Sailoon City...
Ruby Continent...

    "GOOD MORNING SAILOON CITY!!  IT'S SEVEN O'CLOCK, AND WE HAVE A BRIGHT DAY AHEAD..." screamed a radio voice, startling the young man in the nearby bed so much that he fell out of it.  A slender hand came up and felt around for the volume button as the voice prattled on about the news, making usual radio jabber.  Finally, he gave up and just yanked the radio clock's plug out of the wall, silencing the jabber.  He yawned, and got back into bed.

    "Helluva way to wake me up on my birthday," he grumbled, slipping back into bed, falling asleep quickly.

    Then another voice woke him up.

    "KRIS, TIME TO GET UP!" shouted a woman's voice.

    Kris grumbled and pulled his covers over his head.  "MOM, IT'S SATURDAY!  IN SUMMER!  AND MY BIRTHDAY, SO I FEEL I SHOULD HAVE AT LEAST SOME RIGHT TO SLEEP IN!!"


    Oh yeah, Kris thought.  He had done some volunteer work at the ranch at his school's request last year and had gotten to like the kindly proprietor of the ranch and had made friends with many of the girls there.  His parents had agreed to get let him be interviewed for work there, and he had to admit that going there was a good reason to get up.
    Kris yawned, and scratched his chest idly.  The handsome, seventeen-year old young man sat up, his, long, dusty blonde hair falling down over his shoulders as he blinked the sunlight out of his eyes.  When the spots had cleared, he sighed and pulled on his clothes from last night, blue jeans and a purple t-shirt.  He tied his long hair in to a ponytail and yawned again, heading downstairs.

    His parents were in the kitchen of the modest little house, the tiles a dusty white.  Back in pre-Sukebe times it had been a farmhouse, and his family had restored it once they moved in.

    "Morning, honey!" his mother said, the lavender-haired Sorceress cooking three things at once with her magic, tools and utensils

    "Hey," Kris said, smiling, "Smells good.  What's cooking?"

    "Eggs and waffles and cinnamon oatmeal," she said, gesturing towards the pan the eggs were cooking in, a hovering spatula scrambling them about.

    Kris cringed.  "You lost me on the oatmeal," he said.

    The Sorceress turned to her son, her red eyes flashing.  "Listen you," she said in a stern but playful voice, "Working at a ranch is hard.  You're going to need to eat better than you have been if you want to work there."

    Kris rolled his eyes and grinned petulantly.  "Geez.  Maybe I shouldn't even go, then," he said, still wanting to go but right now wanting to annoy his mother more.  His smart remark got the reaction he was hoping for, and she snorted and sputtered angrily, shaking her head and turning back to her cooking.  He chuckled, and got up to fix himself a drink of orange juice.  "Where's Dad, anyway?"

    Kris's mother grinned.  "He's getting your present ready.  He should be in... right about now, actually."

    Kris turned to see his father, a bulky, muscular man with callused hands and blonde hair come in.  He looked tired, but smiled.  "Your present is all ready, son.  I just finished having it detailed down at the old storage building."

    Kris blinked.  Detailed?  That means... Cool! he thought, smiling.  There were two things he wanted above all else.  First and foremost, he wanted a Pokégirl.  But because the city had excellent anti-Feral defenses, he knew that would be unlikely.  Add into that the high prices of girls at the local Ranch and the fact that he had no desire to go wander the wilderness as a roving Tamer, and one could understand why he felt getting a Pokégirl was unlikely. 

    The second thing he wanted was a hover-cycle.  A friend of his at school had got one, a stylish, silvery, bullet-shaped speeder that was the envy of everyone in his class.  If his Dad had gotten him something like that, then he just jumped up several dozen steps on Kris's personal Cool-o-Meter.

    "That's all well and good, Sergei, but we're just sitting down to breakfast.  We need to eat first, and then we can pick up Kris's present on the way to Donnie's ranch."

    "Aw, c'mon Mika.  It's his birthday.  We'll pick up something along the way."

    Mika frowned, and whispered a spell.  One of the kitchen chairs came to life, walking over to Sergei and forcing him to sit down.

    "Or we could sit down and eat breakfast," Sergei said, grinning weakly.  Kris snickered.

    "It's okay, Dad, really.  If this is what I think it is, then I can wait for something that cool."

    Sergei and Mika traded grins, the Sorceress gesturing and moving the food from the pans to the table.  Mika sat down with them and they all began to eat, chatting idly.  They talked about this and that, mostly questioning Kris about how he's doing at school. 

    "Aside from a couple friends of mine going into Threshold, which sucks, things are okay.  I STILL think old man Barinoff has it in for me."

    Mika frowned.  "Oh dear, Threshold?  Which ones?"

