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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Chapter 30

 

         <16:00, Base Camp>

 

         Andrew opened his eyes and yawned. That had been a good nap. He rolled over and stood, rubbing his eyes with the back of his hand. A slight scratch gave him pause, drawing his attention to his ring. Almost forgot about that.

 

         He slid the ring off, slowly. As it left his body he felt the troublesome portion of his mind disperse, drawn into the magical item it had held so dear. A savage grin split across his face as he stashed it away in the dresser. He would deal with it later. It wouldn’t do to have Him regaining control. This body was Hers now. It was… Mine.

 

         Slipping into his clothes, he flipped through the messages on his pokedex. Most were status reports, and he scanned them until he found the two names he was looking for. They were still at the caves. Good. It would be harder if they were separated.

 

         With a quick glance to make sure nobody had been watching, he slipped out of the tent and made his way to the cave entrance.

 

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

 

         “Man, I’m glad it’ll be dinner time soon.” Azhara grumbled, staring up at the afternoon sky. “I’m frickin’ EXHAUSTED from all this work.”

 

         “What’s there to be exhausted about?” Ishara griped at her. “You and Brigid have been doing nothing but use premonition. I’ve been digging with a goddamn shovel!”

 

         Azhara laughed at Ishara’s wounded look. “Ok, you got me. It’s a different kind of exhaustion. Mental. Not physical.” She sighed. “I’m going to be even more exhausted tonight. Andrew’s not feeling well, so I’ll be having another therapy session with him. I really hope I can help.”

 

         “You don’t have to!” A cheery voice hailed them, Andrew striding into the clearing with a grin. “I just needed some rest. I’m feeling much, much better now.”

 

         Azhara’s face broke into a relieved grin. “I’m glad to hear that. I really am.” She embraced the man and turned back to the cave. “Brigid! Get out here! Andrew’s feeling better.”

 

         The Unicorn popped her head out and lit up when she saw Andrew. “Oh, that smile really tells a lot. Good for you. The last day or so have just been tough, huh.”

 

         Andrew nodded solemnly. “I haven’t been taking any time to just relax. There’s been no slowing down. So I was thinking what I could do, and I remembered something.” He said, draping his arms over Azhara and Brigid’s shoulders. “I was thinking back, over everything that has happened the last month, and I realized I never rewarded the winners of the powwow.” He shook his head with a chuckle. “Imagine that. I almost went back on a promise.” He winked at them. “What say we go fix that?”

 

         “But we’re stabilizing the cavern.” Brigid protested as Andrew steered them back into the trees. “Can’t this…?”

 

         Andrew laughed as they continued walking. “Oh, they’ll be fine without you two. C’mon. I’ll make sure to explain it to anyone who has questions, yea?” He purred. Azhara blinked slightly as the light shafted into her eyes. It took her a moment, but she managed to clear her vision and blushed as Andrew dropped another compliment. Time seemed to drag on. She glanced at Brigid as the Unicorn laughed with something Andrew said, but couldn’t quite make out his words. It didn’t matter, she thought as she smiled.

 

         Andrew was happy. That was all that mattered.

 

 

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

 

         Ishara leapt back in surprise as Lucina teleported in and peered around. “Hey, has anyone seen Azhara?” Lucina called to the assembled pokegirls.

 

         Ishara leaned on her shovel and shrugged. “Andrew came by and grabbed her. Said he had forgotten to give them some instructions about the work and that they’d be back soon.”

 

         Lucina frowned. “He did? He told me he was going for a swim. Why would he be here?”

 

         Phial emerged from the cavern and wiped dust from her face. “Oi, where’d Brigid run off to? She was helping make sure nothing was going to rot away while I dug.”

 

         Lucina’s eyes narrowed. “Did Andrew take Brigid too?”

 

         Ishara blinked. “I… Don’t know.” She looked helplessly at Nevaeh. “Madame, do you remember?”

 

         Nevaeh dropped her shovel and leapt towards where Andrew had disappeared, her wings unfurling. “I can’t remember what he said, but he spoke to me.” Lucina stifled a scream as Nevaeh’s body contorted, the Splice falling to the ground as her body lost all traces of Celestiality. As she rose, the shadows seemed to deepen around her. “Ah, that’s refreshing.” She said, glancing over herself. “This time it’s much stronger.” She paused and glanced around. “Hmm. Yet it still doesn’t feel right…”

 

         A haze seemed to descend on the clearing but not before Kore had already taken off, speeding in the direction Andrew had taken. Lucina made to follow but found her eyes drooping. “Hey, what’s… Goin…” She started, falling to the ground with Ishara and Phial next to her.

 

 

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

 

 

         He was so happy. Azhara could see it in his eyes. She found herself smiling along with him as they walked. He had gone through so much. So much strife. So much pain. It was so good to see him able to smile.

 

         An errant thought flicked across her mind, urgently trying to be known. She pushed it away. There wasn’t anything that important. Andrew was happy, they were going to… She blinked. Going to? Going to where? She tried to open her mouth to ask, but the words wouldn’t come. The thought continued to push until Azhara recognized it. It wasn’t a thought at all. It was a warning.

 

         Her defenses suddenly sprang back into full swing, and there were alarms going off everywhere. Her senses had been deafened. She was being fed false input. She knew that much. She tried to push away from Andrew but found herself unable to move. She was paralyzed. She could do nothing but walk with him.

 

         Andrew smiled. “Ah, you finally realized something was wrong.” He winked at Brigid, causing the Unicorn to laugh again. “Wouldn’t you rather be like Brigid? Look how happy she is!”

 

         Azhara tried to scream, to move, to do anything at all. But she couldn’t. She could only watch as they entered a clearing and approached the three figures that stood there. She recognized them.

 

         Yogini bowed. “Mistress. It’s good to see you again.”

 

         Andrew smiled. “It took you long enough to get here. Here are the troublesome ones. Without them there shouldn’t be anyone left who will realize anything is wrong until it’s too late.” He nodded at Azhara. “She’s aware, by the way.”

 

         Jette slid forward. “Hello again, fox. You gave me quite the chase back then.” She withdrew a dagger and ran it along Azhara’s skin. “Come on. Do it again.”

