At the construction site, Ruth the Elephuk, along with various other Pokegirl and human employees, was enjoying a relaxing lunch break. Her food, was actually almost the same as the meal Emilia had gotten herself. The only difference being the Sowlectra pork lau lau Emilia had in hers. As her owner and Peruva harem sister dipped their pork into their poi to eat, Ruth and her equally herbivorous Gorgon harem sister ate the poi directly with a spoon. The dish which would have some more conservative humans saying Emilia spoiled her Pokegirls would be the haupia dessert which accompanied all four of the lunchtime meals.
Breanna, with her own lunch of a thermos of saimin soup, was the only individual there who didn’t seem to be taking the opportunity to relax. Body tensed, the Amazon bodyguard remained alert as she ever did while at Ruth’s ‘dangerously unprotected’ workplace. As the Elephuk finished her poi, and began eating her coconut dessert, her focus on the classic Silver Island-style meal was interrupted by the Amazon muttering to herself.
“A construction site with mostly Tomboys. Wouldn’t relying that much on machinery cost too much money?”
It was obvious that the combat-minded Pokegirl was too focused on her annoyance with the situation to be properly enjoy her own dish- tasty as it looked. While Ruth herself chose to ignore the complaint rather than respond, one of the Tomboys who overheard it spoke up.
“Actually, while much of the early construction work might require contractors with stronger breeds to be cost-efficient, the current stage of the job does not. Given those strong breeds often belong to Balance Ropers, their military duties mean that they often can’t have their Pokegirls focus on the technical skills this stage needs to accompany the physical labor. By contrast, my breed still has three times the strength possible for a human, the intelligence to learn the skills, and is available at low cost for non-military Tradesmen.” As the Tomboy saying this spoke, she continued her lecture with a gleam in her eyes that turned somewhat vicious with the next statement. “In fact, Amazons, despite having skills useless to construction such as enhanced agility, are no stronger than Tomboys. If anything, an Amazon’s desire to focus on combat would be an annoyance to any Tradesmen who hoped to purchase a breed capable of focusing their full attention on their job.”
To her credit, though she looked mildly irritated upon hearing the insult to her breed, Breanna chose not to respond to it. Proving her professionalism, she instead latched on to the one part of the Tomboy’s lecture that could possibly be seen as relevant to her job as a bodyguard. “If you have stronger breeds of Pokegirls at the early stage of construction, is it at all possible that you might need more at a later stage? If we had contractors coming in who hired Pokegirls belonging to Balance Ropers as hired help, then given their military background, that would be a significant help.”
“Sorry- you just missed the framing. Not to mention the excavation, drainage, backfill… Basically, all of the stuff which would have required more than the breeds we have.” The response came not from the antagonizing Tomboy- who had taken a bite from her sandwich rather than respond to the unperturbed Amazon- but instead from her Metalmouse coworker. Shrugging her shoulders, the Steel-type Pokegirl continued, “now we’re currently working on issues such as roofing, flashing, window installation, and the like. If Sukebe hadn’t invented the Minimouse- or my breed, the Metalmouse- then we might need some more strength to create buildings that fit current building codes for durability. However, you get your light-weight murisium from me, and then my Minimouse harem sisters turn the local co2 in the air into light-weight carbon nanotubes. In a military-grade building or something almost the entire thing might be made of murisium with a bit of carbon nanotube, but here it’s less than a centimeter of nanoscopic coating. In addition to being versatile materials which can fulfill a lot of crucial roles, a small amount of them can significantly increase a building’s strength, and automatically fulfill requirements. Lesser leagues- as in, those feral-riddled places that don’t have any sort of decent building code- might not require it, but here they tend to be placed in a thin shield layer between the sheathing and the housewrap, where-”
“Alright, I get it, we’re not getting any battle-ready contractors and you like to talk about your work. I’m glad that you find the specifics of your work fascinating, but I personally don’t have any interest in it.”
