Chapter 16: Bittersweet Sorrow
Dorothea settled down beside Shikarou and picked up his braid with a smile, which quickly evaporated as Branwyn gave her an annoyed look. “If she starts snogging that thing, I’m going to retch.”
The Seraph flushed and her eyes narrowed. “The fact that thou is in such an awful mood does not give thee the right to display such an attitude to either myself or my lord.”
“Awful mood? And I suppose you wouldn’t know anything about being angry, would you, you bleeding paladin wannabe?”
“Thou may be my superior in the rankings of the harem but I will not allow thee to speak to me in such a foul manner.” Dorothea’s eyes blazed. “Thou are upset at my lord for something that I understand to be not his fault and I think thou know this and cannot find a way to retreat from thy position without looking foolish, which of course only makes thee more upset.”
Branwyn eyes were slits and she hissed when she spoke. “No one addresses me that way. I’m going to kick your fucking ass, you bitch.”
Everyone jumped as Shikarou hit the table so hard that it shattered and dishes bounced across the floor, their contents spilling everywhere. “ENOUGH!” Helen peeked out from the kitchen with a worried look as he continued and Branwyn and Dorothea stared at him in shock. “Branwyn, I realize that you are not happy about my delta-bonding with Stardust. It just so happens that you aren’t the only one who isn’t quite pleased about what has happened. Circe’s upset and frankly neither Stardust nor I are thrilled about any of this.” A low growl trickled from his throat. “Branwyn, you have crossed a line and you will apologize to Dorothea. Dorothea you will accept her apology.” He took a deep breath and his ears slowly came up. “Now.”
There was a quick flurry of muttered words.
He glanced at Helen as she lingered in the doorway and she blinked in surprise at the humor that suddenly lurked in his eyes. “Now you two kiss and make up.”
Both pokegirls turned to stare at him in disbelief. He gave them a crooked smile. “You can’t blame a guy for trying.”
“My lord!” “Oh yes I can!” Shikarou flinched as he got smacked by both Branwyn and Dorothea hard enough to knock him off of his pillow, but his smile never faltered.
After the dining room had been restored to normalcy and the food had been restocked, Shikarou turned to his alpha. “We need to remember what happened today for the future.”
She glanced at the Seraph who’d gone back to fondling her Tamer’s hair. “What is that?”
“We just can’t stop adventuring. When the time comes to settle down for a while, we’re going to have to taper off or we’ll be at each other’s throats.” He paused. “Again.”
Branwyn’s eyes jerked back to his and she looked thoughtful for a moment. “You’re right and I’ll work to keep that in mind. So we need to get back on the road. Any ideas as to what we’ll be doing?”
“After breakfast I have a meeting with Lynn to discuss some plans she has; while I’m doing that why don’t you see about open bounties. That’ll get us out of here and hopefully get some money coming in.” He frowned. “We need the action more than anything else, so don’t limit your search to the Blue League, at this point I don’t care where it is.”
She nodded. “Ok.” The Unicorn glanced over his shoulder. “Dorothea, you have protection detail today.”
“Yes, my alpha.” Dorothea sighed and patted his braid one last time before coiling it beside his knee.
“That reminds me,” Shikarou mentioned. “We also need to find Dorothea a sword. She’s got a lot of weapon related attacks, and we need to make them available to her for use.”
“My lord?” Shikarou looked at his Seraph. “While Armsmistresses can master any weapon at a touch, my skills are more specialized and thou need to know this.”
“What is your specialization?” Branwyn looked curiously at Dorothea.
“My preference is for sword and shield. I am quite proficient with it and mine enemies do not face that style often and are usually quite discomfited by it.”
Branwyn raised an eyebrow at Shikarou, who shrugged. “You heard the lady. Besides, anything that discomfits our foes is a good thing.”
“Ok, I’ll look for that as well.” She frowned. “Could Yushiko make the shield?”
Dorothea nodded. “It is likely that she can. I shall inquire of her after my duties are over for the day.”
Shikarou slid to his feet. “Sounds like everything is under control here, now I get to find out what Lynn wants.”
Lynn stroked his face as his head rested in her lap, the ElfQueen
’s favorite position for their talks. “Xantha has sent me an envoy.”
“Who is Xantha?”
“She’s the ElfQueen
from the lands around the Conservatory. The one who works with Poppet.” Fingers traced over his lips. “She has sent a message that claims that she rules all of Scotland and everything north of it, including Caomh Sith, and that I am her vassal.”
Shikarou kissed her finger. “Is this the opening round of some kind of negotiations, or is she serious?”
“Her threats are quite serious. She is claiming tribute and other things.” Her tone darkened. “Including access to you.”
He scowled slightly. “Do I need to take my harem and explain to her that I don’t belong to anyone?”
Lynn shook her head. “Not just yet. However, I would like to send an envoy of my own and I’d like to borrow Gwyneth to do it. I’ve spoken to her and she’s agreed to act as my agent in this matter and she’s actually quite excited about what I’m planning.” She smiled. “With your permission, of course.”
“What is it?”
“You understand that we need to plan for the future, both the near and far, and I’ve been trying to live up to my responsibilities as your queen.”
Shikarou gave her a suspicious look. “So what do you want?”
She smiled. “North Uist.”
“I’m afraid you skipped a couple of steps in your explanation. Try again.”
Lynn dimpled. “I know, I just wanted to get to the bottom line and then backtrack so you know right away where I’m going with this.” She went back to stroking his face. “I’ve done some checking and I haven’t been able to find a preserve for Elves anywhere on the Earth, and I’d like to turn North Uist and Benbecula into one. Not only would it provide us with a haven, but it would create a buffer against human expansion from the north.”
“What does Branwyn think about this?”
She frowned. “It’s none of her business. She rules the harem. I rule Caomh Sith.”
“So who will rule the preserve?”
Lynn looked hesitant for the first time. “I was actually thinking about Gwyneth. I’m happy here and Gwyneth is stronger than either me or Xantha.” She traced an ear and smiled when he flicked it against her finger. “I’m hoping that Xantha will see reason and agree, but if not, Gwyneth is strong enough to fight free of her people and return here.” Her face tightened. “At that point, we two ElfQueens
will make war on Xantha and conquer her.”
