Chapter 6: Koketsu Ni Irazunba Koji o Ezu
                “I still think that this idea is fraught with peril,” Circe pointed out for the fourth time.
                “I understand. Do you want out?” Shikarou cocked his head. “If you do, just say so.”
                “No, if you are going to do this, then I’m in. I’m just not sure this is something we should be doing.”
                Shikarou nodded and regarded the two sleeping figures for a moment before giving the male a nudge with his foot. “Wakey, wakey.”
                The man stirred slowly and groaned, sitting up and rubbing his back. “It’s too fucking cold,” he muttered.
                Circe watched curiously. “How is it that he has no memory of what happened? Let me guess, magic?”
                “Uh huh.” Shikarou crouched in front of the man. “Good morning. Well, Godwin, it’s time to pay the piper.”
                The sheriff blearily focused on Shikarou. “Who are you?”
                “You don’t remember? I’m Branwyn’s owner, Shikarou. You’ve been a naughty boy and now you get the chance to make good for a change.”
                “Where are we?” the sheriff asked as he looked around the grassy meadow. Large and small rocks dotted the area.
                “This is my island. Here’s the deal,” Shikarou smiled and handed the sheriff a thermos of tea. “You tried to have me murdered and take Branwyn. While I thought briefly about just killing you in your sleep, there are some other concerns that made me decide to instead give you the opportunity to win her in battle.”
                The sheriff’s eyes opened fully as he came suddenly wide awake. “I didn’t have anything to do with that.”
                “Don’t lie to me. I know when people lie, so it’s a waste of my time and yours.” Shikarou shook his head sadly. “Besides, there’s no one around except for me, Circe, you and Molly.” He pointed with his chin at the sleeping Denmother. “Circe?”
                A stick levitated into the air and poked Molly, who came instantly awake and rolled to her feet in a defensive posture.
                Shikarou smiled. “Good morning, Molly, do you remember me?”
                The Denmother oriented on him and looked puzzled for a brief instant. “You are Shikarou, the man with only one name.”
                “Correct in one. Excellent. This is my island, and we are here to give the sheriff an opportunity to provide me restitution for his gang trying to murder me and take Branwyn from me. By the way, your children are still at home and hopefully are still asleep. I would never seek to involve them in this.”
                Her ears flicked. “Good.”
                “So, Godwin, here’s the deal. We are going to have a pokegirl battle. You get to use Molly and I’m going to use Circe. This is going to be a grand melee, so we can fight as well.” Shikarou nodded towards a wooden chest. “I’ve even brought your weapons, so you’ll feel better about this.”
                “This is going to be a single round match that continues until one side can’t. And the prize is simple. The winner gets everything. That includes Molly and her children if I win and Branwyn as well as the rest of my pokegirls if you do. Hell, you even get an island all your own. If you do win, Circe or Branwyn can take you back to Lairg.”
                Shikarou could practically watch the wheels turn in Godwin’s head. As far as the sheriff was concerned it was a win-win. If he won, he got Branwyn and an island. If he lost, he’d charge Shikarou with theft and unleash the might of the entire Blue League to bring him down.
                Of course, that was exactly what Shikarou had thought the sheriff would decide to do when he made his own plans.
                The sheriff clambered to his feet and opened the chest as he gulped down more tea. He peered into the box for a moment and then turned back to Shikarou. “I could just arrest you now.”
                Circe laughed. “And how would you get back to Lairg? You don’t even have any idea where we are. Until you become my Tamer, you can’t order me to do anything and I’m not going to lie down for you if you arrest my Tamer.”
                The sheriff blinked and then smiled as his confidence returned. Molly had never lost him a criminal yet. “Then I guess we’ll have to do this the hard way.” He pulled out his gunbelt and strapped it on. Molly moved to stand protectively nearby.
                The sheriff tapped the buckle of his belt. “This is an authentic American Old West gunbelt and guns. What do you think?”
                Shikarou frowned. “I don’t think they had automatic pistols back then.”
                “No, they didn’t, those are still in their case.” Godwin proudly pulled a smaller box out of his chest and opened it. “These are a set of presentation Colt Third Model Dragoon pistols decorated by Gustav Young along with their holsters. The belt came with them, but I had my own holsters and guns put on.”
                “Very nice.” They were. Made from blackened steel and covered with brass and gold inlay, the pistols gleamed in the wan sunlight. “If I win they should make a nice trophy.”
                Godwin laughed. “You are not going to win.” He drew each automatic pistol and chambered a round. “Let’s get this over with. I want to be taming that bitch of a Unicorn this afternoon.”
                Shikarou nodded. “And I want to be digging your grave. It sounds like one of us is going to be disappointed.” He frowned. “We both understand that this fight is to the death.” The sheriff gave a bark of laughter as Shikarou continued. “I’ve taken the liberty of marking two spots twenty meters apart as the starting points. Feel free to choose the one that you want.”
                Godwin moved to the nearest spot and waited until Shikarou was nearing the farther spot before drawing his pistols. Shikarou heard the whisper of steel against leather and spun as the sheriff opened fire, the first round clipping his shoulder as he threw himself out of the way. “Molly, get that bastard.”
                The Denmother blurred forward with quick attack only to backpedal as Circe narrowly missed her with a thrown boulder. She tried again and was knocked sprawling as the same boulder hit her from behind. She tried to use flamethrower on the Alaka-Wham but the attack missed as Circe teleported out of the way just in time.
                Shikarou moved from rock to rock, seeking better cover as he worked his way ever closer to his prey. The sheriff loosed a round or two at him each time he showed himself. Other than the shoulder graze, he’d been hit once in the arm, at which point Godwin crowed with delight. “First blood is mine, boy. I’ve got plenty of spare magazines and I’m going to keep shooting bits off of you until Molly is done with your pet.”
                Shikarou checked his arm. The bullet had passed through the meat and his regenerative powers had already stopped the bleeding. However the arm would be weak for several minutes. It would be enough. He went back to circling away from the fighting pokegirls.
                Molly used rage and followed it with fire blast. Circe used barrier to mitigate the effects of the attack but the damage was still fairly severe. She teleported farther away before using psychic to bring the Denmother to her knees.
                Circe, are you badly hurt?
                The initial attack was blunted by the barrier, but I’ve suffered a burn and I’m making it worse by continuing to fight. Are you close enough to the sheriff to end this? Some of her pain leaked through the telepathic contact.
                I’ll have to be. Do it.
                Circe selected a nice large boulder and reached out with her telekinesis. Latching on, she began beating it with Molly. The Denmother cried out each time she hit the boulder and tried vainly to twist around to face the Alaka-Wham. Quickly, blood began to decorate the inoffensive boulder.    
                Shikarou popped to his feet and charged, dodging as he summoned his sword. The sheriff carefully held his fire until his opponent was only a few meters away and then double-tapped Shikarou through the heart.
                The impact brought the kami to a halt with a blank look on his face. The sheriff watched with a gleeful expression as Shikarou touched the bloody hole in his shirt and his face went slack. He wavered on his feet as his sword dropped slowly from the high guard position he’d held while he charged.
                Suddenly he grinned. “Gotcha.” He swung his katana, cleaving through flesh and bone as he struck the sheriff just below the shoulder, amputating both of Godwin’s arms as he cut the man in half with a horizontal strike.
                Are you done playing with him? Circe dropped the now limp and bloody Denmother as she turned to her Tamer.
                Shikarou leaned on his sword as an expression of pain crossed his face. “I appear to have run out of opponent, so yes, I am.”
                Circe paled as she looked at his chest and teleported to his side while he murmured a healing spell. “What happened?” She wrapped an arm around his and settled him down on a rock before tearing his shirt apart with her telekinesis. She gasped at his injury.
                “I got shot.” He smiled painfully. “I’ve always been a heartless bastard, so I’ll be fine.”
                “You should be dead, your heart is pulped.”
                “Remember the part of the discussion where I explained that I was hard to kill? I meant it.” He groaned slightly. “Hurts like a bitch, though. How’s Molly?”
                “She’ll live. Why didn’t you kill him with a spell from a safe distance?”
                “Honor demanded that I kill him with a sword or my claws.” He started coughing suddenly, hacking up large bloody clots. “Damn, this sucks. Get Molly’s pokeball and run her through a healing cycle. I need to talk to her. While doing that, use some burn spray and heal yourself.” A wan smile. “If it’s just the same with you, I think I’ll stay here for a little while.”
                A short time later Molly stood in front of him. Her eyes kept being drawn to the sheriff’s remains. She’d flinch away from them to look at Shikarou, only to stare briefly at the hole in his chest before flinching away to go back to staring at the sheriff.
                He sighed and carefully folded his arms to block her view of his wound. “Look at me.” Molly locked her eyes on his face. “I am your Tamer now.”
                The Denmother nodded slowly and finally seemed to find her voice. “What is going to happen to me and my children? I can’t travel much until they are older and I won’t leave them.”
                “I know that, and I wouldn’t try to separate you and them. I also have no intention of subjecting your children to the vagaries of the road. Actually, I need your help. This island belongs to me, and has a small population of pokegirls on it that are my responsibility. I want you to be my sheriff and work with my seneschal to protect my land and my people. When your daughters get old enough they can help if they want to and if you’ll let them.”
                “Where are we?”
                “South Uist. I’ll take you to meet my seneschal in just a little bit, as soon as I’ve rested a little longer. I’ll tame you this afternoon and bond you to me.” He sighed. “Are you mad at me for the sheriff?”
                She looked at him evenly for a moment, her ears flicking as she thought. “He wasn’t much of a Tamer to me and definitely not a father to my children. I wasn’t really all that attached to him while he was alive and right now I just feel empty about his death.” She glanced at Circe. “Is he as corrupt as Godwin was?”