 

         Andrew laughed, cueing another laugh from Brigid. “Jette, you know how much I’d love to give you time. But we’re on a tight schedule.” His hands clenched and Azhara gasped as a blade slid into her back. “So I’ll take care of it.”

 

         Azhara’s vision blurred as she collapsed, Brigid falling beside her. She fought for breath, but the paralysis had spread to every part of her. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t breathe. “They’re all going to die.” She thought, tears falling from her eyes as her consciousness faded.

 

         Andrew kicked at Azhara’s body. “Thankfully we got that problem out of the way early. Jette, take care of these. I’ll get Sierra. I’d like to get rid of a few of the others before we take the rest of them. Make it a bit easier.”

 

         Jette bowed. “Yes, Mistress. No witnesses.”

 

         She was wrong. There was one witness. And she had two backups.

 

 

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

 

 

         Lyn yelped as Kore dropped out of the tree. “Whoa! Startled me!” She started. “How’s it…” She turned when Kore pushed past her. “Hey!”

 

         The Splice didn’t stop. “Azhara and Brigid are dead. We’re in trouble. Andrew has snapped.”

 

         Lyn ran after her as she ducked inside the tent and began walking up the stairs. “Wait! What did you just say? What’s going on?” She cried, pulling at Kore’s wings. She cried out as the Splice flicked her away and burst into the master bedroom.

 

         “Stop and think for a moment.” Kore replied, rifling through Andrew’s clothes. “Who am I?”

 

         Lyn paused as she was reaching for her radio. “You… You’re Nevaeh?”

 

         “Bzzt. Wrong.” Kore replied, turning to the dresser and rifling through its contents. “I was Nevaeh. When my master’s heart changes, so do I. I am the Infernal. I am Kore.” She held up Andrew’s ring. “And he’s no longer Andrew.”

 

         Lyn took the ring from her and gaped at it. “He’s never taken this off. He knows how important it is. What the…” The full meaning of Kore’s words dawned on her. “…Azhara? Brigid? They’re dead?”

 

         Kore shouldered past her. “Where are the others. We need to restrain Andrew. He’s not himself. He’s…” She trailed off as she noticed Andrew walking into the entryway, Sierra in tow.

 

         Lyn noticed them too. Kore saw that. There was no time. Lyn had already begun to open her mouth – to speak, to scream, she had no idea. But there was only one way she was going to be stopped.

 

         Andrew blinked in surprise as the Splice grabbed Lyn and pulled her into a deep kiss, the two already halfway through the harem door. He chuckled as it slammed shut. “Well, we don’t have to deal with those two now.”

 

         Sierra nodded and they turned towards the mess.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

         Kore dropped Lyn as soon as they were through the door. “WHAT WERE YOU GOING TO DO.” She hissed.

 

         Lyn coughed. “I… don’t know.” She winced. “You probably just…”

 

         Kore shook her head and plucked Lyn’s com from her ear. “There’s a code for everything, right? That’s what Ashba said in the training last week. What’s the code for this?”

 

         Lyn closed her eyes. “22. 22 means he’s out of control.” She opened them. “If you’re making this up, he has the right to terminate you for a false call.”

 

         Kore flicked through the channels until she hit the all broadcast. “Sierra is a 22 hazard. I repeat. Sierra, 22 hazard.”

 

         Lyn watched her stow the com. “You really mean it.”

 

         Kore looked back at her as an explosion sounded from the mess hall. “I don’t lie when my life is on the line.” She peeked out of the doorway. “I don’t cheat, I don’t steal, I don’t lie. I get rid of the threat.”

 

 

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

 

 

         “YOU WOULDN’T RESIST IF IT WAS FAKE!” Grace screamed from her position on the floor, where she and Cristina held Sierra down. “TAKE HIM DOWN!”

 

         Andrew ducked another jet of flame and grit his teeth. He had no idea what had triggered them, but the mess had suddenly attacked him and Sierra. She was out. Their cover was blown. And he was in trouble. “I don’t really feel like getting shot!” He yelled back over the table he was using as cover. “Grace, come on!”

 

         “There’s a simple solution.” Cristina replied, the Ophanim standing tall in the center of the room. “Submit and let whoever made the call examine you. They obviously have a reason to suspect that you’ve lost control.”

 

         Inside Andrew’s head, Morgana grimaced. The instant anyone tried to look at him they’d see her. They’d kill her. They’d find a way. Making up her mind she activated the distress spell. It was going to be a fight. And it was one she was ready to win.

 

         On the outside, Andrew held his hands up. “Ok! Fine, fine! Get Azhara, or Brigid. They’ll show that this was a mistake.”

 

         “Unfortunately, they won’t.” Kore said, striding into the room and blitzing behind Andrew. “Since you killed them.”

 

         Lyn waved at the others as Kore smashed Andrew’s head into the wall and hogtied him. “Stop! Listen to her first!”

 

         Kore grunted as she hoisted Andrew up and peered into his eyes. “I wish I had time to explain. But this isn’t Andrew. Or I wouldn’t be here.”

 

         Cristina blinked. “Aren’t you the Lucarda? What happened to Nevaeh?”

 

         “That’s the point. Something inside Andrew changed.” Kore replied. “If it hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here. He’d still be neutral. I’d still be fucking petrified of him. I watched him stab Brigid and Azhara in the back. They’re dead. He was talking with the Goths that imprisoned me. The ones that were left.” She turned to where Sierra was. “She’s one of them. And she’s doing it willingly.”

 

         “You liar! You just hate me!” Sierra’s voice was heavy with a sob. “You just want me dead!”

 

         “There’s an easy way to disprove me.” Kore replied. “Raise Azhara. Or Brigid. If they’re alive, I’m lying.” She snorted at Sierra’s silence. “Yea. Thought as much.”

 

         Grace shoved her pistol into the side of Sierra’s head. “She just confirmed your story. Someone get Andrew restrained. Alpha, do we keep her alive?”

 

         Cristina glanced at the S-Goth trembling on the floor. “Andrew would say she has three strikes. That this was her second.” She turned away. “I say she shouldn’t have been able to get to two.”

