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Alexis’ scream was cut off when Rebecca sank her fist into the Goblina’s solar plexus, pausing and allowing her opponent to stumble away and begin retching.
Barry hurried over, conferring with Rebecca for a few moments before kneeling down to comfort Alexis. Once he had made sure she was recovering he looked over her head at the door, and at the observer that stood there.
Or at least, had been standing there. The doorway was empty again, though if the last few hours had shown anything, it wouldn’t stay that way for long.
Barry shook his head, helping Alexis to her feet and handing her a potion. It seemed every half hour there was a new pokegirl watching them, first some sort of inhumanoid Grass type, then a dragon, and most recently a bunny girl. For some reason they were the entertainment of the night.
“Let’s give her a break.” He called to Rebecca, helping Alexis to her feet. “How’s she doing?”
Rebecca’s chest was heaving, her whole body drenched in sweat. “I’m winning.” She gasped. “But not easily.” She swallowed, bending down and roaring to clear her lungs. “Master.”
“Come on over-“ Barry started, pausing when he saw the figure that was watching them now.
The oddly colored cat girl stared back, her eyes lingering on Barry before focusing on Alexis. The three stood in a frozen tableau for a few seconds until the Tigress stepped inside. “Good evening, sir.”
Barry helped Alexis to his seat before returning the greeting. “Good evening. I don’t believe I’ve met you yet.”
The girl nodded. “You have not. My name is Joana.”
“Then it is nice to meet you, Joana.” Barry watched her flick her wrist before offering him her hand, taking it and staring at where her claws were drawn back. “Thanks for not stabbing me.”
Joana grinned, releasing him and allowing her claws to fall back into place. “Of course, sir.”
“I’ve been told you’re part of the strike groups.” Barry frowned. “Who is your Master?”
Joana’s eyes flicked. “I am currently bound to Master Liam.”
Something about the way she said the name seemed odd to Barry, but he decided not to probe. “So, does that mean your Master wants to watch me?”
“No.” Joana looked past him and gave Alexis a razor sharp smile. “I wanted to watch her.”
Barry glanced back. “Alexis?”
Joana nodded. “May I spar with her, sir?”
The question caught him flat footed and Barry stuttered while he fumbled for an answer. “Uh, well, I, um-“ he turned to Alexis, “-Do you want to spare with her?”
Alexis looked at the Tigress in confusion. “Uh, I can, M-Master.”
“Then... sure.” Barry waited for Alexis to stand and stepped out of the way. “She’s just a Goblina. Please don’t hurt her too badly.”
Joana licked her palms, dragging her bangs away from her eyes. “She hasn’t been pushed yet.”
Something inside of Alexis recognized the stance Joana fell into and she quickly took two steps back from the advancing Tigress. Joana feinted, jabbing with her lead hand before lunging in, intent on getting inside of Alexis’ guard. Alexis had already taken the space she needed and Joana was forced to block when the Goblina retaliated, landing two solid hits to Joana’s raised arm.
Joana lunged again, determined to make it inside, but each step she took was carefully mirrored by Alexis, keeping the Tigress just of range.
The two exchanged a few more blows before Joana found her opening, stepping past Alexis’ strike and slamming her claws into Alexis’ chest. The force of the strike sent Alexis crashing back, her arms flying out to soften her fall.
Joana followed her down, driving her knee into Alexis’ stomach before grabbing an arm, ratcheting it up above the Goblina’s head in an attempt to pin her.
Alexis’ instinct took over and she rolled, planting her feet into Joana’s stomach and throwing her back. Joana snarled but let go, catching herself before she could crash back to the ground. She got back to her feet, blocking a surging strike when Alexis gave chase. Barry watched the two continue to fight, feeling confused that the Tigress hadn’t won yet.
Finally Alexis made a mistake, Joana moving in and using her enhanced strength to bludgeon the Goblina back down. Alexis lay, stunned, and Joana prepared to knock her out before stopping. She watched the groaning Goblina for a moment before stepping back and nodding. “She is safe. Not from the mountain.”
“What was the point of this?” Barry asked evenly.
“She heard a rumor you had tamed a feral.” Barry craned his neck and frowned when he saw Timothy standing in the door. “Joana, you know you’re not supposed to fight the other pokegirls here.”
The Tigress grimaced. “Sir.”
“No.” Alexis wheezed, struggling back upright. “Fight me.”
The two men glanced at each other. “Alexis, you need to rest.” Barry called. “Come on over here.”
Joana stepped aside, watching neutrally as Alexis staggered past. She managed to make it to her chair before collapsing, her eyes half shut while her chest rolled.
“Joana.” Timothy’s voice was sharp. “I understand you are restless. If you need to work off some steam, find one of the others. Stay away from my Hunters.”
Joana gave Timothy a surly look. “I asked him. He said yes.”
“I didn’t know what I was getting into.” Barry protested.
“Exactly.” Timothy glared at the Tigress. “He didn’t know. You did. Stay. Away.”
Joana growled, glaring at Barry before stepping around him and vanishing out the door.
“I’m sorry about that, Barry.” Timothy sighed. “I’ve been having to up patrol ranges recently, which means fewer targets can be adequately scouted for the strike teams. I think the last two days we’ve had only one team sent out, so Joana’s been benched for the longest I’ve ever known.”
“Then why did she target me?”
Timothy started to respond but stopped, frowned, and slowly grew a perplexed smile. “I... don’t know. You’re a brand new face here. She shouldn’t even know who you are.”
“Maybe it had something to do with yesterday.” Barry mused. “I did kind of insult her, I guess.”
Timothy raised an eyebrow. “You insulted her?”
“Not really.” Barry grumbled. “I was talking with Mark and he pointed her out, said she was part of the strike teams. I didn’t think she looked that strong, like she looked... like a normal Catgirl.”
