Chapter 2: Branwyn
                Poppet paused as she saw Shikarou up ahead. He was talking to a boy with close cropped powder blue hair while he held the wing of his Valkyrie. Bonnie was watching them with an air of amusement as he moved it around. Shikarou flexed the middle joint and said something. The boy nodded, his face serious. Popped moved silently closer in order to eavesdrop on the conversation.
                “So now you know that it takes about fifteen kilos of pressure to snap that wing joint if she hits you with her wing. I also showed you what to do if she grabs you, right?”
                “I rotate the thumb and arm under and take it around behind her before rolling it out of the socket hard enough to tear the tendons and ligaments,” the boy replied.
                “Correct, Tobias. You’ll have to be quick, a Dragoness isn’t going to be a pushover. What else?”
                “If she tries to get me to go down on her, I bite her clitoris off and if she sticks a breast in my face I bite her nipple off.”
                “Right. A word of caution is in order here. Just like I do, you have a complete set of fangs. If you bury them in any tissue, sometimes it is very hard to pull them free. They are after all, designed for gripping meat. If you get them stuck and she starts flailing around you are going to look like a really big nipple piercing as you flop. Remember that you are only trying to immobilize her with pain long enough to get away.” Shikarou grinned. “You are a human, and to most pokegirls you are going to be what is technically termed as ‘squishy’.” Shikarou sketched quotation marks in the air. “If you stick around to do battle with her, you deserve what you are going to get.”
                “Remember, this isn’t a normal battle. This pokegirl is trying to force you to tame her. Try any of this stuff in a normal fight and you are one dead boy.”
                “The other thing you have to consider before you do any of these things is the first question of life.”
                “I understand,” Tobias responded.
                Poppet realized the one of Shikarou’s ears was pointed straight at her. She came forward with a smile. “I don’t. What is the first question of life?”
                Tobias gave her slightly guilty look but Shikarou only smiled. “Answer her, Tobias.”
                “The first question of life is ‘Am I willing to live with the worst case consequences of the action I am about to perform’.”
                Poppet nodded. “A very profound question indeed.” She put her hand on Tobias’ shoulder. “Is Geraldine still harassing you?”
                The boy nodded. “She doesn’t believe that you won’t let anyone hit me anymore.” He shrugged. “She’s always had her own way, first with Devon and now me, so she’s not willing to give up the tamings, and we both know she likes young Tamers and violent sex.”
                Poppet nodded. “I’ll have another talk with her. However, if she doesn’t listen to me, you do what Shikarou showed you. If you cripple her, then so be it.” Her face hardened. “I’ll just let her heal on her own if she wants to play that game.”
                Shikarou smiled. “You are a hard woman.”
                “Not really. But like you commented earlier, if she wants to disobey me then she deserves what she is going to get.”
                “It wasn’t a complaint. I admire that kind of spirit.” Shikarou turned to Tobias. “If you have to do anything to the Dragoness, you run straight to Poppet afterwards.”
                Poppet shook her head. “If Geraldine steps one claw out of line you come straight to me. I won’t wait until you are attacked to deal with this.” She smiled grimly. “It looks like I may need to make an example of someone before the others will believe I am serious about you being off limits. We have three breeding Dragonesses, so she will do just fine.”
                “Yes, Poppet.”
                “Tobias, I would like to have a private word with Shikarou. Would you mind?”
                “No, I probably should go anyways. There’s some stuff in the incubatory that I need to take a look at.” He held out his hand. “Thanks, Shikarou.”
                Shikarou looked at the hand for an instant before taking it. “You are quite welcome.”
                Poppet turned to Bonnie. “Could you also give us some privacy?”
                Bonnie nodded and looked at her Tamer with a wicked grin. “Ball me, master?” He chuckled and recalled her into her pokeball.
                Poppet cocked her head. “I see you are getting along well with your new addition.”
                “Both of my pokegirls are new additions and, yes, we appear to be working out a relationship.” He gestured at a nearby bench. “Shall we sit?”
                Poppet smiled. “Yes, let’s.” Once they were seated, she turned to him. “I can’t be beholden to you for the Succubus so I’ve decided to give you some gifts in exchange for her.”
                “You don’t owe me anything, but I won’t turn down presents.”
                Her smile broadened. “Actually the presents are to soften you up for a huge favor. The Succubus is just an opportunity to shower you with them.”
                “Then you’d better get to the giving part. I don’t soften easy, even for someone as beautiful as you.”
                Poppet favored him with a coquettish look. “You are too kind.” She became serious again. “I started to put some money into your bank account only to discover that you didn’t have one yet, so I took the liberty of establishing one for you. Your Tamer entry doesn’t list a last name, so you will have to update the account information when you get a chance.”
                Shikarou shrugged. “I don’t have one. If I have to have one I’ll use Urufu, but I figured that since most pokegirls don’t have last names it wouldn’t be an issue.”
                “It means wolf.”
                “Cute. You may be able to get away with it since there wasn’t a problem with your Tamer entry.” She frowned. “Whoever put in the entry should have made you give a last name, but I suppose it doesn’t matter now.”
                “She might have felt lenient since I’d just gotten through taming her,” Shikarou commented wryly.
                The Unicorn smiled gently. “I was willing to do you favors this morning, so I can understand her attitude. Nevertheless, you may have problems in other leagues since pokegirls are considered property in most places and that is why they often have one name. In other places, they automatically take the last name of their Tamer, which would of course be problematic in your case.”
                Shikarou shook his head. “The reciprocity agreements should keep me safe.”
                “Those aren’t always followed, although since you know about them you can always argue your case.”
                “I’ll deal with it if it becomes an issue.” Shikarou poked her gently in the knee. “I’m not going to argue with you about it.”
                “Fine. Here is your account information.” Poppet handed him a slip of paper. “Please remember that until you change your access code, I also can get into your account, so you’ll want to change it as soon as you can. A rare pokegirl like a Succubus can bring over a million credits, depending on the location where you sell them and how reputable the dealer is. You won’t often get that much. I’ve given you three hundred thousand. Rare pokegirls aren’t all that rare here at the Conservatory, you see.” She smiled. “The rest of my gifts will bring the total up to over half a million.”
                “More presents? But I didn’t get you anything.” He placed a hand on her knee theatrically.
                Poppet smacked his hand lightly. “I’m softening you up for a favor, remember?”
                “Oh, right.”
                “My other gift is a portable healing device. It’s back at the main house and you can pick it up before you leave.” She gave him a serious look. “I want you to have it so you can keep my favor healthy.”
                “That sounds fairly ominous. I suppose that is a perfect segue into this favor you are going to request.”
                Poppet patted him on the hand. “I thought you were bright.” She took a deep breath before pulling a pokeball out of her pocket. “I want you to take Branwyn with you.”
                She activated the pokeball, which released a young Unicorn wearing a pretty blue smock. “Branwyn, this is Shikarou and he’s going to be your Tamer.”
                Branwyn dropped a curtsey. “Greetings, master Shikarou.”
                Shikarou scratched an ear. “No disrespect to you, Branwyn, but I don’t remember agreeing to this favor yet.”
                Branwyn looked startled, but Poppet merely frowned. “I was hoping you wouldn’t catch that part.” She sighed. “She’s my daughter. I had a litter about fifty years ago and I’ve been slowly giving them out to Tamers who I think can treat a Unicorn like she deserves. Branwyn here is the last.”
                “I see.” Shikarou turned to the young pokegirl. “Do you want to come with me? I’m going to do a lot of traveling, but more importantly, I’m doing your mother.”
                “Shikarou!” Poppet sounded shocked.
                Branwyn looked puzzled. “Doing?”
                Her confusion faded. “If you take me with you, will you stop ‘doing’ her?”
