Author's Disclaimer: It should be remembered that I am not my characters. My characters can and will often have different values systems than I do. Not only as relates to Pokegirl rights, but also as relates to issues such as sexism, racism, and other factors actually found in real life. If the protagonist says or agrees with something you find offensive, please remember that the author doesn't necessarily agree with it.
Vikrama Samvat date: 2356, Phalguna Krishnapaksa, 3.
International standard date: 298 AS, February 24.
“Tenebrous Strike!” Sukanta yelled, and Thaili, her recently caught Hound, swiftly obeyed the order. In the dimly lit room, the Dark-type had plenty of shadows to gain power from, and unleashed a strong blow against the training dummy. Seeing her feralborne Hound understand and follow through with her spoken order, Sukanta grinned widely. It had certainly taken plenty of time today and yesterday to train Thaili to understand all of these attack moves.
Shortly after the Hound had been caught, she had been tamed at the Pokecenter, with Parbati and Sikendra joining in. Once the taming was done, however, Sukanta soon realized the frustration of trying to communicate anything to a never before tamed Pokegirl. Which was why most of yesterday had been spent at this gym, focusing on teaching Thaili basic commands such as ‘stop’, and also names of all of the basic attack moves.
“Miss- your Pidgy is now ready from her healing cycle. Your Firemaiden should also be ready from her healing cycle rather soon.” Sukanta turned to see the Cunta-Ratcha who had spoken to her, holding out her Pokeball. Taking the Pokeball from her, Sukanta immediately opened it. As Parbati emerged from the ball, she glanced up at her trainer.
“Has she mistaken any commands this time?” Parbati asked, once she got a look at her surroundings.
“No. Thaili seems to actually understand all of the basic commands and attack names, now. I could actually use her in a battle!”
Parbati nodded. “It would have to be a low-tier battle, though. If you had any smart ideas that required unusual tactics, you wouldn’t exactly be able to communicate them right now.”
Sukanta nodded back. “Yeah- and sorry for not focusing as much on your training. I promise, next time we go to a Kathmandu gym, we’ll go to the one that’s part Flying. Which one was that again?”
“Rock and Flying. Much of the training area in that gym consists of large differences in elevation, simulating a mountainous area,” Parbati replied. “And there’s no need to apologize. If you’re going to keep a recently caught feral, then teaching her basic commands is a definite priority. And it’s not like I haven’t gotten the chance to train while I was here. Although given what kind of sadistic instructor that Ravage was, it wasn’t exactly a reward for me…” Parbati mumbled the last part, with Sukanta guessing she didn’t want said Ravage to hear.
Sukanta couldn’t help but think that they were lucky to be starting their journey in Kathmandu. Not only was the capitol the only city in the Mountain League to be allowed to have more than one gym, but each of its 10 gyms specialized in two separate, non-overlapping Pokegirl types. This gym specialized in Dark-types and Infernals, and the training area had dim lighting to provide the shadows necessary for many Dark-type moves. Just like any other gym in the Mountain League, beyond being places to challenge, these gyms also had the duty of helping to train any trainer who requested it. When the 10 gyms were planned out, the ultimate goal was to ensure that the Mountain League’s center of Pokegirl combat training, regardless of what kind of combat that was, would be in the capitol.
“Sukanta!” Sukanta and Parbati both turned to look at the Hound, who was gesturing at the training dummy. By this point, Sukanta could recognize the gesture as Thaili wanting to be given another order so she could receive positive attention when she carried it out. At least, that’s what Sukanta assumed was going through the Hound’s head when she kept on asking for more commands. Her vocabulary was still heavily limited- Sukanta’s name was the only name she knew, for example- and it wouldn’t exactly have been possible to ask for Thaili’s specific motivation.
“Um… Rest. You can rest now, Thaili,” Sukanta said. She had just realized she had yet to teach her Hound any commands that would communicate ‘train without me’. She had at least taught her ‘Rest’ as one of her commands, although so far the Hound only knew the word as meaning ‘take a break from training’. Considering this was only the second day she had spent training Thaili in speech- and the third day she’d had her- the progress wasn’t that bad.
As the canid Pokegirl responded by yawning and sitting down against the training dummy, Sukanta turned to her Pidgy. “So, anyways, while I think I could use Thaili in battle, what do you think about yourself? You look battle-ready against similarly low-level opponents. Think we could try it?”
Parbati paused. “As sadistic as that Ravage was, she did at least teach me that I am capable of doing some damage, and can handle more than I thought. I don’t have very good aim, though- my Feather Shuriken is more of an area attack right now, instead of targeted like it should be. The only reason I’m registering as the level I am is because of how much I’ve honed my flexibility and my flight capabilities. The flight because I enjoyed it, and of course, the flexibility…” The Pidgy let herself trail off there, as she grinned up at her tamer.