Timothy waved his hand. “No, she wouldn’t have taken offense to that. Joana is proud, but she doesn’t go looking for trouble.”
“Then I don’t know.” Barry shrugged helplessly.
“Probably the rumor.” Timothy sighed. “When I find whoever started that, they’re getting an earful.”
“That you had a Goblina from off the mountain.” Timothy replied. “Most Tamers around here avoid those ferals like the plague.”
“A Goblina from off... the- Joana was muttering about that.” Barry offered. “Mark was the first one I heard it from.”
“Mark knew about her?” Timothy snorted. “I know who spread the rumor, then. That kid is in some deep shit when I get my hands on him.”
“Because it’s drawing attention to you.” Timothy growled. “Like Joana.”
“Attention...” Barry frowned. “There were a lot of pokegirls stopping by to watch.”
Barry blinked at Timothy’s quick question. “Uh, a dragon, a rabbit, I think there was some sort of Plant type...
“What color dragon?”
Barry scratched his head while he thought. “Blueee? White? I think?”
“And it wasn’t Sapphire?”
Barry shook his head. “No, I know what she looks like.”
“Then I know who got Joana.” Timothy sighed. “That pokegirl needs to stop trying to push her Alpha on the rest of us whenever something interesting happens.”
Barry frowned. “Who is she?”
“Her name is Glacie.” Timothy griped. “Frostwyrm. Another one of the strike pokegirls. And a goddamn pain in my neck.”
Barry frowned. “Her Tamer doesn’t keep her in line?”
“The strike teams are different.” Timothy explained. “Really, there aren’t any Tamers. There are around two dozen pokegirls and three handlers, some of our more veteran Hunters. We had five handlers, but two of them have died recently and we don’t know who to put in the position.”
“Oh.” Barry winced. “That’s why Joana talked about being ‘currently’ bound to someone.”
“Yea. There aren’t pre formed teams, like a harem, we assign the best pokegirls to whatever mission is going on, and then add a handler who works best with those girls. It’s a terrible system, but it’s flexible, and they’ve all pulled together like one big harem, so it works. They’re some tough pokegirls, that group. I know you saw how Joana didn’t even break a sweat fighting your new girl.”
“I saw that, yes.” Barry replied.
“She’s pretty skilled.” Timothy shrugged. “Anyways. Anyone else bothering you?”
“Not yet.” Barry looked over to Alexis. “Lexi, how are you feeling?”
The Goblina slowly shook her head. “I can... keep going.”
“I think you need to rest.” Barry replied firmly. “We can train more
In the morning.”
“No.” Alexis grit her teeth, getting to her feet and shaking her head to clear it. “I’ve got one more in me.”
“Alexis.” Barry’s voice softened. “You’re naked, tired, and disoriented. I never intended you to be training this late anyways. We can stop.”
Alexis took a deep breath, calming herself and letting it out. “Please, Master. One more round.”
Barry shook his head helplessly while Timothy just smiled in amusement. “I can’t stop you. Rebecca, are you up to it?”
Rebecca stood. “I can be, Master.” She stepped out, sneering slightly. “I’ll keep from using my elemental strikes to give you a better chance.”
Her sneer wavered when Alexis roared, clapping her hands together and settling into a fighting stance. “Don’t.” She snarled, any hint of her usual uncertainty gone. “I’m most dangerous at the end. That’s what master Mike always told me. You won’t want to hold back.”
“When you’re backed into a corner,” Barry thought, watching Alexis carefully, “that’s when you find your limits.” He looked up at Rebecca. “Do what she says, Revvy. Kick her ass.”
Rebecca’s eyes narrowed and she nodded, working her fingers into tight fists. “Yes Master.”
Alexis made the first move, approaching her opponent and launching a full strength strike at the waiting Pirouette. Rebecca barely deflected the strike, hissing when she felt the grazed portion of her arm begin to smart. She quickly returned the favor, sinking her fist into Alexis’ stomach.
Rebecca stuttered when Alexis didn’t even react to the strike, her breathing beginning to skip as her entire body vibrated. Rebecca quickly retreated, watching in fascination when the shorter Goblina brushed off the hit and continued her own assault.
The rest of Alexis’ vision was gone, leaving only her and her opponent. Her Master, the other Tamer, the very room was forgotten in her single minded pursuit. She continued moving forwards, even her fatigue forgotten as she attacked. Again. And again. Rebecca desperately fended off her attacks, spinning and diving through the room just to stay away from her.
Rebecca finally found an opening and turned, charging a Water Gun and firing it point blank into the charging Goblina. Alexis screamed, the elementally charged technique bypassing whatever technique had kept her from feeling Rebecca’s previous blows. Rebecca fired again, forcing Alexis to one knee, each blast eating away at the Goblina’s already tapped stamina.
Alexis felt her concentration begin to waver, the room bleeding back into focus around her. The other Tamer was gone, but her Master was there. He still watched. Not the other pokegirl, but her. She saw that now.
Rebecca was preparing to finish the fight when her legs gave out and she fell, the half-formed technique in her hand vanishing. She stared at her opponent in confusion before slumping sideways, her eyes rolling back as she fainted - the strikes and wounds Alexis had inflicted finally taking their toll.
Barry waited. Both pokegirls had exhausted themselves, but Alexis was still moving. He readied Rebecca’s pokeball, just in case, but waited for Alexis to make a move.
Alexis slowly looked up, staring at Rebecca’s still form. “Hey.” She rasped, each syllable she attempted burning her throat. “You- get up.”
Alexis swallowed, wincing when the action caused a new wave of pain to surge through her body. “Get up.” She tried again, dropping to all fours and crawling towards the bloodied Pirouette. “I’m not- done.”
Barry straightened when the glow started, Alexis’ evolution not coming on as suddenly as the rest he had seen. Her body grew while she crawled, lengthening and thickening before his eyes. She was still changing when she made it to Rebecca’s side, her spindly limbs and irregular features beginning to fill in with the rest of her body.
