(06/21/99 0100 Blue League, 0800 Polass Town)
Shikarou returned Yushiko to her pokeball and then headed inside the gym once more. Now a Catgirl sat behind the desk, talking with a Tamer. “Yes, sir. It’ll be a few minutes before the gym opens. If you would be so kind as to have a seat, Ms. Milantiev will be with you as soon as she’s ready to battle. That should only be a few minutes.”
The young man nodded. “Thanks. I’ll be over there.” He went over and sat down in one of a row of chairs. Several of them were already filled with expectant looking men and in one case, a woman.
The Catgirl turned to him and smiled cheerfully. “May I help you, sir?” Her nametag said Lindsey.
Shikarou handed her his pokedex. “Good morning, Lindsey. I’m Shikarou Urufu. I’m pretty sure the night clerk checked me in this morning.”
Lindsey scanned his pokedex. “Everything appears to be in order, Mr. Urufu. Mr. Alistier will be with you shortly.” She smiled. “You’ve gotten lucky in the draw. He doesn’t fight just anyone.”
“Thank you.” Shikarou settled down in a chair where he could lean back against the wall and stretched out.
One of the other challengers leaned over. “Man, you just got screwed. Rory’s tough and unless you’ve got a killer harem you’re going to have to come back again tomorrow and hope you get someone else.”
Shikarou nodded politely. “Thanks for the update. I saw his battle yesterday with Thai Silvati. It seemed pretty good.”
The guy grinned. “Yeah, that was a good match, but you didn’t see all of his pokegirls. He’s got some really powerful ones and he brings them out for really tough opponents.” He looked at Shikarou’s long hair and frowned. “You might not get to see them.”
Apparently long hair wasn’t manly. “You don’t think the battle yesterday was tough?”
“Sure, it was a good match. Rory tries to match his power level against that of his opponent. It works really well against most Tamers and makes for a good fight. That’s what he did yesterday, but that Silvati kid got lucky.”
“I don’t call winning by one pokegirl ‘lucky’. Thai could have easily lost. He and his pokegirls fought well and they earned that badge.”
The man frowned. “Buddy, you have still got a lot to learn about pokegirl battling.”
Shikarou smiled. “That I don’t doubt.”
Rory appeared in the doorway. Now he was comfortably dressed in some slacks and a heavy shirt. His eyes fell on Shikarou. “Hey, Widow Killer!”
Shikarou sighed. “Excuse me.” Interested eyes followed him as went over to Rory. He deliberately kept his voice low and tried to remain calm. “My name is Shikarou Urufu. I don’t go by anything else.” His eyes narrowed and his ears went back. “I did not go after that Widow for glory. I happened to be in the area when the alert went out and got tapped to go after her along with any other Tamer that happened to be anywhere nearby. I went after that Widow alone because I thought I had a way to kill her without her getting the opportunity to eat a dozen Tamers and their harems before she was destroyed. How I did it and what I did is not common knowledge and I would prefer it to stay that way for the simple reason that it won’t work for anyone else and will just get people killed.”
“The only reason you know about it is because the video was put out on a gym leader website and it flagged my name when you ran the search.” Shikarou realized suddenly that he’d been leaning forward and aggressively invading Rory’s personal space. He took a step backwards and worked on projecting calm thoughts.
Rory’s cheeks were flushed. He took a deep breath and stuck out his hand. “Shikarou, you just impressed me.” A slight smile. “Not for getting in my face, but for what you said.”
Shikarou merely raised an eyebrow.
He nodded. “Come with me.” He led Shikarou down a hallway and into what looked like a break room. There was a coffeepot and a box of various pastries.
He pointed Shikarou into a chair. “I’ve done some research since you left this morning. You really did go out there to try and keep other Tamers from getting killed. More importantly, at least to me, you haven’t tried to market the video of your kill.” He cocked his head. “Are you aware of just what that would be worth?”
Shikarou nodded. “A couple of million credits and a whole slew of Tamers who get themselves waxed trying to emulate me. I think that was the very thing I was trying to prevent.”
“So you don’t intend to try to release it?”
“No, I don’t.” Shikarou smiled unpleasantly. “If it does get released I will find whoever did it. They won’t enjoy the ensuing conversation, either.”
Rory shrugged. “At that point it won’t matter. The recording will be out and seeking revenge will be pointless.”
“I disagree. If I’m firm enough with the first person to pull something like that, anyone else will think twice before doing something that I might not appreciate.”
“So you think the ends justify the means?”
Shikarou chuckled. “Now there’s a trick question. How about instead we talk about the middle instead of the ends. That’s where all the juicy parts are.”
“You are an odd individual.”
“Yes, I am.” Shikarou nodded politely. “So are you going to let me challenge your gym?”
Rory frowned. “I don’t really have any choice. The only way I can legally refuse a challenger is if they show themselves or their pokegirls to be unfit. You’re not a glory seeker, so I can’t refuse you on moral grounds. I can’t claim your pokegirls aren’t fit, the most powerful members of your harem are as strong as mine are.”
“Oh?” Shikarou looked curious. “I wasn’t going to use them. I really just want to give my pokegirls a good battle.”
“Whether or not you just want a good bout, it happens that we record our battles here and sell them for broadcast revenues. It’s big business here in the Ruby League. You’ve got some rare pokegirls, if you’d rather not do that; you’ll have to make it worth my time or there won’t be a battle.”
“Do I get a share of these revenues?”
Rory nodded. “You’re entitled to a small percentage. It won’t be much. Most battles aren’t good enough for multiple broadcasts. That’s where the real money is.” He grinned. “Do you think you can put on that kind of a show?”
Shikarou looked thoughtful. “I suspect that would presume that my usual style of the quick and dirty takedown wouldn’t work.”
“No, a pokegirl battle needs to go for a while for the real ratings. What we need is a gym leader challenge.”
“I don’t want to run your gym.”
“Not like that, more like what the WAPL does, where we film the entire thing from your long challenge to the battle and, finally, the conclusion.”
“I have no intention of fighting you for pokegirls or other salvage.” Shikarou’s voice was flat.
“That’s good, because you can’t do that.”
Shikarou gave him a long look. “Is the battle rigged? I know I’m going to be the villain since you are the local hero.”
