Chapter 12: The Road to the Blue League Competition
Cammie yawned she opened the back door. “Good morning, Shikarou. Come on in, Karen is waiting for you.”
“Long night?” Shikarou waved Branwyn in and helped Cammie to lock up.
“Oh yes. We didn’t close our doors until seven and the battling went on until eleven. I had cleanup after that and didn’t get to bed until almost two.”
“Why don’t you just put yourself through a healing cycle?”
Cammie stared at him in shock. “You knew? But you treated me like…” she trailed off.
“You are a person and I will treat you with the respect you deserve.” Shikarou smiled gently. “Pokegirl, human or other, we are all people.”
Cammie stared at him for a moment. “Where were you ten years ago?”
Shikarou grimaced. “Being stupid, I think.”
She blinked and abruptly laughed. “I’m beginning to understand what Karen sees in you. Come on, she’s waiting.”
Branwyn glared at Cammie’s back. “Karen had better not see anything that needs a bed,” she muttered, “or I’ll see her in traction.” She jumped in surprise and relaxed when Shikarou gave her a hard nudge. “Oh, sorry.”
“Sorry I heard you?”
She had the grace to smile apologetically.
Karen was waiting for them in the same break room that they’d been in the day before. “I’m glad to see you’re on time. I’ve got the main battle arena all ready to go.” She grinned. “You’d better be as good as your reputation.”
Shikarou shook his head. “With the kind of build up you’re giving me, I’ll do the best I can, but I doubt that I can live up to your fantasies.”
Karen chuckled. “The story of my life.” She led them into what was obviously the main arena, Cammie following along. The terrain was grassy, with piles of boulders scattered here and there and a couple of small pools of water. The stands were mostly empty, but a half dozen sleepy looking people were huddled around a cart and the smell of coffee filled the air. Cammie eagerly joined the group, forcing her way in to quickly fill a cup.
One of them, a slender redhead with a series of elaborate tattoos that ran down his arms left the group. “Karen, I got the short straw, so I get to officiate.”
“Thanks, Tim. Shikarou, this is Timothy. He’s one of my gym assistants and as you heard, he’ll be officiating.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Shikarou was looking over the battleground. He looked at the young Tamer. “So what funny rules has Karen set up for this?”
Tim chuckled. “This battle will be a gym leader level battle with six pokegirls on each side, single combat, single elimination and no substitutions. Because this is a gym leader level battle, any disabled pokegirls will be taken immediately for healing for their own safety.” He smiled. “Apparently Karen wants to draw out your agony for her own pleasure.”
Karen smacked him on the shoulder. “I want a decent battle for a change.”
Tim shook his head. “I could be asleep right now, so let’s get this over with so I can go back to bed.” He smiled at Shikarou. “No offense intended.”
“None taken.” Shikarou turned to Branwyn as they made their way to their battle box. “Devon’s records indicate that Karen uses a radio for commo with her pokegirls, so I have no qualms about the com spell. Besides, the rule is to use any advantage you can, right?” He slipped off his pack and dropped it nearby after fishing out a high potion and slipping it into a carry loop.
Branwyn nodded. “Yes. Will you be starting with me?”
“I doubt it. Tradition dictates that the gym leader reveals her first pokegirl before the challenger does and I’m going to use that. I’ll respond to whomever she uses first and try for an early lead on points.” He pulled out her pokeball. “I’m already recording this and I’ll ask Karen for a copy of her record as well. Hopefully we’ll do all right.”
Branwyn kissed him gently. “Wipe the arena with her.” She stepped back and vanished into the recovery beam.
Tim stepped up to the judge’s box. “Tamer Shikarou, are you ready to battle?”
“Gym Leader Karen Cooper, are you ready to battle?”
“I am ready,” was her instant response.
Tim raised the traditional green flag and let it drop. “Begin.”
Karen’s first pokeball was in the air before Tim finished speaking. It released a Fireburst who soared into the air gracefully.
Shikarou released Elizabeth. “All right, let’s do this like we talked about last night.”
She nodded while keeping her attention on the circling Fireburst. “I’ve got an idea. Trust?”
“Hey, it’s your pretty ass if it doesn’t work. Trust.”
Elizabeth shifted sideways until a pile of rocks protected her back and used dark mist and dark shield.
Karen looked surprised and activated an intercom between her station and Shikarou’s. “You have a Vampire? That’s an interesting first choice.”
“I’m just trying to give you the good fight you wanted,” he replied.
“Well, I don’t want to disappoint you, either.” She muttered to herself.
I am picking up radio transmissions. Do you wish me to intercept them?
Go ahead, but don’t bother me unless she starts winning or attempts something really sneaky.
How will I know when she is being duplicitous?
Use your own judgment.
The Fireburst changed direction and lined up on Elizabeth. “Now, Karmen,” Karen ordered. The Fireburst used mach breaker and streaked ahead with a sonic boom. She blasted through the shield and the Vampire, who wavered and vanished. The whole scene changed slightly and suddenly the pile of rocks was much closer as the illusion broke apart.
Karmen cried out in surprise and then pain as she slammed into the rocks at full speed. Rock exploded away from her as she came to an abrupt halt. She shook her head and climbed slowly to her feet and then screamed as Elizabeth dropped her invisibility and drove her blood blade through the center of the Fireburst’s back.
The Vampire twisted the blade and used it as a conduit for a vicious mega drain attack. The Fireburst crumpled.
Tim looked shaken as he raised the flag. “Karmen is unable to battle. The round goes to Shikarou.”
“Good job, Elizabeth, I’m proud of you.”
Elizabeth lifted off and flew to land in her starting point. “Thanks. I feel good. She licked off her hands. “Tastes like chicken” She glanced up at him. “I feel really good. I don’t suppose you could arrange a break so I could come up there and blow you?” She shifted to a little girl voice. “I’d like the treat and I guarantee you’ll like it.”
Shikarou’s groin tightened in response to her words. “I don’t think she’d be obliging.”
The Vampire snickered. “She probably wants to do it herself.”
Karen had recovered Karmen and sent the pokeball off to get healed and was pulling another pokeball from her belt.
“You know she’s going to play to your weaknesses if she can.”
Elizabeth snickered again. “I’ve been knocked out bunches of times in training and I know you won’t let me be killed. Even if her next pokegirl takes me down, I’ll take a piece of her with me.” Her voice dropped to a growl. “As a snack.”
A Murkunt appeared and stepped forward, immediately releasing a shadow ball at Elizabeth, catching her off guard. The blast slammed her sideways but she recovered in midair and hovered, giving the Murkunt an upraised middle finger in reply. She winced, rotating her shoulder. “I’ll soften the bitch up, but someone else will probably have to finish her off.”
Shikarou growled quietly. “You haven’t lost yet.”
