Chapter 23: Fallout
(02/16/93 0900 Cheyenne Wyoming, United States of America)
Shikarou settled back and looked over his table with satisfaction. That first night in the hotel had been a disaster. He suspected that some of it had been his fault; after all he didn’t bring more than one pokegirl at a time to his bed unless they wanted it, and Elizabeth and Dorothea were not into sharing. Yushiko had shared him before, but it wasn’t her preferred method of spending nights with her Tamer either.
He’d picked Yushiko to sleep with, which annoyed Elizabeth and hurt Dorothea’s feelings. After working through the unhappy pokegirls, not only did he not get to tame anyone, then he had to sleep in that bed, which wasn’t his own and smelled funny.
Granted, thanks to all of the hydrocarbons in the air, everything smelled at least slightly wrong, but still that bed was nasty and even a cleaning spell didn’t make it a lot better.
So, the next morning he and Branwyn had bought some maps and picked up some brochures and now the tent was set up north of Cheyenne, somewhere along Horse Creek but south of the community bearing the same name.
Last night had been relatively normal and Helen was ecstatic to have her kitchen back. Circe and Pythia were taking turns watching the hospital and would warn them if anything changed.
An assault team had been stationed at the hospital since the attack and Shikarou wasn’t excited about trying to get in to see Jamie until after the furor had died down. That didn’t look like it would happen until after Naruhito had left.
At Helen’s request, he did take Yushiko out and go shopping for cookbooks. Once it had been known that they were going out, Yushiko had been given requests from everyone in the harem. Now just about every flat surface was covered with magazines, books and just about any other kind of print media you could imagine. Kebi even had some coloring books and crayons and was happily ignoring the lines. She sometimes ignored the entire book as well, which had horrified Helen’s sensibilities when she found crayon scribbled all over the table, including the legs and underside.
Unfortunately, all of these purchases required money. While Shikarou could have easily copied the paper bills, Dorothea had requested that he not do anything like that unless it was absolutely necessary
The upshot of this was that the local drug dealers had been heavily assaulted during the last two nights and many of them were off somewhere else, licking their wounds. Shikarou was hoping they finished up soon, he suspected that in a very short while they were going to start running out of criminals who were willing to contribute to his shopping.
His reverie was interrupted by Aggie. Your made up phone number is being called by Naruhito. He is being released in two hours and is ready to return to Japan.
“Tell him I’ll meet him when he’s released.” He raised his voice. “Branwyn, strike camp. We’ve got work to do.” Pythia, Naruhito is going to be released soon. Be careful, they might sweep the area before letting him leave.
(02/16/93 1200 Cheyenne Wyoming, United States of America)
His Imperial Highness Prince Naruhito stepped out of the hospital and looked around carefully as his bodyguard followed closely behind. A block down the street Yushiko stood and she gave him a small wave when he looked her way. He spoke to his bodyguard and the two of them walked down to her.
She smiled at him as he approached. “Your Highness.” She nodded to the guard. “Toshi. My master was growing concerned when you weren’t released on time. He fears for your safety.”
Naruhito scowled. “Fine doctors they might have here in America, but their tests are endless and they didn’t want to let me go until they understood my remarkable recovery.”
“We thought it might be something like that.” She glanced past him to watch a woman go walking by. It was lunchtime and the streets were far from empty. “Do you have anything you need to get before we leave?”
“No. Everything was lost in the crash or the fire that followed. I was brought straight here and never got a chance to replace my wardrobe.” He smiled slightly. “I even had to borrow this suit from Toshi.”
She nodded. “Please, come with me.” She led them down the alley and onto the next block. Looking both ways, she turned and led them another block and into another alley.
She looked at Shikarou. “We have a problem, he’s being tracked. I saw the same woman twice in two different places. It was probably two of the same litter of pokegirl, it was unlikely she could have moved so fast and known where we were going.”
He nodded. “Let me check.” He dropped his hat and kicked it out of the alley. When he went to retrieve it, he glanced both ways before returning. “You are right. He’s being stalked by a pair of Garters. That’s all I could see, if there is a hit team in position there will be more of them.”
Naruhito frowned as Toshi pulled out his pistol. “What are you going to do?”
Shikarou eyed the gun. “What I am not going to do is have a pitched battle in the middle of Cheyenne at lunchtime. Fortunately I planned to move quickly once you became available. Come on.”
He led them further down the alley and around a dumpster that had been moved to almost completely block the passageway. Branwyn waited on the other side. “Naruhito, this is Branwyn. She’ll be transporting us to Tomakomai.”
He bowed. “I am very grateful for this.”
She smiled. “Thank you, but we really need to get moving before those Garters find you.”
“How did…” he broke off. “Yes.”
The Unicorn offered her hands. “Each of you will take one of my hands and we’ll be off. I’ll return and get Shikarou and Yushiko in a moment.”
The prince and his guard each took one of Branwyn’s hands and they vanished as Yushiko picked up her swords from where they’d been hidden behind the dumpster. “That is much better. I’ll be even happier when I’m back in my armor, but this helps me to not feel naked.”
Shikarou used his wand and suddenly she was wearing her Armsmistress armor. She laughed. “Thank you, my lord.” She shifted the armor slightly.
Branwyn appeared. “I’m ready for the next lot of transportees.” Shikarou could see the weariness in her eyes. Transporting people became rapidly more stressful as the number of people being transported increased on a given trip and all of the evidence they’d gathered indicated that the difficulty increased on a logarithmic scale instead of being cumulative.
“Take Yushiko. I’ll wait until you come back.” He smiled when Branwyn looked like she was going to object. “If the Garters come in here, I can move somewhere else and you can always find me. Hell, I’ll go ahead and move as soon as you leave to make it more difficult for them.” She blinked. “In addition to that, I have Pythia, Lorelei, Dorothea and Circe available if I get into a fight.”
She frowned. “Very well, but if you get yourself killed I’ll be pissed.”
“Me too.” Yushiko warned.
Shikarou snorted. “Me three. I have no intention of dying anytime soon. Now go before our prince gets cold.”
As soon as they vanished, Shikarou hopped on top of the dumpster and leaped straight up, catching himself on the wall and climbing quickly to the roof. He peeked over the side to watch one of the Garters peer into the alley and move on without noticing his presence.
Branwyn appeared behind him. “Ready to go?”
“More than,” was the curt reply.
The Unicorn took his hand and they appeared on the road up the mountain, a handful of kilometers outside of Tomakomai.
Naruhito was waiting for them with Yushiko. He looked impatient and Toshi was nowhere to be seen. He spoke in Japanese. <I sent Toshi on ahead to contact the police department and arrange for an escort.>
Shikarou nodded. <Good. Someone is making a serious effort to kill you. Hopefully returning to Japan will stymie their plans.> He watched with approval as Yushiko translated for her alpha.
Naruhito looked around quickly before giving him a curious look. <Is this where your shrine will be built?>
<No, it will be built about a kilometer from the Yoshihara home, but, yes, it will be on the mountain.>
<You know of them?> Naruhito sounded surprised.
<Of course I do.> He ignored the fact that Naruhito was obviously waiting for him to elaborate.
