(07/04/99 1600 Caomh Sith, Blue Continent)
“Brother, I thought I should mention at this point that I think I’ve seen smaller gyms than what you’re marking out.” Faelan clapped his brother on the back. “Is this monstrosity going to be your home or are you building some kind of fortress that you can evacuate the entire island into?”
Branwyn shot him a look which suggested that he might want to go somewhere else as Shikarou smiled easily. “If you think it looks big now, just wait until we put a second floor on it along with a basement underneath.”
Nanu nudged her alpha. “Kneecap?” she whispered as a finger teased the butt of her pistol.
“Don’t tempt me,” the Unicorn muttered back. Raising her voice, she continued. “Faelan, we’ve carefully calculated just how much room we’re going to need. It’s as big as it needs to be and no more.”
“Prickly today, aren’t they?” Faelan shook his head. “I was just making an observation.”
“On something that’s none of your business.” Shikarou turned to face his brother squarely. “Did I say anything at all about the house you’re building for you and your family? No. It sounds like Branwyn doesn’t feel you should be here voicing your opinion on ours.”
Faelan raised his hands defensively. “All right, all right, I’ll stop with the comments.” His ears flicked. “How did your project go?”
Shikarou chuckled. “Ah, the real reason for your visit. Would you believe that there is an analogue of our foe there and I spoke with him at length?”
“If anyone other than you said that, no, I probably wouldn’t believe it. What did he say?” He blinked. “Never mind, this isn’t the forum. Inside your tent would be more secure.”
“That’s right.” Shikarou nodded sagely. “We’ll talk about it after dinner this evening. However, I will admit that the visit proved productive on several levels. What about your mission?”
“Not so much.” Faelan grimaced. “She’s not willing to divulge the location of the headquarters. I think it’s more of a habit than anything else. Darkness knows she won’t be going back to it anytime soon.”
Shikarou frowned and glanced around before dropping his voice. “I don’t really have the time or patience to let Ygerna stonewall me for long. Ask her again. Be creative.”
“I’ll see what I can do. What about you? Maybe a nice ruler to ruler heart to heart would work where my approach hasn’t.”
“If I have to ask her, I’m likely to be insistent.” He rolled his shoulders in a loose shrug. “I know she’ll heal and I’m not likely to take no for an answer.”
“She’ll try to use Svetlana and the other Celestials to stop you,” Faelan warned. “They won’t like torture. Not to mention, she still has her guards.”
Shikarou gave him a flat look. “I do believe I said I wouldn’t be willing to take no for an answer. I don’t care if she invokes Danu herself. I will have that information and, since she’s the only source of it right now, I’ll get it from her. However, thanks for reminding me about her guards. I might be willing to use Marcus as an example of what she has to look forward to if she proves stubborn.”
Branwyn gave her husband a bland look. “While I would probably enjoy watching you carve things off of Marcus more than is considered healthy, Circe and Stardust may prove useful in getting Ygerna to divulge that information without having to torture her.”
“I know.” Shikarou smiled slightly. “I’ll try them first, but I’m going to get that information.” He blinked and his eyes narrowed. “There just may be another way after all.”
When he was silent for several moments, Branwyn poked him in the shoulder. “Hey, don’t forget we’re here. What?”
He blinked. “Sorry, I was planning. I was thinking there may be a way to lure one of the enemy here, or at least somewhere where we can get our hands on him. Then, I can ask him where they are staying.”
Faelan frowned. “I think I know who you have in mind and I want to know just how are you going to do that? Send him mail?”
A grin teased the edges of Shikarou’s mouth and his eyes gleamed. “I think that would be an excellent idea. I’ll just send him an invitation.”
(07/06/99 1300 Caomh Sith, Blue Continent, 0700 Phallus Town, Indigo League)
Shapely fingers ran through her blue curls as Samantha eyed herself critically in the mirror. “About time for a trim,” she said to herself. She cocked her head. “On the other hand, Bellona mentioned that Shikarou likes his pokegirls with long hair. Maybe I should consider growing it out a bit.” A quick flash of a smile. “I wouldn’t want it as long as Branwyn’s but maybe shoulder length or so would be nice.”
The smile vanished. She sighed and settled her cap on her head. “What was I thinking when I agreed to join his harem? Nobody wants pokewomen, they all want pokegirls. I’m too old for him to really want me and I’m sure he’d be happier with someone younger. The last thing I want is a pity Tamer.” She paused for one last quick look over her uniform in the mirror and flicked off a piece of lint before turning and heading for the door.
She was locking up her house when she realized that someone was standing somewhere behind her. Squelching an urge to whirl, she finished and casually turned, her hand drifting to the elemental pistol that had become a standard part of the uniform for every police officer since the attack.
If anything, her unease grew when she realized who it was, although she forced her hand from the gun. It wouldn’t do any good in this case. Ok, it might make her feel better, but that would be about it.
The OfficerJenny forced a smile. “I was just thinking about you. Did your mystical powers tell you, so you could come here to see me?”
When Shikarou didn’t return the smile, she grew more worried. He looked, she noted, even more unhappy than she felt. “I only wish I was here for something that simple.”
A twinge of fear shot through her and she fought not to let it show. “I understand. You realized that you made a mistake.” She held out her hand. “I won’t hold it against you. I’m just too old.”
He eyed her hand for a second with a puzzled look and then his eyes lightened and he smiled slightly. “Oh, no, I’m not here for that. I still want you in my harem. No, I’m here to warn you.” He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “There will be an Indigo League representative arriving here sometime this afternoon to see you. I’d have come earlier, but I just found about it myself.”
Samantha gave him an odd look as something inside her relaxed slightly. “So? They’ve been coming by off and on since the attack.”
He nodded. “Yes, but this one is coming for a specific reason.” He hesitated for a heartbeat. “She’s bringing your replacement along with her.”
Her confusion deepened. “My replacement? What are you talking about? I’m not retiring for several years yet.”
Shikarou hesitated again. “Samantha, the League representative is coming to sack you.”
When she only looked mystified, he frowned for a second. “Damn, I forget that while English is the common language, slang doesn’t always cross regional barriers.” His mouth firmed. “The Indigo League finalized its report on the attack by the Limbec Pirates here on Phallus. They’ll release it to the general public in three days and they want to be seen as being proactive in dealing with what it concludes.”