The Vampire dodged another shadow ball. “You’re right,” she answered, her voice gaining strength as she activated cocoon of darkness around herself and the healing powers kicked in. “Ideas?”
“Option three. Go to ground. Use the rocks.”
“On it, lover.” Elizabeth sprinted for the nearest pile of rocks and squirmed into a gap in them as the Murkunt took to the air.
Karen is concerned about you intercepting her transmissions and is using one word codes to command her pokegirls. I will continue to monitor in case she breaks code.
The Murkunt began to hammer the rocks with feather shuriken, each burst of ki energy making the pile a little smaller. Shikarou knew she was focusing on the wrong area; Elizabeth should have already phased under the ground and should be soon coming up near one of the pools of water, invisible once more.
Suddenly the Murkunt whipped around as she saw the Vampire, the invisibility being useless on her, but not on Karen, who was acting as her pokegirl’s spotter. The pokegirl turned in midair, but not fast enough to evade the mega-drain attack which sucked away her life energy.
Her answering feather shuriken knocked Elizabeth flying and the Vampire used the impetus to climb for the ceiling, where she skimmed along just below the roof of the arena.
“Mindy, plan four.” Shikarou heard over the intercom. The Murkunt summoned two shadow balls at once and shot them at the Vampire, who phased into the roof and changed direction. The blast peeled back the roof supports, leaving stars visible through the hole.
Karen said some naughty words.
Elizabeth used mega-drain again, missing. She chuckled. “If this had been a real fight I could have hit her Tamer from where I am now.”
“Remember that for our next real fight.” Shikarou murmured. “She’s coming back around.”
“I’m going to use up my phasing power soon and then what? Most of my attacks won’t touch a dark pokegirl.”
“You’re going to have close with her while you can still phase. See if you can get close and then use blood blade or mega-drain again.”
“I’ll try. I think I need to learn magic like Branwyn and Circe to make me more versatile.” The Vampire phased into the roof again.
“I’ll test you after the fight, if you want.”
Karen’s voice came over the intercom. “I’m going to put in a thinner roof.”
Shikarou laughed. “I’ll remember that for next time.”
Elizabeth suddenly appeared as she flew out of the roof again, almost over the Murkunt. Energy glowed as mega-drain struck the Dark pokegirl squarely and she screeched and fell, recovering just before hitting the floor. She rolled and fired off another shadow ball as Elizabeth hit her with mega-drain again. She slid bonelessly to the ground.
The shadow ball took Elizabeth in the legs and she screamed and fell, recovering in time to turn a crash into a controlled crash. “I feel like shit,” she grumbled as she slowly climbed to her feet. Her head swiveled as she took noticed the fallen Murkunt. “Hey, I took her out.” She shook her head and winced. “I’m all out of steam, lover. I could really use a healing spell right now.”
Shikarou sighed. “Do you want me to pull you out?” He watched as Tim raised the flag announcing he’d gotten another point. “You took out two pokegirls and woke up the audience.”
Elizabeth chuckled slowly. “I’ll soak up another attack before I drop, so leave me in.”
Karen released a Skarmory, who stood and glared at the tired Vampire.
Elizabeth groaned. “Oh crap.”
“Marion, go.” The Skarmory used mach breaker to take off from the ground with a tremendous sonic boom, smashing Elizabeth across the arena floor to skid across the grass and slide to a halt, unmoving. Marion circled in a victory lap as Shikarou returned Elizabeth to her pokeball and handed her to the assistant for healing.
Shikarou released Kebi and spoke rapidly. “Skarmory is the target quick attack to get close thunder bolt to disable. Now!”
The Ria blurred along the ground and up a pile of rocks to launch herself into the air at the still circling Skarmory, her body already softly lit with an inner light as she charged for combat. At the apex of her leap, she released her attack.
Shikarou and Kebi had worked hard to function as a team during their brief time together, and only Kebi’s willingness to trust him at a level that was slightly frightening made it work, but work it did. As an older pokegirl, she’d already learned not to overexert herself, because if she did, she couldn’t run away, her preferred tactic while feral. So her electrical attacks weren’t supercharged enough to knock herself out. But considering her level, they were powerful.
Shikarou had considered that when he ordered her attack on the Skarmory. He’d also considered the Skarmory’s severe weakness to electricity and had deliberately not ordered a thunder attack for that very reason.
But they had spent the evening in a group format planning session with the other pokegirls that he was going to be using and hadn’t done any one-on-one training. There simply wasn’t time.
So Kebi had never used an electrical attack while wearing the light ball.
The light ball functioned perfectly, doubling the strength of Kebi’s thunder bolt. The thunder bolt took Marion in the center of the chest and electricity surged throughout her body, arcing from point to point in a visual show that was stunning in its intensity and lit up the entire arena.
Marion nearly died. The damage was so severe that flames were actually visible on her body as she folded up and plummeted.
Kebi squawked and flailed frantically as she went through the harmless (to her) electrical display that emanated from the falling Skarmory. Once on the ground she raced up and out of the arena to hide behind Shikarou.
Shikarou pulled out his wand and summoned Marion to him, catching her in midair. He grabbed the high potion that he had hung off of the back of his pack and sprayed her down as Karen raced around the arena wall, so the Skarmory was looking much better when her Tamer arrived.
“Is she?” Karen broke off, unable to speak. She leaned over, sucking air.
“She’s going to be fine, but I’d run her through a healing cycle right away.” Shikarou was still holding Marion when Karen returned her, and the feeling as she dissolved in his arms was disconcerting. “I’m sorry.” Tim grabbed the ball from her and ran off.
“KEBI SORRY!” Arms wrapped around Shikarou as Kebi pressed herself against him, her body quivering.
Karen blinked and some of the anger and fear drained from her eyes. “She didn’t mean to do that did she?” she asked quietly.
“No and neither did I.” Shikarou bowed formally. “I yield the match to you.” He straightened. “If your Skarmory needs any healing that you cannot provide her, I’ll do everything in my power to make this right.”
“Do you know what happened?”
“Not really.” He turned to Kebi. “It’s all right, Kebi.” The Ria crawled into his arms and tried to curl up into a ball. “You did what I told you to do, and that is good. Did you notice anything unusual when you attacked Marion?”
Kebi relaxed slightly and uncurled enough to look at him. “Kebi good?”
“Very good.” He squeezed her tightly. “Very good indeed.”
“Kebi feel cold. Here.” She touched her chest, under the light ball. “When Kebi attack.” Her face scrunched up. “When I attack.” Her eyes lit up with pride.
Shikarou winced. “The light ball. Damn.” He turned to Karen, still cradling his Ria. “Yesterday I bought Kebi a necklace with my ID on it so that if she got lost I might get her back and it has got a light ball on it.” He sighed. “We haven’t had the chance to train with it yet.”