                “No,” Shikarou responded breezily.
                She cocked her head in a manner eerily reminiscent of Poppet. “Why not? I’m young and pretty and she’s old.”
                Shikarou collapsed back against the bench as he howled with laughter. Poppet shot her daughter an appalled stare. “Branwyn!”
                Shikarou held up one hand as he fought his laughter under control. “No, it’s ok. I like them with spunk.”
                Poppet straightened herself up proudly. “And do I have this ‘spunk’?”
                He gave her a serene smile. “You should. I gave you plenty last night.”
                Poppet stared at him incredulously for a moment and then turned beet red. “Shikarou!” She sputtered in shock. “I… you… argh!”
                Branwyn looked blank and then clapped her hands over her mouth in an attempt to muffle her laughter.
                Shikarou took a deep breath and fought the smile off of his face. “How old are you?”
                “I’m fifty.”
                “Are you? How much of that time did you spend in a pokeball?”
                She looked confused. “Roughly eight hours a day.”
                “Since you are in stasis when you are in a pokeball, then aren’t you actually thirty three?”
                Branwyn frowned. “But in a pokeball, my mind is awake. Only my body is frozen in time.”
                “And that is a creepy thought.” Shikarou folded his hands in his lap. “Nonetheless, age is calculated as a physical component, so you are only thirty three.”
                “I never thought of it that way, but I suppose you could be right. However, the leagues will compute my age from the day of my birth, so I’m fifty.”
                Shikarou smiled. “Good. You can think and argue logically.” He leaned back. “What kind of an education have you received?”
                Poppet smiled. “She’s had an extensive...” She broke off as Shikarou raised a finger.
                “I was asking Branwyn.” He looked at Poppet evenly. “Unless you are the one who wants to join my harem, you shouldn’t be answering.”
                Poppet glared at him.
                Branwyn watched the interchange intently. “I have what would be the equivalent of a master’s degree in science and administration, if pokegirls could go to the university.”
                “Science, huh? What do you think of the Unified Theory research currently going on?”
                She looked puzzled but responded without hesitation. “I think that they aren’t going to get anywhere until they include magical theory into their research, and so far they are unwilling to consider it.”  
                “Excellent. I’ll take you with me if you would like to go. I must warn you, I need an alpha, and I’m probably going to stick you with the job if you do decide to go with me. Do you think you can do the job?”
                “Yes, I do. However you might want to choose someone else.”
                “Why would I want to do that?”
                Branwyn smiled. “I’m a Unicorn, a rare and valuable pokegirl. Most Tamers won’t even see one during their lifetime and even fewer will catch one. The only way most Tamers will have the opportunity of acquiring a Unicorn involve getting one from salvage or by theft, since we can’t be caught unless we want to.” She paused briefly as she marshaled her thoughts. “As your alpha, I will spend a lot of time by your side and therefore whenever you go into a town, you are going to be hit with a flurry of challenges over me.”
                “So, a lot of people will hear me tell them to piss off.” Shikarou shrugged. “I’m not going to get into pokebattles unless there is a possibility of gain for me, so in any pokegirl battle I’m willing to put you up as a prize for, that Tamer will have to possess at least one very special pokegirl.” He grinned nastily. “This hypothetical Tamer will also have to be willing to risk his own skin because any pokebattle over you will be a grand melee, and I can almost guarantee that as soon as I get my hands on him the battle will end.”
                Shikarou looked thoughtful. “However, you do have a point and it will be worth all of our whiles to train hard and catch some powerful pokegirls to defend you with.” He nodded absently. “I can deal with that. So, do you want to be my alpha?”
                Branwyn smiled. “As long as you understand what you are getting into.” She reached over and plucked her pokeball from Poppet’s grasp and climbed into Shikarou’s lap, squirming a little as she got comfortable. “So, are you going to tame me now?”
                “When we make camp for the evening.”
                “Why wait?” She rubbed her cheek against his. “She won’t mind. She might even want to watch.”
                “Eager, aren’t you.”
                Branwyn rested her nose against his and looked into Shikarou’s eyes. “I am fifty years old…” She began.
                “Thirty three,” he interrupted.
                “Fifty.” She gave him a slight glare. “Fifty years old and I have never been tamed by a man. Only pokegirls and toys. I’m ready for the next step.” She wiggled slightly. “More than ready.”
                “Why haven’t you been with a man yet?” Shikarou sounded puzzled.
                “Because all of my sisters bonded their first time with a male.” She smirked. “So mother couldn’t take a chance on me doing the same.”
                “On some level, it could be argued that pokegirls bond with every human they are with, otherwise you couldn’t trade pokegirls.” Shikarou’s puzzled look grew.
                Branwyn looked surprised. “I take it mother didn’t tell you that until we grow powerful enough, we don’t alpha bond at all. We immediately form a delta bond with our Tamer.”
                Shikarou’s ears flicked as he raised his head to look at Poppet. She had the grace to look embarrassed. “No, I don’t believe that came up.”
                “Well it’s true. It appears to be one of those peculiarities that are unique to our line of Unicorn. We aren’t able to form an alpha bond until we pass level forty five or so. Mother was delta bonded to Jamie, but after that she was powerful enough to keep from doing it with any of her other Tamers.” She rubbed her cheek against his again. “Of course, we have to wait for our current Tamer to die before we get the opportunity to try again, but one of my sisters was unfortunate enough to have her Tamers die every couple of years. Her life was miserable until she reached a high enough level to stop delta bonding.” Branwyn nuzzled her lips against his. “You smell good. Kind of warm and fuzzy,” she murmured.
                Shikarou carefully picked Branwyn up and settled her down on the bench next to him. “This evening. I want to make some kilometers before camping and you will have to wait. I don’t have enough time to give you the attention you deserve right now, but this evening you can have the whole night.”
                “You think you can give me the whole night? I can’t wait to see that.”
                Poppet cleared her throat gently. “He’s right, Branwyn. He kept me busy for four hours last night.” She smiled fondly at Shikarou. “I suspect he could have kept going, but I was worn out.”
                Branwyn looked skeptical. “Endurance and recovery are rare bloodgifts, and few humans have both of them.”
                “I don’t have any bloodgifts and I’m not human.” Shikarou frowned. “I’m kami.”
                “What is that?”
                “A Japanese spirit. Edo, if you prefer. I’m stronger, faster, and have much more endurance than a human. I’m also a moderately powerful mage.”
                Branwyn looked interested. “I’ve been told I could learn magic. Do a spell.”
                “Are you asking or demanding?”
                She made a face at him. “Asking? Please?”
                “If you are asking.” Shikarou held out his hand and concentrated. A ball of glowing energy formed and lifted off to hover in front of him. “There, one light spell.”
                Branwyn jumped off of the bench and moved to peer closely at the glowing light. It slid around on the other side of Shikarou and tucked itself under his arm. “What is it doing? Bring it back.”
                He shrugged. “You scared it.”
                She stared at him. “I what?”
                “You scared it. I have the only cowardly light spell I’ve ever seen.” He chuckled. “Now that I can cast other forms of light spells, I only use this one for entertainment, but when I was younger it was the only light I had. Many times this little thing abandoned me in the dark when a monster lunged out at me.” He snorted. “I once chased it for an hour after a partial cave-in almost got me.” He glared at the ball. “Get out of there.” It pushed further under his arm.
                “You have got to be kidding.”
                Poppet was staring at the two of them. “He can’t lie. It’s one of the unique things about him and his brother Faelan.”
                “That’s pretty fucked up. How do you get by without being able to lie?”
                “Branwyn, language please!”