 

         Grace had been itching to use her pistol for a long time. It would have only taken one shot. She used four.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

         <16:20, Base Camp>

 

         “So what do we do?” Gale asked, running her hands over Andrew. “He’s physically sound. What could have gone wrong?”

 

         “We have no way to check his mind, and that’s where the problem is.” Kore replied. “It wasn’t a coincidence that he took out the two most powerful psychics first.”

 

         “I can’t raise Lucina.” Cristina called. “The others may have gotten to them first.”

 

         “Yea, I wouldn’t be surprised.” Kore muttered, rolling Andrew’s ring between her palms. “Hey, can someone get rid of that? The smell is starting up.”

 

         Grace poked at Claire’s remains. “I would, but if we’re in a hostile situation, we don’t know what might be waiting outside those doors. They breached the tent’s defenses once. They can do it again.”

 

         “Point taken.” Kore glanced around. “Whoever’s going to be in charge, mind hurrying it up? We’ve got three highly dangerous hostiles out there. And if we’re not getting responses from the others that are away from camp, the attack has already started.”

 

         Cristina waved her down. “Yea, yea. We get it. Adria, Ashba, get strike teams sorted. I’m going to look into a defense perimeter. Cortney? Are you still with us?”

 

         The Upgrade shimmered into view. “I am untainted. I also have a full list of unresponsive coms.”

 

         Cristina sighed. “Ok. Hit us.”

 

         A screen unrolled from the ceiling and names began appearing in groups. “There were two main areas that sisters reported going to today. The springs, and the caves. Of the group that reported going to the springs, Tracii is here. That leaves Nami, Leira, Noira, and Shamira not answering their coms. In addition, the caves group consists of Phial, Lucina, Ishara, Kuu, Erren, Yin, Yang, Rein, April, and Fu. None of their coms have even responded to my hails, which means they are either dampened, or destroyed. The springs group at least could affirm they were working.”

 

         Cristina rubbed her face. “Ok. So best case scenario, the caves group is holed up underground and can’t contact us because of interference. The springs group is likewise hiding somewhere. Who else is unaccounted for?”

 

         “Daria and Aella. They did not file where they were going today, but I did record them leaving in each other’s presence. Wherever they are, they are likely together.”

 

         “Perfect.” Cristina glanced around. “So we have myself, Ashba, Adria, Nev- Kore, Lyn, Gale, Kary, Ann, Melody, Constance, Tracii, Nial, and Grace here. And you, of course.” She grit her teeth. “Fuck. That’s not a lot.”

 

         “You’re going to have to count Gale out.” A tired voice called, Lucina phasing in and dropping to the ground. “She’s about to be fucking busy.”

 

         “Status??” Cristina yelled, vaulting over to the fading Shadowcat and relieving her of her burden. “Who even is this? Fuck!” She whispered, gazing at the mangled body.

 

         Lucina blinked owlishly. “That’s Ishara. She’s the worst off, that I could get here. There are people missing. There’s at least one dead. I’m going to sleep.” She muttered, tipping over.

 

         “Oh no you don’t.” Cristina countered, grabbing the flagging Shadowcat and sitting her up. “Hey. HEY!” She screamed, forcing Lucina’s eyes to snap back open. “I need a STATUS REPORT.”

 

         Gale got to work treating Ishara while Lucina struggled to stay awake. “Yea. Yea. There was a spell. Everyone went to sleep. I didn’t. I didn’t like it, so I tried to get everyone to wake up. And then I blinked, and a really long time passed.” She shook her head slowly. “I think. There was someone else there, but I didn’t really see her that well. She was standing over Phial, but she wasn’t asleep. She wasn’t breathing. So I snuck into the caves and started pulling anyone I could find into the new caves we discovered. The kinda hidden ones, you know?” She swayed drunkenly. “And then… And then the other one started doing the same thing, except she wasn’t helpin’ people, she was slicing em. Slicing em up.” She nodded at Ishara. “I managed to grab her and teleport. Aaand I came out here.” She slumped over Cristina’s shoulder. “’m tired now…”

 

         Cristina let her go, laying the snoring Shadowcat down. “Well. There’s the caves figured out. Nobody’s answering because they’re all fucking asleep.” She grimaced. “Or dead.”

 

         Ashba shook her head. “Ok, great. But we still don’t have any word on the others. Do we send a squad to help them? Do we focus on the caves?”

 

         Adria cracked her knuckles. “Fu, Kuu, and Rein are all there, supposedly. All of them should be able to shrug off a sleep spell like Lucina did. So they have a chance. I’m more worried about the group at the springs, since we have no contact whatsoever.”

 

         Gale looked up from Ishara. “Kore. You said there were three. Which three.”

 

         “She wouldn’t know.” Cristina interjected. “I do. The three that escaped that facility were the assassin, the dominator, and the torturer. The MO of the one at the mines sounds like the torturer.”

 

         Cortney looked quizzically at Cristina. “I obliterated that girl. There was nothing left.”

 

         Cristina shook her head. “She evolved from a Penance. The reason you found no remains was because there were no remains – she didn’t die.”

 

         “Well that’s just great.” Gale muttered. “I am not looking forward to seeing her again.”

 

         “You may not have to.” Kary shouldered to the front and nodded to the Alphas. “Ma’ams. Let me take a group to the springs. Noira’s my partner. I’m not keen on leaving her to dry.”

 

         Adria nodded. “Sure. Take three others with you. Grace, I know you can handle leading a strike team. Take someone with you and help whoever is fighting in the caves. Hopefully most of them are still alive, so you’ll have a much larger force to work with.” She pointed at Kore. “I want you, Gale and Lyn to fix our tamer. Do whatever needs to be done. The three of us will hold the perimeter.”

 

         Cristina laughed. “There we go! Someone taking charge. You all heard her! MOVE!”

 

         Grace sprinted out the door, Constance hot on her heels. Behind them, Kary was organizing Tracii, Ann, and Melody into a formation before following Grace out the door. “I have no clue where to begin.”