“No, the battle’s not rigged, but just about everything else is.” He smiled. “I think you’ll enjoy this.”
“How did I get talked into doing this?”
Branwyn snickered. “I’m not entirely sure, but I hope to discover his secret so I can use it on you.”
Shikarou glared at her. “Someone thinks they are funny.”
“I’ve noticed that too. No matter how many times we don’t laugh at your jokes, you just don’t seem to get the message.” She got up. “Hold still, your moustache is crooked.”
“I told them that I can’t grow facial hair. Why did they have to stick a chunk of this nasty stuff on my face?”
Branwyn worked on it for a moment and then smiled at him. “Well, actually you can, but you have to grow a muzzle and all that other stuff. You know, the stuff that freaks people out.” She grinned and turned his face to Circe. “So tell me, does that look like he’s dour or long suffering patience?”
“It looks like you’re squeezing his cheeks like a chipmunk. His moustache is crooked.”
“Damn it, stop moving your face.”
Shikarou pulled the moustache off and stuck it on Branwyn’s forehead. “There, now you’ve got black eyebrows.” He cast an illusion. “How’s that.”
Circe nodded. “The beard is diabolic looking. Nanu’s going to love the way you look.”
Branwyn pressed her new eyebrows firmly on her head. “It is kind of malevolent and yet sexy. What about the cameras? Will the illusion work for them?”
“Yes, if it didn’t I’d have been in big trouble at Alexia’s parent’s place.”
“I forgot about that.”
“I thought you might have.” He sighed. “Faelan is going to remind me about this for a thousand years.”
“I think the word you’re looking for is taunt.”
“I think the word I’m looking for is merde.”
Someone knocked on the door. “We’re on in ten minutes.”
“I am going to kick his fucking ass on the battlefield for this. How did I get talked into doing this?”
“You already asked that.”
“I don’t remember getting an answer.”
Branwyn ignored him and reached for his outfit. “Where did they get this?” ‘This’ was a midnight black jumpsuit with hinted red swirls inside the fabric. There were matching knee boots and an ankle length cape.
Shikarou flushed slightly. “I brought it with me.” He stripped and slid it on. It fit like a second skin and outlined his muscles. Other things too.
Circe snickered. “You need a cup. Things are really on display.”
He sighed. “It wasn’t quite so snug in the crotch before.”
“You’re a growing boy.” That earned Branwyn another glare. “You are.” She cocked her head. “You didn’t answer the question. Where did you get this?”
His voice was barely audible. “I used to wear it in the Empress’ guard.”
“Pallaius liked you wearing this?”
“As a matter of fact, she didn’t.” He shrugged. “The members of the guard were encouraged to be original and as striking as they could. There were so many different variations on the kimono that I lost count of them all. I finally went with this. It was different and utilitarian.” A quick smile. “It’s body armor.”
“Pallaius let you wear this?” Branwyn handed it to him.
“Pallaius did not ‘let’ me do anything. She did not rule my life.” He sighed. “That was Her Majesty’s job.”
“What is it?”
He frowned. “I’ve just discovered so many things since Pallaius died. Things that if she were still alive …,” he broke off. “It doesn’t matter. She’s not.”
Branwyn decided to change the subject. “I’ve done some reading on the WAPL. We’re lucky this isn’t like that. You’d probably try to kill someone in very short order if we were.”
family likes their theatrics.” She grimaced. “We’d also have problems with one of your girlfriends. It turns out that Sexmet thinks they have ties to Sanctuary.”
Shikarou shook his head. “Sexmet is so paranoid that she thinks my shoes have ties to Sanctuary.”
Circe looked closely at his boots. “She may be right.”
Branwyn handed him his script. “What do you think of it?”
“I’m glad it’s all opinion and it never says these opinions are mine. If it weren’t, it would be a pack of lies and I’d have to decline.” He flipped through it one last time before handing it back to his alpha and wife. “Let’s do this and get to the fight.” He gave a whimsical smile. “They don’t do grand melees here, do they?”
“Nope. Besides, you’d probably cripple him.”
“Cripple? He would be lucky if I stopped there.” He returned Branwyn to her pokeball and turned to his Alaka-Wham. “You’re watching my back, right?”
Circe nodded. “I’ll be in here, but I’ll be aware of what’s going on through our link and I’ll rescue you if things get weird.”
“They’re weird now.”
“I meant weirder than this.”
“That will take some doing.” He headed outside to the steps leading up to the Polass Gym.
The director was talking to his Cameragirl when Shikarou came out. He looked up. “Good. We’re almost ready.”
Another member of the director’s harem handed Shikarou a bandanna and a mask. He sighed and tied the bandanna over his hair and put on the mask. She looked him over. “Excellent. No one will be able to identify you.”
“Ok, we’re ready to roll film.”
Shikarou nodded and assumed an arrogant pose. His eyes went hard and an outraged expression covered his face.
“Very good. Ready? Action.”
“Rory Alistier, it is said that for too long have you held this gym up as a shining beacon for those who walk the path of righteousness.” Shikarou curled his lip and sneered into the camera. “It has fallen upon me to punish you for walking that path. For this and the insults that you have brought upon me, I call you out. Face me and feel the wrath of my pokegirls.” The diatribe went on in this vein for some time. Finally he wrapped up and the Cameragirl waved a finger over her head. “And, cut!”
“Very good.” Rory came out of where he’d been waiting. He was wearing a gi with the gym’s logo on it. “You look evil. In a good way, of course.”
Shikarou blinked as he realized something that he should have figured out from the beginning and felt like kicking himself. “I have to wear this for the bout, don’t I?”
Rory grinned. “The women watching us are going to love that outfit, human and pokegirl alike.” He nodded to himself. “I’ll make sure you get a fan website set up right away. You know, if you went over to the WAPL, you could probably be a star. You’re photogenic and you’ve got a powerful harem.”
“Pass. Kasumi is going to have enough questions for me as it is.”
“There’s no need to be sorry. Kasumi’s a good person. She’s been very understanding so far.”
Rory raised an eyebrow. “Is she going to understand this?”
Shikarou shrugged. “I don’t understand it. How did you talk me into this?”
Rory grinned. “I have high empathy and even higher charm.”