Alexis felt the extra strength the evolution was affording her but didn’t realize what was happening, reaching instead to check Rebecca. “You’re not down.” She growled, feeling at the Pirouette’s unconscious form for a few moments. “You were supposed to win.” She grit her lengthening teeth. “Get UP.”
Barry stepped forwards when the glow began to die, raising Rebecca’s pokeball. “Alexis.”
The new Whorc looked back at him. “Master?”
“She fainted first.” Barry triggered Rebecca’s recall. “And you were finally ready.”
Alexis stared blankly. “Ready?”
“You’ve evolved.” Barry came to a halt. “Mina said you’d change when you did, and I can see she was right.”
Alexis tried to stand but collapsed instantly. “I-“
“Just rest.” Barry squatted next to her. “You look... amazing.”
Alexis could feel herself begin to blush but did her best to hide it behind a gruff facade. “I don’t feel amazing, Master.” She groused.
Barry slowly smiled. “Saving your fury for battle, I see.”
Alexis gazed at him. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, Master.” She finally muttered. “I’m exhausted.”
Barry patted her head, his smile still sitting between bemused and approving. “You know, Rebecca isn’t going to take this easily.”
Alexis’ eyes slid shut when she sighed. “That makes me happy, Master.”
Barry chuckled. “Happy, really? She’s a Water type, she has every advantage over you.”
Alexis’ eyes cracked open. “I wouldn’t have it any other way, Master.”
Barry recalled her, rolling the two pokeballs between his fingers as he stood. A healing cycle would fix the injuries each had sustained, but neither were in any shape to keep going until they had had a nice, long rest.
Barry whistled softly while he walked the halls. The night had passed by uneventfully, Alexis and Rebecca each sleeping off their battles in their pokeballs. He had released them both when he woke up, and Rebecca was now off with Camilla training. Alexis had vanished. She had supposedly gone to find a seamstress, but when he had told her they would have to find one somewhere else, she had still left with a vague promise. He was pretty sure the Whorc was really searching for Joana, though why, he wasn’t sure.
Barry snorted. “If she gets her ass beat again, I won’t defend her.” He slowed when he saw where his wandering feet had taken him. The imposing metal doors were sealed, offering no option for him to slip out of the station.
Barry stood and stared at the main doors for a few minutes before turning back, retracing his steps towards the personal quarters. He hadn’t seen Merineth since their battle with Mark; the Sphinx had been in the base, somewhere, but where he couldn’t tell. Mina was no help, either; the last time he had asked her to locate Merineth, all Mina could tell was that she was nearby, and didn’t seem like she was moving very much. He assumed she had found a quiet spot and was training somehow.
Barry frowned and turned his last thoughts over in his head. Why did he assume she was training? She could just as easily be avoiding him, avoiding work, or could have even been incapacitated. Why did he think the best of her?
Because he had decided to think the best of all of them, he realized. He had decided to start to trust them, without watching their every move. He hadn’t felt so relaxed in weeks.
But they were still pokegirls.
Barry grimaced and rubbed at his temples. Yes, they were. He should find her then, make sure she was doing what he thought she was. After all, he needed to know where she was. She was ultimately his responsibility and his pokegirl.
“Right.” Barry muttered, striding through the halls. “If I were a Sphinx, where would I hide.” He checked a few rooms on his way to the nearly empty mess, taking a moment to look around before throwing up his arms in frustration. “There’s got to be a better way to find people in this place.”
“Yo, Barry!” Barry turned to see Nick walking towards him, a surly looking bunnygirl at his shoulder. “Hey, thought I’d find you here after last night. So, what’s she like? The only other pokegirls I’ve seen from the mountain are Joana and her crew.”
Barry stared back blankly for a few moments before he realized. “Oh, you’ve heard about Alexis? She’s not from the mountain.”
Nick came to a halt. “Really?” He glanced at the bunnygirl. “You said she was gray.”
“She was.” The bunnygirl muttered, glaring at Barry. “He’s lying.”
“She’s gray, but she’s not from the mountain.” Barry quickly explained, feeling the rabbit pokegirl’s glare intensify. “Timothy thinks her mother was.”
“I see.” Nick held out his arm to stall his pokegirl. “Maura, back down. Or I’ll get Gwen involved.”
Maura came to an abrupt halt, her focus switching from Barry to her Tamer. “You wouldn’t.”
Maura watched Nick for a few seconds before beginning to growl unhappily, whirling on her heel and stalking away with a raised finger and parting shot. “FUCK YOU!”
“Uh-“ Barry began.
“She didn’t care you might have been telling the truth, she was going to threaten you until she was satisfied.” Nick turned back to Barry. “Sorry about her. Mini-Top, and hates everyone.”
“I… see.” Barry pinched the bridge of his nose. “Maybe I should get rid of her. All this attention isn’t worth it.”
“What, get rid of your new Goblina?” Nick snorted. “Don’t let Maura scare you off. You’ve got a new pokegirl, and from what you’re saying she’ll have to stand on her own just like any other. Anyways. Sorry to bother you, but Maura had me curious.”
“Sure.” Barry watched Nick turn and begin walking away. “Oh, Nick!”
The man turned. “Hm?”
“I’m looking for one of my pokegirls.” Barry awkwardly rubbed at his neck. “But she didn’t tell me where in the station she’d be. Is there any way to page her, or something?”
Nick frowned. “You don’t know about the twins?”
“No, I- what twins?”
“We’ve got two Videogirl running the station.” Nick explained. “We call them the twins because they’ve decided to customize themselves to be identical, and share memories so you really can never tell which one you’re talking to. It gets weird when they’re in the same conversation, but you learn to get used to it.”
“Um… No, I haven’t met them.” Barry frowned. “Why?”