For an instant, her heart seemed to stop and then the blood slowly drained from Samantha’s face as she realized what he was getting at. “They’re going to blame us, aren’t they?” It came out as a hoarse whisper.
He nodded unhappily. “The report will conclude that you were insufficiently prepared and unresponsive to the changing environment, which allowed the pirates to take the town and sack it. You’re going to be their scapegoat; the report refers to you by name.”
“What about the rest of my people?” Shikarou understood the question she was really asking and answered it.
“It’s considered that without your guidance, they might have done a better job of defending the town. They’re safe.”
Samantha swayed slightly as the import sank in. “I’m finished,” she whispered to herself. “I’ll never work again after that report comes out. My career is over.” She stared at Shikarou blankly. “I’ve been a police officer since I was fifteen. What do I do now?”
He gave her a grim smile. “You’ll come and work for me, just like I planned. I’ve got a job that’s perfect for you.”
She stared at him in disbelief. “I don’t really have any choice, now do I? What will I be doing?” she asked numbly.
“You’ll be the Commander of the Caomh Sith Guard.” He shrugged. “It’s smaller than the Phallus police force, but I expect it’ll be growing rapidly in a couple of years.”
She shook her head. “I’m going to be cashiered in disgrace, Shikarou. I’ll just be a hindrance for you after that.”
He took her hand. “No, that’s the job I want you for and I know you’ll do an exemplary job of it. Molly, who is the current commander, is ready to quit and she’s already vacated the commander’s office in preparation for your arrival. She’ll be your executive officer while you get up to speed and then she wants to go back into the field.”
A question trickled through Samantha’s wall of despair. “You said the report hasn’t been released yet. How do you know what it’s going to say?”
A quick grin flashed across his face and he motioned to the blonde pokegirl standing nearby. “Before we continue, let me introduce you to Dorothea.”
Samantha frowned. “She’s your Seraph. I’ve pulled your records. What about my question?”
“I wanted to introduce Dorothea because a Seraph is a sign that I’m a good, law abiding citizen.”
“Oh, really? I happen to know that a Seraph is a sign that you’re willing to go on great quests and that, otherwise, she doesn’t really care what you do.” Samantha’s eyebrows rose. “How did you know? It was something illegal, wasn’t it?”
He smiled. “Did you know that the Planetary League Council was put into place to deal with inter-league disputes because the various leagues don’t allow prosecution for the breaking of other league laws within their lands?”
Samantha folded her arms. “I do,” she stated flatly. “Is your little digression pertinent to this explanation?”
“I think so.”
“So, while an action that happens in one league might be considered illegal, in another league it’s not necessarily so; even if it involves or happens to the equipment or personnel of the first league, correct?”
“It is. Where are you going with this?”
“Then, with that understanding, no, I haven’t broken any laws of the Indigo League in getting this information.”
She frowned. “If this action had taken place within the Indigo League, would it have been illegal?”
He shrugged. “It didn’t and I broke no laws of the Blue League in what I did. Anything else is speculation for the act did not occur within the confines of the Indigo League.”
“What the hell did you do?” Samantha suppressed an urge to shake him violently. “Just tell me.”
“I hacked the Indigo League’s central computers.” He stepped back and raised his hands defensively. “Hey, I didn’t do anything wrong!”
Samantha realized that she’d instinctively pulled her handcuffs from their holder. “Shikarou, it’s illegal to hack a League computer system.” Her eyes narrowed. “You know what I’m going to have to do.”
“Wait just a moment. While I freely admit that in the Blue League it is illegal to hack the Blue League’s computers, and in the Indigo League it’s illegal to hack the Indigo League’s computers, it is not illegal in the Blue League to hack the Indigo League’s systems.”
She stopped and frowned. “I think that’s right.” She smiled sweetly. “So, have you hacked the Blue League’s computers?”
“You aren’t an officer of the Blue League and don’t have the authority to ask that question.”
Samantha blinked. “You’re good.” A grudging smile appeared. “Will I be an officer of the Blue League if I become this Guard Commander?”
He nodded. “You will. In fact, you’ll be the senior officer on my island, answerable only to me and the League.”
“When I take this post, will I be able to arrest you then for hacking the Blue League’s computers?”
He nodded. “You will, if you find any evidence that I’ve been doing something like that.”
She gave him an amused look. “So I can if I find proof, I can arrest you. I’m not going to find any, am I?”
Shikarou smiled confidently. “No. I do not believe you will find any evidence that I’ve been hacking the Blue League’s computers.”
“Will that be because you haven’t done anything or because I won’t be able to find any proof of your activities?”
He shrugged. “I don’t engage in speculation. Without any evidence, no crime has been committed. That’s how law works.”
She put her handcuffs away. “Do you have any answer to why I suddenly feel that my moral compass is spinning in circles?”
Behind him, Dorothea suddenly chuckled. His ears flicked in annoyance. “Why does that question keep coming up?”
(07/06/99 1630 Caomh Sith, Blue Continent, 1030 Phallus Town, Indigo League)
Samantha stood waiting as she watched the airship move into a landing pattern and the ground crew rushed into position. It had radioed ahead several minutes ago and she’d detailed herself to meet it.
She’d been careful to make sure that everyone else was busy, not so much as to keep them from seeing her disgrace, but instead so that her replacement would see that every hand was needed and not go dismissing her people in a misguided attempt to control the situation.
Shikarou’s revelation had been stunning and, while secretly she’d hoped that he was wrong, it had given her the opportunity to prepare for the blow. A part of her wondered if the League rep had deliberately hoped to shock her with her dismissal. It was unnecessarily cruel, but some people liked that sort of thing and many of them gravitated to jobs like this one.
Others of that ilk gravitated towards service with the Teams, which didn’t give her a high opinion of the whole group.
She pulled her attention away from the woolgathering that had been going on and watched as the airship was lashed down and the engines spun to a halt.
Three figures emerged from the cabin slung under the airship. One of them immediately started talking with the ground crew captain. That would be the pilot. The other two looked around and made a Buzzbreast line for her, as soon as they realized that she was there.