“Can you do that successfully?”
She nodded. “I believe so. As Gwyneth travels to Xantha’s court she’ll be collecting every elf and fairy that she runs across and sending them here to be awakened.”
She smiled. “I like that much better than domesticated.”
He smiled slowly back at her. “Awakened does sound good. I like it too.”
“Gwyneth will also be collecting any good plant types and frankly anything else she runs across.” Lynn smirked. “You’ve taught me that everyone has something to contribute and I intend to use that in your kingdom.”
“What about the Blue League?”
“Once Xantha signs on, one way or another, I’ll search for any other courts in the Blue League and send emissaries to them as well, if any exist. Once we speak with one voice, then we contact the Blue League and discuss the preserve.”
“One voice, huh? Yours?”
Lynn twisted a lock of her hair around a finger and teased his nose with it, making his face wrinkle as he fought a sneeze. “Gwyneth will be the queen of the preserve, so it should probably be her voice. However, we both belong to you, so if you were to present my suggestions to her framed in a suitable fashion?”
“Direct orders, perhaps?”
She gave him a mock thoughtful look and smiled. “I can live with that.”
“I’ll bet you can.” Shikarou sighed. “You’re asking me to release Gwyneth for the foreseeable future.”
Lynn nodded. “Yes, but in the long term this is a good thing, both for the Elves and for you. You will someday be the king of two lands and in a thousand years, after Gwyneth and I are gone, you’ll be able to watch your children sit on two thrones and protect our people.”
He looked into her eyes and minutes drifted by as he calculated probabilities. “What do you want me to do?”
She smiled softly. “Be ready to back us up if we need it, your harem would prove to be decisive, even if I’m hoping to keep this ‘in house’ so to speak.”
“Just Elves, huh?”
“If I can. If not, I’ll use every tool I can get my hands on, including you.”
“We’ll be ready. When do you want me to release Gwyneth?”
“Would yesterday be too soon? Xantha’s demands have irritated me and Gwyneth and I need to start planning our response right away, she didn’t leave us much time in which to work.”
“I’ll explain it to Branwyn.”
“Thank you, my king.” She leaned down and kissed him gently.
Branwyn gave him a hard look. “So Circe gets her sister in the harem and Gwyneth gets a fucking kingdom! What do I get?”
“It’s not like that, and you know it.”
She nodded slowly and crawled into his lap. “I know,” she admitted. “Hey, I get Gwyneth out of my harem. At least that’s something.”
Shikarou hugged her until she sighed and relaxed against him. “I don’t have any plans for Stardust to join the harem. In fact, I’m going to ask her to work in the clinic.”
“What about her therapy practice in Glasgow?”
“She doesn’t really like it, and some people are starting to ask some hard questions about her after the mayor’s wife nutted and killed his JigglySlut
Branwyn nuzzled in against him. “Was she involved in that?”
“Up to her antennae. It turns out she convinced the mayor’s wife that she hated the pokegirl enough to kill her, so one day the woman threw a radio in the bathtub with the JigglySlut
“Ouch. Why did Stardust do that?”
“It turns out His Honor was trying to restrict pokegirls from owning their own businesses by significantly raising the taxes on any business that wasn’t directly owned by a human. Apparently getting his wife to commit murder was her way of protesting the idea. Well, that and the scandal neutralized the mayor’s powers completely.”
Branwyn giggled. “And now she has a Tamer. Is that ironic or what?”
“It’s certainly amusing. So are you still mad?”
She bit him gently on the neck. “If I say no, will you still hold me?”
“Always, my love, always.”
“Then I’m not angry.” She kissed the bite. “I’m just not happy at how fast things are suddenly changing.”
“Hey, I’m with you.” They were quiet for a minute. “Did you find any bounties for us to go after?”
“Well, there is the usual collection of obvious death traps, but other than that, no. Oh, there’s a Widow callout somewhere in the Crimson League and there’s the usual bounty for catching some of the Limbec pirates, but there isn’t really anything else out there. Things are quiet.”
She paused. “Well, there is a reward for helping to rebuild a Ranch in the Indigo League, but I wasn’t sure you’d be interested in that. The reward’s not that high and it would be a lot of work.”
“Where is it?”
“The Tendo Ranch. It was demolished not too long ago in a Team Trauma attack and Soun Tendo is trying to rebuild.” She frowned. “Someone really likes him; the cost of the rebuilding is being almost completely underwritten by outside investors, which in this case is a thin screen covering government funding. However, he’s apparently having problems getting construction teams out to where he lives and so he’s been offering a cash incentive as a reward.”
Shikarou nodded. “I think we’ll pass. I read Devon’s report of the place and I’ve got enough pokegirls.”
“I agree. I heard some rumors that he might try to substitute an equivalent value in pokegirls as opposed to actual cash.” She nibbled his neck suggestively and arched as his hands slipped under her blouse and caressed her skin. “I’ve asked Aggie to tell me if any other emergency reports come in.”
“Ok.” Shikarou slipped his arms under Branwyn and slid to his feet.
She raised her head and gave him a suspicious look. “Where are we going?”
“Oh, good. I was hoping you’d take the hint.”
Shikarou sat on a pillar at the end of the Peacetown pier and idly watched the seabirds as he tried to decide where their travels would lead them next. Dorothea stood guard nearby and cleared her throat quietly. “My lord, thou have a visitor.” He nodded and continued watching the birds.
“Tonosama, I have been looking for you.” Shikarou blinked at both the voice and the words and almost fell off of his perch as he twisted around in surprise.
“Yoshihara-san.” It was Yoshihara Masato. Apparently Juniper had led him out here, the Omegan stood behind the old man with a pensive expression on her face. Shikarou winked at her and she visibly relaxed; her antenna lifting as she realized he wasn’t upset at the interruption.
Yoshihara waved a hand. “Masato, please, or should I call you lord kami?”
Shikarou smiled slightly. “Masato-san, it is a pleasure to see you again.” His ears canted sideways. “Although I must admit that I am surprised to see you here.”
“Junko was home visiting and she brought me here.” He grinned. “She’s already gone on to Glasgow,” he carefully sounded out the name, “and so I will have to ask for a ride home.”