Things were silent for about ten minutes, until the first police were seen in the distance. <Will I see you again?>
<No.> Shikarou grinned. <But if your descendants come around in three hundred years or so, I should be back in the area.>
<I will tell them.> Naruhito bowed deeply to the surprised Shikarou. <I am grateful for what you have done and will not forget your actions.>
<I would rather you remember what I told you. Teach your children to make Japan strong enough to be the leader in Edo.>
<I will remember your words as I will remember your actions.>
Shikarou was quiet for a moment. <They are not monsters. They are called pokegirls and they are in many ways more human than the man who made them. They should be treated with the respect they deserve.>
Naruhito frowned. <They have killed many of my people, but I will remember your words.> His frowned deepened. <I will even try to get my father to listen to them, but all of Japan is angry and frightened.>
Shikarou’s voice was soft. <I understand.> He watched the oncoming police. <We must leave. I will not put my women in danger and I will not stay to answer the questions of mortals who cannot seem to understand that no matter how many times they ask the same question, my answer will not change.>
Naruhito chuckled. <You have dealt with the press, I see.> They exchanged an amused look and then Shikarou and his women disappeared into the woods and were gone.
(02/16/93 1330 Cheyenne Wyoming, United States of America)
Shikarou waited in the lobby of the hospital while the new security guard came through and let his German Shepard Dog sniff all of the women. Apparently someone in authority had been confusing pokegirls with creatures from the movie Terminator and Terminator 2.
Upon reflection, he realized that many pokegirls would smell different enough to be identified as such, but most of them would be easily identified visually as well. And even if a dog did sniff out a pokegirl, many of them didn’t smell like anything a dog would associate as an enemy or something to be feared. Their animal type characteristics were just too varied for any non-intelligent identification system to succeed.
In any case, Shikarou’s nose was more sensitive than a dog’s and all he could smell was disinfectant and cheap perfume. Underneath it was the faint but sharp smell of rotting blood from the attack.
His illusion smell was keeping anyone from noticing that there was anything out of the ordinary with him and he tipped his hat at a nurse as he got into the elevator. Pokegirls didn’t use them and the assault team wouldn’t have trusted them in an emergency so the elevators weren’t disturbed during the attack and worked perfectly well.
The nurse gave him a broad smile as the doors closed. “Are you here to see a friend?”
“Yeah, I’m here to see someone on fourteen.” He returned the smile. “Jamie Harris.”
She frowned. “You don’t know? He was released an hour ago.” She looked thoughtful. “I think he already caught a ride to the airport.”
Shikarou tried very hard not to stare in shock. “No, I wasn’t aware of that.” He gave her a sickly smile. “I guess I’m wasting my time here.” His smile firmed. “I got to meet you, so it wasn’t a total loss.”
She flushed slightly and managed to look embarrassed and interested at the same time. “Thanks, but I’m seeing someone.”
He flashed teeth in a grin. “The story of my life.”
Are you looking to date outside the harem? Branwyn sounded annoyed.
He blinked. Sorry. I’m not sure what was going on. She’s not really that interesting but you are right. I was coming on to her.
When was the last time you got laid?
Before we came here, so it’s been a couple of days. Why?
Get off at the next floor and find a closet. You are starting to act like you do have Tamer’s Disease. What is the nurse doing?
The nurse was staring at the floor, but Shikarou’s nose said she was definitely interested and becoming more so. He pressed the button for the next floor and quickly got off. The nurse watched him with hot eyes and made an abortive motion to get off as well but was cut off by the closing doors.
He ducked into a men’s room and checked the stalls to make sure there was no one else in here with him. Ok, I’m isolated and alone.
Lorelei appeared and took his hand. “The rest of the harem has cruelly offered me up as a sacrifice for you.” She nuzzled his cheek. “I’m supposed to take you back to the tent and beg your mercy.” She ran a hand down and cupped his groin. Shikarou’s eyes closed as she rubbed him. Her breath was warm in his ear. “Will you be gentle with me?”
“No,” he whispered.
“Good,” she whispered back and they vanished. A few minutes later, the nurse checked to see if he was in there.
(02/16/93 2230 Cheyenne Wyoming, United States of America)
Branwyn frowned. “Will she live?”
“Ha. Ha.” Shikarou shook his head slowly. “I didn’t hurt Lorelei.”
She grinned. “Your room is soundproofed and we still heard noises coming out of there. You two were certainly doing something.”
“That was her. So she’s a little loud.”
“What where you two doing?” Her expression was an interesting blend of curiosity and anticipation.
Shikarou looked around to make sure they were alone. “Well, if you must know it was,” he paused and she leaned forward, “none of your business.”
Branwyn gave him a pout. “I hate you.”
He chuckled in response. “We need to find Jamie and that may be somewhat difficult. I knew from his journal that he spent time here, but after that he was very depressed and didn’t make detailed entries until after he met Poppet in early 1996. So we will know where he is in three years. However, I don’t want to hang around here for that long if I can avoid it.”
“Circe knows what his mind feels like.” Branwyn settled against him with a sigh of pleasure. “Perhaps she can find him.”
“I hope so. This year the Bloody Flu hits and next year several governments nuke Typhonna repeatedly. I’d rather be far away from all of that.” He sighed. “We’re going to have to come out inside Alexandria and undergo decon before we do anything else anyways, but radioactive decontamination can be time consuming.”
Branwyn suddenly looked contemplative. “It’s a shame we can’t find Cologne.” She smirked. “I could probably kick her ass right now and she’s always treated me like I was an idiot.”
He gave her a firm look. “No side trips, not even for pleasure.”
“Spoilsport. It’s night outside, so shall we set Circe to looking?”
“Please. I’ll get with Aggie and start accessing satellite photos for when we are ready to move.”
She nodded and leaned over to give him a quick kiss. “And don’t forget to get tamed.”
He dramatically held a hand over his heart. “Start the normal rotation tomorrow night. Is that enough for you?”
“Only if you also start your normal daytime activities, at least while we are camped.”
“Very well.” He watched her leave and settled back. “Aggie, I’m going to need access to satellite photographs of areas where Jamie Harris might go. Just use the best ones available, don’t try commandeering any until and unless I specifically ask for it.”
Very well. I’ll see what I can put together. I’ll also start accessing regional banks and hotels in areas where flights that originated or connected to the Cheyenne airport have landed to see if he’s used credit cards or stayed at any hotels.
“Good thinking. If this doesn’t pan out I may have to pretend to be some kind of policeman and start asking employees at the airports about a one-armed man and that will be some hard work with slim rewards.” He frowned. “Blood and darkness but this is going to suck.”
“Did someone mention blood and sucking?” Elizabeth plopped down next to him and curled up against his side.
He gave her a suspicious look. “Did Branwyn send you out here to keep me company?”
“Me?” She looked shocked and then grinned. “Yes, but I’m happy to be here.” She sighed. “Besides, I wanted to talk to you about something serious.”
He draped an arm around her. “What is it?”
“Dorothea keeps offering to bless me, and while I tried to ignore her for a while, I’ve been recently thinking about it. Are you happy with me?”
