Nami pointed to a large cleared space where Grace and Constance stood. “Over there would be fine. And that’s the other reason I came to talk to ya. How traditional were you planning on making this?”

 

         Andrew blinked. “Traditional?”

 

         Nami nodded. “A couple of us were curious as to what a powwow even was. We made some guesses, but Cortney did a little digging and found some old materials. How traditional do you want this to be?”

 

         Andrew groaned. “Are they setting up a ring.”

 

         Nami laughed. “Go ask them.”

 

         Andrew shook his head but started walking towards the cleared circle. “Iain, I apologize in advance if this gets out of hand. It seems some of the girls are getting ready for a competition.” He grumbled. “This is what I get for stressing combat readiness I guess…”

 

         Behind him Eve and Lucy dropped the food and tagged along. “A traditional powwow has a dancing competition in full regalia, not a combat one. But, hey, to each their own.” Andrew heard Iain say. “Besides, I think a bunch of untrained pokegirls dancing might be more dangerous to bystanders than any combat.”

 

         “I think that’s why Nami was asking me how ‘traditional’ I wanted this to be.” Andrew called back over his shoulder. “And I think the answer I was supposed to give was ‘not at all’.” He came to a halt in front of the two grinning girls. “Well?”

 

         Grace giggled. “Dancing is boring.”

 

         Andrew sighed. “Dancing is most certainly not boring. I’ll remember that you said that, though.” He muttered. “Dancing and fighting really aren’t that different.”

 

         Grace was saved a response when Azhara walked up to them. “Sir, we’re just about finished setting up. Lyn should be done cooking soon, too.” She nodded at Iain’s group before turning back to him. “Did you come to a decision?”

 

         Andrew pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration. “Fine. But we’re compromising on this one. If you really want a competition, and don’t want to dance, you can do an exhibition of some kind. If you REALLY want that to be a fight, fine. I won’t stop you. But I’ll be judging this. And I will be biased towards anyone who follows my traditional route.”

 

         Azhara’s eyes lit up for a second. “I think Brigid and I will win, then. She’s always loved to…” She trailed off.

 

         Andrew blinked. “What?”

 

         Azhara shook her head. “Never mind. She’s out of the competition.”

 

         Andrew frowned. “I really hate being left in the dark. Did something happen in the last few days that I missed?”

 

         Azhara bit her lip. “You were a bit predisposed at the time, what with the getting kidnapped and all.” She sighed. “She’s been hurt. Badly. It’s nothing physical, but none of us can seem to help her.” She blinked away a tear. “She’s deaf.”

 

         Andrew grimaced. “That would definitely be a problem if she wanted to dance.” He shrugged and turned back to Iain. “Iain, I apologize, but I’ll have to leave you alone for a few minutes. Hopefully everything will be ready to start soon. If I’m not back in time, talk to one of my Alpha’s with any questions. Azhara here is one of them, and she can direct you to the others.” He turned back to Azhara. “Everyone will need to be outside of the tent for this. Just in case.”

 

         Azhara nodded. “Sierra?”

 

         Andrew winced. “Shit. She’s in no real condition to be moved.” He sighed. “Risk it. Get Gale with her at all times.”

 

         Azhara nodded and began speaking quietly into her earpiece, Gale peeling off from the preparations in order to follow Andrew as he headed inside.

 

         On their way through they passed Lyn, the Enchantress wheeling a giant trolley piled with platters. “We were about to start, where are you going?” She asked.

 

         “Gale is going to move Sierra outside for safety. I’m going to try to heal Brigid.”

 

         Lyn nodded. “I understand. I’ll make sure to keep the door open.”

 

         Andrew chuckled. “Thanks.”

 

         Upstairs, he waited in the harem commons for Gale to sound the all clear. Once she had, he got up and made his way towards Brigid’s room. He knocked on the door, pausing and pushing it open.

 

         Brigid was sitting on the floor, pieces of a pokedex strewn around her. Andrew could tell she had been crying, but her face was dry when she looked up at his entrance. “Hello.” She said, the words coming slowly as she forced them past cracked lips. “How are you?”

 

         Andrew grinned as he sat down opposite her, and Brigid smiled slightly. “I’m glad.” She mumbled. “I guess you found out I’m deaf.”

 

         Andrew nodded sadly. “I want to help.” He mouthed, tapping his own ears before pointing at her. “I want you to hear.”

 

         Brigid shook her head. “No I can’t hear you.”

 

         Andrew grimaced and pulled his pokedex off his belt, opening a writing pad. “I want to help you.” He typed, showing her the screen.

 

         “You can’t.” She replied, pushing the dex back to him. “Everyone’s already tried.”

 

         Andrew chuckled. “Will you let me try?” He typed.

 

         Brigid stayed silent for a few minutes before finally nodding her head.

 

         “You’ll need to let me in.” Andrew typed, extending his hand to her.

 

         She took it, gasping when Andrew’s eyes began to glow. The aura started at his head and crept down his arm, hesitating once it got to hers. With a push, it raced up the connection and dove into her head.

 

         “It’s a circuit.” Andrew thought as he guided the aura. “A bond. I’m forming an artificial bond. And as I imagine it, it is true.”

 

         Andrew strode through the brightly lit hallways that formed Brigid’s mind. “Where do I need to go?” He asked. When he received no response, he shrugged and kept walking.

 

         Soon he stood at a crossroads. Judging the different paths, he started down the one that felt different. Soon, he stood at another crossroads. This process repeated itself until he stood in front of a wall.

 

         “I know there isn’t a wall here.” He said clearly, glancing around him. “Why do I see one?” A slight feeling of unease began to permeate the air around him, and Andrew recognized it from Limerick. “I can feel you, mage. Show yourself.”