“I’m sure that won’t be a problem.” He gestured at a bench. “Please, sit. Dorothea, this is Yoshihara Masato, Fumiko’s grandfather and Yushiko’s great-grandfather. Masato-san, this is Dorothea, my Seraph.”
Masato’s eyes twinkled. “Another pretty one; this is becoming a habit of yours.” Dorothea flushed slowly as he openly ogled her.
Juniper sat down next to Masato and gave him a hard poke. He jumped and turned to her as she smiled. “If you keep staring at everyone else, I’m going to go.”
He frowned. “No, that won’t do.” He turned to Shikarou. “I am sorry.”
Shikarou gave Juniper another wink and she grinned back. “I forgive you, Masato-san. Now you need to get Juniper to do so, however that is for somewhere else and another time. Why are you here?”
Masato scowled. “The Yakuza are getting worse in Tomakomai. I do not tell you this in hopes that you will do anything about them, but last week they killed my student.”
Shikarou blinked. “Keiichi?”
Masato shook his head. “No, Keiichi is the master of the smithy. I am speaking of my student, Miyagi Arata.”
“The young man who disappears as soon as I arrive.” Shikarou remembered him now, he was painfully shy.
“Hai. His brother is a policeman and refused to work with them. Arata was killed to punish him.” He sighed. “I am here because of a promise, and I wanted to talk to you beforehand.”
“Promises are very important.” Shikarou nodded in understanding. “What promise do you need to discuss with me?”
“When Fumiko was a child I promised her that if my student left me, I would give her the chance to be my new student.” Masato’s eyes met Shikarou’s directly. “Things are different now, but I made a promise. She has worked hard in the smithy and I would be proud to take her as my student and teach her everything that I know.” He put a slight stress on “everything”.
Shikarou blinked and thought furiously. “She will remain mine.”
Masato’s smile was cunning. “I thought as much. Her training will take many years.”
“I understand. However, if she is interested, I will allow it. What about Keiichi?”
“Many people need swords these days. What about him?” Shikarou looked surprised at Masato’s casual dismissal. “Fumiko will not open a smithy in Edo, will she? No. And is she not family? Her mothers understand what is happening and they are happy for her opportunity.”
So Keiichi wouldn’t be a problem, at least not for long. “Very well. Perhaps it would be best if you spoke to her alone and let her come to me afterwards.”
Their conversation was interrupted as one of the golf carts Lynn had recently purchased purred onto the pier and stopped near Masato’s bench. Helen got out and grabbed a folding table from the back. “My lord, you have a guest and you haven’t eaten lunch.” She began filling the table with covered plates.
Shikarou shook his head. “Masato-san, this is my Milktit, Helen. Helen, this is Yoshihara Masato, Fumiko’s grandfather. Helen, do you hide somewhere with a telescope and watch me?”
Masato chuckled as Helen gave Shikarou a mischievous smile. “That is my secret.”
Shikarou slid off his perch. “Well Masato, get ready for some good food.”
Masato grinned. “Old men like me are always ready for that.”
Branwyn gave him an unhappy glare. “What am I missing here? Why are you so pleased that Fumiko is going to Edo for several years?”
“Let me explain. First of all, Fumiko is really excited about this and I want her to be happy. Second, I’m not giving her up; it just means that we’ll be going to Edo every week so I can spend some time with her. Third, Yoshihara Masato, the premier sword maker in Edo, is a man who uses a style that dates to long before Sukebe was ever born. He has only taught one other person how to make swords the way he does. When a man like that offers to teach Fumiko this art she jumped at the opportunity, not only because he’s her grandfather, but because she loves sword making. Later we will be opening a smithy here on Caomh Sith for her use.”
“Lastly, this solves our problem.” He grinned.
“Which of our many problems does it solve?” Branwyn did sound more content with the world; she was looking amused for the first time since the conversation had started.
“The Yakuza killed Masato’s student, Miyagi Arata, in order to punish his policeman brother. So that means we get to go to Edo, kick the Yakuza around to tell them that the Yoshihara’s family kami is more than a little pissed at them, take everything that isn’t nailed down, and if we give the police a little warning about why this is going to happen, they are likely to look the other way.”
Branwyn stared at him in shock. “You really think the police will stand aside?”
Shikarou gave an evil smile, one full of dark promises. “Police everywhere tend to protect their own as much as they can, and if they are being frustrated by the Yakuza they are unlikely to want to stop me. Even if they don’t want to stand aside, I still need to punish the Yakuza.”
“As for the Yakuza, angering a kami is a very bad thing and mere mortals tend to run for cover for a reason. I intend to remind the Yakuza about what happens when you ignore spirits and I am planning to be quite firm. I expect that the survivors will be much more respectful.”
Branwyn looked thoughtful. “We’ll have to be careful not to hurt too many bystanders or break too much stuff.”
“Yeah, I know.” He gave her an amused look. “I also know that the after action reports tend to be written by the winners. So the breakage gets blamed on the Yakuza.”
“You’re serious.” She slowly smiled. “We are going to have so much fun.”
“Circe, call the Ka-D-Bra and let her know she needs to come as soon as she can.”
The Alaka-Wham nodded. “I’ll go to Edo and contact her.” She vanished as Branwyn folded up her pokedex.
“Losing Gwyneth dropped the average level of the harem and lost us our only plant type. Do you want to move Misaki to active status?”
“No. She’s happy where she is. We’ve made do before and we’ll do it again. So what’s our composition look like now with the deletions?”
“Ok, you’ve got nine pokegirls in your active harem right now and if we break them down by type, you’ve got five magic, two psychic, two flying, two fighting, one steel, one dark, two ghost, one electric, one normal and two Celestials.”
“Wow, nineteen pokegirls in nine. Not too bad.”
“Unless you find a pokegirl battle that involves cooking, you have eighteen in eight. I would strenuously recommend leaving Helen out of any fight.”
“Your advice is duly noted and agreed with.” He nodded. “In a dire fight, Helen will be operating the PPHU to bring other pokegirls back to full strength.”
Circe appeared. “She won’t be able to get away for another six hours. That’s 2000 in Edo.”
“That’ll be noon here.” Shikarou frowned. “Training?”