    Kris sighed.  "Anya and Sheska, the Karakoff sisters.  It looks like they may become a Plussy and Miboobsy."

    Sergei frowned.  "That's a shame.  Those two were among the best students in the class."

    Kris shook his head.  "It sucks, and it's a little creepy, but what're you gonna do?  Facts of life," he said, taking a sip of his orange juice.

    Mika sighed.  "They're your friends, Kris."

    Kris shrugged.  "I know.  But like I said, nothing I can do about it.  Ivan just got his Tamer's license, and I think he's gonna ask them to be his girls."

    Sergei nodded.  "That's good, then.  Ivan's a good kid."

    Mika frowned, but said nothing, and the family continued eating, more pleasant conversation starting up again.  Finally, they finished eating.  After clearing the table, they all put on coats and went outside.

    To see a large rug laying on the sidewalk.

    Kris frowned.  "Mom?"

    Mika chuckled and stepped forward.  "I figured that so we could travel quicker, I'd revive an old trick I learned back when your father was an active Tamer," she said, holding out her hands.  "Ancient magics of earth and sky, time to make this old rug fly!"

    Tiny beams of light poured from Mika's fingers, merging with the rug, which floated off of the ground and began to float.

    "COOL!" Kris said, grinning widely.  This day just keeps getting more awesome, he thought.

    "Shall we?" Mika said, gesturing grandly to the flying carpet.

    Sergei folded his arms, staring at her.  Mika sighed, her head drooping.  "You can drive, dear," she said with obvious reluctance.

    Kris frowned.  "What?"

    Sergei stepped to the head of the carpet and sat down.  "Your mother, the first six times she tried to pilot a flying carpet, crashed into a wall at high velocity.  The next day I took over driving duties."

    "It wasn't six times," Mika grumbled, getting onto the carpet.

    Kris laughed.  He loved hearing stories about his parents' adventures as Tamers.  He got on the carpet with them and sat down, grabbing onto the edges as his father willed it forward, the carpet picking up speed as they headed out of the suburb. 

    After a few minutes, the carpet came up to a series of garage-like buildings near the forest on the outskirts of town, about three miles from the ranch.  They looked old, but were very well maintained.  They flew up to the main office and landed the carpet.  They got off, Mika rolling up the carpet and tucking it under her arm, and went up to the door and knocked on it.

    A heavyset, balding man with a thick beard opened the door.   He grinned when he saw Sergei and hugged him.

    "Mikhail, old boy.  Good to see you're finally up!" Sergei said, laughing.

    "Well, having a Mousewife like Morina can wear a person out!  So what brings you here today?" the man said in a deep, rumbling voice that had a trace of a pre-Sukebe accent called Russian.

    "My son's here to pick up his birthday present.  It's his seventeenth birthday today," Sergei said, gesturing to Kris, who waved amiably.

    Mikhail looked him over and chuckled.  "Must be that project you've been storing in your lot, eh?  Well, happy birthday young man!  Maybe you come over afterwards and have some vodka with me!"

    Mika frowned.  "He's SEVENTEEN, Mikhail."

    Mikhail scoffed.  "Nonsense!  No man is too young for vodka!"

    Kris snickered.  He'd only met the fat old proprietor of this storage building once before, but from what his father told him, this happened a lot.  And while he was curious to see if the rumors about Mikhail's capacity for holding his drink were true, he wanted to keep moving.

    Sergei rolled his eyes and said, "Maybe next time.  Kris is applying for work at Donnie's ranch on the outskirts of town today."

    Mikhail grinned widely.  "Hey!  You going to work for Donnie, eh?  Well, that's a great place for a man to get his start in life.  Learn some responsibility!  But I think you are wanting your present, yes?  Hey, Toni!" he yelled to a figure inside the main building.  "Sergei's back!  Unlock the gate for him, eh?"

    The heavy iron gates of the storage area retracted, allowing Kris and his family entry.  They walked inside, heading straight for the back.  Mika and Sergei were being quiet, just trading grins and watching their son get more and more excited as they got closer to his present.

    They turned a corner, heading for a row of smaller storage sheds... and paused. 

    Sergei held up a hand, warning Mika and Kris to wait and be quiet as he listened.  Sounds were coming from one of the sheds.  It sounded vaguely like crunching metal.  Soon after, there was a soft gulping sound, and then the shrill sound of tearing metal, followed by the crunching again.

    Sergei looked around for the source of the sound, and then gasped. 

    "Gods... It's coming from the shed I rented!" he said, pointing.  Mika and Kris looked, and saw that lock to the door of one of the sheds was ripped off, the padlock looking like someone had taken a bite out of it.

    "How could Mikhail not have heard that?" Mika asked, incredulously. 