Sukanta grinned back. Learning more taming techniques had definitely been good motivation for Parbati to master her newfound freejointed body. And when Sukanta saw the impact on her training, she suddenly understood why the Pokedex registered her at the level it had. The Pidgy’s flight speed, when combined with her small size and ability to quickly contort her body midair, allowed her to dodge much better than Sukanta had expected. The Pidgy would have to improve her attack moves to fight on her own, but as it was, she could probably manage as a supportive force, doing minor damage at range.
“I’ve never understood why Sukebe had his power levels so variable in what they could represent. When dealing with earthquakes, for example, you hear of a category 6 something earthquake and you know exactly what it means. But I’ve heard of some Pokegirls with nearly identical capabilities who registered as much as two levels apart. I don’t see why some Leagues are still so hung up on using such an uninformative metric of combat prowess…”
Sukanta shrugged. “Probably because they don’t have a better metric of combat prowess which works across all species. Whatever calculations Sukebe’s tech makes to determine those power levels, it does tend to have some rough correlation with skill. It may not be perfect, but if it’s taken away, there’s nothing to replace it. And, I mean… If you have nothing to replace it with, how can you be sure new trainers are getting suitably strong starters, for example?”
Parbati shrugged back. “I guess you’re right. The Leagues that don’t bother giving out strong enough starters probably don’t care, though…”
“Maybe. Anyways, about battling. I know you’re not ready for a one-on-one battle. But what about a double battle? You could chip away at enemies from a distance while Thaili, for example, was keeping them busy in close range. Do you think you’re ready for that?”
Parbati was silent for a good half minute before she replied. “If it’s against Pokegirls of similarly low levels and trainers of similarly low experience, I could stand a fighting chance, yes.”
“They actually have tournaments for that. You know about those tournaments aimed at beginning trainers that try to get rid of unused Commons in the government’s possession?” The tournaments Sukanta was referring to were part of a program that had been started a year ago. The Mountain League, like most other Leagues, had a surplus of Commons in stasis which it had trouble placing anywhere. Hoping new trainers would find placements for them, government-sponsored tournaments with such Pokegirls as prizes were established. To make sure they weren’t just giving away Pokegirls, there were entry fees. There was typically a single Uncommon that was available, and which was usually chosen by the winner, to further incentivize trainers to pay the entry fee and participate. To incentivize keeping the Commons, or at least finding a placement, there was the caveat that prizes had to be kept tame and regularly out of stasis for seven days before being sold to a Ranch.
After Parbati nodded, Sukanta continued. “I checked the schedule. Tomorrow is going to be a tournament which is right up our alley. With the bounty we got from the Hound, we actually have the money for the entry fee. Participants can’t have been tamers for more than 30 days. It’s a double battle, and any Pokegirl used in it has to be registered at level 20 or below. If you and Thaili entered, you actually might stand a fighting chance!”
Parbati spoke slowly. “That… actually fits. It would be a good way of gaining experience, and we’d be presented with fair fights.”
Sukanta nodded in agreement. “Alright. Tomorrow’s tournament has 64 spots total, and less than 10 are left. I’m going to go ahead and register as a participant, just to make sure we get in.” And with that said, Sukanta grabbed her Pokedex, using its Internet function to find the site for such tournaments and register in this one. Satisfied with what she had accomplished, Sukanta put her Pokedex away.
“Miss- your Firemaiden is ready from her healing cycle.” The Cunta-Ratcha from before had approached, yet again holding out a Pokeball. Yet again, Sukanta wordlessly accepted the Pokeball from her, quickly releasing her Pokegirl from inside it. Once Sikendra materialized, Sukanta eagerly told her about her plans for tomorrow. The Firemaiden’s reaction wasn’t quite what she had expected.
“Think about what month it is!” As much as Sikendra seemed to be trying to say something important with that outburst, it still seemed like a non sequitor.
“The month of Phalguna?” Sukanta responded in confusion, as Parbati watched, seeming to be equally confused.
By this point, Sikendra’s expression, though still worried, had changed to a different kind of worry. “…I deeply apologize if my outburst was taken as inappropriate, but I was simply worried and trying to support my mistress. Please forgive me for doing so with the wrong tone.”
“…It’s fine, but I’m still kind of confused why Phalguna is an inauspicious month to be doing this?”
“I wasn’t talking about out calendar. The international calendar. The one that has the month of February. Which has Sadie Pokens, which occurred within the past 30 days, which means that some of your opponents will have a really unfair advantage using strong breeds from it!”