“Am I done here?” Shikarou rubbed his cheek thoughtfully. “Or is there anything else I need to do for this?”
“You’re done. Now it’s my turn to rebut you.”
“Then I’m going inside. When’s the battle?”
“In about an hour.”
Shikarou nodded. “Have someone let me know in case something changes before the bout.”
Shikarou looked out over the arena battlefield. The posturing was over and finally it was time to fight. Well, at least most of the posturing was done. He eyed the cameras that lined the walls of the arena with mingled distaste and amusement. For once he was glad of the outfit. He’d promised himself that he’d never put it on unless it was absolutely necessary, but was suddenly grateful that he’d brought it along to wear here. He was also thankful for the mask and the scarf.
He decided he’d add something like them to the uniform permanently just as soon as he could.
There was an OfficerJenny
officiating over the match to ensure that all combatants acted within the rules, which of course meant she was there to make sure he didn’t cheat. She smiled affectionately at Rory. “Gym Leader Rory Alistier, are you ready to defend your gym?”
Rory struck a defiant pose. “I am indeed, officer.”
She turned to Shikarou and almost glared. “And you, you miscreant, are you ready to be defeated?”
Shikarou smiled lazily as he waved a negligent hand. “Can we hurry this up? I have a dinner date.”
earned him a glare from both of them. Shikarou smothered a snicker. He knew that if he’d really been a criminal, that OfficerJenny
would have had him in handcuffs in a trice.
Rory drew himself up. “Let us not keep you from something that is obviously more important than the trouncing you are about to receive. Officer, please start this pokegirl battle.”
nodded. “As you wish, Gym Leader Alistier.” She shot a glare at Shikarou. “This pokegirl battle is a single combat, seven pokegirl bout. Tamers are allowed to substitute without penalty with the following stipulation. Pokegirls may not be substituted out until they are injured in some way, given a status or their opponent is injured or given a status. Points are only awarded if the pokegirl is unable to continue with the battle. Noncombatant pokegirls may be used to heal injured but still conscious pokegirls.” Her glare returned to Shikarou. “Tamers are not to be deliberately targeted. Failure to comply with any portion of these rules will result in a disqualification.”
She turned back to Rory. “Gym Leader Alistier, do you understand and agree to follow these rules?”
He nodded proudly. “I do.”
Her mouth twisted as she turned Shikarou. “Do you understand and agree to follow these rules?”
He smiled. “What happens if we disagree on what constitutes a violation of the rules?”
“There is a panel of judges watching this bout who will rule on any challenges.” She glared at him.
He nodded. “With that understanding, sure.”
“I’ll need you to verbally indicate your complete agreement.” She gave a nasty smile, as if to grind in the fact that he was the bad guy.
His smile vanished. “I understand and agree to follow the rules you laid out.” His voice was a low growl. “Pokegirls are targets, Tamers are not. Correct?”
She watched him through narrowed eyes for a moment. “That’s right. Release your noncombatant pokegirls.”
Rory released a NurseJoy
garbed in a white hospital outfit and stockings. Shikarou suppressed a grin and let Candace out. She appeared wearing a bodysuit almost identical to the one he wore. Her waist length hair was loose and had been magically turned as black as his. It matched well against her magically swarthy skin. Even her lipstick was black.
She cocked her head and clasped her hands behind her back. I feel very naughty. Wanna play? She glanced at his crotch and smiled. I see you do.
You’re getting better with the link. He shook his head slightly and turned to face the arena.
gave Candace a disgusted look. “Tamers will release their first pokegirl on the count of three. Release will be simultaneous.” She looked at both of them as they each pulled a pokeball from their belts. “One. Two. Three!” She dropped her flags.
Pokeballs flew. On Rory’s side a Randysnatch materialized while Yushiko appeared in front of Shikarou.
Shikarou glanced over his shoulder at Candace. “Get behind me and stay close.”
She moved close enough to stir his hair when she spoke. “Why?”
“I’m following the rules. Rory’s not going to like that.”
chuckled. “I hope this works without getting you kicked out of the battle.”
Shikarou noticed the Randysnatch was wearing a radio, so he muttered his com spell just as she lurched into motion. She rolled into a ball and began to pick up speed as she used buzzsaw to race across the arena.
Rory grinned at him. “Ovdotia’s going to make short work of your Armsmistress, fool! Steel doesn’t fare well against ground.”
Trash talk was part of the game. “Do you know what surprise is? It’s when someone misunderstands something they’ve seen all along.” Shikarou grinned back. “Yushiko, focus energy and feather shuriken.”
Rory blanched as ruby wings glittered into existence. “A Malakai!”
Yushiko vaulted into the air before Ovdotia reached her. She glowed briefly and stalled as her wings snapped down, sending a spray of red ki energy into the path of the Randysnatch, who rolled right through it. Recovering quickly, the Armsmistress climbed steeply.
A cry of pain drifted up to Shikarou as the Randysnatch changed direction and rolled back towards Rory. He nodded slightly as the gym leader returned her to her pokeball and then released her next to the NurseJoy
for healing. “Monica, help her.”
“Do you want me to hit the secondary target?” Yushiko’s voice whispered in his ears.
“Not yet. Stand by for him to release another pokegirl.”
Rory released a Ria. “Crap,” from Yushiko. “I’m going to get hurt.”
Shikarou didn’t hesitate. “Swordslash, target is secondary.”
“I’m on it.” The Malakai changed course in midair.
Rory grinned. “You’re going to enjoy this, villain! Esfir, thunder.”
Candace wrapped her hands around his braid. “Don’t get me hurt pulling this stunt.”
“Then stay bloody damned close.”
The Ria began to glow as she summoned energy for a thunder attack as Yushiko drew her katana. The blade began to pulse with a bright light and she swung as if striking something as the Ria’s attack released.
The thunder attack smashed Yushiko sideways, but not before her own attack went off. A glowing arc was drawn from the tip of her sword as she swung it. The band of ki energy blurred forward straight at its target. Monica had time for a brief scream as the swordslash smashed her from the Tamer’s platform.
hit the floor and bounced once, becoming perfectly still.
“MONICA!” Rory screamed in anguish.
slashed Shikarou’s flag downward. “HOLD! YOU ARE DISQUALIFIED!” Her amplified voice sounded like thunder as Yushiko landed next to her Tamer.
