Author’s Note: Back in February of 2007, RogueJedi
and I agreed to try a collaboration involving a mixing of our two story lines. We worked out some details and then real life became an issue and it got put on the back burner. Recently we decided that time had once again become available and determined to finish what we had started. This is a true collaboration, with parts written by myself and other parts written by RogueJedi
and then the two parts merged into one whole. I want to thank RogueJedi
for taking the time to work this out with me and I want to note that I enjoyed the exchange of ideas.
(05/17/99 Somewhere in Shady Shores, Southern Region, Sunshine League)
Richard O’Leary stood before the ornate desk of Ammon Castillo y Lopez, Vigo of the Night Watch criminal cartel. The older man behind the desk was in his late fifties but still looked as tough and intimidating as he did more than thirty years previously. His dark complexion and his even darker hair, beginning to thin and lighten with age, peered over the top of the papers he surveyed at his “favorite” agent within his criminal empire.
O’Leary stood an inch or two over six feet tall and his physique betrayed his power. Yet, Castillo knew the young man before him moved with a surprising grace and fluidity of motion that betrayed his cat-type ancestry in his family line. The twenty-four year-old was one of the top agents for the Night Watch and this newest task he was to be assigned would be an even greater test of his abilities.
The slight shift of movement behind O’Leary brought the Vigo’s attention to the other occupant of the room. The girl was a beauty, though the wag of her tail betrayed her eagerness to be back outside where she belonged. The Coyotits had sandy blond hair hanging down to past her shoulders, piercing green eyes and full perky breasts. Most of her body was covered in light fur and she wore a scowl on her face as she kept looking around her, always keeping an eye on her surroundings.
This was only the second time Castillo had actually met his protégé’s alpha. Normally, O’Leary had his Shadowcat with him, but he had sent her off on a mission as the two girls did not get along.
“Constanza, quit fidgeting! Show some respect for Senor Castillo.”
“Yes Master. Just want to be outside, not stuck in here.”
Richard sighed. This was the problem with his alpha, she felt uncomfortable being indoors when she could be outside and most likely getting into an altercation. He gave an apologetic look to his boss.
Ammon couldn’t help but chuckle. “It is okay my dear boy. They have their needs, just like we have our own. And I don’t mean to keep you.” He paused as his face took on a look of seriousness. “We have a . . . problem I want you to solve Richard, my boy. SLS has put a new director in charge of their Special Crimes Department. In turn, he is now specifically targeting us, and has dispatched agents down to this region.”
“Targeting us? Is he stupid?”
“No Richard, he is actually quite cunning. And he wants to be the one to finally bring down the vaunted Night Watch syndicate. But, we can’t allow that to happen. Therefore, I am putting you in charge of dealing with these new agents.”
Richard rubbed his jaw as he thought. “Eliminate them, my lord?”
“No. At least not right away.” Castillo continued to study the young man before him. “Gather intelligence, track them, and report to me. Initiative is good normally Richard, but not this time. Do not engage without my approval. I figure your Shadowcat, what is her name, will do nicely in that role.”
Richard nodded as Constanza sniffed in disapproval. Richard, hearing that, turned and glared at his alpha. “Yes sir. Will it be just me handling this, my lord?”
Castillo quirked his eyebrow at the look of disdain from the pokegirl in regards to the other, but he made no mention of it. “I will give you Becker and Wilkinson with their harems to back you up. But again, I must stress that intelligence gathering is the most important task right now.”
“Yes my lord. It will be done as you ask. Would you like me to get started right away?”
“Yes, as soon as your other pokegirl returns.”
There was a startled sound outside in the hallway as Ammon’s two bodyguards yelled when a Shadowcat suddenly appeared in front of them.
“And speaking of which, it seems as if she has returned my boy. Very well, you are free to go and prepare for this mission. You should probably concentrate your efforts near Diversity as we don’t want them getting down here.”
Richard bowed. “Yes, my lord. I won’t disappoint you.”
Ammon nodded. “See that you don’t. The consequences of failure would be most disturbing for you.”
Richard nodded silently and walked out of the office, followed closely by Constanza. Of course, the pokegirl turned a nasty glare on the smaller feline standing before her master. At five and a half feet tall and covered in purple and black fur, the Shadowcat looked exactly like a girl who could slink in the shadows unmolested even without using her Fade ability. Her only items of clothing were a tunic that was belted at her slim waist. Attached to that belt were a multitude of knives, some of which were obviously meant to be thrown at opponents.
The Shadowcat’s eyes were hard and filled with intelligence. And she couldn’t help but growl low in her throat at her fellow harem member as she watched her warily. The two had been distrustful of each other for the entire time Sierra had been in his harem, a little more than a year, Richard mused. He didn’t really care, as Constanza had managed to keep Sierra in her place whenever they fought.
“Yes Master. I neutralized Wallace’s two spies as you ordered sir. As you commanded, I made sure that Wallace and his harem would realize the folly of challenging the Night Watch and they quickly packed up and began moving away when they discovered the bodies of his Kunoichi and Eva.”
“Good girl. Very well then ladies, let’s go. We have a new task. It seems that the Sunshine League Internal Security Service has named a new director of their Special Crimes Division. The Vigo doesn’t like the change or that they seem to be targeting us, so we are going to deal with them.”
At the look on Sierra’s face, Richard paused. “No Sierra, we are not going to kill them. . .yet. But we need to keep tabs on them. So, first thing is to get on the road to Diversity. We will liaise with Carlos Becker and Eamon Wilkinson.”
“Yes Master. Do you want me to keep an eye on them as well Master?” Sierra looked up at her tamer questioningly.
“I’ve worked with Carlos before and I trust him to an extent. However, I have never worked with Eamon as he is relatively new. So, if you wouldn’t mind my dark kitten, I’d like you to keep tabs on him and his harem yes.”
Sierra stifled her displeasure at his demeaning nickname and simply nodded. “As you wish Master.”
“Good. While you are keeping track of the SLS agents and our own unknowns, the rest of the harem will be busy preparing for whatever action we will be allowed to take by his lordship.”
“Yes Sierra?” Richard sighed, knowing what his Shadowcat was getting ready to ask for.
“Master. . .do you think I earned the opportunity for taming?” She was a little hesitant but still she looked up hopefully at her tamer.
“Sierra, yes I think you did a good job, but if I saw the schedule correctly, it is Veronica’s and Constanza’s turn for taming tonight. You’ll just have to wait your turn. We are going to be very busy for the next few days.”
Sierra pouted as she looked over and caught the smirk on the Coyotits face. She gets tamed every night. I am getting sick of this. “Yes Master.”
As they began walking back to the pokecenter to claim Richard’s equipment and other pokegirls, Sierra was twirling one of her many knives in her hand. For her, the action was normally enough to soothe her and let her unhappiness be channeled out. However, today it was not working as well as it normally did.
Most people on the streets paid little attention to the three as they went about their business. Here in Shady Shores, or as some people called it Carnival City, the sight of a well-known member of the Night Watch syndicate was nothing unusual. In fact, the police themselves were known to be merely an extension of the criminal group.
Upon entering the pokecenter, they were greeted at the front desk by the NurseJoy
, known to everyone simply as Gina. With a smile, Richard sauntered over to her.
“Hello there Gina.”
The pink-haired Joy looked up at the smooth voice. “Hello Mr. O’Leary. What can I do for you today?”
Richard took a moment to admire the view of the NurseJoy
before speaking up. “Did all my pokegirls get run through a healing cycle yet?”
“Yes sir, all of them, with the exception of your Coyotits and Shadowcat sir. Would you like me to put them through one as well?”
Richard shook his head. “No Gina, frankly I don’t have time and I doubt they would need it anyways. But, I do need some more equipment if I can get it.”
“Certainly sir. Here are your pokegirls. Now, what can I get for you in the way of equipment?”
As Richard rattled off the list of equipment he needed, he took the pokeballs and put them on his belt. As Gina left to handle the resupply for them, he turned to Sierra and handed her two pokeballs and his tent.
“Sierra, take Scorscia and Veronica and head out to our normal camping spot. I want to see the camp prepared by the time Constanza and I get there, is that understood?”
“Yes Master.” He’s probably going to tame her here as well. Dammit, why do I get stuck in the same harem as the one Coyotits who cares more for herself than the group. She managed to keep the scowl off her face as she promptly teleported to their regular campground a few miles from the outskirts of Shady Shores.
Richard turned to his alpha and smiled. “After we get the rest of the equipment,” he murmured into her ear before nibbling on her neck causing the pokegirl to shudder, “why don’t I take care of that little itch of yours, and you can take care of mine.”
Constanza beamed happily. “Yes Master, I would be happy to.”
* * *
As she popped into being next to the small stream where her master preferred to camp, Sierra quickly dropped her pack and bent down to grab the two pokeballs containing her harem sisters. As she released the Ocelolita and Growltit, she began to pull out the tent from the pack.
“Sierra? Where is Master?”
“He was in the Shady Shores pokecenter with Constanza,” she replied to the inquiring Growltit. “He said he wanted the camp prepared by the time he arrived here.”
“You mean that he’s taming her while leaving us to set up camp again? How is that fair?”
“You shouldn’t complain Veronica, at least you get to be tamed tonight. I just spent the last couple days performing duties for our illustrious tamer, and I haven’t been tamed in nearly a week.”
“What do you want me to do Sierra?” The soft voice came from the shorter cat girl.
“Scorscia, you and I will set up the tent and organize it. Veronica, if you could gather some firewood for tonight, and set up a fire pit for cooking, I would appreciate it.”
The Ocelolita nodded and immediately began to unpack the tent and supplies they needed as Sierra quickly moved to help her. The Growltit nodded and trudged off to begin gathering supplies for a campfire, grumbling under her breath all the while.
Within two hours, the camp had been set up and there was still no sign of their master. The three settled down to wait, Scorscia cuddled up in Sierra’s lap as the Shadowcat rocked her and purred softly, enjoying the closeness with her harem sister.
A short time passed before Sierra’s ears perked up and she picked up the sound of two individuals moving through undergrowth nearby. She put down her sister and quickly faded before going to make sure it was her master and Constanza. Once she was satisfied, she snuck up behind the Coyotits and spanked her before becoming visible again.
This caused Constanza to squeal and turn, trying to attack Sierra who quickly dodged and faded away again before she could be touched. However, Richard’s stern voice prompted both girls to stop and face him. Sierra reappeared before her master as he glared at her.
“Sierra, just what do you think you are doing?”
“Sorry Master. I was just making sure it was you in the underbrush and not some unfriendly tamer. I couldn’t help myself from taking a shot at Constanza when the opportunity presented itself. Forgive me.”
“I’ll give you forg--”
Richard quickly squelched his alpha’s loud protest as he continued to glare at Sierra. For her part, she did not back down against the threat in either individual’s eyes.
“Right. Sierra, you are going to be punished. You lose your taming slot this week. I will not tame a little bratty pokegirl who plays childish games.”
The Shadowcat’s eyes narrowed as her jaw dropped. “A whole week more Master? You can’t be serious.”
“Oh, I am most assuredly very serious you little tart. You will have to live with the consequences of your actions. I’ll allow Constanza to choose someone to take your slot this week.”
The grin she gave Sierra was enough to make the smaller Shadowcat hiss in displeasure. “Yes Master. I think it is only fair to give. . .your newest girl Sierra’s slot. Scorscia can take her place.”
Richard nodded, “So be it. Scorscia will have Sierra’s taming slot this week.” Of course Richard O’Leary wasn’t a fool, he knew exactly what his alpha was trying to do. While he didn’t want to see it go too far, as Sierra was an integral part of his harem, Constaza was obviously trying to drive a wedge between the two.
“Now then, since that is out of the way girls, let’s head to camp. Oh and Sierra, you will be teleporting us to Diversity tomorrow morning. It is too far to walk the nearly five hundred miles and get there in time for us to fulfill our duties.”
A sullen, “Yes Master,” was the only reply Richard received. He kept his face impassive as he walked to the campsite, followed by a pleased Constanza and a dejected Sierra.
(05/24/99 1720 Blue Continent, 1020 Shady Shores, Sunshine League)
“Senor Escobar, how are you today?” Ammon Castillo y Lopez leaned back in his chair and nodded to the screen. “I understand you have a problem that you would like me to address.”
Carlos didn’t miss the careful wording and decided to ignore it. “Senor Castillo, I am well. Yes, we have problem that I think your organization is uniquely suited to handle.”
Lopez looked faintly surprised. “I’m unsure how we share in your problem, old friend.”
Carlos smiled easily. “If not handled properly this problem may cost me the ranch and end your supply of quality pokegirls.”
“You are a good friend, Carlos, and losing you would be a personal blow, but it would not interfere with my organization nearly as much as you would think.”
Escobar nodded. “Then Senor Castillo, I apologize for taking up your valuable time. I wish you a good day. Adios, senor.” He reached for the button to disconnect the call.
His finger was on that button when Castillo spoke. “Stop.”
Carlos felt like crying out in joy, but managed to have only a slightly puzzled expression on his face. “Yes, Senor Castillo?”
“Perhaps we can help you with this matter if it causes you so much distress, for the sake of our friendship.”
Gotcha. Carlos nodded. “You are too kind to me, Senor Castillo, but I will accept your offer.”
“Yes, I am.” Castillo nodded graciously. “So, why don’t you tell me of your problem?”
“In less than a week my ranch will be inspected. If the inspectors find out about our relationship then the SLS may become involved, I could be closed down and the ranch could be dissolved at worst. At the best it would be placed under new management and they might not be interested in having a relationship with you.”
Castillo laced is fingers together across his flat stomach. “I see. Who are the inspectors?”
“Branwyn and Devon Harris. They will be arriving in Diversity sometime around the first of June.”
“Tell me about them.”
“The pokegirl is a Unicorn. Devon is a Tamer from the Blue League and the leader of the Harris Conservatory, a rich pokegirl ranch from there.” Carlos smiled. “He’s young, merely sixteen.”
“He’s the leader of this place? Interesting. How rich is this ranch?”
“Very. It’s been around for almost three hundred years and deals only in rare and valuable pokegirls.”