 

         Lyn glanced at Kore. “That ring. Where did you get it?”

 

         The Lucarda glanced at her hand. “Oh. It was in Andrew’s dresser. Is it important?”

 

         Lyn snorted and snatched it away. “You don’t have to act dumb. Of course it is.” Her hands glowed slightly as she rubbed the ring. “It’s been changed. There’s something different about it, something that shouldn’t be there.” She frowned. “It shouldn’t be there, but it… belongs?”

 

         Nevaeh shrugged. “It was important enough to take off, so whatever went wrong may have something to do with the ring.”

 

         “Yea…” Lyn mused, continuing her scans. Important enough to take off? Why would it be… Unless… No, what if…

 

         “Look, can someone get her pokeball?” Gale called desperately, a spurt of blood accompanying her efforts to stabilize Ishara. “She’s not doing well. And while I can probably keep her from dying, I have a feeling there are going to be a lot more casualties soon.”

 

         Nial glanced up. “I wasn’t doing anything, so I’ll go look for it. Where is it stored?”

 

         “We don’t know.” Cristina muttered. “Everyone was given their own pokeball to carry around. She could have had it on her in the mines, in her room, in her gym locker… We probably should have kept them all together somewhere but Andrew thought it would be better this way.”

 

         “Ah.” Nial stared at the door. “I guess I’ll go start searching.”

 

         “He knew it was important…” Lyn muttered.

 

         “Eh?” Nevaeh glanced at her.

 

         “Whatever went wrong had to do with the ring.” Lyn replied, looking back at Andrew’s unconscious form. “You guessed that. I’m pretty sure you’re right. I just can’t place it, but there’s something new in the enchantment. And if he took it off when he went crazy, then…”

 

         “You want to put it back on him?”

 

         “If the bad Andrew didn’t want it on, then maybe it can help.”

 

         Nevaeh flicked her wings idly. “Well, we have an easy gauge to see if you’re right.” She pointed at herself. “If there’s enough of a swing, Ki… Kiana might be able to gain the upper hand. And even if that’s not enough, Nevaeh will have the same effect.”

 

         Lyn blinked. “You’d actually let her, just to see if my theory is correct?”

 

         Kore snorted. “I don’t have much of a choice, do I? That thing hates me.”

 

         “Huh. Fair point.”

 

         Kore watched apprehensively as Lyn slipped the ring onto Andrew’s hand… And nothing happened.

 

         “Feel any different?” Lyn whispered.

 

         Kore turned her hand over, letting her flesh bubble and a familiar materialize. “Nope. Nothing at all.”

 

         “Well. It didn’t help. Shit.”

 

 

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

 

 

         Kary slowed and nestled up against a tree on the edge of the springs. “Tracii. Status?”

 

         “No activity. You see anything down there?”

 

         Kary scaled the tree and peered through her scope. “I’ve got nothing.” She zoomed in on the pools. “No bubbles, no bodies. Where is everybody?”

 

         “I can fire off some flares, try to get some attention. Should I?”

 

         Kary glanced down at Ann and Melody, the pair scanning the area. “Do it, but do it carefully. If you see anything, dodge it.”

 

         “Roger.”

 

         Kary watched intently while the flames fell slowly around them. “I’m getting nothing.”

 

         “Same. There’s nobody here.”

 

         Kary hissed. “We were too late. They-“ She cut off and peered more intently at a pool. “Hey. Is that just me, or is there something in the northern pool?”

 

         Tracii winged back overhead. “I see what you mean. I think it’s just a plant, though.”

 

         Kary watched the object for a few seconds. “No. It’s too rigid. I’m going in.”

         “Covering.”

 

         Kary jumped out of the tree, blitzing across the open space and skidding to a halt in front of the water, Ann and Melody close behind. “Oh, my god.”

 

         The object in question was an arm. A quick inspection gave away its origin; it was definitely Noira’s, the characteristic silver color and synthetic material gave it away.

 

         Kary grit her teeth. “Melody. Search the pool. See if there’s any more pieces.”

 

         “On it.” The Wet Queen murmured, sliding into the water and vanishing to the depths.

 

         Kary looked around anxiously before summoning her blades and twirling them. “I don’t like this. I really don’t like this.”

 

         “Cortney, do you read? Cortney, please respond.” Ann tapped at her headset. “This is the springs team. Cortney, please respond.”

 

         “We’re cut off here.” Kary muttered, glancing around. “IR comms are working, but not radio.” She looked into the water. “Come on Melody. Hurry up.”

 

         “I have movement.” Tracii’s voice broke Kary out of her trance. “One entity. South side of the clearing.”

 

         Kary spun around and whipped her rifle to her shoulder. “Who is it? What can you see?”

 

         “Not much. They’re trying to stay hidden, but they’re not doing a good job of it. They just knocked over a tree.”

 

         Kary frowned. “That doesn’t sound like one of our enemies. Which direction is it moving?”

 

         “I think it sees you. It’s coming for the clearing.”

 

         Kary settled into a shooting stance. “Ann. Watch our back. Melody still hasn’t reported back and I don’t like it.”

 

         “Understood.” The Ice Empress half crouched, the air in front of her beginning to solidify. “Setting up a wall.”

 

         It didn’t take long for the unknown to stagger into view, and when she did, Kary dropped her rifle with a curse. It was Shamira, the Goldina clutching at a stump of an arm. “It’s Mira. She’s hurt bad. Melody, where the fuck are you??”

 

         “GET AWAY FROM THE WATER!”

 

         Kary blinked in surprise. “Mira? What’s wrong?”

 

         The Goldina dropped to a knee. “She’s still in there! Get away from the water!”

 

         Kary felt time slow. She spun towards the pool as the surface erupted, Melody flying through the air and crashing to the ground nearby. Behind her, a shadow blitzed towards them, blood dripping from its hands.

 

         “GET THE FUCK BACK HERE!” Nami roared, bursting from another pool and careening into the charging Goth. “We have some fucking unfinished business!”

 

         Kary stumbled backwards as the two dove under again, the pool slowly beginning to tint pink.

 

         “What… What the fuck?” She whispered.