Oh. That… Was actually a very, very good point. Even if the Pokegirl was under level 20, that would only be by the standards of their breed’s potential. Or something like that- Sukanta didn’t bother paying attention to academic debates about how Sukebe’s power classifications (another way of saying levels) worked. If, for example, the opponent had gotten some Extremely Rare breed that had been born through parthogenesis… They’d be screwed. Even if the opponent hadn’t gotten quite so insanely lucky, there were still plenty of lesser threats which were far beyond what Sukanta’s Pidgy and Hound could handle. As Parbati responded to Sikendra, Sukanta nervously checked her Pokedex to see whether her entry in the tournament could be rescinded.
Unless she wanted to lose the entry fee of 10,000 SLC without getting even one of the Common breed consolation prizes to choose from, the answer was no.
Vikrama Samvat date: 2356, Phalguna Krishnapaksa, 4.
International standard date: 298 AS, February 25.
By the time the tournament arrived, Sukanta had done enough research on the past two tournaments with the same rules which had both been held after the recent Sadie Pokens. The winners of both of those tournaments had indeed been trainers who had gotten lucky at Sadie Pokens, instead of the typical situation of a newbie with exceptional talent. There were quite a few articles online which made it clear the situation had become controversial amongst the people who paid attention to these tournaments. Even the founders and judges of the tournament agreed that this was nothing like the even playing field for beginners that they had tried to create and implement. These government-sponsored tournaments to use surplus Pokegirls in stasis only started last year, but the variation with Pokegirls below level 20 and trainers with no more than 30 days experience was newer.
As in, this was the first time that particular variation had run within 30 days of Sadie Pokens, and the holiday hadn’t been taken into consideration at all. A public discussion was scheduled with the judges and founders to fix the loophole which was being abused this year. Considering it would do nothing to make the tournament Sukanta was currently entering fair, she didn’t really care.
The Common consolation prizes and the single Uncommon were of species randomly chosen among the various Pokegirls that the government had held in stasis for over a year. The only factor to affect the randomness was that breeds with a disproportionate presence in the backlog of Pokegirls in stasis were disproportionately likely to be chosen. For this particular tournament, the Uncommon chosen was a Catfish. The various Common breeds chosen were Gravelgal, Titmouse, Geogal, Digtit, Titapod, Cutiepie, Pidgy, Buttitsfree, and Doe. There were 7 each of each of these species, which added to a total of 63. Number 64 was the Catfish, who would most likely be the breed chosen by the winner of the tournament. From that point on, consolation prizes would be chosen based on how participants had ranked.
In addition to the factor of whether they won their battles, there was also the matter of how well the judges determined they fought. For example, the first round was going to knock out half the participants from the running. Among the 32 who lost that first round, priority in choosing what Pokegirl to take would be based on the judges’ subjective rankings. In other words, if Sukanta had terrible luck in who she faced the first round, as long as she put up a good fight, she might get something she could at least sell to recoup her entry fee. If she wasn’t judged to put up a good fight and lost the first round, however, she’d probably get stuck choosing between a feralborn Pidgy or Titmouse. And as much as Sukanta really liked her thresholded Pidgy, a feralborn Pidgy would probably rank as worse than the Titmouse in terms of desirability.
So when Sukanta saw the first round pairings listed, and saw that her Pidgy and Hound would be facing another trainer’s Tarantella and Catgirl, she let out a sigh of relief. It would seem she was actually facing someone on her same level. On top of that, she had a minor advantage in terms of species matchup. Parbati and Sikendra, both out of their Pokeballs, seemed just as relieved. Thaili, lacking the vocabulary either to help or to even understand what was going on, was in her Pokeball so as not to interrupt their planning.
“I wonder what plans my brother would be making if he was here right now,” Sukanta muttered. This tournament was meant to measure and hone the skills of novice trainers, and as such, the participants were kept separated from the crowd which might try to give advice. This also meant they were kept separated from their Mentor Trainers, so as to practice coming up with plans on their own.
“Well, you can always ask him later. Right now, we need to figure out how to prevent that Tarantella from quickly taking out Thaili and leaving me fighting them alone. You got any ideas, Sikendra?”
As Sukanta turned to glance at the Firemaiden, she caught an expression on her Pokegirl’s face she couldn’t quite read, right before the Fire-type’s expression changed to an emotionally neutral one. “It’s true that the Tarantella is a major threat to Thaili. The opponent will probably guess ahead of time that the heavy damage will come from mistress’ Hound, but whether they focus on taking her out first, we can’t predict. I’m personally more concerned with how the desirability of the matchup changes depending on who is fighting who. With a Pidgy against a Tarantella and a Hound against a Catgirl, the advantage is obvious. With a Tarantella against a Hound and a Catgirl against a Pidgy, the advantage is similarly obvious, but in a completely different direction. If we’re primarily using Parbati as support for Thaili, we’ll want to use her in a way that controls the battlefield to minimize direct contact with the Tarantella. Does such an approach seem wise, mistress, or do you wish to pursue a different strategy?”