Karen nodded. “Light balls double the output of electrical attacks. You need to train a lot more before using her in a pokegirl battle again.”
“I know and we will. I just wanted her as a surprise since you knew most of my lineup from when I got arrested.”
Karen grimaced. “She was that, I’ll grant you.” She cocked her head, obviously listening to something he couldn’t hear. That meant that the radio must use bone conduction for transmission since he’d hear an earbud.
The Skarmory is completely recovered and very angry.
Karen smiled. “Marion is fine, so no harm done.” She hesitated. “Would you please put your Ria up before she gets here?”
“Of course. Kebi, I’m going to put you into your pokeball.”
“Kebi ready.” She licked his cheek before dematerializing.
“Do me a favor; don’t let Branwyn out just yet.” Karen shook her head. “I don’t need her glaring at me right now.”
“Ok.” Shikarou frowned. “Is everything all right?”
“No.” She sighed. “Your Unicorn is right, I’m looking for someone to settle down with, and except for one thing, you’re a perfect candidate.” She stepped up and traced one of his ears. “My family has a long history of Cat type pokegirls on both sides, and I really want to give my children the chance to be normal, so you are completely unsuitable.” She gave him a twisted smile. “Sorry.”
Shikarou managed to look understanding when he really wanted to laugh in relief. “It’s ok. You have to do what’s right for you and so far as I know, the ears, teeth and claws breed true.”
“Even knowing that you won’t work out for the long haul, can we be friends?”
Shikarou started to say something snide but reconsidered. Being a human woman in some ways must be very lonely, what with men trying to breed with her just because she was human and pokegirls detesting her because she wasn’t one of them. “I thought we already were.”
Her face lit up. “Thanks.”
Marion came stomping into the arena, followed by Tim, who handed Shikarou the pokeball containing Elizabeth as the Skarmory peered around angrily. “Where is she?”
Shikarou raised an eyebrow, but before he could say anything Karen rounded on her pokegirl. “I asked Shikarou to put her up so you wouldn’t get your butt kicked again.”
The Skarmory lifted her head haughtily. “That would not happen,” she announced.
“Get this straight, Marion, dear. She caught both of us off guard and almost killed you. If it wasn’t for her Tamer, you would be squab. I’ve warned you about your pride before, but in this case you didn’t do anything wrong. She cleaned your clock and you never had a chance.”
The Skarmory ruffled her feathers defensively. “She got lucky.”
“Shikarou?” Karen glanced at him.
“I deliberately didn’t let Kebi use her strongest attack because I only wanted to incapacitate you. However, she had you right where she wanted you and you never had a chance. That’s why I chose her in the first place.” It wouldn’t hurt to prop up the Skarmory’s pride with a portion of the truth. “You are too dangerous to leave active on the battlefield, so I knew I had to take you down fast.”
Marion looked less angry. “Really? Of course I am. I understand that you did what you had to do.”
Karen shot him a grateful look. “Now do you think you are well enough to fight in some of my other battles today?”
Marion’s eyes narrowed. “I am and I will.” She stood patiently as Karen put her into her pokeball.
Karen gave Shikarou a quirky grin. “Thanks for the assist. She’s got the prickliest pride I’ve seen in a while and if she’d been allowed to start sulking, it could have lasted for days.”
“That’s what friends are for.”
Karen gave him a smile. “Thanks for a good battle. Even with what happened to Marion, that was the best fight I’ve had in a while.” She reached into a pocket. “Here’s your badge.”
“I don’t get a badge, I yielded to you.”
“Sorry, Shikarou, but it doesn’t work that way in gym battles. Yes, the battle ended for medical reasons, but when it did, you were ahead on points, having taken out three pokegirls and lost one.” She held out the badge. “Now you can refuse to take this, but your record has already been updated with your award and if you don’t take it, when you check in at the county final, they’ll assume you lost it and replace it for a nominal fee.” She winked. “Your Tamer record is much more important than the physical badges, if we trusted Tamers to not lose a badge, the finals would be much, much smaller then they are now.”
Karen grinned as he quietly took the badge. “Now, I’m ready for breakfast, how about you? I’m afraid it’ll have to be quick, though, lots to do. You can buy me dinner the next time you are in town to make up for it.”
Shikarou shook his head. “Sure, why not.”
Karen put her hands on her hips. “Gee, just overwhelm a girl with enthusiasm.”
“How would you rather I responded?”
She looked thoughtful for a moment. “Could you tell me I’m sexy and you want to tame me until I can’t walk?” She smiled. “Oh, and make it sound like you mean it.”
“Didn’t you just say you didn’t want to sleep with me?”
“What does that have to do with what I want to hear?”
Shikarou blinked. “You have a point.” He grinned and stepped up against her, dropping his voice to a husky rumble, and letting his eyes fill with desire. “You are a beautiful and desirable woman and I would like to fuck you until I can’t do it any more.”
Karen shivered. “Ooh, that was good.” She delicately pressed a fingertip against his chest and pushed slightly. “Well, you can’t. So there.”
“You are a cruel and heartless woman.”
“Great, isn’t it?” She winked and grabbing his hand, dragged him off to breakfast.
Shikarou stood outside the back door of the Belfast gym and watched the morning sun creeping over the horizon. It was still fairly dark, so he released Elizabeth for some variety.
The Vampire stretched and pulled her cloak close around herself. “So did we win?”
“Yes, we did.”
She smiled and took his arm. “Excellent. Who took out the most of her pokegirls?”
Shikarou smiled. “You did.”
She squealed. “Wonderful!” She glanced around and started pulling him towards an alley. “Come on.”
He let her lead him. “What are we doing?”
“Hush. Let me.” She led him into the alley to where the shadows were deepest. “I took out the most pokegirls and I deserve a prize. Now just stand there and don’t say anything unless I ask you to, ok?” Her eyes pled with him as she stripped the backpack off of him and dropped it to the side.
“Good.” Elizabeth did things beneath her cloak for a moment and then pulled it open, her now naked skin gleaming in the shadowy light. She stepped against him and kissed him hungrily as she undid his pants. “I know I promised to blow you,” she murmured against his lips, “but I have needs too.” She wrapped her arms around his neck. “Lift me, please.”
“As you wish.” His hands slid under her ass and lifted as she kissed him again and wrapped her legs around his waist. She hissed into his mouth as he slid into her.
Her lips moved to his neck and she kissed his throat gently. “You hold still and let me do this.” Her fangs slid into his neck as she began riding him, raising up and letting him slide back into her each time she drank. She began to speed up, kissing his throat as the holes healed shut, until she suddenly shuddered and screamed into his shoulder, her legs clamping tight around his waist and her body jerking on his cock as she came.
She rested her head on his shoulder for a moment, her breath coming hard and fast and then looked up into his eyes. “Thank you.”
