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Growing Pains Chapter 02
Barry slowly opened his eyes. He could feel the pressure against his back from the sleeping Tomboy and briefly debated just staying like that for as long as she was asleep.
Movement behind him let him know that wasn’t going to be very long and he turned over, staring into the Tomboy’s open eyes.
She shivered. “I’ll never get used to those.”
Barry waggled his eyebrows. “I hope you don’t.”
She sighed and leaned forwards, pushing firmly against him again. “I love you, Master.”
“Excellent.” Barry grinned and kissed her cheek. “We should probably get up. I need to get to know you before tomorrow.”
He felt her hands grab at him as he tried to roll away. “We can do that here?”
Barry chuckled and gently pried himself free. “We’ll do more of that, I promise. Later.”
The Tomboy let out an unhappy noise but allowed him to get up. He could feel her watching him intently as he prepared to take his morning shower. “Together?” She murmured.
Barry glanced back at her. “Later.”
She whined and pulled the blankets over her head. Barry couldn’t help but laugh at her antics and went to quickly clean up.
The bed was empty when he got out, two small piles lying on the mattress. One was his dirty clothing from the day before, and the other was the outfit he had seen the Tomboy wearing originally. Her white shirt and shorts were nowhere to be seen.
Barry scooped up his clothes and walked down the hall to his room, stopping at his bathroom and listening. He could hear the water running so he walked past, dumping his dirty laundry and searching his wardrobe.
He was pulling on a shirt when the water stopped, soft footsteps padding away a few seconds later. He poked his head out in time to see the naked Tomboy toweling her hair. “When you’re ready, come on out.” He called after her.
The girl jumped in surprise but made no other indication she had heard, disappearing into the master bedroom. Barry took a moment to savor the image of her ass before pulling back and finishing dressing, making his way back to the kitchen and pulling ingredients out of the cupboards.
Barry turned and grinned at her. “I like that shirt better.” The Tomboy blushed. She had abandoned the see-through white of the night before, now dressed in a complementary black shirt with her denim shorts that showed off her stomach.
“Thank you.” She murmured. “What are we doing today?”
“Well, first things first.” Barry turned back to the stovetop, cracking a few eggs into the pan. “You need a name. Can’t just go around yelling ‘hey you’ every time.”
The Tomboy giggled. “I’d like that, Master.”
“Good. I was thinking Rebecca. Do you like it?”
“Rebecca. Rrrrebecca.” She nodded. “I like it, Master, but please don’t shorten it to Becka or Becky. I don’t like those.”
“That’s fair enough.” Barry flipped the eggs and placed a cover on the pan. “Those should be done pretty soon. What kind of fruit do you like?”
Rebecca blinked. “Fruit? On what?”
“I was thinking we’d do some toast and jam.” Barry opened the fridge and started rifling through the various jars. “Any preference?”
Rebecca shook her head. “Anything, Master.”
“I like strawberry best.” Barry grabbed the jar and closed the door. “So let’s go with that.”
Rebecca watched him pull some bread out of a small oven. “I should be doing this for you.”
“Yea?” Barry started spreading the jam across the pieces of toast. “Know how to cook?”
Rebecca dropped her gaze. “Not really, Master.”
“Then it’s better to let me, right?” Barry finished and pulled the eggs off the heat. “I can teach you, if you’d like.” He smiled when her head came back up. “That way, you can do it for me once you learn.”
Rebecca nodded excitedly. “Please!”
“I’ll show you some things this afternoon.” Barry split the eggs in half and dropped a piece of toast on each plate. “Here you go.”
Rebecca eagerly dug in, accepting the glass of water Barry handed her with a mumbled thank you. He pulled up a chair next to her, eating through his plate at a more sedate pace. “After we finish, we’ll head outside.”
Rebecca finished and was watching him eat when there was a knock on the door. Barry gestured. “C’nya get that?”
Rebecca opened the front door and blinked. “Hello?”
The two pokegirls there waved. “Good morning!” One said brightly. “Are you the young master’s new pokegirl?”
“I’m Alice.” The speaker reached forwards and embraced the Tomboy. “And this is Lana. We’re here to clean the house.”
“Is that Alice?” Barry’s voice drifted down the hall. “Tell her to come in.”
“Come… Come on in.” Rebecca stepped to the side and watched the two walk inside. “He’s in the…”
“Kitchen, right?” Alice gestured, prompting Lana to split off towards Barry’s room. “I’ll find him.”
Barry looked up from the plate he was drying as Alice walked in. “Morning, Alice.”
The girl bowed her head. “Good morning, sir. Did you have a good night?”
Barry chuckled and looked over Alice’s shoulder at Rebecca. “Sure did.”
Alice smiled. “I’m happy to hear that, sir. Master Thomas wanted to make sure everything went as you wanted this weekend.”
“Rebecca and I were just heading out.” Barry handed Alice the plate he was holding. “The clothes on the master bed are hers, though I’m not sure where her other shirt went. Please wash them and the rest in the bag next to the bed and lay them out for her. My clothes can be put away as usual.”
Alice bobbed her head. “Of course, sir. Will you be using the master’s bedroom again tonight?”
Barry frowned. “Probably not. My bed should be large enough for the two of us.”
“Then I shall lay out Rebecca’s clothes on your bed.” Alice turned and nodded to the Tomboy. “Have a nice day.”
“Come on.” Barry called, slipping past the two pokegirls and grabbing his shoes. “Do you have shoes?”
“Uh… not really.” Rebecca stuttered. “I usually walk barefoot, but…”
“We’ll get you some.” Barry cut in. “You don’t have to wear them if you don’t want to, but I want you to have them.”
Rebecca released the breath she had been holding and nodded. “Thank you, Master.”
“Of course.” Barry patted at his pockets and withdrew a communicator. “Alice, I’m going out. I’ll have my com on me if there are any problems.”
“Have a good day, sir.” The voice drifted through the house. “Be safe.”
“C’mon.” Barry took Rebecca’s hand and pulled her outside. “I want to let you stretch and then we’ll head to a store.” He keyed in a number and held the com up near his mouth. “Just need to call Mira.”
The communicator rang a few times before it picked up. “Messer security, Mira speaking. How are you this morning, master Bartholomew?”
“Doing well, Mira, thank you. Do you have any trainees this week? I just got my first pokegirl and I need to see what she can do.”
Rebecca grew nervous at Barry’s words but stayed silent. “It’s Saturday, sir.” Mira replied. “The trainees we had are in town on leave.”
“I was hoping they wouldn’t be.” Barry huffed. “Alright. Thank you, I’ll figure something out.”
“If you need someone for her to spar with, I’m available, sir.” Mira said quickly. “Would that be acceptable?”
Barry frowned. “Maybe. She only just came from the ranch yesterday.”
“I’ll be gentle, sir.” Mira chuckled. “Where would you like me to meet you?”
“The training room is fine.” Barry replied. “We’ll be there in a few minutes.” He hung up and put the communicator back in his pocket. “Mira is head of security.” He explained at Rebecca’s questioning look. “Kinda surprised that she’s got time to see you personally.”
Rebecca paled. “Uhm, Master, maybe she’ll be too strong for me to fight.”
“If she fought you for real, sure.” Barry replied. “But she’s good. You’ll be alright.”
Rebecca took a deep breath. “If you say so, Master.”