                Shikarou shook his head. “It’s all right, Poppet. I curse, so I’m not going to ask my pokegirls not to. Branwyn, I get by, as you put it, by telling the truth. Of course, I may parse my sentences very carefully, but anything I say will be the truth.”
                “That could be interesting.”
                “I think so.”
                “So I have to wait to get tamed tonight, but in return I get the whole night. I can wait for that.” She frowned. “Do I have to wear this stupid dress?”
                “You can wear whatever you want. As much as you want or as little. I don’t have any nudity taboos or religious proscriptions.”
                “Ok. I’m going to go change into my jumpsuit and get my stuff. Is that ok?”
                Shikarou took Branwyn’s pokeball from her. “That’s fine. Come find me afterwards because we are leaving fairly soon.” He dismissed his light spell as she headed off. “Anything else, Poppet?”
                “Yes. I have one more gift to give you.” She pulled a com unit out of a pocket on her dress. “I took the liberty of setting you up a com account and paid it up for a year out of your funds.” She smirked. “This way you don’t have to worry about me not having your com code.”
                Shikarou put his hand to his brow. “That’s a relief.”
                Poppet stuck out her tongue at him and then suddenly looked startled. “I can’t believe I did that.”
                “Believe it. I am corrupting at the most base level. Soon you’ll be doing even more scandalous things like not wearing underwear beneath your dress.”
                “You’ll never know.” She smiled sweetly. “Not after you embarrassed me so in front of Branwyn.”
                “Oh, is the lover part of our relationship over?”
                “No, but I was going to offer you the opportunity to see if I’d been corrupted that far today. Now you don’t have time, so you’ll just have to wonder.”
                “I see. Damn.”
                Poppet looked him full in the eyes. “Will you visit me?”
                Shikarou smiled. “I will. How often would you like me to come by? I know you have other things you could be doing besides spending your morning with me, so what would you like?”
                Poppet frowned and then her eyes widened in shock. “You know, I have total recall and I can’t remember when someone has asked me my opinion of that particular subject. Not in three hundred years. Mostly I get variations on ‘as often as I can’ or ‘I’ll see what I can do’.”
                She gave Shikarou an odd look. “Can I have a few minutes to think about it?”
                “Take all of the time you need.” He smiled and took her hand. “Even if you can’t decide by the time I leave, you can always call me.”
                She squeezed his fingers. “That’s right. Thank you.”
                He squeezed back. “That, my dear Poppet, is what friends are supposed to be like.” He rose to his feet. “I need to get ready to go.”
                She nodded. “I’ll meet you back at the main building before you leave.”
                “Ok.” He headed off. Poppet watched him go, her eyes thoughtful as they followed him.
                The camping spell that Faelan had taught to Shikarou had certain inherent limitations, insomuch that there was a certain level that the caster couldn’t go below in reducing the spell. The result of this was that evening, there were two tents and two campfires, Faelan’s was a nice cheery normal fire and Shikarou’s a bright blue to match his blue tent.
                Faelan looked at the camp and sighed. “Why a blue fire?”
                “I haven’t figured out how to color just the tent.” Shikarou frowned. “I also haven’t figured out how to move the bathroom to the other side of the living area.”
                Faelan gave him an odd look. “Why does it matter?”
                “It screws up the feng shui where it is right now and I don’t have any mirrors.”
                “Do you have any idea how silly that sounds?”
                “You taught me a spell that makes a tent with an extradimensional space in it that has a huge living area, bathroom, seven separate bedrooms, kitchen and hot tub and you want to talk to me about silly?” He shook his head. “By the way, I have figured out how to modify the spell enough to soundproof the bedrooms.”
                “And?” Faelan gave his brother a hard look.
                “You’re still working on mastering Light of Heaven, remember?”
                “I’ll tell Svetlana about this mod,” Faelan threatened in a low voice.
                “Sorry, she’s going to have to wait. I’ve already got a queue forming at my bedroom door and I’m thinking about putting up one of those number systems.”
                “You know, ‘you are now serving number three’.” Shikarou grinned.
                “Has anyone told you recently just how twisted your sense of humor is?”
                “You are probably going to try and explain it to me again, no matter how recently someone else has tried.” Shikarou paused for a heartbeat. “I’m right, aren’t I?”
                Faelan punched his brother in the shoulder. “Stop that.” Shikarou just grinned in response.
                Shikarou pulled his backpack over and started rummaging through it. Faelan watched him curiously. “More wine?”
                “No.” Shikarou pulled out a golden sphere about 15 centimeters in diameter. “Might as well launch one of the comsats now.” He set the sphere on the ground and stared at it while accessing his twee.
                Accessing orbital communication system. Handshake complete, beginning programming. There was a pause. Programming complete, beginning initialization. Another pause. The sphere rose into the air until it hovered a meter off of the ground. Systems initialized. Initiating launch protocols. Launch protocols ready. All systems nominal. Initiating artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence online. All systems nominal. Awaiting orders.
                Shikarou took a deep breath. “Begin launch sequence.”
                Activating evasion systems. The sphere faded from view. Evasion systems nominal. Launch sequence initiated. Orbital communication system launch in ten seconds.
                Faelan and Shikarou folded their ears back and moved away. There was a sudden sonic boom and air rushed into the space where the satellite had hovered. Leaves were sucked up behind it and fluttered to the ground.
                Launch successful. The communication system will reach eight hundred kilometers in one hour and six minutes. The system will begin final initiation in three hours, nine minutes and twelve seconds.
                “Let me know a couple of minutes before the system is supposed to complete final initialization. I’ll want to verify successful deployment.” Shikarou looked at his brother. “In a little over four hours we’ll know if eight hundred kilometers is too far out or not.”
                Faelan nodded. “Fine. Let me know what happens. I’m supposed to tame the twins tonight so you won’t see me until morning, unless the world ends.
                “What about security?”
                “I’ve put Tetsuyo on watch until morning. She’ll be fine.”
                Shikarou glanced at his own tent. “I wonder what’s going on in there?”
                “Who cares? Why don’t you teach me that spell modification?”
                “I guess I can live with you being that much more in my debt.”
                Inside his tent, Branwyn was talking to her two harem sisters in the living area. “I know Misaki doesn’t know how to cook but what about you, Bonnie?”
                The Valkyrie shook her head. “Sorry. My former Tamer didn’t get far enough from town to worry about cooking. When we traveled, we did so by ship or airship.”
                Branwyn sighed. “Great. None of us knows how to cook.”
                “Maybe Shikarou knows how. I think he cooked the other day.” Bonnie looked around the room. “This place is unbelievable.”
                The alpha refused to be distracted. “It doesn’t matter if he’s a bloody chef. We’re supposed to be taking care of him.”
                Misaki shook her head. “He wants to take care of us. We should let him help.”
                “When we get to Lairg we’ll see about buying a cooking T2 for us to all use.” Branwyn grimaced. “And some cookbooks, since we’ve got this place to stash them in.” She turned to Bonnie. “Svetlana told you that everything comes back like it was before?”
                “For the most part. She said that the chores are all done, the beds made and clean, and the dishes are clean and put away, but everything else is like you left it. She keeps all sorts of stuff in her room.”
                Branwyn smiled. “I like Shikarou’s idea of roughing it.”
                Misaki sighed. “I don’t. I’d prefer to be outside.”
                The Unicorn gave her a mysterious smile. “You haven’t looked around, have you?”
                “No. No reason. It’s inside.” Her tone indicated that she was quite sure that inside was the first vestibule of Hell.
                “Well, I have. Shikarou told me that he was changing the spell that made this place, and I think some of the changes he made were for you.” Branwyn took her harem sister’s hand. “Come on, I think you’ll like this.”