“It was my pleasure.”
She smiled lazily. “Not yet.” She unwrapped her legs and slid down his body to kneel in front of him and blew lightly on his erection. “Now, I remember what happened the last time I gave you a blowjob, so claws into the wall.”
Shikarou slid the tips of his claws out and plunged them into the wooden wall he was leaning against. “Much better.” She smiled and sucked him deep into her mouth.
When Shikarou orgasmed and she swallowed him down, he clenched his fingers and shattered the boards his claws were embedded in.
Elizabeth licked him clean and slid to her feet in a smooth motion, pulling her cloak tight. “Game’s over, lover.”
Shikarou quickly redressed. “Are you going to keep calling me lover?”
She dimpled. “In private. Branwyn would probably have a fit if I called you that in front of her and she has so many ways to make her displeasure known.”
“Are you going to get dressed?” Shikarou finished retying everything and reached for his pack.
“No. I’ll just keep my cloak tight and you and I will know I’m nude under here.” Steamy eyes met his. “All ready for the taking.” She laughed, low and sensually as she produced her clothes from somewhere inside her cloak. “Please put this in your pack. I’ll get it back tonight.”
Taking his hand, she led him out of the alley and pulled her hood up. “You’d better let Branwyn out.”
Shikarou released the Unicorn. She looked around slowly. “So what happened? Why are we outside?”
“We won.” Shikarou grinned. “And I did as you asked, if not intentionally. Elizabeth here took out two pokegirls and Kebi took out another.”
“So what happened to end the fight?”
“Kebi was facing a Skarmory and when she used thunder bolt on it, things got a little out of control.”
Branwyn had a lot longer time to get used to all things pokegirl. “The light ball.” It wasn’t a question. “You hadn’t trained with the light ball. Did anyone die?”
“No, but it was a close thing.”
Elizabeth grinned. “So that’s what happened. Well, I still took out the most pokegirls and deserved my prize.”
Branwyn looked from one to the other, returning her gaze to Shikarou. It was filled with suspicion. “What prize?” Behind her, Elizabeth let her cloak slip open slightly and laughed silently when his eyes flickered to the gap.
Branwyn’s eyes narrowed. “If I had a Dark Kitsune’s nose right now, what would it tell me?”
Shikarou smiled. “Probably nothing. Noses can’t talk.”
Branwyn sighed. “I see. I’m wasting my time. Now what about afterwards?”
He reached out and gathered his alpha into his arms. She leaned stiffly against him for a moment before relaxing. “Look into my thoughts,” he whispered as he pressed his lips against hers.
She was still for a moment before kissing him back gently. “She doesn’t want you and you are happy about that.” She broke the kiss and rested her horn against his forehead. “Thank you for letting me know.” She cocked her head. “Is what you said about your traits breeding true?”
“Yes, our children will have horns and wolf ears, if we are lucky.”
Branwyn melted against him. “I’m glad.” She glanced up at him. “It will be a while before we can have children.”
“Not really. Just for a while all of our kids may look like you. Or they may have wolf’s ears too. We won’t know for sure until we start having children.”
“When is that likely?”
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do, so I’m not sure it’s something that we can schedule. However, I won’t be fertile until Yule of 301.”
Branwyn stayed pressed against him. “So you can’t get anyone pregnant until then and afterwards I’ll be able to spot your children if they are by a pokewoman or human.”
“That is very likely, but I won’t know for sure until my base is operational and I can run some tests in the clinic.” He smiled when she looked up at him with a questioning expression. “Not until May.”
She pushed away. “All right.” A glance at Elizabeth. “I suppose I can’t even be upset that she’s taking liberties with you.” A ghost of a smile. “I would too, although not in an alley.”
Elizabeth smiled. “It was dark when we got started, at least in the alley. And we were quiet.” Her smile grew. “Although we might want to leave before they open that shop and find out what happened to their wall.” She pointed with her chin at the broken boards.
Branwyn shook her head with a rueful smile. “Ah. You are going to have to show me how you give head.”
The Vampire grinned, her teeth glinting in the light. “You need fangs to do it right.”
Branwyn grinned back. “That may not be an insurmountable problem, depending on how much magic I learn.” The Vampire looked startled and then glared at the complacent looking Unicorn.
“Ladies, please, not here and not now.” Shikarou held out his arms. “One for each of you, and let’s leave. We’ll go back to camp and start working on the best route to Magicunt Village.”
“All right, it’s official. The universe is alive and it hates me.” Shikarou glared at the symbol of the universe’s detestation and his ears folded back.
“My lord, what does thou mean?” Dorothea gave him a confused look. After the sun had risen, Elizabeth had asked to be returned to her pokeball and Dorothea had taken her place.
Branwyn followed his gaze. “Isn’t that the same ferry that we crossed over from Glasgow on?” She caught his expression and sighed. “Yes, it is.”
Dorothea frowned. “In truth, that vessel does not look entirely seaworthy. Are they supposed to lean like that while tied up?”
“It’s called listing and no, it’s not supposed to do that.” Shikarou turned to his alpha. “Not going to happen.”
She nodded. “I could teleport us to somewhere on the highway to Glasgow. We’d still have to come back to the docks to see if there is a ferry to Magicunt Village, so that might take longer.”
Shikarou nodded. “That sounds good. If we were in that much of a hurry, we wouldn’t have stopped so you and Dorothea could shop for clothes.” He looked thoughtful for a second and then pulled out his pokedex. He pulled up some maps and drew some lines on them with the touchpad. “How about instead we teleport to Plymouth and Pythia can then fly to Magicunt Village and then come get us. It’s less than three hundred kilometers by air and if we’re lucky she can have us setting up camp there before nightfall.”
Branwyn looked over his display. “That would work better than my idea and should save us several days.” She smiled at him. “Let’s do it.”
Dorothea looked over the map. “Reading must be a wonderful thing,” she murmured wistfully.
Shikarou exchanged a glance with Branwyn and then smiled at the Seraph. “You will get the opportunity to find out just how wonderful it is. I’ve got a T2 that will give you a basic reading ability and you’ll get it tonight.” He took her hand and squeezed it gently. “I’m sorry, I didn’t even think to check, I just assumed you could read.”
Dorothea looked surprised. “Thou want me to learn to read?” Her eyes glowed with sudden joy. “Indeed, it is a wondrous thing to have thee as my lord and master.”
Shikarou glanced at Branwyn. I appear to be failing in my responsibilities to the harem. Would you check Helen to see if she’s literate?
She nodded. I’ll take care of it tonight, she replied telepathically. I should have thought of it as well, so don’t be too hard on yourself. We’re just too used to everyone being literate. What about Kebi?
I want her to socialize with the harem a little more before she discovers books. She’s very smart and I don’t want her becoming a recluse if she turns out to be a bibliophile.