Branwyn nodded. “First we need to redefine the teams. Do you want to use Dorothea in this?”
“Yes. We’ll be fighting criminals and I’m hoping she gets her butt kicked in the first fight.”
Circe looked surprised. “Why?”
“Seraphs have a tendency to start out at low power and measure out their response to their targets, depending on their innate toughness and healing powers to protect them.” Shikarou grimaced. “Nice, but if I want that, I’ll order it. I want her to learn the art of the fast and dirty takedown and Yakuza are sneaky enough to piss her off when she starts her games.”
Branwyn nodded. “Once we get to Edo, where are we going to start?”
“With Miyagi Arata’s brother, Miyagi Ozuru. He’s the policeman they were trying to control. After that, we’ll pay the oyabun a visit and work our way through anyone involved in the killing. The police are touchy about this sort of thing, so it’s likely the oyabun ordered the killing personally. He’ll start us on the chain.”
“Are you going to kill him?”
Shikarou smiled grimly. “Nothing so pleasant.”
Kebi pushed her way through the crowd like an icebreaker as she stayed close to Shikarou’s path through the shopping district in Tomakomai, never moving more than a handful of meters from him as they traveled but roaming ahead and dropping back as she moved along his base course. He watched her with an amused expression, wondering what she was stealing as they went and looking forward to finding out. Nothing useful, he was sure, but he suspected that she was never sure what she’d get when her hands dipped into someone’s pocket or purse and the trinkets were usually amusing.
Stop for a minute. Please turn a little to the right, I’m using the sensor array in your backpack and you are blocking it with your shoulder. Your other right. There is a Sanctuary Goth up the street.
“Where?” he muttered.
Look a little to your left. There. An unassuming woman flashed with a blue outline as Aggie injected a signal into his visual cortex. She was leaning against a wall and watching people go by as she smoked a cigarette. A bored look was plastered on her face. That is the S-Goth.
Shikarou motioned Kebi to him. “Are there any others?”
I don’t know. Do a slow circle and I’ll find out.
Kebi laughed as he slowly turned in a circle, peering around as if trying to get his bearings. She spun in place to imitate him. “Kebi like.”
No. She’s the only one.
Shikarou looked around. It was almost 2300 and the place was still packed with people as they flowed up and down the street and eddied into buildings to shop. “Kebi, see the woman up ahead, the one in the red top with the cigarette?”
Kebi looked. “Kebi see, she paint.” Indeed the woman had tattoos that crept over her collar and around her neck.
“Yes. I want you to stay in front of me and knock her down. Can you do that and make it look accidental?”
She grinned. “Kebi do. Stay close.”
Shikarou kissed her nose. “Wonderful.” She beamed and surged down the street towards the Sanctuary Goth.
Later, Shikarou decided that sheer artistry was the only way to describe what happened. Kebi was striding down the street one second and had actually passed the Goth when she slipped and fell backwards, knocking the disguised pokegirl sprawling.
Shikarou grabbed her by the elbows and apologized loudly as he pulled her to her feet, holding her close to him, and no one noticed his hand plunge into her chest. Her eyes went wide and she relaxed as he finished the conversion. Kebi put a hand on his shoulder and helped to block the view of passersby.
He brushed dust off her clothes as he whispered. “Are you under observation or actively watching someone else?”
“No, they are still in the shop.”
“Good. Follow me.” They stepped into a corner and he turned so she could continue watching where her target was. “Give me your phone.”
Aggie invaded the software smoothly and made a few changes.
“Use this code to reach me. Call tomorrow morning and tell me about yourself. No calls over two minutes unless it’s an emergency.” The number she was dialing would be read by the software and changed slightly, sending it to a nonexistent number that Aggie could reach. She would fake his voice unless he needed to talk to the Goth in person.
“Yes, sir.” The Goth frowned. “There is my target.”
“Continue on as before.”
The Goth stubbed out her cigarette after a final draw and headed down the street almost idly.
Kebi laughed. “Neat.”
“Fortuitous is the word you want.”
Her eyes crossed. “Four two us.”
He chuckled. “Close enough. Let’s move on, we’ve still got to get to the policeman’s apartment.” She smiled and started down the street. “Oh, and Kebi?”
She looked. He held out his hand. “My coins?”
A grin stole across her face and she dug into one of her skirt’s many pockets to produce a handful of change which she dropped into his hand before skipping off.
Miyagi Ozuru stood in the darkness that was his apartment, looking out the window and silently raged against the universe. His was the dangerous choice. His was the dangerous life. His was the dangerous profession. His younger brother was the one to die because he wouldn’t take a bribe.
His cigarette burned his fingers and he stubbed it out with a grimace. The voice came from behind him. “That’s a lousy habit.”
Ozuru spun, his hand clawing for the gun that wasn’t there. It hung from its place behind the intruder as he stood in the darkness. He snarled at his enemy. “What do you want?”
“I am going to punish the Yakuza and I wanted you to know that this is going to happen.” The voice was calm and even. A sphere of light began to glow as it hovered in midair, revealing what looked like a human, but Ozuru knew that it was not. Black ears rode too high on the head and long hair drank the feeble light. “I am the Yoshihara kami and the Yakuza have forgotten many things that they should not have. I am going to remind them of a few of these things.” Fangs glinted as it spoke.
“Why tell me?” Miyagi’s voice was harsh with exhaustion.
“It is the death of your brother that brought their parting with tradition to my attention. I know that the police have been forbidden to exact vengeance but I understand the desire that burns in your heart. I will do what you cannot.”
“What do you expect me to do?”
“I do not want you to throw away a career because your superiors are in league with the Yakuza. I expect you to be an even better policeman than you are now because of what happened and I expect you to take pleasure in what I am going to do to the Yakuza. I am not going to destroy the Yakuza, they provide a service. However, Miyagi Arata was Yoshihara Masato’s student and that placed him under my protection. The Yakuza will be reminded that they anger kami at their peril.”
Miyagi’s eyes burned. “How can I help?”
“Find out which police serve the Yakuza. There is a shrine at the Yoshihara smithy and there you can tell me who they are.” A glint of teeth flashed in what was not a smile. “They passed knowledge along to the Yakuza about your brother. They will also be punished. Will you do this, Miyagi?”