 

         The feeling strengthened, the wall in front of him seeming to grow. Andrew sighed and drew back his fist. “You’re obviously malignant. Too bad we couldn’t resolve this peacefully.” He said, sending it hurtling into the wall.

 

         There was hardly any resistance. As his fist impacted the wall it dissolved, the uneasy feeling vanishing as the passive spell was broken. On the other side, Andrew could see a small creature scream and disappear.

 

         Outside, Brigid cried out in pain as her mind cleansed the remainder of the hostile magic. The dark mist that she emitted was quickly suppressed by Andrew’s aura, but not before the excess magic he had used erupted from him. A spectral fist crashed through the wall behind him before continuing into the void that surrounded the space and vanishing, luckily without damaging much inside.

 

         Breathing quickly Andrew withdrew his aura and peered at Brigid. “Are you alright?” He asked quietly.

 

         “I’m fine.” She replied, rubbing her head. “I got a random headache, though.”

 

         Andrew’s face split into a grin and he stood. “We’re going to be having a competition. Would you like to join Azhara and show us how you dance?”

 

         Brigid winced. “I told you, I’m deaf, I can’t… hear…” She trailed off.

 

         Andrew laughed and pulled her to her feet, embracing her as she began to cry. “I told you I’d help you, didn’t I?” He asked jokingly.

 

         After a while he separated himself. “We’re having a powwow outside. Ask Cortney about what that is, if you’d like, but basically it means there’s lots of food and friends.” He smiled and wiped her face. “I think everyone would love to see you.”

 

         She nodded and he left, skirting past the damaged wall and back out to the entrance. Once he was back outside he took stock of the surroundings. Gale was sitting nearby, tending to Sierra, and it looked like the powwow was in full swing. Spotting Iain near the ring, he made his way over. As he got close he began to hear a nearly musical noise, and could make out Nial moving inside. The Assasara looked almost like she was dancing, but Andrew recognized her movements. She had chosen to exhibit Drunken Kung Fu, allowing the fluid movements to send her arms rubbing against each other, which was producing the rhythmic sounds.

 

         Andrew sidled up next to Iain, nodding at the performance. “Did I miss much?”

 

         “Yes, you did.” Iain replied. “Grace and Constance danced. Fortunately for you I recorded it.”

 

         Andrew blinked in surprise. “You actually danced, and didn’t fight someone? Really?” He sent to the Mini-Top.

 

         Her reply was tinted with laughter. “I was more worked up than I think I have been in a while, but yes, I did.

 

         Andrew waited for Nial to finish and leave the ring before speaking up again. “Well, hopefully Brigid will be good to go soon.”

 

         Azhara blinked at him. “You…?”

 

         Andrew shrugged. “It was a passive spell, nothing too fancy. Didn’t take me long to find or remove. Her hearing should be back to normal.”

 

         Azhara embraced him. “Thank you!!”

 

         Andrew chuckled and patted her back before disengaging himself. “No problem. So, who’s next? And have we eaten yet?”

 

         Azhara shook her head. “We haven’t yet. And Aella and Fu are up next.”

 

         “Well, I’m a bit hungry, but if it’s Aella and Fu? I’m not going to want to miss whatever they do.” Andrew said. “Iain, how do you and yours feel?”

 

         Iain chuckled. “We’re ranchers for the most part, which means we eat when the work gives us a chance to. Waiting a few minutes for more of the local ladies to put on a demonstration isn’t going to make us starve to death. Let them play.”

 

         Azhara grinned. “I like you.” She nodded at the pair, waiting for them to enter the ring. “This was more than just a competition.” She mumbled to Andrew.

 

         “I know.” He whispered back. “Everyone’s pretty nervous, aren’t they?”

 

         Azhara nodded, Fu and Aella finishing their preparation. “Well, let’s see what they plan on doing.” She said at a more normal volume. “Go ahead!”

 

         Fu strode to the middle of the ring, Aella standing a few paces behind her. With a roar she summoned her Ki, sending a shockwave through the air. Aella pretended to fly backwards from the force, using her electricity to create a light show around her. Rebounding, she roared back, shifting into her serpentine form as Fu turned to face her. The two looked at each other for a second before Aella flew forwards, her hands weaving to send electricity arcing across her body. Fu caught her, redirecting the Shinryu’s momentum skywards. As Aella climbed, Fu did too, her Ki wings arcing with the static that surrounded the pair. After they had gotten to what Andrew guessed was a good half kilometer in the air, they separated, Aella arcing lightning through the air while Fu wove between the bursts. The patterns grew more and more intricate, until Fu suddenly latched onto Aella’s back, triggering a flare from her. As the energy suffused Fu’s Ki, the pair dropped, falling back to the circle. Aella landed and shifted back to her human form, quickly backpedaling from Fu. The Warvern took a moment to make sure the area was clear before opening her mouth, channeling the excess energy around her into a hyper beam. Looking into the sky, she fired, sending a beam of crackling light into the sky.

 

         Andrew laughed in shock when she bowed and began to walk away. “Holy shit. That was like some kind of fireworks show. Azhara, remind me to get some kind of a way that we can all let loose sometime. A wasteland would be good.”

 

         Azhara nodded quickly. “Yes sir. I don’t think I want to know what that felt like up where they were.”

 

         Andrew glanced around, noticing most of the other pokegirls who had wanted to compete backing away. “Hey, what’s going on?”

 

         Melody passed him, Ann in tow. “We concede. Nothing we could do would be as impressive as that was.” The Wet Queen chuckled. “The acts have just been getting better this whole time. Might as well get some food before it’s gone.”

 

         Andrew looked around before spotting Nevaeh still sitting by the ring. “You too?”

 

         The Splice shook her head and stood. “If you would allow it, and could follow my instructions during it, I believe I can make a fine attempt.”

 

         Andrew shook his head. “I told you I wouldn’t make a decision until they can both get along with each other. So, unfortunately, no.”