Candace automatically started healing her as Shikarou gave the OfficerJenny
a puzzled look. “Why? What trick is this to save your Rory?”
“You attacked a noncombatant pokegirl! That’s against the rules!”
“I challenge that!” He gave an evil grin. “I asked if pokegirls are targets and you said YES! You did not qualify that in any way.”
She went white as her earbud buzzed. She listened intently to a conversation Shikarou couldn’t hear from this distance.
The judges are agreeing with you. They will not allow you to be disqualified because you twisted the OfficerJenny’s words in your favor. Her name is Jacquelyn.
Candace grabbed his braid again. “Yushiko is ready to go.”
Yushiko gave a low chuckle. “Ready to kick ass.”
glared at him and turned to Rory. “How is she?”
He sighed. “She’s unconscious but otherwise not too bad. She’ll be fine. What’s the judge’s verdict?”
She suddenly looked very unhappy. “They are overriding my disqualification. They say he’s right.”
Rory glared at Shikarou. “That’s another thing you’ll have to pay for! I will destroy you!”
Shikarou gave him a lazy grin. “You’d better be quick about it, you’re all out of healing for your pokegirls and I’m just getting warmed up.”
Shikarou ignored him. “So, Officer Jacquelyn, do you think we can get the match restarted?”
Her eyes narrowed and then she smiled. “Of course. Tamers, return your combatant pokegirls to their pokeballs.”
Shikarou realized she intended to reset the match if she could.
Candace leaned forward, her breasts pressing firmly against his back. “What about your point?” Her breath was warm against his neck His groin tightened at her scent as well as the feel of her body against his.
“That’s cruel. That’s also perfect.” He recalled Yushiko. “OfficerJenny
!” I took out one of his seven pokegirls. What about my point?”
almost hissed at him. “Noncombatant pokegirls don’t count for points.”
“I do believe you said this was a seven on seven battle, didn’t you? That would mean there were seven points up for grabs on each side.”
Her glare would have scratched diamond. She started to speak and stopped as the earbud chattered again. Her jaw set. “The NurseJoy
Monica is unable to battle, point to the criminal.” She raised her flag. “Release pokeballs on three. One. Two. Three.”
The flag fell. Shikarou released Yushiko again while Rory released Infera, his Whorizard.
“Climb and use swordslash.” Yushiko summoned her wings and shot upward.
“Infera, get her! Use fire blast.” The Whorizard spread her wings and used ignite to create a thermal that lifted her from the ground in a blast of dust and sand.
Infera used fire blast just as Yushiko used swordslash. The ki attack passed through the oncoming fireball and smashed into the Whorizard, knocking her spinning.
The fire blast took Yushiko squarely and she screamed. Her smoldering wings crumpled as she fell limply towards the ground. Shikarou caught her in the containment beam, returning her to her pokeball before impact.
He glared at Rory. “Fuck. She’s out.”
grinned and raised a flag. “The Armsmistress is unable to battle. Rory takes the point.”
Shikarou released Nanu. “Use lightning on the Whorizard. See if you can ground her.”
“You’re going to get me hurt.” The Mini-Top began casting.
“You are probably right.”
Rory laughed. “Flame thrower, Infera.”
Nanu’s greater speed allowed her to finish her spell before Infera could attack. Thunder cracked as lightning flashed, carving a glowing line along the membrane of one of Infera’s wings. She squalled and tumbled from the air, smashing into the ground hard enough to shake the arena. The flames surrounding her body faded as her ignite was disrupted.
“I don’t think she’s down. I didn’t hit her that hard.” Nanu sounded annoyed. “Tricky slut. Closing.” She circled around to the side.
Candace leaned against his back. “What do you think?”
“I think Rory and Jacqueline are too quiet.”
“Boss?” Nanu sounded slightly worried.
“If she’s awake, you are going to get hurt, so let’s make this count. Mega punch.”
Nanu darted in as her arm began to glow. Infera suddenly whipped around and unleashed a fire blast, which missed because Nanu had already jumped. The leap carried her over Infera and she landed behind the pokegirl, smashing her in the back with mega punch.
The Whorizard was driven face first into the dirt. She rose up just a bit and smashed blindly behind her with a wing attack, catching the Mini-Top squarely in the chest.
She staggered backwards as Infera whirled again, releasing another fire blast at point blank range.
Nanu was out before she hit the ground. Shikarou recovered her quickly and tucked her pokeball into his belt.
almost crowed with delight. “The Mini-Top is no longer able to battle. Point to Rory. The score is Gym Leader Alistier two points, menace to society only one.”
It was time for another sound bite. “Play time is over.” Shikarou hurled the next pokeball. Lorelei materialized directly in front of Infera, the Sphinx already in her battle form. “Slice n Dice!”
Lorelei’s first strike knocked the Whorizard’s head up, causing her flame thrower attack to go wide. She used her superior strength mercilessly as she crowded her opponent, ripping her with each stroke of her claws.
In seconds, it was over. Infera crashed backwards to the sand. Lorelei growled and spat on the Whorizard’s prone form. “Bitch.”
Shikarou grinned and cupped a hand behind where a human had an ear, cocking his head towards the OfficerJenny
and waving with his free hand. She glared at him. “Infera’s valiant effort is over. The score is Rory Alistier two points, dark hearted villain two points.
Lorelei moved to in front of Shikarou as Rory recovered his pokegirl. “What’s he got left in his lineup that I should be worried about?”
“I haven’t seen his entire group, but he’s got an uninjured Ria and an injured Randysnatch. We’re down Yushiko and Nanu.”
“I knew something had happened to Nanu. I could smell her burnt fur.” The Sphinx settled herself and folded her wings carefully.
Rory seemed to be involved in an internal debate. Finally, he pulled a pokeball from his belt and released Esfir, his Ria. “Thunder!” The Ria’s eyes glowed and plasma appeared as the air began to ionize around her.
“Teleport and vortex.” Lorelei vanished as the thunder attack glazed the ground. She reappeared several meters away from her original site. Suddenly the air whipped in a circle around the Ria as the vortex sprung into existence. Esfir tried to escape but failed. The vortex sucked her into the air and she crashed into the roof of the arena.