“Well, they’re hooked into the whole place.” Nick pointed at a nearby computer. “If you ask them where your pokegirl is, they should know.”
“Oh.” Barry turned to look at the terminal. “Huh. Thanks.”
“Sure.” Nick gave him a jaunty salute. “See you ‘round.”
Barry approached the terminal, his fingers hesitating over the keys. “Um, hello?” He blushed when there was no response. “Can I speak to the, uh, twins?”
He jumped when the screen fuzzed, the short burst of static resolving into an image of a pokegirl. “Good morning, Bartholomew.” The Videogirl stated happily. “How can we be of assistance today?”
“Uh, I haven’t met you before.” Barry confessed. “Do you have a real name?”
The Videogirl frowned. “There is no need to call us by name. If you need us, merely ask for operator assistance.”
“Okay.” Barry sighed. “I’ll do that. Well, I’m trying to find one of my pokegirls. My Sphinx, Merineth.”
The Videogirl nodded. “Sphinx Merineth is currently in room C-3. Would you like directions to her location?”
“That would be great.” Barry waited for a few moments.
“I require you to connect your pokedex so that I may upload directions.” The Videogirl said with a hint of annoyance to her voice.
“Oh, right.” Barry fumbled with his dex and plugged it in.
“Directions uploaded.” The Videogirl smiled. “Will there be anything else today, Bartholomew?”
“No.” Barry started to turn away but stopped. “Actually, yes. Call me Barry.”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t do that.” The Videogirl didn’t look apologetic. “All Hunters stationed here are referred to by full, registered names, so as to avoid any cases of mistaken identity. Will there be anything else?”
Barry sighed. “No.”
“Have a nice day, Bartholomew.”
Barry walked away as the screen returned to normal, glancing down at his pokedex. The instructions were surprisingly clear and he soon stood outside a closed door, lettering across the top marking it as Conference Room 3. Steeling himself he knocked.
There were a few moments of silence before the door opened, Merineth staring at him in shock. “Wha- M-Master? How did you know where I was?”
“I asked.” Barry peered past her and his eyebrows rose at the state of the room. “Merineth, what in the world have you been doing the last two days?”
“Uh.” Merineth glanced back at the destruction and quicky spread her wings to block his view. “T-training, Master.”
Barry gave her an even look. “Training.” He shook his head. “Training what.”
“Um-“ Merineth had begun to blush. “I, uh… wanted to… practice my forms.” She winced. “And then I started experimenting with this feeling I’ve been having, and then… um…”
Barry cocked his head. “And?”
“It exploded.” Merineth’s voice was small as she admitted it. “And I’ve been so embarrassed I haven’t come out since yesterday.”
“…me.” Merineth rubbed at her arms nervously. “I, don’t know what I did, Master, but there was this flash, and then… oh, the chairs, and the table, and everything was-“
“Hey.” Barry grabbed her shoulder. “It was an accident.”
Merineth jerked at his sudden contact and she turned shocked eyes to his. “Master?”
“It was an accident.” Barry soothed. “I’m sure you discovered some new power after winning your battle the other day. I can understand practicing your forms in private, since you are…” he trailed off, making sure his expression accurately conveyed the lust her nudity was creating, “…a beautiful pokegirl, but techniques should be practiced in a training room.” He grinned at her. “Did you know we have one of our own?”
Merineth blinked. “No, Master. I heard you and Rebecca had gone somewhere to train, but didn’t know we had our own private assignment.”
“We do.” Barry gestured. “Come on, let’s head over there.”
Merineth glanced back at the room behind her. “But-“
“The staff knew you were here.” Barry chuckled. “So they know you broke things. They’ll clean it up and send me the bill, or something. Don’t worry.”
Merineth hesitantly stepped out. “Why are you acting like this, Master?”
Barry blinked. “Eh?”
Merineth shrugged. “When I first met you, and you… It was very clear what my position was meant to be. And now… I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing, Master.” She hung her head. “Naming me Beta made sense, but it was still done in such a strange way.”
Barry frowned. “Is that why you ran off in the first place?”
“I…” Merineth nodded. “Yes. I thought… thought you were a firm Master, yet lately, you’ve… changed.”
Barry slowly shook his head. “Now I don’t understand.” He grimaced. “The others love that I’m keeping from bothering them. They’re the happiest I’ve ever seen. But you… aren’t?” He sighed. “I don’t think Alexis will be either. If I hold you in line, I get unhappy pokegirls. If I let you loose, I get unhappy pokegirls. How the hell am I supposed to win?” He shook his head, causing Merineth’s mouth to snap back shut. “Whatever. Training room.”
Merineth quietly followed him, watching as he counted down doors and pulled one open.
The sudden noise made Barry jump but he stepped inside, looking over to see Camilla and Rebecca dueling. Mina hovered nearby, the Ka-D-Bra slowly drifting side to side.
“And Alexis is nowhere to be found.” Barry sighed. “Perfect.”
“Good morning, Master.” Mina drifted over. “Merineth, where have you been?”
Merineth stiffened. “Training, Alpha.”
Mina cocked an eyebrow. “Training? Show me.”
Merineth shifted nervously. “Well, I-“
“Save that for an empty room.” Mina interrupted. “Show me your forms.”
Barry felt the feeling of helplessness begin to intrude on his thoughts as Mina took over, watching and judging Merineth. He felt wrong. Standing on the outside and relinquishing control to a… pokegirl.
Shouting from the other side of the room drew his attention, and he watched Rebecca take a particularly nasty blow. Cammie slid back, her tail flicking excitedly. “I did it!” She cried happily, dancing back and forth above a belabored Rebecca. “I got you!”
Rebecca groaned, getting to her feet with a wry smile. “You did.”
Cammie clapped excitedly. “Again!”