 

         Nevaeh shook her head. “I can hope. Very well.” She turned and scouted the crowd before focusing on her target. “Cristina!”

 

         The Ophanim strolled over, nodding at them. “Nevaeh. Andrew. Others.” She glanced at the Splice. “Yes?”

 

         Nevaeh chuckled a bit at the ‘others’ remark but continued. “Would you be willing to combine your abilities with mine for an exhibition? Without Andrew’s alignment, I am unable to call upon them myself.”

 

         Andrew held up his hand. “I think I know where you’re going with this. Before you answer, Cristina, I believe Lucifer was considering an offer.” He glanced at the Megami-Sama. “You probably haven’t had time to get to know each other yet, but if Nevaeh is going to do what I think she is, it’ll ruin the surprise.” His eyes danced. “It’ll be better if you ask her before the performance.”

 

         Lucifer looked at Iain, who shrugged. “You did suggest making an offer.”

 

         Lucifer nodded thoughtfully and looked at Cristina. “Cristina, unless you were born a Fallen Angel, you were once a Celestial. My blessing can make you one again, if you would like. If Andrew is anything like my Iain, he will need all of the aid and possibly guidance he can get, so to that end I offer to bless you.”

 

         Andrew grinned and looked back to Cristina. “I told Lucy that there was a small irony in her asking you that. I left it up to you to decide whether you shared what that was or not.”

 

         Cristina nodded slowly. “I see. Thank you for respecting my wishes on that.” She turned to Lucifer. “The irony that Andrew is referring to is that I’ve already had two different blessings placed on me. One was removed, and I still bear the effects of the second.” She pulled off her helmet to reveal her black eyes. “Unfortunately, both are fiendish.”

 

         Lucifer looked at Eve and the two burst out laughing. Cristina looked helplessly to Andrew for an explanation but was forestalled by Lucy recovering quickly and giving Cristina a warm smile. “The dark blessing of being Fiendish can be found on some pokegirls in Iain’s family. None of them suffer from Damnation, but that’s easily fixed with a kiss from a Celestial. It is fortunate that tongue isn’t involved as I do not know you nearly well enough for that.”

 

         Iain shook his head. “Stop being corny, Lucy.” He looked at Cristina. “You can be both Fiendish and Blessed at the same time. You can even be a standard Celestial and both Fiendish and Blessed on top of that. Isn’t that right, Lucifer?”

 

         Lucifer’s smile faded and she looked at Iain solemnly. “As you know, I was named Lucifer by Sukebe and I then defied him to his face and forged an army, first to fight him, and the to protect humanity from the things he had released onto the world. Was it not appropriate that I become Fiendish and Blessed to make physical the scars I placed on my soul?”

 

         Iain wrapped her up in his arms. “One of these days we need to find a way to deal with your misplaced guilt. It seems to be a common thing with the Celestials in my life.”

 

         “You helped Pandora. Perhaps you can help me.” She pushed away from him. “But not today.”

 

         “No, not today.” Iain mused.

 

         Lucifer turned back to Cristina. “I am Fiendish and Blessed. I am not the only member of Iain’s family who is so, either, and I find it brings me much joy in twisting darkness to bring light. My offer stands, Cristina.”

 

         Cristina stood silently for a few moments. “I hid what I was for so long, I forgot that there were so many who would not persecute me for it.”

 

         Andrew threw his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. “Hey. You’re my Cristina. That’s who you are, not some sort of big bad evil thingy.”

 

         Cristina rested her head on his shoulder. “Yes, sir. I am definitely yours.” She said quietly. “I accept your offer, Lucy, but I’d prefer to keep my Damnation, however strange that may sound. There are still things I need to be reminded of each day.” Andrew blushed slightly as he realized what she had said, but allowed Cristina to detangle herself from him. “However, I’ve gathered that this wasn’t your initial plan. I don’t want you to feel pressured into this. You barely know me, and I’d be happy to sit down with you later to just talk.”

 

         Lucifer smiled gently. “I am rather difficult to persuade, Cristina, and rest assured that I will get to know you in the years to come. We will talk and we will fight and I will test your mettle and we will talk yet more. As long as you live I will watch you as I do all the ones I bless and I will visit regularly to monitor your progress.” Iain muttered something and she chuckled. “Iain, please hush. I am no voyeur and this is not the time for your teasing. It’s too distracting and this is a solemn moment.”

 

         Iain bowed in her direction. “You are correct.”

 

         Lucifer glanced at him before returning her attention to Cristina. “Cristina the Ophanim,” she intoned formally, “I offer you a blessing of light. If you accept it, I charge you to smite our enemies and protect those in need so long as you never neglect the ones who love you and whom you love in return, for without them we are as dust, without form or purpose. Will you accept my blessing?”

 

         Cristina nodded and bowed her head. “I will.”

 

         Lucifer took Cristina’s head in her hands and gently kissed her on the forehead. For an instant, the Ophanim glowed brightly, and when it faded, Andrew could barely see a difference. But it was there. “Cristina the Blessed Ophanim, I welcome my lost sister back into the ranks of the Defenders of Humanity.”

 

         “Oh nooo.” Andrew cried softly, grinning at Cristina. “Even with my best efforts, I’ve still managed to get a stuck up Celestial!”

 

         Cristina opened her eyes and glared at him. “You just couldn’t resist, could you?” She chided.

 

         Iain slipped his arm through Eve’s. “Can Lucifer be any more formal?” He asked the Megami-Sama.

 

         Eve’s lips curved slightly. “How about you don’t ask her, so she doesn’t find a way to do that?”

 

         Iain grinned back at her. “Sounds good.” He looked at Andrew. “Ok, I believe there’s supposed to be some more demonstrations before we eat. The eating part is starting to assume some priority, so can we get back to the show?”