Lorelei hit the falling pokegirl with feather shuriken, smashing her almost all of the way back to Rory.
Esfir slowly pulled herself to her feet and lightning cracked as she hit Lorelei with thunderbolt. The Sphinx staggered and replied with another feather shuriken. The Ria almost dodged the attack, but staggered as it clipped her. Her answering thunderbolt went wide.
Lorelei dug her hind claws into the ground and whipped her wings forward. Dust exploded towards the Ria as the wing buffet raced towards her, smashing her backwards.
Esfir slowly pulled herself to her knees before collapsing back to the ground.
Lorelei cast heal on her own injuries as Rory recovered his downed pokegirl.
dropped her flag. “Esfir has fought the good fight. Point goes to her vicious attacker.”
Candace sighed. “She’s pretty angry at you.”
“It sucks to be her.” Shikarou looked down at Lorelei. “You need healing?”
“I’m fine.” She shook out her wings.
He nodded and looked over at Rory. He raised his voice. “You had enough yet?”
“Not a chance in hell!” Rory released another pokegirl. “Katja, psychic,” he called out as she coalesced. It was an Espea and her eyes were already glowing with power.
Lorelei shrieked and clutched at her head as the Espea’s attack roared through her mind.
Shikarou quickly recovered her and released Elizabeth. “Ghost blade.” The blade appeared above the Espea and dropped, slicing down her back. She cried out and jumped away.
Candace pulled Lorelei’s pokeball from his belt and released her for healing, carefully keeping close to her Tamer.
Rory swapped out Katja for Celia, his Armsmistress. “Chi blast.” She held out her hand and a bolt of energy leapt from it to smack the Vampire in the chest. Elizabeth wobbled and vanished, appearing behind Celia.
Celia spun, lashing out with her poleax. Elizabeth staggered away from the blow as electricity snapped around her.
Candace put Lorelei’s pokeball back in his belt.
Shikarou winced. He hadn’t realized that the poleax was enchanted, much less electrical in nature. He thought rapidly and swapped out Elizabeth for Lorelei. “Get her poleax away from her.”
The Armsmistress blinked and relaxed as Lorelei appeared. “A cat!” Rory cursed and reached for her pokeball. He was too slow and cursed again as the Sphinx used her telekinesis to jerk the poleax from Celia’s grip.
He swapped her out for Katja as the poleax clattered to the ground nearby. “Psychic!”
The Espea’s eyes glowed again. Suddenly she shrieked and fell sideways as Lorelei launched the poleax at her, using telekinesis once more. The poleax buried itself in her leg with sound of a cleaver hitting a side of beef. Katja’s body jerked violently as the electricity flowed through her.
Using her own telekinesis, the Espea finally managed to tear the weapon free of her leg. Feather shuriken slashed at her as she used psychic once more.
Both pokegirls screamed and toppled under the assaults. Shikarou cursed when the Sphinx didn’t move. He recovered her and released Elizabeth again as Katja pushed herself upright, moaning as her leg refused to take her weight. Blood spread in a growing pool around her prone form.
“Rory scores once more! Another point to the Polass gym and its illustrious leader!”
“I’m going to pole her ass,” Candace growled.
Shikarou grinned at the image her words conjured in his mind. He refocused. “Elizabeth, take the Espea down.”
The Vampire raised a hand, palm pointed at the Espea. Katja screeched and dropped to her knees as energy poured from her body in a swirling cloud to stream across the arena towards Elizabeth. It sank into her hand and vanished as the Espea slowly toppled sideways.
Elizabeth shivered as she absorbed the energy collected in the mega drain attack. “Yummy.”
Jacqueline hissed in anger. “Katja has been cruelly defeated. Point to the evil marauder.”
“What’s my score?” Shikarou asked in a loud voice.
She glared back at him. “You have four points while our glorious leader has three.”
“I just love your impartiality.” The OfficerJenny
purpled at his words but remained silent.
Rory released Celia. “Chi blast! Avenge your sisters!” The Armsmistress grabbed her poleax and charged across the arena, releasing a bolt of chi energy that took Elizabeth in the chest.
The Vampire staggered but finished her spell. The fireball detonated a half meter in front of Celia, engulfing her in flames before the blast picked her up and threw her skidding backwards.
Celia slowly climbed to her feet, her armor charred and blackened. She used chi blast again as she lurched into motion once more, her armor grinding as she strode forward.
The chi bolt knocked Elizabeth to the ground. She rolled to her feet and used mega drain again.
As the energy was sucked from her in a glowing cloud, the Armsmistress crashed face-first into the soft ground of the arena.
Elizabeth smacked her lips. “Tastes like turkey.”
Rory cursed loudly, earning him a sympathetic look from the OfficerJenny
. She sighed and raised her flag. “Celia is unable to continue. Point to,” she waved in Shikarou’s general direction, “him.”
Candace giggled against his back. “She’s so angry.”
Shikarou chuckled as he recovered Elizabeth. “Of course she is. She’s beginning to realize that she’s been rooting for the wrong side.”
“I heard that!”
Shikarou tapped his throat-mike gently. “I’m glad to see this is working.” He smiled sweetly. “Next time you can be on my side.”
“Never! My loyalty is to the Polass Gym!”
“Which is beginning to look like it may be mine before this day is over. Then I shall command your loyalty.” He grinned lasciviously. “That should prove to be fun for both of us.”
“Never, not in a million years!”
Shikarou released Bellona. “It’s time for you to play.”
looked around slowly. “I don’t have a playmate.” Her armor flowed up her body.
“Rory’s a little slow today.”
The gym leader snarled. “You will pay for this!”
Shikarou snickered. “So far the price has been pretty cheap.” Candace plucked Elizabeth’s pokeball from his belt as he put his hands on his waist. “Release my next victim or forfeit.”
Rory muttered something too low for the throat mike to pickup and released a pokegirl Shikarou had never seen before. She was tall, nearly two meters in height and her skin and armor was a pale green. “Masha, quick attack.”
“Bell, dragon breath.”
Masha is an Assasara, a bug/steel type. They are very aggressive. They are strong to bug, psychic, dark, rock, plant, and poison. Weaknesses are fire, ground and fighting techniques.
None of which Bellona has. She needs to learn more spells.