    "With his Mousewife's oral talents, Typhonna could show up and he wouldn't notice.  Now hush, I need to think... Mika, can you make a viewing spell?  So we can see inside the shed but whoever's inside can't?"

    Mika nodded.  "I was already thinking along those lines," she said, holding out her hands.  "Mystic powers, let us see, who this potential foe may be.  Reveal to us, please part this haze, and keep us hidden, from their gaze."

    Her eyes flashed, and a glassless window appeared, one that was exactly the size of the door to the shed.  Energy crackled in it as it filled up, revealing what was going on inside.

    Well, Kris had gotten his hover-bike.  But right now a Zeromer was in the process of eating it.

    Kris stared.  A Pokégirl!  An actual Feral Pokégirl! he thought.  The Zeromer's armor was smooth, looking vaguely like something out of an old sentai show.  It was blue with gold streaks lining it, the chestplate a darker blue.  Her shoulder pads were spiked, and her gauntlets bore black lines on it.  Her blue, LED-esque eyes glowed in the darkness of the storage shed, illuminating her smooth, silver face and short, sapphire-colored hair.

    "She's gorgeous..." Kris said, not realizing that he said it aloud.

    "All that work..." Sergei said, looking it as the Zeromer finished with the piece of metal she was eating, reaching into the engine cover and pulling out some wires.  She bit off the tips, spitting out the plastic, and sucked out the copper inside, chewing them thoughtfully. 

    Mika frowned.  "It looks like she's been abused..." she said.

    Kris blinked, and looked again.  The Zeromer was visibly shaking, her armor bearing several dents and slash scars.  Her face was dented on one side, the dent forming the imprint of a fist, and the neck of her armor was shredded, as if her helmet had been torn off.  She turned slightly, looking around, and Kris saw that she had a scar on her forehead.  As he watched, she finished the wires and grabbed the metal hood of the hover-cycle, digging her fingers in and visibly wincing.  She put a booted foot up on the side of the cycle and pulled, ripping a strip off of the already half-eaten hood with a shriek of metal.  She stumbled back a couple steps and fell.  She slowly got to her feet, her teeth clenched in visible pain, and picked up the metal strip, slowly eating it.

    "We have to help her... Get her to a Pokécenter or something," Kris said.  For some reason, seeing this elegant creature in such a state hurt him deeply.  Maybe it was his desire to have a Pokégirl of his own and the realization that this may be his best chance to have one, maybe it was something more romantic, but he knew that he wanted to help her.

    Mika smirked softly.  "I appreciate the thought, son, but she's likely Feral by now.  We have to be careful."

    Kris bit his lip, and started forward.  His mother stopped him, and turned to Sergei.  "Honey?" she asked.

    "Months of saving... down the drain..." Sergei muttered, still staring incredulously at the Zeromer who was eating his investment.  Mika smacked him lightly on the back of the head to get his attention.

    "Honey, focus."

    "Right, right.  Okay..." Sergei said, looking thoughtful, "Let's open the door slowly.  One of us can approach her slowly, and see if we can coax her into a Pokéball..."

    "I'll do it," Kris said suddenly.  His parents stared at him for a moment.  Mika grinned softly, but said nothing.  Sergei looked concerned, but nodded.

    "Okay, but be careful.  She's most likely Feral, as your mother said, and will probably attack," Sergei said, pulling one of the spare Pokéballs he kept for emergencies out of his pocket and readying it.

    Kris nodded as Mika banished the window, which vanished in a small flash of light.  Mika put down the rug and began to prepare a spell to protect her son and mate if need be, Sergei readying the Pokéball.  Kris gulped, nervous but excited at the same time, and walked up to the storage building.  He gripped the bottom of the door and slowly pulled it up, letting light into the dark building.

    The Zeromer let out a startled, electronic-sounding squawk and dropped the metal she was eating, whirling to face Kris.  Kris stepped back, momentarily frightened, but recovered himself quickly.  He found himself captivated by her, by the curves of her body, the alignment of her face, even her unusual coloring. 

    She's beautiful... Kris thought.

    "It's okay..." he said, holding up his hands in what he hoped was a calming gesture.  The Zeromer gave him a cautious look.

    "Zeromer," she said warningly, flexing her fingers and taking a fighting stance, slowly backing away.

    Inside the Zeromer's head, a small part of her mind was processing what was happening.

    [Encounter: Two human males, one Pokégirl, type-unknown, possibly magic element.  Chance of verbal avoidance of conflict: 0%  Chance of direct conflict: Too high for acceptable perameters.  Vocal synthesizers: Offline.  Weapons systems: 20% power.  Damage levels: 59% .  Sensor array: 50% offline.  Body chemistry: 73% into Feral state.  Fuel levels: 40%..  Possibility of defeating magic-element Pokégirl: 20%.  Recommendation: Pending until further information gathered,] she thought, staring warily at Kris.