“Hai. I will.” He frowned in the semidark. “You will kill them?”
“There are worse things than death, Ozuru, and the Yakuza are about to find this out firsthand.”
The kami leaned against the wall and passed through it as the light went out, leaving Miyagi in the darkness, his spirit burning with a new fire.
Circe watched Shikarou with a neutral expression on her face as he stepped away from Elizabeth. “Thanks.”
The Vampire nodded. “That was fun.” They kissed briefly before he turned to the Alaka-Wham.
His ears canted in the darkness. “What?”
“What was that about? First, you have me read his mind and then you have Elizabeth phase you through his walls. Why?”
He smiled. “It sets the tone for what’s going to happen and I needed the help.” His face sobered. “The man has the soul of a samurai and he’s been forbidden to take revenge for the death of his only sibling and the last of his family. Seppuku would have been a waste of his potential, but it was his only option. Now he gets the chance to not only get revenge, but to clean up the police, at least a little.”
Circe looked surprised. “He’s in the same situation you were in with Pallaius. That’s why you sympathize with him.”
Shikarou looked uncomfortable but nodded. “Sometimes you are just a little too perceptive.”
“So now we visit the Yakuza oyabun?”
“That’s right. Next we visit Suzuki Tadao and his son Danjuro.” A grim smile. “Now it begins.”
Shikarou looked around as Elizabeth escorted him down the hallway. Danjuro’s room was just ahead and he was grateful for the invisibility the Vampire provided. This was supposed to be a supernatural visit and she was being a great help. None of the guards had any idea that they had been successfully invaded.
He slipped the door open and crept inside as Elizabeth stayed in the hall. Danjuro was a twenty year old who was the designated heir for his father, Suzuki Tadao, although his father showed no signs of handing over the reins of power and so far Danjuro appeared to be content to wait.
Although he didn’t know it yet, Danjuro’s wait was officially over, although there was a price to be paid, Shikarou thought as he pulled out his wand and touched the young man on the forehead with it, stealing control over his voluntary muscles. I am glad he’s sleeping alone. I don’t like hurting bystanders.
Shikarou extended the claws on his right hand and drove one into Danjuro’s leg, about half a centimeter deep. The young man’s eyes flew open and he tried to yell as pain lanced up his thigh.
Shikarou leaned over until they were eye to eye. “I am the kami of the Yoshihara clan.” Danjuro’s eyes got big. “So you know why I am here. Good. That will save time. I know that your father ordered the death of Yoshihara’s student, Miyagi Arata, and because he was staying with the Yoshihara’s, that makes it my right to seek vengeance. Tonight you will become oyabun of the Tomakomai Yakuza.”
He smiled, teeth glittering. “However, I want to make sure you remember that if you do anything to disturb the Yoshihara clan, I will be back for the rest of you. You see, I’m going to take a small piece right now to help you remember the old ways. Remember: disturb the Yoshihara clan in any way except by shopping for a sword and I will pay you another visit. You do not want that.” Shikarou smiled and drove a claw into Danjuro’s right eye.
Danjuro tried to scream as the fluid ran down the side of his face but couldn’t. Shikarou watched for a moment and then turned and left the room.
He proceeded quickly down the hall to Tadao’s room, halting only to peer around the corner for guards. Elizabeth gave him a curious look as she followed but remained silent.
Once inside the room he looked around. Suzuki Tadao was sound asleep with a blonde Catgirl curled up with him. Shikarou watched her for a moment, weighing his options. Finally he decided and nodded to himself as he moved to the other side of the bed.
He cocked his head. Circe, do you have the information on the killers?”
There were four of them. I have their names and addresses.
As his hand slipped into Tadao’s chest the old man’s eyes opened and he gasped. The Catgirl moved but didn’t awaken, which saved her life. Shikarou pulled Tadao’s soul from his body and the old man went limp.
The kami held up his hand and blew on it and the soul flickered and vanished. He spent a moment observing his work. Tadao’s eyes were open and once a minute he would blink. If fed, his body would live out the rest of its span, but nothing would ever change again. Perhaps this would serve as an adequate warning.
Branwyn nibbled delicately on her breakfast. “So, what now?”
Shikarou smiled. “Now that the Yakuza are in disarray, we go hunting. We take out the four killers and take all of their stuff.”
“Are you going to enslave them?” Circe grabbed a roll from his plate.
“I’m not planning to. Why?”
“We could use the males on the island.”
Shikarou looked thoughtful and then shrugged. “We’ll see.”
“Hey you! I challenge you for the Unicorn.”
Shikarou didn’t even look up. “Go away.”
“So, you refuse me, you coward.”
Shikarou sighed, turned and hurled a chopstick, taking the belligerent Tamer in the forehead. The impact knocked him sprawling and he lay unmoving in the street. “Oops.” He looked at his remaining chopstick and put it down to use his hands. “Where were we?”
“Discussing the Yakuza.” Branwyn finished her tea and signaled for more.
“We’ll start at their residences and go from there. I’m not interested in killing their families, not this time, so if they aren’t there, we wait.” He frowned and squashed a roll into a tiny ball before popping it into his mouth. “I may have made a tactical error in letting Danjuro know who I am. If he’s warned the killers, they may go to ground.”
“What do we do then?”
“Kami aren’t known for their patience. I may have to threaten their families to get them to break cover.” He shrugged. “Hopefully it won’t come to that. Besides, you telepaths may be able to find out where they are hiding from their families.”
Circe nodded and pulled out a piece of paper. “Our targets are Shimada Katsuhiko, the brothers Ueshima Eichi and Maresuke and Takekawa Akira.” She reached over and plucked Shikarou’s handheld from his belt and activated it. “I want my own computer. Ah, the Ueshima brothers live the closest to here.”
Shikarou stood up. “That’s as good a place to start as any. Who is supposed to be guarding me today?”
“Elizabeth.” Branwyn smiled. “However, Yushiko would provide better cover on the walk over.” She glanced significantly at the fallen Tamer, who was starting to stir. “Fewer people would randomly scan her just to see if she’s a pokegirl.”
“That’s a good point. Yushiko can escort me over.”
“So, what are the standards in regards to pokegirl battling here in beautiful city of Tomakomai?”