Castillo looked at the ceiling for a moment. “If by chance something unfortunate were to happen to this Devon Harris, would this ranch be willing to pay to ensure his safety?”
Carlos smiled inside. His face showed only concern. “Senor Castillo, heaven forbid something happen to the young man, but it is a well known fact that the Harris Conservatory has very large cash reserves and a great many rare pokegirls available at any given time. I am sure that these assets would be available for use if Senor Harris were in any sort of difficulty.”
Castillo smiled. “While I sincerely hope he stays safe, it is good to know that he can be taken care of should anything happen, god forbid.”
Carlos returned the smile with a small one of his own. “God forbid.”
(05/27/99 1930 Blue Continent, 1230 Diversity, Sunshine League)
“Richard, I have some work I want you to do.” Ammon Castillo y Lopez looked out of the screen on O’Leary’s com.
“Of course, Senor Castillo, I am at your command.”
“I am glad to hear that, my friend. In a few days there will be coming into Diversity a young man by the name of Devon Harris. He’s from the Harris Conservatory in the Blue League, an old and very wealthy pokegirl ranch. He’s going to be inspecting the Hina Home Ranch in Blowjob. Well, he was.”
“I take it you want something to happen to him. Something final?”
“Oh, no, Richard, you mistake my intent. I want him to spend some time in our company until this Conservatory can come up with the necessary funds to secure his freedom.”
“I understand, Senor Castillo. Will you be requiring an identifying item?”
“It would be for the best. A finger or an ear will do nicely.”
“I will leave the others watching the SLS and handle this personally, sir. I will let you know once Senor Harris is my guest.”
“I knew I could count on you Richard. It is my understanding that he has reservations at La Posada de la Conception. I’ve sent you a picture, he’s quite striking. Adios, mi amigo.” The screen went dark.
O’Leary looked up. “Constanza, there’s been a change of plan. We need to arrange for a kidnapping.”
The Coyotits looked up from a piece of jerky. “Who’re we taking?”
“He is a foreigner by the name of Devon Harris.”
“How do you want to do this?”
“We’ll watch him for a little while and then snatch him at a good time.”
“It’s about time Sierra did something useful.” The Coyotits snickered. “If she does well enough, maybe you’ll bed her.”
(05/29/99 0800 Harris Conservatory, Blue Continent)
“So anyway Devon’s taken care of the reservations in Diversity and we’re staying at the best hotel they’ve got. Once we’ve had a day to get over the time difference we’ll be moving on to Blowjob and the Hina House Ranch.” Branwyn sipped at her tea and looked up at the screen. “Escobar is paying for it, so I guess that’s all right.” She frowned. “I don’t like being away from you for so long.”
Shikarou looked out of the screen at his alpha. “I’m not pleased either. Stress to him that this is his only opportunity to get his proficiency. Let him know that if he screws it up I’ll leave his ass hanging in the wind next time.” His eyes narrowed. “No, tell him that there will not be a next time. Never mind, I’ll tell him myself.” He took a deep breath. “Make sure he gets whatever training he needs on this trip.”
“Don’t worry, my love, I will. So what are you going to be doing while I’m gone?”
“Waiting.” He glanced to the side, out of the camera’s viewscreen. “Paperwork. “Lynn has tons of paperwork for me to do.” He flashed a grin. “It’s a good thing most of it is electronic.” His grin came back. “Don’t worry, I’ll be sending you your share.”
“I love you too.” She shook her head. “Something doesn’t feel right.”
“What do you mean?”
‘I get these feelings sometimes. Unicorn precognition, I guess. I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
Shikarou didn’t hesitate. “Cancel.”
“I can’t. We both know this has to happen. If it doesn’t, not only am I stuck doing inspections for the Conservatory but Poppet is upset at us. If she’s going to be a member of our family we need to work with her.”
Shikarou rubbed his cheeks. “Yeah, you’re right as usual. I’ve rearranged the comsat orbits to ensure we have uninterrupted realtime coms at all times. Use it. I’ll be ready to come to your rescue if you need it.”
“Is Selene making more satellites?”
“Yes, but it’ll be a little while before they are ready. This space limitation shit is playing havoc, I’m used to putting a weaver into orbit and having it replicate itself a couple of dozen times. When I can I’ll put a couple of them someplace underwater, but they won’t have access to the same amounts of raw material.”
“Is there anything I can do?”
“No, but Pythia will be transporting me to the asteroid base. Once I’m there I’ll be examining it with an eye towards turning it into my own base and harvesting asteroids for material. I may just have to bite the bullet and either evolve or acquire a StarlightXpress
.” He frowned. “How are you getting there?”
“I’ve already used the Urufu secret teleportation technique and visited a place about a half a kilometer outside of town. That way I don’t have to depend on Devon getting me there.”
“Ok. Keep in touch.”
She nodded. “I will. Be careful at the base.”
“Oh, I’m going to wait until you are back before going. I wouldn’t want you to miss out on the fun.” He looked off to the side. “I have to go. I love you.”
“I love you too, Shikarou.” The screen blanked. Branwyn got up and went looking for Devon.
She found him at his desk and dropped into a chair. “So, when do we leave?”
He glanced up. “Well, the Sunshine League is seven hours behind us and we can’t check into the posada until after noon, local time. That means we can leave here at 1900 and get into the inn without waiting.”
Branwyn nodded. “I’ve been there, so transports not going to be a problem.”
He blinked. “Good. I was going to send Paulette through a pokeball transport, but this is perfect.” He frowned. “I know we are going to be there for several days doing the inspection and was curious about what you were going to do about taming?”
“Are you offering to tame me?”
He looked embarrassed and slightly interested. “If I need to I will.”
“Devon, you’re sweet but I’ve made other arrangements.” She gave him a frank look. “I’m married and I take that very seriously. I’m also delta bonded and I take that seriously as well.”
“Oh.” He looked nonplussed for an instant before regaining his composure. “That’s good to hear.”
Branwyn gave herself a mental shake. “Unless we find any problems the inspection of the Hina House should only take two days. Are you expecting to find problems?”
“Shikarou told me about what he’d found out about the place.”
I know he didn’t tell you everything. “Yes, the stories about the place aren’t good, but if we find that many problems we may just have to make our report and let the chips fall where they may. I’m willing to give a ranch a chance to correct its issues, but if it has too many I won’t hesitate to recommend that its license be pulled.”
“I know, it’s just I’m hoping it’s not that bad.”
“So am I. However, our duty to the pokegirl ranch community is very clear. Ranches that break either the local league laws or the international agreements are in violation and will be reported as such. That’s the only way to keep the ranches from becoming whorehouses and slave dens for pokegirls.”
Devon nodded. “And that’s what we’ll do.”
(05/29/99 1930 Blue Continent, 1230 Diversity, Sunshine League)
Devon let go of Brawnyn’s hand and looked around. The Sunshine League was in the northern hemisphere along with the Blue League, so the seasons were the same. Other than that it looked a lot like home.
Branwyn glanced at him as he released Zelda. The Peekabu looked around and pulled up the hood on her cloak. “I am ready, Devon.”
“Good. I want to keep a low profile so you’re my only escort other than Branwyn.”
“A Unicorn isn’t exactly low profile. Are you going to put her into her pokeball?”
Branwyn raised an eyebrow. “He doesn’t have my pokeball. I do.”
Zelda looked surprised. “You get to carry your own pokeball?”
She nodded. “Yes I do, depending on the situation. Shikarou wanted me to bring it in case I need emergency healing but I am not going into combat for Devon, so that shouldn’t be an issue.”
Devon looked curious. “What if someone challenges me for you?”
“Refer them to Shikarou. Devon, if my presence becomes that much of a problem I can always return home and catch up with you later, but you are not going to act as my Tamer.” She gave him a hard look. “I saw enough of your penis when I was changing your diapers.”
He flushed as Zelda giggled. “Right. Let’s get to the hotel.” They headed for Diversity.
Branwyn glanced upwards. Aggie, communications check.
Final integration is complete. Your twee is functioning perfectly. Both Selene and I can hear you just fine.
Good. Let Shikarou know I’ve arrived safely and that I’ll call him on voice once we get to the hotel where we are staying.
He acknowledges your message and will be waiting to hear from you. Are you still having a bad feeling?
Yes I am.
I will be ready if you need help.
She blinked. Thank you.
Diversity was an odd blend of old and new. The city had never suffered the attacks of the legendaries during Sukebe’s attacks and so much of the original Mexican architecture was still visible. It had a permanent population of over half a million and seemed to hum with activity.
The Posada de la Conception wasn’t too far from the outskirts of town and the walk was a nice one. Devon glanced at Branwyn. “Are you still having those bad feelings?”
She kept her voice low. “According to Stardust there are several types of telepaths. Some are strong receptors while others are strong transmitters. I am not a strong receptor.” She sighed. “That being said, yes, I’ve still got that feeling that someone is measuring the spot between my shoulder blades for a knife. In fact, it’s stronger now than it was at the Conservatory.”
“I know better than to ignore it when a Unicorn has a bad feeling. Do you have any recommendations?”
“I don’t know enough and that’s starting to really aggravate me.” She shrugged. “Be ready. I think something is going to happen.”
“Soon. Maybe. That I don’t know. Sorry.”
“Do you think you should stay in my hotel room? Defending one room would be easier than two.”
“Maybe.” She gave him a speculative look. “Devon, I know you’ve wanted to get in my panties since you were eleven. I also know that hasn’t changed. Can I trust you to behave?”
Zelda looked surprised.
Devon grinned. “And if I don’t?”
“I’ll hurt you. A lot. And then Shikarou will probably kill you.” Her eyes darkened. “If you are lucky that’s all he’ll do.” She shivered. “There are worse things than death, Devon. I’ve seen them. Don’t anger him. I’ve never seen him angry and I don’t think I want to.”
An astonished look appeared on Devon’s face. “Worse than death?”
“Trust me on that. If it came to a situation where my options were death or what I’ve seen, I’ve already made Shikarou promise to kill me.”
“I thought you loved him?”
“I do. Love is complex, Devon, and different for each of us. I love Shikarou because he’d make that promise and keep it, not in spite of it.”
Devon sighed. “I’ll behave.”
“Good.” She gave him an impish smile, “because you’d have to go back to the Conservatory to get into my panties. I didn’t bring any. If Shikarou is around they tend to get shredded.”
Zelda laughed at the look on Devon’s face.
(05/29/99 1930 Blue Continent, 1230 Diversity, Sunshine League)
Sierra spied the three individuals walking into Diversity quite easily. From what she could tell, the Unicorn and the human were in front, with what appeared to be another pokegirl, possibly a Peekabu, trailing just a bit off to the side and wearing a hooded cloak. She shook her head at that and examined her target.
This Devon person certainly has a lot of pokegirl blood, he looks more pokegirl than human, even if he is male. That thought would have made her previous self, Keira Davenport, sneer in contempt. However, she was now Sierra, a pokegirl, so she felt it was useless to worry about such things. Besides, he certainly is handsome in a way.
As she used fade, she closed on her quarry, tailing them and trying to pick up pieces of their conversation. The three were talking and carrying on, so as she kept creeping closer to them as they made their way to the hotel Senor Castillo had informed her master the man was staying at, she catalogued everything they were saying.
Interesting, the Unicorn is not his own pokegirl. Who is this Shikarou though? Maybe Richard will know more.
Her tamer was already waiting in the lobby of the Posada de la Conception, seemingly minding his own business. Sierra knew that he wanted to have a ‘chat’ with this Devon Harris person.
As they walked to the hotel and Sierra trailed them, she also kept a lookout for other individuals. Therefore, she was not too surprised to see a known member of the SLS also surreptitiously tailing the threesome. She made a note of that, and which agent it was so that her harem sisters would be able to take her out, while she turned her intense gaze back to the foreigners.
It would be so easy to just hurl my knives into their backs and then start attacking them. While I know I am no match for that Unicorn most likely, the other girl and the human wouldn’t be that hard to take out.
The only thing that kept her from doing so was her master’s orders and to be honest with herself, she despised what she had become under his leadership. She was his assassin, and Sierra knew very well that if she was ever captured by SLS, she would be lucky to get a level 5 taming cycle.
As they passed a park, she stopped her pursuit and made her way to the limited shade a grove of trees afforded before pulling out the com unit Richard had given her. She quickly keyed in his com code and waited for him to respond.
“Master, Devon Harris and the Unicorn are just passing Diversity Central Park on their way to the Posada de la Conception. He also has another pokegirl out, what appears to be a Peekabu.”
“Good. Keep tailing them here Sierra. Maybe if you do it right, you’ll get a reward… eventually.”
Sierra couldn’t help the low growl in her throat as she listened to her master say those words. She was almost tempted to not tell him some of what she had heard, but decided that she couldn’t withhold it.
“Master, there is something you should know that no one told us before. This Unicorn, Branwyn …she is not the target’s pokegirl, but belongs to another tamer. I overheard her mention the name Shikarou two or three times. I don’t know what that means, but I thought you should know.”
“Fine, fine Sierra. Just do your job right this time. And don’t worry about some other tamer. He’s not here you silly tart, so he can’t do anything to stop us in time.”
The Shadowcat bristled and abruptly cut the connection and powered off her com unit, growling low in her throat. One day. . .one day Richard O’Leary, whatever it takes, I will kill you. After all, you are the one who taught me and ordered me to kill your human targets, so I’ll show you how well I can do my job then.
She quickly sped up to continue following the threesome, not even bothering to disappear this time. In her mind, she was wondering if she shouldn’t give herself up to this Devon Harris. But, she wasn’t ready to do that yet. She was still worried about Constanza if she betrayed their master.
(05/29/99 2000 Blue Continent, 1300 Diversity, Sunshine League)
Zelda pulled back her hood once the hotel was in sight and closed up on her Tamer. In a low voice she asked, “Did anyone else happen to notice that we are being followed?”
Devon nodded. “Yeah.”
Branwyn chuckled as she shifted her backpack to a more comfortable position. “Which one are you asking about? There are two of them and they don’t appear to be working together.”
Zelda’s ears flipped. “I only saw the woman who was talking into her sleeve. There was another?”
Devon snickered. “That’s the one I saw, too.”