 

         Cristina looked to Nevaeh and nodded. “I think I can do that.” She said, joining the Splice. “Just tell me what you want to do.”

 

         Nevaeh nodded, the two walking away and into the ring. Andrew waited, jumping slightly when the two suddenly summoned their wings. “I think they’re about to start.”

 

         Cristina and Nevaeh stood opposite each other, Nevaeh’s mismatched wings lazily moving, while Cristina’s brilliant set stayed still. With a nod, Cristina sent a line of Hellfire across her back, adding a dark shadow to the golden glow. At that, Nevaeh began to move forward, weaving back and forth as she approached the motionless Ophanim. “Some Angels, they did not stay within their positions of authority, and thus, the Lord chained them in the darkness.” She intoned, summoning runic chains that twisted around Cristina’s body. “There, they would await judgment.”

 

         Cristina spoke next, Nevaeh continuing to weave around her. “But this Angel refused to submit.” She said, Hellfire racing along the chains. “She denounced the Lord, and the Darkness responded.”

 

         Nevaeh leapt back, the chains exploding in a flash of flame. “But She was not lost!” She cried, Cristina stepping towards her as she cowered. “She would not abandon her Lord, even in the time she was most vulnerable. And so the Darkness fought back.”

 

         Cristina leapt forward, drawing her sword to clash against Nevaeh’s arms. With a cry, the Splice responded, shoving the sword away and falling on her. The two traded blows for a minute before falling back. “Their battle raged for centuries.” Cristina said, circling with Nevaeh across from her.

 

         “It raged across the heavens, through the hells, until the Angel and the Champion of the Darkness stood on Earth.” Nevaeh continued, coming to a halt. “And there, they found man.”

 

         Cristina sheathed her sword and allowed the Hellfire that flickered across her body to die. “The Angel did not wish to harm man.” She said, a form slowly materializing between the two. “And so she sought to move the battle elsewhere.”

 

         Andrew frowned at the figure that came to stand between the two. “The hell is that?” He muttered. Glancing at Nevaeh, he noticed the pool of darkness emanating from her feet and understood, turning back to the nightmarish figure as it spoke.

 

         “Man was not blind to the battle.” It gurgled, raising it’s limbs to point at the two. “And one man realized an opportunity. So, he acted.” It said, raising one limb above it’s head.

 

         Nevaeh and Cristina cried out in unison, throwing themselves towards the figure. As they impacted lightning flashed, forcing Andrew to turn away. When he looked back to the ring, Nevaeh stood alone. “The Angel and the Darkness were not prepared for the power of man.” She said, her wings flapping behind her. “And so they were caught, and forced to be imprisoned forever. But not by chains, or some other bonds.” She spread her arms. “But by their own bodies, fused as one.”

 

         She looked at Andrew. “The combatants continued to rage, until, finally, the mind that had been created could hold them no longer.” She lowered her arms. “In a burst of power, they forced themselves from each other. In doing so, they gave birth to a third. I am the prison. I am the offspring.” She bowed her head. “I am the servant.”

 

         Andrew could see Cristina emerging from where she had hidden. “And there’s that.”

 

         Azhara shuddered. “She has a sad story.”

 

         Andrew nodded, watching the two walk away. “I think Cristina’s going to be with her a lot from now on. I don’t think she realized just how sad Nevaeh’s story was.”

         Eve looked at Iain. “What do you think her story is?”

 

         “I think,” he said firmly, “that unless they volunteer it, her story is none of our business. Remember, privacy.”

 

         “You and your rules.” She said affectionately.

 

         Andrew chuckled. “What, weren’t you listening?” He teased. “Nevaeh just told it to you all.”

 

         Azhara took a deep breath and looked around. “There doesn’t seem to be anyone else. I guess that means it’s my turn?”

 

         Andrew nodded. “Go ahead.”

 

         Azhara walked to the center of the ring. “Would you mind handing over your pokedex for a few minutes?”

 

         Andrew glanced beside him, noticing Cortney standing there with her hand outstretched. “Oh, sure.” He said, unhooking it from his belt. “Why?”

 

         “For the rhythm.” She replied, stepping away. “I’ll be playing it quite loudly, so it needs to be set away from the onlookers.”

 

         Andrew shrugged and returned his attention to Azhara, who still stood in the same spot. “I wonder if Brigid is coming.” He muttered.

 

         They continued watching her. Time ticked by, and Andrew was beginning to wonder if nothing would happen when a low note began to play. As it continued it began to rise in pitch before returning to where it had started and cutting off. Inside the ring, Azhara disappeared.

 

         The music returned as the air in the ring shimmered, the illusion dissipating to reveal Azhara and Brigid standing pressed together. Slowly, as the tone changed, Azhara peeled her tails away from the pair until all nine waved in the air behind her. In response, Brigid’s horn began to glow, the two girls still intertwined with each other, a mist surrounding them.

 

         With a screech, the music stopped again.

 

         Moving slowly, Azhara peeled herself away from Brigid, dissipating the mist to reveal that the two were fully nude. “This is something we have never shown others.” Azhara’s voice said clearly in Andrew’s mind. “In all our years, we have never deemed someone to be worthy. We have found you as such.

 

         The music began to play again, this time a violin that danced and sped through different pitches as the two began to dance. Andrew felt himself begin to lose himself in their movements. As the music grew to a crescendo, he could nearly see the notes in how they danced – leaps as the notes soared, spins and passes as it mellowed out. He didn’t know how long they continued, but abruptly found himself blinking in the sunlight, Cortney walking back to him with his pokedex. Around him the harem was applauding, and Azhara and Brigid were taking a bow inside the ring.

 

         Andrew silently took the pokedex back, Cortney vanishing. “Tell me, Iain.” He said quietly. “What did you see?”