“Very much so,” Shikarou replied without hesitation. “You’re cute, cuddly, bright and useful. I like all of those things and I am very happy with you. However, if this is something that you decide you want to do, I will support you fully in your decision, even if it leads to you eventually becoming a Redeemer or an Angel.” He snorted. “Even if it would make me feel like I was neck deep in Celestial pokegirls.”
“Neck deep?” She grinned and nuzzled his shoulder. “I like necks.”
“Between Dorothea and Yushiko, I’m already bloody waist deep. It’s like I’m standing in this big pool of Celestial ooze.” Elizabeth giggled at his words. “However, if you feel you have to throw another barrel full of the stuff on me, then you are important enough to me that I guess I would help you to do it.”
She hugged him. “Thanks for being supportive. How do pokegirls outside our harem get along without you?”
He looked thoughtful and then grinned. “Badly?” She laughed and hugged him again. “If you do decide to go that route, would you please tell me so I can watch? Uh, I mean, so I know what to expect.”
She poked him. “You are low and evil minded man. That is so nice.” She sighed and laid her head on his shoulder. “I’m going to think about it for a while before making any decision.” A slender finger traced over his wrist. “There are a lot of things to consider. I’d have to give up your blood, for instance, and it tastes sooo good.”
“On the other hand, I could eat popcorn again.” She glanced at him. “Dorothea pointed out that our babies would not be Vampires if I evolved, but right now the whole idea of having a baby just weirds me out.”
“I can understand that.” He smiled when she gave him a questioning look. “After all, you are still nursing yourself.”
She smacked him.
(02/17/93 0800 Cheyenne Wyoming, United States of America)
I have a possible lead. All flights from Cheyenne go to Denver and it closed yesterday evening due to a flying pokegirl taking out a plane that was attempting to land there. She’s thought to still be in the area so all flights are still grounded and they are still cleaning up the wreckage. Apparently she dumped her target across several runways.
“Ladies, it sounds like we are going to Denver. Branwyn, we leave ASAP. Pythia, are you up to a short flight at low level and high speed?”
It is about 152 kilometers or 95 miles to Denver.
Pythia grinned. “For you, I suppose I could muster the effort.” They shared a smile. “I’ll leave in five minutes.”
Branwyn touched his shoulder. “We’ll be ready to leave in five minutes as well. I just have to drag Helen out of the kitchen by an ear.”
“Good. Make it happen. I do not want to have to chase Jamie all over the US and Canada.”
Five minutes later, Pythia raced off into the distance. Branwyn collapsed the camp as Shikarou started putting pokegirls up.
When they were done, he sighed. “Do we start south or do we wait for Pythia?”
Her response was immediate. “Wait. She won’t take long and then we can go straight there.” She paused. “Do you have a plan?”
“Several, but I think I know which one I’m going to go with.”
A few minutes later Pythia appeared and circled in to a landing. “There’s a Neo Iczel floating around the airport so we’re going to need to be careful. It turns out she’s there to keep the airport closed while another group destroys some railroad bridges south of Denver.” She stretched. “I told her that I was bringing in a human agent who was casing the airport for destruction.”
“How’d she take that?”
“She griped about the right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing and if they’d just give her the orders she’d destroy it and you wouldn’t have to examine the airport at all.” She grinned. “I think she’s horny and the thought of a friendly male excites her.” Her ears canted as she gave Shikarou a curious look.
“I can imagine she wouldn’t be happy to find out she’d been tricked after she was bonded to me.” Shikarou kept his voice droll. “I can also imagine that she’d take at least part of that ire out on me. Pass.”
Pythia nodded. “Good choice.” She glanced at Branwyn. “Don’t you have somewhere to be?”
“Don’t get cocky.” Branwyn turned to her husband. “Do me, baby.”
Shikarou smiled and recalled her to her pokeball. “Let’s get this done.”
“I’ll stay outside, ready to rescue you if you need it.”
“That works for me. I haven’t been without a guard for so long I’m going to feel naked as it is.”
Pythia slipped her arm through his. “Be careful. I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“I will. You too.”
She dropped him off on the top of the parking garage. Since the monsters came, nobody used it and the only things up here were the wrecked cars that hadn’t gotten away in time. As he wandered around the burnt out remains of a mangled tow truck that was still hooked to the shredded remains of a Rolls Royce, Shikarou wondered briefly if the owners had managed to collect from their insurance companies. The elevator was broken, so he walked the nine flights of stairs and into the concourse.
He noticed that the monsters had already forced some changes, men were just casually checked by the security forces here, but women were given a thorough inspection before being allowed out to the gates.
I think I have located him. Pythia gave him directions and he headed off, stopping briefly in the guest shop for a quick purchase.
Shikarou had only seen pictures of Jamie when he was older, but he could see the older version in this much younger man as he sat staring out the window at the planes.
He glanced briefly up at Shikarou when the kami blocked his view and then returned to staring out the window.
“Don’t have anyplace to stay?”
Jamie didn’t look up. “That takes money, but I’ve got a piece of paper saying I’m not a vagrant. I’m just waiting for the airport to reopen.” Obviously he thought Shikarou was some kind of airport security.
Shikarou grinned. “You either could use a drink or you will be wanting one in just a little while. How about I buy you a beer?”
Jamie glanced up at him. “Do I know you?”
Shikarou pulled his hair around. “Are you likely to forget a guy with this following him around?”
Jamie gave a chuckle and looked surprised at the sound. “I don’t suppose I would. Do you know me?”
“Kind of. We’ve never met, but I know more about you, Jamie Harris, than you will probably think I should.”
Jamie blinked. “That is an odd sentence.” He frowned. “And you can tell the future, because I suddenly think I’m going to need that beer.”
Once in the airport bar, they found a table that afforded them some privacy. Jamie sipped at his beer and gave Shikarou a hard look. “So, what do you want?”
“Before we get to that, I want to explain a couple of things. I am from the future and I’m going to prove it to you.”
Jamie grinned. “Crazy, huh? Well, the beer is good so prove away.”
“You are Jamie Harris, born and raised around Dallas, Texas. Last year you lost your entire family. Your parents and your sister died in Galveston and your brother was transformed into a monster after meeting the monster who will later be called Cocooner. He was killed right after he emerged and the people who did it sent you his wallet so you’d know what happened.”
Jamie’s eyes were getting bigger and bigger. “Any government agency could have found that out. Tell me something no one else would know.”
“Should I tell you about your childhood horse, Poppet?” Jamie turned white. “About the well and how you didn’t know the neighbors had a crane?”
Jamie’s jaw muscles bunched. “That is still something that the government could have found out.”
Unfortunately in the journals Jamie had recorded after moving to Scotland, he never detailed his life before meeting Poppet.
Just a second. In the eleventh grade, Jamie had a brief sexual relationship with a Melissa Rodriguez and they had a pregnancy scare because of it. They never told anyone what happened but Jamie never told her that he was saddened that they didn’t have a child.
“You realize that anything after this would be very personal, so please don’t be offended.”
“I asked for it, if you can provide me with something that no one else would know, then I might start believing you.” Jamie settled back with an amused look.