                She led the Boobisaur to one of the bedrooms and pushed the door open. The room had no bed, instead the floor was covered with soft grass and a noon sun glowed overhead.
                Misaki dropped her hand and walked into the center of the room. “It feels like outside.” She looked back at Branwyn. “But it isn’t. It’s night outside.”
                Branwyn smiled. “Our master made this for you.”
                Misaki settled down in the grass and stretched out. “I like this.” She waved a hand vaguely in the direction of the door. “Go away. I am tired.”
                Branwyn cocked an eyebrow. “You do not give me orders, young lady. Get up; there are still chores that need to be done.” Misaki grumbled but climbed to her feet and followed her alpha out.
                They quickly split up the chores and had them done, except for the meal. Branwyn sighed. “I have to go back to the Conservatory anyway, so I guess I’ll grab some food for us while I’m there.” She looked at the other two. “This is the only time I’ll be allowed to do this, mother was quite firm in her instructions. I have to go back to get some gifts for the two of you. I’ll be back in a little bit.” She vanished as she teleported out of the room.
                There was a slam as Misaki returned to her room and shut the door. Bonnie shook her head and laughed. “We are going to be so spoiled. Any pokegirls he loses are going to be soooo whiney to their new masters.” She poked her head into the room with the hot tub and watched the hot water swirl. “Well, let the spoiling begin.” She started shedding armor and clothes.
                When Shikarou entered the tent, Branwyn was waiting for him with a nice dinner. She smiled. “We’ve got small problem.”
                “What is it?”
                “None of us can cook.” She looked embarrassed. “I never thought I would be in a harem without at least one pokegirl who can cook.”
                “So where did this come from?” Shikarou gestured at the meal. “Ah, the Conservatory.”
                “Correct. But I can’t do this every night.” She sighed. “I’m sorry I let you down.”
                “It’s not that big a deal. I can do some cooking.”
                “You are supposed to be taken care of by your pokegirls. If they can’t I, as your alpha, look bad.”
                Shikarou sighed. “You shouldn’t be so worried. I didn’t expect the harem to click smoothly at first. None of us have worked together before, and if you think about it, you’ll realize that it’s going to be a while before we work well together.” He took her hand. “And to top it off, I chose an alpha who has not only had no experience as alpha, she’s had no experience in a harem and whom I suspect Poppet has kept as far from any authority role as she could.”
                Branwyn hung her head. “Is it that obvious?”
                “I know Poppet that well.”
                “How? You’d never met her before yesterday. Why did she give me to you?”
                “When we met, Poppet tried to read my mind and failed. I have magical shields, which I’m sure you’ve noticed. She asked me to drop them and I did. When she went skimming through my mind, I used the carrier wave of her thoughts to go through hers, whereupon I learned several things that she didn’t want anyone to know.”
                Branwyn stared at him in shock. “You learned about her project, didn’t you?” She almost whispered the words.
                “I can’t tell you what I learned. I promised Poppet never to tell anyone until she gave me permission.” He smiled.
                “I see. What are we going to do about the cooking issue?”
                “I’m not worried about that. I’ll do the cooking while you ladies come up to speed and then we’ll take turns.” He looked thoughtful for a moment. “That includes Misaki. I want her in the cooking rotation as well.”
                “Now, I want you to understand that I’m not from around here, so I don’t have the ingrained prejudices about pokegirls that others might have. I also don’t have the ingrained fears or automatic respect, either, but that is beside the point. I have my own issues instead and one of them is that we, and I mean me and my harem members, are partners in this Tamer’s journey. We will live as a team, fight as a team, and probably eventually love as a team, although we won’t do the last all of the time. I prefer to be able to give my personal attention to my ladies, and I can’t do that very well if others are pulling at various body parts that belong to me.”
                Branwyn chuckled. “I can understand how that might prove distracting.”
                He smiled. “Exactly. Now I understand that eventually I will take my Master Tamer’s test and get that certification and then I’ll be able to keep pokegirls in storage, so not everyone will be traveling with me all of the time. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but I understand the leagues are pretty firm on that particular rule, so I suspect I’ll either have to live with that restriction or else get really creative about getting around it.”
                “In any case, I don’t have six pokegirls right now, so it isn’t an issue, at least not for the moment.”
                Branwyn shook her head. “Actually, it is an issue.” At his curious look she continued. “You’ve got a Valkyrie and they have a habit of collecting stray pokegirls for their Tamers, whether he knows about it or not. This means that you could wake up in the morning, assuming I let you get any sleep, and find a bag full of occupied pokeballs waiting for you.”
                Shikarou smiled. “That only works if I have spare pokeballs, and right now I’ve got three full pokeballs and five empty pokeballs, so I don’t see where she could do too much damage.”
                “I disagree. Mother gave me backpacks for each of your pokegirls and I know that she had each one customized for the particular pokegirl. As your alpha, mine has ten spare pokeballs, and I think Bonnie has another thirty or so.”
                Shikarou’s ears flicked and his face went blank. In an unemotional voice he said, “That was really nice of her.”
                Branwyn kept the smile from her face. “Most of what I have is potions and other stuff. I haven’t gone through the other packs, but I think that is what makes up most of their contents as well.”
                Shikarou looked at her evenly. “You know, it will become even harder to lie to me when we are delta bonded, so as my alpha you might want to consider not doing that again.”
                She frowned. “How did you know?”
                “Perhaps one day you will find out. Now tell me that again without any of the lies.”
                “Fine.” Branwyn made a face. “I figured that lies wouldn’t hurt you because you would then tell anyone who questioned you what you thought was the truth.”
                “Cute, but unnecessary. I can not answer if I choose to. I’m also not compelled to tell anything close to the whole truth.”
                She nodded. “All right. Mother gave me a pokepack for each of us as well as a converter and a battery. We’ll have to get an electric pokegirl for the converter but until then we can recharge the pokepacks at any pokecenter or even plug it into a wall outlet at a hotel, although the owners might protest when they get their electric bill or we blow some fuses.”
                Shikarou snorted. “I can cast a lightning spell that should work.”
                “I can’t wait for you to teach me some of this magic spell stuff.” She cocked her head. “Anyways, I packed the pokepacks and I heavily raided some of the medical stocks at the Conservatory. We hardly ever use them and I only took the stuff that would be routinely replaced within a couple of months anyways. I did give Bonnie forty pokeballs. I’ve got ten and Misaki has ten, for just in case.”
                He sighed. “And how is Poppet likely to react to this?”
                “She gave me the keys.” Branwyn climbed into his lap and rested her head on his shoulder. “She always makes sure her daughters are well taken care of, I even have my own com unit. And I think she likes you. I’m not sure, since I don’t remember her ever liking anyone else, but I think she does.”
                “I’m a likeable guy.”
                “I’m starting to realize that.” She looked up at him. “The Conservatory didn’t have everything I wanted, so I went to Wick to pick up some the rest of the shopping items and while I was at the Pokecenter I met a very nice NurseJoy who sends her affections. She seemed much taken with you and became very helpful when I mentioned your name. She also told me to watch out for countertops. Does that mean anything to you?” Shikarou’s shoulders were shaking with suppressed laughter. “I see that it does.”
                Branwyn twisted around in his lap and started to fill a plate with food. “You do realize that we don’t have a table, don’t you?”
                “Well, we are roughing it,” he replied in a dry tone.
                “I happen to like this setup. However, if you want group meals, a table will help to define where to meet.”
                “I see your point. How about a nice Edo table? Chairs take up too much room and pillows are more comfortable.”
                Branwyn handed him the plate and slid out of his lap to sit next to him with their hips touching. She filled a plate for herself. “That would be fine. Just get one big enough for six pokegirls, one Tamer, and guests. Probably three or four guests. Most Tamers will have their own pokegirls.”