    "It's okay, really," Kris said, smiling, approaching her slowly, "I won't hurt you.  We won't hurt you.  We just want to help you, get you to a Pokécenter so your damage can be healed..."

    The Zeromer frowned at him, unsure of what to make of this boy and his two companions, whom she surmised were his family members.

    [Information: Youth human unit claims a desire to assist this unit in damage repairs.  However the Pokégirl behind him (Possibly a Sorceress?) has a spell visibly ready.  Probability of lie: 50%.  Theorem: Sorceress(?) is possibly youth human unit's mother, judging from similarity in facial structure and eye coloring.  Spell is most likely meant to protect youth human unit from harm.  Probability: 50%.  Processing data...] the Zeromer thought, slowly backing away from Kris.

    Kris frowned.  Why was she backing away?  He wouldn't hurt her.  (He didn't know if he COULD.)  And while he was a little on the conservative side, he wasn't about to smack her around.  What if she used to be a person?

    "Please, don't run..." Kris said softly, "We just want to help you..."

    He slipped on an errant shard of metal from the hoverbike, and stumbled forward.  The Zeromer, startled, hopped back and held out a hand, a small well of energy opening up on her palm as she aimed it at Kris.

    Mika frowned.  This was going badly.  The Zeromer was too skittish to be calmed, and definitely showed signs of being attacked or worse, abused.

    "Back away, Kris," Mika said, preparing to throw her spell, "I'll stun her and then we can take her to get help."

    "ZEROMER!  ZeZeromer Ze!" the robotic Pokégirl said, suddenly nervous and aiming her hand at Mika.  Sergei frowned and stepped out of the way, ready to throw his Pokéball still.

    "Mom, stop it!  You're frightening her!" Kris said, getting in front of her. 

    "Honey, she's wounded, afraid, and dangerous!  This spell is non-lethal, so please, MOVE!"

    [Situation is dissolving fast.  This unit's own skittishness to attack after previous encounter has resulted in a perceived threat to youth human unit, Subdesignate: Kris.  Logic: Unit is unprepared for further combat.  Illogic: Unit does not WANT to battle.  Unit still remembers last time she made that attempt and what it cost her... Conclusion: Fight response is non-viable at this time until rest and refueling can be completed.  Flight response given priority.  Evac to current temporary HQ is most conducive to avoidance of potential danger.  Activating repulsor beam,] the Zeromer thought.

    As Mika and Kris argued, the Zeromer stepped forward and thrust her hand with the open energy well forward.  A thin beam of force shot out and struck Mika in the stomach, knocking her down.  Sergei turned, screaming for his wife, and the Zeromer shot him in the hand, shattering the Pokéball.  She then turned her hand on Kris... and paused.  She stared into Kris's eyes, both frightened for his parents and frightened of her, and quickly came to a conclusion.

    [Youth human unit, Subdesignate: Kris tried to assist this unit.  Attacking to aid in flight will not be necessary,] she thought, kissing him lightly on the forehead.  She smiled, said "Zeromer," and ran off, quickly heading out of the storage garage area.

    Kris stood there for a moment, stunned.  She... kissed me... he thought.  A slow smile spread over his face.  She likes me...

    Another thought occurred to him, and he turned to check on his parents.  Mika was fine, just a little winded.  She was picking herself up off the ground, going to attend to her mate, who was shaking his hand in pain.  Sergei's hand was hurting, but he was otherwise all right. 

    "You guys okay?" he asked.

    Mika nodded.  "Yeah.  She just wanted to get away, I think..."

    Kris nodded, and started running after her, following the Zeromer's footprints in the gravel.  His father quickly reached out and grabbed him by the shoulder.  He winced, having grabbed him with his damaged hand, but ignored the pain and said,

    "Whoah, where do you think your going?"

    Kris scowled and shrugged his father's hand off.  "After her.  She's hurt and needs our help."

    Mika shook her head.  "No, Kris.  We can't help her if she doesn't want to be helped.  Aside from that, she's probably in the forest by now."

    "I don't care, I have to help her!" Kris said.

    "Why?" Sergei asked, "She's not your responsibility!"

    Kris shook his head, suddenly at a loss for words.  "I... I don't know, all right?  I just have to help her!" he said after a moment, starting to run off.  He paused briefly, turning back and chuckling, "Hey, you know how I'm always dismissing my girl buds becoming Pokégirls?  Maybe this'll help me get over that."

    He then ran off without another word.  Sergei and Mika stared after him.  Then Sergei chuckled.  "Well, I'll be.  Our little boy's starting to grow up."

    Mika frowned.  "We should still go after him," she said, unrolling the nearby carpet and making it float again.