Yushiko’s voice came from slightly behind him as they walked down the street; she was on guard duty and that’s where she’d decided she should be. It also helped them to blend in with the crowd as women were historically subservient to men and the addition of pokegirls had only made that tradition more prevalent. “My lord, here a pokegirl battle is called a duel and the standard Edo dueling practices are observed. Tamers fight alongside their pokegirls and standard duels can have up to two pokegirls on each side.”
“And how do the Yakuza duel?”
“They tend to follow the traditional paths as far as formal dueling is concerned. In private or a dark alley all bets are off, but in public the proprieties are still observed.”
“All right.” Shikarou looked thoughtful for a moment. “I’d actually prefer to take them in private, but public works as well.” He swerved into a quiet area and summoned his sword and scabbard.
“Your weapon is more decorative now,” Yushiko observed. The scabbard and hilt were still black, but now both were decorated with inlaid gold and green wolves.
“It changes sometimes.” He shrugged as he slid the weapon into his belt. “It got a lot plainer when I gave up my shrine and now that the situation has changed again, so has it.”
Yushiko was looking the scabbard over. “Will you change my wings to match your scabbard?” She glanced up. “Just change the dragons to wolves; I’m happy with the red color.”
“If you want.” He glanced around. “We are a couple of blocks from the Ueshima residence, so it’s time to swap you out with Circe.”
“My, lord, a suggestion?” She smiled when he raised and eyebrow. “Use Pythia instead. She is a telepath and will confuse anyone who scans her.”
“That is an excellent idea. Confusion to our enemies it is.”
Seconds later Pythia joined him. “Me?”
He smiled. “Yushiko.”
The Armsmistress sighed. “Are you aware just how annoying this pidgin of yours can be?”
Pythia smiled. “Hai.”
Yushiko shook her head. “If they are as confused as I feel from time to time around you two, we have nothing to fear.” She winked at Shikarou as he recovered her.
“Here are the people we’re looking for.”
Pythia looked at the pictures displayed on his handheld. “Taste?”
“I have no idea how their minds feel.”
She nodded. “Are you going to keep any of them?”
“I haven’t decided yet. Suggestions?”
“Kill these; enslave any who try to help.” She fluffed out her shoulder length blue hair as they walked. “That will discourage more help in the future when you have to do this again.”
“I’m hoping that won’t be necessary.”
Her ears canted sideways. “You expect their descendants to believe it could happen to them?”
“Always with the good news. How?”
“Take them someplace else and enslave them there. If they leave and don’t come back it will be fairly unnerving, especially if they have dependants.” She cocked her head. “I know you don’t want to kill people that others may depend on, but someone depended on Miyagi Arata and they didn’t care. If you do, it will limit your response.” She frowned. “Unless.”
“Take them all. Enslave the adults; raise the kids as free beings on Caomh Sith.” Her eyes watched his. “It’s the kids that bothers you, so give Molly’s kids some playmates and help give Caomh Sith a future.”
He looked thoughtful as they walked. “It’s a good idea, but not one for revenge. Paralysis for interlopers, death for the killers.” He grimaced. “Besides, I don’t want to fill Caomh Sith with my slaves. I want people who will disagree with me if they think it’s important enough and slaves won’t do that.”
Pythia stopped and turned to face him. “That explains why you refuse to put a slave in your harem.”
“Ok, you’re the boss.” She slipped her arm through his. “But you’ll consider it for the future?”
“It’s a good idea. We’ll probably make stops in Scotland looking for orphans and small families looking for a chance to start somewhere nice.”
“Boy children will be hard to get.”
“Then we clone them.” He gave a whimsical smile. “Or we turn Kebi loose in a nursery and ask her to steal some kids.”
“Ah, here we are.” Shikarou pulled a bag out of his backpack and Pythia moved to face him. She scanned the neighborhood as he tossed her bits of cheese and she caught them in her mouth. People ignored them.
“Cute.” He tossed her another chunk. “Now that is interesting. To your right is not one of the Ueshima brothers, instead we have Takekawa Akira.”
Pythia glanced where he indicated and a piece of cheese bounced off her nose. She glared. “You ass.”
He snickered and tossed another piece.
Her eyes unfocused. “I’m in his mind. He’s looking for the brothers. He’s worried. All four of them were supposed to meet here before going on to a warehouse down at the docks, but he suspects that they went on ahead without him. They’ve abandoned him before.”
“Don’t you just love good friends?”
She snorted. “Depends on how they are prepared.” She flicked an ear and caught more cheese. “He’s done waiting and is going to his girlfriend’s place. I have the address.”
Shikarou stuffed the cheese back in his pack. “We know where he will be and where the brothers and possibly Shimada Katsuhiko may be. Let’s check out this warehouse.”
“There are three in there, the Ueshima brothers and Shimada.” Pythia opened her eyes. “I can’t tell more from here.”
“I didn’t detect any; however a psychic type could hide herself from me.”
“Remind me to ask Faelan if he knows a spell of clairvoyance.”
Pythia chuckled. “I will. So how do you want to do this?”
He sighed. “Old school. Elizabeth turns me invisible and I peek in windows.”
The warehouse was a multistory building and from the outside Shikarou couldn’t tell if the interior had multiple floors or not. It was old and dilapidated, like the rest of the neighborhood and exuded an air of decay.
“We could burn it down and claim it is urban renewal.”
Pythia gave him a hard look. “Nice try, but I want to watch you explain that one to Dorothea as well as the police.” She pointed. “From that rooftop over there. That way they won’t think I’m involved and later I can rescue you.”
“All right, all right. Windows and roof it is.”
Pythia landed on the rooftop and let Shikarou go as Yushiko and Dorothea landed next to them. He released Branwyn, Circe and Elizabeth.
“Ladies, I wish I knew what they had in the way of pokegirls, but I don’t.” A brief smile. “I will in a couple of minutes, but that doesn’t make things any better.”
Branwyn grinned. “If they’re too strong, we run and fire the building behind us.” She blinked as Pythia groaned. “What?”
“Never mind. Team one is Branwyn and Circe. Team two is Pythia, Yushiko and Dorothea and Elizabeth and I are team three. Humans die; pokegirls get saved if it doesn’t endanger anyone on our side.” He grinned. “I want to surprise them if possible. Circe?”