“Especially when, even if it tends to be true in practice, the technicalities of the law tend to be a smidgeon more specific than what you said. In buildings where the shield layer involves carbon nanotube-embedded murisium, there are still codes further regulating that material. In other words, it doesn’t automatically fulfill requirements, but instead, as per regulation 1904.2 of section 1904 of chapter 19 of the Silver Island building code, for group r2 and r3 occupancies not more than three stories above grade plane, which is the category this building would fall under-”
“Stop.” If it had been another Pokegirl saying that, Ruth would have been annoyed at the interruption. Instead, the masculine voice belonging to the materials installation specialist was the source of the interruption. And, worryingly enough, he sounded dead serious- about what, the Elephuk wasn’t sure. “If you remember that off of the top of your head… I know Elephuks have a good memory, so do you have the entire building code memorized?”
Ruth nodded. “Yeah- my mom made sure that I read the Silver Island building code, same as she did. Given our breed’s memory, this meant that in addition to helping supervise and help with key construction work, she was also a repository of legal advice. If you have any questions about any aspect of our League’s building code, I can certainly help with that.”
By this point, the materials installation specialist had an exasperated look on his face. “Wait- you could memorize the entire building code- just by reading it over once, given your breed- but you never actually thought to mention that you had done so, or the things your mother had helped with through her knowledge of that? That could have been useful to the company, you know.”
And now Ruth understood why the human male had been so serious. “Oh! If it had come up, I certainly would have mentioned it. But it never came up, and so I didn’t think to mention it.”
By this point, Breanna was staring just as intently at her. “Do you mean to say you forgot it despite being an Elephuk?”
At this accusation, the pachyderm Pokegirl shook her head vigorously in denial of the false charge. “No! Just because I didn’t think about it doesn’t mean I forgot it, and if I had ever thought to mention it, I could have brought up any fact related to it I had ever been exposed to. I mean, just because I can remember everything I experience doesn’t mean I always know which bit of information is relevant at the time. Just because I didn’t sift through my massive amount of memory properly doesn’t mean that I forgot anything.”
The Amazon stared silently at the Elephuk for a bit. Then, putting a lid on her thermos of soup, she put her lunch away to instead reach for her phone. “Thank you for clarifying. That’s exactly the sort of distinction I think my superiors at the precinct would find valuable for me to tell them.” As Breanna put the phone to her ear and mouth, she then proceeded to hold a conversation with her employers about the information Ruth had just provided.
As the Elephuk watched- and as her coworkers at the construction site also watched- she had mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it was clear that Breanna was doing her best to help find any lead possible in a way that would protect Ruth if successful. On the other hand, given that she already had gone through a psychic probe that had already scoured her perfect memory, it seemed unlikely it would be a relevant factor. Even if she might have made some sort of big mistake on her own, it seemed unlikely that the highly skilled psychic looking through the same memories would have made an identical oversight.
Not to mention, having her flaws discussed and analyzed in front of her coworkers was completely embarrassing.
Hours later, Ruth was working a short distance from her harem sister Natalya when the attack came. The first (and obvious) indication that something was wrong was that her entire surroundings became pitch black. Given they were outside in the daytime, the only explanation the Elephuk could think of was that somebody was utilizing the Shroud of Darkness attack. Focusing on her enhanced hearing, not only did Ruth hear the sounds of confusion from within the Shroud of Darkness, but she also heard discussion from outside it. The voices of the nearby onlookers exclaimed how they suddenly couldn’t see into the pitch black shroud themselves. So whoever did this was powerful enough to maintain a relatively large radius which could be darkened from even those outside of…
That sound. That sound was nice. That sound was soothing.
A small part of Ruth’s brain recognized what she was hearing as a Drone attack, meant to acoustically hypnotize an opponent in battle. Given her enhanced hearing, combined with her decision to focus on it, that same part realized she had fallen under its control easily.