Rebecca’s eyes widened when the Mossmelon blitzed forwards. “Wai-“
Cammie’s first strike was hastily deflected but she easily overwhelmed her flagging opponent, taking her to the ground and playfully bonking her forehead against Rebecca’s. “Got you.” She began giggling, the evolutionary glow taking over. “Got you, got you, got you!”
Mina left off her talks with Merineth to watch as well, Cammie’s glowing body exploding in size. Soon she was towering over Rebecca, her new wings half extended.
“Cammie!” Barry called, prompting the new Wifern to turn to him. “Congratulations.”
Cammie continued giggling, trying to get off of Rebecca but slipping when her new weight threw her off. “Woo!”
Barry shook his head in bemusement when she crashed to the ground, making an undignified scramble to get upright. “Hoo boy.”
“Master.” Barry glanced over to see Mina staring at where Rebecca still lay on the ground. “I think… you need to talk to her.”
Barry shot her a quizzical look but complied, walking over and offering Rebecca a hand. “Hey Revvy. How you feeling?”
Rebecca was staring up at him but her eyes were focused on the ceiling. “I lost again.”
Barry paused “You did.”
“I’m worthless.” Rebecca stated bitterly. “I lose when I have the advantage. I lose when I have the disadvantage. I just lose.”
“NO!” Rebecca cried. “I’m a FAILURE!”
Barry was thinking of how to respond when he heard someone clearing their throat behind him. He turned, half expecting a new face, but grinned when he saw Timothy. “Timothy! What’s up?”
“I was coming to ask you if you wanted to hang out today,” Timothy chuckled, “get to know each other a bit more, but now I think I need to invite you for a different reason.”
Barry nodded. “And?”
“Rebecca.” Rebecca cracked her eyes open when she heard the other man’s call. “You’ve been with your Master since the beginning.”
Rebecca sniffed. “And?”
“When I first met you, I made up my mind about you.” Timothy laughed. “Spunky little irreverent shit. Sound familiar?”
Rebecca hiccupped. “I- don’t- need to impress you.”
“Exactly.” Timothy laughed. “You don’t. The only person in the whole world you need to impress is your Master.”
Barry had no idea where Timothy was trying to go with this but decided to go with the flow when he saw Rebecca’s sobs begin to slow. “Yea, just me.” He tried to smile at her. “You’re impressive enough already.”
“I LOSE!” Rebecca screamed, clutching at her skull. “Master trusts me to be his bodyguard but I am worthless if I can’t protect Master at all times!”
“Uh, Rebecca?” Barry tried. “Rebecca.” He grimaced when Rebecca’s tantrum worsened. “Damnit, come on.”
Timothy watched Barry continue to try to calm her, turning to Mina after a few moments. “I’m sorry, what was your name again?”
Mina blinked. “Minerva.”
“Minerva, I think you would all benefit from meeting my harem.” Timothy smiled slightly. “Rebecca most of all. She had been ruling in a void, and I believe she needs a shock to really drag her out of that mindset.”
Mina frowned, her eyes narrowing after a moment. “How do you do that.”
“It’s rather rude to go looking without permission.” Timothy replied calmly. “I have had many years to practice shielding my thoughts from psychics. Regardless, I understand your worry, but my intentions are pure.”
Mina shot him an unhappy look. “Master Barry will have to decide that.”
“As he should.” Timothy turned. “Barry!”
Barry glanced up. “Yea?”
“Let her be for a moment. I’m going to go get my harem and really introduce you all for the first time, alright?”
Barry slowly nodded. “Like the other day, you mean.”
Timothy smiled slightly. “That’s right. I’ll let them speak for themselves, but I’m sure someone will be able to help her get back on her feet.”
“Alright.” Barry watched him leave and turned back to Rebecca. “Rebecca, come on. What happened to your excitement a few days ago? Heck even yesterday you were saying every defeat was another stepping stone.”
Rebecca sniffed, rubbing at her eyes. “I don’t want it to be,” she cried, “I want to win. I want to BE stronger, not just be beaten over and over by pokegirls who actually are stronger than me.”
Barry sighed, reaching down to stroke her hair. “Oh, Rebecca. You’re not weak. You are just as strong as the rest of the harem.”
“I’m NOT.” Rebecca sobbed. “All I do is lose. That’s all I’m worth.”
“That’s not true. Only Merineth and Cammie have a win under their belt.”
Barry blinked. “What about her?”
“Goldenrod.” Rebecca sniffed. “She won there. And the new girl beat me so hard she evolved. I’m nothing.”
“If you’re counting Alexis, then you are in the exact same situation.” Barry growled. “You beat Alexis far more than she managed to beat you. You’ve sparred with…” he trailed off when he realized Rebecca had never managed to beat anyone other than Camilla before, “…Cammie, and won pretty easily…”
“And she hits me with her binds and I lose.” Rebecca replied bitterly. “Master, I’m worthless. Weak. A fail-“
“You are NOT!” Barry roared, grabbing her arm and roughly pulling her to her feet. “I CHOSE YOU BECAUSE YOU WERE NOT A FAILURE! WHERE IS MY REBECCA? THE POKEGIRL I CHOSE AT THAT RANCH WAS A SNARKY, IMPERTINENT BITCH THAT DIDN’T BOW TO ANYBODY. WHERE IS THAT POKEGIRL?” He reared back when Rebecca began to cry again, sending his hand across her cheek with a resounding slap. “WAKE UP! THIS IS NOT YOU!”
Rebecca raised a shaking hand to her reddening cheek. “You hated-“
“NO.” Barry raised a trembling finger to point at her. “I did NOT hate that pokegirl. I hated what that pokegirl did. You fucked up, Rebecca. You lost control and made a choice that cost you something precious. But it did not cost you everything. I could have thrown you out. I could have sold you without a second thought. But I didn’t. I believed in you, Rebecca. I still believed the pokegirl I first met was there somewhere, even if only because I refused to believe I could have made that kind of mistake.” He gritted his teeth when she continued shaking her head. “I want that pokegirl back, Rebecca. I want YOU. BACK.”