                The Alaka-Wham frowned. “I don’t believe Shikarou is corrupt in the same way that the sheriff was, but I’m not sure you won’t discover that he has certain large holes in his moral fabric. He appears to be willing to do whatever is necessary to protect what is his or to avenge an insult, even if it goes against local custom or law.” She smiled slightly. “Fortunately, he seems to be hard to insult and I, as one of his pokegirls, rather like the fact that he is so protective.”
                “I suppose that could be considered a good thing.” Molly turned back to Shikarou. “Am I joining your harem?”
                “Not per se. My harem has both an active and inactive component and you’ll be in the inactive part. As my sheriff, however, if anyone tries to capture you, I will pursue them to the ends of space and time to exact my vengeance.”
                Molly’s ears canted. “I like the way that sounds. Where will we live?”
                “There’s only one house here right now, so for the time being you’ll live there with Lynn and the others. I guess I’m going to have to take the time to research a spell that will make cottages.” Shikarou gave her a thoughtful look. “Perhaps I can duplicate the existing one as a shortcut.” He slowly levered himself to his feet and moved over to the sheriff’s body. As he started to strip the weapons from it he looked back up at the Denmother. “I’m still traveling a great deal, so I won’t be around as much as I should be if I were going to be a father to your daughters, so how about I become an uncle instead? When I get my brother Faelan here he can be an uncle too.”
                Molly stared incredulously at him for a moment. “You want to be involved in my daughter’s lives?” She sounded shocked.
                “Of course I do.” He looked slightly embarrassed. “I like kids and I miss having some around.” He frowned. “Um, this really doesn’t have to be common knowledge for the time being.”
                “Why not?” Circe sounded amused.
                “Tamers are supposed to hate children. It’s part of the mystique. I suspect it’s because most of them are children themselves, or at least barely adult.” He shrugged as he started turning out the pockets of the corpse. “I enjoyed raising my children, and while I can’t really be around enough to adopt Molly’s, I’ll cheerfully spoil them rotten and then give them back to her.”
                Molly’s gaze was so intent it made Shikarou uncomfortable. “What?”
                “You actually intend to have a hand in the upbringing of my children?” Her voice was disbelieving.
                “As much as I can and continue my mission, I do.” He frowned slightly. “Let me guess, your former Tamer didn’t have anything to do with them?”
                “He preferred to pretend that they didn’t exist whenever possible. I was part of the ‘job package’ that came with being sheriff and since he had no other pokegirls he couldn’t very well dispense with my services.” A ghost of a smile. “I was the only authority he possessed. As far as my personal life, he didn’t care as long as it didn’t intrude on his.”
                “So he had no contact with your daughters.” Shikarou sounded angry and his ears had swiveled flat. “I killed him too quickly.” His tone lightened. “Well, dead is dead and done is done.”
                “By the bye, why don’t you tell me a little about yourself and my new nieces?” Shikarou pulled out his wand and created a table and some chairs some distance from the body. “Tea, anyone?”
                “If you would watch the recording most of your questions would be answered,” Shikarou replied in a slightly frosty tone. “When you called and started interrogating me I didn’t send Branwyn to get you so that you could continue the interrogation here.”
                Poppet glared. “You were involved, weren’t you?”
                “Watch the damned recording.”
                Over the last week, Shikarou had refurbished the ruins of the Lochboisdale Inn, its fifteen rooms ensuring that there was room for everyone. Molly had one of the larger rooms for her and her two cubs, while everyone had spread out in the others. Lynn had commandeered the largest for herself.
                The camp had become home during their travels, so Shikarou and his harem were still staying there, although he was spending nights in the hotel for taming.
                Branwyn and Lynn had been told the whole story of the incident with the sheriff of Lairg and sworn to secrecy. Both had plenty to say, but Shikarou was pleased that only Branwyn had yelled. Shikarou was still unsure whether Branwyn had been so upset because the sheriff had been killed or because she hadn’t been there.
                This morning Poppet had called to see if he knew anything about the sheriff’s disappearance, since she knew he’d made a threat against the official. Rather than deal with this over the com, which could be intercepted, he’d elected to send Branwyn to fetch her to South Uist.
                Poppet had been obviously spoiling for a fight when she arrived, so after getting some tea, Shikarou had sent everyone else out of his room and shut the door. She’d immediately started asking questions about what he knew.
                Poppet eyed the pokedex with an expression that suggested she was concerned that it might bite her. She raised her eyes slowly to his. “Are Molly and the kids still alive?”
                Poppet waited for him to elucidate, but when he remained silent she picked up the pokedex and activated it.
                Shikarou had taken the time to place several sensor heads around the battlefield beforehand and so the recording was of unusually high quality.
                Poppet watched the vid silently until he got shot. She blanched and stared at his chest. “Show me,” she commanded.
                Shikarou’s eyes narrowed, but he opened his shirt without comment. Poppet peered at his unblemished chest before getting up and coming over to run her hand over the spot where the bullets had entered him. She started to say something and then stopped, settled down next to him, and backed up the vid to where he’d been injured before finishing the recording.
                Afterwards she was silent for a long time, staring off into space. “You know, you never agreed with me when I told you that you shouldn’t do this. I thought you did, but I was wrong.”
                “Are you upset with me?”
                “I should be, but I really don’t have a reason. You told me you were going to do this and you made it very clear to Dugal that you were going to kill him, and as soon as he picked up those pistols it became obvious that he was going to try to kill you.” She turned to look at him. “That was very well done, Shikarou. Only the other members of the Godwin clan will be angry about what happened, and then only because he was family.” A frown crossed her pretty face. “Why haven’t you reported what happened?”
                “I don’t need the fact that I can survive a bullet through the heart to become common knowledge. Personally, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business but my own and those I chose to tell.”
                Poppet nodded. “I’m flattered that you think enough of me to tell me.” She handed the pokedex back to him. “I’ll let them know that he was killed in a legal pokegirl battle and if anyone wants to know more, they’re out of luck. What did you do with Molly and her girls?”
                Shikarou smiled. “Molly works for me now. I’ve made her the sheriff, but she pointed out that if she was going to be in charge of security for the whole island then she needed a different title, so she’s now the captain of the Uist Island Guard. She and the girls live here in the inn.”
                “Are you going to let her have more children?”
                Shikarou nodded. “I don’t see why not. Her girls are ten and she’s a pokewoman now, so we just need to find a good male to donate sperm.”
                “Aren’t you going to breed her yourself?”
                “Yes, but I won’t let that happen until I finish my pokegirl journey and can be here more than I am right now.” He smirked. “When that time comes, there will likely be an explosion of children around here.”
                There was a knock at the door. Shikarou glanced at Poppet, who shrugged. “Come in,” he called.
                The door opened and Molly entered. “Sir, you wanted to know when it was eighteen hundred hours.” She nodded to Poppet. “Poppet.”
                Poppet blinked. Molly was wearing a vest and shorts, both of a dark blue trimmed with red. Her belt held a holstered pistol. “Hello, Molly. Why are you wearing clothes?”
                The Denmother frowned and pointed with her chin. “Him. He believes that Tamers who come here will accept my authority better if I’m wearing clothes and weapons.” She shrugged. “He says that humans are conditioned to believe that animals go around without clothing and it will help to promote the idea that I’m a person too. I only have to wear them while on duty. Of course, since I’m the only member of the guard so far, I’m always on duty.”
                She grinned. “If you think this is bad, wait until you hear the other radical ideas he’s got. This place is either going to be a wonderful haven or hell for visitors.”
                Shikarou coughed politely. “It could turn out to a haven for the law abiding and hell for troublemakers.”
                Poppet gave him a suspicious look. “What have you done?”
                “I’ve read the law. I enforce the laws of the Blue League out here and act as judge and jury if necessary.” A smile appeared. “All I’ve done is authorize the guard to use lethal force if there is trouble. Of course I’ve also instructed them to kill the Tamer, since the pokegirls will often settle down once he’s dead.”
                “But pokegirls aren’t supposed to kill humans,” Poppet protested. “That is against the laws you are supposed to be upholding.”
                “Yes, but the police are allowed to use necessary force and I get to decide if a killing is justified or not.” Shikarou shrugged. “I won’t let her go around killing people just for the hell of it, but I won’t take that option away from her either. If she kills someone there will be an investigation, but I trust Molly not to become too exuberant about killing.”
                “The Blue League isn’t going to like this,” Poppet warned.
                “No, but they will accept it and since we’re going to be warning visitors up front, word will get around. More than likely the only fatalities amongst humans will be from the various Teams deciding we are easy pickings.” He smiled grimly. “I want them to get the message immediately and I’ve told Molly to be firm about delivering it.”
                Molly nodded. “I don’t intend to use lethal force on Tamers who are just acting up, but if I just wound one then he or she should settle right down. Anyone wearing a Team uniform will receive lethal force if they step one foot out of line.” She glanced at Shikarou. “I wanted to lock up any of them that appeared as soon as I knew about them, but Shikarou insisted that all I could do was run them for warrants. If they don’t have any, then I can’t arrest them as long as they behave. Once they start causing trouble, however, I’m going to shoot them dead.” She bowed to Shikarou. “If you don’t mind, sir, I need to get to work. Don’t forget I need help as soon as you can find me some.” Shikarou nodded as the Denmother turned and left.
                Poppet touched Shikarou on the knee. “Just how large a community are you planning on having?”
                “Well, Caomh Sith is going to have a pokecenter and a medical center for humans no matter what, and that will draw passersby. Eventually I may be starting a magic school as well, and if we are going to be having children there will be a regular school.”
                “For pokegirls? Shikarou, the normal humans won’t stand for it.”
                “Then they can go elsewhere.” He smiled without sympathy. “My place, my rules. I was appalled to find out that Molly is barely literate and her children not even that. Even Lynn is illiterate. That is going to change if I have to ram it down the throat of every person in the Blue League. Everyone living in my lands, if not feral, will be literate, no matter whether they are a pokegirl or not.”