“It’ll be fine.” Barry soothed. “You trust me, right?”
Rebecca’s nodded resolutely. “Yes, Master. I do.”
Barry hugged her. “Good. Come on, the training room is in the main building.”
Rebecca’s mouth dropped open as they rounded the corner and began walking up towards the mansion. “Master?”
Barry glanced back. “Hm?”
“I was wondering, with the... cleaners, and the... ... ...are you rich?”
Barry grimaced. “Is that really important?”
Rebecca glanced at her feet. “I’m sorry to ask, but... am I even good enough for you?”
Barry shook his head slightly. “Rebecca, I already told you. I chose you. I want you.” He sighed. “Bear with it this first day, okay? Enjoy this. Next week is supposed to be hell.”
Rebecca looked back up, reassured but with a questioning look. “Next week, Master?”
“We’re going to be apprenticing to a licensed Hunter.” Barry gave her a grim nod. “Yea, you understand what that means.”
Rebecca’s look of confusion had fallen away. “I do.” She replied, her face set. “I won’t let you down.”
Barry grinned and playfully shoved her shoulder. “Attagirl. Come on, Mira’s waiting for us.”
Rebecca jogged to keep up with him, following Barry through a few short hallways and into a large open room. Various sets of equipment lined the walls, the center space larger than any league battle arena she had seen on holovid.
“Mira!” Barry bellowed. “We’re here!”
A grinding noise echoed through the room, followed by a loud crash when a pile of equipment shifted. A lithe form worked her way free, dusting herself off as she walked towards the pair. “Good morning, master Barry.” She bowed slightly as she got closer. “I apologize about the mess, we had a young Jennie strip a bolt on the rowing machine.”
Barry looked over at the equipment Mira had been working on. “One of your new girls?”
Mira nodded. “I don’t believe she had used one before. But where are my manners, you are the young master’s new pokegirl?” She extended a hand to Rebecca. “At your service, ma’am.”
Rebecca took it. “Uh, likewise?”
“No, no, no.” Mira smiled. “I just work for the family, Ms...?”
“Ms. Rebecca.” Mira lowered her hand. “If you are the young master’s pokegirl, then I work for you as well.”
Rebecca shot a panicked look back to Barry. He shrugged. ‘Enjoy it’ he mouthed silently.
“...right.” Rebecca fixed a smile to her face. “Master Barry said you were going to test me?”
Mira bobbed her head. “That’s right. Tell me, what breed are you?”
“A Tomboy.” Mira brightened. “Well that’s wonderful, I was worried that I’d have to clean up afterwards. What would you like to do, spar? Young master?”
Barry shrugged at her question. “Treat her like one of your recruits.”
Mira’s smile grew predatory. “Are you sure, sir?”
Rebecca winced when Barry nodded. “Can I-“
“We’ll start with a strength test.” Mira interrupted, striding over to an overhead bar and clicking the pin down a few notches. “600, 700... you have enhanced strength, so we’ll start at 700.”
“She was benching 800 at the ranch.” Barry interrupted, giving Rebecca an innocent smile when the Tomboy glared at him. “The faster we find her limit, the faster you can test her in combat.”
“Benching 800.” Mira mumbled. “Alright, we’ll start at 1000 then.” She secured the pin and gestured. “Go ahead.”
Rebecca grit her teeth and sat, wrapping her legs under the braces and beginning her reps. Mira watched her complete ten with some strain before she waved for a halt. “You seem to be pulling that alright.”
Rebecca huffed, her chest moving at a measured rate. “It’s more than I’m used to.”
“You can still talk.” Mira replied amusedly. “That means it’s not your limit.”
Rebecca winced and closed her eyes when Mira moved the pin down more. “1200.”
Rebecca grabbed the bar and hissed, her whole body tensing as she pulled with everything she had. She managed to lift the weight four times before letting go, the air brakes kicking in and saving the machine from damage. “That’s too much.” She gasped. “Too much.”
Mira placed her hands on Rebecca’s chest and back, waiting a few moments before feeling her pulse. “Mmm, only slightly. And I didn’t tell you to stop.” She moved the pin up and grabbed the bar, effortlessly pulling it down to the wide-eyed Tomboy. “1100. Ten reps.”
Rebecca stared at the older pokegirl for a full ten seconds before taking the bar from her, grunting when Mira let go. “Ten.”
“TEN!” Mira barked. “GO!”
Barry found a seat and watched Rebecca struggle with the bar, Mira barking a countdown in her ear. She wasn’t going to quit. That’s not the kind of pokegirl her psych profile said she was. He just needed to see it for himself.
“THREE!” Mira barked. “TWO!”
Rebecca grit her teeth, ignoring the burning in her muscles as she pulled another rep. “Two more.” She thought, forcing her breathing to stay where she needed it. “Breathe. Pull. Breathe. Release.” she let the bar return to neutral and began to pull for the final rep. “You can do it. Do it for him. Do it for HIM!”
“That’s good.” Mira caught the bar when Rebecca let go and lowered it gently down. “Breathe, girl. Rest. You earned it.”
Rebecca’s mouth hung open as she forced air into her lungs and she started when a hand patted her leg. “Good job.” She raised her head to look at Barry. He smiled. “Knew you could do it.”
Rebecca let out a satisfied groan and let her head fall back to the seat. “Yesh masteh.”
Barry chuckled and turned his attention to Mira. “So, how did she do?”
Mira shrugged. “She’s young, but she’s strong. Stronger than any other Tomboy her age, I’d say.” She patted the panting pokegirl fondly. “She’ll do you proud, young master.”
“How much?” Rebecca wheezed. She struggled upright. “You, how much?”
Mira grinned. “My maximum? Around 4000.” She laughed at Rebecca’s incredulous look. “This machine weighs 6k, so that’s out of reach, but let’s see...” she looked around. “The bench press, that’s only a few thousand.”
Rebecca watched Mira step over and, with barely a moment to position herself, hoist the reinforced bench onto her shoulder. She turned and gave Rebecca a wink before walking over to the wall, gently putting her load back where it belonged. “There we go.”
“What are you?” Rebecca whispered in awe.
“I’m a Jennie.” Mira grinned. “Don’t look like one, do I? Master Thomas believed it would be better for me not to look like law enforcement. And I must say, I’m liking the red hair.”
“How long does it take you to keep it dyed?” Barry asked curiously. “I knew you were an OfficerJenny, but I’ve never seen you without your helmet on.”
“Oh, a few hours every week.” Mira stroked her shoulder-length hair. “It’s not that bad, really.” She turned and clapped her hands. “Now then, you seem rested enough.”
Rebecca’s eyes widened. “No?”
Mira grinned. “Yes.” She laughed, grabbing the Tomboy and hoisting her to her feet. “If you’re going to be protecting the young master, I need to make sure you can fight.”
Barry watched the two walk to the center of the room. Mira would take care of it. She had been his teacher, at one point. For a certain style. He shook his head, annoyed that the memory was just out of reach.
“Trap my arm.” Mira instructed, guiding Rebecca’s hands. “When I strike, you go here, and here. Turn. Trap.”
Barry watched Rebecca clumsily copy the moves, slowly gaining speed and confidence as she practiced. But something was off. He looked at her feet, her angle. It wasn’t right.