Samantha was surprised to note that both of them were humans, and hope stirred slightly in her breast. It died when they approached close enough to see that the man wore the badge of the Indigo League police on his chest. They must suddenly rate highly if they were getting a human and a male chief now. It was probably due to the presence of Professor Stroak, she suddenly realized.
The woman leading the man was hard faced with thin lips set in a humorless line. Agate eyes roamed over Samantha with an arrogant superiority that made the OfficerJenny’s eyes narrow in response. This was the kind of person she’d normally run for priors if she’d ever got a chance. “You’re the chief,” she snapped in a flat, slightly nasal voice.
Samantha responded coolly. “I am. Everyone else is busier than I am, so I came down to greet you myself.” A glimmer of respect dawned in the man’s eyes and a sudden recklessness rose in her. She ignored the official for a moment and offered her hand to the man. “You’ll be my replacement, then.”
He blinked in surprise and nodded as he clasped her hand. “I’m Linus Deverou.” Close up, he looked competent and two pokeballs graced his belt, indicating he might understand about working with pokegirls. Silently, she offered up a quick prayer that he was good Tamer and not one of the beasts.
“What makes you think we’re here for that?” The woman almost snarled.
Suddenly, Samantha was very grateful to Shikarou for his warning. She smiled at the rep without any warmth. “I didn’t think the league would send a representative out just to give me another policeman and they would have warned me about any inspection that would be taking place. Simple elimination suggests that means only one thing. He’s here to replace me. The board of inquiry must have found me at fault.”
“So you admit that you fucked up?”
The woman’s eyes glittered with satisfaction as Samantha forced her fists to unclench. “I admit nothing of the sort. We did the best we could, but the pirates were well organized and knew exactly where to strike.”
“Bullshit. You weren’t prepared for any trouble and you got your ass handed to you.” The woman’s mouth worked briefly. “I’m Agent Tanya Montenegro and I’m with the League Office of Investigation.” The LOI was the internal security organ of the Indigo League and one of their functions was conducting investigations into terrorist activity, which included the activity of the Teams as well as groups like the Limbec Pirates. “Let’s go to your office.”
Samantha nodded. “This way, please.” She led them towards the bar where the police station was temporarily housed. “Linus, we haven’t finalized the plans for the new police station, so you’ll have the chance to put your stamp on things.”
Deverou nodded. “I’ll keep that in mind.” He glanced at the league rep and dropped his voice. “How many humans are on the Phallus force?”
“Including you?” She smiled when he nodded. “One.” Her smile grew when he stumbled in surprise. “The rest of the force is OfficerJennys and Growltits. You will find yourself quite popular.”
“Lovely.” He didn’t sound pleased. “So, I’m the only police Tamer here?” He sighed and rubbed his chin reflexively. “Never mind, I think I already know the answer to that question.”
“They’re a sharp group and they’ll work hard to make your transition as smooth as possible. You still need some more help though, so start requesting it right away. I have two officers on loan from another department right now, but their tour will be up at the end of the month and they’ll be going back to their home unit at that point.”
He nodded. “I don’t suppose there’s any chance I could get them to stay for another tour?”
Samantha smothered a smile. “I’m not completely sure, but I don’t think that’s likely. They’re here as a personal favor to me.”
She shrugged. “There are some very good plans in the works to upgrade the defenses here, but we’re still waiting on the League to allocate the funds. Maybe you can expedite that, now that you’ll be in charge.”
Linus nodded. “I’ll do my best.”
Once they were in Samantha’s “office” in the rear of the bar, Tanya settled behind the desk and motioned for Linus to take a seat, leaving Samantha standing. “OfficerJenny Samantha, I have come to deliver the Indigo League’s conclusion on the assault of Phallus by the terrorist organization known as the Limbec Pirates. You will, of course, stand at attention.”
Samantha drew herself up. “Yes, sir,” she snapped in a perfect academy voice.
“That’s better.” Montenegro leaned back in the chair and steepled her hands under her chin. “As you know, Phallus was assaulted, taken and looted by the Limbec Pirates without your force mounting any sort of effective defense. You were ill equipped to deal with them and unready for any sort of attack. While it has been some years since Phallus was raided by anyone, such a gross dereliction of duty is not going to go unnoticed or unpunished; an intensive investigation was launched to determine the root cause of the failure to withstand the pirate attack.”
“The LOI has determined that the root cause of the failure of the Phallus police force to mount any credible defense of the town rests in the police chief and her blasé attitude towards a potential attack. That would be you, OfficerJenny Samantha,” she added unnecessarily.
“Because of your ineffective leadership, the police of this town failed, not only in driving off the pirates, but in doing them any significant damage at all. Because of your incompetence, one of the most respected pokegirl researchers in the world was captured and threatened. His lab was looted and his very person was nearly violated. It’s only divine favor that kept this from being much worse.”
She smiled thinly. “Do you have anything to say in your defense, OfficerJenny Samantha?” She drew the name out as if it were something obscene.
Samantha realized that she was shaking with suppressed fury and fought to bring herself under control. “I don’t suppose that the fact that the Indigo League didn’t think we were a high priority for defensive emplacements would be a valid defense?”
“You were given all the resources necessary to defend this town.” Tanya seemed cheerful for the first time. They were back to playing her game, by her rules. “It’s your fault they weren’t deployed in a fashion to make effective use of them.”
“I don’t suppose that the fact that the Indigo League wouldn’t allocate me additional personnel is a valid defense, either?”
“You would be correct. Your police force was more than adequate for the task at hand.”
Samantha’s voice rose. “Yes, it was for policing Phallus but NOT FOR FENDING OFF A FUCKING SHIP FULL OF PIRATES!” Suddenly, she realized she was bellowing and took a deep, steadying breath.
Both Linus and Tanya appeared stunned at the outburst. Tanya recovered first. “You will not take that tone with me, OfficerJenny Samantha!”
A sudden calm swept over Samantha. She spoke calmly again. “You’re going to fire me; get it over with, you bitch.”
Tanya shot to her feet. “YOU WILL NOT TALK TO ME THAT WAY WHILE YOU WEAR THE BADGE OF THE INDIGO LEAGUE!”
Samantha smiled broadly. “Fine.” She pulled her badge from her uniform and dropped it and her pistol on the desk. “I quit. Go fuck yourself.” She turned to Linus. “Good luck.” With parade ground precision, she did an about face and marched from the office, ignoring the screeching that started up behind her.