                                “Faelan, when you get this, I need you to contact me so we can arrange a meeting in Wick. I’ve established a home for us and I want to get you access to it.” Shikarou sent the message and returned his attention to the ongoing battle.
                Gwyneth was facing Branwyn this time. She had Ruiling and Kiyoko under her command while Branwyn was teamed with Circe and Yushiko. Things appeared to be going the way that previous battles had indicated. Gwyneth showed great promise, but couldn’t compete with Branwyn’s greater leadership skills although she was improving quickly.
                Branwyn easily made maximum use of each pokegirl’s skills and minimized her weaknesses while Gwyneth was still learning how to do this particular job. Circe was also quite good at it, only she hadn’t had as much practical experience as the Unicorn. She never made the same mistake twice, however.
                So it looked like Branwyn, Circe and Gwyneth would be his team leaders. Now he had to change the focus of the training to two pokegirl combat teams and work on making each pokegirl comfortable battling with their harem sisters by their side.
                As he called a halt to the day’s training, Shikarou decided that he was satisfied with his girls and made a mental note to let each of them know in private. Group rewards would wait until the team dynamics settled down just a bit more.
                “You set a very nice table.” Faelan settled back comfortably as Ruiling and Circe cleared away the remains of dinner. “How was battling at the Rum Island gym? I understand that Michelle and her husband, Paul, are a hard combination to beat.”
                They were camped outside of Wick. A heavy snowstorm had quashed any desire to eat outside, so dinner had been served in Shikarou’s tent.
                Shikarou shrugged. “I got my ass kicked in the first battle with Paul Langford and had to go back the next day and battle Michelle for the badge. It was still a narrow victory. Apparently dark type pokegirls can be just as tough as dark pokemon.”
                “When I returned the next day, Michelle actually apologized for the way Paul had acted. It turned out that he’d been defeated in several pokegirl battles in a row and decided to make sure he won the next one, which just happened to be me.”
                “It was a three on three battle and when he opened, I knew I was in trouble just as soon as I discovered that all three of his pokegirls were above level seventy.”
                Shikarou’s ears flicked irritably. Svetlana listened quietly, trying hard not to be noticed. “We were slaughtered. So, after running over to the pokegirl center, we spent the day discussing what happened and what we might be able to do to deal with it next time. I finally decided to give it another try and if that didn’t work out then I’d just cut my losses and move on to Glasgow.”
                “The next day, apparently, Michelle had been waiting for me, hoping that I’d try again. She explained what happened and offered to battle me herself as an apology. I accepted and we battled. It was still close, but Branwyn, Kiyoko and Yushiko finally squeaked out a win for us.”
                “Later that day I was doing some shopping when I ran into Paul again. He also apologized for taking his bad mood out on me and we parted on good terms.”
                Shikarou poured himself some coffee. Faelan preferred it and as he was Shikarou’s guest… “I wanted to show you where our base is going to be and our new island. At least it’s new to us. I want you to drop by on a regular basis and help to tame the pokegirls living there.”
                Faelan grabbed a muffin. “No problem. It’ll be nice having someplace semi permanent to call home. How many pokegirls are we talking about?”
                “Not that many. Later we’ll have to see about getting more males to live there, or have them ourselves.”
                “Whoa, let’s not start talking about my having children yet.” Faelan glanced at Svetlana, who gave him a smug smile. He didn’t look reassured. “Especially not around her. She’s not too far from being a pokewoman and is starting to get a little broody.”
                The Megami-sama’s smile grew. “That’s right. We’ve been on the road for over a decade and you made me a promise. And now that we know your brother can make you fertile again, I want your children.”
                Faelan’s eyes showed a lot of white. “We’ll talk about this later, all right?”
                “Ok.” Faelan relaxed. Shikarou, however, was amused. He recognized Svetlana’s tone from his marriage. All there was to talk about, he suspected, was how soon and how many.
                Svetlana gave Shikarou a look that said that they were going to have a talk in the near future as well. Outwardly he gave her a bland look in return, but mentally he laughed.
                “Whatever. Still, as the number of pokegirls grows, we’re going to need to find more males to live there, or else we are going to have to settle there permanently.” Shikarou shook his head. “How’s the pirate hunt going?”
                “Several partially eaten people later, I’ve made little progress, but I suspect that some of the local administration is in on the whole thing.” Faelan shrugged. “I’m hopeful though. Eventually the bad guys will make a mistake and I’ll be waiting.”
                “Just be careful. Svetlana wants your kids, not mine.”
                “Ixnay on the alktay boutay idskay.” Faelan had that worried look back.
                Svetlana shook her head. “I understand pig-Latin.”
                So Faelan tried Gaelic. <Please just drop the whole having children discussion. I really don’t have the time to deal with this right now.>
                Branwyn settled against Shikarou. Does he know that Svetlana speaks Gaelic?
                Shikarou glanced at her. Apparently not. Aloud he replied, “As you wish. In the morning I’ll take you to South Uist so Svetlana can take you there from now on. It’s going to be a very nice place.”
                Faelan levered himself to his feet and offered his hand to his Megami-sama. “Sounds good. You really need to get some chairs. I’ll see you in the morning.”
                Svetlana stared at Branwyn before following her Tamer out.
                “Svetlana asked me to let you know that she wants to talk to you about Faelan.”
                “Um. I’m not going to get involved until they have their fight about kids and I’m certainly not going to turn his fertility back on without his knowledge.”
                He watched quietly as Ruiling changed the coffee out for tea and sat down with them. “What are we going to do next?”
                Branwyn got herself some tea. “After showing Faelan the island, the plan is to move on to Glasgow for our third badge. Once we have the third badge, I think we’re going to visit gyms in Ireland for a while.”
                “Marsha!” Shikarou was knocked sprawling as Kiyoko charged past him and across the busy Glasgow street. Branwyn watched the Dark Kitsune as she absently offered her Tamer a hand up.
                As he brushed off his clothing, he could see Kiyoko in a frantic hug with a human woman as a Tigress looked on with a puzzled expression. Focusing his ears he heard them crying together and the name Pamela being spoken. “Shit.”
                “Are you all right?” Branwyn looked him over quickly. “You don’t look injured.”
                “I’m not; I just heard something that could very well bode ill for us.” He nodded in the direction of his errant pokegirl. “That woman just called Kiyoko Pamela and she called the human Marsha.”
                “Is that significant?”
                “Marsha McAllister was the Tamer who turned the Nogitsune Pamela into a Dark Kitsune that I later named Kiyoko. Does that sound significant to you?” Shikarou asked sourly.
                Branwyn stared at him and then looked across the street. “Kiyoko said her Tamer had been killed by the idiot that you got her from.”
                “I know. Apparently she was wrong.” He frowned. “What I don’t understand is that they were delta bonded. The literature says that they had to be and yet Kiyoko didn’t know she was still alive.” Shikarou grabbed Branwyn’s hand. “Let’s go find out if I’m going to be accused of receiving stolen goods or something like that.”
                Marsha’s eyes were unfriendly as she watched them cross the street from over Kiyoko’s shoulder. “You aren’t the one who stole Pamela from me,” she said almost accusingly.
                “If I were, I’d have made sure you were dead the first time.” Shikarou’s ears went flat and then came slowly back up. “You can check that attitude or we’ll just be on our way.”
                Kiyoko wriggled free of Marsha’s grip and turned to face Shikarou. “Shikarou, this is Marsha, my mistress, the one who helped me to evolve from a Nogitsune. If I’d known she was alive, I would have never stopped looking for her.”
                Shikarou smiled slightly and softened his tone. “That I believe, however, I didn’t steal you and I’m not going to put up with her being pissed at me for something I didn’t do. That particular idiot is fertilizer and I’m not going to accept any grief that belongs to him.”
                Marsha’s eyes widened. “I’ve got a million credits you can have for Pamela.” She gestured at the Tigress. “You can have Tasha as well.”
                The Tigress paled with shock. “Mistress!”
                Shikarou shook his head. “Kiyoko, do you want to go with this woman?” He didn’t quite make the noun sound like an insult, but he came close.
                The Dark Kitsune ducked her head. “I do.”
                “I see. Tasha, you don’t know me, but I would be willing to make room for you in my harem, if you were interested.”
                The Tigress shook her head. “I’d prefer to stay with Marsha, if she wants me.”
                Shikarou sighed and pulled out his pokedex. “Very well. Marsha, we’ll need to take care of the money transfer and I’ll need Kiyoko’s backpack.”
                Once everything had been taken care of, Shikarou bowed to Kiyoko. “I wish you well.” He turned and headed up the street and around the corner, followed by Branwyn.
                She caught his arm and pulled him to a halt. “Are you all right?”
                Shikarou punched the wall and cracks appeared in the stone, radiating away from his fist. “I’m a little unhappy right now,” he admitted in a low voice as he turned to his Unicorn. “Do you think it shows?”
                Branwyn glanced at the wall. “I think we need to go somewhere else before the police show up.” She guided him through an alley to another street. “Let me see your hand.” She looked it over carefully. “It looks fine. Should I ask what that was about?”
                “Granted, I probably didn’t have Kiyoko anywhere as long as Marsha did, but I still don’t understand her actions.” He shook his head sadly. “I took good care of her.”
                “She loves Marsha and not you?”
                “I understand that.” He took a deep breath and slowly let it out. “Whatever the reason, it’s done. Next, I suspect we should to go to the pokegirl center. I’m suddenly a pokegirl short and now I need to get Lorelei out of storage.” Shikarou looked thoughtful for a second. “This changes my plans for today. After retrieving Lorelei we’ll return to the outskirts of town and train for a couple of days before attempting a gym battle.”