                “All right. We’ll see what we have in Lairg.”
                “Oh, about Lairg. You’ll want to steer clear of the Sheriff. He’s very corrupt and would just love to stick it to the Conservatory or any of its allies. I will be a visible sign of you having a connection to the Conservatory, even if it is implied.”
                “I’ll remember to warn Faelan in the morning.” Shikarou started eating. “By the way, I would also like the harem to learn to use chopsticks. I’m just not too happy about forks.”
                “Ok.” She smiled. “We’ll start them out slowly and make a game out of it.”
                “Excellent. Now let’s eat so we can go to bed.”
                “What about the group meal?” Branwyn gave him an arch look.
                “I’m willing to let that slide tonight.” He gave her a long look. “I’ve got other things on my mind right now.”
                As soon as the door to his room shut Branwyn was in his arms, kissing him hungrily, her body plastering itself against his. Shikarou ran his hands up her back and unzipped her jumpsuit. She stepped back, kicked off her boots, and peeled out of her outfit.
                “Strip. Please.” Branwyn helped as he flung clothes off. She ran her palms over his chest and sighed happily. She looked into his eyes. “Would you follow my lead this once?”
                “I will.”
                She pulled him gently to the bed and pushed him down onto it before sliding in next to his body. “Just lie still for now.” She kissed him gently and rubbed her lips over his cheeks. “I want to taste you.” She licked his cheek and smiled before kissing her way over his chest. She nibbled his nipple and he made a noise in the back of his throat. Branwyn gave him an impish look and licked it quickly. She smiled when he repeated the noise.
                She kissed her way down his stomach and over the line of his hip, pausing when she reached his groin. Branwyn stared at his cock as it moved in time to his heart. “How gentle do I have to be with it?”
                Shikarou chuckled. “I’ll let you know if you are too rough, but as long as you don’t try to tie it in a knot or bite it off I should be fine.”
                Branwyn leaned forward and blew gently on him, watching it jerk. She smiled and ran a finger over his head and down the shaft. The Unicorn glanced up at him and leaned forward to press her nose against his shaft. She inhaled hard, her eyes closing.
                “You still smell warm and fuzzy.” Her breath tickled. She looked up at him again, her eyes filling with heat. “You smell right.” Her voice was husky.
                She licked his shaft slowly, her tongue leaving a shiny trail as it moved up to the head where she swirled her tongue over its surface before taking him in her mouth. Shikarou moaned loudly. She smiled up at him and released him with a pop.
                Branwyn trailed her fingers over his balls and giggled. “It’s so soft.” She slid up his body to kiss him as she swung a leg over his waist.
                “Can I help?”
                Branwyn nibbled his lips. “If I say no?”
                “Then no it is.”
                She gave him an arch look. “Yes.”
                Shikarou twisted his fingers in her long blonde hair and pulled her head back as he sat up to close his teeth over her throat. Branwyn moaned and rubbed her wetness against him. He bit gently and she hissed in pleasure.
                She sighed. “Enough.” Shikarou looked up at her curiously and nodded before sinking back to the bed. Branwyn smiled and kissed him softly. “Thank you.”
                She reached down between them and grasped his shaft, lining it up as she raised up slightly. Her eyes closed as she sank down, taking him in millimeter by millimeter. Branwyn moaned in a low tone as her hips dropped, engulfing him. She placed her hands on his chest and rolled her hips in a slow circle as she worked to get as much of him inside her as she could.
                Branwyn’s eyes slowly opened partially and she looked lazily down at him. “This feels so right,” she sighed. “I could stay this way forever.” Her breath caught and she shuddered as her sex clamped down on him. She slowly settled against his chest.
                Shikarou wrapped his arms around her and she sighed contentedly. She yelped as he rolled, putting her underneath him. As he raised himself up on his arms her eyes opened again. “I thought you weren’t going to help,” she murmured.
                “You stopped moving.” He slowly stroked into her and she moaned. He sped up and Branwyn gasped, hooking her ankles over his hips to urge him faster as she raised her hips to meet his thrusts.
                She convulsed beneath him and her nails drew a line of fire down his back as an orgasm blasted through her body. She screamed and sank her teeth into his shoulder as waves of pleasure ripped through her.
                Shikarou drove himself into her faster and faster, bringing her through an almost constant series of orgasms until his cries mingled with hers as he spilled his seed into her.
                Branwyn went rigid beneath him and tried to rip a piece from his shoulder blade before throwing her head back and shrieking.
                Slowly their breathing eased as they came down together. Her eyes opened, glittering with unshed tears as her eyes searched his. Shikarou kissed her gently, his tongue exploring her mouth and she groaned happily as she returned the kiss. “I can feel you in my mind now, even through my shields,” he whispered against her lips. “It feels right, like you’ve always belonged there.”
                The Unicorn smiled. “I feel like a part of me has been missing and I never knew it.” She gave a low laugh. “I guess I wanted your help after all, I just didn’t know it at the time.” She looked into his eyes with a smirk. “So when will you be ready to help me again?”
                Shikarou responded by pulling his hardness almost all of the way out of her and slowly sliding it back in. Branwyn’s eyes widened as he smiled and murmured, “Now.”
                When Faelan left his tent the sun was peeking over the horizon. He found Shikarou perched ten meters up a tree on the edge of camp.
                “What are you doing?”
                Shikarou dropped to the ground, landing easily. “Just taking a look around. Didn’t see anything worth noting.”
                “How is our comsat?”
                “It’s doing just fine. I should be able to download the first map information this evening. I’ve updated the access codes and sent them to you.”
                “The satellite is doing an orbit every hundred and four minutes and covers the globe twice a day. We should never be out of touch more than six hours.” He grinned. “Not that I want to talk to you that often.”
                “Right back at you.” Faelan looked around. “When will your pokegirls be ready to go?”
                “In about fifteen minutes. Yours?”
                “An hour or so. How was your first night in your tent?”
                “Branwyn finally collapsed around three this morning. I must admire the girl’s determination. Bonnie had her emergency around four.” He snorted. “She burst into my room to announce that the bathtub had exploded. It turned out that she had bathed in the hot tub and it manufactured enough bubbles from her soap that it overflowed and ran into the living area. The soap bubbles were over a meter deep.” He chuckled. “Then we had to talk about how to use the bath.”
                “Why, was there some confusion?”
                “Naturally I set up a Japanese bath, so it took a little explaining.”
                “Ah, cold wash and hot soak.” Faelan glanced at his brother. “We’ll be getting to Lairg today. It’s not very big, and while it had a pokecenter once, I heard it might be closed.”
                Shikarou frowned. “Oh, by the bye, Branwyn thought it important to warn me last night about the Sheriff of Lairg. According to her, he’s so crooked he screws his socks on every day.”
                “Wonderful. I wonder why his OfficerJenny doesn’t keep him on the straight and narrow?”
                “I pulled his classified records. He doesn’t have one. Just a Denmother named Molly.”
                “Um. She’d be willing to follow his lead. Growlie evolutions are loyal to individuals more than creeds.” Faelan poked at the fire. “We’ll need to be careful then. These small town sheriffs can be easily annoyed and they can have a lot of power locally. On top of that a powerful Denmother can be nothing to pick a fight with just for fun.”
                “Are you going to pull rank on him?” Shikarou looked curious.
                “It doesn’t work that way. I’m nominally a member of the BLSF Special Operations Group, but they don’t have any jurisdiction in normal police affairs. He’d just tell me to go to hell if I tried to butt in to anything he was involved in.”    
                “So why do you bother to belong to all of those acronyms?”
                “Because working for the DSA is fun. I get to travel and beat up bad guys.”