“There’s a feline following us too. She came out of the park and started following us, but she’s working very hard to stay out of the woman’s line of sight. Keep your voice low, she’s always got one ear pointed at us.” She glanced at Devon. “You’ve got the harem handy, you’re in charge.”
He flexed his claws as he thought. “We go on to the hotel. If there are going to be problems I don’t want to reveal my strength until someone starts something.” He shook his head minutely. “The wench with the wrist mike may be government, those things tend to be standard government equipment, but I have no idea why they would be interested in me.” A ghost of a smile flickered. “They issued me one when I became a courier.”
Zelda snickered quietly. “The famous Devon Harris good fortune with the authorities might be starting to act up again.”
“Oh god, I hope not. I really don’t need that right now. We’ll go ahead and get both rooms. Maybe that will confuse them a little.”
Branwyn smiled. “What happened to your government radio?”
“I pitched it. You might as well wear a sign that says low level flunky.”
The doorman nodded to them and opened the door to the Posada. “Hola, senor.”
Devon blinked as they went inside. “I don’t suppose anyone speaks the local lingo?”
Zelda turned a laugh into a cough. “Only if they speak English or Gaelic.”
“No.” Aggie can translate if I need it, but Escobar is supposed to speak excellent English. However, Devon doesn’t know about my twee and that’s none of his business. I just wonder if I can hide it from Ming Die.
Once inside Devon looked around and headed for the front desk. Before he could reach it, however, he was intercepted by a tall, well muscled man. He was in his mid twenties or so and carried himself like an experienced Tamer. “Senor Harris?” His eyes roamed over Branwyn and Zelda, assessing.
“I’m Devon Harris.” Devon noticed the man’s accent held a hint of something not of the Sunshine League. “May I help you?”
He gave Devon a toothy smile. “Senor Escobar wanted me to make sure you arrived safely.” His smile saddened. “Sometimes foreigners have regrettable encounters with the local criminal element and Senor Escobar wants to avoid that at all costs, so he asked me to be your guide. I’m Robert McConnell
and I must say it’s good to see someone from home.”
“Thank you, Mr. McConnell
. I appreciate your assistance, but we’ve only been in Diversity for a short time and everything’s been fine.” He noticed a Coyotits lounging on a nearby couch with an amused smirk on her face as she watched them. Her body language insinuated that she was probably McConnell
’s. “I just want to check in and get some rest so I can reset my internal clock. I’ve no plans to go braving the city.”
“Excellent, Senor Harris.” Robert produced a card. “If you need to get in touch with me, feel free to. The night life is excellent and a short trip out might revitalize you.”
Devon smiled. “Thanks but I’ve got all the excitement I need right here.” His nod included Branwyn and Zelda. “I’m sure I’ll be kept quite busy.”
The Unicorn grinned and took Devon’s arm. “That’s right.”
Robert shrugged. “If you change your mind…?”
“You’ll be the person I call. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get checked in.”
“Of course, enjoy your stay.” Robert wandered out of the hotel as Devon went through the checking in process. He noticed the cat Branwyn had mentioned standing close enough that she might be able to hear his conversation with the concierge if her hearing was good. She was ostensibly reading a brochure for some local cantina and paying them no mind. He wondered what kind she was but scanning her with his pokedex would be rude.
He received his keys and noticed that the cat had gone into an elevator.
“Think we’ll see her on our floor?”
Branwyn shrugged. “We’ll know soon enough.” She snagged her key and pushed the elevator button. “Let’s find out.”
Devon was opening the door to his room when the cat came by. She wore a puzzled expression and was headed back to the elevators. On a wild impulse he turned to her. “Problem?”
She jumped and her hand twitched towards her belt. “Sorry, sir, I just got off on the wrong floor.” She hurried past him and down the hall as Branwyn went into her room.
Zelda gave him an amused look once they were inside their room and the door was shut. “That was mean, teasing her like that.”
“I just couldn’t resist.”
There was a knock on the door and Zelda checked the peephole. “It’s Branwyn.”
“Let her in.” Devon was releasing Siobhan. “Go back to the Conservatory and fetch my sword please.”
The Nogitsune nodded and checked her watch. “In trouble already? I think that’s a new record.” She gave him a lick on the cheek and vanished as Zelda shut the door behind Branwyn.
“I saw our kitty.” Devon chuckled when Branwyn nodded.
“I did too. She’s a Shadowcat. Did you talk to her just to cause trouble?”
“She looked lost. It was a legitimate response.” He sighed. “Who do you think she works for?”
His eyes widened in surprise at her response. “Robert.”
“Ok, I never expected that one, what makes you think that?”
“She and that Coyotits really don’t like each other. I’m an alpha and I look for those subtle signs of trouble in my harem.” She stretched. “They had that attitude that they knew each other, it was obvious in how they didn’t acknowledge each other’s presence. They worked very hard not to look at each other at all. You’d have to be a pokegirl to see it. I’d guess there’s bad blood between them, too. There was a tension.” She smiled. “I think they aren’t used to working together, at least not in such close proximity. That would also be likely to be because their Tamer kept them apart, another sign of bad blood. I wouldn’t count on it in a fight, though, we are pack creatures and anyone outside of the pack is automatically worse than anyone in the pack.”
Branwyn’s eyes narrowed. “I’d recommend ordering room service and packing it into a bag for later disposal. I’ll make dinner.”
“Suspicious aren’t you?” It was Siobhan. She handed Devon his sword.
“Feel free to eat it. Devon has a PPHU in case I’m right. I, however, will pass. If you don’t like my cooking I’ll get some food from Helen.”
(05/29/99 2035 Blue Continent, 1335 Diversity, Sunshine League)
“They are in two separate rooms Master. The room numbers are 411 and 412, right across the hall from each other, as Senor Escobar said he arranged.”
“Very good Sierra, maybe you are learning something finally,” replied Richard O’Leary as he continued to stroke Constanza’s furred body. “I will be notifying the Vigo shortly that we have made contact and inform him of our plans.”
“Yes Master.” The Shadowcat paused for a few heartbeats. “Master? That Unicorn makes me extremely uneasy. When I was upstairs, she just kept watching me as I walked past them, even after the target decided to ask me a question.”
Richard felt his face reddening at that. “And you weren’t going to tell me you spoke to him? What did he ask? What did you say? Dammit, failure is not an option here Sierra, and if you cause us to fail, you will regret it for eternity.”
Sierra shrank back a little at the venom lurking under the surface of Richard’s words. They were in a somewhat public location, but given the attitudes of humans towards pokegirls throughout areas of the Sunshine League, she didn’t want to have his anger unleashed on her.
“He simply asked if I had a problem Master. I simply looked confused and mentioned that I must have hit the wrong floor. I doubt he really knew the truth. But that Unicorn might be a problem.”
Richard backhanded the Shadowcat before he could stop himself. “Why didn’t you use your fade ability, you stupid little tart? We can’t let them know exactly what is going on. So screw up again, and I will send you back to Escobar and let him do whatever he wants to you, got it?”
Sierra dropped her gaze and responded very quietly, “Yes Master.” With that, she teleported away up to the roof of the Posada de la Conception before Richard could say anything else.
Constanza had just watched the encounter between her tamer and her despised harem sister. As soon as she disappeared, she looked up at her master. “She’s going to cause trouble. Just watch and wait.”
“Enough Constanza. I’ll deal with her later. Meanwhile, I must contact Senor Castillo.”
Richard punched in the com code for the Vigo of the Night Watch and waited until his face appeared on the vid screen. “Greetings my lord.”
“Ah, Richard, my boy. What news do you have?”
“Senor, we made contact with the target. Sierra was able to verify the rooms they were assigned. According to Senor Harris, he plans to stay in tonight. If I can’t draw him out, we will incapacitate him as well as his harem, and take him there.”
“You said rooms Richard. Explain.”
“My lord, apparently the Unicorn, Branwyn, is not one of Harris’s pokegirls. According to conversation Sierra overheard as she was tailing them, the Unicorn belongs to another tamer. Someone by the name of Shikarou. For whatever reason, she has her own room.”
“I see. And how are you planning to handle her?”
“The same way my lord. Incapacitate her and then take her. I figure that she would become another powerful bargaining chip for us to use. But, either way, we will make our move tonight.”
Ammon nodded. “Very well Richard. Good hunting. I will inform Senor Escobar. If you fail and do not prevent Harris and the Unicorn from arriving in Blowjob Richard, your life is forfeit. Am I understood?”
Richard turned pale but nodded solemnly. “Yes my lord, you are understood perfectly well. It will be done as you order.”
* * *
(05/29/99 2200 Blue Continent, 1500 Diversity, Sunshine League)
Sierra sat quietly with her thoughts on the rooftop of the Posada de la Conception. She rubbed her cheek lightly where her master had backhanded her. The physical pain was negligent. But yet again she sat cursing the emotional pain such an act gave her.
The memories of the last two years were still raw and very fresh for her. Her threshold into a pokegirl. Her beatings from her father. Her sale to the Hina House Pokegirl Ranch. Her ‘training’ at the hands of Carlos Escobar. Her purchase by the Night Watch and her first tamer. His execution and her being gifted to Richard O’Leary. Mattias, and then his subsequent failure and transformation into Scorscia. Constanza and her master himself.
Her only way of carrying on had been following the orders of her tamer. She had once been a rich and spoiled human girl, her family powerful in the anti-pokegirl bastion of Windy Shores. Then she became a thief and pickpocket. And now, she was a spy and assassin.
How many have I killed? I can’t remember. There’s been so many of them. She looked down at her hands, with the sharp claws tipping them. There are so many times I hate what I have become.
She continued to sit there, staring out upon the city spread before her…just thinking.
(05/29/99 0000 Blue Continent, 1700 Diversity, Sunshine League)
Tess shook her head. “I agree with Branwyn. If they are going to try something, then they’ll do it tonight.”
So what do we want to do about it?
Ming Die gave Devon a direct look. I don’t like the idea of waiting in here like ChickenLittles for the farmer to pick who gets the axe first. And I agree with Branwyn as well, my premonition is indicating that something bad is going to occur and soon.
Lamya frowned. “What if we did the same thing we did on the Tampopo and change rooms? Then they can wander the hotel all they want and never find us, or we can counterattack if they do hit us tonight.”
Devon shrugged. “That sounds great except that we don’t have Jennifer here to make the changes in the computer.”
“Aggie could.” Branwyn spoke for the first time. She’d been avoiding any involvement in the conversation, after all this wasn’t her harem and if Devon kept coming to her for advice, someone in his harem would eventually get angry and rightly so.
Devon frowned. “Are there rooms open immediately above or below ours?”
Branwyn checked her handheld. It made a convenient fiction while she accessed Aggie through her twee. “Above this room is an empty one. I can have it put into the system as being out of order for maintenance. Do you want it?”
Devon grinned and so did Ming Die. “Yes. We’ll move to that one and if someone attacks this one we can either run or hit them from behind. Personally I’d like to hit them.”
Branwyn frowned. “What about the people in the rooms around this one?”
“I’ll keep the property damage as light as possible.”
“It’s your decision.” Branwyn sent a thought at Aggie. If we end up doing any fighting here, I want you to change the computer records to indicate that we checked out this afternoon and are long gone.
I will. I’ll even pay the bill for you and edit the video records.
“Tess, organize the move.” Devon smiled happily. “This is like old times.”
They took the stairs up to the next floor and Ming Die used her telekinesis to unlock the door to room 511. The room was smaller, but the icemaker in the little fridge worked and since the room was officially unoccupied the minibar was soon empty. Branwyn created a tremendous platter of sandwiches and a tray of tea. Everyone grabbed some food and settled down to wait.
05/30/99 0800 Blue Continent, 0100 Diversity, Sunshine League)
Richard glanced at his pokegirls. “Don’t screw this up.” He held up the master key to the two rooms. One of hotel employees owed some gambling debts and had come up with the key when contacted. He only had one key, but no problem. The Unicorn would go down quickly when faced with Veronica and Marisol, his Blastits. Olympia would provide backup for them.
Upstairs Ming Die opened her eyes. It’s starting.
Branwyn nodded and vanished as Devon moved to stand next to his Alaka-Wham. Wait until they open the doors.
Richard slid the key into the door to the Unicorn’s room. The lock clicked quietly and Veronica turned the latch to keep the door open as he turned to unlock Devon’s door.
Constanza shoved Sierra behind her. “Stay out of the way,” she hissed. The Shadowcat glared at her alpha’s back and thought fondly of her knives. Scorscia moved back uncertainly to stand with her, which apparently suited the Coyotits.
Richard slid the key into Devon’s lock and turned it. He glanced back and raised three fingers. Every second he folded one down and when the last one went down both doors opened and the Night Watch team sprang into action.
Veronica and Marisol charged into the room ready for three scenarios. No Unicorn, a sleeping Unicorn and a Unicorn spoiling for a battle. The lump in the bed said scenario two was in effect and the Growltit jumped on the bed while the Blastits grabbed for Brawnyn’s feet.
“Psst, hey!” Marisol’s head whipped around at the whisper and Yushiko stabbed her through the eye, her enhanced strength driving the blade in until there was a grating sound as it was driven a centimeter out of the back of her skull. Veronica threw herself off the pile of blankets screaming. “TRAP!” The sound of combat from across the hall suggested that the warning had been a tad tardy. Yushiko dropped her katana and grinned as the Blastits collapsed.
Sierra pulled Scorscia further down the hall to get away from Constanza, but not so far as to make Richard think she was shirking her responsibilities to the team. This meant that when Rhiannon teleported in behind Richard and Constanza, Sierra and Scorscia were behind the Dark Lady as she let go of Lamya. The Shadowcat responded almost instantly, using backstab on the Enchantress, who screeched and folded as Scorscia used slash at the same time. Sierra started to finish her off, but hesitated as black armor flowed up out of the Battle Enchantress’ skin and the chance was lost.
Rhiannon spun and glared at the Shadowcat. She looked down at Lamya and a smile flicked across her face. She kicked the Enchantress lightly. “Stupid witch. Maybe master will get rid of you now.” She looked up at Sierra and the smile grew terribly as her energy blade sprung into existence. “I will show you a fight, little cats.” Scorscia screamed and ran.