 

         “It was a pretty dance.” Eve replied. “I liked the formality of it; it reminded me of videos I’ve seen of pre-war dances.”

 

         Iain glanced at her. “It was pretty, but I don’t think you saw the same thing I did.”

 

         Dominique snorted gently. “She didn’t. I did though. It was very sweet.”

 

         Eve looked at the two of them suspiciously. “What did you see?”

 

         “Something that may not have been meant for us.” Dominique replied. “So I’m not going to tell you what it was.” She smirked at the frustrated expression that appeared on both Eve and Lucy’s faces. “And that you’re pissed about it is just a fortunate side effect.”

 

         Andrew fought back his laughter, Ninhursag doing the same nearby.

 

         Iain glanced at Dominique. “Dominique, please.”

 

         “Fine, it’s unfortunate.” Her smirk came back. “For you.”

 

         “It’s ok, Iain.” Lucifer retorted. “She is still unhappy at the way Eve treated her.”

 

         He shook his head. “It was an excellent show, Andrew. And if Dominique and I weren’t supposed to see something that we did, we won’t discuss it with others.” His head swiveled to look at Dominique.

 

         She didn’t wait for him to say anything. “That’s right. We wouldn’t dream of violating your privacy.”

 

         “Good.” Iain said with a smile. “Now, what’s next?”

 

         Andrew let out his breath and grinned at them. “All this talk of privacy. That was a public performance, so they must have known there would be more than just me who saw it. But thank you.” He looked around, noticing that nobody seemed to be approaching him. “Well, I guess we eat, now.” He nodded at the majority of his girls, who were already seated at the tables with food in front of them. “Don’t want to miss out.”

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

         <19:00, Near the Omega Tree>

 

         Andrew sat back and pushed way the remains of his dessert. The activity had nearly dissipated, and he glanced around. Lyn and a few others had gathered around him, a magical light glowing softly above the group.

 

         Andrew noticed Iain sitting on the edge of the dining are with his red headed pokegirl in his lap. Excusing himself, he made his way over. At his approach, Dominique got out of Iain’s lap and stood behind him. “Well, the fun and food are over. I guess now’s the time for business?”

 

         “You want to go to One.” Iain said quietly. “And you need transportation. I’ll take you, of course, although I caution you that the British Isles are a huge mess right now. Ireland is fairly quiet, but how long that will last is anyone’s guess. Texas…” He smiled. “Texas is nice, but it might not be your cup of tea.”

 

         Andrew chuckled and took a careful seat next to him. “Yea. I’d rather not be here.” He looked out over the fields. “At first, I thought I might be able to just hide. Make a new name, erase the person that first came here. I had Cortney help me with that.” He sighed. “Then I found out about the spies, and everywhere I went, someone was watching me. I refuse to live like that.” He turned back to Iain. “I’d like to just go home. Like you have, I suppose.” He shrugged. “I used to love the mountains in Colorado. You could get lost out there for days, could even forget civilization was minutes away. I wonder if it’s become more that way now?”

 

         Iain smiled. “Yes and no. Yes, the population of Colorado has plummeted, but no, because Johto has laid their claims. They’re following Indigo’s lead, and are trying to consolidate anyone who’s left so they’re easier to manage. If they catch you, they’ll probably try to force you into the military.” He smiled slightly. “And while I’m sure you will probably be stronger than any unit you run up against, once they know you’re out there they might make finding you a priority. Still, Colorado is a big place, especially with all the mountains, and you can probably keep from being found if you’re careful.” He reached up and took Dominique’s hand. “However, because of who I am, and who I’ve brought into my life, I tend to approach decisions with long term issues in mind. You can hide for a while, but as the leagues rebuild, something is bound to happen. Maybe it will be an accident, maybe it will be because a daughter found a man to be with and it went wrong. It doesn’t matter how it happens.” He shrugged. “If Colorado doesn’t work out for you, there’s always Texas. But Johto isn’t going to give up Colorado. There’s oil, uranium, gold, coal, and lots of other minerals that they will want.” He smiled. “I will load current maps and such along with the information I have on Colorado and Johto onto any media you desire and I’ll be glad to answer any questions I can, but the final decision is yours.”

 

         Andrew blew a sigh and gave Iain a half-grin. “There someone goes again, launching barrage after barrage of reason into my dreams.” He shook his head. “I have had a strange life. I was born in the forests of Maine, moved to the plains of Colorado, and ultimately found my home in the mountains. Then this all happened.” He gestured around himself. “I have been taught from an early age about woodcraft, and used my skills to drop off the grid, before the military found me.” He chuckled. “I had it in my mind that if I was back home, back on my home turf, nobody would be able to find me. Of course that was a pipe dream.”

 

         “The maps I have been able to find of the land before the war indicate there are numerous mountain ranges in the old Americas.” Cortney said from Andrew’s belt. “Iain, Andrew, one of them seems to run through Texas. The Sierras. How similar are they to the Rockies of Colorado?”

 

         Andrew chuckled. “The Sierras are very similar to the Rockies, but only in a few specific places. If I’m remembering correctly, the pieces that dip into western Texas are rather subdued.” He looked back to Iain. “Unless the borders of Texas are different than what they were.”

 

         Iain smiled thinly. “Once again the answer is yes and no. Texas’ real borders are almost exactly where they were in what you probably remember, but Texas claimed everything from the northernmost North Carolina border from the Atlantic to the Pacific and down to Monterey, Mexico, as a political move.” He frowned. “And you’re probably thinking of the Sierra Blanca mountains, and they don’t extend down into Texas. Instead they eventually become the Guadalupe Mountains, which run from New Mexico into Texas. If you really want to claim them, Texas would support you on paper, but I doubt the Texas Defense Forces would be on call for a Sunny army. On the other hand, the Sunshine league has its own problems and they’re leery of tangling with Texas right now. Recently they sent a six thousand man and pokegirl expedition into Texas. Unfortunately for them they invaded through Kerrik Wolf’s property. All that came back to Mexico was two men and two pokegirls. The rest, to use an Elfqueen saying, fed the land. Just be advised that the Guadalupe Mountains get pretty rugged, but it’s desert range up to Carlsbad.”