Shikarou put his pokedex back up. “Well, no time like the present.” He pulled out a pokeball. “I have to put you up for a while, Dorothea.”
“Of course, my lord.”
Once she was tucked safely back into his belt, Shikarou turned to Branwyn. “To Plymouth we go.”
She slipped an arm through his. “As thou commands, my lord.”
“You know, what’s cute on Dorothea isn’t cute on everyone.”
She gave him an arch look. “That’s what I keep telling you, and yet you keep getting on them.”
She teleported as he tried to frame a retort.
Although Shikarou’s breath pounded in his ears so loudly that he couldn’t hear his pursuer as he ran, he knew it was still behind him and still gaining. He raced through the forest, looking ahead to pick out the best path, seeking a way to escape.
A blow knocked him skidding amongst the leaves and frantically he threw himself sideways, rolling to spring to his feet and begin the run again.
He was too slow and teeth closed on his leg, bone shattering as the creature bit down with unholy strength. It released him and stepped away, growling softly.
It looked like a wolf, a solid black bundle of muscle and fur with black, empty eyes that reflected his image as he shoved himself out of the spreading pool of blood, but no wolf stood over two meters tall at the shoulder. Its muzzle wrinkled in a snarl and it lunged forward to bury its snout in his belly, biting deep and swallowing noisily as it fed.
Shikarou opened his eyes. He took a deep, steadying breath.
While he didn’t sleep, he still needed to meditate for a couple of hours a night, and his mind was allowed to wander while this was occurring. Often images flickered while this was going on, short lengths of action as his unconscious mind wrestled with a problem.
He couldn’t remember anything like this happening before, though.
Slowly he pushed himself into a sitting position and checked the clock. 0530. Time to be up and around. That explained why his bed was empty, Lorelei was already up, although it was unusual that he hadn’t noticed her getting around.
He dressed slowly, considering the vision and what it might mean. It wasn’t one of his former foes; he’d never faced a wolf spirit of that color, although he’d fought one that was much larger. Taking a deep breath, he put it out of his mind and focused on the present.
They were outside Magicunt Village and in an hour or so he would be at the gym to challenge its leader, Brian Benoit. According to the pokedex entry, he was young for a gym leader, barely nineteen, and specialized in water and dragon pokegirls.
His stomach growled and he smiled. He opened the door to his room and the black monster wolf lunged forward, taking him by the leg, once again bone shattering in its jaws and he screamed as pain exploded through his body. It lifted him by the leg and trotted forward, passing through the wall of his room as if it wasn’t there.
It entered a large natural stone chamber and dropped him before moving away. He pressed a fist against the femoral artery in his shattered leg, slowing the blood flow as his body began to heal and extended the claws on his free hand as he watched the wolf.
It growled and the flesh began to ripple and shift as it changed form. When done, it stood on two legs and towered a good five meters or more above him. Its eyes narrowed and its ears were flat. “You should not be here.” Its voice was low and gravelly. “Why are you here?”
Shikarou glanced at his leg. Mending, but he still needed more time if he was going to fight this creature. “You are oni.”
The monster grinned, fangs gleaming in reflected light from the torches that lined the walls. “Oni, kami, is there truly any difference? We are the same.” It, no, he, for the nude creature was massively and obviously male, lowered its head to meet his gaze. “How did you come here?”
Shikarou propped himself up. “You brought me here.”
The monster’s eyes narrowed and it stepped forward and ground a clawed foot into his leg. Shikarou groaned and used a mantra to reduce pain. “Do not toy with me for I will not tolerate it. How did you come here?”
“If you didn’t bring me,” Shikarou gasped, “I do not know.” He lunged and drove his claws into the oni’s leg.
It snarled and kicked him in the head, the blow spinning him across the chamber. Shikarou awkwardly climbed to his feet.
The oni watched with narrowed eyes. “You have enough power to hurt me. Interesting.” It shook its head. “Nonetheless, you cannot stay here and there is only one way you can leave.” It charged him and slashed him with its talons before he could respond.
Hooking him with its other hand, it pulled him forward and clamped its mouth around his head. His head rang with noise as his skull was crushed in its jaws.
Shikarou opened his eyes and carefully looked around the room without moving his head. He was in his room again, and his heart slowed as he heard Lorelei’s slow, even breathing next to him and her heartbeat thundered in his ears.
He let out a slow breath and slid out of bed, quietly dressing. “That was bizarre.” He grabbed his pack and headed out of the room.
The oni snarled and grabbed him around the chest, pinning his arms to his sides. “You are like a cockroach.” It leaned down and bellowed in his face. “YOU DO NOT BELONG HERE!” Spittle ran down Shikarou’s face.
The creature paused and straightened up, a thoughtful look on its face. “Perhaps you are where you belong. Perhaps I am in the wrong place.” It looked at him. “Does this mean anything to you?”
“No, but if you don’t belong here, please leave.”
It sneered. “Your father has been very negligent with your education. Excellent.” The massive head cocked in a familiar gesture, but Shikarou couldn’t place it. “That doesn’t make sense, but there is only one way to find out.”
It slammed Shikarou back against the wall and pinned him in place with a knee as it lifted its own right arm in its mouth and bit down, grunting as it severed the arm in a welter of blood.
The creature grinned and grabbed Shikarou’s head in its remaining hand, wrenching it back, and shoved the severed arm into his mouth, slowly forcing it past Shikarou’s teeth and down his throat. His stomach bulged as the arm was driven in.
Shikarou opened his eyes and surged to his feet, summoning his sword and putting his back against the wall. His breath rasped in his throat and his heart pounded in his chest.
Lorelei stirred and opened her eyes. “What is it?” She glanced at the clock. “Oh, time to get up.” She stretched and pushed the covers down to sit up.
Shikarou leapt over the bed and threw the door to the hall open. Nothing. He sniffed the air as he strained his ears for anything out of the ordinary. Nothing.
A familiar form appeared. “Is something wrong?”
Shikarou closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Circe, I’m not sure, but we need to find out.”
Circe opened withdrew from Shikarou’s mind and opened her eyes. Branwyn leaned up against her Tamer and offered him some tea as Helen brought in a platter of breakfast foods. Pythia watched him intently from across the table.
The Unicorn frowned. “Well?”
Shikarou touched her arm. “Let her be. If she’s not ready to talk it’s because she isn’t ready to report anything.”
Lorelei came out of the hallway with Yushiko and Dorothea close behind. “We can’t find anything and Dorothea can’t find any sort of evil residue.” She shook her head. “No scents, nothing out of place, and I can’t see any auras that don’t belong here. The arena’s set up for desert combat, but we checked it out thoroughly. Nothing.”
She gave Branwyn a questioning look and jerked her head in Shikarou’s direction. The Unicorn shrugged.