    Sergei nodded.  "Right.  Let's move," he said, hopping on the carpet and willing it forward.

The nearby forest...

    Kris ran as fast as he could, following the trail left by the Zeromer's heavy bootprints in the soft dirt.  He was breathing heavily, his heart pounding in his chest, but knew he couldn't stop.  As ridiculous as it sounded, he had a strong desire to help this girl, to be there for her.  He had NEVER seen a Pokégirl in such a condition before, and it bothered him greatly.

    "I'm coming to help you, Zeromer!!  Don't worry!!" he called out, still following her trail, not really looking at what was in front of him.

    He never noticed the other set of footprints.


    Deeper into the forest, the Zeromer had picked up on his call and was confused.

    "Zeromer?" [Illogical.  This unit is not connected to him.  Why is Designate: Kris tracking after this unit?] she thought.

    She shook her head and was about to move on when another thought occurred to her.  [Is Designate: Kris aware of the danger in this forest?]

    Memories of the offer of help Kris gave her flashed through the robotic Pokégirl’s mind, as well as the fact that he tried to talk his mother out of using her spell.  After some brief consideration, she ran back in the direction she came in.

Back with Kris...

    Kris stumbled on through the forest, wincing as brambles and tree branches scratched him.  His jacket snagged on a thick branch and he had to ditch it, but he continued on.  He followed the footprints of the Zeromer until he came to a sudden stop, rebounding off a pair of immense, black-furred breasts on a thick, muscular chest. 

    Kris shook himself off and looked up... and immediately wished he hadn't. 

    A Panthress was standing over him.

    "Oh CRAP..." he said.

    The hulking, muscular Pokégirl glared at him.  Her dark, midnight black fur made her almost invisible in the shadows of the forest, even with light shining through.  The immense muscles in her biceps and thighs bulged with each step as she stalked towards him.  Kris crab-walked backwards, trying to get the hell away from her, but she was too fast.  She reached down and grabbed him by his shirt, lifting him up with one sharp-clawed hand until he was eye-level with her, the frightened young man staring into the golden, wrathful eyes of his captor

    She roared in Kris's face, elicting a scream from him as her muzzle opened wide, revealing razor-sharp fangs.  She then threw him hard.

    A burning spike of pain shot up and down Kris's back as he collided with a tree, mercifully missing all of the knots and branches, and he slid down to the ground, barely able to move.  He groaned in both pain and fear as the Panthress sauntered over to him and crouched next to him, her thick tail swishing back and forth as she dug her claws into the tree.

    "Manscum," the Panthress growled in a low, deep voice, "Panthress take what Panthress need from you.  If you lucky, you get crushed by Panthress legs during taming."
    Kris gulped.  He didn't want to know, but he felt compelled to ask, "And if I'm not lucky?"

    The Panthress grinned toothily, gripping his face roughly.  "Panthress vent.  Manscum get ventilated," she said, chuckling softly.  She then removed her claw from his face, slapping it lightly and moving it down to his pants.  She growled and ripped the front off of them, tearing his belt and the crotch off and throwing it aside.  She pulled him forward so that he was laying flat.  Kris, by this point, was sobbing and begging for his life, the Panthress ignoring him as she straddled him, licking her lips as she prepared to force his member into erectness so she could slake her lust on him.  But before she could, an iron-clad fist shot out on a jet-powered piston, striking the Panthress in the jaws with an audible crack before retracting.

    The Panthress, suddenly confused and enraged, looking around furiously.  Kris did as well, and both spotted the Zeromer standing a few feet away, her arm retracting from use of her Rocket Punch attack.  However the retractor jets died out too quickly, leaving the Zeromer's arm still halfway out of her socket, locked into a clenched fist position.  The Zeromer began pulling the piston back with her other hand, trying to retract it quickly.  Kris gasped, realizing that she came back despite being so weak, and that she was risking herself for him. 

    He then realized that she was now outmatched greatly.

    "You... you help manscum!?" the Panthress said, growing more and more furious, "You... gh... ghraa... GHRAAAAA!!"

    Roaring in fury, she left Kris on the ground and pounced on the Zeromer.  She grabbed her still outstretched piston arm and snapped the piston, the Zeromer letting out an agonized shriek as the Panthress threw the forearm aside, the broken piston leaking fluid, the arm's hand still clenched in a fist.  She clutched at the last of the piston still attached to her, oily tears flowing from her eyes as she glared up at the Panthress.  The Panthress snarled and raised a claw to gut her, when a rock bounced off the back of her head.

    "Leave her alone!" Kris yelled.

    The Panthress turned back to him, snarling, and Kris gulped.  Perhaps this wasn't my most well-thought out idea... he thought, slowly backing away.  The Panthress growled angrily, and prepared to lunge again, when Kris heard something that made his heart leap with joy.