Shikarou nodded. “Melissa Rodriquez was very happy that she didn’t end up pregnant, but you secretly wished she’d actually been carrying your child.”
Jamie stared at him in absolute shock. The beer slipped from his fingers and Shikarou caught it before it hit the floor. “How did you?” He shut his mouth abruptly. “I think you proved your point.” He slowly reached for his beer. “So what do you want with me?”
“I think I need to explain some things first.” Shikarou tasted his beer and made a face. “You’d think I’d learn. Anyway, in a couple of years, you will meet someone and fall in love. She’ll love you too and the two of you will move to Scotland where you two discover that due to some issues that come to light later, you are unable to conceive children with her.”
Jamie frowned. “Cancer?”
Shikarou shrugged. “I understand that may be a factor.”
“It runs in my family. Killed some of my grandparents on both sides.” He stared at the bottle. “That still doesn’t explain why you are here.”
“Your sperm is viable now.”
Jamie looked shocked. “You want a sample of my sperm?” His eyes narrowed. “Are they paying you for this?”
“No, I’m trying to help a friend.”
“Which one?” Jamie gave him a speculative look.
“The woman,” Shikarou replied without embarrassment. “You are quite and verily dead when I come on the scene but she still regrets that the two of you weren’t able to have a child or three. This would give her the opportunity to fulfill that dream.”
“So she really loved me?” Jamie sounded surprised that anyone could. He flexed his stump. “Even with this.”
“It’s a missing arm, Jamie, not a missing brain.” Harris blinked at the acid in Shikarou’s voice. “It doesn’t make you any less you, and it’s you that P-, she loves.” He smiled gently. “You must have made quite an impression for she still loves you very much.”
Jamie grinned. “And you can’t compete with a dead guy.”
Shikarou gave him a flat look. “Of course I can.” Jamie blinked at his certainty. “Dead people are easy to compete against; all they do is lie there. What I want, however, is for her to be happy. I’m not sure she will be without this.”
“You love her, don’t you?”
Shikarou’s voice was barely audible. “I do.”
“Does she love you?”
“I’ve never asked. It’s complicated.” He shrugged. “However, I do hope that she may someday. Even if it doesn’t happen, your child would thrill her beyond belief.”
Jamie nodded thoughtfully. “So are you going to offer me money to do this?”
“Don’t be an ass. Everything I know about you says you are a fiercely proud man and an offer of money for something like this would be a mortal insult.” He smiled. “Of course, if you need a loan you can always leave the money with a note for me. I’ll get it eventually.”
Jamie chuckled. “Now that would be funny.” He nodded suddenly. “For some reason I don’t think you are as much of a crackpot as I probably should. How do you want to do this?”
“The airport will probably be closed for a couple more days so I thought I’d rent you a hotel room. Afterwards, you can use it to catch up on your sleep.”
“That sounds reasonable.” Jamie frowned. “Can we pick up a porno mag too?”
“We can get that, or a prostitute, if you’d rather.”
“I’ll find my own, thanks.”
Shikarou shrugged. “As you will. Would you like some good hot food afterwards?”
“Sure, all I’ve had since I got here were some old sandwiches and before that was hospital food.”
A short time later, Shikarou had prepaid a hotel room near the airport for three days and Jamie had taken the sample bottle inside along with some reading material.
How are you doing?
“This is a little odd.” Shikarou leaned against the wall of the hallway. “I don’t think I have done this particular task before.”
It will make Poppet very happy.
“It had better.”
Finally Jamie opened the door. “Come inside.” He glanced up and down the hall as Shikarou entered the room. He shut the door and offered the sample bottle. “Here. I want to say this is rather bizarre.”
Shikarou pocketed the bottle. “I know.” He pulled out his wand and created some steaks and other food. “Here.”
Jamie stared at him. “How did you do that?”
“All right, you just convinced me that you are for real.” Jamie ate hungrily. When he finished, he leaned back with a sigh. “That was good.” He glanced at Shikarou. “Could you do some more magic?”
Shikarou nodded and drew his wand again. “Sure.” He smiled and pointed the wand at Jamie. “Sleep and forget.” He caught Jamie before he hit the floor and dumped him in the hotel bed.
Pythia appeared. “Cute. Will he remember anything?”
“Not on a conscious level. He may have some dreams about what happened, but I doubt it.” Shikarou pulled the sample bottle out of his pocket and cast a stasis spell on it. “That takes care of that.”
He pulled out Branwyn’s pokeball and released her. She blinked and looked around. “Why are we here?”
He pointed at the bed. “You wanted to see Jamie.”
She settled down on the bed and stared at the unconscious man. “He doesn’t look like much.” She glanced up at Shikarou. “But then again, he must have been quite a person to make her so sad after he left. Did you get the sample?”
“He voluntarily gave it. I recorded our conversation; you can watch it later if you want.”
She sighed. “I think mother might want to see it too. Devon as well, perhaps.” She looked up at him. “What did you tell him?”
“Everything he needed to know. Then I wiped his mind.” Shikarou frowned. “I can’t take a chance on screwing up the past so much that our future no longer exists.”
Branwyn slid to her feet and took his hand. “So now we find someplace quiet and find out if we can return to the future. What do you think our chances are?”
“I think we have an excellent chance of doing it.” Shikarou nodded to himself. “We did it during Devon’s battle with Crimson, and doing it again should just be a matter of magnitude.”
“What if it doesn’t work?”
“Then we set up a community somewhere quiet and the next time you meet Poppet you’ll be a little older than she is.” He frowned. “Or we try something else.”
“If we have to we might try to augment our capabilities by catching a Tick-Tock. They are supposed to have time magic. I want to try it our way first, though. We have personal experience with the future we want to go to and I want to minimize our chances of a mistake.”
Branwyn’s hand tightened on his. “Then let’s go home.”
“I want to do one thing first.” Shikarou pulled the package he’d purchased at the airport out of his pocket and opened it, dropping a pair of dice into his hand. He wrapped the American money he had left around the dice and slipped them into Jamie’s shirt pocket. “There, now he’s not broke.”
A few minutes later they were standing at their campsite. Branwyn gave him a kiss. “For luck.”
“Hold that thought. Right now I’ll take all I can get.” He changed pokegirls around until only Circe remained.
She smiled. “Going my way, sailor?”
“I really need to start vetting those movies the harem watches beforehand.”
She snickered. “So, Oz, we are going to Alexandria?”
“The decon chamber, just like I showed you.”
She nodded and slipped into his arms to give him a kiss. She laid her head against his chest and sighed. “I hope this works.” The words were a whisper.
“So do I.” He carefully twined his mind with hers. “Ready?” he/she/they asked.
“Yes,” came the reply and they vanished.
(05/15/99 0810 Caomh Sith, Blue Continent)
The decontamination chamber was crowded with Shikarou and his full harem, but he wasn’t taking any chances. Everyone got treated. Tirsuli decontamination wasn’t difficult on either the equipment or the people being treated, you sat around for an hour and that was that. Even the sperm sample had been taken out of stasis for decon, but it had been loaded into a specialized medical unit that would keep the sperm alive during treatment.