Constanza flung the door open and darted through with Richard on her heels. Devon was not in the room but there were two pokegirls he’d never seen before, a platinum haired very near human and an Alaka-Wham. The very near human was speaking as they charged in. “Hatsumi thinks Ming Die should have first attack. Hatsumi thinks is only fair before Hatsumi makes curry.”
All right. Ming Die’ telekinesis slammed Richard and Constanza back out the doorway and through the wall on the other side of the hallway. The people staying in that room screamed and scrambled for the safety of their bathroom.
Constanza staggered to her feet and looked down at the critically injured human. “SIERRA, GET HIM OUT OF HERE!” She charged Hatsumi and Ming Die with a scream of rage.
Ming Die used her telekinesis again, this time pulling Constanza forward and through the wall on the other side of the room. Her scream faded away as the Coyotits fell the four stories to the ground. Suddenly it cut off. Sorry, it was your turn, wasn’t it?
The Shadowcat teleported to her Tamer and looked down. “Richard, here let me help you.” She kneeled and drove her claws into his throat. “To hell.” She looked up as Ming Die hit her with several pieces of the wall and her world went black.
The Alaka-Wham glanced at the furious Demon-Goddess. You’d better hurry if you want a turn. Yushiko could use some help in Branwyn’s room. Hatsumi growled and blasted across the hallway.
The Alaka-Wham floated out into the hallway as Rhiannon went in pursuit of the Ocelolia. She paused and smiled slowly. Olympia. I can sense your presence. Soft or hard, how do you want to do this?
Olympia slowly became visible as she stopped using fade. “Please don’t kill me. I surrender.”
Hatsumi smashed through the wall into the room, catching Veronica in the center of the back and catapulting her forward as Yushiko hit her with mach breaker. The combined blows shattered the Growltit’s neck and spine.
Hatusmi growled again. Yushiko grinned. “Thanks. Now can you help me put this room out?” She gestured at the flaming bed and wall. “I don’t think our lords would be happy if this place burned down.”
Hatsumi laughed and cast watera.
Upstairs Devon shook his head and looked at Shikarou as alarms belatedly started sounding. “Ming Die says that Rhiannon has the Ocelolia.”
Shikarou nodded. “Pythia, please fetch any unconscious pokegirls, prisoners and that human’s pokeballs. Let’s sort out the injured. Leave any enemy dead where they are.”
The G-Spliced nodded. “Elizabeth, I could use some help.” The Vampire grinned and they vanished.
Devon shook his head. “It worked. I guess you were right about the consequences of too many pokegirls in those hallways.”
“Pokegirls aren’t really designed for close range battles. If we’d sent both our harems down there they would have been getting in each other’s way.” He sighed and looked at Branwyn. “Let’s evac everyone up to here and then Devon and I will be good customers and go outside like the fire alarm wants us to.” He smiled and slid to his feet. “Now that this room is registered to me, we have a reason to be in the building. Branwyn, give me a quick ride downstairs, I have an errand to complete.”
Five minutes later all pokegirls were in their respective balls and Devon headed down the fire stairs with Shikarou. He poked his head out the door to the fourth floor and grinned at the mayhem. The sprinkler system had let go and firefighting pokegirls and humans were searching the floor. Shikarou tugged on his arm and they went on outside.
Shikarou settled down on a bench to watch the dance of firefighters, paramedics, police and pokegirls. Devon joined him. “I’ve got a list of the pokegirls we ended up with. How do want to divide them up?”
Shikarou glanced at the display on Devon’s handheld. “All I did was protect Branwyn. All of the pokegirls that went after her are dead. Pity about that Blastits, I’ve been looking for a water type for a while.”
Devon gave him an amused look. “You live on an island. You must not have been looking too hard.”
“Ok, so I want one that’s already trained.” Shikarou shrugged. “I don’t want any of them. Marzia is proving to be, um, difficult. I think it may be because her programming came straight from Sukebe. In any case, she’s more than enough new pokegirl for me right now.”
Devon nodded. “I suppose that makes sense. I wonder if she would be classified as feral borne or domestic.”
“Her classification is pain in the ass, that’s what it is.”
“I didn’t know you liked that.”
Shikarou took a deep breath. “That leaves you an Ocelolita, a Shadowcat and a Cutey Charlie Angel. May I make a suggestion?”
“Sure. You have a competent harem.”
“Thanks, I think. While you don’t have any true flying types other than Kathryn, you have plenty of pokegirls that can fly. You really don’t have much of a use for the Cutey Charlie Angel. The Shadowcat and the Ocelolita can both teleport and I think your recon forces are a little light. However, the Shadowcat did kill her Tamer and you’ll need to decide if she’s worth the chance she’ll try the same thing with you.”
Devon nodded. “I realized that, but I wanted to hold off on making a decision until I’d talked with them and had Ming Die go through their minds.” He grinned. “She’s not limited like Circe is.”
Shikarou just smiled. “Whatever you say.” He looked up as a fireman came out with a Whoretortle and spoke to the scene commander. Quickly paramedics grabbed boards and headed inside. “Looks like they are going to start bringing out the bodies.”
Devon frowned. “I’ll have Ming Die also examine our prisoners to see if they knew who was behind this.” He glanced at Shikarou. “I presume you want a little payback.”
“Branwyn wasn’t hurt and they suffered the loss of a Tamer and his team. I’m willing to call it even.”
“What if Escobar was behind it? He may try again. I don’t suppose you could stay for a while? I don’t know the Sunshine League very well and could use someone to watch my back.”
“Since you asked, I’d be honored.”
Devon stretched slowly. “Why didn’t we get in the fight?”
“Are you trained in close quarters combat?” Shikarou nodded when Devon shook his head. “I am and I still don’t like it. Urban combat against pokegirls is a deathtrap even when things go your way. Our pokegirls would have been so busy trying to make sure we didn’t get hurt that their effectiveness would have been greatly reduced.”
He snorted. “Whether you are facing pokegirls or not, urban combat is the nastiest, deadliest and most unpredictable type of combat there is. The other problem for us is that you can never know what’s behind the wall your pokegirl is heaving an attack in the general direction of. It could be nothing, it could be a bad guy or it could be a three year old child.”
Shikarou’s face set. “And from personal experience I can promise you that you do not want to accidentally kill a child. Not a one. And in a battle like this you can never be sure who killed the civilians who walked into the line of fire, you or them. You will always blame yourself. Even if you know your opponent did it, you’ll still question whether or not you could have prevented it some way and even if the answer is no, you won’t believe it.”
Devon gave him an astonished look. “You’ve killed children?”
He got the impression, as Shikarou looked at him for several minutes, that he was being judged. Finally the kami spoke. “I have. When my empress ordered me to an area, I was expected to destroy any monsters I found, no matter what their age. I have killed adults, teenagers, children and infants.” His face was as neutral as Devon had ever seen anyone’s. “I take no pride in what I did, and inside, where it matters the most, I take no solace in the fact that I was following orders. It is one of the few things I have done in my life that I feel shame for.”
“I’m sorry I dredged that up.” Devon touched Shikarou’s arm. “You are my friend and I apologize.”
“Thank you. I ask that you never bring that subject up again.”
Devon nodded. “I won’t.”
They were silent for several minutes, watching the police going in and out of the building. Finally Devon looked at Shikarou. “I should have led them outside, shouldn’t I?”
“I think so.”
“Why didn’t you say something?”
“This was your battle. You didn’t ask my advice.”
“Next time, please feel free to offer any advice you think I might need.” Devon gave him a direct look. “Please?”
Shikarou nodded. “Then I should tell you that this investigation will probably take several more hours. I would recommend having me complain to the hotel manager until he gets us a room somewhere else so you can go back to trying to reset your internal clock. Don’t worry about the pokegirls until tomorrow.” He shrugged. “I don’t sleep, so I can run them by the pokegirl center tonight while you rest.”
Devon nodded. “That sounds like a good idea. Do you feel like complaining to the manager?”
“Well he did let some hooligans destroy the floor of hotel below where I was trying to rest. I suspect I can give him quite an earful.”
“Then do it.”
05/30/99 1500 Blue Continent, 0800 Diversity, Sunshine League)
Devon looked around. They’d stopped about ten kilometers outside of Diversity and Shikarou had worked to setup a quick perimeter while he set about preparing to question the pokegirls they’d captured the night before.
After looking at the collection, he’d decided to start with the Cutey Charlie Angel. Since he didn’t intend to keep her, all he had to do was pull her out for a quick interrogation and then she could be shipped off to the Conservatory. They were very rare in the Blue Continent and it was quite likely that the Conservatory might end up being her new home.
Devon pulled her pokeball out of the stasis section of his pokepack and glanced at Ming Die. “Ready?”
I am. Circe is also monitoring this, she needs the experience.
“Whatever.” He released the Cutey Charlie Angel and watched her appear and look around. He gave her a moment to get her bearings. “My name is Devon and you surrendered last night to my Alaka-Wham. What is your name?”
She looked at him for a minute before answering. “Richard called me Olympia. What are you going to call me?” She frowned as she glimpsed Shikarou through the trees where he was working with Aggie on some files he’d found on McConnell
’s body. “Are you going to be my new Tamer?”
Reassure her. She’s petrified at the thought of being passed around again.
“No. After some questions I’m going to send you to my pokegirl ranch. It’s in the Blue League and you’ll be safe there. Your species is quite rare and it’s likely you’ll spend the rest of your life there.”
She nodded slowly. “Ok.”
Devon smiled reassuringly. “Now you called your Tamer Richard, but I knew him as Robert McConnell
She bobbed her head. “That’s one of the names he used, but his real name is, uh, was Richard O’Leary. He is dead, right?”
“Yes he is. Who did he work for?”
“The Night Watch.” She gave a shy smile at his look of incomprehension. “The Night Watch is the biggest syndicate in the Sunshine League.”
“Ah. What can you tell me about them and about him?”
An anxious look flashed across her face. “I don’t know much. Richard’s favorite was Constanza, his alpha. She’s a Coyotits and knows almost everything he does. He kept the rest of us in the dark.”
Ming Die touched his mind. Oops. Sorry.
“I’m afraid Constanza isn’t available. Would anyone else know?”
She shrugged. “Sierra might. She knows some stuff and did a lot of killing for him.”
“She’s his Shadowcat.”
I won’t be able to read her mind unless she lets me in or we drug her.
“Thank you, you’ve been very helpful.”
Olympia dimpled. “You are welcome. Talking with you is ok, you haven’t hit me yet.”
He sighed. “And I won’t.” He recalled her into her pokeball and turned to Ming Die. “Well?”
She’s not that bright but was quite accurate in how little she knows. Her memory had some names from conversations that she heard but didn’t register in her conscious memory but little more. She doesn’t even know the location of any bases although she was aware of one safe house. I’ll pass the information to Shikarou and see what Aggie can dig up, with your permission.
“Do it. I guess the Ocelolita is next.” Devon pulled her pokeball out of the pack and activated it.
As Scorscia materialized, she looked around in apprehension before she spotted a strange human male with blue hair before her. At his smile, she cringed back away from him a little bit.
“I’m Devon, the Tamer of the Dark Lady who caught you last night. Richard has suffered a mischief and you are mine now. What is your name?”
The Ocelolita whimpered softly and still looking around, as if searching desperately for someone, she whispered, “He. . .he named me Scorscia, Master. Where…where is Sierra? Please, where is she?”
This one has dependency issues and has some sort of attachment with the Shadowcat. Careful. Without Sierra she may be too fragile for questioning.
He nodded and moderated his tone. “Why don’t you tell me what you know about the Night Watch?”
Scorscia looked down. “The Night Watch is the largest criminal organization in the Sunshine League Master. They have been fighting Sliss since the founding of the syndicate. I. . .I used to be one of the minor agents for the Night Watch.” She sighed sadly as she remembered some of her past as Mattias Gonzalez. “But Richard took exception to my incapability and took me for his own. Sierra and Veronica were the only ones who have ever been kind to me. Where are they?”
The Sliss she is referring to is the SLS or Sunshine League Internal Security. Additionally, she was a male and was loveballed by Richard. Nice chap. I don’t think we should waste any tears on him.
“Thank you. What was Richard’s role in the Night Watch?”
“I-I d-don’t know Master. He was above me. He was rumored to be close to the Vigo, but I don’t know. I certainly have never met the Vigo, so I can’t answer any of that Master. Please don’t hurt me, I’m being honest.” She again flinched back with a shadow of fear crossing her eyes.
“Do you know any of the parameters of the mission which involved attacking me?”
“I swear I don’t know anything about that. I was just told to ‘do this or do that’. The only two Richard would have told would have been Constanza and Sierra. And Sierra probably got in trouble for initially refusing to follow his orders. I know he got angry with her a few hours before the attack.”
Devon nodded. “Thank you. I’m going to put you back into your pokeball again.” He recalled her and glanced at Ming Die. “That leaves the Shadowcat.”
Circe stirred for the first time. Up to this point she’d been just out of sight of the questioned pokegirls. “May I suggest that Shikarou sit in on this one? He has the ability to know if he’s being lied to and since we can’t probe her mind against her will…”
Devon nodded. “Would you ask him to join us, Ming Die?”
The Alaka-Wham cocked her head. Shikarou looked up from what he was doing several meters away and eyed her evenly before flicking his ears and wandering over. “Ming Die says you would like my assistance with something?” Dorothea stood watchfully behind him with her white wings tightly folded.
“I’m going to question the Shadowcat and I could use your help. Circe said you can tell when you are lied to. Would you use that here and now to aid me?”
Shikarou grinned and settled down, coiling his hair in his lap. “Sure.” He glanced up at Dorothea. “Could you back off just a bit? I don’t want to provoke her into something rash.”
“My lord, the answer to thy question is a resounding no. Allowing her free access to thee could give her the opportunity she needs, especially since she cannot teleport to freedom. From here, if she tries anything I can respond instantly.”
“No killing.” Shikarou’s voice was firm.
“I will not seek her life, my lord.”
He glanced at Devon. “Is that acceptable?”