Shikarou was waiting outside the bar with a surprised look on his face. “That woman has a remarkable grasp of the English language. I don’t think she’s used the same curse twice.” He gave her a quick once over. “How are you?”
“I have some personal possessions in my house, but the rest of it belongs to Phallus. We’ll need to get them before we leave.” Samantha kept her voice calm. “Can we go somewhere else? I don’t want to give that person the satisfaction of seeing me fall apart.” She looked around slowly. “I poured my life into this town, and my reward for everything I’ve done was to get fired by her.” Grief began to fill her voice. “That’s all I was worth.”
Shikarou pulled a pokeball from his belt and released Bellona. “Bell, take Samantha to her house and help her collect anything she wants.”
The DragonQueen nodded. “Where will you be?”
“I’ll be around. Samantha needs some time alone.” He gave both of them a wry smile. “I’ll run interference for you until you’re ready to leave.”
Dorothea gave him a worried look. “No killing, my lord.” Samantha blinked at the concern in the Seraph’s tone. “Thou cannot help if thou are in jail.”
Bellona grinned. “It’ll also set a bad example for Samantha; and we all know you don’t want to do that, now do you?”
“I’ll try to keep any lawbreaking to misdemeanors.” Shikarou frowned as Montenegro’s voice began to grow louder. “Bell, Samantha, go.”
Bellona spun Shikarou around and dug through the pack on his back, pulling a sack from it. “Ok.” She nodded to Samantha. “Let’s get out of here.”
Samantha led her away as a whistling Shikarou headed into the bar. “What’s in the bag?”
Bellona smiled. “Some clothes. Branwyn was worried that you wouldn’t have any civvies. Shikarou had them because we didn’t know who he’d release to help you pack.”
Samantha blinked in surprise. “You know, I hadn’t thought about that. I don’t. I haven’t worn any since I was fifteen.”
“She’s a good alpha.”
“I’ll remember to thank her.” She started hurrying as the sounds of glass breaking began to come from inside the bar. A tiny grin appeared. “I’m suddenly glad I’m not the police chief anymore. I wouldn’t want to be the one to try to arrest him.”
Shikarou stepped into the room and headed over to the bar, grabbing a bottle of whiskey and a pitcher of beer that the bartender was filling. “Ah, thank ye, lad.” He glanced at Dorothea as he headed for the door and made himself comfortable in the middle of it. “Lass, pay the lad, would ye?”
The Seraph frowned and dug in a pocket for some money as she eyed her Tamer suspiciously. The yelling voice suddenly grew louder and Shikarou took a big gulp of the beer and sprayed it on the floor. “Ooch, lad, ye should pur this back inta the Ponytoor it came oot of.” He threw the pitcher on the floor, where it exploded in shards of glass and beer that sprayed the room. Patrons cursed.
He pulled the stopper from the bottle and took a swig. “Now this wee bairn is more to me likin.” He leaned against the doorway and chugged half the bottle as Tanya stepped into the room and promptly slipped and fell in the puddle of beer. Linus tried to grab her and she pulled him down with her.
They flailed around on the floor for a moment before Linus managed to clamber back to his feet. He offered the still cursing Tanya a hand which she ignored, finally managing to stand. “What the hell happened?” She shot the bartender a glare. He shrugged and pointed at Shikarou.
Tanya surged towards the kami like a leviathan rising from the deep. “Out of my way, you idiot. You’re blocking the door!” She glared at Linus. “When we catch that whore, I want her in irons! Do you hear me? Irons!”
Shikarou peered owlishly at her and then turned slightly and, raising the bottle of whiskey to in front of his face, spoke to it. “Noo lass, I ken tha the thins tha crewl from ye urnt purty, boot tha une’s a right sceery.” He turned back to Tanya as her face reddened. “I thin ye won the oogly ribbon.” He grinned drunkenly. “Woorst o the lot, ye are.” He wriggled his ears at her and leered. “Boot ye’ll doo. Coom eer.”
“YOU DRUNKEN BASTARD POKEBOY!” Tanya slapped him with all the strength in her body.
Dorothea, no tyro in hand to hand combat, winced as she heard at least one knuckle break.
Shikarou blinked, but otherwise didn’t react as a handprint began to appear on his face and lines of blood started to trickle down from four nail marks in his cheek. “Noo, lass, is tha a wee to treat the one who’d drunk ye froom the bootle? Take thoot, ye beech.” He upended the whiskey bottle over her head.
Whiskey cascaded down Tanya and over the floor as she screeched in shock which quickly turned to rage. “Arrest him!” She tried to point at Shikarou and turned white before suddenly cradling her broken hand.
There was a steely rasp as Dorothea drew her sword. “Thou did strike him first!” She turned to Linus. “I entreat thee, officer, to do thy duty and arrest that woman for assault.”
Shikarou grinned drunkenly at the Seraph. “Lass, ye have noo need fer tha knife, poot it awooy.” He smirked at Tanya. “I unnerstan tha sooch a oogly lass moost ha a timper.” He frowned and leaned towards her. “Ooch, lass, yer all wet.” A salacious grin appeared. “I ha tha affect oon woomin.”
Tanya hopped backwards as if he were contagious and promptly slipped and fell once more.
Linus covered his face with his hands for a brief moment, but his eyes still gleamed with suppressed laughter as he turned to Dorothea. “I must ask, are you his pokegirl?”
She nodded slowly. “Aye.”
He sighed with relief. “Can you take him somewhere else, anywhere, so I don’t have to arrest him?”
Dorothea glanced at Shikarou and smiled as she saw an almost imperceptible nod. She sheathed her sword and squared her shoulders. “I’ll try.”
Linus shook his head slowly. “Does he get this drunk often?”
She shrugged. “I’m a Seraph.”
“Oh.” He nodded suddenly. “I guess he deserves it, then. Seraphs are a hard road to travel.”
Dorothea carefully gathered Shikarou up, trapping his arms under hers before effortlessly lifting him up and moving slowly outside, being careful not to slip on the sodden floor.
Once outside, the Seraph summoned her wings and vaulted into the air, turning to climb and soar in the general direction of Samantha’s house. “Lord, are thou well?”