Rebecca grunted when Mira’s punch slipped through again, driving the air from her lungs. “Your timing is off!” Mira barked. “Turn into the strike, redirect it. Then trap it.”
“I am.” Rebecca replied in frustration. “I’m doing it just like you showed me.”
“It’s not her timing.” The pokegirls turned as Barry walked up. “Rebecca, get back into your stance.”
Confused, the Tomboy complied. “Master?”
Barry gently pushed on her leg. “Move it forward.” He watched her shift, stopping her after a moment. “There. Now turn your body, here, so this line is pointing at your opponent.”
Rebeca did as he said, blinking when she felt her weight settle. “That... feels better.”
“You got it?” Barry took a step back. “Try again.”
Mira danced in, throwing a jab that Rebecca blocked. The Jennie nodded, turning and striking with her off hand.
Rebecca twisted, watching incredulously as her body seemed to move on its own. Her hands snapped out, moving exactly as much as she needed with no wasted motion, redirecting Mira’s strike and trapping her arm. Mira’s eyes widened in surprise when she felt the Tomboy seamlessly pull her off balance, sending the OfficerJenny crashing to the floor.
“Yea. Like that.”
Rebecca quickly let go and helped Mira back to her feet. “Master, what did you do?”
Barry blinked. “Nothing. I just showed you what you were doing wrong.”
“The young master has a gift.” Mira grinned at Barry. “It has been a while since you’ve been able to use it, sir.”
Barry pursed his lips. “There’s nothing to use. It’s a worthless skill.”
Mira shook her head. “Miss Rebecca doesn’t think so, sir.”
“You knew exactly how to fix what I was doing wrong.” Rebecca whispered, her eyes shining as she looked at him. “Is that the skill you’re talking about, Master?”
“That’s amazing!” Rebecca gushed, jumping forwards and almost lifting him off the ground in her excitement. “You’ll be able to help me learn so many things!”
“Rebecca.” Barry wheezed, slapping at the Tomboy’s head. “Air!”
Rebecca’s eyes widened and she let go, holding herself nervously while Barry wheezed. “I’m so sorry, Master I- are you ok?”
“Fine.” Barry gasped. “Fine.” He straightened. “Phew. You’re really strong.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“Forget it.” Barry waved her off. “Just, listen to Mira, okay? I’m just going to step outside.”
Rebecca watched him leave, fear etched into her face. “What have I done?”
“Hey.” Mira put her hand on the Tomboy’s shoulder. “It’s going to be ok.”
“I, I’ve hurt him and-“
“Shhhh shh shsh.” Mira stepped in front of Rebecca and bent down so she was looking the Tomboy in the eye. “I’ve known the young master since he was born. It will be alright, Rebecca. He needs some space, not because you hurt him, but because of what he is. He understands that you were just excited. He’ll probably have forgotten about it by the time he gets back.”
Mira glanced up at the door. “He hates that he has bloodtraits. The other students at his school bully him for looking different, for being different. It was once so bad, he...” she trailed off. “No, that is something he needs to tell you himself.”
“So... why now?” Rebecca murmured.
“He has something called the Trainer bloodgift.” Mira explained. “It makes him have a special ability to teach others. He has avoided it and kept from doing anything that might be seen as unnatural.” She shrugged. “The fact that he pushed past that to help you says more than anything else. Give him time.”
Rebecca turned to stare at the door. “Master...”
Barry was watching the afternoon sky when he heard the doors opening behind him. Turning, he grinned at Rebecca. “Hey. Did she go so easy on you that you didn’t even break a sweat?”
Mira stepped out behind the Tomboy and laughed. “Of course not, young master. I ran Rebecca through a cleaning cycle so she would be fresh for you.”
Barry frowned. “How’d you get her...” he patted at his pockets. “Where’d it go? What? When did that happen?”
Rebecca held out her pokeball. “It fell out of your pocket in the training room, Master.”
Barry took it, embarrassed. “Thanks.”
“She did much better after your instruction.” Mira said carefully. “That was very good of you to do, sir.”
Barry sighed. “Thank you, Mira.”
Mira bowed. “Of course, sir. I will take my leave.”
Barry gave her a tight smile as she turned away. He waited for her to disappear deeper into the building before turning to Rebecca. “How did it go?”
Rebecca hesitated and shrugged. “I learned some new things, Master. I think I will be better able to protect you now.”
Barry nodded, absently staring at her. “You look good.”
Rebecca blushed and glanced away. “Thank you.”
“How much did she tell you?” Rebecca started, looking back to see Barry focused once again on her face. “What did Mira tell you.”
Rebecca looked down. “She... said you didn’t like your bloodtraits. That’s really all.”
“Look at me.” Rebecca slowly raised her head to see Barry’s soft gaze. “I don’t want you to be afraid like this. If you need to talk to me, look at me. I won’t punish you for that.”
Rebecca took a shaky breath and nodded. “Yes, Master. Thank you.”
“She told you that I don’t like my bloodtraits, huh?” Barry grimaced. “I know you like my eyes.”
“And your scales.” Rebecca replied. “I think they look good.”
“Well, they’re hidden by my shirt most of the time, so that’s something only you and any other pokegirls I add to the harem will see.” Barry smiled. “I admit, I like it when you run your fingers across them.”
“She also said...”
“My gift is not something I am willing to discuss.” Barry cut in. “It exists, and I may use it sometimes, but I would rather not talk about it.”
Rebecca bowed her head slightly. “Yes, Master.”
“Did she tell you about this?” Barry ran his fingers over his right eye.
Rebecca steeled herself. “She said there was something that only you had the right to share with me, Master.”
Barry nodded. “I’ve known Mira my whole life. She’s a good pokegirl.” He shook his head. “Rebecca, I was, still am, bullied. I graduated last week, so hopefully I can avoid most of that now.” He bowed his head. “It got so bad, I wanted nothing more than to stop the pain. I wasn’t ready to die, so I did the next thing I could think of. I tried to remove my eyes.”
Rebecca gasped, quickly covering her mouth. Barry glanced at her with a wry smile and pointed at the scar. “My mother found me in the bathroom. I hadn’t prepared for the pain, so I only got the one.” He lowered his hand. “The blood was everywhere. She, she thought I would die.” His breath caught. “I was so ashamed, ashamed that she had to see me like that. And then she got me to the nurse.” He couldn’t help but start chuckling. “We’ve only got one type of nurse around here. Trauma nurses. Night Nurses. She made sure I wasn’t going to bleed out before making sure I didn’t have weird vision. So I got my wish, for about two minutes.”
Rebecca took her hands away from her mouth. “The other one?”
Barry nodded. “She regenerated them both, but left the scar. I haven’t considered anything like that since.”
“Please don’t!” Rebecca cried. “Master, I love your eyes, I could never imagine losing you!”
Barry grinned. “You mean them.”
“No!” Rebecca stepped forwards. “Master, please never believe what those bullies tell you. I need you. I, I want you. Nobody else but you.”
“C’mere.” Barry embraced her. “Thank you, Rebecca.”
Rebecca held him tightly, taking care not to squeeze too hard. “No, Master. Thank you.”
Barry chuckled and stepped back. “You’re welcome. Now come on, I promised to teach you how to cook today, and we still need to go shopping.”
Rebecca beamed. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Good morning, everyone.” The man rifled through some papers. “I was expecting fifteen of you. Who’s missing?”