                Branwyn frowned. “We also need to replenish our supplies of potions. We’re down to nothing but the standard potions.” She glanced at his expression and nodded. “We’ll take care of that later.”
                The next morning, Shikarou carefully untangled himself and slid out of bed, being careful not to wake Gwyneth as he did so. He watched her for a moment. She made a pretty picture, her long mahogany hair strewn across the bed in a huge tangle. He chuckled very quietly. “I do good work.”
                As he dressed, he reflected on the night. While meditating, he’d keep imagining that he heard a voice calling out to him. No, two voices. One wanted him to come into Glasgow while the other was beseeching him for some kind of gift. The second voice he’d been hearing for the last couple of days, but the first one was new.
                Shrugging into his shirt, he dismissed them as idle fancy and left his room to head outside. He stopped, however, once he reached the living area. Branwyn, Circe, Lorelei and Yushiko were seated around the table, drinking tea and quietly talking.
                His alpha looked up at him and frowned. “Were you dreaming about the voice too?”
                Shikarou froze for an instant and looked around the table. He could see their worried expressions clearly, now that he thought to look. As he settled down, something clicked in his mind.
                Circe nodded. “I think you are right. Branwyn and I are delta bonded to you and Lorelei and Yushiko have both been touched by your magic in a profound way. This may be coming from you.”
                He gave her a slightly sour look. “Can’t I say something before you answer it?”
                “That’s a waste of time and I got the distinct impression that time was of the essence,” snapped Branwyn.
                Yushiko nodded. “Someone needs rescued and they are in Glasgow.”
                Lorelei frowned and her ears twitched. “No, they aren’t, but we need to go into Glasgow to find them,” she said slowly.
                As the words left her mouth, Shikarou realized that she was right. Circe nodded. “She’s right.” The Alaka-Wham turned to Shikarou. “This has to be magic. I can’t sense anything thought related that has anything to do with this and your tent is shielded against psychic intrusion.”
                Shikarou snorted. “It’s also supposed to be shielded against magic as well. Be that as it may, I’ll concern myself about the shielding later. Right now we need to investigate this, but we’ll proceed carefully. It may be some kind of trap.”
                He pulled out his wand and created breakfast. “All right, while time is of the essence, I don’t feel we are running out of it too quickly, so we’ll do this right. Yushiko, wake up Ruiling and Gwyneth. Group baths, ladies, and hurry it up. We strike camp in an hour. Kiyoko, …” He stopped and hesitated for a second. His mouth firmed. “Get to it.” They scattered, leaving Shikarou with his thoughts.
                An hour later Shikarou dismissed the tent and pulled two pokeballs from his belt. “Ruiling, Gwyneth, return.”
                “Now wait just a min-,” Ruiling began before she dissolved.
                Branwyn chuckled. “Firm, I like that. What about the rest of us?”
                “You four felt it too, and I may need your help. Dawn will be in ten minutes, so let’s try to get this done before the streets get too crowded and Tamers are out there to challenge for all my rare pokegirls.” A tiny smile. “I intend to ignore them, but I don’t want whole herds of irritated Tamers following us around if we can avoid the whole issue.”
                Circe smirked. “Fat chance of that. A good Tamer will sense so many rare pokegirls wandering by.” The smirk became a grin. “Fortunately for you most Tamers are merely mediocre.”
                Shikarou made a shooing motion. “Go.” They went.
                The streets were still fairly quiet, with only a scattering of people on various errands, so they made good time. Shikarou followed the feeling unhesitatingly, moving quickly. He kept increasing his pace unconsciously, and Branwyn had to call him back more than once.
                Suddenly he stopped and slowly looked around as a wave of energy swept over him. “Someone is using a searching spell.”
                “What for?”
                “I’m not sure, but I think someone is trying to track whatever is calling us. We need to move faster.”  They sped up.
                The feeling drew them to a small park near the Clyde River. A recently refurbished sign proclaimed it the Glasgow Green. A few people were wandering around in the slowly brightening dawn and an OfficerJenny was sitting on a bench, eating a snack.
                Shikarou walked slowly into the park, casting about as his pokegirls spread out around him. Finally he stopped. “It’s here.” He paused and cocked his head. “No, it’s under here.” A quick glance around showed no one paying any attention to them. He dropped his pack and pulled out a collapsible shovel.
                He carefully cut a square in the pristine grass of the lawn and removed it before digging in earnest. A couple of minutes later there was a dull metallic thunk as he hit a small metal case. Shikarou tried a scrying spell before touching the box; his spell was unable to penetrate the casing.
                Suddenly a shrill cry cut through the air. “STOP THIEF!”
                Shikarou jerked upright and spun around as out of the corner of his eyes he saw the OfficerJenny jump to her feet, her snack scattering. A blonde man was pointing at him. Once again he yelled. “THIEF! STOP HIM!” The Jenny sprinted in his direction.
                Branwyn exchanged a bewildered look with Lorelei as the pokegirls moved to stand with their Tamer. There was a steely hiss as Yushiko drew her sword and went into a high guard position.
                Shikarou glanced at her. “Put that away,” he ordered in a low voice as the Jenny screeched to a halt.
                Yushiko complied while continuing to keep a wary eye on the police pokegirl.
                Shikarou glanced briefly at the Jenny’s chest, but she wore no nametag on her uniform. “I am Shikarou, a Tamer. Can I help you, officer?”
                “Why is that man calling you a thief?” She sounded grumpy. The man in question was quickly making his way over towards them.
                Shikarou took a good look at the interloper. He was of early middle age and was wearing nice slacks and a button down shirt with a short cape and loafers. All of his clothing was the same color of dark green. “Officer, I have no idea who he is or what he may want with me.”
                The man came to a halt and glared at Shikarou. “You have my box, sir.” He turned to the OfficerJenny. “If he’ll just return my possession, I won’t press charges.”
                Circe smiled softly. “You lie. That box was buried under undisturbed soil and grass. There is no way it could be yours.”
                The man sneered. “That just goes to show just how little you psychics know.” He drew himself up proudly. “I am a mage and I put it there magically. I didn’t have to disturb the ground.”
                Branwyn snickered quietly. Shikarou frowned as he quickly muttered a simple spell. “I suppose that could be possible, officer. He does radiate some kind of magical aura.” The man blinked in surprise. “However, as far as the box goes, there is an easy way to tell if it’s his. The interior is lined with something that blocks magical scrying, so just have him describe to you what is in there.”
                The man shot Shikarou an angry look. “Stay out of business that doesn’t concern you, pokefreak.”
                The OfficerJenny’s eyes narrowed. “Who are you and why don’t you tell me what is in this box?” She reached down and went to pick it up.
                “NO!” the man screamed and threw himself backwards as there was a flash of yellow light which expanded to cover the immediate area and then contracted, taking everyone and everything with it.
                Shikarou felt like he was being crushed and struggled to free himself. Parts of his lower body felt like they were being compressed while his chest and arms felt like they were being pulled apart. Slowly the feeling passed, except for a sharp pain in his right leg. A quick check indicated that the ankle and foot had been crushed, but were already starting to heal.
                He took in his surroundings. Shikarou was standing in a completely dark area, gasping slightly as he sucked in the cold, thin, dry air. He realized that while he could feel his good foot on the floor, it felt like he was falling. He recognized the feeling.
                “Light.” A glowing ball of light appeared and began to increase in luminosity, drifting in a slow orbit around him. Shikarou looked around. Eyes gleamed in the growing light as his pokegirls looked back at him.
                Branwyn groaned and retched. “Where are we?” she choked out. Shikarou pulled his wand and touched her with it, casting an anti-nausea spell on her.
                “We’re in an area of low gravity, perhaps in space somewhere.” He frowned. “Why do I smell blood?”
                Lorelei gasped and pointed. “The OfficerJenny is hurt!”            
                Shikarou shifted the light and kneeled next to the police pokegirl, feeling wetness soak through his pants instantly. Hurt didn’t begin to describe what had happened to her. He’d felt the field contract unevenly, and apparently the effects had been stronger the closer to the box one happened to be. The OfficerJenny’s right arm was crushed like paper and her abdomen, lower torso and legs looked like they had been run through a wringer. Blood spread in a huge pool around her. Mercifully, she was unconscious.
                He gave the Jenny a professional once-over and sat up. “She’s going to die.”
                Lorelei touched his shoulder. “You can save her.”
                He looked at the dying pokegirl as he spoke to his Sphinx. “You don’t know what you are asking. She could be bound to me forever.”
                The Sphinx touched one of his ears, making him look up at her. “I know exactly what I’m asking, remember? Speaking as someone who’s also yours until she dies, it hasn’t been too terrible so far.”
                “Is it fair to do that to her?”
                Yushiko shook her head, her hair flying wildly in the low gravity. “Is it fair to let her die?”
                Shikarou looked at Branwyn, who shrugged. “Do it. If you let her die, I’m not sure how you’ll deal with it.”
                He sighed and pulled off his shirt. “Here.” He tossed it behind himself and moved up the Jenny’s body, growling through gritted teeth as the bones in his ankle ground together.
                He sank his fangs into his wrists and summoned his power as the blood ran up his arms and pooled in his cupped palms. Every time before the power had been a warmth that filled him and ran out with his blood.
                This time was different. The power burst through him in a wave of cold that pulled the heat from his body. It surged out his wounds and filled the blood with a brilliant blue fire that filled the room with dancing light.
                “Uh oh,” muttered Branwyn, “It wasn’t like this before.”
                Shikarou tried desperately to stop the magic, but to no avail as the blood poured into the mouth of the dying Jenny. She began to glow a bright blue which quickly became blinding.
                The glow took almost a full minute to die away, revealing an unmarked OfficerJenny. She stretched and looked around before trying to climb to her feet. Instead, she went bouncing around the room in the low gravity before Circe grabbed her with telekinesis and anchored her with everyone else.