 

         Ann leapt over her wall and rushed to Melody’s side, running her hands over the elf girl’s body. “She’s been lacerated. But she’s not bleeding.” She stuck her finger into Melody’s side, withdrawing it with a perplexed look. “It’s as if everything’s… stopped.”

 

         “Her poison clots the blood.” Mira muttered, staggering to Melody’s side. “If she’s not helped soon her flesh’ll begin to atrophy.”

 

         Kary glanced at Mira. “Is that what happened to your arm?”

 

         Shamira clutched her wound. “I had to cut off the poison before it was too late.”

 

         “Yea.” Kary glanced up to where Tracii continued to circle. “Tracii. What’s going on in the pool?”

 

         “It’s hard to tell.” Tracii radioed back. “Nami flashes by every now and then, but I haven’t seen her attacker yet. It’s like she’s fighting the water.”

 

         “Not the water, a shadow.” Kary muttered. “Mira. What’s the status of the battlefield.”

 

         “Leira and Noira are dead.” She stated flatly. “They were just chatting on the waters edge when Noira fell in. Leira thought she slipped, so she went to help. And then they were both gone. Underwater.”

 

         “Nami knew what was happening?”

 

         Shamira chortled. “Instantly. Sharks are good for that sort of thing. She smelled the death and dove right in. I made the mistake of trying to fish Noira’s body out and got a slash in my arm for the trouble.”

 

         “Son of a bitch.” Kary gazed over the deceptively calm waters. “None of us are in a position to assist Nami. And we need to get you two back to the tent for medical.” She glanced around. “Is it just the one attacker?”

 

         “Yea. As far as I know.” Shamira reached down and lifted Melody into a fireman’s carry. “I can get her back. You two stand by.”

 

         Ann stood. “Like hell we will. What if you get attacked on the way back? How are you going to defend yourself?”

 

         Shamira blinked. “Oh. Right.”

 

         Kary nodded. “I’ll stay here with Tracii. Ann, you escort Mira and Melody back. Report on what’s going on out here.”

 

         Ann saluted. “Yes’m.”

 

 

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

 

 

         “Constance! Flame left!”

 

         Grace spun out of the way of the vine whip, letting Constance’s flamethrower wash over the area Yogini had disappeared into. “She’s running interference. We need to get to the caves. Now.”

 

         Constance nodded, slowly dialing back on her weapon until it sputtered. “I’m going to lay down some napalm. Get ready to run.”

 

         “Yea.” Grace muttered, her ears twitching as she strained to hear where their opponent was. “Do it.”

 

         The two jumped forward as Constance released a sheet of napalm behind them, the fire nearly instantly catching and engulfing the area they had just inhabited. But it didn’t take long for Yogini to catch up.

 

         Grace cried out in pain, a rose whip scoring a bloody streak across her leg. “Shit!”

 

         Constance narrowly avoided a second attack, gasping when it snaked past her and coiled tightly around Grace’s injured leg. “Grace! No!”

 

         The Mini-Top fell to the ground with a thud, the whip pulling her into the shadows. “Fuck, fuck, FUCK! CONSTANCE! BURN THIS DAMN THING!”

 

         Constance leveled her flamethrower, but hesitated. “What if I hit you?”

 

         Grace growled and sliced at the whip unsuccessfully. “IF YOU DON’T I FUCKING DIE.”

 

         “Got it.” Constance whispered, sending a spray of flame across the vine.

 

         Grace grit her teeth as the fire licked at her leg but managed to separate from it, staggering back upright. “Here’s the thing. I can’t run.”

 

         Constance glanced at Grace’s charred fur. “Yea. I see that.”

 

         Grace rapidly scanned the trees around them. “And the people in the caves need help.”

 

         Constance slowly looked at her. “Yes. What are you getting at?”

 

         Grace ducked another whip, sending a few shots back. “You need to run. Without me.”

 

         Constance grit her teeth. “Fuck no. I’m not leaving you to die.”

 

         Grace snorted. “You’ll be leaving me to fight. You really think so little of me?”

 

         “I…” Constance sighed. “No. No, I don’t.”

 

         “Then run.” Grace dropped her mag and slid another one in with a clink. “I’m going to give you the chance to do so.”

 

         Constance hesitated for a moment. “What if they’re fine.”

 

         Grace glanced at her, and Constance was surprised to see the pain in her eyes. “They’re not. Like it or not, girl, they need help. And you’re the only one who can help them.”

 

         Constance shuddered. “Alright. I’m going.”

 

         “Yea.” Grace watched her run towards the caves before turning back to the forest. “Alright, bitch. Let’s play.”

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

         The reigning champion was beaten today by quite the rookie. In a completely one sided match, now rising star Morgana destroyed Andrew for the heavyweight championship…

 

         Andrew growled and smashed the remote through the screen of the tv in front of him. “Stop showing me this bullshit.”

 

         The shade behind him laughed. “I’m just trying to keep you entertained. After all, it’s all you’ll be seeing. Ever again.”

 

         Andrew turned. “You will lose. I beat you once. I can do it again.”

 

         The shade doubled over with laughter. “Oh, goodness! You think you beat me!” It grinned at him. “All you did was let me in, little boy.”

 

         Andrew snarled. “Oh yea? Well I’ll just finish the job this time, that’s all.” He paused as a door appeared in the space next to him. “What? What’s this?”

 

         The shade started backwards. “What? That’s not supposed to be there!” It whirled when Andrew made to walk towards it. “Hey!”

 

         Andrew ignored it and grabbed the doorknob, slowly pushing the door open. As he did, the makeshift prison behind him vanished and he stepped into the lights of a stadium.

 

         “LLLLLLADIEs and gentlemen, welcome to the rematch of the century. Former champion Andrew Ranger against Champion Morgana Duskblade. I don’t even think Andrew has had time to heal from his staggering defeat! This is going to be completely one-sided, folks!”

 

         Andrew ignored the announcer and stared at the woman loitering in the boxing ring. She noticed him and frowned. “You. Go back to your cage.”

 

         Andrew gestured around him. “What the hell is all this?”