    His mother's voice.

    "Atrum vox vomica meus inimicus per pulex!!!!"

    The Panthress's eyes suddenly widened.  She stood up and roared in frustration, scratching herself all over, desperately trying to relieve a sudden, intense itching sensation she felt.  And when she felt the small bits of crawling on her skin, she realized what was causing the itch.

    "RRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAARRRR!!" she bellowed, running deep into the forest to look for a river to try and wash off her infestation, the horrible itching taking priority even over her hatred of the Zeromer and Kris.

    Sergei and Mika flew up on the carpet, Mika getting off before it was even close to them and running up to her son, hugging him tightly.

    "Oh gods... Oh my baby... I'm so sorry..." she said over and over.  Kris, who, despite his relief at the banishment of the Panthress, was more than a little weirded out by the fact that his bare crotch was so near his mother.

    "Mom, really, I'm fine..." he said, gently pulling her away so he could look her in the face.  "What'd you do to her?"

    Mika chuckled, tears still flowing down her face.  "One of the first spells I ever learned.  That Panthress now has the worst case of fleas in history."

    Kris chuckled, but was quickly brought out of it by his father's next words.  "We really need to get out of here and report this.  Also, I think your friend needs help."

    Kris looked over to the Zeromer, who had picked up her severed arm and was trying to stand up.  She smiled weakly, said "Zero... mer..." and collapsed, unconscious.

    Sergei sighed and pulled out another spare Pokéball.  He leaned over and tapped it on the Zeromer, the ball triggering and capturing her and her severed limb without resistance.

A few hours later...
Sailoon's local Pokécenter....


    Kris paced nervously in the waiting room, his mother and father sitting on a nearby set of chairs, waiting for some word on the Zeromer.  He had given a new pair of pants and underwear to replace his old ones and had his back injuries healed by a light dose of white magic.  After the Zeromer had been taken back to the emergency ward, he and his family had been told to wait outside.  Kris had been pacing ever since, his parents staring at him worriedly. 

    "Kris, please, sit down.  We'll get a word on her when we get a word on her," Mika said.

    Kris shook his head.  "I can't help it.  I'm worried about her."

    Sergei gave his son a thoughtful look.  "Tell me though... Why?"

    Kris blinked. "Huh?  Well... I don't know..."

    Sergei frowned.  "It just seems a marked change from how you were this morning.  I mean, I know you're attracted to her, but still, she's just a Pokégirl."

    Mika scowled.  "Sergei..." she started.  Her husband whispered into her ear for a moment, and she smirked, going silent. 

    Kris shook his head.  "Dammit, that's different!  You saw how she was!"

    Sergei nodded.  "I did.  So what?"

    Kris stared at his father incredulously.  "Dad... Why are you being so heartless?  No one deserves to be treated like that, to be beaten like she was!"

    Sergei shrugged.  "Facts of life, son."

    Kris shook his head angrily. "No, it isn't!  Dammit Dad..."

    "Yes, actually, it is," Sergei said, stunning his son into silence.  Sergei sighed, and continued.  "Son, life as a Pokégirl isn't all sex and superpowers.  You do know that there are some girls born feral, right?"

    Kris nodded slowly.  "Yes..."

    "Do you understand what that means?"

    Kris shook his head slowly.

    "Some girls live in the wild.  They are forced to live off of the land, fight off other Pokégirls, and possibly kill and eat them.  Some girls are Feral, however, because their masters didn't take care of them.  That Zeromer was willing to risk her life to help someone that was even remotely kind to her, a sure sign that she had a previous master, and an abusive one.  She's most likely been on the run for a while, not getting that much to eat.  And sadly, it's a lot more common than you think."


    Sergei sighed.  "Not all tamers are like your friends, Kris.  Instead of Ivan, the Karakoff sisters could have easily ended up with someone who'd abuse them, who'd beat them, starve them when he or she was displeased.  Who'd deny them the taming they needed, or trade them off to someone possibly even worse when they felt they were done with them.  And there are some who'd probably try to kill them just because they were Pokégirls."

    Kris went pale as the sudden dose of reality hit home to him.  Sergei sighed, and continued.

    "You were lucky, Kris.  This town is very pro-Pokégirl rights, and you've been raised among people who respect Pokégirls as a little more than just fucktoys," he said, looking directly into his son's eyes, "But not everyone is like that.  Your mother and I saw too much of that in our travels.  We've been trying to protect you from that, but I'm starting to see that we were wrong in doing so.  It's the responsibility of a Tamer not just to take care of their Pokégirls, but to set an example for others.  To show that we as humans are more than just animals.  Pokégirls like your mother, like your friends, like the Zeromer, need people.  They can't be independent, like humans can.  That Panthress, she's one of the results of what happens when you abuse a Pokégirl."