                She looked at Shikarou and her eyes filled with joy as she came to attention and saluted crisply. “Chief.”
                Shikarou gave Branwyn a glare. “See what could happen.”
                Branwyn shrugged and then did a double take. “What happened to your eyes?”
                “What do you mean?” He glanced around for a reflective surface, but everything around them was covered in a thin layer of grime. “What is wrong with my eyes?”
                Circe leaned over and peered into them. “They are blue. Sapphire blue and not brown anymore.” She looked at the Jenny. “So are hers.”
                Shikarou sighed as he took his shirt back from Lorelei, who was busy trying to look into his eyes. “Wonderful, the magic did something to me as well.”
                The Jenny was watching his chest. “When are you going to tame me, chief?”
                He hurriedly put the shirt on. “When we get out of here there will be time for that. Do you have a name?”
                “My name is Alice, chief.”
                “That’s a nice name.” Alice beamed. “I’m Shikarou. Circe, what can you detect?”
                “Nothing. Other than ours, I sense no thoughts at all as far as I can reach.”
                “That doesn’t sound good.” Branwyn shook herself. “Well, do you still feel that pull, Shikarou?”
                When he thought about it, Shikarou realized that the feeling was stronger than ever. “Yes, this is where we are supposed to be.” He turned slowly, orienting. “We go this way.” He tried to jump, but was held back by Circe. “Stop that.” She let him go and he took a long gliding step to the other side of the room. “That’s how it’s supposed to be done in low gravity, ladies. Five minutes to practice.”
                Five minutes and several bruises later, Shikarou gave up. “I see we need longer than we are likely to have. Circe, keep everyone on the ground. Let’s go, ladies.”
                They proceeded down a passage for a minute or so and then Shikarou waved everyone to a halt and did a quick headcount. He frowned. “Wait a moment,” he called as he backtracked. Branwyn looked at Circe, who shrugged her puzzlement.
                They heard his voice. “You are one of my ladies now, Alice. Get moving.”
                The OfficerJenny’s voice was heavy with relief. “Yessir.” She came bounding up the passageway, ricocheting off the walls as she tried to hurry. Shikarou followed closely behind.
                Branwyn had the grace to look embarrassed. “I forgot she just joined the harem.”
                “Just remember it from now on.” Shikarou kept his voice low. “I wonder if they prized initiative in the Glasgow police force. She was just standing there with this lost look when I came back.”
                “She’s had a nasty shock; I doubt she’s usually this indecisive.”
                Shikarou followed his instincts, which led them down passageways and up stairs. There appeared to be no power, but the air was still breathable, if very, very dry. The cold seemed to seep into their bones, and only the fact that everyone had heavy clothing for the Scottish winter made it bearable. During their first break, Shikarou dug out his cloak and some pants for Alice, who was starting to shiver.
                Even so, periodically Shikarou had to cast warming spells on everyone. Soon he was forced to teach the spell to Circe and Branwyn.
                After a couple of hours, Branwyn motioned for another break. “How big is this place?”
                Shikarou shrugged. “If I’m right about where we are, then this place could be tremendous.”
                “Where is that?”
                Shikarou pulled his knife from his belt and held it out. “Watch.” He dropped it. It seemed to curve in the air as it slowly fell. “I felt the rotation earlier, and this confirms that the rotational speed is moderate. It’s likely that we are on a space station or base of some kind. If you’ll notice the walls, they are shiny and multicolored in the light. That can happen with a fusion bore. It’ll glaze the walls for centimeters deep as it digs. I’ve seen it on a couple of ancient asteroid bases that I trained on while I was in the militia. Everything seems to point to something like that.”
                “If this is an asteroid, then it could be hundreds of cubic kilometers in volume and we have no way of knowing how big this complex is.”
                Branwyn frowned. “But asteroids don’t have gravity.”
                “Actually they do, but it’s negligible. In any case, if this is rotating like I suspect, then our feet are actually pointed towards the outside of the asteroid. We keep going up, which is towards the center. The gravity will be much less there, as the centripetal force drops.”
                “What are we going to do there?”
                “Find out what is calling us. Hopefully it will know how to get us back to Glasgow, although I’ll settle for Earth.” He looked around. “I think that’s enough of a break. Branwyn, move everyone out.”
                Another half hour passed and finally they stopped in front of a sealed metal door. It slid shut on a track and there was only a button next to it. Shikarou eyed it briefly. “We need to go through here. Circe, can you open it?”
                “Let’s find out.” The Alaka-Wham floated to the middle of the passage. Her eyes narrowed in concentration as her antennae twitched. Silence passed for a moment and then there was a sharp crack as metal snapped inside the wall and the door slammed open with a tremendous bang. People covered their ears as the echoes trailed off in the distance and dust shivered from the ceiling to begin the long slow journey to the floor.
                Shikarou waited motionless as the sounds died away and the silence returned, somehow more profound than before. He carefully listened as he moved into the open doorway. Light revealed a small room. The wall nearest the door had four buttons on it and a small hatch was set in the ceiling.
                “I think it’s a lift.” Branwyn peered in behind him. “The lights are out here, so what do we do next?”
                Shikarou indicated the hatch. “We go up, but first,” he shed his pack, “everyone gets cycled through the PPHU, and that includes Alice.” He pulled some jerky out of his backpack along with the PPHU and battery. “Yushiko, stand by to charge up the battery before you get cycled through.”
                “Hai.” Yushiko looked at Lorelei. “Boost me up.” She grinned. “We can’t let Shikarou have all of the fun.” The Sphinx returned the grin and hoisted Yushiko up to pop the hatch open and then lifted her through.
                “How does it look?” Lorelei asked Yushiko’s legs.
                “Dark. Set me down, please.” Her smile reappeared. “Now I know. We let him lead because he’s got the light.”
                Branwyn frowned. “Circe and I can create light too.” Her eyes narrowed. “We are his pokegirls. We’re supposed to be taking the chances.”
                Shikarou glanced over. “No, we’re a team. Right now I’m leading because I’m feeling this draw the strongest. Trust me; covering my fragile ass is just as important. Actually, I think it’s slightly more important than what I’m doing.” A shrug. “After all, it is my ass we’re talking about.”
                Yushiko smiled softly. “And a nice ass it is.” She flushed suddenly and turned away.
                Shikarou leaned over and offered her a piece of jerky. “Thank you,” he replied simply. Yushiko smiled back hesitantly as she took it.
                Ten minutes later every pokegirl had been cycled through the PPHU and Ruiling and Gwyneth had been released from their pokeballs and briefed on the situation before being returned to storage as a ready reserve.
                Shikarou hopped through the hatch to stand on the top of the lift. The light from his spell was swallowed up in the distance. “Everyone look away, I’m going to cast my flare spell and record the view with my pokedex.”
                There was a brilliant glare through the hatch as the pokegirls carefully looked away. It quickly died as Shikarou hopped back down into the lift’s compartment and reviewed the recording as everyone else gathered around.
                “It looks like the lift shaft only goes for half a kilometer.” He sighed. “Flying in low gravity can be tricky until you get a used to it and I want to keep Ruiling under wraps just in case someone heard that door open. On the other hand, climbing it would suck.”
                “I can lift all of us up there at the same time.” Circe smiled confidently. “I just got all of my power back and there shouldn’t be any problems.”
                “Very well. Once we reach the top we may have to find a place to anchor while you open the door up there.”
                Circe nodded. “If the door up there is identical to the one down here, I can do both and still have plenty of power remaining.”
                “Be that as it may, as soon as we get to another quiet spot you get another cycle. I want everyone at full power as much as possible.”
                “That will leave only two charges in the battery,” Branwyn pointed out.
                “I’ll use my lightning spell to power the converter once Circe is out and recharge the battery to full strength. Magic levels here are fairly high and I’ll get the expenditure back in short order.” He stirruped his hands and stood under the hatch. “Ladies first.”
                Alice was first in line. “My close combat skills are second to none, so I should go first.”
                Shikarou glanced at Branwyn before nodding, approval in his voice. “Then up you go.” Yushiko looked at Shikarou with a smile and shook her head at the idea that an OfficerJenny could be better at combat than an Armsmistress.
                You know she has no real place in our combat harem. Branwyn commented over the link.
                Yes, but once we get back Alice will do well working with Molly in the Guard.
                Branwyn blinked and nodded silently as she lifted a hoof into his hands.
                As they floated up the lift shaft, Yushiko chuckled. “I think this is the easiest part of our journey so far. How about Circe carries us all the rest of the way too?” Laughter filled the air.
                Opening the lift door at the top was anticlimactic; it had mechanical stops that Yushiko hammered with a camp axe from her pack to unlock. Lorelei shifted to her battle form and the two of them easily forced the door open as Circe levitated the entire group.
                There was less apparent gravity, but the difference wasn’t enough to be more than noticed as the group followed Shikarou down another passage. 
                He led them to another door, next to which was a large metal sphere about two meters in diameter.
                Shikarou froze for an instant. “Well, well.”
                “What is it?” Circe looked around him. “And why do you feel mildly worried?”
                “There is a theory where I come from that people who write about fantastic things have a mild touch of interdimensional precognitive ability and are actually seeing the things that they write about. We often use the information gleaned from vids and books as a travelogue as some of our greatest explorers travel the multiverse.” He continued to watch the sphere. “That looks like a type of combat robot that I’ve seen in a vid from one of the other Earths that my people have visited.” Shikarou frowned. “Drone? No, droid. That’s it, a destroyer droid.”
                “Is it dangerous?”
                “From what I’ve seen, it can be very dangerous, however it’s onboard AI isn’t subtle. If it was operational would have already opened fire on us.” He frowned. “Even if nonfunctional, it could fetch a pretty credit if we sold it to the Blue League. It has two sets of dual mounted energy weapons and a shield generator that could be useful in fighting feral pokegirls.”