“They are watching a vid, some social documentary, I believe. They have no idea that we are here.”
“Excellent. Ladies, team one opens the ball with fireball spells, team two uses thunderbolt on any moving humans. Elizabeth and I are backup.”
Dorothea gave him a hard look. “Miss Elizabeth, I would be most grateful if thou were to ensure that my lord is kept safe, despite whatever intentions that he might have.”
Circe lifted her head as Elizabeth opened her mouth to reply. “They are letting out their pokegirls!”
“Shit.” Shikarou grabbed Elizabeth’s hand. “Let’s go.”
The Vampire smiled and pulled him to her before wrapping her arms around him from behind. “We have to do this right.” They dropped through the roof and into the warehouse proper, turning invisible as they fell. Once in the room, Elizabeth hovered as Shikarou looked around. It was one large room, subdivided by a few partitions and dimly lit.
Shikarou and Elizabeth were the recon team, his presence would allow Branwyn, Circe and Pythia to teleport in behind them, but he had to see the interior first. He had just enough time to recognize that the men were all naked and that the pokegirls were either naked or getting that way. One was kneeling and giving a man head He also noted that the movie was a porno.
Circe teleported in and dropped Dorothea as Branwyn appeared on the ground and Pythia appeared in midair, releasing Yushiko to soar to the side. The pokegirl performing fellatio looked up with her mouth full of dick and her eyes widened just before two fireballs exploded in the middle of the beginning orgy.
Figures flashed with blue outlines in sequence as bodies flew in all directions. Flash. Mistress. Flash. Draco. Flash. Dark Lady. Flash. Electrocat. Flash. Killer Queen. Flash. Lemure. Warning: Dark Lady capable of teleport.
“Yushiko, Dorothea, Pythia, the one with the long brown hair is a Dark Lady. Primary Target. Take her down.” Lightning flashed from three different sources and hammered the Dark Lady as she slowed her fall. She dropped, screaming. Yushiko hit her with feather shuriken and the screaming stopped.
“Elizabeth, you have the Draco. I’ll assist.”
“Goody. I get to try my new spell.” They swept forward as Branwyn used mach breaker and smashed into the Mistress as she crept along a wall, crushing the smaller pokegirl with her quad form. She then used stomp on her prone opponent, breaking bones with each flashing blow.
Dorothea screamed as the Lemure used backstab to teleport behind her and drive a blade into the Seraph’s back. Dorothea whirled and the Lemure danced away.
Circe picked up the Killer Queen with telekinesis and drove her headfirst into the ceiling. The fact that two support beams were in the way of the journey didn’t slow her down any, the Alaka-Wham used her as a battering ram. A needle spray from the Electrocat slapped Circe spinning and she was forced to drop the unconscious Killer Queen, who crashed to the floor below.
The Electrocat’s joy was short lived as Pythia teleported in behind her and used tectonic slam, blasting the electric pokegirl flying. The whole building groaned and shifted and dust and fragments of rock pattered down.
Elizabeth dropped Shikarou in front of the Draco who pulled up her charge at Branwyn when he appeared out of thin air and his sword whispered from its scabbard. She hissed and began to charge Shikarou when Elizabeth’s ice beam spell took her high in the chest and sent her flying backwards. Elizabeth’s second bolt speared the Draco in midair and sent her careening in a tangent to her original course. She hit the wall and slid bonelessly to the ground.
The Lemure hit Dorothea again with backstab, knocking the celestial pokegirl stumbling forward. Dorothea whirled and used mana bolt at point blank range. The Lemure used absorb to counter the bolt and responded with hypnotize. Dorothea crumpled and the Lemure continued the assault with dream eater.
“Circe.” Shikarou watched as the Alaka-Wham used psychic on the Lemure, who screamed in agony and went to her knees as Yushiko hit her with feather shuriken and Branwyn used magic missile. The Lemure was dying before she hit the floor. “Branwyn, stabilize the wounded. Everyone else, look for pokeballs.” He recovered Dorothea and tucked her into his belt.
Capturing the enemy pokegirls was amusing, the pokeballs had been scattered all over the room, so once they were located all six of the Yakuza pokegirls were unceremoniously dumped in a pile and a pokeball was pointed in their direction and activated to see who got sucked into it.
Shikarou checked on the humans, driving his sword into each one’s throat. He wiped the blade as he returned to the group and Circe frowned in the low light and summoned a light globe. “Let me see your sword.”
He shrugged and held it up. Circe shook her head. “Do you see anything wrong with it?”
“No. Anyone else?”
Elizabeth raised an eyebrow. “I don’t remember the blade being black.”
Shikarou gave them an odd look. “It’s always been…” he broke off as he thought about it. “You are right,” he said slowly. “It was silver before. For some reason it feels normal. No, it feels right.”
Branwyn smiled slightly. “Back to Stardust you go.” She turned to the Alaka-Wham. “Circe, I want you to monitor your sister’s work and help out. Please try to keep him from bonding any more of your family.”
Circe gave her an annoyed look. Shikarou sighed. “We still have one more Yakuza to take care of and Dorothea needs healed.”
If she blames me for that accident one more time I’m going to challenge her to a duel. Will you allow it? Circe’s emotional state was much more than just annoyed.
Are you sure you can win? And do you want to be alpha, because you know that’s how she’ll see such a challenge. There was a feeling of amusement from Shikarou. Not that I’m not tired of hearing about it as well.
I will wait a little longer, but my patience is not infinite.
Thank you. If she doesn’t start calming down in a day or two, I’ll see if I can deal with it.
He knows you are coming. Circe’s message resonated in Shikarou’s mind as he stepped out of the elevator. She was in the stairwell with Pythia while Branwyn waited with Yushiko and Dorothea in the alley outside the apartment building. Elizabeth stirred beside him as she received the same warning.
“Be ready.” He stopped outside the girlfriend’s apartment door and knocked. “Takekawa Akira?” The door creaked slightly open and Elizabeth started.
A quavering voice, female, called out. “Come in, dread lord.” Shikarou and Elizabeth exchanged a confused look.
He pushed the door open and peeked in the doorway, expecting an attack, the signs of a hurried escape, anything but what he saw.