“I’m all right,” Shikarou announced in a cross tone. “Stop acting like I’m not here.”
Branwyn frowned. “Dorothea, is there any sort of residue on Shikarou?”
Shikarou looked surprised. “Good question. There are all sorts of creatures that could have tried to possess me.”
Circe reached for her cup. “Shikarou, I’m unsure how to say this. Whatever happened to you, it appears to be both real and unreal. I know that doesn’t help, but that’s the truth.”
Dorothea settled down on Shikarou’s free side and looked him in the eyes. “Thou needs sleep.” She glanced at Branwyn as the Seraph cradled his head in her hands, but her words were for him. “Perhaps thou should put off challenging the gym for a day or so. It will do thee good.”
“I’m all right,” Shikarou repeated.
Branwyn’s eyes narrowed. “One day isn’t going to change anything. We are going to stay here and you are going to rest. No fighting, no taming, nothing but rest. You won’t even feed Elizabeth. Vampire’s don’t need to feed everyday and she’s not going to starve to death.”
“Don’t I have any say in the matter?”
The Unicorn folded her arms. “You can either hear this from me, or you can hear it from me and Candace and anyone else I need to get. In any case, you are not going anywhere.” She glanced at Lorelei. “Go talk to Faelan and see if he’s heard of anything like this.” The Sphinx vanished as she turned to Circe. “You were being vague?”
“Don’t snap at me,” Circe growled. “I’m worried about him too.”
“First of all, Shikarou, do you realize that there are parts of your mind that not even you can access? I’ve looked around the edges of them, and there isn’t any sign of foreign influences, whatever happened, you did it and there isn’t anything in there except you.” Her eyes darkened as she considered her words. “It could be traumatic memories, sometimes we block those away. You know, Stardust is much better at this than I am.”
“Out of the question.” Branwyn’s eyes were angry. “No one, and I mean no one that we can’t trust completely is going to be wandering about in my Tamer’s mind and that includes your sister.”
Circe nodded. “I don’t disagree with you, I just wanted it known that there is someone who is better at this then I am.” She glanced at Pythia. “You were in there with me, did you see anything else?”
The G-Spliced shook her head. “No, and I’m trained as a basic therapist. Sukebe didn’t want his generals cracking, at least not without his permission.” Her tongue lolled in a laugh.
Dorothea released him. “I can detect no taint of evil in thee.” A slight smile ghosted around her lips. “Perhaps thou are not the paragon of goodness that I would desire in mine owner, but evil thou are not.”
“So this doesn’t make sense and is probably a figment of my imagination.” Shikarou sighed. “Fine. It just scared me more than anything has in a long time.”
Branwyn rested her head on his shoulder. “You are going back to bed and we are going to take care of you.”
“And if I say otherwise?”
“Unless you are going to get rid of me for disobeying you, nothing.” She raised her head and gave him an unhappy look. “Damn it, Shikarou, not even you know what happened, but exhaustion could explain most of it and taking a day off won’t hurt us. I’ll make sure that training takes place if it bothers you that much.”
Lorelei appeared, and the Sphinx wasn’t alone. Candace stepped away from her and stood behind Shikarou. The Sphinx looked apologetic. “She was eating breakfast with Faelan and Svetlana and insisted on coming back. I told her no, but Faelan ordered me to bring her.” Her ears flicked. “Can he do that? If not, I want to go back and kick his butt, he was very rude.”
Shikarou sighed as the NurseJoy
pulled him to his feet. “Lorelei let it go. This time.”
Branwyn filled Candace in as they marched Shikarou to his room, where they paused while Lorelei and Circe explored it again. They were putting his bed back where it belonged when the NurseJoy
hustled him into it.
Candace frowned. “Alice woke me up a little after 0600 because she was having nightmares.” She glanced at the Unicorn and Alaka-Wham. “They involved some kind of Vixxen-like quadrupedal creature that was black.” She saw the look that Pythia exchanged with Circe and Shikarou. “It wasn’t a coincidence, was it?”
Shikarou shook his head. “At this point it is more data.” He frowned. “But why Alice and not Lorelei as well, if it isn’t a coincidence?” He sighed and let Candace start getting him comfortable. “None of this makes any sense.”
Faelan cracked the door to his brother’s room and peeked in. Shikarou was watching him with a sour smile and waved him in, sending him a hand signal for silence with his other hand.
Candace was curled up against Shikarou, snoring softly as she slept and Dorothea dozed in a chair.
Faelan smiled and said in a quiet singsong. “Women, women everywhere and none who want to share.”
Shikarou grinned at the first stanza of an ancient Tirsuli nursery rhyme. In an equally low voice he answered. “All they want/is good sires and not/just a male who dares.”
The brothers shared an evil grin for a moment. Faelan glanced around. “So, how are you?”
“Sane, I think. The vision I went through was incredibly detailed and,” he rubbed his right leg absently, “vivid.”
“Svetlana’s concerned that this somehow presages the end of the world.”
Shikarou snickered. “Good. She needs something useless to worry about.”
“So, have you had many visitors?”
“Blood and darkness, it would be easier to list who hasn’t visited,” Shikarou grumbled. “Poppet, Lynn, Alice, Molly, you name it, they’ve managed to just drop by. For blood’s sake someone brought Karen here.”
“It could be worse.”
“Oh, do tell.”
“No one might have come.”
Shikarou gave him an unhappy look and then shrugged. “I suppose it’s better to be loved than hated and hated than unnoticed.”
“Now that is a proverb that I have always understood.”
“So what brings you here?” Shikarou tried to shift away from Candace, but the NurseJoy
wrapped her arms around him and snuggled close. With an amused look he gave up the attempt.
“I wanted to check up on my only living sibling.” He grinned. “The only other person who can help me populate the world with Sidhe.” The grin widened. “And I opened the book.”
“Not really. You can’t open it, not until you accept your Sidhe heritage and I’m not going to follow you around just to turn the pages for you.”
“After I pick up my last badge, I’ll have some time before the county finals begin, so we’ll have to see if I can do it.”
“Sounds like a deal.”
“Question. Lorelei ran across Candace eating breakfast with you and Svetlana. Are you taming my NurseJoy
?” His ears flicked.
Faelan gave him a wary look. “Possessive all of a sudden, aren’t we.” He shrugged. “We were trying to talk her into it. Svetlana likes the occasional group thing, and while she likes Amy, the whiskers tickle too much for certain things to take place.” He grimaced. “She told us, in no uncertain terms I might add, what we could do with the idea.”
“Good. Get your own. Candace could use the time off.”
“She doesn’t have enough work now for one NurseJoy
.” Faelan’s eyes narrowed. “What are you planning?”
“Right now, nothing. However, a fellow has to look towards the future.”
“Uh huh.” Faelan smiled. “Don’t worry; she seems to be quite attached to you.”