“Four were only in it for the pokegirl.” The Hunter that had been arranging Barry and the rest piped up. “Their transporters confirmed.”
“That’s more than last year.” The man grunted. “Ah well. Their loss. Didn’t we lose two to the scare speech as well?”
“Extraordinary. I am so proud of this generation.” The man sneered. “Well at least more than half of this group has a spine. RIGHT.” He called, looking down the line. “All of you should have a pokegirl. All of you should have gotten to know your pokegirl. Some of you might have thought the orientation we talked about would only last for today.” He leered at them. “Those people would be mistaken.” There were some scattered groans. “All of you have been assigned to a Hunter. You will spend the next few hours familiarizing yourself with basic survival training, at which point we will move to a training ground. You will be tested, expected to be fit and survive for as long as we tell you. This is your last chance. Once we are on site, you will not leave until it is done.” He shrugged. “Some of you may not think this is worth your time. You have just finished your last year of school and were probably looking forward to a long vacation.” He shook his head. “Hunters do not rest. Even when a Hunter is not in the field, he is expected to be training, staying at top form and available for any emergency that may arise. The training you are about to go through is meant to test you. It is meant to break you. You will find what you can and can not do, and you will know what you need to change.” He nodded. “Good luck.”
“BARRY!” Barry turned and brightened when he saw who was waving at him. “Over here!”
“Hey, Timothy!” Barry hurried over and eagerly shook the man’s hand. “So, you’re my teacher?”
“Sure am.” Timothy gestured behind him. “Come on over, I’ve got some stuff for you.”
Barry followed him into the tent, looking around at the various pieces of equipment. “What’s all this?”
“We’ll be playing with that here in a few minutes.” Timothy reached under a table and pulled out a bag. “First, you get orientation.” He sat, placing the bag on his lap. “I went a bit more in depth with your file, Barry. Are you willing to listen to my advice?”
Barry sat across from him. “Maybe. What do you have to say?”
“Barry, do you really want to be a Hunter?” Timothy shrugged. “You fit the profile. Solitary, avoids friendships, skill talented and a survivor. But that’s not who you are. That’s just what this place has made you.”
Barry didn’t respond, letting Timothy continue. “Barry, you are a leader. A philosopher. Your best grades aren’t in physical or pokegirl studies, they’re in humanities, writing, hell you took three separate philosophy and high art courses.” He looked inside the bag, pulling out a file. “You have half a dozen awards for your writing. You have another two that you earned for contributions to dimensional philosophy, Barry I looked at what you have published and it made me think. I have never looked into these fields in my life but you were so eloquent that not only could I follow along, you began to convince me of something I didn’t even understand.” He opened the file and pulled out a packet. “Barry, you have every making of an extraordinary politician or watcher. Why are you even here?”
Barry took the packet Timothy was holding out. “What is this?”
“The other electives.” Timothy closed the bag. “I’m not trying to doubt that you could succeed here. As a Hunter. I’m just suggesting that maybe it’s not where you’ll be happiest.”
Barry stared at the papers in his hands. “You must have read my psych profile, if you did all of that research.”
Barry looked up. “Then you know why I couldn’t choose any of the other places the school was offering.”
“Are you kidding me?” Timothy leaned in. “You honestly are going to sit here and tell me that an event you overcame is still holding you back?”
“It wasn’t just an event.” Barry snapped.
“It’s in the past.” Timothy retorted. “You’re stronger than that, Barry. Those bullies don’t control you. Yes, they got to you. You were lost and without guidance and did something you regret. But they can’t do that anymore. You. Are. Free. Those children are going to experience reality soon, even if they still ride the coattails of their politically connected or wealthy parents. You already have. You are years ahead of them. Why would you waste it here.”
Barry snorted. “I’m from a wealthy family, too.”
Timothy smiled. “Are you really? Do you have servants, waiting on you hand and foot? Do you have league politicians at dinner every few days? Or do you have a family, a father, who are there for you after school. A home where you live with yourself, instead of a sterile place where you don’t even belong.”
“Yes, I’m pretty sure my dad is still rich.” Barry growled. “Just because I was brought up with respect doesn’t mean I’m magically not part of a fucking rich family.”
Timothy sighed. “Alright, that’s fair enough. Still. You have experiences that those ‘pure’ kids will never have.” He shook his head in disdain. “Purity of blood. Such a stupid thing to tout. Bloodgifts aren’t something to ridicule, they’re essential to survival in this world.”
“How would you know.” Barry spat. “Look at you, even if you’re not 100% human you still look like one. You’ve never had someone call you a freak because of the way your body is, never attacked and beaten for something you can’t control. These aren’t gifts. They’re a curse!”
Timothy nodded slightly. “You’re right. I haven’t experienced what you have. I can’t say that I’ve been ridiculed because my eyes look different than most humans. Or that people have attacked me for being different.” He winced. “I’ve only been attacked by a human once. Just once.”
Something in Timothy’s voice gave Barry pause. “What?”
Timothy grimaced and shook his head. “No, I’m not going to use pity to convince you.” He looked back up. “Barry, I can’t give you the answers. But I know this path isn’t what you’re best suited for.”
Barry was already shaking his head before Timothy finished. “I don’t care. I don’t want to be a part of a world that looks at me and sees a pokegirl first, and a human second. Besides, like my dad said. Learning the skills to fight ferals and rampaging pokegirls will always come in handy.”
Timothy watched him. “You’re sure.”
“I’m sure.” Barry cracked a smile. “Plus, I can always go do those other things later. I mean, unless I die first.”
“Alright.” Timothy flipped the bag around so the opening was pointing at Barry. “Then these are for you and your Tomboy.”
Barry glanced up at him before taking the bag. “These are… uniforms?”
“That’s right.” Timothy waited while Barry pulled the bundles out. “If you pass the training, you can get your own customized. For now, you’ll wear my colors.”
Barry unfolded the shirt, gazing at the pattern. “It’s just like yours?”
“That’s right.” Timothy flagged his own shirt. “It’ll make sure the others know who to contact if you do something interesting.”
Barry folded the shirt and pulled out a length of leather. “And what’s this?”
“That is your belt.” Timothy gestured. “Get the uniform on, and make sure your Tomboy is wearing hers. I’ll step outside to give you some privacy.”
Barry watched him duck out before turning his attention back to the leather, unfolding it and inspecting the loops along the sides. He could see hooks for pokeballs but had no idea what the others could be.
He shrugged and pulled out Rebecca’s ball. “Hey, get changed.” He called as she materialized. “We’ve got a uniform to wear.”
Rebecca took the offered bundle. “What are we doing?”
“I don’t know yet.” Barry confessed. “But I’ve been told to put this on.”
Rebecca nodded and started to strip. Barry was fiddling with his belt when Timothy pushed back inside. “All done?”
“Yep.” Barry cursed when the leather slipped through his fingers again. “Damn this thing.”
“Are you right or left handed?”
“Right.” Barry grunted.
“Use your left to hold it, and push the other end through the flap with your right.” Timothy pointed, letting Barry follow his instructions. “And then you keep pushing when you’ve got the right length… There you go!”
Barry cinched the clasp. “That was a lot easier than I thought.”
“Not bad, right?” Timothy grinned. “I see you got your Tomboy changed too.”
Rebecca bowed. “You’re the man who brought Master Barry to meet me.”