“I’m fine, other than a little heartburn from the liquor.” Shikarou hurled the bottle in direction of the bar and grinned as it smashed in front of the door. “Let’s get our ladies and return whence we came.”
Dorothea’s arms tightened. “Lord, may I ask a boon of thee?”
He blinked. “You may. Ask and I’ll have to consider it fully and then decide if I’ll grant it.”
“Would thou never try to sound like a Scot again? Even a drunken one?”
Shikarou managed to look offended.
(07/07/99 0830 Caomh Sith, Blue Continent)
Shikarou looked around the room. “Samantha has asked for a full up demonstration of what we would do against pirates, so that’s why we’re going to be having this little exercise.”
“If this is a full up drill, where’s the rest of the harem?” Branwyn raised an eyebrow from where she sat. “There are only six of us.”
“Seven.” It was Candace. “I’ll be involved as well, providing medical aid as needed.”
Shikarou nodded. “Candace understands that she’ll be just as much of a target as anyone else and has still insisted on playing today. I didn’t want to use the full harem because this is an excellent chance to give Roisin another chance to mesh in combat; and because both Kasumi and Svetlana think something is going to happen soon. Neither knows what, but we’ve come to value their abilities to give us vague warnings about the near future.”
Nanu chuckled. “Vague is right.” She pulled her ears around into her lap and grinned. “Will I get to use my new rifle?”
“Of course you will.”
Samantha frowned. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m a trained sniper and I’ve recently been given an upgrade from a .50 caliber sniper rifle to a 25mm. I’ve used it in practice, but this will be my first time in the field, even if it’s an exercise.” She glanced at Shikarou. “I was supposed to get something really nice, but there’s been a snag in production.”
“Where did you find a 25mm rifle?” Samantha gave Shikarou a curious look. “I’ve never heard of it.”
“Around 5 AS, a firearms company called Barrett deployed a 25mm sniper rifle. I’ve copied the plans and made the weapon a little more robust since Nanu can carry a lot more than a standard human.”
“I’m surprised it’s not forbidden tech.”
Shikarou rubbed an ear and looked innocent. “Well, actually, I never asked what its status is,” he said slowly. “The Blue League government is very busy and they have a tendency to knee jerk react negatively to a weapon that they feel that only a pokegirl could deploy.”
Samantha shook her head. “That whizzing noise was my moral compass spinning again.” She sighed. “Let me guess. It’s currently not illegal and you’re not going to give the Blue League the opportunity to outlaw it, right?”
“That’s right.” Helen grinned. “He believes that if you give a government a chance to try to regiment your life more, they’ll always take it.”
Dorothea cocked her head. “But in truth, did the government not lower thy taxes, my lord?”
“Yes, but I still have to give them money so they can tell me what to do.”
The Seraph raised an eyebrow. “If taxes were voluntary, then no one would pay them and thou know it.”
A slow smile appeared on Shikarou’s face. “Wouldn’t that kind of indicate a fundamental problem with taxation? I don’t tax here. Instead, I charge a fee for the services that someone uses.”
Branwyn made an annoyed noise. “I thought we were here to repel pirates, not to plot our secession from the Blue League.”
Lorelei nodded. “She’s right. We should only deal with one group of pirates at a time. Today, we’re fighting the ones we’re allowed to kill.”
Samantha blinked in shock as Shikarou chuckled. “Now, the purpose of the exercise today is to let Samantha start to get an idea of what we’re capable of here; so she can plan to use us to augment the Guard in an emergency. So we’re supposed to cause maximum damage to the enemy while minimizing collateral damage.”
Branwyn winced. “Remember what happened last time. I didn’t think the arena would make the bodies be those of the people actually living here.” She shuddered at a particularly gruesome memory. “Magic is neat, but sometimes very creepy.”
Dorothea raised a hand. “Is our goal destruction of the enemy force or repulsion of it?”
Samantha frowned. “It’s the same thing.”
<She is stupid.> Roisin shot Samantha an annoyed look. <Shikarou, tell her I said that she is stupid. Very stupid.>
Helen giggled. “Samantha, that’s not true.” She gave Roisin an innocent look when the Wet Elf peered suspiciously at her. Roisin suspected Helen spoke Gaelic but still wasn’t sure. If Helen did understand Gaelic, then she was doing a good job of hiding that fact from her harem sister. “If we are supposed to drive them off, sinking their ship close to shore is a very bad idea. The pirates tend to swim to land and be very upset. However, if we’re supposed to destroy them, sinking their ship right away deprives them of their gun platform.”
Candace grinned. “Now, setting the ship on fire is almost always a useful tactic, especially if you start a nice big blaze someplace vital. The vast majority of invaders tend to find other things becoming a priority at that point, once their ride starts to billow smoke.”
Samantha looked a bit dazed. “You’ve got a Milktit spouting tactics and a NurseJoy who is advocating setting people on fire and doing it quickly.”
“I said set their ship on fire, not them.”
Nanu grinned. “Welcome to the Island of Misfit Pokegirls.” Everyone else groaned.
“Misfit pokegirls? You’ve been waiting since we saw that show to say that, haven’t you?” Shikarou turned a long suffering look on Samantha. “Yes, we’re a bit odd, but face it, pokegirls are individuals and everyone is different. Candace doesn’t think wholesale slaughter is usually good; but when it’s necessary, she thinks we should go about it properly. After all, NurseJoys hate shoddy workmanship and it means she has to patch up fewer of her own family.”
He turned a warm smile on Helen, who suddenly looked pleased. “And Helen is definitely unique; but then, how many pokegirls actually fall from the heavens to be with you?” She flushed red. “She’s interested in battling and if I hadn’t gotten her an Everstone, I’m sure she’d be a Minotaura by now.”
“Why haven’t you let her evolve?”
Helen’s eyes narrowed belligerently. “It’s my choice,” she snapped, “and Shikarou has agreed to go along with it. Don’t you get mad at him.”
Branwyn patted Helen on the knee. “You need to take a deep breath and relax. She’s not trying to take Shikarou from you.”
Helen closed her eyes for a moment and when she reopened them, they glittered with amusement. “Samantha, I’m sorry about that.”
The OfficerJenny looked confused but smiled gamely. “No offense taken, I assure you.”