                Shikarou sighed. “Then again, we are talking about a government. Eventually the plans, if this thing could be reverse engineered, would end up in the wrong hands or the government would use them on someone like us.” He shrugged. “In any case, it won’t fit in my pocket.”
                Alice frowned. “Sir, there’s a light coming from the panel next to the door. We haven’t seen any lights elsewhere.”
                Shikarou dimmed his spell. A button on the panel glowed dimly. “Damn, you’re right. Good catch.” Alice beamed happily. “The reason we’re here is in there. Now we need to find out if we can get in.”
                Branwyn cocked her head thoughtfully. “Should we start by trying the lit button?”
                Shikarou whipped around to stare at her. “You know, the obvious just might work. Of course it may also cause the entire base to self destruct or do something else unsavory.” He shrugged. “However, let’s give it a try.” He looked around briefly to see if anyone wanted to protest, but everyone was silent. Nervous, but silent.
                Circe frowned. “How about we push that button from a distance using telekinesis? It might be safer that way.”
                “Sounds good to me.” Shikarou glanced around. “Let us move to closest curve of the corridor and you can give it a try.”
                After a couple of minutes, they were ready. The door slid silently open at Circe’s touch. Shikarou waited a couple of minutes to make sure that nothing else was going to happen and slowly broke cover in case the destroyer droid had been activated. Nothing.
                The room beyond the hatch was some kind of control system. There was one door on the other side of the room. It had no handle and was flush with the wall. Next to it was a control panel. The rest of the room was taken up by electronic equipment and a single blank computer screen.
                Panels in the ceiling flickered and died as they entered the room. Everyone jumped as a bank of emergency lights tried to come on and exploded with a bang and a slight smell of smoke and ozone.
                Shikarou started his examination at the control panel. “This is some kind of cryogenic suspension chamber, according to these controls. There’s an emergency release here that might still work.” He started to reach for it and stopped. “Clear the room.”
                Branwyn started to object, but he cut her off before she could speak. “I’m arguably the one most likely to live long enough for you to get medical aid to me, correct?”
                She gave a jerky nod, a sulky look on her face. “Then I get to do this.” He sighed. “I’m not really happy about it either, but Circe can’t see the panel from the doorway and I’m the only one with even the beginnings of a clue about when to evac.” A grin flashed across his face. “Don’t block the doorway, because as soon as I activate this control, I’m going to be joining you just as quickly as I can run.”
                Branwyn was glaring at him as the others filed out of the room. Suddenly she broke into a smile. “I’m staying.” Shikarou started to object, but she was ready for him. “You’ll activate the panel and then I’ll teleport us into the hallway.”
                Shikarou frowned briefly and then nodded. “Very well, we’ll do a countdown and then I’ll activate the panel just as you teleport.”
                “You’re not going to argue with me?”
                “No, Branwyn, I’m not. This maximizes our chances of surviving and I’m all for that.”
                Shikarou took up station in front of the panel as Branwyn wrapped her arms around his waist. “I’m going to count three, two, one and then on zero I’m going to activate the control.” Her arms tightened around him. “Here we go. Three. Two. One. NOW!” He pressed the activation button and was suddenly standing in the hallway, outside the direct line of sight into the room.
                There was a loud BANG and a cloud of gas sprayed into the hallway hard enough to send Yushiko spinning away from the doorway. Circe forced her against the wall with her telekinesis.
                The gas was very cold and for an instant Shikarou’s twee alarmed on low oxygen levels, but they came right back up as the cloud dissipated. He glanced over his shoulder. “You can let me go now.”
                Branwyn smiled. “Can I? What if I don’t want to?” She released him slowly.
                Shikarou cautiously peered into the doorway. The door to the cryogenic chamber had come off and smashed into the computer display, where it had apparently lodged.
                A body was slowly swirling in the center of the room. As he looked on, it slowed and turned in midair to face him. She was a vulpine animorph. Her body and tail was covered with dark blue fur and her head was framed by a shock of curly blue hair. Her bright red eyes gleamed at him in the semi-dark. He noted absently that she looked like she’d be about his height when standing.
                “I am glad that you have heeded my call. I am in need of your help.” She floated slowly to the ground. “I am so tired.” Her ears flicked and her muzzle wrinkled. “What year is it?”
                Shikarou moved out of the way so his pokegirls could file into the room. Branwyn smiled cautiously. “What year do you last remember?”
                “I was placed into cryogenic stasis on June 9 in 2001.” She frowned. “May I have some water, please?”
                Shikarou unclipped his canteen and handed it to her. She smiled tiredly and drank. “Thank you.”
                Branwyn frowned. “We use a different calendar now, but in the old Gregorian calendar it would be December 12, 2300 AD. We call it December 12, 298 AS or After Sukebe. I’m Branwyn.  What is your name?”
                “I do not yet have a name.” She drank more water. “I am hopeful that Shikarou will take me into his harem and give me one. Did Sukebe win or was he defeated?”
                Branwyn started to ask something but was interrupted by her Circe. “How did you know his name?”
                “I know all of your names, Circe. The only one I did not foresee coming here was Alice, yet I still know a little about her. You see, I called you here to rescue me and also to start Shikarou’s quest.”
                “You called me here?” Shikarou sounded incredulous. “I find that hard to believe.”
                He checked his twee. I do not know what kind of pokegirl she is, I am getting conflicting information. Try the pokedex itself; I’m still learning how to discriminate as finely as it does. You might also consider getting at least one dedicated AI for some of this stuff. I can do it, but I am only one entity.
                “That is beginning to sound like a very good idea.” He pointed the pokedex at the newcomer. “G-Spliced, the mad scientist’s experiment pokegirl. G-Spliced is the combination of two or more pokegirl types to make a new one. Warning: G-Spliced are often mentally and physically unstable.”
                The G-Spliced smiled slightly. “That is an interesting device you have. It is correct, I am the first of my kind and do not have a true type name yet.”
                “The first of your kind?” Yushiko looked curious. “There are no others?”
                “Not yet. If I was successful, Sukebe would have harvested my eggs and used parthenogenesis to create more like me.”
                Circe frowned. “Successful, you said. What was your role supposed to be?”
                “Sukebe realized last year, I mean in 2000, that pokegirls commanded by a Tamer usually defeated pokegirls that weren’t, so he started experimenting with training human males to be Tamers for his forces. I was supposed to be a bodyguard and advisor to one of the ones he’d selected to be a commanding general. I was placed in stasis until he finished his training, at which time I would be bonded to him.”
                “I see.” Circe nodded. “You said you called us here, so I must ask how and why?”
                “Part of my genetic makeup is from the Esper line of pokegirl and I have used Lure to summon Shikarou here from his home on Tirsul. There is a threat to the stability of the world and he is needed to fight it.” The G-Spliced smiled at Shikarou. “How else do you think you could go through an untuned portal and still find the one world you wanted to visit?” She said this so matter of factly that it took a minute to sink in.
                Shikarou’s ears slowly flattened against his skull. “You brought me here to fulfill some stupid quest?” A growl underscored his words. “And what makes you think I have the slightest bit of interest in ever involving myself in that sort of rampant stupidity once again?”
                She regarded him calmly. “I did not take your feelings into consideration, I merely responded to the fact that you are needed here.”
                Branwyn frowned. “There is some celestial pokegirl in that mix somewhere, isn’t there?”
                “Shikarou, you have been happier here than you have been since before your wife was murdered. Possibly since before you married her and settled down. You do not regret coming here. Is this place,” she gestured at the pokegirls in the room, “are these, your women, not worth protecting? Should this event come to pass, most of them will die before their time and their children will never know freedom.”
                Shikarou folded his arms across his chest and hissed in a low voice, “What is the nature of this terrible threat?”
                “I am not entirely sure. I only know that it is building as we speak and that you are one of the best qualified to protect us from it.” She sighed. “While in cryogenic sleep, I became aware of the coming threat. How, I don’t really understand. I only know that I did. I was able, for brief times, to rouse myself enough to search for someone or something that could stop the coming dark times and I found you. Fortunately I was able reach out across spacetime enough to touch you and convince you to come here.”
                “I know that you will need all of your strength to defeat this threat. I know that you will need me as well as a book that resides on this station.” She gave him a slightly sad look. “I also know you will have to make the sacrifice and embrace your true nature without reservation in order to succeed.”
                “Then we are doomed.” Shikarou’s voice was flat.
                “No, we are not. Your capacity for love will force you to use your full gifts, but you must master that part of you before it becomes necessary to use it and I have faith that you will do so.”
                The G-Spliced frowned. “I beg your pardon?”
                “Your name will be Pythia, after the priestess who worked as the Oracle at Delphi. She also presumed that she spoke the future.” Shikarou forced his ears back up. “I’m stuck here,” he glanced at Branwyn,” and I have to agree that this place hasn’t turned out to be too bad, but I don’t like being manipulated.” He reached out and took his alpha’s hand. She gave his a quick squeeze in reply.
                Pythia nodded. “I won’t apologize for what I did, but from this point on I will try to guide you when I can instead of manipulating you.” She smiled. “I realize that some would say that those two terms are different ways of saying the same thing, but I mean it.”
                “So you said that there was a book that Shikarou would need?” Yushiko nodded once at the G-Spliced. “So where is it and how do we get it?”
                “And how do we get back to Earth?” asked Circe. “Unless the threat is on this station, we can’t very well fight it here.”
                Pythia handed the thermos back to Shikarou. “It’s not far from here and we should be able to retrieve it in very short order. As for the return to Earth, I can take us there, once I am bonded to Shikarou.” She cocked her head. “I will be able to take us to Glasgow, where the portal controller was buried.” A ghost of a smile flickered across her muzzle and vanished as her ears canted sideways. “I could also take us to the places that I have been to in the past, but my mental maps are three hundred years out of date and there is no telling what might have happened in the meantime.”