“Sir, the decontamination procedure is complete. There were some biologicals matching the genetic makeup of the Bloody Flu as well as some low level radioactive and chemical waste. Decontamination procedures were completely effective.”
“Very well, Selene, open decontamination chamber and continue monitoring.” A light yellow glow appeared around the door for several seconds and then it slid open.
Branwyn frowned. “What was the glow?”
“Decontamination doors molecularly bond to the walls to prevent any leaks. What you saw was the process reversing.” He began returning girls to their balls. “Let’s get home.”
“When are you going to visit mother?”
“In the morning. Do you want to come along?”
Branwyn thought about it for a moment and shook her head. “I’ll watch the video tonight and I’ll stay here and keep a lid on things. Take Lorelei.” She grinned. “That will keep Sexmet and Bastit from finding out you can do this for a couple of days.”
“Do you think they are likely to try something?”
She shrugged. “Who knows, but do you want to take a chance on it?”
“She’s going to find out eventually, but you’re right, we could use a small break before the end of the world.” He shook his head. “I wonder how Poppet is going to react.”
(05/16/99 0700 Harris Conservatory, Blue Continent)
“So, what brings you here?” Poppet took his arm and led him to the bench they usually used. “I wasn’t expecting you to come by for a while yet.” She smiled. “Not that I mind, especially since you are my primary Tamer now.”
“I’m here because of you, Poppet.” He sighed. “I’m not abandoning you, but we need to talk and I don’t know how to put this lightly without it sounding trite and I know that this is frightfully important to you.”
She turned to face him. “What is it?”
“I’ve brought you a gift and I’m hoping that you will want it.” His ears flicked nervously. “At the time I thought it would be a great present and that you’d love it, but after some thought I’m not sure. However, I still want to offer you this gift and see what you think.”
“Why on earth might I not want a gift from you?” She frowned prettily.
“This is not a typical gift.” He pulled out his handheld. “There’s a video you need to see, but first I need to explain the context involved.” He watched her and waited.
“Ok, you’ve definitely piqued my curiosity. Tell me.”
“Quite by accident, my harem and I have discovered a method of time travel.” He watched as she looked surprised. “We did some experimentation and then decided to try something. We went back in time to 1993.” She blinked. “There I did some stuff and bought a couple of items to kind of prove my point and, well, we went to Cheyenne, Wyoming.”
She cocked her head. “I don’t get it. You are looking like you’re waiting for me to say something, but in 1993 I was doing work in Sukebe’s lab off the coast of Florida.”
Shikarou took a deep breath. “In February of 1993, Jamie was convalescing in Cheyenne from the loss of his arm.”
The color slowly drained from Poppet’s face and she swayed slightly. “Jamie?” she whispered. “You saw Jamie?” Her eyes shot to the handheld. “Did you video him?” Her hands twitched in her lap.
“I actually bought him a beer and we had a talk, but yes, I did video the whole encounter.” His mouth quirked.
She blinked and suddenly shook herself. “What did you talk about?”
“That’s impossible. I would have seen it in his mind. I would have seen you.”
Shikarou nodded. “You would have if I hadn’t wiped his memory of the event, which I did to keep from changing the future. If I hadn’t, he might not have been depressed enough to become a suicide bomber and you two would have never met.”
She frowned. “Time travel can be very complex, can’t it?”
“Oh, you should hear my father when he gets onto the subject of paradox. He can go for hours. And hours and hours and hours.” Shikarou made a face. “Your brain tries to scramble out of your skull and run for safety.”
Poppet smiled. “I wonder if I will ever get to meet him.”
“Who knows?” Shikarou motioned with the handheld. “Do you want to see the video now?”
The Unicorn took a deep breath and reached for it. She stared at it for a minute and he sighed. “I should leave.”
Shikarou started to rise when she grabbed his hand. “No, please stay.” Her eyes met his. “I can’t do this alone.”
He nodded. “What do you want me to do?”
“Would you hold me while I watch this?” When he nodded, she crawled into his lap and curled up in his arms. “Thank you, this means a lot to me.”
“I’m glad to be of assistance.” He draped his arms around her waist and she settled back with a sigh before hitting play.
She played it twice before putting his handheld down. “So, did you get some sperm from him?”
“Yes, I did.”
“What is it going to cost me to get it?” Her voice was tight.
“Poppet, I got it for you. There aren’t any strings attached to it. I have it and I’m going to give it to you before I leave.” He chuckled. “I had this really cool speech planned out before I met Jamie where I gave it to you and talked about how hard it is to find a gift for the pokegirl who has everything, but it just sounded stupid afterwards. I know you still love him and I know that having his child is one of your heart’s desires.” He sighed slowly. “I just wanted to make you happy and saying trite things about it would not accomplish that goal.”
She pulled his arms around her. “Does Branwyn know about your feelings for me?”
“Yes, she does. She agrees that it might cause some complications, but she’s known from the beginning that I had feelings for you. She’s known that I’m in love with you just about as long as I have.”
“How does she feel about it?”
“She says that as long as I don’t ever, ever confuse the two of you she will try not to have problems with it. She also said that if you try to become alpha she’s going to crush you like an eggshell.”
“I know you married her.”
Shikarou nodded. “I suspected you would find out quickly. Too many people are in your pay for you to miss something like that.”
“You haven’t asked me to marry you.”
“You haven’t decided if you love me or not.”
She glanced over her shoulder at him. “What makes you think that?”
“You are an all or nothing girl, Poppet, at least as far as relationships go. If you loved me, you wouldn’t hesitate to let me know.”
“I want Jamie’s child. Maybe more than one.”
“I knew that when I decided to try for Jamie’s seed. The children will need a father. Have you picked one out yet?”
She relaxed against him. “I’ve got a possible candidate. Do you know of anyone who might be interested in the position?”
“You should probably focus on your candidate, as long as his name is Shikarou.”
She chuckled. “Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t.” Her voice caught and she turned and buried her face against his chest. The sound of her sobbing filled the room for a very long time as Shikarou held her close.
Finally she stopped and rested against his chest for a moment before pushing away from him slightly. “Take off your shirt.”
Shikarou slid his shirt off and she wiped her face with it before tossing it away. She snuggled back against his chest and gave a long sigh. “I love him so much,” she murmured against his skin. She was silent for a while. “I ruined your shirt.”
“I have others.”
Poppet chuckled quietly. “Later, can I ruin them too?”
“If you need to then yes you may. If you just want to, we’ll have to discuss it.”
Her breath was warm against his skin. “I won’t be able to use your gift for about fifteen more years.”
“Doesn’t that give you the time you need to make the modifications you want to?”
She glanced up at him. “You know entirely too much about me. I don’t know nearly as much about you and that’s not fair.”
“Life is full of unfairness. Get used to it.” His ears flicked idly. “Do you want to view my memories of my meeting with Jamie?”
“I would if you don’t mind.” She slipped into his mind as his shields dropped. A few minutes later she started and then laughed quietly. “So that’s where they came from.”