Shikarou flicked his ears. “Now, this exercise will mimic the attack on Phallus, so it’ll be something similar to the Jet Diamond assault. The pokegirls will be primarily taken from the reports and records, with of course, some innovations to keep you on your toes.” There was a collective groan and he nodded. “It also means that the exercise will take place at night.” He flashed a grin as the groans sounded again. “Now, if you can guarantee me that the bad girls will only attack during the day, I’ll,” his grin appeared again, “continue to train everyone at night so we can take advantage of their stupidity.”
“Why couldn’t I have a lazy Tamer?” Nanu smirked. “Oh, that’s right. I’d still be in storage.”
Branwyn muttered something that sounded suspiciously like “and we’d be much happier.” She flushed slightly when Shikarou raised an eyebrow at her. “Sorry.” His eyebrows rose further and she took a deep breath and raised her voice. “I’m sorry, Nanu.”
The Mini-Top eyed her for a second before nodding. “Thank you.”
Shikarou smiled slightly. “Branwyn, you have the floor. Get them sorted out and let’s be off.”
She frowned. “What about you?”
“I’ll be monitoring from the command post. I have no plans to enter any of the fighting.”
“Good.” She smiled as Circe teleported into the room in response to the Unicorn’s mental summons. “Circe, you’ve got Shikarou.”
The Alaka-Wham looked between Branwyn and Shikarou before bowing slightly to her alpha. “I’ll take good care of him.”
The Unicorn nodded. “Dorothea and Nanu, I’m with Helen. Lorelei, Roisin, you two are on independent ops.” She turned to the Wet Elf. “I know you’re still working to fit in with us, so keep your eyes open. You have a tendency towards tunnel vision and I want you to work on that. Shikarou will help.” She glanced at the Sphinx. “Lorelei, you know what to do. Try not to pull your usual stunts, please. Candace, Shikarou will keep an eye on you and vector in any help if you need it.” It was unsaid but understood that he’d send the NurseJoy where she needed to go.
She turned to her Tamer. “Repulse or destroy?”
“Repulse if possible, destroy if needed.”
She nodded. “You heard our kami. Hit the armory and let’s play.”
Samantha watched them as they filed out. Shikarou smiled slightly. “Oh, and Branwyn?”
She turned to look at him. “Yes?”
“The attack has already begun.”
“Shit! Run, girls!” The pokegirls poured out the room and vanished down the hall.
Circe chuckled. “That was cruel.”
“The first rule of battle.”
Samantha stirred. “What’s that?”
“Battle plans usually don’t survive contact with the enemy.” He nodded towards the entrance to the room. “Shall we move to the command post? The battle will take place in the arena and we’ll be using a replica of the command post there, but it’s identical to the one we’ve built.” He headed towards the door. “The real one is located in a vault in the basement under your office.”
The command post was nicely furnished, with comfortable chairs and several computer stations. In the center of the room was a two meter wide holographic view of the area around Peacetown and the harbor. It showed everything in exacting detail and she jumped when the tiny pirate vessel erupted in smoke as it fired.
Samantha stared at it with a look of hunger. “You actually have this in operation in the real command post?”
“Yes. I’ve also licensed the technology to a manufacturing firm in New Avalon which will be making command stations like this as well as entertainment units for commercial sale.”
“Is it real-time? That will make things much easier.”
“I’ve got an observation and commo satellite parked eight hundred kilometers up just for that purpose.” He frowned as the ship bellied against the pier. “Branwyn, they’re dropping anchor and troops are starting to offload.”
On the bluff overlooking the harbor, Branwyn looked at the assembled harem. “Remember, the goal is to drive them off if possible, so don’t cripple the ship so much they can’t get underway.” She took Helen’s hand as Lorelei vaulted into the air. “Go.”
Dorothea grabbed Nanu and teleported to one of the gunpits cut into the bluff as a cannon round smashed into the inn. There were only a couple of completed buildings in view of the harbor and all of them had received at least a little attention from the attackers. The harbormaster’s building was already half smashed and a wick of flame could be seen dancing in the wreckage.
The Seraph lifted her imaging binoculars as Nanu quickly assembled her rifle. “I’ll let them know we’re here first and start dividing them.”
Dorothea glanced at her. “Thou need not explain the plan to me. Shoot.”
Nanu sighed and bent to the scope. Nightvision turned the night into day. “Uh, the front mast thingy, halfway.”
Dorothea chuckled as she trained her binocs on the site. “The foremast, Nanu.”
“Whatever. Shot.” The rifle bellowed. Nanu shifted and started scanning the ship for targets.
The 25mm high explosive dual purpose round flashed and the foremast began to bend around the impact point. “Thou broke it.”
The Seraph quickly swept her binoculars over the ground to see if any pirates were headed their way as Nanu stopped shifting. “Helmsbabe.” Dorothea trained her binocs as the rifle bellowed again.
Lorelei rolled and dove, her wings flashing briefly in the moonlight. There were yells from the group of pirates she’d targeted and a flurry of gunshots as well as a couple of powerful jets of water she had to quickly evade.
In situations like this, the harem was heavily outnumbered and Shikarou had stressed speed and mobility. Hit and run. She grinned as her claws glowed. Hit, she would. The Sphinx leveled out just above head height and used sabre claw to slash at anything in range as she whipped overhead. She climbed and jinked wildly to avoid the attacks which pulsed past her, licking the blood from her talons as she headed up to search for another group to maul.
In her wake, she left a half a dozen wounded and two dead or dying, along with severe terror as the survivors frantically scanned the night sky for her return. A return that wouldn’t take place until they’d relaxed and started moving again.
A voice whispered in Branwyn’s ear where she and Helen crouched amongst some rocks about ten meters from the end of the pier. <I am in position.>
“Roisin’s ready.” Branwyn and Helen stood quickly. The Unicorn cast a fireball spell that shot in an open gunport as Helen cast forceshield around them.
The gunports flashed yellow and the ship shuddered wildly as the fireball ignited bags of powder that had been readied for the barrage. Screams erupted from the gun deck and pirates already on the pier stared at the appearance of the two for a heartbeat before charging. The air filled with their screams of rage as they rushed forward. Energy flared and more material attacks bounced from the forceshield as the oncoming pokegirls tried to attack. Suddenly, the front ranks collapsed on the pier as Roisin used sing from beneath it.