 

         Andrew nodded thoughtfully. “Sounds like they’re trying to reform the old Federation. Plus quite a bit.” He scratched his chin. “Carlsbad. It’s funny you mentioned it, since it hosts one of the largest cave systems in the US. There was something that always intrigued me about caves – more than just a geological interest.” He glanced at Iain. “Have there been any patrols sent there? It would be good to know what might be lurking in the depths.” He chuckled. “Especially since it would have made a good natural base for, say, an attacking army of super-human beings.”

 

         “No, I haven’t sent any forces there to explore and Sunshine is focused on consolidating its territory and staring at the wealth in Texas while it licks its wounds.” Iain chuckled. “I read about a discovery of another hundred plus miles of caverns below the known ones right before I got snatched by Sanctuary, so you should be busy if you move there. From my notes Sukebe didn’t have any bases there. It was too well known by the American government for him to try. Since then, I wouldn’t be surprised to find feral pokegirls residing in the shallower portions of it.” He shrugged. “And who knows what Jimbo might have stashed in a hidden cave or independent cave.”

 

         “Andrew doesn’t have the forces to face down Sunshine or Johto.” Dominique nearly whispered to Iain. “We do.”

 

         Iain looked at her. “I have no intention of abandoning Andrew and his ladies to a gruesome fate, Dominique. Besides, we can hope his ladies give him lots of sons that we can ship our daughters to.” Dominique just grinned.

 

         Andrew grinned back. “Glad to hear I won’t be abandoned. And you’re absolutely right, Dominique; at best, I’ve got the makings of an insurgency force. At worst, I’d just be a step on the way into Texas.” He nodded resolutely. “I’ll take it. Like you said, who knows what might be down there? And even if there’s nothing, exploring the place isn’t the most boring pastime I can think of.”

 

         “Then that’s settled.” Iain replied. “And I am moving you for free, so price is settled. The last question is when will you be able to go?”

 

         Andrew stood. “Is tomorrow too soon?” He chuckled. “Give me tonight to get everyone ready, and we’ll be good to go any time after that.”

 

         Iain nodded. “Have everyone be ready to go tomorrow around 0900. We’ll be back then.” He looked up at Dominique and they vanished, leaving the chair behind.

 

         Andrew strode back towards the tent, glancing around as he did. Other than a few stragglers, it seemed as if everyone had gone inside. As he did the same, Adria hurried over to him. “Yes?”

 

         She came to a halt. “Claire’s awake. And she asked for you.”

 

         Andrew took a deep breath, not bothering to correct Adria. “Interesting timing. She asked for me by name?”

 

         Adria shook her head and tagged along behind him. “She described your mental avatar. Said that was the person she wanted to see.”

 

         Andrew paused in front of the door to the master bedroom. “She described that? How do you know?”

 

         Adria giggled. “She said you glowed.”

 

         Andrew grumbled but pushed open the door, interrupting Gale’s ministrations. “Sierra? You asked for me?”

 

         The girl on the bed glanced at him. “You’re not who I saw.” She turned away. “Tell the other one to come here.”

 

         “I am the other one.” Andrew replied, walking over next to her. “I’m the one who you saw that day. Although, that was in your own head, so I probably look a little different now.”

 

         Sierra scanned him. “You look like someone I should know.” She frowned. “Who are you?”

 

         “My name is Andrew.” He replied. “And you know me because you were planted in my life as a spy. A woman named Morgana wanted you to watch me. Once she was satisfied, she tried to wipe your memory. Apparently she’s done this before, which is why you don’t have many memories.”

 

         “Morgana…” Sierra muttered. “Yea, I remember her. She didn’t impress me very much. Where is she? She wouldn’t have liked me talking with you, I don’t think.”

 

         Andrew chuckled awkwardly. “I, uh, kinda killed her.”

 

         Sierra blinked. “Interesting. And Leah didn’t object to this? Or are you going to claim you killed her too?”

 

         Andrew shook his head. “I have a lot of pokegirls working with me. Some of them took care of most of Morgana’s guard, but Morgana dueled me specifically. I’m a mage, so that’s how I stood a chance.” He scratched his chin. “You’re taking this rather well.”

 

          “I can remember everything. I just wanted to see what you told me.” Sierra replied. “I also knew you were the correct person when you first walked in. Why did you keep me alive?”

 

         “Ah.” Andrew replied. “Well. I kept you alive because I wanted you to make your own choices. You’ve spent most of your life being controlled, so I wanted to give you your free will back, I guess.”

 

         Sierra’s gaze burrowed into him. “You’re lying.”

 

         Gale frowned. “You remember everything, but you’re insulting him when he’s telling the truth? You’re not Claire. Not at all.”

 

         Andrew held up his hand to stall any more argument. “That’s right, Gale. She isn’t.” He looked to Sierra. “And you’re right. I am. I don’t want you to make your own choice. I want you to stay with me. I thought I knew Hauteclere. I thought she liked being with me. I wouldn’t be happy if that was all just an act.”

 

         Gale gaped at him while Sierra just smiled. “That’s strike two, Andrew.” Her eyes glowed and her features shifted until Claire was looking back at him. “Do you remember strike one?”

 

         Andrew rubbed his eyes. “I think so. Was it about sex?”

 

         Sierra’s eyes danced as she fought to hold back her laughter. “Right in one. I’d be willing to wipe that strike clean, if you’d like.”