“You gave Jamie his lucky dice. He carried those things for the rest of his life and never let them out of his sight. Once we were on our way to a very exclusive dinner when he discovered that one of his dice was missing and he had a fit until we returned home and looked for it. It had fallen out of his pocket in front of our home and he tore the knees out of his tuxedo scrambling around to find it. We ended up missing the dinner entirely.” She rubbed her face against his skin. “He even had them listed as part of his estate in his will. But he could never explain where they came from.”
“What happened to them?”
“We still have them. They’ve been passed from father to son ever since Jamie. Cameron willed them to Devon and Devon’s already updated his will so they go to Christopher when he dies.”
She glanced up at him again. “Letitia’s boy. Your godson.”
Shikarou nodded thoughtfully while his mind raced. “Oh, him.”
Something must have shown in his expression because Poppet leaned back slightly to look him directly in the eyes. “What is it?” she asked in a firm voice.
“Maybe I should have listened more to my father’s speeches about paradox. When I left, Devon had a daughter named Christine and I had no godchildren.”
She touched her horn to his forehead and he felt her go exploring through his mind. She blinked. “Florence isn’t pregnant. Devon gives money to her orphanage, but Florence is not pregnant. She wants to be though.”
“I wonder what else has changed.” Shikarou shivered suddenly. Aggie, contact Branwyn and let her know about Christopher and warn her not to let herself be surprised about any other changes.
Very well. I will begin a comprehensive review of the data I have and compare it to the data existing now.
Poppet sighed. “You have to leave, don’t you?”
“No, what has changed has changed, but I didn’t really do anything, so any changes should be minor, like a child having a different gender. My rushing off in a dither won’t make it conform to my memories.” He smiled at her. “I was planning to stay overnight, unless you don’t want me to.”
“I would like that.” She wrapped her arms tightly around him. “I am very fond of you, you know.”
Shikarou winced. “Don’t.”
Poppet looked puzzled. “What?”
“You know I love you and when a woman who knows a man loves her tells him that she likes him, it drives a knife into his heart. You either love me or you don’t and leave it at that.”
She frowned. “I never knew that.”
“Most women don’t seem to.”
“I’m sorry I hurt you.” She touched his cheek. “I don’t love you.” She gave him a contemplative look. “But that does not mean that I won’t someday.”
He sighed. “Well, I guess a little hope is better than nothing.”
“Please don’t leave me.” Poppet hugged him tightly. “Stay with me tonight.”
Shikarou nodded solemnly. “All right.”
(05/17/99 0700 Caomh Sith, Blue Continent)
Shikarou looked around the room. “We now know that paradox has taken place, and the present we have returned to is not the same as the one we left. For example, Devon has a son instead of a daughter and I’m his godfather. No one who didn’t go on that trip remembers anything different, which is driving Stardust into a fit whenever she gets near me or her sister.”
He continued. “We also know that the paradox appears to be minor over the whole world, until we get to Edo.”
Branwyn frowned. “I haven’t seen the information on Edo yet.”
Pythia nodded. “It’s not extremely different and in the overall scheme of things nothing significant has changed. However, first of all, when the Tamers took over and created the leagues, the Japanese Imperial family stepped down peacefully, almost as if they had been expecting something like what was happening. It turned out that they had been taming pokegirls for quite some time, which was against the Edo policies of the period, and they did not fade into the mists of time like we remember. Instead the whole family moved to Tomakomai and built a series of residences there, where they still live today. They are no longer the rulers of Japan, but they still wield considerable political influence in Edo and abroad, often against the Edo League council’s wishes. Their political philosophy seems to be Edo over the world and Japan over Edo.”
Shikarou nodded. “What has changed is that apparently His Imperial Highness got the last laugh as far as I am concerned. In 1999 he built a shrine on the exact spot where the Yoshihara family put one last year, and consecrated it to me.” His ears flicked. “He actually did some of the work there instead of just commissioning it and started a tradition of Emperors going there on pilgrimage when they assumed the Throne of Heaven. Today it is one of the oldest continuously occupied shrines in Edo.”
“If that isn’t enough, after the shrine was completed, a Shrine Maiden moved in almost immediately and there’s been at least one there ever since.”
“When the Imperial family moved there, they also built a temple to me.” He winced. “I’m not sure I want to see it.” He let out a long suffering sigh. “Apparently, the city has been more accommodating towards pokegirls than we remember. This means that they’ve always had a relative surplus of NurseJoys and things like that to keep the populace healthy and they have recovered quite well from the ills of the past. The city of Tomakomai that exists today is a third again larger than the one we left behind us.” He winced again. “Sadly they ascribe their good fortune to my temple and my supposed presence in the city. It is true that the Shrine Maidens that live in my temple have been pivotal over the years in driving off threats to the area, but that is just because they are there and not because of anything I’ve done.”
“There are also a few personal changes I know about and others we will have to investigate.” He took a deep breath. “Yushiko, there was one change in your family.”
She blinked and looked suddenly worried. “Something good, I hope.”
“I think so. When your grandmother was injured, she was rushed to the shrine and healed. Noriko didn’t die then and she’s still alive today.”
The blood slowly drained from Yushiko’s face. “Can I see her?” she whispered.
“We leave in ten minutes.” Shikarou looked around. “That means everyone.” Branwyn gave him a curious look and he thought for a moment. “You, Bellona, Yushiko, Dorothea, Helen and Elizabeth.” She nodded and got up.
(05/17/99 0730 Blue Continent, 1610 Edo)
Branwyn and Shikarou appeared and she smiled and let go of his hand. He returned the smile and then frowned and sat down hard as suddenly he was aware of everything on the mountain. Images and feelings swept into him and swirled down inside him to vanish.
Branwyn gave him a worried look. “Are you ok?”
“I’m not sure how I am.” He carefully levered himself back to his feet when a racing form jumped at him.
“SHIKAROU!” Fumiko cannonballed into him and he found himself lying on the ground again as she hugged him tight.
Branwyn gave him a wry look. Some things do not appear to have changed.
Shikarou began carefully prying himself free of his Titto. “Good to see you, Fumiko.”
She laughed. “Mother always knows when you are coming.” She grabbed his hand and helped him to his feet.
He found himself facing an elderly Ronin who bowed deeply. “Greetings, my lord Shikarou.”
Shikarou guessed. “Noriko, my name is Shikarou. I’m fairly certain we’ve probably had this discussion before.”
She smiled and nodded her head in acquiescence. “Indeed, we have, and we will have it many more times before I join you on the mountain.”
Shikarou blinked as he was suddenly aware that she was wrong. Age had finally caught up with her and Noriko would not live to see next spring. He just sighed and shook his head. “As you will.” He sounded slightly sad.
She looked surprised and then thoughtful before her eyes widened slightly and she bowed her head in a brief motion. “Fumiko. Leave your Tamer be, unless you wish to give us a demonstration of how little you have been practicing your battling skills. Any other demonstrations should be in private. Go tell your father and grandfather that lord Shikarou is here.”
“Yes, mother.” She darted away.
Noriko took his arm after a brief questioning look at Branwyn. “She misses you terribly when you are gone.”
“I miss her too. I’ll be glad when she’s done with her training and can return home.”
“So what brings the kami of the mountain here this day?”