Rebecca stared past the tears. “Bbut, M-Master…”
“No.” Barry shoved her away and shook out his hands. “I’m going to find that fucking pokegirl, even if I have to beat her back out of you.” He took a step forwards. “Come on.” He made a feint and roared when Rebecca barely responded. “COME ON!”
Rebecca blocked when he struck, Barry still shouting. “WHERE IS THE TOMBOY MIRA TRAINED? WHERE IS THE POKEGIRL THAT BROKE A FERAL’S BACK WITHOUT A SECOND THOUGHT? WHERE IS THE GIRL I THOUGHT I- THE GIRL WHO BEAT ANOTHER TO A PULP TO SAVE HER MASTER? ” He threw another strike, transitioning into a sweep and throwing Rebecca to the ground. “Now you’re being beat by a HUMAN? WHAT KIND OF POKEGIRL ARE YOU?”
Rebecca screamed, leaping to her feet as all the doubt, the fear, the despair was swept away on a crimson tide of rage. Barry was forced to step away when she struck back, her fist almost a blur in his eyes. He winced when she struck again, hitting his raised block with her enhanced strength, but began to grin. “THERE SHE IS!”
Rebecca had only one thought as she pursued her Master, each failed strike only fueling her anger. “STAND STILL!”
Barry laughed, his eyes picking out her movements. “That’s the girl I remember. More! MORE!” He whooped and spun away when she tried to kick. “YEA!”
Camilla had regained her footing and stood indecisively, split between stopping Rebecca and trusting her Master. “Sh-she wasn’t moving like that, when, when we-“
“That’s how she moved back then.” Mina murmured, poised to attack the Pirouette at the first sign of danger. “When she…”
Rebecca snarled, closing on the dancing man faster than Barry could react. He saw her plan and acted accordingly but still was blown away when Rebecca’s fist sank into his stomach. He thanked the stars that he hadn’t eaten anything yet that day and dry heaved, his body rebelling against the sudden compression.
Rebecca came to a halt when he fell, watching Barry impassively. “Are you stupid, Master?”
Barry coughed, staring up at her. “What?”
“Taunting a pokegirl.” Rebecca bent down and grabbed his shoulder, pulling him off the ground. “A pokegirl that can fucking KILL YOU!” Barry began chuckling, only incensing Rebecca more. “WHAT!”
“Your steps inside.” Barry gasped between breaths. “You were off balance the whole time.”
Rebecca stared at him in shock. “What?”
“Mira taught you better than that.” Barry retched again. “Gods. You lost your confidence, Revvy. That’s why you were losing, not because you’re not as strong as them.”
Rebecca abruptly dropped him, allowing Barry to crash back to the floor. “You were… watching that, even… as I…”
Barry groaned and picked himself up. “Wake up. You lost to Lagearna because she has been training for weeks in order to survive things we can’t even imagine. You lost to Alexis because she has been training for years in order to beat people like you. You walked into each of those fights scared and allowed your fear to rule you. THAT is how you were weak, not your body, but your mind.”
Rebecca narrowed her eyes and tried to punch him, gasping when a hand interspersed itself between the two. The metallic figure pushed her back, standing in front of Barry.
“Well, it looks like you shocked her awake better than I could have.” Timothy called cheerfully, Samantha standing beside him in casual clothing. “Barry, Samantha can take it from here.”
Rebecca tried to walk around the suit of armor but stopped when it kept itself between her and Barry. “Take what.” She yelped when the armor struck, pushing her back a few feet and leaving a painful bruise.
“You will fight my armor.” Samantha called quietly. “If you can’t beat it by the end of the day, we will try something… better.”
Barry slowly walked over to the two, allowing his own harem to cluster nearby. “Thanks.”
Timothy smiled. “Sure.” He looked at Samantha. “How much are you concentrating on your armor?”
The Shednobi snorted. “I’m not.”
“Rebecca should have a chance, then.” Timothy nudged the insect girl. “Barry’s beat up a bit.”
Samantha blinked. “Oh. Right.” She looked at him. “Would you like me to heal your bruises, sir?”
Barry blinked. “Oh, uh, sure.” He frowned when Samantha began reaching under her shirt. “So, do you have a bandage, or-“
He gasped when the Shednobi plunged her free hand into her pants, the rapid movment of the fabric making it abundantly clear what she was doing. After a few seconds she sighed, withdrawing her glistening fingers. “Where does it hurt?”
Timothy nearly choked at the look on Barry’s face. “It’s just Honey.”
Barry shot a look at the viscous liquid that was dripping down Samantha’s hand. “THAT’S Honey?”
“Yes. It’s insect pussy juice.” Timothy snickered. “Pin him down to apply it if you have to, Sam.”
“That’s fine.” Barry said hurriedly, not missing the thunderous expressions on his pokegirls and raising his shirt when the Shednobi approached menacingly. “She hit-“ He paused at the sharp intake of breath. “Timothy?”
“She really wasn’t happy with you.” He muttered, staring at the enormous purple and black bruise. “If she wanted to, she would have easily broken your ribs.”
Barry hissed when Samantha pressed her fingers against his bruise, finally feeling the pain through his surging adrenaline. “Ow.”
“You’ll be alright.” Timothy waited for Samantha to finish. “Keep that on until we call it for the night, alright?”
“I was talking to Samantha.” Timothy chuckled. “Alright?”
Samantha had begun breathing heavier than usual and she slowly shook her head at her Master’s words. “O-ok, Master.”
“Er, what’s wrong?” Barry asked cautiously.
“I told you where Honey comes from, didn’t I?” Timothy asked. “So when I need Samantha ready to provide at a moment’s notice…”
“Master.” Samantha whispered. “Please stop.”