                Shikarou laughed. “I’m going to do that, and nobody’s going to be telling me to go to hell in the meantime. If this Sheriff gets in my face, you just stand back.”
                “You won’t enjoy doing that. Just let him be.” Faelan took a deep breath. “Can I get you to do a favor for me?”
                “Ask and find out.”
                “If anything happens to me, I would like you to take Svetlana into your harem.”
                “How does Svetlana feel about this?”
                “I haven’t asked her.”
                “Then ask her out here, please.”
                Faelan cocked his head. “She’ll be out in a minute.”
                A short while later the Megami-sama emerged from the tent. She was wearing a short dress that showed off her legs nicely. Shikarou looked her over and she smiled when she noticed his evaluation. “What do you want, Shikarou?”
                “Faelan has asked me to take you into my harem if he gets killed. I wanted to see how you felt about this idea before telling him what I thought of it.”
                The smile vanished from her face as she glanced at her Tamer. “Why would you want him to take me?”
                “Because I love you and want you taken care of, especially if I’m not around.” Faelan took her hand. “I know that if Shikarou agrees, you will be well taken care of.”
                Svetlana took a deep breath and asked cautiously, “Is there something I should know about?”
                Faelan looked confused. Shikarou laughed. “No. He’s not going to drop dead anytime soon, he just wants me to take care of his family if he does die. Apparently you are his family right now.”
                “I see. What about Midori? Or the rest of your harem?”
                Faelan looked uncomfortable. “I’m only really concerned about you. Besides, I figured you’d work to convince Shikarou to take the others.”
                “Of course I would!” Svetlana turned an outraged glare on her Tamer. She took a deep breath and sighed. “How do you feel about this, Shikarou?”
                He stared into the forest. “You are my brother’s wife and his acknowledged love. You would be welcome in my harem, no matter what the situation.” He looked up at her. “And if you didn’t want to join my harem, you would still be welcome.”
                She looked puzzled. “How would that work?”
                “I’d give you what you needed, be it lodging, money, or taming and you’d ignore me otherwise. Look, I realize that you are uncomfortable about this, but as my brother’s widow, I would be willing to do what it took to make you welcome, even if you didn’t want to join my harem or even didn’t like me very much.”
                Svetlana patted him on the shoulder. “You’re not that bad. It’s just that you aren’t much like Faelan and we got off to a rocky start. If something happens to Faelan, you and I will work something out.”
                “Fine.” Shikarou looked at his brother. “You heard the lady.”
                “Thank you. Both of you.”
                It was a little past midday when a path appeared, leading another hundred meters to the edge of Lairg, where a small sign announced the village and asked newcomers to step into the Sheriff’s office to register. Faelan shrugged. “When in the Blue Continent.”
                Shikarou snickered. “Do as the Blue Continians do.” Faelan just shook his head sadly.
                The office was nicely decorated and sunlight cast a bright glow over everything. “May I help you?” She was over two meters tall and well proportioned for her size. Shikarou reflected that this must be Molly, the sheriff’s Denmother.
                “Hi.” Shikarou smiled. “I’m Shikarou and this is my brother Faelan. We’re here to register.”
                “Ah, I see.” The Denmother moved to a desk and pulled up a file on her computer. “Sit down, this will take just a few minutes.” She turned to Faelan. “Let’s take care of your paperwork first.” She ran through the questions efficiently if not quickly and turned to Shikarou. Difficulties began almost immediately.
                “I’ll need your full name, please.”
                She glanced up at him. “Your full name.” She stressed the word full.
                “That is my full name.” He watched her ears go flat and then back up.
                “Let me see your Tamer entry,” she sighed. “I guess some people just have to be difficult.”
                Shikarou pulled up his entry and handed the pokedex over. The Denmother gave it a glance and then a second look. She glared at it briefly and then pulled up the same entry on her computer. Now the glare was aimed at him. He kept his ears up and his expression helpful. It didn’t appear to work.
                “Would making up a last name help this along?” Shikarou spread his hands helplessly. “I’m willing to if it will help out.”
                She frowned. “It won’t make any difference. Only a pokecenter can update a Tamer record and ours closed recently. I’m going to have to call the sheriff.” The Denmother picked up a com and made a quick call. “Now, while we are waiting on him, how about we settle up your fees?”
                “Fees?” Faelan sounded pleasantly curious, but the cant of his ears indicated annoyance. “What fees?”
                “You came into town on the road didn’t you? Well, there’s a toll for using the road and there is also a city entry tax.” The Denmother’s voice was brisk, but she looked vaguely unhappy. “It totals up to C1500 each.” Faelan choked but recovered quickly.
                Shikarou’s response was interrupted as a tubby gray haired fellow came into the building. He looked around. “Now what was so important as to interrupt my lunch, Molly?”
                “Sheriff, we’ve got a problem with this young foreigner. He’s got no last name listed and there was something else you needed to take a look at.” She motioned to the monitor.
                The sheriff stomped over to the Denmother and leaned over her shoulder. “This had better be good.” Shikarou noticed that she edged away from the sheriff’s touch.
                The sheriff peered at the screen for a moment, his mouth moving slowly as he read. Suddenly his face froze for an instant and then his eyes shifted up to Shikarou. He stood up suddenly. “Boy, I need to inspect your pokegirls. Get them out so I can see them.”
                “Why? Don’t you need to see his too?” Shikarou sounded sincerely curious.
                The sheriff’s eyes narrowed. “If I get any more attitude from you, you’ll be spending the night in my jail, son. Now release your pokegirls so I can inspect them.”
                He came around the desk and grabbed Shikarou’s arm. “Right now.”
                Shikarou’s face didn’t change and his ears never moved as he looked at the sheriff’s hand. Molly stood up suddenly, shoving her chair halfway across the room. Her ears were flat and she watched Shikarou intently. “You are going to have to let go of my arm so I can release my pokegirls.” His voice was calm.
                The sheriff let go. “That’s better. Now let those pokegirls out so I can inspect them.” His eyes gleamed.
                Shikarou smiled at the sheriff as he stood. Molly made a movement. He glanced at her and his smile grew. She took a step backwards and glared. Faelan put his hands on the arms of his chair. “Now you just stay still, son.” The sheriff watched Faelan carefully. “You don’t want to start something in my town. Molly here is tougher than you can imagine.”
                Faelan did his best to look harmless as he kept an eye on his brother. “Of course not sheriff, I am not going to start anything.”
                Shikarou carefully pulled his pokeballs from his belt and, one by one, activated them. “Ladies, this is the sheriff of Lairg and he says he needs to inspect my pokegirls.” He turned to the sheriff. “Would you like an introduction?”
                The sheriff had eyes for only one pokegirl. “Hello, Branwyn.” He almost leered. “I saw the name in this fellow’s pokedex and was concerned that you might have been kidnapped. You weren’t, were you?” He sounded hopeful.
                “Sheriff Godwin, what a pleasant surprise.” Branwyn nodded her greeting. “This is Shikarou, my Tamer. Poppet thinks that Shikarou would be a good Tamer for me.”
                “How can she be sure? He’s a bloody wog.” His eyes brightened. “You know, I could take you away from him, if you’d prefer a real Scot.”
                Branwyn seemed to consider it. “Mother has made up her mind and we both know she’d find out. Then we’d both be in trouble. No, I can’t do that to you.” She sighed. “I might be willing to try to convince her, but she’s still upset about that little affair with Devon in Glasgow. For some reason, she still blames you for what happened. I’d hate to think what she might do if she found another reason to be unhappy with you, so for your own safety I couldn’t let you take me from Shikarou.”
                Shikarou could hear the sheriff’s teeth grind. “How was I to know that little bastard would blame me for his raping a whole police station full of pokegirls? The little shit gets to fuck all kinds of pokegirls and I get the fallout from it.” He almost growled. “Fine, take your pokegirls and get out.”