Devon smiled. “I am so glad I don’t have any Celestial pokegirls. That’ll be fine.” He pulled out the Shadowcat’s pokeball and let her out. He took a deep breath. “My name is Devon and it is likely that I will be your new Tamer.” He nodded at Shikarou. “This is Shikarou and he’s helping me during this questioning.” Shikarou flicked his ears in greeting. “By the way, questioning is all that will happen right now. So what is your name?”
Sierra looked up at the crowd around her, fearless and challenging. To be honest, the number of people crowded around unnerved her as she was alone and the Alaka-Wham that had crumpled her to the ground with rubble was standing there. Thankfully, that one wouldn’t be able to just read her thoughts.
“My name is Sierra, at least that is what that goddamned piece of shit called me. Will that be sufficient for you, Master?” The emphasis she placed on the term indicated that she wasn’t sure she trusted him, and it didn’t help that she was surrounded, including the one whom she correctly guessed was the Unicorn’s tamer.
“Feisty.” Shikarou looked amused.
Devon gave him a glance. “If you’d prefer another name, I usually rename pokegirls when they join my harem. If I’m willing to keep you, you might want to be thinking about what you want to be called, otherwise I’ll pick something. Now, what can you tell me about the Night Watch?”
Her eyes made contact with Devon’s, appraising and searching before she sighed and answered. “The Night Watch is the largest criminal organization here in the Sunshine League. It is also the only one that hasn’t been compromised by the SLS.”
She paused and took a breath before continuing on. “The syndicate is run by the Vigo. An honorable man in his own way, though definitely a criminal. He was always nicer to me than Richard. His name is Ammon Castillo y Lopez and his headquarters are in the town of Shady Shores which he controls, regardless of what the League officially says. Nothing else is really important about them.”
“What can you tell me about Richard and his job with the Night Watch?”
“First of all, Richard is a bastard. Completely unscrupulous and with barely any honor whatsoever.” She paused for a moment. “Even so. . .Richard was the Vigo’s favorite. There were rumors that in the next couple years, Senor Castillo would name him his designated heir. Considering he would be the first ever outsider named to that post, well. . .you can imagine some of the traditionalists’ reactions. But Richard managed to silence them, or rather he had me do so.”
Shikarou snorted and Devon looked over. “Another little thing about them that could turn out to be important is that if Richard was the Vigo’s protégée, he might take Dicky’s death rather hard and possibly try to punish us for it.”
Devon sighed. “Aye, that could be a mite important.” He turned his attention back to Sierra. “So, what can you tell me about the mission involving me?”
Sierra’s eyes darted around the group as her throat went dry. A light growl escaped her throat as she started feeling like she was being pressed in by the group, though she shivered trying to control herself.
“We were sent to Diversity to deal with Sliss. Specifically the new head of the Special Crimes department. He had vowed to bring down the Night Watch. However…” She looked away for a moment and spoke softly. “However, a few days ago, the Vigo contacted Richard and ordered him to focus attention on you. We were supposed to apprehend you and hold you for ransom. I didn’t see why at first, but yesterday Richard mentioned the name of Senor Escobar.” As she said his name, her growl became fierce and she showed her sharp teeth. “Something about Escobar being upset if we screwed up, which got me wondering. . .after Richard backhanded me and removed me from the taming rotation for the third straight week, for being seen in the hotel.”
“Escobar does a lot of business with the Night Watch. Several pokegirls in the syndicate come from the Hina House Pokegirl Ranch. Veronica, Richard’s Growltit and one of the only two girls I was close to in the harem, was one of them.” She stopped, not wanting to disclose that she was as well.
Devon gave a grim smile. “I think I’m going to have some pointed questions for Carlos when we get to his ranch.” He glanced at Ming Die. “Maybe I’ll let Hatsumi ask him, she’s got a way with people.”
A way of preparing them for consumption, perhaps.
He chuckled. “I’m still trying to decide if you are worth the trouble of trying to keep. What can you tell me about yourself?”
“I’m not sure what I can tell you that you would believe. Let’s just say I’m a threshold girl who was forced to become a pickpocket, thief, and then thanks to the bastard, an assassin. That is why I killed him. As for who I was, you wouldn’t believe me so why bother? It doesn’t matter now anyways, I’d be crazy to try going back home, especially considering how. . .well that doesn’t matter, does it?”
She sighed. “Veronica is dead I figure. We were close so I have a pretty good idea that she’s gone, isn’t she?” She waited for his nod before going on. “What about Scorscia? Your Dark Bitch didn’t kill her, did she? If she did, I swear I will retaliate.”
Devon gave her a smile that was mostly teeth and very little humor. “Let’s get something straight here. You attacked me. The ones who died got what they deserved and you will not try to take revenge for my family protecting itself. Now it just so happens that Rhiannon took Scorscia into custody and she frightened but otherwise fine, but that changes nothing. I’ve got a Mini-Top who just learned what happens if you try to create vendettas within the harem and if I have to, I can probably arrange it so you attack Shikarou too.”
Shikarou just sighed and rubbed his ears. “Poor misunderstood kami,” he muttered.
Sierra scoffed. “Oh, certainly Constanza deserved to die. . .stupid bitch. And I’ll even grant Marisol deserved to die. And you can be assured Richard deserved to die.”
“But tell me. Are you one of those Tamers that orders one of your pokegirls to do something, and then blames her when it gets done? Because the only reason Veronica deserved to die, or anyone else even, is because Richard ordered her to be there. You don’t disobey your Tamer, and certainly not someone like Richard O’Leary.”
Sierra looked down and sighed audibly. “She wouldn’t have, especially not after watching what he would do to me anytime I refused to carry out one of his executions. But, besides Constanza, Marisol, and Richard…I am probably the only other one who would deserve to die. I knew what we were doing, and while I certainly didn’t agree with it, I still followed orders. And I did take down your one pokegirl, though your Dark Lady was very pleased that I had done so. You would think she has a problem with someone.”
Ming Die blinked and Circe winced. She’s dropped her shields. I do not believe she is aware of what has happened. She is very full of pain and anger. Very little of it is aimed at you.
Devon nodded slightly. Keep monitoring.
Sierra stared into Devon’s eyes, not shrinking away from him this time at all. “It is either one or the other. Whose fault is it that we were there? Whose fault was it that we were Richard’s pokegirls? If Veronica deserved to die, then you are saying that it was her fault that Carlos Escobar sold her to Richard O’Leary, just as he sold me to the Night Watch.”
When she realized what she had just said, Sierra blanched and dropped her gaze and shook her head. “You can not understand what it is like being a pokegirl here in the Sunshine League, Master. Believe me, I grew up in Windy Shores, you have never experienced a place like that. It leaves indelible marks on everyone, human and pokegirl.”
“You have a point.” Devon nodded. “However, the fact remains that you and your group was attacking me and Veronica died because the members of my harem were defending themselves. I won’t punish them for doing what I told them to and neither will you. If you have a grievance with me, then feel free to present it.”
“As for taking down Lamya,” he shrugged. “You were doing what you were supposed to. I don’t fault that anymore than I fault what Hatsumi did.”
Shikarou gave him a brief glare. “I would like to point out that Yushiko struck the killing blow and therefore any grievance she has with any Tamer would be mine first. Besides, I’m more likely to survive her grief and rage.” He turned to face the Shadowcat. “So if you are going to try to punish someone, it’ll be me first.” Dorothea started to say something but subsided when he shook his head without bothering to look at her. “I know what you want to say Dorothea, but this is my decision to make, not yours.” He smiled briefly. “Just keep your healing spells handy.”
She sighed loudly. “As thou commands, my lord.”
Devon rubbed his forehead. “While I’d like to argue with him,” he said quietly to Sierra, “it would be easier to stop the tide. Oh, and to answer your other question, no I don’t punish my pokegirls for success. I also don’t punish them for failure, but you probably won’t believe me right now.”
Sierra continued. “Scorscia was one of the few people who ever was kind to me, when she or he was Mattias. I was close to Mattias and so Richard set him up with an impossible mission, and when he couldn’t accomplish it, Richard used an illegal pokeball on him and he became Scorscia. She might be older than me, but I will do everything in my power to protect her. She is my family, all I have left at this point. As for me, I am wanted by Sliss for the death of seven humans and several pokegirls, killed on Richard’s orders. Though I will be the one to suffer, he only cared for Constanza.”
She looked at the Alaka-Wham. “And I know you killed her. I wanted to be the one to do that, just so you know.”
I did not kill her, the sudden stop at the end did. She smiled slightly. In any case tough.
Sierra nodded. “What else do you wish to know?” She shivered in fear at the thought of being abandoned or tossed aside again. If that would be the case, she would rather take her chances with the extreme torture the SLS would give her.
She is extremely worried about being sent away. It appears that her entire existence from the time she thresholded has been one of rejection and abandonment. Oh, and she knows Escobar and nurses a serious hatred towards him. Ming Die had switched to communicating only with Devon. Kindness would probably be rewarded with extreme loyalty but if you keep her you will probably have to keep the Ocelolita as well.
I see. Keep searching as long as you can. Devon made a decision. I’ll try to keep her. “I think you and Scorscia need to be thinking about what names you might like. I’ll be keeping you both.”
Ask Shikarou if he would be willing to either expunge her police record enough that I can take her into a pokegirl center without being arrested or change it enough that they won’t recognize her as being the one they’re looking for.
Ming Die nodded as Shikarou’s ears flicked. He thinks that this isn’t the brightest idea you’ve had, but he will help. He says that all of her murder warrants have been changed to littering and disturbing the peace. There will be some fines that have to be paid when you next heal her. He also wants to know if we are going to make camp for the rest of the day so they can be brought into the harem.
That will wait until tonight. I need to have a talk with Kathryn and Tess first. He gave Sierra an amused look. “So, before I return you to your pokeball for the time being, do you have any questions for me?”
Upon hearing that he was willing to keep her, she searched his face, trying to discern if he meant it, or if he was just saying that to keep her calm. She didn’t know what to do in a situation like this, as it had been so long since she could trust anyone.
“Name? I don’t know about Scorscia. Hell, I am not sure about what I would be willing to be called. Before I thresholded my name was Keira. . .” She let her voice fade away before she continued that thought. She wasn’t Keira Davenport anymore. There were four people she hated and feared more than any others. One was already dead by her hands, but the other three…
“You said something about Escobar. What do you have to do with him? Don’t tell me you are picking up pokegirls from there.”
“No. I’m from a pokegirl ranch in the Blue League and I’ve been tasked with performing an inspection of the Hina House ranch.”
She searched his eyes and then looked over at everyone else surrounding her. Tentatively she spoke up. “Master, if you are going to be my master, could you um, you know. . .ask some of them to back up. It is starting to unnerve me to be surrounded like this.”
She looked up at him hopefully, just wanting some space. She certainly wasn’t going to attack him, he hadn’t beat her yet, so she would not show any disrespect or anger to him until he did.
Devon shrugged. “Ming Die will stay, today she’s my bodyguard. Shikarou?”
“That should be plenty.”
Shikarou nodded. “Circe, tell Branwyn that we’ll get leaving in ten minutes and to start pulling in the security screen. Let Pythia know as well.”
“Very well.” She vanished.
“Come on Dorothea.” Shikarou popped to his feet and gave a dramatic sigh. “I know when I’m not wanted.” He threw back his braid and stalked off as Dorothea snickered and followed.
Devon watched them with an amused look. “So, I suspect you wanted to tell me something. I would recommend ignoring Ming Die’s presence, like I said, she’s not leaving and frankly since we’re delta bonded she’ll know what you say eventually.”
“Can I say something to you in confidence? I would prefer not to announce it to everyone here. There are three living individuals I want to kill. One of them is Carlos Escobar. The other two. . .well, they are personal. And I won’t speak of them here.” But believe me mother and father, I will come after you some time. And I will repay you for every single lash you gave me.
He cocked his head as if listening to a voice only he could hear. “I won’t let you kill Escobar out of hand and if you can’t control your impulses I’ll have to keep you in stasis for the visit. Shikarou’s going to take care of your police record and another murder would end that plan before it got started.”
He gave her a sly look. “And as for the rest, we have no plans to go to Windy Shores and I won’t have you wandering off alone. Is that clear?” He slid to his feet and frowned. “We’re going to be moving quickly, think you can keep up or should I put you in your pokeball?” He smiled slightly. “Shikarou sets a hard pace and it can be hard to keep up with him.” His voice dropped as he muttered to himself. “Sometimes he forgets that the rest of us are human.”
“I would really prefer not to be in a pokeball Master. Besides, I do know most of this area and that of the route towards Blowjob. I’ll be a good girl, but I can imagine that Carlos will be unhappy to see you, and I imagine even more upset if he sees me. Not that I mind that.”
She gave him a very tentative little smile, as she wrapped her tail around herself. “May I ask what you know of the Hina House Pokegirl Ranch, Master?” The pause between her question and the word master was slight, as if she was starting to feel more comfortable with an idea of such a thing. “I myself know plenty about the ranch and Carlos himself. After all, I spent a few months there after my threshold. I can be of some use, I promise.”
Devon shrugged. “I know he’s supposed to be a scumbag and if he got the Night Watch to try to kidnap me then I suspect the rumors are correct. You’ve already verified the he supplies the Night Watch with pokegirls and that would explain why he’s so keen on us not arriving.” He scratched his head. “I’ll check with Branwyn and see if she wants to keep you out while we’re at the ranch, I’m getting a proficiency at this and so she’s in charge. Keeping you out would rattle him, but the whole point may be moot. Shikarou now knows that Escobar ordered the attack on Branwyn and he’s likely to take that personally. If Branwyn can’t talk him out of it, Carlos may not live more than five or ten minutes from the time we get to the ranch.” His eyes narrowed. “Of course, even if Shikarou doesn’t kill him I just may feed him to Hatsumi.”
Tess came winging in and feathered to a landing. “Devon, Shikarou would like me to tell you to get your ass in gear.” She grinned. “Want me to drop some rocks on his head?”
“Yes. No.” He smiled slowly. “Only if you think you can get away with it.”
“I’ll see what I can do. Any message back?”