Timothy threw up his hands. “Fine.” He turned back to the door and poked his head out. “The rest of you! Get in here!”
Barry was staring at the panting Shednobi. “Wait, she’s got a-“
“Maaaasterr!” Mina gushed, wrapping her arms around his chest and clamping a hand over his mouth. “Can’t you see she’s embarrassed in front of strangers?”
Barry glared past her hand when Mina began to awkwardly laugh, working his way free after a few moments. “Come on.”
“Barry, Minerva, I would like you to meet my harem.” Timothy bowed slightly. “Minerva, I know the two of us haven’t known each other for long, but I have known Barry the longest out of all the Hunters stationed here. Surely you must know that, at least.”
“I… did.” Mina confessed. “I apologize for my rudeness earlier, sir.”
“Accepted.” Timothy replied easily. “Now then. Barry, you’ve seen everyone here, but this might as well be a new introduction for you and a first introduction for your harem. So, we’ll start at the top.” He turned and motioned Leizi forwards. “This is Leizi, she is a Lopiki, and my Alpha.”
Unlike the first time Barry had seen the bunnygirl, there was absolutely no confusion as to her worth, her very stance screaming her skill. “Master Barry,” she said evenly, “good morning. And you, ma’am, who I assume to be the Alpha of the harem?”
Mina nodded, her antennae twitching for a moment as she fought her instinct to read Leizi’s mind. “Hello.”
“You’ve already met Samantha.” Leizi turned. “She is my Beta. Next is Sapphire, the dragon in the back; Noir, the black and white humanoid beside her, and standing between my Master and the door is Hestia.” She lowered her hand. “Finally is Tina. I believe the two of you will make fast friends.”
Mina watched the short girl step forwards in confusion. “Her?”
“Tina is well versed in psychic techniques, especially telekinesis and incapacitation. She will be your partner.”
Mina frowned. “Hold on, I never agreed to anything.”
“That’s right.” Timothy replied. “You didn’t. But Barry did.”
Barry frowned. “I don’t remember…”
“True you didn’t really say yes, but I’m telling you to say it now.” Timothy laughed. “Trust me, Barry.”
“I don’t know what this little girl thinks she knows, but she is letting off absolutely no psychic energy.” Mina whispered through Barry’s mind. “This whole stunt is ridiculous. Who is this guy, anyways?”
“My mentor.” Barry replied simply. “Good luck.”
Mina stared at him in shock before turning back to Tina. “Fine. What are you-“
Barry watched Mina’s eyes roll into the back of her head, the Ka-D-Bra collapsing bonelessly after a second. “Well.”
Tina walked over and squatted next to the unmoving Psychic pokegirl. “She is completely inexperienced.” Barry was surprised at her loud voice, the sound completely out of place on her miniscule frame. “To her credit, she has already realized what happened. Whether she can overpower or outsmart me by the end of the day is another matter entirely.”
Mina jerked, staring at the empty space around her and beginning to panic as total sensory deprivation began to set in. How long had she been here? Where was she?
Mina’s chest surged when she gasped, scrabbling to her feet and looking around the room wildly. Tina stared back, cocking her head and smiling slightly when she saw Mina begin to calm. “What happened?”
Mina’s breathing didn’t change, her chest rising and falling at an alarming rate. “I- You-“ She swallowed, forcing her heart rate to slow. “Feedback loop.”
Tina’s smile widened. “Good.” She sat down in place. “Show me how to avoid it.”
Barry blew air out of his nose when Mina abruptly collapsed again. “Can you not bruise her?”
“She should be fine.” Timothy tapped at his chin while he watched Camilla and Merineth stand nervously. “Let’s see. Who would be best for each of you. Ah, of course. Sapphire,” he turned to the Wyveri, “take the Sphinx outside, if you would.”
Merineth paled when the draconian girl grinned, her sharp teeth glinting in the light. “Yes, Master.”
“Master Barry,” Merineth blustered, “I think it would be much better if I stayed as your guard.”
“He’s not the one making that choice right now.” Timothy replied, stopping any hope of a response from Barry. “By his own admission, this harem is completely unprepared for this posting. As the senior Hunter on station, it is my duty to fix that problem. This is the first step.”
Barry grimaced. “Good luck, Neith.”
A flicker of resolve passed over Merineth’s face from his usage of her nickname, but it quickly vanished when Sapphire grabbed her arm and began walking, easily pulling the Sphinx along behind her.
“And that leaves you.” Timothy hummed, staring at Camilla. “Leizi, what do you think?”
“Noir.” Leizi replied. “Teach her how to fly.”
Camilla watched nervously when Noir stepped forwards, jumping when the Z-Bra took her arm but slowly calming when Noir didn’t drag like Sapphire had. “Teach.” She murmured, gently pulling Camilla to a side. “Not fight. Be calm.”
Leizi had a half smile on her face that vanished when she turned to Barry. “Now. Where is your Goblina?”
“I… don’t know.” Barry confessed. “I think she went off to try and find Joana.”
Leizi and Timothy glanced at each other. “That probably was pretty stupid.” Timothy replied. “Well, she can’t have left the base.” He pulled out his pokedex. “Ladies, I need to know the location of Bartholomew Messer’s new pokegirl, the Goblina.”
“She has evolved to Whorc. The pokegirl is currently asleep in maintenance F.”
Timothy snrked. “I think she found Joana.”
Barry groaned. “Where the hell is that.”
“Hestia.” Timothy called to his Blazicunt. “She’s down by the offices. When you find her, if you can wake her, give her the option to walk first. If she refuses to come here, bring her.”
Hestia bowed, sweeping out the door. Barry turned away to watch Rebecca fight the animated set of armor, her movements still uncertain. “I thought I could do this myself.”
“Barry.” Barry turned to see Timothy gesturing. “Come with me. You need some training of your own.”