 

         Andrew laughed as he realized what she was insinuating but shook his head. “I think I’ll stay on two strikes for a while. I’ve got an appointment in the morning that I do not want to be late to.” He sighed but kept his grin on his face. “It’s an appointment that’s going to take me away from this world. And I need everyone’s answers as to whether they’re coming with me.”

 

         Gale shrugged. “Mine is yes. I signed on for the long haul.”

 

         Adria raised her hand from the doorway. “Ditto.”

 

         Andrew chuckled. “Thank you, both. Sierra hasn’t given me hers yet, and I still need to ask everyone else, but thank you.”

 

         Sierra stopped him as he turned to leave. “Claire forgave you, so I guess I will too. I’ll come with you.”

 

         The tension dropped from Andrew’s shoulders immediately. “Thank you.” He took a deep breath and smiled around the room. “All of you.”

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

         “You actually have to fuckin ask?” Constance yelled at him from across the mess. “You’re the most fun I’ve had in goddamn ages!”

 

         Andrew staggered forward when Phial reached up and clapped him on the back. “Dimensional travel? Fuckin’ a, sir.” She said with a huge grin.

 

         Andrew waved his hands at the swell of conversation. “No, no. We might not be coming back here.”

 

         Ishara snorted. “We’re pokegirls, sir. None of us expected to ever have the chance to look back.” She pointed at his pocket. “But if we do this, you’re wearing those goddamn bars.”

 

         Andrew grit his teeth. “I’ll consider it.”

 

         Lyn giggled. “He’ll never do it, Ishara. But nice try.” She rubbed her hands together. “So I guess we’ve got to pack up?”

 

         “How would we even transport everything, I wonder.” Andrew mused.

 

         “I can transfer the gate spell between the tent and your ring, and it’s probably just a good idea to change the spell anyways. It’ll make travel a lot easier.” Lyn replied. “So that will make that part easier. But if we’re not coming back, there’s a few things I’ll want to do tonight.”

 

         “Same.” Noira replied, twirling Kary’s pistol just out of reach of the protesting Gunvalkyrie. “At the very least drain the accounts we’ve been getting from ferals.”

 

         Andrew blinked as a thought nagged at the edge of his mind. “Sure, that’s a good idea. We’ll need to be packed up by 0830 tomorrow morning though, so don’t stay out too late.” He turned away as groups began forming around the teleporting girls. “Just, find me if you need something.”

 

         Once he had escaped from the chaos he closed his eyes and rubbed at his temples. “Cortney. Noira’s feral comment made me think of something, but it’s just out of reach. Any idea what it could be?”

 

         “The Queenler captured near Tralee, perhaps?” Cortney supplied.

 

         Andrew’s eyes snapped open. “Oh, shit. She’s still floating around somewhere feral, isn’t she.”

 

         Cortney laughed in his ear. “Indeed. Maybe you should take care of that, hmm?”

 

         “What, without backup?” Andrew grumbled. “Everyone’s going to be out tonight getting things squared away. Maybe I should just offload her while I’m still here.”

 

         “You could.” Cortney supplied. “Or you could give her the same chance you would have if you had tamed her earlier. Which is what you’re going to do, since I know you well enough.”

 

         Andrew sighed. “You’re completely correct, of course. I can always sleep when I’m dead, right?” He chuckled weakly. “I have no idea where she is. You probably do?”

 

         Corney manifested in front of him with a nod. “I do, and you won’t be without backup. I don’t have anything to do tonight, so I’ll stick around.” She paused. “Well. Actually I do have things, but they’re easy to accomplish.”

 

         Andrew frowned. “Oh? Keeping secrets?”

 

         Cortney just shrugged. “Yep. I still communicate with Braxton sometimes.”

 

         Andrew blinked. “And you’re just freely giving me this information?”

 

         Cortney giggled. “I’ll go get the Queenler.” She strode off but not before talking back over her shoulder. “You’d find out eventually anyway. You’re too smart to keep secrets around.”

 

         “Am I now.” Andrew muttered, slowly walking up the stairs and entering his bedroom, where Sierra stood fiddling with a blouse. “Hey, Sierra.”

 

         She glanced up at him. “Hello Andrew. Are you here to evict me for the night?”

 

         Andrew chuckled weakly. “Unfortunately yes. I had completely forgotten there was a feral Queenler in storage here that I had been looking to possibly add to the team. So I have to tame her so she can make the same decision everyone else has.”

 

         Sierra nodded. “Amazing. This is the second time you’ve declined sex with me in order to have it with someone new. Once is a surprise. Twice is a coincidence. Three times will see your balls separated from the rest of your body.”

 

         Andrew winced. “Wonderful. I’ll see you around.” He waited for her to leave before shaking his head and inspecting the bed in an attempt to find the restraints. “I think I’m done with surprises for the night.”

 

         “Then am I not welcome?” Came a voice from the door. Turning, Andrew relaxed when he saw Kuu standing there.

 

         “Of course you are.” He replied, motioning her over. “But what are you doing here?”

 

         Kuu plopped down next to him and watched him search. “Mary can take care of the others. My future is with you.”

 

         “You’re leaving everyone behind?”

 

         Kuu nodded. “I did some thinking. I’d always known The Master and The Mistress were real people, but there are some here who would refuse to believe that. And then I thought about what they would have to be like, in order to create something as amazing as the Tree. And the answer I came up with looked a lot like you.” She hooked her foot under the bed and pulled a hidden drawer out, earning a sigh of thanks from Andrew. “I’d seen what you could do. This many pokegirls shouldn’t be enraptured with one man. And you could do things, magic, you could fight, everything. And then you told me the two people in front of me were the two that I had been worshipping. And they looked so… normal. So much like me and you.” She turned her hands over, and Andrew could see a small vine twisting with her motions. “I thought, if they could create something like that,” She whispered, sending the vine into the air where a flower sprouted, “what could you and I create?”