“Nothing nice, so no. We’re moving.” He hitched his pack onto his shoulders as the Armsmistress vaulted into the air. “Ladies, it’s time to go.” He glanced at Sierra. “I know a lot of teleporting pokegirls don’t get a lot of exercise in long distance travel. If you start to get tired, let me know.”
“I did, Richard liked to ride me hard. He normally kept me and Constanza out, the rest were not normally granted such things. I was typically a forward scout when we would hike, using my stealth abilities to keep a lookout. I’m pretty good at it, since you probably didn’t even know I was tailing you until after you passed the park back in Diversity. I had been waiting for you the moment you crossed within a quarter mile of the city limits.”
She gave him a soft look, while she thought he wasn’t watching. “Besides, I’ll let you know if I do get tired. I just don’t want to find myself in my pokeball and then next thing I know I am handed off to some other Tamer or worse, the SLS. What can I help with?”
“At this point, nothing. Stay close to me.” He looked at Ming Die. “Move out.”
(05/31/99 0400 Blue Continent, 2100 Somewhere in Shady Shores, Southern Region, Sunshine League)
Ammon Castillo y Lopez frowned as his com buzzed. It was his private com and as far as he knew, no one who had that code would be calling him right now. He decided to let the caller leave a message and ignored it for a time until he realized that it should have already gone to the message system and become quiet.
His lips pursed in annoyance and he pressed the receive button. A pokegirl appeared, a Unicorn. She smiled. “Greetings Ammon Castillo y Lopez.” He didn’t know her.
“Who are you?” He reached over and pressed another button.
“My name is Poppet and I am calling you from the Blue Continent.” She smiled as her eyes flicked to the side and back to him. “And there is no reason to try to trace this call since I’m more than willing to tell you that I’m calling from the Harris Conservatory.”
His eyes widened slightly. “How did you get this com code?”
“I have my resources, even within the Night Watch.” Her smile vanished and her eyes cooled. “In fact, Senor Castillo, I’m contacting you on your private com line to prove to you that what I have to tell you is serious, deadly serious in fact.”
Ammon began to get angry. “Speak and be quick about it.”
“Now, Senor Castillo, I suggest you calm yourself. Your blood pressure’s already high enough, isn’t it? At least that’s what your last physical showed.”
He froze. How did she know about that?
Her smile returned. “Now that I have your attention, let me explain a few things to you. I know you were behind the attack on Devon Harris in Diversity. I suspect you personally ordered the attack, but in any case I know you had to authorize such a high profile activity.”
“Unfortunately for you, you attacked a boy I’ve raised from a child and consider to be my son along with my daughter, who happened to be there.” Her smile broadened. “So I decided that perhaps I should contact you and explain that you might want to not do that again.”
Castillo regained his composure. “I am surprised that your daughter isn’t the one contacting me, if she was present at an activity that you lay at my door.”
Poppet raised an eyebrow. “Oh, she’d love to have this code, but if I give it to her she’ll give it to her Tamer, and if he had this code he would find out where you and then he’d pay you a visit. While there are only three real contenders to become Vigo if you died, none of them are mature enough to listen to my warning without doing something rash.”
“You ascribe a great deal of ability to this Tamer, perhaps too much.”
Her smile became wicked. “I have no doubts that if he came to pay you a visit, you would not enjoy the encounter and that he would survive it.”
“What is it that you want?” Castillo knew he sounded snappish and didn’t care. How dare this, this creature, threaten him?
Poppet nodded. “You are quick to get to the point. I prefer that actually. First, I have a message for you.” Her eyes narrowed. “The Night Watch is not to move against Devon or the Conservatory again. If any member of the Night Watch acts against me or mine I will hold you personally responsible. Yes, you, not any of your subordinates. And now, before you can respond with some kind of threat against me, a gift, Senor Castillo, a gift along with a warning.”
Ammon’s eyes widened as a strange Alaka-Wham appeared in front of his desk and smiled as she laid a box on top of it. “Sir, this is from Poppet.” She vanished.
Poppet watched his face with amusement. “I take it you understand my warning. I already have access to your office, which means I have access to you. Now if you ever need to get in touch with me, feel free to use my public access code.” She rattled off the code quickly. “Good day and enjoy your gift.” She vanished as the connection was severed.
Castillo stared at the box for several minutes before reaching out to open it. Staring up at him was the frozen head of Richard O’Leary. With a curse and a convulsive motion he shoved the box from his desk and watched it hit the floor. It wobbled precariously and for a moment seemed determined to overturn.
He pressed a button to summon a servant to deal with the mess and leaned back in his chair to think. This favor to Carlos Escobar had become too expensive by far. It was time to cut his losses. Now he just had to rebuild the force that was supposed to deal with the SLS. Richard’s loss would hurt and he could only pray that Richard’s pokegirls were dead, especially the Coyotits. She knew too much.
He frowned and looked up at the ceiling as he thought hard. It wouldn’t hurt to start a quiet investigation into where this Poppet got her information. He had a couple of personnel that he trusted implicitly, he’d put them on the case.
He also thought briefly about sending a team to revenge himself upon this insolent Unicorn, but decided that the risks outweighed any personal satisfaction he might derive. Someday, he thought with a smile, I just might be in a position to indulge myself.
(06/02/99 1720 Blue Continent, 1020 Blowjob, Sunshine League)
Devon rubbed his face with a hand, feeling the stubble rasp against his skin. Kathryn smiled. “Ye need to shave, husband, or else I’ll be having to let Maeve shave ye again.”
He returned the smile with an amused look. “I’ll spend my time near Branwyn. Maeve’ll never get close to me, now will she?”
The Ladyien snickered. “Yer right there. Still ye need to shave so as to be presentable to this Escoban.”
“It’s Escobar.” He sighed. “And it’s not like we had a lot of time for shaving, now did we?”
Kathryn gave him a sympathetic smile. “I guess ye are right. He certainly pushed us hard, didn’t he, even if we flew across the Gulf of California?”
They’d managed the almost 900 kilometers in three days, and almost half of that was on foot. Devon had calculated that they had been traveling almost eleven kilometers an hour for fourteen hours a day for that portion of the trip and he’d only made it by having Tess, Hatsumi and Paulette carry him for portions of it.
Shikarou had covered the entire way on foot. When Devon had asked, Shikarou told him that he was free to go on ahead, but this was a perfect time to grind Marzia’s misplaced sense of superiority down a mite and he had. He had run the Blazicunt into the ground, healed her and run her some more and the insolence she’d regarded him with at the beginning of this journey had been replaced with a weary respect.
Devon would love to be able to say that his harem had been there with them for the entire trip, but the truth was they’d never been pushed at this level before and weren’t up to it. It was galling, but Devon had decided that once they returned to the Blue Continent they would continue training.
The first night they’d been on the road he’d taken the opportunity to bring the Shadowcat into his harem. He’d decided to name her Alexia and she seemed pleased with it. Considering the Ocelolita’s separation issues, the next night he and Alexia had brought the Ocelolita, whom he’d named Lilja, in as well. Lilja’s taming wasn’t necessarily the most enjoyable session he’d participated in since she had a tendency to cringe at inopportune times, but they were his now and he was determined to give them what they needed.
He’d also noticed that both of them were kind of twitchy around Kathryn, but he suspected it had more to do with her rank in the harem than anything about her as an individual. He also knew, although he wasn’t supposed to, that his alpha had taken Tess and Hatsumi to talk to Maeve about bullying the new girls. She hadn’t really done anything, but Kathryn apparently wanted to stop trouble before it started. No one had needed medical care, so he wasn’t going to bring it up.
“So that’s Blowjob.” Kathryn shrugged. “I’ll admit it’s a sight larger than I’m used to, but more people isn’t necessarily better.”
“I’ll second that.” Devon sighed. “Where’s Shikarou?”
“Over there.” Kathryn pointed as Shikarou hopped out of a tree, making the seven meter drop look easy. “Men aren’t supposed to be able to do that,” she grumbled.
Devon chuckled. “That’s the reason Paulette doesn’t like him. He’s a lot like a pokegirl and he isn’t the slightest bit afraid of her. It doesn’t help that she heard about the fight he had with a Neo Iczel and won.”
Shikarou chuckled as he approached. “I didn’t win that fight, I yielded to Ruiling. That’s a loss.”
“How good is yer hearing?” Kathryn frowned as she asked the question.
“Good enough.” Shikarou stretched. “Branwyn has convinced me that pulling Escobar’s kidneys out through his windpipe would be counterproductive at this point, so you probably want to get to the ranch before he does something else to make me unhappy.”
“Ye aren’t angry?”
“I try not to let my emotions get that far.” He shrugged. “Bad things tend to happen at that point. Are you going to let Alexia out? I understand she has some negative feelings about this place.”
“That’s putting it mildly. She probably wouldn’t mind seeing a table full of Escobar’s organs. She probably wouldn’t mind filling the table herself.” He sighed. “Her family sold her to him.”
“Loverly. Who are they?”
“The Davenports of Windy Shores. I don’t know much about them other than the fact that they are a wealthy pure blood family and their daughter should not have gone through Threshold.”
Shikarou grimaced. “Even I’ve heard about Windy Shores. So they claim to be pure bloods, huh? It sounds like someone has some skeletons in their closet. Wanna rattle their house and see what falls out?” He grinned and flicked his ears. “I wonder what they’d think of me”
“Maybe we’ll visit the place later. Alexia hates them and I don’t want her anywhere near them. You just cleared up her record; let’s not waste the work you did.”
“Sounds good.” Shikarou grinned and tapped a pokeball. “Marzia’s ready for a rest, so I’m ready to go when you are.”
Devon nodded. “First stop is the pokegirl center and then we’ll call and let Carlos know we’re here. We’ll start the inspection in the morning.”
(06/03/99 1500 Blue Continent, 0800 Blowjob, Sunshine League)
“I’ll get it.” Siobhan peered through the peephole in the hotel door. Her ears canted and she glanced back at Devon as someone knocked again. “It’s Shikarou and company.”
Devon nodded and stopped the message from Letitia as he glanced at the clock. “I wonder what he wants right now. Let him in.”
Siobhan let in Shikarou, Elizabeth and Branwyn. Devon watched them and smiled slightly. “To what do I owe the honor of your company? I don’t believe we were going to leave for an hour yet.”
Shikarou nodded. “Aye, you’re correct, we aren’t. However, Elizabeth is distressed and I needed to talk to you about it. Well, you and Alexia and whomever you deemed necessary.” He didn’t look very happy. “We’ll be talking about breaking several laws and I’d appreciate it if we kept the number of potential witnesses as low as possible.”
Devon blinked. “That sounds ominous. And how does talking to me and Alexia figure in as far as making Elizabeth less, um distressed is the word you used?”
“Why don’t you let her and your advisory group out?” Shikarou rubbed his forehead. “This isn’t so exciting that I want to go over it multiple times.”
“My advisory group?” Devon looked thoughtful for a moment and shrugged. “I don’t have a formal one of those.” He paused and looked surprised. “You do, don’t you?” He frowned when Shikarou nodded silently. “Sometimes I think I should look more at how you live your life to show me how I should be treating my harem.”
Elizabeth gave him a glare. “You should.” She frowned when Shikarou touched her wrist. “He does. He has a lot of room for improvement.”
“It’s not our job to tell someone how they should live their life.” Shikarou kissed her on the cheek. “As long as everyone involved is relatively happy, all we can do is set a standard we can hope they aspire to emulate.”
“You know, the fact that you sit there and say that in front of my husband is a slap in the face.” Siobhan’s ears went flat.
Branwyn glared back. “It’s supposed to be, you twit.”
“Branwyn!” Shikarou’s voice was sharp. “We are their guests.”
She sighed and shook her head. “I’m sorry, Siobhan. I’m mostly angry because I agree with Elizabeth and,” she frowned at Devon, “because he could treat you better.”
Siobhan’s eyes hardened. “He treats me a damned sight better than the Team Viper idiots did.”
“You are right.” The Nogitsune blinked at Shikarou’s words. “Please understand that the two pokegirls I have here with me have never had any other Tamer and don’t understand how bad some things can be.” His mouth quirked. “Maybe you’d enjoy hearing this.”
Devon nodded and released Kathryn, Tess, Paulette and Alexia. He patted the bed next to him. “Alexia, please sit here. Everyone else, find a place. Shikarou has a problem and apparently it involves us somehow because he wants us to hear him out.”
Alexia gave her Tamer a wide-eyed look and settled down next to him, her tail twining around him as if seeking comfort. “I’m a newcomer here. I don’t understand how this could involve me.”
Kathryn climbed into Devon’s lap and curled up as Devon frowned at Shikarou. “Now what is this about?”
Shikarou nodded and turned to Elizabeth. “Since it’s your problem, why don’t you explain?”
She nodded and took a deep breath. “Very well. Branwyn told me about how Alexia was treated by her parents and it struck a chord within me.” She shrugged and smoothed down her dress. “I was a human girl too and never expected to become a pokegirl. In fact, I never went through threshold and was not supposed to become one.” She gave Alexia a sad smile. “I understand that because of your family’s lineage, you never worried about it either.”
“While I wasn’t systematically abused by my mother after I became a Vampire, I am pretty sure that my mother arranged to have me bitten in the first place so she could sell me and support her and my sisters in the lifestyle she wanted.” Her mouth twisted. “I was never her favorite and they were all damned happy when it happened and somehow there was already a buyer lined up. I’d call that conclusive evidence. If I hadn’t escaped when I did, she and my sisters would be living it up on the proceeds of my sale.” Her lips pursed in a tiny smile. “So maybe I could understand a little about how you feel right now.”
Alexia’s mouth worked but nothing came out for a second. When she finally spoke her voice was a whisper. “Understand how I feel? A hurt look flashed in her eyes as she turned to Devon. “I never said anything about how I felt.”
“It’s not his fault.” Her head snapped around as Shikarou spoke. “You let down your shields when he was interviewing you and Circe went exploring, which is what she was supposed to. Devon didn’t tell me anything about your past.”
The Shadowcat took a deep breath. “I understand that you think you are trying to make me feel better about what happened, but the truth is the only way I can deal with it is by taking care of Escobar and my parents.”