Shikarou sighed. “Sorry. My temper seems to be oscillating pretty severely right now, and I’m not sure why.”
Faelan nodded. “You’re a wolf and a pack leader and I was sniffing around one of your bitches. I was in the wrong.”
“We’re not animals,” Shikarou replied with a wry look. “We don’t have to behave like we are.”
“Perhaps not, but a part of us is and it wants to behave that way.” Faelan gave his brother a serious look. “We salivate at the smell of blood, even if it’s coming from one of our harem, and if someone is running or acting like prey, we want to chase them.” His ears flicked. “And don’t get me started about Bunnygirls. The first time I smelled one and realized just how unsuited they are to living in the wild, I wanted to chase her down and do bloody things to her.” He glanced at the slumbering Seraph. “She’s asleep, right? I really don’t need this sort of thing getting out. I mean, how do we discuss this with them? With our prospective prey?” He shivered. “How do you live with it?”
“Look at me.” Faelan met his brother’s gaze. “We live with it one day at a time, just like anyone else does with their issues. We are not monsters and we are not going to murder and eat anyone that is important to us.” Shikarou shrugged. “Impulses are just that, impulses. Everyone has them, we show our strength by rising above them. Those that fail become oni and eventually someone like me gets sent for to deal with them.” He cocked his head. “I’ve seen lots of oni and even more kami on the edge of becoming oni. You have nothing to worry about, but the fact that you do worry is the strongest indicator that your worry is unfounded.”
“Oh, and Faelan? You do need to discuss this with your harem. After all, someday they will be bearing your children and a lot of the traits you are worried about often breed true.”
Faelan blinked. “I hadn’t thought about that.”
Shikarou smiled. “I wouldn’t go overboard describing all of the things that could go wrong, just mention it so they can’t claim they weren’t warned.” His smile died. “You are actually quite fortunate that you will be breeding with pokegirls and that our genetic line is exceptionally stable. Pure human women often don’t survive the pregnancy, our children often accidentally kill their mothers before they are born.” He sighed and stroked Candace’s hair gently. “Pokegirls are much less likely to have problems, but I still suggest that you find a NurseJoy
to bring into your life, if not your harem, she will be a great deal of help, even if everything goes smoothly.”
“And should I also get a Milktit, like you did?”
“I didn’t go looking for Helen, but I’m grateful that she’s here.” He grinned. “I’m actually full at the end of each day, thanks to her.” He cocked his head. “She’s also willing to experiment, so since she produces so much milk each day, I’m setting up a new room to make cheese. Oh, and a word of warning. Milktit ice-cream makes pokegirls lactate.” He looked amused. “I don’t know about the cheese yet, but I’ll let you know.”
“Could I get some milk? I think I want to surprise Svetlana with it.”
“We’ve got a refrigerator full of it, take all you want.” He snickered. “For some reason most of my pokegirls are leery about drinking it, so there’s plenty.”
Faelan stood quietly. “I know I came here to cheer you up, but thanks for listening to me.”
Shikarou held out his hand. “You are my brother, blood of my blood and all that. If you need to talk, then I will always be here.” He grinned. “After all it’s a damned sight safer than rescuing you from Mantises again.”
Faelan squeezed his brother’s hand. “Thanks.” He smirked. “I know where the kitchen is, so don’t bother trying to get up. Oh, and your NurseJoy
is drooling on your chest.”
Shikarou stuck out his tongue.
Shikarou waited outside in the line with every other Tamer who wanted to challenge the gym today. The number was far smaller than what he’d observed in Belfast, which was good.
The gym was also smaller, which left him with mixed feelings.
At least he was out of that blasted bed, he reflected to himself. He didn’t take being mothered very well, and Candace sleeping in his bed next to him had given him a mild case of blue balls during the night.
He smothered a smile. After Dorothea had left to find them some breakfast, he’d mentioned his condition to Candace and the NurseJoy
had been a true credit to her noble calling and helped him correct the situation. She hadn’t even broken stride when Dorothea dropped the tray of food and fled the room.
Shikarou felt a tiny pang of conscience about that now, but at the time he hadn’t cared. He made a mental note to do something nice for Dorothea. He’d get her a present of some kind or something like that.
He checked his internal clock and was pleased to see that it was nearly seven, the time the Magicunt gym opened.
The doors opened and the crowd of Tamers stirred excitedly as a young man walked out. “I am Brian Benoit and I am the leader of the Magicunt Gym. I’m glad to see that you read the instructions on the door and formed a line.”
He spoke again, this time in a language that Shikarou didn’t know. He is speaking Welsh and saying that anyone who understands him needs to come with him.
Shikarou moved up with a handful of others. Benoit eyed him sourly. “You, sir, are not Welsh. Go back to the line.”
Shikarou smiled. “You, sir, did not ask for Welsh to come up. You asked for anyone who understood you to do so.”
Benoit’s eyes narrowed and he spoke quickly in Welsh.
Look you stupid foreign pansy, I doubt you have the skill to speak any decent language. Aggie translated.
Shikarou’s eyes narrowed and his ears went flat. “You call me a stupid pansy again and this gym’s going to have a vacancy. If you are lucky, I’ll only put you in the hospital.”
Brian blinked and took a step backwards. He smiled thinly. “You sound like a Welshman. Very well then, inside with the others.”
Shikarou went inside and stood with the Welsh Tamers. Benoit stayed outside for a minute to talk to the other Tamers and then came back in. He grinned. “Well, lads, it looks like rain today, hopefully the Englishmen will melt and wash away and just leave us their money and pokegirls.” There was laughter at this. He caught Shikarou watching him and scowled. “You got something to say, boyo?”
“I was only wondering how much good melted Englishmen would be for the land.”
Benoit stared at him and then grinned. “You have a point, boyo. Maybe we should just hope they go home.”
“Without their money or pokegirls,” someone else added.
“Right,” Benoit looked them over. “Well, boys, I’ll have my GAs get to you as quickly as possible and then you can be on with your day. We Welsh have brought home the Blue League championship eleven times up to now and I expect there to be a twelfth time this go round. Maybe it’ll be one of you.”
“Give your names to the receptionist and she’ll call you when your bout is ready. Good luck to you all and I expect you to make me proud when we slam the bloody English next year.” He grinned. “And don’t expect me to go easy on you because you’re Welsh. Expect the opposite, in fact.” He stalked out as the first Tamer began speaking to the receptionist, a calico Catgirl.
Shikarou waited for an hour, watching the Welsh Tamers being called before him. He was the last of the first group and Tamers from the line outside were inside waiting their turn when the receptionist looked up and called his name. She indicated a plain, stocky blonde who stood waiting. “Shikarou, this is Tamara Gonzales and you will be battling her for your badge.”