Masha’s attack smashed Bellona back a step. The Assasara was in and out too quickly for Bellona’s dragon breath to score.
“She doesn’t hit very hard,” Bellona reported.
Energy level check.
Just a moment. There was a brief pause. Bellona has several levels on Masha.
Does she now? That changes things. This just became an endurance battle.
“Masha, quick attack.”
“Bellona, dragon rage.”
The Assasara smacked Bellona again and leaped back out as Bellona glowed and released a horizontal arc of energy that swept the entire battlefield in front of her. Masha staggered from the hit.
Rory hissed. “Masha, metal sound.”
“Bellona, use gust.” The eerie noise Masha made when she rubbed the armor on her arms together made everyone in the area wince. Shikarou, whose range of hearing was much wider than anyone else in the room, ground his teeth together hard enough to crack one of them.
’s gust attack smacked the Assasara backwards in a spray of sand.
“Bell, use dragon breath again.”
“Masha! Cross shield!” Energy glowed in front of the Assasara as she deflected most of Bellona’s attack harmlessly around her and then she disappeared, appearing directly in front of the surprised DragonQueen
. Her armored fists smashed into Bellona’s chest armor.
Bellona reacted almost instantly, using blur to open the distance between her and her opponent. “That fucking hurt!”
Shikarou nodded to himself. “That metal sound attack lowered your defenses. More of her hit got through.”
“She’s not going to do that again.” Bellona sounded like she was starting to lose her temper.
Rory apparently had other ideas. “Masha, use metal sound again!”
Shikarou growled. “Not this time, bitch. Bellona, dominate.”
’s eyes glowed as she brought her will to bear on the Assasara. Masha had started to rub the armor on her arms together again, but froze under the power of Bellona’s mental assault.
The sound of cursing from both Rory and the OfficerJenny
drifted across the arena to Shikarou. Candace snickered.
“Bellona, dragon breath.” Energy blasted across the helpless Assasara even as Rory reached for his pokeball. Masha smashed into the wall behind her and slid limply to the ground, leaving a trail of blood behind.
Shikarou recalled Bellona and handed the pokeball to Candace. “Next.” He smiled viciously and released Pythia. Her blue fur was now charcoal and her solid black eyes gleamed in the light.
Rory scanned her with his pokedex and cursed loudly. “That’s not fair! She doesn’t have an entry.”
“G-Spliced is a legitimate pokegirl. It just happens to be rather vague on any of the details.”
Rory glared and released his Randysnatch. “Ovdotia, dig!” In a spray of dirt, the pokegirl ripped into the ground and disappeared from view.
Pythia didn’t wait for the command before using tectonic slam, her foot glowing as she stomped. The shockwave shook the arena and the ground spat the Randysnatch out in a spray of rocks and dirt. She struggled to her feet, wincing and favoring her right shoulder.
Shikarou nodded once. “Ice beam.”
The Randysnatch rolled forward until the ice beam smashed into her in a cloud of supercooled vapor. When the vapor cleared, it revealed a tremendous block of ice with a curled up Randysnatch in the middle of it, caught in mid roll.
Shikarou smiled widely. “OfficerJenny
Jacqueline, does that count as being unable to battle?”
Jacqueline glared. Before she could speak, Rory nodded. “I have no more pokegirls, you insufferable bastard. If you won’t let me recover her, then I must yield.”
Shikarou looked thoughtful for a few seconds. “I will allow it, if only so your defeat is absolutely complete.”
Rory recovered his pokegirl and released her again into the arena. “This battle isn’t over yet. Ovdotia, buzzsaw.”
“Shadow dash.” Pythia vanished and appeared in the Randysnatch’s shadow. Her blow smashed Ovdotia in the middle of the back. The Randysnatch flew across the length of the arena and crashed into the wall beneath Shikarou.
Shikarou smiled. “Yes, I think it is over. Jackie?”
“You will refer to me as Officer!” She glared and raised her flag. “Gym Leader Rory Alistier can no longer battle. The match goes to his opponent, who will remain nameless.”
Shikarou sneered. “I’d say you were a magnificent opponent, Rory, but it would be a lie. You were so easy to beat. Pathetic. I don’t even want a memento of this match, much less control of such a crappy gym.” He shook his head sadly. “Turn the cameras off and spare the viewers.”
A voice echoed through the arena’s speakers. “Sound is off. Five seconds. Four. Three. Two. One. And we’re clear.”
Shikarou recovered Pythia and Candace before heading over to the judge’s station to meet Rory. He sighed and stripped off the mask and scarf with relief. His ears flicked wildly in all directions as he made sure they still worked right.
shook her head and grimaced. “Don’t you think that speech was a bit much?”
Rory grinned. “Actually, it was perfect. Good match, Shikarou.” He held out his hand.
Shikarou took it. “Yes, it was. But that show variant was a bitch to work with. I don’t normally talk during a battle, except to my pokegirls.”
Rory nodded. “It can throw a Tamer if they aren’t used to it. I repeat what I said earlier, you would do well in WAPL.”
“No, thanks.” He shook his head. “Let’s get our pokegirls healed. I’m sure you have someone to pummel in a little while.”
“I certainly hope so.” He smiled. “I’ll need to see it from the perspective of the audience, but we just may have an outstanding broadcast. Hell, I may save it for Saturday and just put out some teasers until then.”
He held up his fist. “Here’s your badge. Considering you were the bad guy, we can’t really have an award ceremony, unless you really want to rub your victory in my face.” He didn’t look enthusiastic about the idea.
“It was a good battle and I have no desire to try to humiliate you, Rory.” Shikarou grinned. “Besides, I don’t do the voluble malevolent type very well.”
Rory smiled with relief. “That suits me perfectly well. You know, you’ve got some very good pokegirls. I don’t suppose you would be interested in trading any of them to me?” He sounded hopeful.
Shikarou decided to put a halt to that immediately. “No. None of my pokegirls are available for sale or trade.”
“I figured it would be that way.” Rory nodded. “When a Tamer reaches our level, they usually don’t want to trade unless they have a problem they’re trying to get rid of.” He grimaced. “I got burned on that recently myself.”
Shikarou shrugged. “I won’t presume to speak for anyone else, but I happen to be rather attached to my harem.”