Alexia trembled as memories of the last two years once again rose in her mind. “No, I was not supposed to Threshold, if my parents were telling the truth. We were supposed to be purebloods, something that I used to lord over the not-so-pure kids in school. I was not a good person I guess. But, considering how Windy Shores is, and that my father was one of Charles Wolcott’s top lieutenants, it was normal.” She gave a self-deprecating laugh. “Before I turned fourteen, I underwent Threshold. The first few days, I sat there wondering how it happened, pleading for it to go back to how it was and I would be a nicer and better person.”
She looked up at Devon as she chewed on her lower lip and then nuzzled his side before going on, taking strength in his scent and presence. “Of course that didn’t happen. What did happen was I was locked into my room, not allowed out for any reason whatsoever as my parents were afraid I would embarrass them. Because I had already ‘made my father look bad’, I was whipped repeatedly and daily. The day before my birthday, I was given a drug in my pokechow, which is all I was allowed to eat, which left me in agonized pain. When I was unconscious, I was taken to the Hina House Pokegirl Ranch and left there.”
“You can’t imagine what it is like to wake up on your fourteenth birthday in a place you’ve never seen before. I was surrounded by pokegirls, and I was one of them now. Then, I got the ‘pleasure’ of servicing that fat bastard Escobar for the first time that afternoon. That continued until I was bought.”
She looked down sadly. “I am telling you this because somehow, you already seem to know about some of my past. I also want to be trusted, instead of being looked at with suspicion and disgust like everyone else has before. I know what I am. And I will do what I can to not be tossed aside. I promise that.”
Elizabeth smiled wryly. “No, I cannot imagine what that was like. My fourteenth birthday was quite normal. I was older then that when I was infected.” She took a deep breath. “I don’t know about Escobar, but you can never safely get revenge on your parents. There are records that show what happened to you and they would come to light if something happened to them. Both your family and Escobar has them, although neither is aware of the other’s precautions.”
“However, the fact that you can’t do anything about them doesn’t mean that nothing can be done about them. The only question I have is do you care what happens to your siblings?”
“My brothers? Why should I care about them?” Alexia gave a snort of disgust. “They despised me, I was. . .’daddy’s little girl’ and his favorite growing up. They were mean-spirited to me at the best of times when I was a girl.”
The Shadowcat shrugged. “I’m pretty sure that if they had been around, father would have offered me to one of them. They view pokegirls are sex objects and nothing more, so no…I don’t care what happens to them. Why?”
Elizabeth gave Shikarou an uncertain smile, which firmed when he nodded encouragingly. “I can’t get revenge on my mother and sisters because I would be the primary suspect. However, I can get revenge on your family. I think that it would be appropriate that they come to understand your pain, and the best way for that to happen would be if they became pokegirls.” She grinned. “If they are truly pureblooded a love ball wouldn’t work on them but that doesn’t matter, Shikarou won’t have anything to do with that little bit of technology.”
Her shoulders lifted and dropped. “Besides, even if it worked, the authorities would work very hard to track down and catch the person or persons responsible.” Her smile appeared again. “However, if it just so happened that they were attacked by a feral Vampire and turned, the authorities would just write it off as one of those unfortunate things that happens.” Elizabeth cocked her head. “I presume you would be devastated at that point.”
“Devastated? Not likely. But, isn’t there an antidote to a vampire’s bite? How do you keep them from taking it?”
Alexia was certainly intrigued by the possibility. She just wished she could be the one to deal with her family, at least one member of it. “However, even by doing this…I want to deal with my father. Being turned is still too light of a sentence for him. I want to show him true pain and suffering.” She looked up at Devon with a pleading look. “Please Master? Please? I’ll be content with just him. I promise.”
Devon glanced at her before returning his gaze to Shikarou. “What does Dorothea think about this?”
“She’s the reason we came up with the idea of turning them into pokegirls. She thought that killing them was too extreme a response.” Shikarou’s voice was dry. “Apparently having them spend the rest of their lives as the creatures they hate is fine, but killing is a bit much.” He frowned. “The other problem is that they are very important members of the upper crust in Windy Shores and any killings that involve them would be pursued all over the world. Charles Wolcott is a good friend of the family and is likely to be unrelenting in the pursuit of a murder. The Davenports are moral cowards and I’m pretty sure no one will be able to goad Rick into any sort of duel.”
“While Wolcott is a racist thug, that isn’t a good reason to kill him too.” Branwyn mentioned. “And to answer Alexia’s question, yes, there is an antidote, but there are couple of ways it could be gotten around. The transformation will take a week, so either they could be held until after the transformation is complete or, as Shikarou suggested, he could erase the memory of the attack from their minds, making it look like the entire Davenport family thresholded into Vampires.” She smiled slightly. “Once Vampires, I don’t think anyone would care if Devon purchased your father and let you kill her.”
Devon sighed. “And Poppet wants me to be more like you? Alexia, what do you think?”
Alexia listened to the discussion. She kept nuzzling against Devon softly as she tried to think if it was worth it to kill her father. It was a hard thing for her, because while her father deserved it in her eyes, she had despised killing and had tried to avoid doing so whenever she was ordered to before.
“I. . .I’m not. . .you know real sure about killing him. I-” Alexia broke off as she looked down, tears filling her eyes. “I am not as bad as people think I am. I never wanted to kill anyone. I tried to avoid it, not that I could with the constant attacks from Richard and Constanza for not following his orders. I don’t want to kill people. I just wish I could make sure father suffered. After all, I know he made at least 12 million credits off my sale.”
She buried her head into Devon’s shoulder, trying to control herself as she struggled to decide. “I. . .I think I would prefer that. . .he got a very nasty Tamer. Maybe that would be enough?”
She tried to snuggle against her Tamer, seeking some comfort as she looked into the eyes of everyone else in the room. Her new harem sisters, Shikarou, his two pokegirls, and finally Devon. She wanted to let go of her past, and this might be the only way she could. “If we do that, what about Escobar? I know he has other girls like me there. And I know he was behind the attack which led to Veronica’s death. While I am willing to grant that it wasn’t anyone here at fault, that means he is. And Escobar would probably try something if you show up.”
Devon wrapped an arm around her. “I think we can pretty much ensure she gets a pretty rotten Tamer.” He looked at Shikarou. “I don’t like the idea of Alexia’s family profiting that much off of her; can you do anything about that?”
“I can empty his bank accounts and liquidate his investments. What do you want me to do with the money? I can launder it and funnel it to Alexia. It is her money, after all.”
Elizabeth grinned. “How about a pokegirl rights foundation?”
Siobhan grunted. “Alexia should decide.” There was a murmur of agreement from Tess and Paulette.
Kathryn nodded and patted the Shadowcat on the wrist. “She’s right. Well, sister?”
Alexia looked up at Kathryn as she patted her wrist and snuggled with her Tamer. She chewed on her lower lip in concentration as she thought about it. “How much do they have? Do you know?”
She didn’t want to see any of the money going to Wolcott’s No Pokegirls’ Party. Which is where any of their money would likely go if they just simply disappeared with money still in their accounts.
“I know my father had some accounts hidden away as well. I don’t know where they came from or what kinds of funds he had in them, but if any money is left in their accounts after they threshold, then it will most likely go to Wolcott and his group and that would be a bad thing. As far as giving me the money, why? I’m a pokegirl. . .what would I be able to do with money? Not just that, but I belong to you now Master,” as she referred to Devon. “So I guess some could be given to charity and then the rest to you if you want Master. I am not greedy or anything like that.”
She looked at her new alpha, and instead of seeing the hate that Constanza had favored her with, she saw something better. She sighed and relaxed against Devon as her tail playfully tickled Kathryn, happy to be accepted as a sister, acceptance that she was just beginning to get a taste for.
Devon shrugged. “Shikarou, got another Bunnygirl?”
Paulette snorted. “That had better be a request for another miracle. Maeve is more than enough thank you very much.”
“That’s what I meant.”
“Well you’d better be more specific lest Shikarou actually deliver you another Bunny type.” Paulette smacked Devon lightly on the head.
Devon gave her an amused look. “Well, Shikarou, with Paulette’s clarification can you help?”
“The Davenport family has C65,392,194.17.” Shikarou flashed a grin. “Roughly. It changes from moment to moment based on their investments in Jahana Corp, which are run through a shell company.”
Devon shook his head. “I don’t suppose Aggie would like to come to work for me?”
“No, she wouldn’t. Hmm. Do you want the money, Devon?”
Devon shrugged. “I don’t need it. I know you don’t need it, oh great Widow killer that you are.” Paulette frowned. “So find a nice pokegirl rights group here in the Sunshine League.” He grinned. “One that would send them a nice plaque or something.”
“For that kind of money they would name a building after them.” Branwyn chuckled. “The Richard and Yvette Davenport Memorial Pokegirl Legal Defense Foundation sounds pretty good.” She snickered. “The people of Windy Shores just might lynch them if they could be found. And during all of this they become Vampires.” She glanced at Shikarou. “How about we stick around and after we catch them we present Rick to Charles Wolcott the third as a sex slave?” She smiled at Alexia. “After being tricked by a closet pokegirl lover for so many years I suspect Wolcott would be as bad a Tamer as you could ever want.”
Elizabeth sighed and grinned at Alexia. “Mouthwash. I’m going to want about a gallon of mouthwash for this. I just know they are going to taste horrible.”
Devon tightened his grip on the Shadowcat. “What’s your opinion of all this?”
Alexia looked up at Devon and then kissed him as an answer, rather than actually speaking out loud. “No one before has actually cared about what I wanted or how I felt. So for that, Master, thank you. As for the rest, I don’t care. Just as long as they get to discover what it is like to be pokegirls and their friends turn against them.”
Alexia smiled at Elizabeth, her teeth shining. “They probably will. But at least you can do it quickly.” Looking up at the Unicorn, Alexia shrugged. “Who knows? I wonder how Chastity is doing. . .she was my ‘best’ friend before I thresholded. I always felt sorry for her because her father not only hated pokegirls with a passion, but he viewed females as second-class as well.”
Alexia began purring softly as Devon continued to hold her. “Still, what is gonna happen to Escobar? He is still a threat to you Master. And he is not as intelligent as Senor Castillo when it comes to warnings either.”
Devon sighed. “That’s a very good question. What do we do with Escobar? Killing him could prove to be just as problematic as killing the Davenports.”
Branwyn glanced at Shikarou. “Killing him could be troublesome and we don’t want to leave him as he is, he’s on Alexia’s shit list and he’s a danger to every pokegirl that goes through that ranch.” Her mouth set unhappily. “You could subvert him.”
Shikarou blinked and his ears shifted restlessly. “You want me to enslave him?”
She glared. “I hate the idea but he’s a perfect candidate. He’d also give you an information source here in the Sunshine League.”
Devon frowned. “What are you two talking about?”
“May I?” Branwyn waited until Shikarou nodded slowly before answering Devon’s question. “Remember that I said there are worse things than death. This is it.”
Tess frowned. “You’re going to have to give us more information than that.”
“Needless to say, I don’t want this repeated anywhere.” Shikarou shifted slightly. “I can make changes to a person’s personality. Permanent changes.” He glanced at his alpha. “Branwyn’s not real fond of the technique.”
She nodded emphatically. “I’m not. The whole thing gives me the creeps.”
Devon looked curious. “So how does this work?”
“I pull their soul out of their body and change it to whatever I want. I don’t have to actually remove the soul; I just have to touch it.”
Paulette looked startled and then her surprise transmuted in to stark disbelief. “You can do that? I don’t believe it.”
Branwyn glared at the Neo Iczel. “Don’t ask him for a demonstration,” she warned. “You just might be the subject.”
Devon looked dubious. “That is rather farfetched. I would like some proof before I trust this to take care of Escobar.”
“I can’t lie, remember.” Shikarou began to sound annoyed. “If I say it works, then I at least believe that to be so.”
Tess stood. “Show Devon on me.”
Branwyn blanched. “You don’t know what you are asking.”
“No, but Devon needs to know.”
Paulette stood and shoved Tess to the side. “No, use me.” She glared at the Armsmistress as Tess swung angrily on her. “I’m tougher than you are.”
“The hell you are!”
Devon sighed. “Paulette, Tess, simmer down.” He glanced at Shikarou and frowned. “Paulette, I’m sorry. Do her.”
The Neo Iczel grinned at Tess. “I win.”
Branwyn stared at her. “You have no idea what you’ve just done. Shikarou, don’t do this.”
“Quiet, Branwyn.” Devon’s voice held a note of command. “This is my decision to make and I need to know about this. Shikarou, will this hurt Paulette?”
“Of course not!” Paulette glared at her Tamer. “Nothing is going to happen.”
“I don’t believe it will hurt anything except perhaps her pride.” Shikarou smiled slightly. “And considering Neo Iczels, maybe not even that.”
“Then Paulette has volunteered.”
Shikarou sighed and slid to his feet. “Are you both sure about this?” Devon nodded.
“Get on with it,” Paulette snapped.
“Turn so Devon can see what is going on.” Shikarou positioned the Neo Iczel carefully. “Now I’m not being forward, but I’ll need to place my hand over your heart.”
Paulette’s eyes narrowed but she said nothing as Shikarou did so. He looked into her eyes for a moment and then slid his hand into her chest. She stiffened and Tess drew her sword as she lurched around to cover Devon.
Shikarou pulled his hand from Paulette’s chest, the glowing ball that was her soul grasped gingerly in his fingertips. Her eyes went blank and her mouth went slack. He turned carefully and showed it to Devon as the blood drained from the young man’s face. “This is Paulette’s soul.”
Devon stared at it before speaking a strained voice. “Please put it back.”
Shikarou nodded and slid the ball back into Paulette’s chest. She gasped and her eyes filled with life as he pulled his hand out and stepped away as she swung instinctively at him.
The Neo Iczel shook herself and took a deep breath. In an uncharacteristically quiet voice she said to Devon, “I think you should believe him.”
Alexia watched as well, her eyes wide and her body trembling, perhaps realizing that she could have been changed like that. Instead of watching any more, she buried her head into Devon’s side with a small sound, almost a cry of fear.