                Molly hesitated. Shikarou smiled again. “Sheriff, we need to pay our tax and toll.”
                The sheriff visibly started. “Oh, really? Then pay them and leave.”
                Shikarou nodded. “Of course.” He pulled out his account information as the sheriff slammed the door shut on his way out. “I’ve got the whole C3000,” he announced to his brother. He smiled at Molly again. “I’ll need a receipt.”
                After paying the tax and putting his pokegirls up except for Branwyn, the brothers headed outside. The sheriff was sitting in a chair, puffing on his pipe. He glared at them over the bowl. A calculating look crossed Shikarou’s face and vanished. “Sheriff, I’m going to be heading to the gym up at Stornoway. Could you tell me what the roads are like between here and there?”
                Sheriff Godwin snorted a blue cloud. “There aren’t any roads up that way. You have to go due west across the wilderness and follow the coast north once you hit it.” A speculative look came into his eyes. “You do that and you’ll get right up there close to it. Of course, you’ll need a way to cross to the island, but I’m sure a resourceful young man such as yourself won’t have too much difficulty.”
                “Thank you, sheriff.” Shikarou nodded. “That’s a great help.”
                Shikarou poked Faelan. “What!”
                “Your growling is frightening Misaki.”
                Faelan looked around. The Boobisaur was crouched against her Tamer, on the side opposite his brother. He gave her a guilty smile. “Sorry.” He looked at Shikarou. “I’m just frustrated about what happened at Lairg. Can you believe that human?”     
                “I believe it. I was there, remember? I must admit, I do think that a city entry tax and a county road toll a bit excessive for a bloody spot in the forest that has less than two hundred meters of path, much less a road.” Shikarou snickered. “I, however, am not mad.”
                Faelan stared at his brother suspiciously for a moment and then sighed. “What do you have planned?”
                “I’m going to let human nature take its course.” Shikarou nodded wisely. “That’s all I’m going to have to do.” He slipped his arm around Misaki, who cuddled against him with a smile.
                “Explain.” Faelan’s voice was flat. “Svetlana isn’t around to protest, so let me in on the fun too.”
                “Did you happen to notice how the Sheriff reacted to Branwyn?”
                “If he’d been any more excited, he’d have creamed his pants.” Misaki giggled at Faelan’s words.
                “He was also paying close attention when I asked about the condition of the roads up towards Stornoway and the gym there.” He smiled. “I was so disappointed to find out it is all wilderness.” A snort. “Not that I really expected otherwise. So now the Sheriff knows where I’m going and thanks to his directions, he knows almost exactly the path I’m going to take.”
                Faelan frowned. “Do you really think he’s going to attack you?”
                “No, but I do expect to be attacked on my way. Someone like that usually has a gang tucked up the sleeve of their kimono.” Shikarou gave a savage grin. “He’s going to lose some gang members after I’m through with them, if not the entire gang.”
                “Don’t forget, their plan is going to be somewhat similar, only they intend to do it to you.”
                “Hey, if everyone could play, the game wouldn’t be any fun. And these guys are planning to attack an angry mage. Clueless bastards aren’t even playing the right game. I almost feel sorry for them.”
                “Aren’t you supposed to let your pokegirls do most of any fighting? If not, why have them in the first place?”
                “I’ll let them fight first. However, when those idiots resort to cheating, I’ll have no choice but to open up a potion bottle of hurt on them.” Shikarou had a saintly look on his face. “It’ll be a clear cut case of self defense, and I’m going to edit the video records to make sure of that.”
                “You’re going to attack them first, aren’t you?”
                “That is not what the video will show.”
                Faelan sighed. “My sticking around will only ruin your plans, won’t it?”
                “You could put Svetlana up. Only you can’t, can you? Not if she gets a whiff of what is going to happen.” Shikarou shrugged. “I hadn’t planned on your help, but I would have accepted it. So where are you going?”
                “I need to return to the Indigo Plateau. I’ve got a line on a group of pirates who have an unfortunate tendency to eat their captives.” He frowned. “I realize that protein is protein, but according to the forensics, they don’t wait until their victims are dead.”
                Shikarou frowned. “Be careful. That is a behavior pattern of the Mantis, at least according to the pokedex entry. Don’t go getting yourself eaten right after I’ve agreed to take your celestial pokegirl into my harem. That wouldn’t be fair. You’ve got to live for at least another century.”
                “Svetlana most likely won’t live that long.”
                “Really?” Shikarou sounded surprised.
                “Oh, right. I get it now.”
                “Gee, for a Celt, you’re pretty quick on the uptake.”
                Faelan smacked his brother. “Right. And the peasants from your lands are so dumb they had to make swamps and fill them with their own excrement before they could feel at home.”
                “Good one! There’s hope for you yet.” They grinned at each other.
                “Now here’s the plan. You go around and get on the other side of the camp and Mark and I will hit them from this side.” The leader whispered as he pointed towards the campfire, a blue glow barely visible thirty meters ahead.
                Shikarou grinned in the night. From where he was, a scant handful of meters from his attackers, they might as well have been screaming. They had no idea he was there, or that his pokegirls were all around them. He glanced over at Misaki, who leaned against him. He whispered to her. “Ready?” She nodded and smiled bravely.
                Red glows appeared as the criminals released their pokegirls. “Go,” Shikarou whispered. Misaki shivered and released a fine blue powder from her closed bulb, the lust dust drifting in the breeze towards her victims.
                A female voice spoke from ahead. “Master, I smell-.” The voice broke off with a choking cough as the dust drifted through the group. A female moan sounded suddenly and men started shouting.
                Shikarou grabbed Misaki up and ran. She continued to stream lust dust out behind him, coating him with the powder. She giggled against his chest. “You will need to bathe before getting too close to your pokegirls.” He just laughed.
                “Bonnie, give me a sitrep.” Before the battle, he’d cast a communication spell on all of them, giving them the ability to communicate regardless of where they were. He’d also cast a nightvision spell on all of them.
                Her voice came like she was standing next to him instead of circling twenty meters over the field he’d chosen as a battleground. “One of the pokegirls is tearing the clothes off of one of the men and another man is yelling. Oops, I think she’s his pokegirl. Yes, the yelling man is now hitting the man being tamed.” She laughed brightly. “There is at least one pokegirl on your trail and I think there are two others, location unknown. No one has taken to the air as far as I can see. I saw one other man before you got started, his location is also unknown.”
                Shikarou pulled to a stop and let Misaki down. “Hide.” She scampered off into the forest and vanished. “Bonnie, move over me and be my eyes if you can. Branwyn, move to where you can see me. Most likely I’m the target, since they heard me crashing through the bushes.”
                “I’m on it.” That was from Bonnie. Branwyn merely clicked her tongue twice. Evidently she’d picked something up about communications etiquette from their delta bond.
                Shikarou turned to face the oncoming pursuit and held out his hand. “Light.” His light globe appeared and hovered. He put a slightly panicked look on his face. “They’re right behind me! Move to where I can see them coming.” The light jumped a handful of centimeters and zipped away from him, heading forward.
                Shikarou grinned. “Sucker.” There was a sudden flare of light as a flamethrower attack went off and almost instantly his light came zipping back and raced past him. He cupped his hands and spit into them, murmuring a spell. The saliva quivered and began to grow. He tossed it onto the path he’d run down and started backing up quietly. A form appeared out of the darkness as it raced after the light. The pokegirl hit the pool of water and briefly shrieked as the water surged up and over her, engulfing her entire body. Light flared briefly as she tried to use flamethrower again, but the water merely surged down her now open throat.