The Wet Elf jumped up and grabbed the two closest foes, pulling them over the side and into the water. She swam quickly away, leaving their unconscious forms to be rescued or to drown.
Branwyn shot the pirates the finger and teleported away with Helen, appearing two hundred meters from their initial point. “I hate this nibbling shit. With the full harem, I could turn that ship into toothpicks and the crew into fertilizer.”
Helen shrugged as she cast a nightvision spell on them both. They’d held off in case the enemy had a mage who could detect the magic. Shikarou had thrown in complications like that before. “Perhaps. But you’ll have to work with what you’ve got.”
“I know and I will.” She cocked her head. “Shikarou says that we crippled their firepower and that a team of pirates is headed for the inn. We’re to intercept them. Roisin is working on cutting any anchors they put down and dealing with anyone stupid enough to get into the water with her.” She grinned. “Apparently cutting bars are a big surprise for them.”
“They’re not organized enough to be a team,” Helen disagreed. “They’re just a gang. I saw mostly Catfish.” Her ears flicked. “Be glad we don’t have Yushiko this time.”
“Kami preserve us from Armsmistresses and cats. Mostly Catfish, was it? Lightning, it is.” She grabbed Helen’s hand and they vanished.
The Buttaneer catapulted backwards as the 25mm round took her in the chest. There was a flash behind her as the bullet detonated on the railing. “Thou have killed the last one with fancy clothes.” Dorothea swept the decks of the ship with her binoculars. “No one else appears to be willing to scream commands anymore.”
Nanu chuckled grimly as she changed magazines. “Someone’s capable of learning. What about that big cat type I missed earlier? Has she shown up again? I’d really like to nail her hide to the wall.”
“I haven’t seen her.” They’d had to move to different blinds twice so far and it would soon be time to move to yet another one. After that, they’d join the melee if the pirates were still feeling belligerent.
Dorothea swept the area around the blind. Clear. She returned to the ship. “Some of them are trying to cut away the fouled sails on the foremast. Our lord thinks they may be trying to leave.”
“Orders?” Nanu had gone back to watching the ship through her scope.
“Bummer.” She sighed. “This was fun.”
Dorothea gave her a hard look. “Thou were killing pokegirls who had no chance to strike back at thee.”
“That’s the best part.” She flashed teeth in the semi-darkness. “They attacked us, remember? They’re only getting what they deserve.”
Lorelei dropped the remains of her last victim and turned, climbing to circle over Peacetown. The pirates had scattered finally and she was down to picking off stragglers as they scurried through the night. “Aha.” A lone slim figure held a tiny torch and was using it as she peered at a sign. “Someone got lost. Joy for me, pity for them.”
The Sphinx twisted in midair and lined up in an attack run, her claws flexing. The pokegirl saw her coming and dropped the torch, turning to face her. Suddenly, she grew dramatically as the Ogre shifted to her battle form.
Lorelei yowled a challenge and snapped her wings shut just before impact. Bone snapped under the force of the collision and then they were down, rolling furiously as blood, fur and feathers flew. From the shadows around the fight, a number of pirates dashed forward to close the trap, cutlasses flashing as they stabbed into the melee, completely regardless of whether it was friend or foe they struck in their eagerness to draw the blood of their enemy.
Branwyn tossed a pokeball to Helen and shifted to her quad form. “Rescue, please.” Air snapped in a loud “CRACK” as the Unicorn blasted ahead using mach breaker.
The Milktit hastily aimed the pokeball and retrieved the Sphinx just before Branwyn smashed into the group of pirates. Bodies flew in all directions as the Unicorn never slowed, slashing around her with her energy blade as she passed through the cluster of pokegirls. Then she vanished, teleporting from sight as the pirates scattered once more. Still and moaning forms littered the ground behind them.
Helen used lightning and ice beam to discourage survivors until Branwyn appeared behind her and grabbed her tail before vanishing again. The sound of pounding feet was heard as pirates decided to race back towards their ship and possible safety.
From their new blind, Nanu and Dorothea urged them on with carefully placed shots, killing anyone who showed any inclination to tarry.
Branwyn rubbed the bridge of her nose tiredly. “Candace says that Lorelei would have died, except for the limiters in the arena, but she will be fine. However, she’s planning on keeping Lorelei overnight in the clinic for observation.” She smirked. “I swear certain things are coded into pokegirls on a genetic level. Things like NurseJoys and wanting to keep people for observation and Sphinxes with that whole ‘scream and leap’ mentality when the wheels come off.”
Nanu snorted. “I think NurseJoys are all voyeurs. They’re always wanting to ‘observe’ people.”
Samantha stifled a laugh. “That was quite a show.” She looked at Shikarou. “Is your harem going to be my primary assault force?”
“No, you’ll have the guard. They’re not as polished as my harem, but we’ve trained together and they don’t like looking bad when compared against us.” He grinned. “It’s encouraged them to work harder. Molly can give you details and, when we’re around, we will be available to train with.” His smile grew predatory. “As well as against.”
Samantha’s answering smile was equally vicious.
He sipped at his tea. “We’ve also got a treaty with a colony of Wet Elves that live in the area and they’ll help once we notify them.”
<Bloody Scots.> Roisin sniffed. <I wouldn’t trust them as much as you have. They’ll let you down when things are at their worst possible time.>
Branwyn raised an eyebrow. “Unlike the Irish Wet Elves, who’ll just stab you in the back when you’re not looking?”
Roisin grinned. <Then you’d better pay attention now, hadn’t you?> Her eyes swiveled to Helen, who was watching the conversation with a blank expression. The Wet Elf suddenly scowled and went back to her tea.
Samantha sighed. “Is there any chance she’ll speak English?”
Roisin shook her head and grinned evilly. <About as much chance as there is of you speaking it, yank.>
Dorothea leaned forward. “Lord, how would thou evaluate the exercise?”
Branwyn winced when he smiled cheerfully. “I’m glad you asked that question. Lorelei did get ‘killed’, which, of course, hurts your points.” He glanced at his alpha. “And you almost destroyed the ship with that fireball. If their magazine had been open, it would have been a disaster. However, they did manage to limp out to sea, where presumably we would have been waiting to sink them. Technically, you did achieve your objective.”