                “When you put it that way,” Circe commented, “Glasgow will be fine.”
                Alice frowned and motioned to get Shikarou’s attention. “What about the man who called you a thief? If he’s made a report to the police, there could be surveillance waiting for a possible return.”
                Pythia shook her head. “I know nothing about that, but if the man knew about the controller, then he might be involved with the threat. They would want to get the grimoire for the powers that it contains and may have been able to locate it through divinatory magic.” She focused on Shikarou. “That is one of the reasons that you are needed. This threat is magical in nature and only a mage will be able to understand how to defeat it.”
                “So what about the wizards at Vale? Wouldn’t they be able to do an even better job, since they are born here?”
                Pythia frowned. “There are wizards here? I was not aware of that. Nonetheless, you have been chosen. Perhaps they can help you.”
                Lorelei barked a sudden laugh. “There goes your reputation for infallibility.”
                “I never made such a claim,” came the prim response. “I was designed to advise and protect a general, not to be a prophet.”
                Branwyn smiled and leaned over Shikarou. “You have got to breed her, and quickly.”
                He blinked. “Why would I want to do that?”
                “I can think of a handful of people who just absolutely deserve to have a pokegirl like her.”
                Shikarou smothered a laugh. “All right, ladies, let’s get this book and get back to Glasgow.”
                Yushiko nodded. “Yes, please. I would like to be warm again.”
                Pythia smiled. “That sounds wonderful. In the meantime would someone please fill me in on the events of the last three hundred years?”
                Branwyn took a deep breath. “Well, after the Bloody Plague hit…”
                The dimensional portal closed behind Shikarou and Pythia as he released Branwyn, Circe, Yushiko and Alice. It was night, and the air steamed with their combined breaths.
                Yushiko grimaced. “It’s cold. I want to be warm.”
                The fireball burst in the middle of the group without warning and tumbled everyone in different directions as if they were rag dolls. “GIVE ME THE BOOK!”
                It was the blonde man and he was pointing a wand at Shikarou’s heart. He was flanked by a Demoness and a Droido, both of whom were smirking at the sight in front of them. “I want the book and I want it now, or I’m going to have Lilith here start carving pieces off of your sorry ass, pokefreak.” The Demoness waved.
                “It’s in my backpack.” Shikarou shrugged off his pack and when he swung it around drew his wand with the same motion while sending a thought to Circe and Branwyn. Everyone close your eyes right now. Three. Two. One. Shikarou cast his flare spell at point blank range, the brilliant flash blinding him as well as his opponents.
                Designed to light up a couple of cubic kilometers, at such close range viewers were almost guaranteed to have permanent eye damage, and Shikarou screamed in pain along with the others.
                Yushiko hammered the Demoness with a feather shuriken attack alongside with Branwyn, who combined a quick attack with mach breaker. The helpless pokegirl never had a chance and was sent flying into the river. Yushiko went to fish her out before she drowned.
                Alice charged the Droido while using handcuff throw to bind her opponent’s hands together and then smashed her with Gatling kick while Circe pounded the fighting type mentally with a psychic attack.
                Alice then turned and almost nonchalantly spun the sobbing human around to bind his hands together with her spare set of handcuffs. “I’ll get the police.” She dashed away on her mission.
                Branwyn changed back to her bipedal form and knelt next to Shikarou, who was curled up into a ball. “How soon before your eyes heal?”
                He gave a long drawn out breath. “I’m starting to see a little bit already, so hopefully it won’t be too much longer.”
                “We really need to get a pokegirl with some healing abilities for the active harem or leave Lorelei out all of the time.”
                Shikarou sighed and reached out to touch his Unicorn, running his fingers up her body until he reached her chest. He grasped one of her breasts and squeezed it gently. Branwyn slapped his hand away. He chuckled. “You wouldn’t deny a blind man a bit of fun, now would you?”
                She snorted. “You have enough fun.”
                Pythia touched his shoulder. “Your pokegirls fight well, even your newest addition.”
                Shikarou blinked his eyes several times and peered at Branwyn. “Is she right? Did she fight well?”
                Branwyn chucked. “I think she was referring to Alice, who did fairly well. Pythia on the other hand, just stood around and watched.”
                Shikarou turned to look at Pythia. “We’ll have to work on that, then.”
                She blushed slightly. “I know I have a lot to learn and I look forward to the education.”
                Shikarou peered at Branwyn again, blinking rapidly. “Is she talking about fighting or sex?”
                Branwyn watched Pythia flush scarlet. With her blue fur it made her turn an odd purple shade. “Both, I think.”
                Right then Alice returned with two more OfficerJoys and a Growlie, so Shikarou stopped teasing his G-Spliced.
                With Alice to help, the questioning went fairly quickly and Shikarou kept the discussion focused on the fact that this man had first made spurious accusations against him earlier in the day and then had attacked him this evening without warning.
                No, he didn’t want to claim either of the man’s pokegirls, he had at least one celestial in his harem and didn’t want the headaches involved in refereeing their fights. Of course, Yushiko’s sudden announcement that neither Infernal pokegirl would live to see the dawn if they joined the harem didn’t hurt.
                Still several hours had crept past by the time the OfficerJenny’s were satisfied. What took the longest was explaining that Alice had a Tamer now and processing the paperwork to turn her over to Shikarou. For that a supervisor had to put in an appearance and things really slowed down once she realized that Branwyn was associated with the Harris Conservatory.
                It was at this point the Shikarou learned about what had happened with Devon in Glasgow. The supervisor’s automatic reaction was to pull Alice away from Shikarou and begin apologizing for the entire misunderstanding, which would have been amusing if Alice hadn’t been willing to become violent about staying with her Tamer and the fact that Shikarou was too busy trying to stop the real misunderstanding from continuing to enjoy the supervisor’s groveling.
                However, eventually the supervisor understood that Shikarou wasn’t angry about Alice, that Alice was angry about being taken from Shikarou and that no one blamed the Glasgow police department for any of this. At that point the supervisor was more than willing to cut everyone loose and go on her merry way.
                As she left, Branwyn sidled up to him. He gave her a suspicious look. “What is it?”
                Branwyn smiled and reached inside her dress. “I, um, found this.” She pulled out the enemy mage’s wand. “Do I have to give this to the police as well?”
                Shikarou shook his head. “I don’t remember the police asking about it, so I guess it’s yours.” He glanced at Pythia. “Do you have problem with that?”
                “No. I was built to aid in leading the forces of my creator in a successful rebellion against the established government. I don’t have a problem with not telling the police everything.”
                “Shikarou!” He turned in time to catch the pokegirl who leapt into his arms and rubbed herself against him. “I caught you, so do I get to keep you?” Her eyes sparkled with laughter.
                “Hello, Amy.” Shikarou hugged her until she squeaked. “Have you done something with your hair?”
                Amy snickered. “I became a Cheshire. Do you like it? Does it turn you on?”
                “You have only become more beautiful.”
                Amy’s ears flicked and her face scrunched up slightly. “I’m pretty sure that’s a yes. So, what brings you to Peacetown?”
                “I thought this was Caomh Sith?”
                “Lynn made some executive decisions and decided to rename the island Caomh Sith, since she intends for the whole place to be the home of peace. So the town needed a new name, and Peacetown won. We had a vote.” The Cheshire nodded seriously. “You aren’t upset are you?”
                “I’m surprised.” Shikarou smiled. “So can I put you down now? I need to talk to Molly and Lynn.”
                “Oh, all right.” Amy untwined herself from him but left her tail draped loosely around his waist.
                Shikarou looked her up and down as out of the corner of his eye he could see Alice paying close attention to the exchange. “Why does it look like you are wearing a Guard uniform?”
                Amy laughed. “I joined the Guard after I evolved.” She leaned over and whispered to him. “I really just did it for the joke potential. Did you know if I teleport really fast for five or six times while carrying her, Molly heaves? But, it turned out that the job is kind of fun. I’m a courier and Her Majesty sends me all over the place delivering stuff and picking up things.”  She resumed a normal tone. “In fact, yesterday I got to stand watch over the President of the Blue League when he showed up.”
                Branwyn, who had been watching them with a bemused look, suddenly looked startled. “And why was he here?”
                “He wanted to tour the clinic. Everyone is really excited about the clinic, and I mean everyone. Poppet says that this idea is, uh, rebellious.”
                Circe smirked. “She means revolutionary.”
                “Yeah, that. Anyway, Poppet says that no one had considered doing this before because they were too stupid to come up with new concepts.”
                Branwyn frowned. “Did she actually call the Blue League President stupid?”
                “Not in front of him, but yeah.”
                Shikarou sighed. “So Poppet has been visiting. Is that where the uniform came from?”
                Amy nodded vigorously. “Aye. She said we needed to look moderately prosperous to the president. Lynn says that sounds silly.”
                “So what did the president think of the clinic?”
                “He made a funny noise when he read the signs, but his, um, companion, she’s really his second wife but you can’t call her that, she’s a Denmother who worked in a pokecenter and she laughed a lot.”
                Shikarou gave her a curious look. “What signs are you talking about?”
                “I think you’ve confused him enough, Amy.” It was Lynn. “Good day, milord,” she murmured as she gave him a welcoming kiss. “I suppose you would like an explanation?”
                “In a minute.” Shikarou gestured for Alice to come forward. “Lynn, I’d like to introduce you to Alice. She’s going to be joining the Uist Island Guard, or whatever it’s called now that you’ve changed the name of the island.”
                “It’s the Caomh Sith Guard now and you will be more than welcome there, Alice. Other than Amy, we only have one other member of the guard and that would be Molly, our commander.” Lynn smiled. “She will be very glad to see you.”