At this point, as she stood motionlessly gazing into the pitch black, no part of her was able to feel any alarm. That sound… That sound was just too soothing and friendly…
“Natalya! Defensive Crystal Prison on Ruth! 12 hours version!” Though Breanna was so close, she sounded so… distant… Her shouted words- probably said at top volume- were so quiet compared to the soft, monotonous droning…
As spiky shards of ice enveloped her, the Elephuk paid no more attention to the crystal shield surrounding her than she did to the missiles which, within mere seconds of the ice’s formation, started raining down upon it. Given the exclamation of the voices outside of the shroud, it seemed that some of the onlookers recognized the powerful Black Sky attack. Ruth casually listened to those voices’ worries that the attack which had just targeted her looked like it had been launched with a lethal level of force.
The droning sound really was quite pleasant.
As the sound of a gunshot tried and failed to break the pattern of the soothing droning, Ruth heard Natalya cry out in pain and the Crystal Prison around the Elephuk disappeared. At the same time, the pitch black suddenly broke, illuminated by a Pokegirl who seemed to have just come outside from the entrance of the neighboring art museum. Her constantly shifting rainbow of bright shell and hair colors clearly marked her as a Milliprisma- very rare in most situations, although somewhat more frequent in places such as art museums. With the pitch black shroud gone, the entire scene was visible to all around. Natalya, laying limp with a pool of blood around her head, was quickly called back to her Pokeball by Breanna, with Emilia seeming to be similarly enhanced by the Drone attack. Some of the Gorgon’s severed head-snakes were left lifelessly to the side of the patch of blood, not going into the Pokeball with her. Around the scene, workers were either panicking or, in many cases, standing unnaturally still as they listened to the Drone attack.
The Milliprisma turned to a seemingly unimportant direction, and rushed towards it while brightly glowing with the Luminary technique. As she did so, a previously invisible Pokegirl was revealed as she was in the midst of continuing her Drone attack. Having read the Pokedex, Ruth was able to recognize the now-visible Pokegirl as being an Aquassin Ninsect, who had probably been using her species Camouflage ability to stay hidden. The attacking Pokegirl reacted to her loss of invisibility far too late. In the brief seconds in which the Bug-type failed to respond to the change of circumstances, Breanna rushed towards her.
As the Amazon threw a fast punch at the Ninsect with a simple but hard-hitting Strike attack, the Drone attack ended. Snapping out of her stupor, Ruth easily noticed the various others around her doing the same. The panic which had been artificially suppressed suddenly arose. Somebody had just tried to kill her, and Natalya was almost killed, and the attack was brazen enough to happen in full daylight at her worksite, and-
Was the Ninsect letting Breanna punch her around? It looked like she was heading towards the direction of…
“Breanna, stop! Aquassins can learn Dissolve, and she seems to be manipulating you towards the storm drain!”
Upon hearing Ruth’s warning, the Amazonchan changed her tactics without taking any time to pause her attack. Lunging forward to grapple her foe, it seemed that she had her, until- the Aquassin turned out to actually be a nondescript stone?
“It’s Cicada Ruse- not a common attack, but she’s nearby and will try to flee soon!”
Before the Elephuk finished her sentence, her Amazon bodyguard noticed the Bug-type running towards the storm drain in an attempt at escape. By this point, the foreman’s Ogress had arrived, already in her Monstered Out form. Lacking speed or reflex enhancements, as well as the long-range attacks, enhanced strength alone was useless in this battle. In other words, the Ogress was unable to do anything helpful with her Monstered Out state, with Breanna’s enhanced speed and agility proving far more useful.
The Amazon, managing to outrun the Ninsect, not only blocked the Bug-type’s path to the storm drain, but she also launched yet another attack against her. Angling her body so that her strike would hit at a diagonal, Breanna launched a Stone Palm attack. As expected from the attack, the Ninsect was sent backwards- and because of the angle of the attack which Breanna had managed, it was straight into the waiting arms of the Monstered Out Ogress. Grabbing the disoriented opponent in a Bear Hug attack, as she squeezed with strength twenty times that of the strongest human, the Ogress slammed her head down. The first Headbutt left the Aquassin Ninsect paralyzed- and given both the strength behind the Headbutts and the increasing pressure from the Bear Hug, the third Headbutt left her body limp.