“Yushiko wanted to see you, so we came for a visit. I hope we aren’t interrupting anything.”
“Of course not.” Noriko smiled easily. “So, where is my granddaughter?”
Shikarou pulled out her pokeball and as soon as he released her, Yushiko rushed into her grandmother’s arms and burst into tears.
He glanced at Branwyn. “Let’s go somewhere else. Anywhere.”
She nodded. “Noriko, we are going to walk down to the shrine.” The confused looking Ronin nodded as the Unicorn grabbed his hand and they set off.
When they were out of site of the Yoshihara residence, Branwyn looked over at him. “Are you all right?”
“No. I don’t really think I am.”
“Talk to me, Shikarou.”
He tried to pick his words with care. “I feel that this place is mine and I know everything.” He frowned. “I’ve heard about kami with this kind of power, but it usually only exists on ground that is hallowed to them.” His eyes went wide in shock. “Noriko called me the kami of the mountain. Shit.” He looked around slowly.
“For the last three hundred years, these people have been worshiping me as the kami of the mountain; as a kami of birth and death.” He looked up the mountain. “No wonder the people of Tomakomai believe that I’ve been protecting them. This place must be full of the spirits of the people who died on the mountain and they would have protected this land from invaders because I would have wanted them to.”
“This mountain isn’t that heavily populated,” Branwyn noted. “Just how many spirits do you think you are talking about?”
He shrugged. “If I am worshipped down in the city, then I may get all of its dead as well, or at least those who worshipped me.” He shuddered. “That could be a lot of spirits.”
“How will you know?”
“I’m not sure and I’m not up to experimentation right now.” He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “I’ve never had a situation where I could be this powerful and have this much influence. Until I have a better idea of how widespread the worship of the kami of Mt. Tarume is, I’m going to be very careful.”
He turned to Branwyn. “I know that Noriko will die this winter. I don’t know how I know, but I know she will and that it will be peaceful. I suspect that means that Noriko must be one of my worshippers.”
Branwyn stared at him. “That’s creepy.”
“I agree completely.”
“Do you still want to see your shrine?”
“No, but I think I need to.”
Branwyn shifted to her quad form. “Shall we?” Shikarou hopped onto her back and off they went.
The shrine was now almost completely Japanese in design, only some of the repairs showed the influence of other Edo cultures. Two Shrine Maidens were bustling around taking care of a handful of worshippers and Shikarou recognized one of them as the one he’d accidentally evolved during a previous visit. She gave him a huge smile and a quick hug before going back to her duties.
The shapeless rock that had represented him had been replaced with a rough sculpture of a wolf eared humanoid figure with long hair. A sign noted that it had been the work of the Emperor Naruhito.
Shikarou sighed slowly. “Yushiko did this to me.”
Apparently the cosmic awareness had a hand as well. It is known that if a pokegirl evolves to Armsmistress on Hokkaido she will look Japanese and that this is the only place on the earth where this happens. It is also reputed that if one is evolved on Mt. Tarume, no matter her lineage, she will become a Malakim. This remains unverified however, as no Tamers will either confirm or deny the rumor.
Shikarou relayed the information to Branwyn and she laughed quietly. “So the kami of Mt. Tarume has influence throughout the island of Hokkaido.” She slipped her arm through his. “Want to see your temple?”
“Thank you but I’ll save that for another day.”
(05/17/99 1200 Caomh Sith, Blue Continent)
Svetlana sipped her tea and looked out the window of the inn with a heavy heart. She looked up when someone pulled out the spare chair at her table and gave Molly a half smile half glare as she settled down and put her pint on the table.
Molly gave her an annoyed look. “Are you still mooning over that gold? What on earth for?”
The Megami-sama shrugged. “There is so much good we could be doing with it all over the world.”
The Denmother snorted. “I could tell you that neither you nor your Tamer had anything to do with it being salvaged and therefore you have no say in how it’s used, but I won’t. Instead, let me ask you a question. Aren’t Megami supposed to be big picture girls?”
Svetlana’s eyes showed a hint of interest. “Yes, we are.”
“What is a big picture? I would postulate that a big picture is composed of a bunch of little pictures. What do you think?”
The Megami-sama blinked. “That is an interesting concept. Where did you learn to argue philosophy?”
Molly gave her an amused look. “I went to Alexandria and Selene taught me something about it.”
“Oh, that. Yet another place I’m not supposed to go, right?”
Molly’s ears flicked. “I hope not, considering there are only a handful of people that Shikarou allowed unrestricted access to Alexandria and you’re on the list. Faelan probably hasn’t realized that you don’t know.” She grimaced. “Hell, I’m only on that list because I’m the Sheriff.”
“Shikarou hates me. He would never give me access to someplace like that.”
“Girl, you need to wake up. He doesn’t hate you, in fact I he told me he respects you. He thinks you’re as wrong as can be about the gold, but he respects your convictions.”
“He never said that to me.” Svetlana looked puzzled. “I wonder why not?”
“I’ve heard some of your conversations with him and they seem to consist mostly of you telling him what he’s doing wrong while he tries to ignore you. I wouldn’t say anything complementary about you at that time either; I’d just kick your butt.” She took a gulp of her pint. “He seems to be willing to let you be a bitch to him, but that’s his choice.”
“So why are you here now, if I’m such a pain in the posterior?”
“First of all, I’m tired of watching you butt heads with my boss, my Tamer and my lover. Second, I don’t want to have to pull your body out of one of the lochs.”
Svetlana blinked. “Are you saying you think Shikarou would kill me?”
“Him? Not a chance. If he were going to harm you, he would have already done it. However, there are some pokegirls around here who are very unhappy with the fact that you won’t see the little picture and some of them can be a little precipitous.”
She gave Molly a bitter look. “So talk to them and leave me alone.”
“Oh, I already have spoken with them at some length. Now I want to talk to you and see if I can help keep anything bad from happening.”
“And how can you help me with anything?”
Molly drank more of her pint before answering. “It must be nice being a Megami. There are different rules that apply to Celestial pokegirls then the ones that the rest of us have to live by. You get to pick and choose and the law is on your side. Hell, girl, even when you go feral you just get a little dumber.”
“It’s a little different for the rest of us. We get traded and captured and auctioned and have no say in it at all. We can spend years building a relationship with a man and have him lose us in a battle or even worse, get rid of us because he’s getting older and our libido is too high or too low or because we dropped the coffeepot. If he thinks we screwed up enough, he can usually have us killed for cause.”
“With a young Tamer, we are slaves to the whims of a teenager and if our Tamer does something bad, we get punished along with him.”
Molly drank more beer. “You might ask why we don’t just walk away, like a Megami would. The truth is, as you know, we can’t. We are property and if we leave, the law will try to bring us back.”
“I spent years in Lairg and the whole time I was tied to that slug Godwin. He tamed me when he felt like it and made me beg for it when he didn’t.” The Denmother’s eyes narrowed angrily. “I don’t like begging, but what I like and don’t like didn’t matter. I had to do disgusting things to and for that man but the fact that I am just a pokegirl and therefore I am a slave to the dick meant that I couldn’t refuse. If I did, he might exact his revenge by letting me get so close to feral that I thought my mind was going to explode. He did it, too, on several occasions, and usually for his own shitty amusement.”