Tamara might have a name that wasn’t exactly local, but her accent was pure Welsh. “This way, Tamer Urufu.”
As she led him to their arena she explained the battle procedures. “We are going to have a three on three pokegirl battle, no time limit and no substitutions.” She glanced at him. “Substitutions are usually the norm for Tamers challenging a gym, but here in Wales we make do with what we have at hand and that attitude extends to pokegirl battling. It makes us strong.” She stopped at the entrance to the arena. “Do you have any questions?”
“Is this going to be a grand melee?”
She smiled for the first time, and it gave her face a surprising loveliness. “No, I’m recovering from a knee injury; otherwise I’d be glad to oblige you.”
Shikarou nodded. “Some of my pokegirls have access to healing magics and if you’d like, after the bout I can have one of them look at your knee. She should be able to put it right in very short order.”
She looked surprised. “I’ll consider it.” A slender smile appeared. “We’ll see if you still want to help me after the battle.”
“My offer is not contingent on my winning the battle,” Shikarou commented stiffly.
Tamara raised an eyebrow. “Hit a nerve, did I?” She nodded. “We’ll see.” She opened the door and led them into an arena that was decked out as a shoreline, water leading to a sandy beach which covered half the room. The dividing line extended across the arena, from battle box to battle box, giving each Tamer a battle area that was half water and half sand. Shikarou’s battle box had water on the left and sand on the right.
A young man was leaning against the judge’s station, sipping a soda. He nodded to Tamara and took his place as she entered one of the battle boxes. After verifying that Shikarou was in the other one, he raised the green flag. “Tamer Shikarou, are you ready to battle?”
“Gym Assistant Tamara, are you ready to battle?”
She nodded. “Yes.”
“This is a three on three pokegirl battle with no substitutions and not time limit.” The flag dropped. “Begin.”
Six pokeballs flew through the air as one and the arena glowed a sullen red from the multitude of capture beams activating.
Tamara released a Gynadose, and Hottie and a Slowsis while Shikarou had decided to use Pythia, Kebi and Yushiko.
Tamara expertly assessed the situation. “Ginnie, water. Ignea and Cynthia take the Ria.” The Gynadose slid smoothly into the water section of the arena as the Hottie and Slowsis jogged towards the Ria.
A heartbeat later, Shikarou issued his own orders. “Pythia, Yushiko team one, take the Slowsis, recommend option three. Kebi thunder the water.”
Shikarou and Kebi had a talk after the debacle at Belfast and Kebi knew that it was his responsibility to make sure she didn’t hurt anyone that badly again, if only by accident. Trying not to confuse her, Shikarou had instructed her to do exactly what she had done before he gave her the light ball and to let him worry about the aftermath and any repercussions from her actions.
So plasma glowed around her briefly and a double strength thunder attack flashed steam when it blasted into the salt water that made up the “sea.” The Gynadose came out of the water almost faster then she went in, screaming her rage as she charged.
“Kebi dodge.” The Ria jumped sideways, avoiding the flamethrower attack the Hottie blasted at her, but the psychic attack the Slowsis used staggered Kebi and Shikarou could see she wasn’t doing well.
Pythia grabbed Yushiko as the Armsmistress’ wings shimmered into view and the two of them vanished as she teleported. They appeared behind the Slowsis and Yushiko and Pythia hit her with a combined thunder bolt attack as she attacked Kebi. Caught completely off guard, Cynthia was blasted forwards and skidded along the sand, unconscious before she stopped moving.
Kebi leaped high into the air to avoid another flamethrower attack and the Gynadose’s hyper beam took her at the apex of her jump, smashing her across the arena.
Shikarou returned the unconscious Ria to her pokeball in midair. “Pythia the Gynadose, Yushiko, weapons free.”
Yushiko slashed a feather shuriken attack at Ignea, who, having been focused on the Ria, was knocked flying by the unexpected attack. Pythia teleported again, coming out behind the recovering Gynadose and drove her forming energy blade into the center of the water pokegirl’s body. Ginnie screamed again, this time in pain and lurched forward to pull herself free.
Ignea used flamethrower at Yushiko and missed as the Armsmistress launched herself into the air in preparation for a dive attack.
Ginnie spun in place with a grace surprising in her large bulk, her tail out for balance as she whirled to unleash a hydropump attack directly at the place Pythia had struck from, however the G-Spliced had flown a handful of meters to the right and the attack missed.
Pythia’s eyes narrowed and her ears went flat against her skull as she unleashed a psychic attack that drove the Gynadose to her knees, following it up almost instantly with thunder bolt that spun Ginnie across the sand to lie unmoving.
Ignea’s flamethrower attack took the incoming Yushiko squarely, and she spiraled in to crash in a smoking heap. The Armsmistress threw herself upwards and wobbled back into the air just in time to avoid another flamethrower as Pythia’s tectonic slam blasted Ignea high into the air where Yushiko rolled and hit her with thunder bolt.
The Armsmistress spun and caught the Hottie as she plummeted, energy glowing around her fist as she readied a meteor punch. The collected energy radiated away in a burst of light as she released it and cradled Ignea to her before landing gracefully. “She’s already out,” Yushiko announced as she carefully laid her opponent on the sand.
The judge, who had been staring during the bout, recovered and dropped the red flag. “Ignea is unable to battle; the point and match go to Shikarou Urufu.”
Tamara recovered her remaining pokegirl and stood silently for a moment before walking heavily around the arena wall to Shikarou. She held out her hand. “That was an excellent match.” Her brow furrowed. “I don’t suppose you will be representing Wales in the Blue League competition, will you?”
He smiled and Pythia chuckled. “No, I’ll be representing Scotland, if I make it.”
She nodded. “Pity. You’re not the strongest Tamer I’ve seen, but you’ve taught your pokegirls to react quickly and to work together as a strong team. If you did represent Wales, we might have hired you as a trainer for the Cup team even if you didn’t make it through the regionals. God knows they need to learn to work together.”
“Well, I’m afraid they are going to have to learn it on their own.”
She gave him a thoughtful look. “Give me your com code before you leave. If you don’t make into the finals, perhaps we might hire you to train our team anyway. There’s no rule against that.”
Shikarou smiled. “As long as you won’t look down on me for being some kind of traitor, I will.”
She nodded. “No, you’d be a traitor if you were on the team from Scotland and helped us. If we can hire you before they do, that’s just good business.”
Name: Urufu Shikarou
Residence: Caomh Sith, Blue Continent
Security Clearance: Epsilon
Master Tamer Y
Species Name Level
Alaka-Wham Circe 59
Milktit Helen 53
Unicorn Branwyn 50
Seraph Dorothea 42
Ria Kebi 40
Sphinx Lorelei 37
Armsmistress Urufu Yushiko 35
G-Spliced Pythia 35
Vampire Elizabeth 29
Titto Fumiko 17