“That’s right. My name’s Timothy.” Timothy raised a hand when Barry reached for Rebecca’s pokeball. “No, keep her out. The two of you will be working as a single team while you’re here, which means she is your protection at all times. Only recall her if absolutely necessary.” He gave them a grim smile. “You’ll be acting as if you’re in the wilds for real.”
Barry and Rebecca shared a look. “Understood.” Barry replied. “What now?”
“Now,” Timothy pointed at the tools that littered the tent, “you two get to learn everything in here.”
Barry lay still, moving his body in time with his breathing so he didn’t freeze up. Rebecca lay somewhere nearby, the Tomboy camouflaged in a similar manner.
They had learned not to hold their breath on the first day, when one of the other recruits had almost passed out from oxygen deprivation. The second day had another recruit nearly die from a heart attack, the twisted position he had used and sat in for the whole day forming a clot in his leg. The lesson after that incident had been how to keep from drawing attention in a healthy manner.
Barry forced his breathing to remain uniform even as their quarry crossed in front of them. Noir acted the part of a feral, the Z-Bra stopping and foraging in the same bushes she had for the last two days. The pattern that had led to Barry’s current hiding spot.
Supposedly the area they were in was regularly cleared of any real ferals, but Barry wasn’t sure of that. There had been a few signs he had seen that couldn’t be explained by any of the Hunters’ pokegirls. A few less than a week old.
A noise emanated from a spot across from Barry, causing Noir to turn and freeze in place. She watched the bushes cautiously for a few moments before stretching forwards to investigate.
Rebecca rocketed out of hiding, slamming into the surprised Z-Bra’s flank while she focused on the log the two had jury-rigged with a vine decoy. Barry slid to his feet as Rebecca hammered the dark-type with an unblocked Megaton Punch, Noir’s fighting weakness allowing the much weaker pokegirl to land a solid blow.
Noir bellowed in pain, throwing herself away from Rebecca and crawling into the bushes. “NO you don’t!” Rebecca screamed, her body glowing with energy as she threw herself at the escaping Z-Bra.
The Takedown attack smashed Noir sideways into a nearby tree, leaving a bloodied Rebecca to roll away from the stunned Z-Bra. Barry quickly raised the beanbag he was carrying, smacking Noir across the chest with ease. “Capture!”
Noir’s Cocoon of Darkness sprang to life and she coughed to clear her throat. “Well done.” The cocoon dissipated to show her already climbing to her feet. “Cadet Bartholomew and Rebecca, I score your capture at 87 points.”
Barry’s jaw dropped. “Only 87?”
“Your strategy relied too heavily on me investigating the noise instead of being immediately spooked.” Noir explained. “You placed Rebecca in the correct place to initiate the ambush, however you yourself were directly opposite from your improvised noisemaker.” Barry winced as she continued. “That alone lost you nearly 40 points, as if I had been spooked instead of curious I would have run directly into you and likely caused injury. However, the preparation, including your ingenuity in drawing my attention away from either of you, earned you more than enough to offset that penalty.” She gave Barry a warm smile. “Rethink your positioning. Otherwise, that was a perfect ambush.”
“Well.” Barry started. “Shit. I’ll take the 87. Best score we’ve gotten so far.”
“Indeed.” Noir gestured. “You have also completed your task for the day. Feel free to return to camp and take the remainder of the time until dinner as free time.”
“Awesome.” Barry turned to Rebecca as Noir vanished. “You did amazing!”
Rebecca grinned and gave Barry a high-five. “Good work with the log, Master.”
“Yea, I can’t believe I forgot to think about if she ran instead of fighting.” Barry shook his head. “Well, I will now.”
“That’s the point of this training, Master.” Rebecca rubbed her side. “Can we get back to camp? I need to heal.”
Barry nodded, leading her back through the trees until they came upon the tents. He pulled open theirs, popping a p-med out of a holding bag and holding it out to her. “Here, use this. I’m leaving the good ones for emergencies.”
Rebecca nodded, taking the medicine and spritzing some on her scrapes before popping the top and downing the rest. “Phew! Much better.”
Barry checked his belt, making sure the advanced p-meds were still there alongside the cure-all. “Let me know if you need another.”
“YO! Barry, that you?” Barry turned and grinned at the two figures picking their way towards the camp.
“Jonaaaah!” Barry yelled, laughing and stepping forwards to clap the other student on the back. “What, you’re done too?”
Jonah grinned, jabbing a thumb back at the pokegirl behind him. “Lucy is bad-ass, man. I mean, she fights with her ass, so it makes sense, but even without it she took down our target in like, seconds.”
The pokegirl was reddening from her Tamer’s words but still held her head up proudly. “I fight well because of you, Master Jonah.”
“You’re such a flatterer.” Jonah turned, kissing her. “I love that about you.”
Barry chuckled, shaking his head at their antics. “What is she again?”
“Tarantella.” Jonah broke contact and turned back, ignoring the now fully flushed pokegirl. “Yours is what, a Tomboy?”
“Yep.” Barry grabbed a chair and sat. “How’s Eric? You two are friends, right?”
“Eh.” Jonah shrugged. “Same thing like us, friends but I don’t really pay all that much attention to him. I hear his Kitsune is already showing signs of being near evolution.”
Barry snorted. “The guy fucks her near every night, so that doesn’t surprise me. She’s probably praying to evolve as soon as possible so she has a libido that can keep up.”
The two shared a laugh. “Why didn’t he get a fire type to begin with?” Jonah mused. “Must have a thing for foxes.”
“What he needs is another pokegirl.” Barry countered. “Even a fire type couldn’t keep up with that guy. He’s got a blood gift that helps, right?”
“Yea, endurance or stamina or something.” Jonah huffed. “Lucky bastard. All I got is a good memory.”
“It was why we won the pathfinding competition two days ago, Master.” Lucy piped up. “It’s very useful.”
“See? Flatterer.” Jonah chuckled. “Mark nearly won anyways, but I’ll take the praise. Thanks, Lucy.”
“How many days has it been?” Barry murmured, tilting his head back to look up into the treetops. “Almost a week, right?”
“I lost track.” Jonah confessed. “But that sounds about right. Wonder how much longer it’ll be.”
“No clue.” Barry huffed and stood. “We’ve got to be getting close. Well, I’m going to spend some quality time with Rebecca. She deserves it.”
Jonah glanced back at Lucy. “I’ll probably follow suit.”
Barry waved, ushering an excited Rebecca into the tent ahead of him and closing the flap behind them.
Barry twitched in his sleep as he lived out his dreams. Next to him Rebecca lay nude, her unnatural stillness only broken by her breathing.
Unseen by the camp, a number of forms broke from the darkness, silently destroying tents, crushing food, and generally leaving the campsite in disarray. Then, just as quietly as they had come, they melted back into the shadows, leaving behind only the slightest of traces to their presence.
Barry yawned when the morning sun played across his face. He was sleepily waking up when his brain caught up and he sat straight upright. “REBECCA!”
The Tomboy’s eyes snapped open and she rolled to her feet. “Master?”
“We missed revelry!” Barry cursed, grabbing his clothes and clumsily pulling them on. “Get dressed!”
He was pulling his socks on when he heard shouting from outside. Rebecca glanced at him. “That sounds like a lot of people, Master.”