    Kris staggered back, falling into a chair and staring down at the floor as all his father said sunk in.  After a long moment, he looked up and asked, "What can I do?"

    Sergei frowned, and conversed with Mika.  After a couple minutes, Mika said, "I know you said you didn't want to, but if you truly want to help, you can become a Tamer.  It's a big responsibility, and we're not sure you're ready for it, but you have to start somewhere.  Like with the Zeromer."

    "Take care of her, son," Sergei said, "Treat her well, train her, and make her stronger.  I can make the arrangements for you to get your Tamer's license.  She, and any other girls you acquire along the way, will be your friends, companions, and yes, bedpartners.  It's your responsibility to tend to their needs, Kris.  And a good way to start would be Taming the Zeromer."

    Kris sagged in the chair and rubbed his temples, trying to think.  All this was nearly too much to for him to take in at once. 

    The next few minutes passed in silence as Sergei and Mika watched their son's face change, from an expression of confusion, to fear, and then finally, to resolve.

    "Things are really like that?" he said softly, startling Mika at how quiet her son's normally loud and brash voice was.

    Sergei nodded sadly.  "Your mother and I retired because we had passed our prime, had done all the good we felt we could without resulting in our deaths.  We made sure that the rest of my harem made it to good homes, and started a family.  But even with what we did, we only made a small difference."

    "Then what can I do?  Even if I do tame this Zeromer and set out as a Tamer, what if she gets hurt again?"

    Mika sighed.  "That would be your responsibility to bear, son.  Your father trained us, found new spells for me and helped the others in the harem become stronger, more skilled.  He protected us as we protected him."

    Sergei nodded, and added, "It's a hard life, son.  But it's a good life.  And sometimes, just a small difference can mean more to someone that a grand, epic change."

    Kris looked up, and both Sergei and Mika were a little startled to see the determined look in his eyes.  "I think... I think I want to apply for my Tamer's license now."

    "Well, that's good," said a soft, almost musical voice from near the door to the emergency room.  Kris and his parents turned, seeing a blonde-haired Megami in a nurse's uniform standing there.

    "How long were you..." Kris started, shaking his head, "Never mind.  How is she?  Were you able to save her arm?"

    The Megami nodded, smiling warmly.  "Oh yes.  Zeromers are a durable breed.  The nanotechs in her body were repairing her almost immediately, and to reattach her arm all we had to do was hold the broken piston together.  It repaired itself and retracted right in.  Her main problem is that she was hungry and in need of Taming.  I don't think she's been Tamed for over three months, really.  She's been fed, and her armor has been taken for repairs.  She's still a little sore, but she'll make a complete recovery, I think.  She's resting in one of our recovery rooms now, if you'd like to see her."

    Kris smiled.  "I'd like that, thank you."

    The Megami smiled and gave him directions down the hall to the room he wanted.  Kris nodded and ran off, the Megami giggling as he left.

    Sergei gave the Megami a curious look.  "Just how long were you there anyway?" he asked.

    The Megami grinned mischievously, the markings on her face glowing.  "Long enough," she said.

Recovery Room 36...

    The Zeromer flexed her arm again, testing the strength of it, flexing her fingers.  It was an illogical thing, she knew, as her repair systems were fully operational now that her belly was full and her HUD display said that her arm was fully attached again.  However she still felt the need to test it now and again.

    [Conclusion: After suffering severe trauma, such as loss of limbs, some units may feel the need to make sure that their reattached limb is still there for a long time.] she thought, recording this data for later reference.  After that was settled, she continued to scan the room, patiently waiting and studying everything. 

    The door opened suddenly, and the Zeromer gripped the table, startled and scooting back a little as her instincts to flee from any potential danger kicked in.  Her scanners, still mostly offline due to her Feral state, immediately began analyzing the person entering the door.

    "Umm... Miss Zeromer?" said a quiet voice.  The Zeromer blinked, a memory file kicking in as she recognized the voice and relaxed.  "Can I come in?"

    "Zeromer," she said, her voice an even monotone.

    Kris opened the door stepping into the dimly lit room... and immediately blushed.

    The Zeromer was sitting on the table, completely nude and unashamed of it.  Her silvery skin reflected the room around her, and she sat with her legs spread, her arms behind her back, giving Kris full view of her sex and her bountiful breasts.  The cybernetic, gear-like devices that made up her knees and elbows, connecting her limbs together, made a soft grinding sound as she moved to a more comfortable position, which, unfortunately for Kris, meant spreading her legs a little wider.

    Kris composed himself as best he could and stepped inside the room, shutting the door behind himself.  He coughed, and approached her cautiously.