Barry hesitated. “Really?”
“Leizi, take over.” Timothy nodded. “Come on.”
Barry slowly followed him out, the two walking down the hall to an empty room. After Barry entered Timothy closed the door, walking to the other side of a small table. “Alright.”
Barry slowly sat. “What kind of training is this going to be?”
“The kind where I needed an excuse to talk to you alone.” Timothy replied. “Barry, have you made any progress learning about your blood gift?”
Barry shook his head slightly. “I have no idea what I’m doing or if it’s working. If I’m supposed to be able to control my pokegirls, it’s definitely not working. You saw Rebecca.”
“I did,” Timothy replied, “and I also saw how she became exactly what you wanted after what seemed like a few seconds.”
Barry paused, staring down at the tabletop. “Well… I wanted her to be who she used to be, so that’s… not really that strange?”
Timothy shrugged. “True, I’d bet you mostly just shook her back to her senses. But I don’t think that’s all you did.”
“So what did I do.” Barry asked, his tone making it clear how little he cared about the answer. “Since you seem to know so much more about me than I do.”
Timothy sighed. “You’re not the first.”
Barry frowned. “What?”
“Your gift isn’t unique.” Timothy steepled his fingers. “Your trait markers are shared by hundreds of other Tamers. The difference you have is that yours have matured. Evolved. We think the purpose of your gift is to assist in bringing troublesome pokegirls back in line, to make them want to do what you say beyond the normal compulsions. However, yours is more. You seem to be able to project this feeling, and to make other pokegirls listen to you. For how long, who knows.”
“So… I did that to Rebecca.” Barry muttered.
“Not necessarily.” Timothy corrected. “I doubt the gift controls your pokegirls, like you’re thinking it will. It just increases the odds, or removes unfavorable responses to your actions. You wanted Rebecca to break out of whatever shell she had built around herself, and deep down, Rebecca probably did too. Your gift simply helped you push Rebecca down a path she already wanted.”
“So it’s basically useless.” Barry chuckled. “I mean, if I wanted my pokegirls to do something, I’d just order them, or persuade them if I had to.”
“It increases your odds.” Timothy smiled. “Anything that can do that is worthwhile.”
Barry grunted. “Sure.”
“Is that your response to everything?” Timothy probed. “Wave it off and, if that fails, laugh it off?”
Barry turned away. “It’s worked for my whole life.”
“Has it?” Timothy asked gently. “Because that’s not how you stay healthy, you have to take part and-“
“Is that how I need to live my life?” Barry interrupted. “Is that what will satisfy your… whoever is pulling the strings? I’m a rat in a cage, being manipulated by scientists that think I’m the next best thing. I don’t want to fucking be here. I just wanted to live my life. In. Peace.” He rubbed his face. “I should have just been a politician. I should have listened to you.”
“But you didn’t.”
Barry snorted. “Nope. I didn’t. Look where that’s gotten me.”
“It’s gotten you here.” Timothy pushed past Barry’s attempts to speak. “It has gotten you a harem with great potential, and allies who only want to help you grow. You will grow beyond this uselessness you feel, Barry. I know you can. It will take some time, but it will come. And it needs to, because you are on the front lines now. You may think that this is the middle of nowhere, a posting meant to isolate you. It isn’t. Remember what I said? We are the strongest, not because of our skill or our dedication but because we have no choice. Either we survive this mountain or we die. Those are our options. And Something’s coming. Something big – and when it arrives, we’ll be waiting for it. We are the first line. Whatever comes, we stand first in its path. You’re going to be ready for it. Understand?”
Barry grunted. “Understood.”
“No, Barry.” Timothy looked him in the eyes. “You don’t understand. But you will. Within a month you will understand all too well. By then, you will know what it means to survive the mountain. And then, only then, will you be ready to fight.”
Barry slowly clenched his fist. “I said understood.”
Timothy slowly smiled. “Then we begin.”
!!Details Locked to L4!!
Tamer profile of Bartholomew (Barry) Messer
License: Hunter – Provisional
Clearance Level: 0
Pokegene 1 – Flarebra
Alpha Will – Feral
Minerva (Mina) – Ka-D-Bra, Alpha
Merineth (Neith) – Sphinx, Beta
Rebecca (Revvy) – Pirouette
Camilla (Cammie) – Wifern
Alexis (Lexi) – Whorc
!!Details Locked to L1!!
Tamer Profile of Mark Wehrmen
License: Hunter – Level 1
Clearance Level: 1
Lagearna – Cerberass, Alpha
Shibara – Venuswhore
Aeriesafa – Pidgeota
Tarene – Tesladama
Friesca – Eva
!!Details Locked to L5!!
Tamer Profile of Jonah Bates
License: Hunter – Provisional
Clearance Level: 0
Restricted by ~hs2D5gj8~
Lucy – Xerablondi, Alpha
Jane – Grotitle
Mary – Hotgoblina
Nina – Dragoness
Becky – Maggieton
Tamer Profile of Eric Holiday
License: Hunter – Provisional
Clearance Level: 0
!!Tamer’s Disease – Severe!!
Clara – Ice Battle Angel, Alpha
Candace – Tank Vixxen
Megan – Iron Chef
Ashley – Warcat
Laura – Griffon
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.
!!Details Locked to L3. NonCom Locked to L5!!
Tamer Profile of Timothy Gardner
License: Hunter – Level 4
Clearance Level: 4
Monster Out – Full Metamorph
Rage – Fighting/Fire
Fast Healing – Magic
Recovery – Potent x2
Boost – Fighting/Fire
Pokegene 3 – Blazicunt
Claire – Snugglebunny, NonCom
Leizi – Lopiki, Alpha
Samantha – Shednobi, Beta
Sapphire – Wyveri
Noir – Z-Bra
Hestia – Blazicunt
Martina – Enchantress