Noticing the state of her foe, the Ogress paused her attacks. With the height that the already tall Pokegirl had gained from her Monstered Out form, she looked down at Breanna expectantly. “She might be unconscious, but… Do you think she’s playing some kind of trick?”
Breanna looked up at both the Ogress and the limp Ninsect, and her brows furrowed in contemplation. “Hold her until the police get here- I’ll keep a close eye on her until then, just in case she tries to escape.”
“The other one already escaped.” The information came from the previously silent Milliprisma. Walking closer towards them, the scintillatingly beautiful Pokegirl made a stark contrast with the Ogress’ hideous Monstered Out form. As she walked closer, a human male trailed behind, seemingly uncertain with the situation. Well-dressed and well-groomed, he did indeed seem to be the type of person to own a Milliprisma that he might bring to an art museum.
Eyes not wavering from their focus on the probably unconscious Ninsect, Breanna responded to the color-changing Pokegirl. “What do you know about this ‘other one’, and how do you know this?”
“My Aura Sight. The previous Black Sky attack seemed to accompany a surge of energy from the aura of a strong Pokegirl on a nearby rooftop. Shortly after I intervened to remove the Shroud of Darkness she had been maintaining, her aura surged and she disappeared. That’s all that I know about her- and I can’t believe I actually intervened. I’ve never been in such a terrifying situation before-”
“Calm down.” The Milliprisma was interrupted not by the Amazon, but by the man beside her. “I’m not sure exactly what’s going on, Anuenue, but it doesn’t seem like you did anything wrong, and the danger is over.”
Just as the man- now all but confirmed as being the Milliprisma’s owner- spoke against panicking, Emilia came over doing just that, with Bria trailing behind her. “Why aren’t the police here yet? That was terrifying. I think Natalya took a bullet to the head- she’s my Alpha, and she was my friend before she thresholded, and I don’t even know if she’s going to survive!” Ruth’s owner was sobbing as she spoke, shaking visibly. The Elephuk tentatively stepped forward, but then stopped at the sight of various civilians around them who were using devices to record the scene and take pictures. Ruth hadn’t been in the harem for very long, and she admittedly wasn’t sure what Emilia might want to hear that she was willing to have said in front of such a crowd. Saying anything now would feel almost like a form of emotional exhibitionism.
“It hasn’t been that long. The whole thing happened rather quickly- I’m sure the police will be here soon.” In reflection on Breanna’s words, Ruth realized that the Amazon was right about it not having been long. Having seen the time, the Elephuk could confirm the battle transpired in under two minutes, and the conversation afterwards only one minute. If the police arrived in less than two minutes, they would still have arrived within five minutes of the incident having started. In that amount of time, if the Milliprisma hadn’t been around to lift the Shroud of Darkness, the two assailants could have easily killed Ruth and left.
Gazing around the scene, the elephant-based Pokegirl trembled as she thought about it. Excluding the Minimice (who were feral from the stress, and rocking back and forth while chewing their hands), the surrounding onlookers were in varying states of fear and relief. Though the reactions varied depending on individual, common responses included crying, trying to comfort others, or looking around warily trying to detect further attack. The streets seemed noticeably emptier than before, and now that the situation had calmed down, some heads were poking out of nearby buildings such as the adjacent art museum.
One particularly morbid Tomboy seemed immune to the normal reactions exhibited by everybody else. Instead, with a look of nothing more than curiosity, she was crouched down by the dried blood and viscera where Natalya had lain after being shot. She had already picked up one of the head-snakes that had been severed by the bullet’s path. The head-snake, which had appeared so lively and reactive when it was attached to the Gorgon, was now motionless. Though it had never been truly alive, and had instead merely been an extension of Natalya, it still felt like looking at a part of her harem sister that had been rendered dead.
Had this whole thing really been just to target her?