“Did everyone miss wakeup?” Barry muttered, yanking on his boots and bursting into the morning sun.
He froze at the scene laid out in front of them. The handful of cadets that were also there stood around the Hunters’ tents, the fabric torn and crushed. He glanced around, taking in the ruined campsite. “What the hell?”
“They’re all gone.” Heads turned to look at a cadet, the boy walking back into camp with his Slicer in tow. “No sign. No blood, though, so that’s a plus.”
“Where did they go?” Someone else piped up. “What do we do?”
“They’re probably out hunting whatever did this.” Another voice piped up. “I’m going back to sleep while we wait for them to get back.”
Barry slowly looked around himself as he listened to the scattered murmurs of assent, most of the cadets drifting back to their tents.
“That doesn’t sound right, does it.”
Barry glanced over his shoulder. “Oh, hey Mark. How’d it go yesterday?”
The student sat with a groan. “I still hurt. My quarry took us both out.”
“How’s your girl?”
Mark shook his head. “Lastrangea is still healing. She took a nasty gash that isn’t closing perfectly using our p-meds.”
“That sucks.” Barry turned back to the damage. “And no, it doesn’t.”
Mark grunted. “What do you think happened?”
Barry shook his head. “This is another test. I’m just trying to figure out what exactly.”
“No, we’ve already proved that we can forage. And none of our gear was touched.” Barry pointed at the broken tents. “Only the Hunters’.”
“Hm.” Mark scratched his arm. “Maybe we’re supposed to be tracking again.”
Barry frowned. “You mean tracking whatever attacked the camp?”
“Maybe.” Barry said doubtfully. “But why do the same thing three days in a row?”
“I dunno, different situations?” Mark shrugged. “Whatever it is, I’m out of commission for at least today. You should try and get a head start.”
Barry glanced to his side when Rebecca pushed her way free of the tent. “Where do I start?”
“Investigate.” Mark heaved himself to his feet. “I’m going to check it out, too.”
Barry jerked his head. “Rebecca, come help me look.”
Rebecca bobbed her head and followed him to one of the destroyed tents. Barry greeted another one of the cadets that was also standing there, crouching down and carefully lifting one of the slashed panels.
Rebecca watched him for a few moments before she began scanning the area. Something at the edge of the camp caught her eye and she stepped over, peering at the untouched bush.
“What did you find?” Rebecca craned her neck and waved at Barry.
“Come look at this, Master.” She called. She pointed when he made his way over to her. “Everything around this is broken and trampled. Why isn’t this one?”
Barry raised an eyebrow. “Chance?”
“No, look.” Rebecca pointed a few feet into the undergrowth. “Those are in the middle of the rampage too. But they look perfectly healthy.”
“Hmm.” Barry knelt, testing the plants in question. “You’re right. Even though the ground under it is all churned up, the bush is fine.” He sat up and dusted his hands. “What does that mean? That there was a plant type?”
“Is there a pokegirl that heals plants by walking over them, Master?”
Barry nodded slowly. “Good point. That makes sense and narrows at least one breed down. Good job.” He grimaced, looking around at the destroyed tents. “We don’t have a pokedex. Only the Hunters had those.”
“Well, we know that at least one of the ferals that hit the camp is a plant type.” Rebecca reasoned. “And it looks like she was a part of the group, not a straggler. So the ferals probably are all breeds that could coexist, either herbivores or passive omnivores.”
The observer watched Barry nod and congratulate the Tomboy. “Positive ID, correct analysis.” She muttered to herself. “Your boy is good, Master Timothy.”
Barry watched the evening sun begin to sink behind the trees, shifting his posture so that he wouldn’t fall off the branch he had perched in. Panic had set in around noon as the cadets realized something was wrong. The Hunters were still nowhere to be seen and a pseudo-leadership had already been created by some of the more headstrong students. Barry had not been impressed by the power grab and he was sure that whoever was watching them wasn’t either.
There had been a handful who had ignored the self proclaimed leaders, focusing instead on solving the mystery. Barry, Mark, and Jonah were among them, and the three had spent the better part of the afternoon investigating what parts of the ransacked camp hadn’t already been looted by the panicking cadets. They had identified four other general breeds since Rebecca’s plant discovery, and, going off the assumption that there would be eleven overall - one for each cadet - had identified two other groups of three. Tufts of fur from one group had caused some debate, Mark thinking that the fur was lupine while the other two had argued that it was feline. They had all agreed that there were two different types of fur there, but the positive identification hadn’t been a consensus.
“Master!” Barry glanced down, nodding when he saw Rebecca easily climbing up to him. “See anything?”
“Nothing out of the ordinary.” He replied, shifting slightly to give the Tomboy room. “What are the others planning to do tonight?”
Rebecca shook her head. “The idiots are causing more panic by saying the Hunters are probably dead and we’ve been left to die out here. Master Mark has moved Lastrangea from their tent to ours, and masters Jonah and Eric have done the same. They say it’s safer in numbers.”
“From ferals and from panicking Tamers.” Barry grinned. “It’s a good idea. We should set up a watch rotation too.”
Rebecca nodded. “Do you think they might come back?”
“I think that all of this damage was caused by the Hunters.” Barry replied. “But pretending that it wasn’t, a watch rotation is the only sensible course of action. It’s what we’d need to do at all times in the wilds anyways.”
Rebecca bobbed her head. “Yes Master.”
“Go tell them, and say that we volunteer for the first watch.” Barry chuckled. “It’ll sound good at first until they realize it means we get uninterrupted sleep. By then it’ll be too late.”
Rebecca giggled. “Master, that’s mean.”
“But I’m not being mean to you so shut up.” Barry stuck his tongue out at the giggling Tomboy. “Shoo.”
He stayed where he was for another hour, only climbing down when the sun had completely vanished below the tree line. He made his way back to the tent in the twilight, ducking inside and waving at the group arranged there. “So?”
“I’m taking third watch.” Eric spoke up. “I don’t sleep that much anyways. Mark says Lassie is feeling better, so we put them on last watch, to let her get some rest. And Jonah volunteered for second.”
“I’ve got some shit to go over with Lucy.” Jonah explained. “It’ll keep me up for most of your watch anyways.”
“Sounds good.” Barry set up a chair and positioned himself so he was watching out the door. “See you all in the morning.”
“I think we need to start hunting.”
Eric was chewing on a nutrient bar. “Mark, you’re not in top shape. Why do you think we need to go out?”
Mark patted his Doggirl’s shoulder. “Lastrangea’s nose isn’t perfect, but we all saw the same thing last night. No more intruders, just us. Gi, how old is the scent now?”
“Almost four days, I think, Master.” Lastrangea said quietly. “It was old yesterday.”
“I think we’re supposed to be getting out there.” Mark explained. “Our supplies won’t last forever, so we’ll need to forage at the very least. But more than that, I’m pretty sure this is a scenario. Hunters get called in to investigate attacks and missing Tamers all the time. That’s what we’ve got here, a number of tents, missing Tamers that seem to have been attacked by ferals. Pretend that we arrived the morning we saw the damage, instead of us already camping here.”
“That would explain why they left an old scent.” Barry crossed his arms. “That is, if Las… Gi’s nose can be trusted.”
“It was old yesterday, I’m sure of it.” Lastrangea said confidently. “I don’t know how many days exactly, but it wasn’t fresh.”