Four people were facing the door as they lay prostrate on the floor and his quick glance told him that there was one male and three females. Shikarou frowned and stepped into the doorway. His eyes narrowed and his ears flicked. “Akira?”
The man bobbed his head against the floor. “Master, please don’t kill me.”
“Master I did not participate in the murder of Miyagi Arata and I was not even there I never wanted to join the Yakuza my father was one and I was expected to join I will serve you loyally forever and my girlfriend is pregnant and I am going to have a son and please don’t kill us!” He took a deep shuddering breath as his girlfriend started crying and his pokegirls visibly trembled.
All in one choppy go. Pythia stood next to Elizabeth. What are you going to do?
Shikarou gave the man a disgusted look. “Get up. All of you.” When no one moved he growled. “Now!” They jumped to their feet as if levitated. “So you want to live, do you Takekawa?” The man nodded frantically.
He looked at the woman; she was human and just starting to show. “And you want him to live.”
She nodded just as frantically. “Hai, dread lord.”
Shikarou’s eyes narrowed and a growl sounded in his voice. “If you call me that again, I will kill everyone in this room. Master, lord or Shikarou.”
Everyone turned white, but the woman managed to stammer out, “Hai, lord.”
Shikarou suddenly looked tired. “Pythia, get Circe and Branwyn down here and take these people to Caomh Sith.” I’ll be along presently and take their oaths of loyalty.”
“Yes, Shikarou.” A minute later Shikarou stood alone in the room. He sighed and got himself a glass of water. Elizabeth and Yushiko watched him anxiously from the hallway.
“Oh, stop that and close the door behind you,” he snapped irritably.
Yushiko touched his shoulder as Elizabeth pulled the door shut. “Are you ok, lord? Why were you angry?”
“Dread lord is the title given to an oni, especially one with delusions of grandeur. I may be a little touchy, but that I will not put up with.” He sighed. “Ok, maybe the ‘I’ll kill everyone in this room’ bit was a little over the top, but blood and darkness, that’s a pretty serious insult.”
Pythia nodded. “I understand. After all, all you did was come here to kill her man.”
“That’s right.” Shikarou blinked. “Are you making fun of me?”
The G-Spliced just grinned, her muzzle wrinkling in amusement.
His eyes narrowed. “You are going to come to an evil end, mark my words.” His tone was amused.
Circe appeared. “Branwyn is getting them settled down in the clinic. You gave the woman quite a fright and she tried to go into labor.” She shrugged. “Candace says she’ll be fine.” She gave him a brief smile. “Stardust says it’s nice to see you aren’t a wimp.”
Shikarou sighed. “That man is a physical and moral coward. He makes me ill.” Snort. “He must be something other than Japanese.”
Circe glanced at him. “Your prejudices are showing.”
“So? What are his pokegirls?
“He’s got an Amazonkapoeraa and a Geogal.”
“Good. Make him a construction worker. That will hopefully keep him out of anything that he could cause mischief with.” He looked around. “Women usually like having their things, so pack it all up.”
“You are being fairly nice to someone you were planning to execute.”
Shikarou laughed. “I’m being nice to the woman, who has done nothing to me. He just gets the reflected largess.”
Circe nodded. “And if they break up?”
“I’ll reevaluate his usefulness.”
Branwyn teleported in. “They’re in the clinic.” She gave Shikarou a hard look. “Are you aware that she almost lost the baby because of you?”
“She almost lost the baby because of stress. You are not going to blame that on me.”
“Nevertheless, Candace is upset with you. That is a boy and we can’t afford to lose him.”
Shikarou gave her a flat look. “You will never, ever talk like that to me again. Every child is just as important, no matter whether a boy or girl, and don’t you ever even hint that boys are more important. Am I clear?”
Branwyn looked startled and then nodded. “You are quite right. I’m sorry. Maybe I should talk to Candace before you do.”
Shikarou rubbed the glass against his forehead, savoring the coolness. “Drop it. What we have to do next is get everything packed.” He poked at the tabletop. “And I hope she doesn’t really want to keep this cheap furniture.”
“Then don’t take it.” Elizabeth flashed him a quick smile when he looked at her. “Then she can’t keep it.”
“No, I want her to have the choice, for all we know this stuff might hold some value to her.” He grinned as his black mood dissipated. “I can hope not, but you never can tell.”
Pythia sighed. “So now we are Kami Movers. Is that a corporation or just a one kami show?”
He chuckled and got up. “It’s a one kami and his harem operation. Now, let’s get started.”
Faelan stared at his brother. “You don’t want any of them?”
“Well, let’s apply a little logic to my situation. If I brought the Dark Lady, the Killer Queen, the Mistress or the Lemure into my harem, after killing them Branwyn would come after me and you know what, I’d deserve it.” Shikarou made a dismissive gesture. “Kebi is far better than the Electrocat, which leaves the Draco. I did consider her, and Branwyn urged me to, but the simple fact is that she’s just not powerful enough and the way my life is going she’d get killed before I could evolve her.” He gave his brother a direct look. “I’m actually hoping that you’ll take her.”
“You were dropped as a child, right?” He rubbed an ear. “I’ll talk to Svetlana and see.”
“Thanks.” Shikarou handed him a pokeball. “Here she is.”
“What part of I’ll talk to Svetlana did you not hear?”
“The part where you said you’d keep the Draco in the meantime.”
Faelan blinked. “Oh. I suppose I could do that.” He took the ball. “This doesn’t mean anything, understand?”
“So what are you going to do with the others?”
“Originally I’d sell them to Poppet, but I want to try out a new auction website that Branwyn and Aggie found.”
“What’s it called?”
Name: Urufu Shikarou
Residence: Caomh Sith, Blue Continent
Security Clearance: Epsilon
Master Tamer Y
Species Name Level
Alaka-Wham Circe 61
Milktit Helen 54
Unicorn Branwyn 53
Seraph Dorothea 46
Ria Kebi 45
Armsmistress Urufu Yushiko 43
Sphinx Lorelei 40
G-Spliced Pythia 40
Vampire Elizabeth 35
Badges: Scotland: Stornoway, Rum Island, Glasgow
Wales: Magicunt Village