 

         Morgana shrugged. “This is my place now. Not yours. Go back to your cage.”

 

         Andrew grit his teeth and stepped forward, his clothes shimmering until he wore a generic pair of athletic shorts. “I don’t know what you’re trying to do, but this is my mind. It’s time for you to leave.”

 

         Morgana sighed. “Very well.” She beckoned for the referee to come over. “I guess we’ll just have a rematch, then.”

 

         Andrew climbed into the ring and strode forwards. “Alrighty lady and gentleman lets have a good match here, come now, be nice.”

 

         Morgana smirked and extended her gloves for a tap. As Andrew moved to complete the gesture, she moved.

 

         It was a clean strike, sending Andrew sprawling across the mat. With a roar the referee raised her arm. “And there you have it folks! A decisive victory for Ms. Morgana! This old challenger sure is washed up!”

 

         Andrew grit his teeth. “You didn’t even wait for the fucking bell!”

 

         Morgana grinned at him. “My mind now. My rules.”

 

         Stone faced, Andrew stood. “I get it.”

 

         Morgana smirked. “Good. Now go back to your cage.”

 

         Andrew shook his head. “Again.”

 

         Morgana frowned, but conceded. This time Andrew moved first, not even waiting for the referee. With a grunt, he threw a jab straight for Morgana’s face.

 

         “And now he’s cheating, folks!” The referee yelled, clothselining Andrew and driving him to the ground. “This boy just doesn’t know when to give up!”

 

         Andrew coughed, staring up at the grinning Goth. “My mind, boy.” She whispered. “My rules.”

 

 

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

 

 

         “What if you, like, strengthened the enchantment?”

 

         Lyn frowned. “It is a protection spell. I wonder what that would do…”

 

         Kore shrugged. “Why not find out?”

 

         Lyn nodded. “Might as well. But I can’t, unless I…” She paused. “Grab my bag for me, would you?”

 

         Kore nodded, grabbing the backpack and handing it over, Lyn rifling through the pockets. “What are you looking for?”

 

         “These.” With a flourish, Lyn spread three mana crystals on the ground in front of her. “I’ve been charging these up for months.”

 

         Kore nodded thoughtfully. “Extra energy. For that extra kick.”

 

         Lyn chuckled. “Yea. Plus I’ve got an ace up my sleeve.” She rested her hands on her stomach. “I’ll just release the seals real quick…”

 

         Kore shaded her eyes from the flash of light, blinking at Lyn. “What was that?”

 

         Lyn stretched, excess energy crackling along her fingertips. “I have crystals implanted inside of me. Extra batteries.” She grinned. “For that extra kick.”

 

         “Perfect.” Kore glanced back down at Andrew. “So? What first?”

 

         Lyn rested her hands on the ring. “First I strengthen the protection spell.”

 

 

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

 

 

         Groaning, Andrew staggered upright again. “Again.”

 

         Morgana sighed. “You’ll never win, boy.”

 

         Andrew grimaced. “We’ll see about that.”

 

         This time she allowed him to tap gloves before swinging at his head. Ducking, Andrew attempted to land a jab but was forced to back away as she hammered at his ear. Surprised he hadn’t been hit yet, he dove back in – and instantly got an uppercut to his jaw.

 

         Falling backwards, Andrew was surprised to not feel any pain. It had been her most powerful hit so far. So why…?”

 

 

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

 

 

         Kore blinked, her familiar wavering. “Hey. Something’s changing.”

 

         Lyn grunted, her face drenched in sweat. “Good. Good!”

 

         “Ma’am! Reporting!” Cristina turned to face Ann as she ran in, Mira and Melody in tow. “Two more KIA. One hostile engaged.” She winced. “Two wounded. One critical.”

 

         Gale looked up from Ishara. “Get over here.” She peered into Melody’s wounds and groaned. “Fucking poison.” She glanced at Mira’s stump. “I hope you didn’t like that arm, because it’s going to be a while before I can get to it.”

 

         The Goldina shrugged. “I’ll get used to it.”

 

         “Good.” Gale turned back to Melody and cast esuna, running her hands over Melody’s body. “Someone please find those damn pokeballs!”

 

         “Nial hasn’t reported back yet.” Adria stood. “I’ll go find her. She’s probably up in the bedrooms searching.”

 

         “That is a terrible idea.” Ashba sighed, but got up as well. “One by one we get picked off. How about no.”

 

         “Cool. Come with me.” Adria nodded at Cristina. “You’re in charge here. Be careful.”

 

         “Yea.” Cristina watched them leave and turned back to Gale. “What’s the deal? Are they going to be alright?”

 

         Gale left off treating Melody for a moment. “The poison is tough, but she’ll live. Ishara is stable, but without either of their pokeballs the damage might be too great to fully heal.”

 

         “So we’re pretty much counting on those three to find them.” Cristina muttered. “Great.”

 

         “Hey! Can anyone hear me?”

 

         “I have a communication from Constance.” Cortney relayed. “The signal is scattered, but I can piece it together on a slight delay.”

 

         “Are we hooked up?” At Cortney’s nod, Cristina continued. “Constance! What’s your situation?”

 

         “We were followed. There was one at the tent. Grace is fighting her now while I make my way to the caves.”

 

         Cristina blanched. “Fighting? ALONE?”

 

         “She wouldn’t let me stay.” Constance whispered. “I’m moving ahead. I mi—t –ea- -p.”

 

         “Come again?”

 

         “-nt—fer----…”

 

         “The signal’s gone.” Cortney glanced between invisible screens. “It’s still there, but I’m losing the ability to communicate with her com. She’s probably getting close to the caves.”

 

         “That at least tells us the interference isn’t because the missing coms are destroyed.” Cristina mused. “That’s good? I guess?”

 

         “It’s hopeful.” Ann finished. “It’s hopeful.”

 

         “INTRUDER!” Cristina whirled around, Ashba and Adria barreling into the room. “Nial’s dead! Someone got her!”

 

         “Fuck, she’s not just hurt?” Gale grimaced. “Come on, I need more work!”

 

         ‘Your sarcasm is not appreciated.” Adria took a deep breath. “And yea. She’s gone. The attacker beheaded her.”