“I believe her.” Jonah smiled at Lastrangea. “She’s got the best nose here. That’s a good theory, Mark. If this is supposed to be a real life scenario, that means there will be real ferals.” He rubbed his hands expectantly. “Wonder if we’ll be allowed to keep ‘em.”
“We’d have to catch them first.” Barry cautioned. “Don’t get ahead of yourself.”
“Yea but we’re supposed to.” Jonah pointed at his belt. “They gave us empty pokeballs. I thought it was strange since this area is supposed to be clear.”
“So what’s the plan?” Eric glanced at his Kitsune. “Do we split up? Stick together?”
The four looked at each other helplessly. “We’ll cover more ground if we split up.” Barry offered.
“I’d rather not fall over with no one else around.” Mark said nervously. “Can I go with one of you?”
“We’ll do pairs.” Jonah decided. “Damn, it’s too bad none of us are ranged fighters. It’ll be bad if we find a feral flying type or something.”
“We’ll fight smart.” Eric replied. “I should go with you, Jonah. Barry’s Tomboy can carry Mark or his ‘girl if they feel faint.”
Barry glanced at Mark, sharing a nod. “We can do that.”
“Sounds good.” Jonah clapped his hands together. “Good luck.”
Barry kept his eyes peeled as they pushed through the undergrowth. Slowly the pair had begun combing a semi-circle, radiating out from the campsite in the opposite direction from Eric and Jonah. Mark’s Doggirl popped in and out of view, the animorphic pokegirl at home weaving through the vegetation. Rebecca walked with the Tamers, acting as deterrent and guard.
“How are you holding up, Mark?” Barry asked quietly, careful to keep his voice low and not attract attention. “Gi seems like she’s just fine.”
“I’m managing.” Mark whispered back. “Might need a break in a few more hours.”
“That’s fine.” Barry slowed as they broke out of the trees and onto a beaten-down path. “What’s this?”
Mark glanced around, stepping forwards slightly. “I think I saw this on our way in, the Hunters use it as a landmark.” He turned slowly. “Shit. I can’t tell which way is which.”
Barry carefully traced a circular pattern in the dirt. “The camp was here. We started working our way out clockwise. We approached this from this direction.” He tapped at his drawing. “Away from the camp is to the right.”
“Yea, but which side of the camp are we on.” Mark asked. “Without knowing that it’s still a coin flip to get out of here.”
Barry grunted. “Yea, I didn’t think of that.” He sighed and stood back up. “Well, at least we know where this is.”
“Let’s take our rest now.” Mark settled back. “Give me a few minutes and we’ll be able to find the path again later.”
Barry raised an eyebrow but sat down as well. “How do you mean?”
“Well, I suck at it, but I have a blood gift.” Mark explained. “I’m able to memorize locations and can’t really get lost.”
Barry gave him a strange look. “Then why don’t you know which way gets us out of here?”
Mark huffed. “I told you I suck at it.” He grimaced. “I think I’m range limited. I know where my house is, and a bunch of places nearby, but right now I couldn’t tell you where any of them are. Camp though, that’s easy.” He pointed his finger behind them and slightly to the left. “It’s right there.”
“Useful, yet useless.” Barry surmised.
Mark sighed. “Yea, yea. Fuck you.”
Barry chuckled. “Hey, mine’s useless too. I think it’s called Trainer, or something.”
Mark’s jaw dropped. “Trainer? That’s not useless at all, what the hell do you mean? That’s probably one of the most useful bloodgifts for a Hunter to have!”
Barry stared down the road. “Whatever.”
Mark gave him a small grin. “Hey, I can understand you not liking them. Those eyes of yours probably didn’t help at school, either.”
“Sorry, I’ll stop talking.” Mark turned his attention back to the forest. “Lagi! Where did you go?”
The Doggirl’s head popped out of the undergrowth across from them. “Here, Master.”
“Smell anything yet?”
Lagearna shook her head. “Plants.” She sneezed. “Pollen.”
“Pollen sucks.” Mark slowly frowned. “Pollen? It’s… fall.”
“BECK, FIGHT!” Barry screamed, grabbing Mark’s shirt and dragging the other student towards the charging Tomboy. She had understood almost before her Master, vaulting the two humans and throwing her shirt over her face before she hit the spreading cloud of yellow dust.
The back of Barry’s mind briefly tried to focus on Rebecca’s now bare chest before his common sense took over, analyzing their surroundings. Lagearna had fallen to one knee, foam specking on her lips as she seized. Rebecca was wildly striking around herself, clearing the air the best she could. He watched her foot crash through a tree, the leafy top falling and sending a gust of wind through the cloud of what he assumed to be either poison or stun powder.
“I’ve got a cure-all.” He gasped, letting go of Mark now that he was moving back on his own. “I can get Lagearna.”
“No, here.” Mark thrust a vial into Barry’s hands. “She’s freezing up, that’s paralysis.”
“If she’s not poisoned I’m waiting for Rebecca to engage.” Barry replied, taking the offered vial. “REBECCA! GET GI OUT OF THERE!”
The Tomboy turned, taking in the jerking Doggirl. She started reaching for her before stopping, suddenly jumping into the air and bringing her feet smashing down into the ground between them.
Mark and Barry both winced when there was a scream, a mottled green form breaking from the ground clutter and tripping towards the new treeline Rebecca had created. Her rescue mission forgotten, Rebecca gave chase, tackling the fleeing feral and throwing her onto the dirt path.
Barry grimaced when he saw the damage Rebecca had caused with her jump. The feral’s back was twisted, white poking out of where he was pretty sure a rib had punctured. It was a miracle the feral’s back wasn’t broken, but the murderous Tomboy seemed prepared to finish what she had started.
“CATCH HER!” Barry roared, breaking cover and racing to the feebly twitching Doggirl. He heard another scream of fear get cut off and pretended the fleshy thud hadn’t been from Rebecca breaking the feral even more.
He quickly propped Lagearna back up, the training they had gone through kicking in. Her eyes were flicking around wildly, pupils dilated, and he could see her tongue lying with gravity in the back of her mouth.
“Don’t fucking suffocate.” He hissed, jerking her head up and shoving his fist into her solar plexus. “Get that shit out!”
He repeated the motion twice before forcing the vial down her throat, waiting for the liquid to drain before flipping Lagearna around so he had a better angle. He was on his third pull when she came to life, nearly throwing him to the ground as her entire body spasmed. The Doggirl gasped, falling onto her hands and knees and beginning to cough. She managed to clear whatever had blocked her airway and rolled to her feet, unsteadily standing. “M-Master?”
“Hey.” Lagearna whirled, stepping back when she saw Barry struggling on the ground. “Help.”
Lagearna quickly got him to his feet. “Master Barry?”
“You got hit by paralysis powder.” Barry explained. “Rebecca took care of the feral.”
“She sure fucking did.” Barry glanced over at Mark’s call. “Holy shit, dude.”
Barry glanced around but couldn’t see the feral anywhere. “What happened?”
“I caught her, that’s what happened.” Mark scoffed. “There was no fight. She was basically dead by the time I hit her with the ball.”
“Are you alright, Master?” Barry finally noticed Rebecca, choking slightly when he saw her. The Tomboy had stripped off her shirt, holding it bundled up in her arms as she pulled off her pants. “There was powder on my clothes, I had to take them off.”