                The bubble of water jerked as she tried to claw her way free and then collapsed as the water sucked the air from her lungs. Shikarou listened as her heartbeat started to slow and broke the spell. With a low roar, the bubble of water disintegrated into a cool cloud of vapor and dissipated.
                Shikarou was slammed sideways as a power bolt took him under the arm. He slid along the ground and flipped to his feet, grinning at the Dark Elf who stood staring in shock. “You’d better hit harder than that, precious.” She growled and levitated into the air to get some room. Suddenly she jerked as tentacles whipped up her legs and wrapped around her waist.
                Branwyn grabbed Misaki’s tentacles and began to hand over hand the Dark Elf
down to her. The Dark Elf responded with a power bolt into Branwyn’s chest. The transformed unicorn shrugged off the bolt, laughed and kept pulling.
                “Behind you!” Bonnie’s voice rang in Shikarou’s ears and he spun. Behind him was a nude woman with multicolored hair that gleamed oddly in the moonlight. She hit him repeatedly with fury swipes, the needles she held slashing his shirt and chest. Powder drifted up from his clothes as she hit him. Suddenly she gasped and coughed as she sucked the lust dust into her lungs. Her eyes went big and round and she suddenly grabbed him and kissed him hard, her body writhing against his.
                “Down, bitch!” Branwyn hit her with takedown, almost knocking Shikarou from his feet as the two pokegirls went tumbling along the ground. Only the unicorn rolled to her feet, her four hooves carefully stepping on the prone pokegirl. Bones snapped as she pranced. She looked up to see Shikarou’s expression. “What?”
                “Don’t kill her.” Branwyn grumbled but stepped off of her target.
                Shikarou turned to see how Misaki was doing, but the fight appeared to be over. Bonnie slammed the hilt of her sword against the Dark Elf’s head one last time and stood as Misaki retracted her tentacles. “Now we need to get the other one,” the Valkyrie said as she spread her wings and launched herself into the air.
                Branwyn paced up next to Shikarou. “Get on.”
                He slid onto her back with a leer. “How can I resist such a pretty girl or such a nice offer?” She flashed him a smile over her shoulder and teleported back to the original scene as Misaki pulled some restraints out of a belt pouch and started binding pokegirls.
                Branwyn looked back at Shikarou as the arrived near where he’d waited for the ambushers. “Are you badly hurt?”
                Shikarou slid off of her back and winced. Branwyn turned her body and leaned down so she could look at his injury. “Raise your arm.” He did so and she sucked air. “I can see your bare ribs. They look intact and there is little bleeding.” She looked at his face. “What does that tell you?”
                “That I’ll be fine and I need a new shirt.” He frowned. “I don’t hear anything.” His ears swiveled. “Nothing.” He took a deep breath and pointed. “Blood. That way.” Branwyn followed as he loped off.
                There was a man lying on the ground in a pool of blood. He was nude from his waist to his knees and a knife protruded from his throat. Shikarou chuckled quietly. “I guess this was the guy that wasn’t her Tamer.”  He glanced upwards as Branwyn moved so he could lean against her shoulder. “Thanks. Bonnie, we appear to be short two humans and one pokegirl. Do you see anything?”
                “No. I don’t see any movement.”
                “Great. The lust dust has overwhelmed any scent they left, so we appear to be out of luck.”
                Branwyn reached down and touched an ear tuft gently. “Can you track the dust itself?”
                Shikarou blinked at the question. “Are you aware that smart girls make me hot?” Branwyn colored slightly and then smiled. “Let’s find out.” He sniffed carefully and then took his shirt off and blew his nose in it, hard. He tossed the shirt aside and sniffed again, slowly casting about. “Aha. The nose knows. Three people, one female. The dastardly villains went that away.”
                They tracked the group for an hour, moving slowly in case of an ambush, while Bonnie circled overhead. Suddenly her voice sounded. “I see movement about twenty yards ahead of you. It looks like them.”
                Shikarou and Branwyn halted. “Bonnie, I’m going to launch a flare. When you see it head up, close your eyes. You too, Branwyn. Three, two, one.” He held up his hand and a bolt of light shot skyward, exploding into brilliance once it reached a hundred meters. The ground below lit up as if bathed by the noon sun, revealing three figures moving through the darkness. They sped up.
                Shikarou sneered. “Wrong move. You freeze when a flare lights up. Motion draws the eye. Bonnie, wingover and slash as you go by. Mow them down. Branwyn, trample the pokegirl right after Bonnie hits them. Ladies, remember I would like prisoners, but not at risk of yourselves.” Branwyn shot ahead as the Valkyrie dived with a shriek of joy. Shikarou rotated his arm and winced before trotting after the Unicorn.
                Up ahead someone yelled “Kill that bastard.”
                Shikarou hadn’t considered that his opponent’s attention would also be drawn to moving objects revealed by the flare, but he remembered the possibility belatedly when the armored pokegirl teleported in front of him, her sword already swinging. He threw himself backwards with a yelp, the sword leaving a smell of ozone as it whipped through the space his head had occupied milliseconds before.
                There were screams from up ahead as Bonnie ripped through the suddenly undefended humans. They cut off quickly.
                As Shikarou backpedaled furiously, he ran through his options. Jumping was bad against an opponent who could teleport to your destination before you got there. He didn’t have his sword out and for spellcasting you had to have the time to focus your will. It looked like he only had one option remaining.
                He turned and ran, moving in a zigzag pattern. He mentally patted himself on the back as a mystic bolt shot past. He tore through some bushes and dropped to the ground in a sliding halt before throwing himself in a very low arc a meter to his right. “Sword.” It appeared in his left hand as the armored pokegirl teleported in right where he’d dropped into the cover. He spun without rising and took her leg off at the knee, his enhanced strength cutting through her armor easily. She shrieked and fell, twisting to drive her sword through his belly, pinning him to the ground.
                Shikarou hissed in pain and muttered through gritted teeth, “That could have gone better.” The armored pokegirl raised herself up on one hand and pointed the other at him. It began to glow as he hissed and started a spell of his own.
                Suddenly she vanished in a flurry of hooves as Branwyn trampled her prone form, stomping until her enemy stopped moving.
                She looked down at him grimly as she grasped the hilt of the sword. “This is going to hurt,” she warned him.
                “No shit.” Shikarou gasped as she pulled the blade free. He muttered a spell and the pain faded. He slowly pushed himself to his feet, ignoring the twinges the spell left behind as a warning.
                Branwyn watched him anxiously. “Are you functional?”
                “I’m a quart low and I think I need some new wipers.” The Unicorn gave him a blank look. “Nevermind, I’m going to be fine. I’d have been doing much better if she hadn’t pinned me like a Buttitsfree, however.” He stuck his hand in the hole in his belly, exploring carefully. Branwyn turned green and looked quickly away. “I’m glad she missed the spine. Everything is mending properly and I’ll be healed in an hour or so.” Branwyn looked over again just in time to see him licking the blood from his hand.
                She threw up on him.
Name:                                                    Shikarou                                                               
Age:                                                        250                                                                                        
Residence:                                            Wick, Blue Continent                                                        
Region:                                  Scotland                                                                                               
Status:                                                   Active                                                                                   
Rank:                                                     20                                                                                          
Security Clearance:                             Delta                                                                                     
                Tamer                                    Y                                                            
                Master Tamer                      Y                                                            
                Researcher                            N                                                            
                Watcher                 N                                                            
                Breeder                  N                            
Active Harem
Species                   Name                                                     Level     
Unicorn                  Branwyn                                               41
Valkyrie                 Bonnie                                                   23
Boobisaur                             Misaki                                                    16                          
Alpha                                     Branwyn
Beta                                       None