Rory cocked his head questioningly. “Shikarou, you’re from the Blue League, right?”
Shikarou frowned at the sudden change of topic. “That’s what my Tamer entry says.” His ears canted questioningly.
“I happened to get my hands on a pokegirl that is supposed to be from the Blue League. I can’t get her to speak anything but gibberish, even with a speech T2. She won’t obey me either and she’s not enthusiastic about being tamed.” He shrugged. “If nothing else, I thought you could release her back into the wild if you can’t get any use out of her.”
“I thought the whole idea was to remove pokegirls from the wilderness, not the reverse.”
Jacqueline nodded. “Normally that’s the case, but in rare cases they can be released.”
“The Blue League prefers that pokegirls like that be put down.” Shikarou’s voice was bland. “I don’t agree with it, but it is the law.”
Rory nodded. “I’m hoping that since your Mini-Top is unusually stable, you might be able to help her.”
Shikarou sighed. “You’re working very hard to make me feel guilty if I don’t help. What’s next, you appeal to my Seraph?”
“I’d only do that if I needed to.” Rory grinned. “I was hoping not to be that blatant.”
“You want me to take a pokegirl that you can’t communicate with, who doesn’t seem to want to obey you and would rather go feral. She’s not lesbian, is she?”
“No, I got her from a female Tamer who said she would sleep with both sexes, like most pokegirls. She had no luck with her either.” Rory shrugged. “Do I need to talk to your Seraph?”
Shikarou briefly contemplated the jet of blood that would appear if he just flattened Rory’s nose. Jacqueline blinked and moved between them.
He met the OfficerJenny
’s worried gaze for a moment and then smiled. She relaxed. “If I understand you correctly, this is a gift, right?”
“Yes. She’s yours, free and clear, if you’ll take her off of my hands right away.” He shrugged. “If you have to think about it and I find someone who’ll take her, then I won’t keep her for you.”
Shikarou looked amused. “Very well, under those conditions, I’ll take her.”
Rory beamed. “Excellent. Wait here for just a moment, I’ll go get her.” He trotted off.
Shikarou watched him leave with an unreadable expression before turning to the OfficerJenny
. “I want to get my pokegirls healed.”
Jacqueline nodded. “This way.” She led him to a healing machine.
A short time later Rory made another appearance. He handed Shikarou a pokeball. “Here you go.”
Shikarou sighed. “I suppose I should say thanks.” He frowned. “I’m going to presume that you had her scanned by psychic pokegirl. What did she find?”
“Sorry, I didn’t have her scanned. I’ve only got my Slowboob and she’s not good at filtering thoughts selectively.”
“Lovely. Let’s see what I’ve won.” He pushed the button on the newly acquired pokeball.
The beam coalesced into a mottled blue gray form. She stood around a meter and a half with storm cloud gray eyes and shoulder length blue hair. She swept the room with an unhappy gaze before stopping to glare at Rory.
She is a Wet Elf. They are found usually around the Blue Continent and are a water and magic type. There is a colony of them off the southern coast of Caomh Sith. Lynn has an agreement with them to provide security around the harbor.
Rory pointed at Shikarou and said slowly, in a very loud voice. “He is going to be your new Tamer.”
The pokegirl turned to look him up and down with disdainful gray eyes. <You look like a dog I once ate. It was pretty stupid too.>
Shikarou raised an eyebrow as Rory nodded. “That’s that gibberish I was talking about.”
The kami gave him a quick glance. “That’s not gibberish. It’s Gaelic.” He spoke to the Wet Elf. <I’m not a dog and if you want to try me, we’ll just see who eats whom.> He grinned and she blinked at his fangs.
<Finally, I’ve found someone who speaks a civilized tongue.> Her face lit up in a hopeful smile. <Can you take me away from here? There is nothing here but barbarians who speak that barbaric English and some foreign babble.> She sniffed. <I am Irish and want nothing to do with anything from England.>
The Caomh Sith colony is fervently Scot. It appears to be some kind of cultural trait.
<I live in Scotland, not far from a colony of Scottish Wet Elves. Is that going to be a problem?>
She frowned. <I have no truck with the Scots, but neither do I bear them any ill will. I would not join them, however, nor is it likely they would want me. If you will have me, you will be my Tamer.> She bowed gracefully. <My name is Roisin.>
Rory’s eyebrows had climbed almost out of sight in his hair. “You speak that babble?”
Shikarou smiled slightly. “She thinks the same of English and Russian. That it’s babble.”
“You’ll take her then?”
Shikarou glanced at her hopeful expression. “I will.” The Wet Elf suddenly hugged him. <You understand English.>
<I never said I didn’t. That I chose not to converse in the language of a barbarian doesn’t mean I can’t understand them.>
Rory watched them with an odd expression. “Sometimes I think she understands me.”
Shikarou watched Roisin’s face go carefully blank. “That’s an interesting theory.” He recalled her to her pokeball. “We need to transfer her to my possession.”
“Are you going to tame her right away?”
“Without meaning any offense, this place has too many cameras for my taste.” Shikarou looked around with a faintly suspicious air. “The women in my harem tend to not care for public tamings, except during a sexbattle.”
Rory frowned. “You mean pokegirls. There are no women in a harem.”
Jacqueline looked suddenly uncomfortable.
Shikarou smiled humorlessly. “I didn’t speak incorrectly. Pokegirls are as much a part of humanity as you are and deserve the same respect as other humans.”
Rory made a dismissive motion. “I disagree.” He shook his head. “I have to go prepare for my next match. It was a pleasure, Shikarou, but not one I’m in any hurry to repeat.” He turned and strode confidently away, only to pause. “I’ll make sure the Elf is transferred to your ownership.” He quickly disappeared down a hall.
“Why didn’t you include yourself?” Shikarou blinked and turned to the OfficerJenny
Jacqueline crossed her arms. “You didn’t include yourself in your comments about pokegirls and humans.”
“That’s incorrect,” he replied blandly.
“I heard you.”
“What you heard me say was that pokegirls are part of humanity. I certainly didn’t divide pokegirls from humanity. That would have left me with no point to be made. So, what you should have heard is that pokegirls are human, so they can be referred to with the word ‘human’.”