 

         Ann looked up. “They tore Noira to pieces. And the damage to Ishara and Melody is across their entire bodies.” She winced. “They’re making sure we can’t get back up again.”

 

         “Holy fuck you’re right.” Cristina whispered. “Pokeballs or not, we need to assume any wounds could be completely fatal.”

 

         “Yea, funny you mention the balls.” Adria tossed a sack into the center of the room. “Nial was clutching this in a deathgrip. I don’t recognize it from anywhere, unless Lyn made it for someone?”

 

         Lyn glanced up from what she was doing for a split second. “Nope. Never summoned a woven sack. Probably a supply thing.”

 

         “No, we use boxes.” Cristina frowned. “You think the intruder had it?”

 

         “Wait until you see what’s inside.” Ashba upset the bag until it spilled its contents. “I’m almost positive.”

 

         A few pokeballs rolled out, and Cristina picked one up. “Are these… ours?”

 

         Adria nodded. “Turn it over.”

 

         Cristina did and cursed. The bottom of the ball had been bored into, and she could see the destroyed circuitry inside. “Making sure we can’t get back up again.” She glanced around the room, fear in her eyes. “We need to get to the groups trapped outside. Now.

 

 

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

 

 

         Constance slowed as she approached the entrance. So far she hadn’t seen anyone outside the caves, but if Lucina was right, everything was going on inside.

 

         She paused as her foot encountered something. Ducking for a better look, she was able to make out a large dried bloodstain. She shivered. That had probably been Phial.

 

         Straightening up, she peered into the dark opening. It was perfectly silent. No movement that she could make out. She winced. Silent like a grave.

 

 

 

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

 

 

         Fu stirred and opened her eyes blearily. “Hey… Anyone there…?” She muttered, feeling her way in the dark. “Hello?”

 

         The last thing she could remember was… She had been clearing rubble. And she vaguely remembered Lucina… Dragging her here! She sat up. Where was here?

 

         Beside her, another body stirred. “’s goin on?”

 

         Fu strained to make out a figure. “Yin?”

 

         “No, Yang.” The girl yawned and sat up. “Why’m I so tired?”

 

         “I don’t know.”

 

         “There was a sleep spell cast.” Kuu whispered tersely. “Keep it down. We have hostiles.”

 

         Fu immediately woke up, crawling to where she heard Kuu’s voice. “Who.”

 

         The Elfqueen’s eyes peeked at her from a wall nearby. “It’s the remaining Goths. Keep it down.”

 

         Fu blinked. “What? How the hell is that possible?” She pointed at Kuu’s glowing eyes. “And what’s up with that?”

 

         “Night vision spell. You should do something similar.”

 

         “I can’t.”

 

         Kuu shrugged. “No aura vision? That’s a shame.” She gestured out into the main cave. “You would have been able to watch our sisters being murdered.”

 

         “You didn’t try to help?” Fu hissed.

 

         Kuu turned and stared at her. “I was half asleep. Lucina charged me with protecting you and the others. I could not afford to help them.” She turned away. “I wish I could have.”

 

         Fu blinked. “What do you mean?”

 

         “My entire court was butchered.”

 

         “… … …oh.”

 

         “Would you like a casualty report, or would you like to continue putting your foot in your shit-spewing mouth?” Kuu spat.

 

         Fu looked down. “Report. Please.”

 

         “Hmph.” Kuu nodded at a lump in the darkness. “Phial was killed up top. Lucina took Ishara back to base, so they’re fine. As far as I can tell, that’s one of the twins. The other one is… Behind us.”

 

         Fu glanced behind them. “She’s awake. The one out there is Yin.”

 

         Kuu sighed. “Alright. Those are the only ones I know for sure. There’s another cave nearby that Lucina was stashing people in, but I don’t know who’s there.”

 

         “For now, assume it’s just us three.” Fu glanced around. “Where’s the enemy?”

 

         “She’s deeper in the caves right now, probably looking for us. She missed this cave because of the weird entrance.”

 

         “Thank god.” Fu tapped her com. “Can anyone read me? Hello? Andrew, Cortney, anyone at all.”

 

         Kuu shook her head. “Don’t bother. Coms are being jammed. We have to assume everyone else is dead.”

 

         “Great.” Fu turned and motioned Yang forwards. “We need to prioritize getting out of here.” She shook her head when Kuu opened her mouth. “We need to get out of this killzone. There might be more survivors. But staying underground is just asking to be sliced open.”

 

         Kuu grimaced, but nodded. “Alright. We’ll do it your way-“ She was cut off by a bloodcurdling scream from deeper down. “Shit!”

 

         Yang’s face paled. “That- that was Erren!” She grabbed Fu. “We have to help her!”

 

         Fu grit her teeth. “She’s probably already dead. We need to-“

 

         Kuu shook her off. “Fuck that.”

 

         Fu glanced between the two and sighed. “Fine. To our deaths.” She gazed in the direction the scream had come from. “At least it’s for the defense of our friends.”

 

 

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

 

 

         “Right, so they definitely missed a few.” Cristina said, triggering the release on Adria’s new pokeball. “Since the bag only held around 30 balls. And Shamira can’t go into a new one.”

 

         “It’s somewhere safe.” Shamira muttered.

 

         “That’s a good thing.” Gale looked up from her work. “I hate to say it Mira, but I don’t think I’d be able to regrow your arm otherwise.” She looked away. “I just don’t have the experience for it.”

 

         “Don’t blame yourself.” Cristina squat down and put her hand on Gale’s shoulder. “Just do your best. You’re our most valuable asset right now. Remember that.”

 

         Gale shuddered and nodded. “Thank you.”

 

         “Helloooo? Is this thing on?” The sound of someone tapping a com against their palm filled the room. “Helloooooooo.”

 

         “Who the fuck is that.” Cristina hissed.

 

         “I’m just going to assume this is working, since this little light is on.” The voice continued, Cortney shaking her head in bewilderment. “Right, so the bunnygirl’s done. Aaand the insect got herself crushed. Anyone else want to come and have a go?”