                Alice nodded. “I’m looking forward to it. Shikarou told me that the rules here are a little different and that I would get the opportunity to put my own stamp on things.” She glanced at him. “I want to do the best I can for him and for you.”
                “That’s a good attitude, Alice, and I’m sure that Molly will take dreadful advantage of it and work you until you drop.” Lynn looked at Amy. “Will you take Alice to the Inn and set her up with a room? Then you can take her to the police station to meet Molly.”
                “As you command,” Amy intoned with a bow. She grinned at Alice. “Let’s go.”
                Lynn shook her head. “Remind me again why I put up with her?”
                Branwyn smiled. “Because you want to.”
                The Elfqueen laughed softly. “I suppose you are right.” She slid her arm through Shikarou’s. “Let us walk to the clinic and I’ll explain on the way.” She led him outside and down the road, followed by Branwyn, Pythia and Circe.
                “It turns out that pokegirl centers are required by law to have all of the amenities,” Lynn explained. “They have to have a healing machine as well as a transporter and a full spectrum communication system. In addition, they’re required to provide rooms for Tamers to sleep in, taming rooms, and most are expected to maintain some kind of dining area as well.”
                “All of that can cost a lot of credits, especially when you consider that a healing machine capable of healing six pokegirls at a time and able to provide cleaning and conditioning costs several million credits. Transporters are in the same price range, so they aren’t cheap and neither are full range comm units.”
                “Pokegirl centers are also supposed to have a full staff on hand, and most of them are actually running shorthanded due to the fact that NurseJoys are not a common pokegirl and every township wants NurseJoys for their pokegirl center.”
                “The portable pokegirl healing unit has been out for a little while, but the League hasn’t taken the new technology seriously, so your idea of using them in a clinic has come as a bit of a shock. I’ve gotten to listen to a lot of ‘that’s just not the way it’s done’ in conversations with League officials.”
                She smiled. “I think, however, your heresy of having one medical facility to treat pokegirls and humans is causing the most controversy. Poppet has taken your pseudo scientific nomenclature concept and presented it to the groups most interested in parity, and the response has been very positive.”
                “I suppose it’s really a little thing, but calling pokegirls ‘Homo sapiens pokegirl’ is really helping to drive home the idea that we are part of Homo sapiens, even if we are not ‘Homo sapiens sapiens’.”
                “Some of the scientific community wants to burn you at the stake, of course, but there is a number of prominent pokegirl Researchers who are quietly looking at the whole idea and hopefully some real good will come out of it.”
                “Another idea that you came up with that is receiving a very warm reception is the idea you had of putting a PPHU or two in ambulances. That wouldn’t compromise the care of pokegirls and may free up enough NurseJoys to bring the operational pokegirl centers up to full staff.”
                Lynn pulled him to a halt and turned to face him. “And on a personal note, I want to thank you for the reading T2 you developed. There was a whole world out there that I was missing and it may be more powerful than any of the Legendaries.” She tugged him back into motion. “On a more professional note, Poppet wants you to manufacture those as well as your language T2. She says that she will pay top credits for them. Personally, I think the price will only go up when others find out about them and you may want to talk to someone like the Jahana corporation about licensing the technology.” She glanced at him. “I would hope that you would insist that the price stay low so that poorer Tamers could afford them for their pokegirls too.”
                “That sounds like a reasonable request.” Shikarou nodded. “I’ll consider it.”
                “Here’s the clinic.” They stopped briefly outside to look at the building. “After you repaired the old hospital, we decided to put the clinic on the second floor. There are enough rooms there to do what we wanted with a little left over for future expansion.”
                Circe frowned. “What about the first floor?”
                Lynn gave a subtle smile. “Molly did some research and found out that a lot of problems in a community spring up around the pokegirl center, probably due to Tamers hanging around. She decided, and I agreed, that the first floor of the old hospital building would be the Guard station for Peacetown.”
                Branwyn stared in amazement. “You put the police next to the clinic? That’s,” she frowned. “Brilliant comes to mind, actually.”
                “I think so too,” Lynn replied, “and I would like you to stress that to Molly, Shikarou. She’s doing the work of six or seven pokegirls and she needs some kind of recognition from you.”
                “I think some of the credit for all of this belongs to my seneschal as well.” Shikarou smiled as Lynn blushed. “We’ll design some kind of medals for achievement and other things as well.” He gestured to the door. “Shall we start the tour?”
                Lynn led them inside. “We’re still setting things up and aren’t really ready for tours, but I’ll do the best I can. Of course, having you and your harem here will help things out a lot. We always get a lot more done when you are here than your numbers can account for, so I’m hoping you can stay for a while.” She gave Shikarou a look.
                “We’ll see. I’ve got a new harem member in Pythia, so I don’t see any problem in staying here while she comes up to speed. After that, we’ll just have to take it day by day.”
                “Of course, my lord.”
                Out of the corner of his eye, Shikarou caught Branwyn jerking her chin at Lynn’s back and making a slapping motion with her hand while Circe smiled and Pythia watched. The Unicorn noticed his observation and shrugged at him. He winked and she looked surprised and then pleased.
                The Guard station was nothing remarkable. The furniture was scavenged from the stuff that Shikarou had been repairing and while space had been set aside for the cells, construction had been waiting on his return. It was also understood that they would be getting a storage unit for pokeballs as soon as possible, if only because it could do double duty as temporal stasis for troublesome pokegirls.
                Then they headed upstairs to the clinic. It was also obviously a work in progress, but more had been done here. The old nurse’s station had been turned into the admissions area and looked almost complete, down to a functional computer terminal.
                Shikarou looked around. “So where are these signs that Amy told me offended the Blue League President?”
                Lynn sighed. “Over there.” She pointed at the admissions desk and signs that hung on the front of it.
                Shikarou read:
Caomh Sith Clinic
Operation: Monday – Friday 0800 to 1700
Closed Saturdays, Sundays & All Holidays
Emergencies Seen at All Hours
If the Attendant is Not Visible Please Ring the Bell Twice and Wait
If You Are Interested in Taming the Attendant, Please Ask. If The Attendant Says No, Then Drop It. Harassment Will Be Considered Improper Behavior.
We Do:
1. Provide healing for all injured people
2. Have a bath available for use; however this is not a taming room
3. See everyone, regardless of race
4. Reserve the right to see people who are more seriously injured than you ahead of you
We Do Not:
1. Tolerate Improper Behavior – Violators will be referred downstairs to the Caomh Sith Guard
2. Provide Taming Facilities – Inquire with the attendant to see our selection of loaner taming restraints
3. Provide a Hostel Service – Please inquire in town if you desire a place to stay
4. Provide a Restaurant – Please inquire in town
5. Provide an Outlet for Your Bitching – This will be considered improper behavior
                Branwyn started laughing, which quickly grew until tears ran down her face as she fought for breath. Shikarou watched her as she fought for control. She was still gasping as she managed to get out: “I like it. It’s short and to the point. Whoever wrote that has worked in a pokegirl center before.”
                Lynn was watching her lord and master. “What do you think? This is the only part that the president had an issue with. His companion thought it was one of the funniest things she’d seen in years, but I understand that she’d worked in a pokegirl center for a while.”
                Shikarou tried to frown and ended up smiling. “Leave it as is. No one will be able to say that they weren’t warned.”
                “I’m glad you think so. I was told I was in charge and could run the place to suit myself.” The familiar voice came from a doorway that led back to the beds available for injured people.
                Shikarou turned and broke into a grin. “Candace!”
                The NurseJoy smiled back. “It’s good to see you again.” She came forward and hugged him. “I guess you finally came up with a way to get me out of Wick after all.”
                He chuckled. “It took long enough. Um, by the bye, how did I do it?”
                Candace shook her head. “Apparently, all you had to do was draw the League’s attention to your little rock. Are you aware that the clinic is now being funded by the Blue League as a pilot program? Did you happen to know that this has become ‘the’ posting for medical personnel and that there are a whole raft of human doctors who are hopping mad about the fact that a mere pokegirl beat them out for this plum assignment. It could make a career in a very big way.”
                Shikarou glanced at Lynn. “No, she hadn’t gotten that far.” He shook his head. “Well, it had to happen to someone eventually. I do like the signs.” A small smile appeared. “Hopping mad, you said? Considering some of the doctors I’ve met, the exercise will do them good.”
                “You are impossible.” Candace touched his cheek. “And sweet. Thanks for letting me do this.” Dimples appeared. “Even if you didn’t know I was here.”
                “On behalf of my ignorance, I can only say I have a very good seneschal.” Lynn blinked at his words and turned slightly pink.
                Circe shot Branwyn a look. How many of the pokegirls that he knows want to be tamed by him?
                The alpha gave her a bland look. All of them.
                Pythia looked her over. I am beginning to believe that you are right. This is a strange world that I have woken up in.
Name:                                                     Urufu Shikarou                                                    
Age:                                                       250                                                                                         
Residence:                                             Wick, Blue Continent                                                         
Region:                                  Scotland                                                                                               
Status:                                                    Active                                                                                   
Rank:                                                      27                                                                                           
Security Clearance:                              Delta                                                                                      
                Tamer                                     Y                                                            
                Master Tamer                       Y                                                            
                Researcher                            N                                                            
                Watcher                 N                                                            
                Breeder                  N                            
Active Harem
Species                  Name                                      Level                     
Alaka-Wham                         Circe                                       56                                           
Unicorn                  Branwyn                                43                                           
ElfQueen                                Gwyneth                                40                                           
Neo Iczel                                Ruiling                   31                                           
Armsmistress                        Urufu Yushiko      27                                           
G-Spliced                               Pythia                                     25                                           
Inactive Harem – Storage
Sphinx                                    Lorelei                                    34                                           
Alpha                                     Branwyn
Beta                                        None
Koketsu Ni Irazunba Koji o Ezu – If you do not enter the tiger’s cave you will not catch its cub.