Her mouth firmed. “I suppose that’s right. However it doesn’t change the fact that you didn’t include yourself with Rory in your explanation.”
“Do you think that if I disagree with Rory on such a fundamental issue that I would want to include myself with him in anything?”
She looked startled. “I didn’t consider that.”
“I’m not surprised.” He sighed as he looked around. “I don’t suppose you know the way out of this maze. If you do, would you kindly show me to the front door? I have someplace I need to be.”
She smiled. “Your dinner date?”
Jacqueline looked shocked. “You really have one.”
“If I said I did, then I do. It’ll be me and my alpha, Branwyn.” He flashed a quick grin. “Do you know any good places to eat?”
An hour later, Branwyn was looking at a bowl of borsht. “I’m supposed to eat this, right?”
“It’s a beet soup. If you don’t want it, slide it over.”
“What’s the main course?” She eyed his bowl with suspicion. “What are you having?”
Shikarou gave her a sour look. “It’s a soup made from cabbage, pickle brine and cucumbers. Its also got olives, capers, tomatoes, lemons, lemon juice, kvas, and pickled mushrooms.”
“Neither sounds great. So I ask again, what’s the main course?”
“Pelmeni. It’s a dumpling filled with sausage, lamb and beef.”
“That, I can eat.” Branwyn pushed the bowl at her husband. “Enjoy.”
“Thanks. Dessert is Sambouk. It’s kind of like a mousse and it’s made with plums.” Shikarou went back to his soup.
“That sounds good.” She reached over and dipped her spoon into the borsht. After licking the spoon she suddenly looked surprised and pulled the bowl back. “I can eat this.” A snort. “Unlike your pickle brine.”
“It’s actually quite good. I’m getting the recipe for Helen.”
“I suspect I’m not going to be thanking you for that.” She finished her soup and settled back as the waitress bustled up to take the bowl away and refresh her hot tea.
She watched him eat contemplatively for few minutes. “So what is it that you’re hiding?”
“I can feel it in your mind. You’re hiding something. I think its something that happened after the victory against Rory.”
Shikarou smiled. “That’s rather annoying.”
She smirked. “Do you want to know what’s annoying to me? I can’t access your mind without going through our bond, but by doing that I’m limited to what you want me to find or the few things you can’t control. That is annoying.”
He watched the waitress, a smiling Ingénue, take away his bowl and begin setting up for the main course. “Rory gave me a pokegirl.”
Branwyn nodded. “Is this the secret you’re keeping?”
“I’m not sure if you’d classify her as a secret. She’s a Wet Elf.”
The Unicorn looked surprised. “I didn’t know there were any around here. Where did Rory get her from?”
“According to him, he acquired her from a female Tamer. He didn’t give any other details. I think he figured he came out worst on a trade and didn’t want to dwell on it.”
Branwyn flashed a grin. “There was also the little fact that you’d just beaten him in a pokegirl battle. That probably didn’t help his temper.”
“Probably not. Her name is Roisin and she’s from a colony off of the coast of Ireland somewhere.”
Branwyn looked interested. “I haven’t visited them, but I do remember Lynn telling me that the kingdom off of the coast of Caomh Sith was almost violently Scot. She was laughing at them because they wanted to know if she knew of a way to play bagpipes underwater.”
“Do they refuse to speak anything other than Gaelic?”
“That’s right; she did mention that little fact. How did you know that?”
“Roisin is the same way. How many members of the harem speak Gaelic?”
She frowned. “You and I are fluent. Elizabeth can curse in it.” A nod. “I think that’s it. Oh, Misaki can speak some and Gwyneth is fluent. Lynn and Molly can make themselves understood although Molly knows mainly stock phrases like ‘hands up’ and ‘come along quietly or you’ll get hurt’.”
“I think most of the active harem is going to have to learn it, unless we can get Roisin to start speaking English.”
Branwyn looked thoughtful. “Gaelic is too well known in the Blue League to use as a battle language, but learning a new language can’t hurt anyone too much. Besides, it is used in the Scotland and Ireland regions. Not as much as English is, but it’s still in use.”
She watched the waitress put down the platter of Pelmeni. The dumplings rested on a bed of vegetables and came with a rich brown bread. “That looks good.”
She frowned and held up a utensil. “What is this?”
Shikarou gave her an odd look. “It’s a fork.”
“Oh.” She peered closely at it. “I think I remember using something like this.” She sighed. “I’ve got this crazy Tamer who makes us eat with sticks.”
“Maybe he’s got your best interests at heart.”
She shook her head. “I think he’s just sadistic. The reason he made us switch to sticks isn’t even valid anymore.”
“I suppose you’re right.” He raised an eyebrow. “Do you trust Nanu next to you with one?”
Branwyn gave him an annoyed look. “Thanks for spoiling my dream.”
“No problem, my love.”
The Unicorn glanced up at her husband as she started filling her plate. “Are you intending to keep her?” She smiled sweetly. “The Wet Elf, not Nanu.”
“I don’t know much about them, but we’ve been lamenting the fact that we don’t have a water type for some time. This might just alleviate that need.”
Branwyn nodded. “We need to evolve her quickly to Wet Lass or even to Wet Queen. That will increase her usefulness by several orders of magnitude. When are you going to tame her?”
“I want to give her a few days to settle in. She didn’t seem frantic for a taming, and we’ve got the time to spare before we hit the time we came from.” He shook his head. “Now there is an awkward sentence.”
Branwyn snickered quietly and tried the dumplings. “These are good! What did you call them again?”
“This recipe you can give to Helen.” She stuffed another one into her mouth and spoke around it in a muffled tone. “I’ll tell the others to help Roisin settle in. Consider it done.”
Name: Urufu, Shikarou
Residence: Caomh Sith, Blue Continent
Security Clearance: Eta
Master Tamer Y
Species Name Level
Alaka-Wham Circe 72
Unicorn Branwyn 61
Milktit Helen 59
Seraph Dorothea 52
Armsmistress Urufu Yushiko 52
Vampire Elizabeth 50
G-Spliced Pythia 50
Sphinx Lorelei 47
Mini-Top Nanu 47
Badges: Scotland: Stornoway, Rum Island, Glasgow
Wales: Magicunt Village
Ruby League: Polass Gym