    "I'm... ah... glad you're okay," he said, grinning nervously.  "I wanted to..." despite himself, he found himself staring between her legs and at the soft, silvery mounds of her breasts.  He coughed, composing himself, and continued, "...to thank you for saving me back there."

    Gods she's beautiful... he thought, feeling the crotch of his pants start to grow uncomfortable. 

    Zeromer stared at him curiously, analyzing Kris as he spoke.

    [Data: Unit designate Kris is pleased to see me, however is hesitant.  Unit Kris also is showing signs of arousal, if this unit is reading his physical signs correctly.  Conclusion: Kris is unused to sexual feelings and experiences, however this unit is causing him to become aroused.  Searching active database for proper response...] she thought.

    Kris stayed about halfway between the bed and the door, unable to make himself go closer.  He had seen Pokégirls before, but being close to a real, live, and thoroughly naked one (that didn't want to kill him, at least), was more than a little disconcerting.

    "Umm..." he managed after a few moments.  How do I do this?  How do I start things with this robot girl?  I've never DONE anything like this before!  I... wait, don't they like learning new things? he thought, desperately trying to remember something from his occasional studies of his father's Pokédex.

    "I... want...  *ahem* I want offer you some... some new data..." he said, cursing himself inwardly.  It was a lame thing to say to this gorgeous woman.

    However, it seemed to be the right thing to say.  The Zeromer perked up immediately, a very interested look coming to her eyes, and smiled at him.  She sat cross-legged on the table and motioned for her to sit with him.

    [New data offered.  Preparing to record.  Also, Theorem: He wishes to try to win my affection and eventually initiate a Taming by giving me this data.  Logic: A most appreciated effort.  Illogic: He's such a sweetie, heh.] the Zeromer thought, the idea of learning something new proving to be an incredible turn-on.

    I can't believe that actually worked, he thought, coughing nervously and sitting down where offered.  He wanted to do this slowly, do this right, and that did not involve, in his mind, at least, just acting on the incredible hard-on he had.  It was difficult, and he had to look away from her bared sex, which was starting to look rather damp, and soft, round breasts, but he managed. 

    "Well... are you familiar with this area?"

    The Zeromer looked thoughtful for a moment and shook her head.  "Zero Mer," she said, still with that interested smile on her face.

    Kris sighed, and said, "Well, this is a really great place.  I've lived here my whole life, and can personally vouch for everyone here.  In the Spring, we have a Sadie Poken's Day festival and it is SOO much fun, even if you're not a Tamer!  There's a magic show put on by magic Pokégirls (my Mom's been in the last ten, it's been great, better every year), and all the restaurant owners donate lots of great food!"  He smiled warmly, remembering the last festival, starting to relax now that he was talking about something familiar.  "There's games of all kinds for both humans and Pokégirls," he said, continuing his story, "And they've revived some pre-Sukebe thrill rides as well!  Oh man, it's so much fun, especially when some of the Flying-type Pokégirls try to fly alongside the roller coaster carts."

    The Zeromer nodded, eagerly recording every bit of data she received, discreetly moving herself a bit closer to him.

    Kris barely noticed, a deeper blush being the only sign that he was aware of her getting closer.  He told a bit more about the festival, and then moved on to describe the town and various people he knew. 

    "Mikhail runs the storage area you were eating my bike at.  He's a great guy, but he's also a boozer.  He keeps trying to get everyone to drink with him.  Let's see... Oh yeah!  In town, there's Yuri, the principal of my high school.  He actually makes school fun for us.  He's good with computers, and has all the teachers use them to make these amazing graphics shows for the lessons.  He's amazing, you gotta meet him.  And there's Danika, the NurseJoy who runs the desk at the Pokécenter.  She's like, one of the nicest people that you've ever met.  She's as nice as a Megami, and I didn't even think that was possible!  She's always ready to help people, ask questions, stuff like that.  Hell, she even keeps fresh-baked cookies for people who use the Pokécenter, or just want to come to have a chat with her.  Hmm... There's also Daina, the Baker's wife.  She... eh..."

    The Zeromer was now sitting right beside Kris, holding one arm affectionately and smiling widely.  Kris blushed so brightly that his skin was turning as red as a Growlie's fur.  He swallowed hard, marveling at how well this was going, and continued.  "She's a Hound, and a little overprotective of her husband and kids, but she's a real sweetheart.  And she makes a chocolate-filled bread that's so good that it'll make you weep..."

    The Zeromer smiled, just letting Kris talk and recording all the information she was receiving for later.  As she stared at him, she thought, [Analysis: Unit Kris is seeking to become this unit's Tamer.  He has some potential, and reminds this unit of her previous Tamer, killed by that Panthress...  Too little data to make complete conclusion.  Further data is required.  However, this unit has a good feeling about this boy...]