“Nice.” Was all he could manage. “What, uh, what happened?”
Rebecca dropped her gaze. “I, I lost control, Master. I’m sorry.”
“She was feral.” Barry confirmed, looking at Mark. “Yea. So, no, Rebecca, you did exactly what you should have done. You were perfect.”
Rebecca looked up and grinned happily. “I did good?”
“Can I have her instead of this feral?” Mark asked jokingly. “I don’t know where she learned it but those moves were sexy as hell.”
“Oh no, she’s mine.” Barry laughed. “Rebecca, well done. Mark, looks like you’ve caught your feral.”
“Yea.” Mark glanced at the pokeball he was holding. “No idea what she was, but obviously a plant type.”
“Is she stable enough to be released and healed?” Barry asked.
“Fuck no.” Mark placed the pokeball onto his belt. “She needs a healing machine before anything else.”
Barry sighed. “Alright, I guess you can’t tame her right away then.” He shrugged. “Sorry that Rebecca was so eager.”
“Don’t apologize, do it again.” Mark urged. “I don’t want anyone other than her watching my back while we’re out here.”
“Masterrr.” Lagearna whined.
“You’re watching my front.” Mark explained.
Barry grinned when Lagearna’s tail started wagging. “Rebecca, did you take any damage?”
Rebecca shook her head. “I don’t think so, Master.” She shook her pants out, watching carefully for any more of the powder to kick up before putting them back on. “My shirt is ruined, but I’m alright.”
“Then we’re good to go.” Barry waved. “Come on, Mark. If one of the ferals is here, the others are probably around this far out too.”
“Uh, right.” He stopped Barry as they began walking again. “Thank you.”
Barry glanced at him in surprise. “For what?”
“You saved Lagearna’s life.”
Barry snorted. “You had her pokeball, didn’t you? She’d have been fine.”
“Still.” Mark let go. “You didn’t have to, but you did.”
“I didn’t know how many ferals there were.” Barry continued trying to deflect. “We needed both of our pokegirls to be safe.”
Mark chuckled. “True. You’re alright in my book, man.”
“There was only one plant type, right?” Barry called to the two pokegirls. “Rebecca, were there any other signs of one?”
She looked back. “No, Master. As far as we could tell there was only one plant type feral.”
“We’ll take the next one too.” Barry continued, watching how Lagearna swayed back and forth with fatigue. “Gi, stay with your Master. We’ll take the front.”
Rebecca waited for him to step up beside her before she continued walking. “Master…” She started slowly.
Rebecca stared straight ahead. “You called me something I don’t like.”
Barry shot her a surprised look. “I did?”
“You weren’t thinking.” She murmured. “Sorry, Master, I shouldn’t tell you how-“
“No, Rebecca, I told you before. Be honest with me.” Barry grinned. “I don’t want you scared of me. That’s the last thing I want.”
Rebecca still hesitated. “Well, when… right before the fight, you called me… Beck.”
Barry thought for a moment and grimaced. “Shit, I did. You said you didn’t want me shortening your name like that.”
Rebecca shook her head slightly. “I know it’s hard to call my name in battle, Master. If you need to use that, I can bear it.”
“No. We’ll figure something out.” Barry stated firmly. “I made a mistake, but I’m not going to do it again.” He turned to watch her for a few moments. “Beau?”
Rebecca blinked. “Beau?”
“The ‘be’ in your name.” Barry explained, a mischievous smile on his lips. “Extended out a bit using the word ‘beautiful’.”
Rebecca reddened and quickly shook her head. “Something else, Master.”
Barry chuckled. “Alright.” He rolled her name around in his head for a few moments. “You don’t like something based on Beck.” His eyes widened as he realized. “Ah, I don’t blame you.”
Rebecca shot him a panicked look. “Don’t be mad, Master.”
“No, that’s what I like about you; you think for yourself.” Barry tapped his chin. “If the back half is out of the question, I’ll need to come from the front.”
Rebecca’s blush deepened when she felt the joking intent behind his phrasing but nodded. “Yes, Master.”
Barry grinned at her. “So, Reba.”
“Look, I’d let you two keep talking, but you’re going about that all wrong.” Mark called. “Barry, you had the right idea the first time. Give her a nickname, not just a shortened name.” He jabbed his thumb at Lagearna. “Like Gi. I pronounce it wrong, but I chose it because it’s a type of fighting uniform, and she’s a brawler.” He giggled when Lagearna licked his ear. “Plus it sounds exotic.”
“A nickname, huh?” Barry glanced back at Mark. “What do you suggest?”
“I’ll tell you what I saw.” Mark chuckled. “She was a whirlwind back there. If you wanted to tie it in with her name somehow, the front end, you’ve got rev, revolution, rebound, stuff like that.”
“Re-“ Barry muttered. “A whirlwind… Revving up…”
“Revvy sounds cute.” Mark called.
Barry grunted. “Cute? I want my whirlwind to sound dangerous, not cute.”
“I like cute.” Rebecca barely whispered.
Barry nodded decisively. “Revvy it is.” He wrapped an arm around Rebecca’s shoulders as the Tomboy covered her face with her hands in embarrassment. “My little Revvy.”
Rebecca screamed wordlessly into her hands, ducking free of his arm and racing off into the trees. Mark started laughing at Barry’s expression and grabbed Lagearna’s waist. “You chose quite the character, Barry.”
“She’s going to get herself in trouble.” Barry grumbled, quickening his pace to chase after the fleeing Tomboy. “Stupid nickname bullshit.”
“Be careful!” Mark yelled, watching Barry run off. “I like him.”
Lagearna nuzzled her Master’s cheek. “He’s nice like you, Master.”
Mark chuckled and stroked her fur. “I’m only nice because I want you to evolve.”
Lagearna nodded seriously. “I know, Master. But that’s good.”
Mark snickered. “You just say that for more sex.”
Lagearna gave him a smug smile and kissed his cheek. “Yup.”
Tamer profile of Bartholomew (Barry) Messer
License: Hunter – Provisional
Clearance Level: 0
Pokegene 1 – Dragon
Rebecca – Tomboy
Tamer Profile of Mark Wehrmen
License: Hunter – Provisional
Clearance Level: 1
Lagearna – Doggirl
??? – Unknown Feral
Tamer Profile of Jonah Bates
License: Hunter – Provisional
Clearance Level: 0
Unknown. Please report to a pokegirl center for testing.
Lucy – Tarentella
??? – Unknown Feral
Tamer Profile of Eric Holiday
License: Hunter – Provisional
Clearance Level: 0
!!Tamer’s Disease – Severe!!
Candace – Vixxen
??? – Feral **Bunnygirl**
Tamer has severe Tamer’s Disease. Do not keep from taming in excess of two days. If Tamer has not tamed for three days, prepare for Frenzy.
Pokegirl gene code in flux. Take caution opening pokeball.
Anticipated result: Ingenue, 99.6%. Mini-Top, 0.4%.
Tamer profile of Timothy Gardner
License: Hunter – Level 3
Clearance Level: 3
Information restricted without Level 2 clearance.
Restricted by Timothy Gardner.
Leizi – Lopiki, Alpha
Samantha – Shednobi, Beta
Sapphire – Wyveri
Noir – Z-Bra
Hestia – Blazicunt
Martina – Enchantress