“Nanu managed to shoot both of the mages on the ship before they could get into action, which helped your overall score. After final consideration, I graded you at eighty percent and Selene graded you at seventy.”
Nanu’s nose twitched. “If Miss Perfection wants to be so critical, why doesn’t she haul her silicone arse out her hole in the ground and show us poor carbon based life forms how it’s supposed to be done?”
Samantha looked puzzled. “Who is Selene? Is she a VideoGirl?”
Shikarou shot Nanu a glance as the Mini-Top reddened and sank down in her chair. “You’ll meet her later. Right now, let’s concentrate on getting you settled in and up to speed on things around here.”
Circe poked her head in the door of his office. “Got a minute?”
“Sure. What’s up?”
The Alaka-Wham slipped into the room and looked around. “Who’s guarding you right now?”
He shrugged. “Nobody. You looking for a job?”
She grinned. “Not exactly.” She came over and settled into his lap. “Oz, I’ve got a problem. You see, I’m horny.”
Shikarou flicked his ears and made a show of examining her head. “All I see are antennae.”
Circe squirmed in his lap. “Something understands what I mean, and as long as it does, I don’t need you.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him hungrily.
Her eyes were half closed when they came up for air. “So,” she asked in a low voice, “want to help out a pokegirl in distress?”
Shikarou chuckled quietly. “I happen to think that’s an admirable trait in a Tamer, so, yes.”
She kissed him gently, her eyes bright. “I think that kind of Tamer is an admirable thing in a pokegirl.” She twitched an antenna and everything on his desk cascaded to the ground. “Oops.”
He lifted her onto the desk and pulled her shirt off, tossing it into the corner. Circe lifted her hips so he could pull off her shorts before pulling him back to her for another long kiss.
Her hands fumbled with his belt until he pushed her away to do it himself. She laughed quietly. “If I can see it, I’m ok, but I’ll just need more practice when I can’t.”
Shikarou stepped out of his pants and Circe hooked her legs around his waist to pull him in. He pulled her head back and bit her gently on the throat. “Harder,” she murmured. Shikarou did as she asked, using the points of his fangs to scrape her skin until she hissed in pleasure.
Her warm scent filled the room as she pulled his head down to her breasts. “Yes,” she moaned, as his mouth covered a nipple. He sucked and her back arched as she tangled her fingers in his hair to hold him down.
He suckled, pulling her nipple in his mouth until it came free with a soft pop. Abruptly, Circe pulled him to her other breast, mashing the nipple against his lips until he opened them and ran his tongue across it. She sighed happily as he sucked hard enough to pull milk from her breast, if there was any. “Mmm, you’ve got the wrong girl for that, but you just keep trying.”
Shikarou’s hands slid over her hips and down her legs. They gripped and lifted suddenly and the Alaka-Wham fell back onto the desk with a loud thump. “Hey!” The cinnamon hue of her face was framed by a sea of chestnut as she glared at him. “That hurt.”
“Sorry.” Shikarou ran his tongue up her inner thigh and glanced up at her as her eyes widened. “Should I stop?”
“Don’t you dare,” came her breathless response.
He took a deep breath, filling his lungs with the scent of her arousal before leaning forward and lapping at her pussy. Circe draped her legs over his shoulders and tugged. She jumped when he covered her clit with his mouth and swirled his tongue over it slowly. She had a spicy taste that he’d always enjoyed and he savored it as his tongue delved into her.
There was a tentative touch on his mind and he dropped his shields enough to let her completely in. Shikarou’s pulse began to pick up speed to match hers as their minds meshed and shared pleasure swirled around them.
Circe’s nails made a grating sound as she gripped the edges of the desk and the soft sound of panting filled the air. Suddenly she grunted, her body shuddering, her legs tightening painfully on his head.
Her legs dropped away and he rose to press himself against her. Suddenly he stumbled and winced. Circe’s eyes widened. “Are you all right?”
He glanced down and kicked something away. “Fucking stapler. I stepped on it.” She started a giggle which quickly died as he rubbed the head of his cock against her. He leaned over her, putting his hands on either side as his hips slowly slid forward.
Circe closed her eyes, savoring the feeling of him inside her as her body rocked in time to his gentle thrusts. Her breathing began to speed up and a flush mottled her skin across her chest and neck
Their link shared what each was feeling and created an experience that was both razor sharp and muted at the same time.
Circe grunted again and pulled him painfully against the edge of the desk as she raked her nails down his back and bit his shoulder. The pain blended with the pleasure making Shikarou drive the desk forward in his last thrust as he spilled heat into her body.
Slowly, their breathing eased. Shikarou raised himself up slightly, wincing at the burning where she’d bitten him. An eyebrow rose. “You drew blood, didn’t you?”
Circe blinked and glanced at his shoulder. “Oh.” She pulled him back down and soothed it with broad strokes of her tongue. A half smile appeared. “You taste good.”
He started to pull back and her legs tightened around him as she made a protesting noise. “Don’t move, you feel so good inside me.” Her hips shifted slightly and she smiled comfortably. She blinked and looked around. “Wasn’t your desk on the other side of the room?”
He grimaced sourly. “Yes.” She started laughing. “Hey, it’s not funny!”
“Yes, it is.” Her chuckles eased. “Did I make you do that?” she asked in a little girl voice.
Shikarou smiled. “Yes, you did.”
“Good.” She shifted again. “You need some pillows in here.”
He rolled his eyes. “I am not getting padding for every flat surface on Caomh Sith.”
An impish look appeared. “You don’t have to. All you need is a couple to carry around with you all the time.”
She laughed again when he groaned.
Name: Urufu, Shikarou
Residence: Caomh Sith, Blue Continent
Security Clearance: Eta
Master Tamer Y
Species Name Level
Alaka-Wham Circe 73
Unicorn Branwyn 67
Milktit Helen 64
G-Spliced Pythia 60
DragonQueen Bellona 59
NurseJoy Candace 58
Armsmistress Urufu Yushiko 57
Seraph Dorothea 56
Vampire Elizabeth 53
Sphinx Lorelei 52
Mini-Top Nanu 51
Wet Elf Roisin 43
Badges: Scotland: Stornoway, Rum Island, Glasgow
Wales: Magicunt Village
Ruby League: Polass Gym