 

         Cristina growled. “Cortney, open the line.” She shot a look at the Upgrade when she didn’t respond. “DO IT.” She took a deep breath. “Who are you?”

 

         “Heyyy! I knew this was working!” Yogini called back cheerfully. “You know who I am, stop that. I just wanted to call in and say hi!”

 

         “don’t… listen to her.” Grace whispered, her voice barely being picked up by the com. “Ma’am, don’t…”

 

         “Oops, looks like she’s still alive.” Yogini called. “Hold on, let me just make sure she… Yep, her windpipe is definitely crushed. Just gotta wait for her to bleed out…”

 

         Cristina hissed. “You sadistic, heartless, -“

 

         “Ooh! Heartless! I like that one.” Yogini laughed. “Here, that’s a much better idea. Thanks!” Cristina paled as Grace attempted to scream, the sound coming out more as a gargled rasp than anything recognizable. “There, perfect. Now she doesn’t have a heart!”

 

         “don’t… worry about me, ma’am…” Grace whispered. “kill her for me…”

 

         “Ah, there she goes.” Yogini sighed. “Just couldn’t take the- Wait, what?”

 

         Cristina flinched as the transmission registered an explosion before cutting to static. “Fucking hell.”

 

         Adria stood. “Ashba, come on. We need to get out there and see what happened.”

 

         “Be careful!” Cristina yelled after them. “She might still be alive!”

 

         Cortney swiveled around. “Adria is making sure to keep in constant contact with me. If anything goes wrong I will let you know.”

 

         Cristina breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you.” She turned back to where Lyn kneeled. “How’s it going over there?”

 

         Kore flinched back as one of the mana crystals flared. “She’s supercharging the protection spell. It seems to be doing something.”

 

         Cristina watched Kore’s familiar wither and fall apart. “Something good, I hope.”

 

 

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

 

 

         Andrew blinked as the referee wavered and disappeared. “Tired of cheating?” He taunted, swaying slightly on his feet.

 

         Morgana rolled her eyes. “I don’t even have to do this.” She held up her hand, and Andrew could feel the waves of pressure pushing him back. “Get out of here.”

 

         Andrew dug in. “Something opened that door. Something got rid of that ref. You’re not doing it.” He grinned. “And you’re scared.”

 

         Morgana narrowed her eyes. “I’m more confused than scared. You have no power here. None. And yet…” She paused. “Someone else is helping you.”

 

         Andrew’s eyes lit up. “Azhara’s probably beating down your barriers as we speak. Give it up.”

 

         Morgana laughed. “No, she’s not. I have no idea where this is coming from, but it definitely isn’t her.” Her eyes danced. “You killed her.”

 

         Andrew blinked. “What…” He didn’t notice the slight slide he made as he absorbed her words. “What… Do you mean?”

 

         “Just earlier. You stabbed her in the back. Brigid too.”

 

         Andrew shook his head. “No… I… I wouldn’t do that…” He winced. “hey… What’s going on…?”

 

         Morgana cackled. “I just needed that slight bit of uncertainty.” She sneered. “Goodbye, boy.”

 

         Andrew yelped as he was thrown off his feet, shooting back towards the door he had first entered.

 

         “NO!”

 

         Andrew gasped as he impacted, not back in the original room he had expected, but against something… soft.

 

         “I will not allow you to destroy him.” The voice echoed loudly, and while Morgana reeled back, Andrew felt it soothing him, seeping into his body and restoring the strength Morgana had sapped with their fights. “Andrew. My Master.” Andrew felt the presence fade away and a wall form behind him. “Go. Win.”

 

 

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

 

 

         “NO!”

 

         Kore jumped back at Lyn’s scream, yelping when the crystals in front of her exploded, sending energy arcing into the Enchantress’ body. “I WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO DESTROY HIM!”

 

         “THE FUCK IS GOING ON?” Cristina roared, trying to get a hand on Lyn. “HEY! Snap out of it!”

 

         Lightning shot from Lyn’s body, impacting the Ophanim and sending her sprawling as Lyn began to glow. Kore scrambled to help Cristina while the Enchantress evolved. “Are you hurt?”

 

         Cristina sat up and rubbed her chest. “I’m fine. Is Lyn?”

 

         Kore watched the evolution. “I don’t know. Is it supposed to be this violent?”

 

         Cristina blinked to remove the afterimages. “I don’t think so. I also don’t think it’s supposed to last this long.”

 

         Gale shielded her eyes and peered at Lyn. “No, I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be this violent. I’m more worried about Andrew.” She pointed at Lyn’s hands. “She’s still holding him.”

 

         “Oh, fuck.” Cristina breathed. “What’s that going to do to him?”

 

         Kore coughed blood, slumping to the ground as the glow began to die down. “It’s… Oh, god…”

 

         “Oh, for fuck’s sake!” Cristina groaned, motioning Gale over. “It did SOMETHING, that’s for damn sure.”

 

         “He will no longer fall.” Lyn whispered, dropping Andrew’s hand. “Andrew. My Master.” Her eyes shone with the excess energy, seeming almost to burn with power. “Go. Win.”

 

 

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

 

 

Tech: Cortney – Upgrade VideoGirl

Tamer:

Andrew Ranger

 

Alpha Team:

 

Ashba – Rosebreasts (Alpha)

Melody – Wet Queen (Beta)

Lyn – Enchantress

Tracii – (Red) Longfly

Constance – Tank Vixxen

Beta Team:

 

Adria – Groaning (Alpha)

Gale – Night Nurse (Beta)

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:

 

Lucina – Shadowcat (Alpha)

Heidi – Psyvix

Sigma Team:

 

Nevaeh – G-Spliced

Omega Team:

 

Cristina – Blessed Fiendish Ophanim (Alpha)

Erren – Ballisticunt (Beta)

Kuu – ElfQueen

Yang – Nereidame

 

 

KIA:
Juel – Matratya

Phial – Gravelgal

Yin – Nereidame

Azhara – Kyubi

Brigid – Unicorn

Grace – Mini-Top

Nial – Assasara

Noira – (Flying) Mecha Musume

Leira – Queenler

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