Her ears went flat. “And I had to watch him watching my girls. We all knew he was going to take them just as soon as he was ready.” Her voice rumbled. “When he was ready, not when they were, which was a very different thing indeed.”
She smiled and her voice warmed with pride. “Belinda told me a couple of days ago that when she grew up she wanted to help other pokegirls find as nice a place to live as here.”
Her eyes met Svetlana’s. “And a lot of pokegirls feel that way about Caomh Sith. It’s not heaven but it’s closer than anything I’ve seen. Here they don’t have to beg for someone they don’t like to stick a dick in them to keep them from going crazy. Here they can work at jobs that they like, like our Elf bartender. She likes working here.”
“If you gave away all of that gold, three things would happen. Well, four, if you count the fact that you’d destroy the value of gold and put a lot of people out of work. But aside from that, three things would happen. You’d be able to help a bunch of pokegirls somewhere else for a little while. You would not be able to hide where the gold was coming from, someone would talk, and they always do. That means you’d also have every crackpot in the world coming here and claiming that you should help them too; that would lead Team Viper and groups like that straight here, where they’d do what they always do: destroy things and hurt people while stealing pokegirls and stuff.”
Svetlana shook her head. “Team Viper was crushed recently and is no longer a threat.”
“I know that and I also know they didn’t get everyone.” Molly snorted. “Even if they did, something will rise up to take Team Viper’s place. There are always people looking for a free ride on the backs of others. Some of them become criminals. Others become politicians, which brings me to the third event.”
Svetlana was watching Molly thoughtfully. “What is the third thing that would happen?”
“The government would take a good hard look at Caomh Sith, realize our potential and shut us down just as quickly as they possibly could.” She shrugged. “It’s in their best interests to do so before we get strong enough that they might not be able to do so quietly, if at all. We’re on the path that a lot of politicians espouse but we are so far down it they are likely to be terrified, not only because we’ve come so far but because they aren’t in charge.”
“Shikarou is trying to protect us from the rest of the world, to build a redoubt from which we can sally forth to change the world. Don’t undermine his work, help with it.” Molly gave her a pleading look. “You could be so much help here, please help us.”
“What about the rest of the world?”
“Damn it Svetlana! We are trying to change the whole world but we have to start somewhere and here is that starting place!” Molly slapped the tabletop and wood groaned audibly. “Look around and see what is happening here. At the clinic, there is a feral Moonflower who tends the grounds. She doesn’t hurt anyone and Stardust has checked and found she doesn’t want a Tamer right now, so Shikarou has made her hands off. Where else would you find that?”
“If someone needs tamed and wants a human to do it, they can ask one of the ones here and not expect to be put into a pokeball just because she wants to be laid.”
“My daughters spent the first ten years of their lives afraid to laugh because if they made too much noise they got beaten. I hoped someday to find them a Tamer who would treat them better than I’d been treated.”
She scowled. “Shikarou told me he’d be their uncle, but damned if he didn’t become their surrogate father. Now, they run and play and have someone who loves them; not because he might get to tame them, but because they are children. Now I have to worry about finding them a Tamer that measures up to the standards he’s established, which are a lot more than just decent.” She smiled. “Why do I worry about that? Because Shikarou is mine and I’m not going to share him with my daughters.”
“Does he know about this?”
Molly paused briefly. “I suspect that he does, but it really doesn’t matter. He’s given me the power to choose and I choose him. I’m already grooming Alice to be the Sheriff and when my girls move out in five years, I’m joining Shikarou’s active harem.” She smiled slowly. “And there’s only one way I’ll let him stop me.”
“What is that?”
“He has to get me pregnant. I would let him do that and only that to keep me out of his harem.” Her smile grew. “Of course, then I’ll be one of his women and he’ll never be rid of me.”
She changed the subject abruptly. “Are you aware he’s already planning for what he’ll be doing when he’s not actively journeying?”
“No, what is he going to do?”
“He’s going to go to school. He wants to study genetics and engineering so that he can become a pokegirl researcher. However, he only wants to study one thing, the feral state and what causes it.” Molly watched Svetlana blink in surprise. “He’s even ordered Selene to build a large modern hospital complex inside Alexandria. He intends to find out what causes us to go feral and fix it somehow. If he could do that, it would mean we would actually be free. He says it could take decades or even centuries of research but I believe he’ll find the cause one day and fix it if it can be fixed.”
She sighed. “So, please stop trying to pull this place down around our ears and help us.”
Svetlana shook her head. “He doesn’t need all of that gold, he could never spend it all in a lifetime of spending.”
Molly gave her a sympathetic look. “What makes up a lifetime for him? Did you consider that he’s going to outlive all of us and maybe that gold is there for any long term problems that might crop up? Faelan’s going to outlive you too.”
“I know.” Her mouth twisted. “And the others are already grooming someone to take my place when I’m gone.”
“I presume you are talking about the other Celestials.” Molly barked a laugh when Svetlana nodded. “They are making the same mistake you are. I guess you’ve just had things go your way for so long, you and they forget that Faelan might want to have a say in that too.” She drained her beer and tipped a coin inside it before holding it up and shaking it for a refill. “You don’t have to worry about him replacing you. It’s not his way or he would have replaced that Sabretooth Tigress he lost with the one Shikarou caught a while back.” She smiled at the Elf who handed her a full mug. “Thank you.” The Elf smiled, bobbed her head and took away the empty, slipping the coin into her pocket as she did.
“Faelan has the capability to be just as stubborn and willful as Shikarou and I think that in a battle of wills between all of the Megami and him, they will lose. And if he asks his brother to help, then that loss might just be a mite overwhelming.”
Svetlana frowned. “I don’t know, I got Dorothea into Shikarou’s harem without any trouble.”
Molly’s voice was flat. “He let you. Don’t ever mistake one of them letting you do something with you managing to force them to do something. Branwyn and I have talked about that and she couldn’t force Shikarou to do anything he doesn’t want to.” Her eyes glittered. “And if she can’t, rest assured you can’t either. Besides, just how well has Dorothea managed to put Shikarou on the path of righteousness and good?” She grinned. “Of the two of them, who has been influencing who?”
Svetlana glared. “All right, I’ll think about what you said.”
“That’s all I can ask. Shikarou tells me that if you give someone all the facts, they’ll usually make the best decision for themselves.” Her ears flicked. “Don’t try to prove him wrong out of spite.”
Name: Urufu Shikarou
Residence: Caomh Sith, Blue Continent
Security Clearance: Epsilon
Master Tamer Y
Species Name Level
Alaka-Wham Circe 71
Unicorn Branwyn 58
Milktit Helen 56
Bellona DragonQueen 50
Seraph Dorothea 49
Ria Kebi 46
Armsmistress Urufu Yushiko 46
G-Spliced Pythia 44
Sphinx Lorelei 42
Vampire Elizabeth 42
Mini-Top Nanu 37
Hun Hanmei 27
Badges: Scotland: Stornoway, Rum Island, Glasgow
Wales: Magicunt Village