 

         Andrew paused, leaving the restraints half draped over the edge of the drawer. “What could we create. Well, not much, really. Not without another couple of centuries of experience.”

 

         Kuu looked at him. “I’ll be here for that. Will you?”

 

         Andrew sighed and sat back. “Maybe. I don’t really know. Half of me expects I’ll have a shortened lifespan from all the stress. The other half expects a longer life due to my new magic. And humans are a pretty undefined slate. Sukebe showed that when he spliced on hundreds of types of DNA to make pokegirls. So, who knows? Maybe I’ll live forever.”

 

         “With the addition of Iain Grey, that’s more of a possibility.” Cortney said, walking in and placing a pokeball in Andrew’s hand. “I’m guessing he controlled whatever technology was jamming me. That’s something more advanced than I could dream, so he’s advanced past even Sukebe.”

 

         Andrew nodded and hefted the Queenler’s pokeball. “You’re right. There’s a world of possibilities.” He smiled at Kuu. “I’m guessing you know what’s going to be happening tomorrow?”

 

         She nodded. “You’re leaving this world. I’m coming with you.”

 

         Andrew grinned. “Cool.” He set the pokeball on the bed and began feeding the restraints through loops on the bedframe. “Looks like I’d better get started.”

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

         <08:55, Omega Tree>

 

         Andrew noted the pokegirls teleporting in, relaxing when he noticed Iain joining them. Eve and Iain seemed to be continuing a conversation.

 

         “It’s a bad idea.” Eve was saying. “They haven’t done anything to us recently. And I’ve seen Aliens. Nuking Capital from orbit is not the only way to make sure. We should just let them wallow in their depravity instead. Besides, you’d kill a lot of people who didn’t attack us along with the McMahons and their goons.”

 

         “I had to surround myself with nice women who are mean only to me when they take away my fun.” Iain grumbled, looking around. Andrew could tell he wasn’t really upset. “It’s five minutes to nine.” He smiled at the state of the area. “I really appreciate promptness.”

 

         Andrew finished digitizing the last of their gear and smiled at Sierra, letting her take the pack from him. He turned and nodded at Iain. “We’re ready.” He laughed. “I’m pretty hard to stop once I get moving. Plus, it helps that most of our stuff can be thrown into an extra dimensional space.” He concluded, jabbing his thumb at Nevaeh and her backpack.

 

         “So,” He continued, “How exactly is this going to work? I know there are numerous gate spells, and I might have pursued that route if I knew where I was going.”

 

         Iain pulled his computer from his belt. “Theodora, how about you do the honors?”

 

         A tall, slender brunette wearing a stola appeared. “I’d be glad to, Iain.” She turned to Andrew. “In two minutes and fifteen seconds a space going shuttle will land over there.” She said, pointing to her right. “After embarking, the shuttle will proceed to the Lagrangian point L1 and dock with the processor ship Theodora. The ship will head north of the ecliptic until it is five light minutes from earth and there we will translate to our destination universe. I will then reverse the trip and the Theodora will launch the shuttle home after she parks in Earth orbit. Total trip time should be less than twelve hours, barring any unforeseen issues.”

 

         “There you go.” Iain said.

 

         “There is one other thing, Iain.” Theodora interjected quietly. “Since we have arrived, I have taken the opportunity to release a variety of viruses into the computer networks around the planet. They will continually delete all text, video and audio references to Iain Grey, Kerrik Wolf and Austin Drummond. While not as satisfying as bombarding Capital from space, it should keep us under the radar if we have to return here in the future.” She cocked her head quizzically. “Should I do the same for Andrew?”

 

         “I think that would be nice.” Eve said warmly.

 

         “I was asking Iain.”

 

         Iain sighed slightly as Eve bristled. “Please do so, Theodora, and I’d appreciate it if you stopped antagonizing Eve.”

 

         “I was merely pointing out that she cannot give me orders.”

 

         Iain shook his head slightly and looked up as a long cylindrical object slowed to hover overhead. “Saved by the shuttle.” As it landed, it became apparent that it was roughly the length of a destroyer. A hatch slid open and a ramp descended to the ground. “Now loading at gate one.” He motioned to Eve. “Ladies, please go first so Andrew’s women know it’s not some elaborate death trap.”

 

         Andrew laughed as he waited for the others to board. “If it was an elaborate death trap none of this would matter, as they would be shunted to the non-death side. This only proves it’s not a simple death trap.” He grinned and followed them on board. “But that’s more than enough for me.”

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

Tech: Cortney – Upgrade VideoGirl

Tamer:

Andrew Ranger

 

Alpha Team:

 

Ashba – Rosebreasts (Alpha)

Melody – Wet Queen (Beta)

Lyn – Enchantress

Nial – Assasara

Tracii – (Red) Longfly

Constance – Tank Vixxen

Beta Team:

 

Adria – Groaning (Alpha)

Gale – Night Nurse (Beta)

Noira – (Flying) Mecha Musume

Shamira – Goldina

Kary – Gunvalkyrie

Ann – Ice Empress

 

Delta Team:

 

Fu – Warvern (Alpha)

April – Seabra (Beta)

Rein – Myobu

Nami – Sharptits

Ishara – Scorpiagirl

Aella – (Hunter) Shinryu

 

Epsilon Team:

 

Azhara – Kyubi (Alpha)

Lucina – Shadowcat (Beta)

Brigid – Unicorn

Heidi – Psyvix

Sigma Team:

 

Nevaeh – G-Spliced

Sierra – S-Goth

Omega Team:

 

Cristina – Blessed Fiendish Ophanim (Alpha)

Erren – Ballisticunt (Beta)

Kuu – ElfQueen

Grace – Mini-Top

Yin – Nereidame

Yang – Nereidame

Phial – Gravelgal

 

 

 

KIA:
Juel - Matratya

 

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