Looking up at her Tamer she stuttered, “I- I- I don’t think. . .I can’t um, if you decide to do this, I am not the one advocating it Master. It might be the best thing, but I don’t want to be there when it happens. It’s a bit…scary to me.”
She looked at Shikarou with a gaze that showed more fear than before. “Would you have done that to me or Richard or any of his harem you didn’t like?”
Shikarou gave her an odd look. “It’s not something that I do lightly and it never came up.”
Devon squeezed her hand briefly. “I agree with Alexia. If I don’t have to see that again, I’d prefer not to.”
“Well then I’d better get going so I can take care of Carlos before you arrive.” Shikarou motioned Branwyn and Elizabeth to their feet. “I’ll see you there.”
Once they were gone Devon carefully lifted Kathryn from his lap and jumped to his feet, wrapping Paulette in his arms. “Are you ok?”
She pulled out her blouse and looked down it. “I think so.” Her voice was low and shaky. She chuckled softly as he leaned over to peer down it as well. “I think I have a headache.”
He gave her a quick kiss. “I suppose that’s understandable, given the circumstances, but don’t let it become a habit.”
She suddenly hugged him tight enough to make him gasp. “I’m sorry I put you in danger.”
“What do you mean?”
Paulette showed him the designs on one of her wrists. “This. What if he could have touched your soul through mine?”
Devon’s eyes went wide. “I never thought about that.” He shivered. “I don’t really want to know, but I need to. I’ll ask Shikarou about it. Later.”
Paulette squeezed him again. “Later sounds good.”
(06/03/99 1600 Blue Continent, 0900 Blowjob, Sunshine League)
Hephzibah hummed as she headed to answer the door. Carlos had been frantic since Devon Harris had called the day before to tell him the inspection would take place this morning and she’d enjoyed watching him scurry around in a panic. The icing on the cake, in her opinion, had been his reaction when the Vigo didn’t return his calls.
It was obvious to her the Carlos had become too much of a liability to the Vigo and she wondered idly when a nice young man might show up to deal with the whole problem. While she had no illusions about what would happen to her, she hoped he’d kill Carlos first and that he’d let her help or at least watch. Perhaps she’d impress him enough he’d take her into his harem instead of killing her too.
Carlos had left explicit instructions that only he was to greet the inspection team, which was precisely why Hephzibah was hurrying to get it herself.
She enjoyed pissing him off because he couldn’t do anything to her, the place would fall apart without her, especially since he got rid of Lorca. The Bondage Queen had been a pain in the ass, but she’d been moderately useful in making things comfortable here, at least until she’d struck Carlos in a fit of anger. She hadn’t been useful enough that Hephzibah missed her, but enough that she remembered her absence.
She pulled open the door. “Good morning and welcome to the Hina House Pokegirl Ranch.” She frowned at the man in front of her as she took in his wolf ears and long black hair. This was not Devon Harris. “I’m sorry, we’re expecting an inspection today and unless you have an appointment, we’re not seeing Tamers. I schedule the appointments and I know nobody has one today.”
Shikarou smiled easily as Pythia grinned behind him. “Actually I sort of do have one. I’m Shikarou and my Unicorn, Branwyn, is one of the inspectors. She and Devon are on their way and I needed to speak to Senor Escobar before they arrived.”
The Succubus flicked her wings in surprise. “You are Branwyn’s Tamer. Why do you want to see Carlos?”
“I’d like a word with him about the fact that he tried to kill my alpha.” Shikarou kept his smile.
Hephzibah’s mouth dropped open and she quickly pulled it shut. “Really? Well then, this way.” She smiled at his flicker of surprise. “I’m Hephzibah, his alpha. Are you going to torment him or kill him? Killing him would give me more personal satisfaction, but torturing him would be so much fun.” She smiled. “And he could die when you are done torturing him. Can I watch?”
“I’m not really planning on killing him, but if you want to watch, then I guess that’s ok with me.” Shikarou shrugged. Pythia, stay close in case she tries something.
Very well. What are you going to do with her if she doesn’t attack you? The G-Spliced conveyed a whole host of emotions, but humor predominated.
She’s his alpha and therefore a participant in what happens here. She gets what he does. Shikarou sent a feeling of amusement back at Pythia.
That will make Alexia happy, I suppose.
Hephzibah led them down a hallway. “I don’t suppose you have room in your harem for me?” She turned to face him and smiled winningly. “I could make it worth your while.”
“I’m sure you could.” Shikarou smiled. “And if I didn’t have a Seraph already, I’d consider it, but you wouldn’t be happy in my harem.”
She nodded. “Pity. Are you going to kill me?”
“You don’t seem very concerned about it.”
She shrugged and headed down the hall again. “I’m not. Pokegirls live or die as their Master does and it’s obvious to me that Carlos Escobar is on the way out. I’d like to live but if he dies then the ranch will get a new owner and I’ll probably get sent away if you don’t kill me.”
“I don’t plan to kill you.”
Hephzibah sighed in relief. “That’s good to hear.” She gave him a quick curious glance. “Then what are you going to do with me?”
“This.” The Succubus went up on her toes with a squeak as Shikarou drove his hand into her back. He pulled it back out and glanced back at Pythia before answering the Succubus’ question. “Now do you understand?”
Hephzibah shuddered and turned to look at him again. “Yes, I do.” She smiled widely. “Thank you. Will you be taming me?”
“We’ll see. Now I need to see Carlos so he can join you.”
“Of course.” She led them to Escobar’s office without any more conversation and paused. “Wait here until I call you.” She opened the door and slipped inside.
“What are you doing in here?” Silence and then a crash. “BITCH, LET ME GO!”
Hephzibah called out in a singsong. “Come in.” She had Carlos pinned against the wall of his office by his throat and was talking quietly to him. “You’re very lucky. You get to serve my true master. Stop struggling or I might break something.” Carlos made a high pitched breathy scream. “I said stop struggling.”
“Turn him.” The Succubus whirled Carlos around and pulled him up on his toes by his thinning hair to face the kami and Pythia. Shikarou sank his hand into the man’s chest. Carlos screamed again for a second before going limp.
“You really want to keep him, right?” Hephzibah shook the limp form. “He can’t even handle a little pain.” She sighed when Carlos stirred.
Shikarou smiled as Pythia snickered. “I think perhaps I’ll leave you in charge and he can be a figurehead.”
“And how is that different from now?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. Carlos, stand up.” Escobar stirred and looked around blearily.
“Wha?” He winced when Hephzibah slapped him on the head. “Stop that, bitch!”
Shikarou’s eyes narrowed. “Carlos, Hephzibah is your boss. You will be the figurehead here, but she’s going to be in charge.”
Escobar blinked and turned to the Succubus. “Sorry. I shouldn’t have called you a bitch.”
“I’m going to like this!” She blinked. “When is the inspection team going to be here?”
“Any moment.” Pythia grinned. “Why?”
“I presume you want complete compliance with them, master?”
Shikarou nodded. “Yes.”
“Carlos, get the real books up on the computer and unlock your private files.” Hephzibah sighed. “We’re not going to do well, sir, Carlos has been consorting with criminals.”
“I know. Be honest and we’ll take it from there.”
She nodded. “As you command.” She nudged Escobar. “Get to work.”
A short time later Devon, Hatsumi and Branwyn showed up to see Shikarou leaning back in a chair outside the Hina House Ranch main building. A tray of appetizers and an open bottle of wine sat nearby.
Branwyn shook her head. “I take it there were no complications?”
“No.” He offered her a glass of wine. “Hephzibah will be along in a couple of minutes.”
Devon frowned. “Who’s that?”
“She’s a Succubus and she’s in charge here.”
“What happened to Carlos?” Branwyn gave him a suspicious look.
“You didn’t kill him did you?” Devon shook his head. “You weren’t supposed to do that.”
“Relax, I didn’t kill anybody. I just put Hephzibah in charge. She seems to have more on the ball than Carlos.”
Devon looked up as Hephzibah came out the front door. The Succubus smiled. “Mr. Harris, Ms. Urufu, welcome to the Hina House Pokegirl Ranch. I’m Hephzibah and I’ll be your host while you are inspecting the ranch.”
“Did Shikarou tell you who we were?”
“No, Carlos had me get photos of each of you to send to the Night Watch when he planned to have you killed.”
Devon stared at her and then at Shikarou. “What is going on?”
“I didn’t see any reason for her to lie to us. I hope it’s not going to be a problem.”
Devon shook his head bemusedly. “No, I suppose it won’t.” He turned back to Hephzibah. “So where do you want us to start?”
She cocked her head. “The books will probably take the longest. Carlos tried very hard to make sure not even he knew just how much money went through here. After that I thought we’d do a survey of the grounds. The pokegirls here may tell you some horrible stories, sadly they are true.” She squared her shoulders. “But that will change, I promise you. If you will come with me?”
Shikarou smiled at Branwyn. “Do you want me to escort you?”
She looked thoughtful for a moment. “Not unless you want to learn how to inspect a ranch. Do you?”
“I think that might be very interesting.” He hopped to his feet. “Someday I might need to know how to do this. I would be honored to be your student.”
(06/06/99 1930 Blue Continent, 1230 Blowjob, Sunshine League)
Devon stretched and reached for his soda. “Are all inspections that rough?”
Branwyn shook her head. “No, this place is unusual. Most ranches get inspected on a fairly regular basis and so things don’t normally get this bad.”
“So what did we find?”
“First of all the financial records were a mess. Also, Hephzibah is going to have to do a complete inventory of everything here, including pokegirls and equipment. Nothing matches up with the official records.” She sipped at her wine. “Considering that they were last updated before Alexia came here that only makes sense.”
“Aggie sorted through the money side fairly quickly, but from what she told me, if we didn’t have her it would have taken a team of League investigators a month to make sense out of everything. Needless to say, the numbers don’t match up.”
She shrugged. “If it weren’t for the fact that Shikarou has, um, reorganized the management here, I’d close it down in a heartbeat.”
“Where is he, anyway?”
“We recently spent some time in the Ruby League and we almost met a rather nice Tamer named Thai Silvati. They’ve been corresponding ever since. I think Shikarou got another message from him.”
Devon frowned. “They almost met and they’ve been sending each other mail? I don’t get it.”
“We ended up in an area that needed some supplies and we gave all we had. Somehow Thai got the impression that it was a sacrifice on our part and tried to give us a reward of a million credits. We gave them to an orphanage and we’ve been talking ever since.” She smiled over her glass. “He got involved in a dustup with some Mantis pokegirls and when everything settled he was the only human around. He lost most of his harem and the government gave him money in compensation. Like most decent Tamers he doesn’t feel the exchange is equitable. That’s one of the things they’ve been talking about.”
“He sounds young.”
Branwyn gave him a glare. “I wouldn’t be talking about young men being Tamer’s if I were you. He’s nice and very respectful and from what we know about him he’s got the same kind of luck you and Shikarou have, bad and none.”
“Hey, your Tamer hasn’t done too badly for himself.”
“No, and neither have you. But both of you never expected to get involved in Widows and Mantises and Team Viper. And all of us have paid for it. You and Thai have had pokegirls killed and Shikarou’s had them leave his harem without as much as a farewell.” She leaned back in her chair. “Most Tamers get to lose pokegirls in battles and have to suffer through the occasional feral pokegirl looking to get laid. Tamers like you three have interesting lives and not the good kind.”
Devon nodded slowly. “I keep hoping that things like that can be put in the past forever, where they belong.”
Branwyn shook her head. “According to Yushiko, for people like you, Shikarou and Thai, only the grave will bring you peace.”
He snorted. “It’s a good thing I already have a plot and a casket.” He finished his drink. “So what now?”
“We’re done. I suppose you need to return to the Conservatory and I think we’re supposed to take a side trip to Windy Shores.” She sighed. “This is such a bad idea. So how are your newest pokegirls doing?”
Devon chuckled. “I think the person who’s the most frustrated is Tess.”
“Could you explain that please?”
“She spent time traveling with Lamya in the Orange Islands and had Morgan, Lamya’s Cheshire, to cuddle with. Since rejoining my harem, Morgan has spent most of her time in a pokeball and it was frustrating Tess. Now I’ve got two Catgirl types in my harem and it’s even worse. Alexia doesn’t trust anyone yet, although she shows signs of wanting to fit in and Lilja is still too worried about waking up in someone else’s harem. Neither of them wants to have much to do with my Armsmistress and it’s driving Tess batty.”
“So why don’t you just bring Jennifer up from the Dark Continent? I think you can protect her adequately now. In addition, she’s happy with you and might help your new additions to relax around you.”
Devon looked surprised. “I hadn’t thought of that. I think you’re right, I’ll contact her.”
“Of course I am right.” Branwyn gave him a smug look. “You did a good job here and I’ll write up your evaluation in a day or two, but you don’t have anything to worry about, you’re a good inspector and my report will indicate that.”
“Thank you. Do you really hate doing this as much as you seem to? I had fun.”
She flashed him quick smile. “I enjoy it as well, and I suspect that Shikarou does too. Call us if you need us.”
“He’s not qualified to do inspections.”
“Not yet. However, he got his practical this time and I’ll write it up as such. When he’s not paying attention I’ll slip him the tests and he’ll pass them. Then I’ll submit his qualifications and he’ll be eligible to inspect ranches.”
“That’s sneaky. I like it.” Devon ran his fingers through his hair. “So you get to write you the final inspection report and you’ve already got my input. I guess that finishes this up. When are you going to leave?”
“In the morning. Shikarou’s going to cook tonight, I’d recommend staying.”
“In that case I will. Tomorrow is a fine time to travel.”
Name: Harris, Devon Jamie
Residence: Harris Conservatory, Highland County, Blue Continent
Security Clearance: Theta
Master Tamer Y
Species Name Level
Alaka-Wham Ming Die 100
Demon-Goddess (Hunter) Hatsumi 87
Dark Lady Rhiannon 44
Armsmistress Tess 42
Neo-Iczel Paulette 41
Mini-Top Maeve 40
Ladyien Kathryn 38
Nogitsune Siobhan 35
Shadowcat Alexia 35
Baleena Dima 33
Enchantress Lamya 31
Peekabu Zelda 23
Ocelolita Lilja 21