As Sikendra turned to her, Sukanta froze, unsure of what to say to such an onslaught of factors she hadn’t considered. She had initially only imagined the fight from the perspective of a Pidgy against a Tarantella and a Hound against a Catgirl. The idea that the battle could be just as advantageous a matchup to their opponent hadn’t occurred to her. It was certainly a disconcerting notion.
“Um… Right. How to control who is fighting who…” Sukanta trailed off, unsure of how to accomplish such a goal. “Parbati? I know you’re uncomfortable against feline breeds, but how close could you get to one?” Hopefully the question she asked wasn’t too stupid. If she was going to be the trainer who gave commands in battle, she couldn’t just rely on her Pokegirls coming up with all of the solutions for her.
Even if she had no idea how to figure out any solutions herself.
“If I got anywhere close enough I thought she might be able to jump and reach me, I’d be instinctually terrified and unable to focus.” Parbati spoke bluntly, and Sukanta winced as the beginnings of a plan were rendered unusable.
“Okay… So what do we want to do instead?”
Eventually, the time for the match arrived. Trying not to appear too nervous, Sukanta walked to the platform from which she would be observing and commanding her Pokegirls. On the opposite end of the field, she could see a male a bit younger than her do the same thing. Unlike her, he was letting his nervousness clearly show for the crowd to see. At least, Sukanta hoped that it was unlike her, and that she was doing as good a job hiding her nervousness as she thought she was. She’d have to watch the footage afterwards to be sure.
As the referee called for the two trainers to begin the match, Sukanta released Parbati and Thaili as her opponent released his Tarantella and Catgirl. It was now time to hope their initial plan worked, and then proceed from there. The Tarantella and Catgirl had been released far enough away from each other that if she pointed, her chosen target would be obvious. Considering Thaili had yet to learn words such as ‘cat’ or ‘spider’ which could have verbally differentiated them, this was a very good thing. Sukanta hoped the other trainer didn’t wise up and position his girls so Thaili wouldn’t know who she was referring to if she pointed. Or was that even a realistic thing to worry about?
“Thaili, stay and Howl at that target!” Ignoring her possibly paranoid thoughts, Sukanta gave the command. At the same time as Sukanta gave that command and pointed at the Catgirl, the opposing trainer simply ordered his own Pokegirls to follow the plan. As both his Tarantella and Catgirl rushed forwards, Thaili released her sonic attack. Not only was it a sonic attack, but Howl was a deeply animalistic move, emphasizing her canid traits. Even against opponents who lacked an instinctual fear of canine Pokegirls, Howl could still cause enough terror that weaker willed ones would try to flee combat.
And the plan was working. Whatever plan the other trainer had given his Catgirl, Sukanta doubted it was to barely stop herself from running away as she trembled in fear. Because Sukanta gave Thaili the command of ‘stay’, the Hound hadn’t moved position as she used her Howl attack. Sukanta was actually relieved the Hound had understood what she meant when she combined that command with an attack. During training, Sukanta hadn’t considered she might use a command such as ‘stay’ as part of a battle order. As such, Sikendra had brought up the possibility that Thaili might be confused by what she thought were conflicting orders.
While all of that was happening, the Tarantella was running forward towards Sukanta’s Hound, exactly as they had predicted. Parbati, meanwhile, was flying directly above Thaili, waiting for the moment the Tarantella did get close.
Now! Parbati’s telepathic voice came through clearly on their Delta bond. Even if Parbati was simply following Sukanta’s instructions when she helped her mistress in such a way, others would look poorly on it if they misinterpreted it as the Pidgy giving her owner an order.
“Thaili, Quick Attack at that target!” Sukanta yet again pointed at the Catgirl who had remained in the far end of the battlefield. The speed of Quick Attack, when combined with Parbati’s support role, should keep the Tarantella from getting a chance to strike as Thaili passed by. Clenching the railing of the platform she stood on nervously, Sukanta watched this crucial, yet quickly unfolding, moment.
The moment Sukanta had started speaking, Parbati had initiated the plan of repeatedly using her Gust attack to knock the Tarantella to Sukanta’s end of the battlefield. The Catgirl, still on the opposite end near her trainer, would then be occupied fully by Thaili without the support of her Tarantella harem sister. Parbati would then keep using Gust just as a means of control while Sukanta focused on giving commands to Thaili against the Catgirl. Of course, if the Tarantella managed to intercept Thaili as she passed by, even with her burst of speed and Parbati’s attempted interference…
Thaili passed by. The Tarantella was already headed in Sukanta’s direction, and Parbati’s Gust combined with her forward momentum to successfully push her where they wanted. As Thaili hit the Catgirl, the attack didn’t do much damage- but considering Quick Attack was a speedy attack famous for prioritizing speed over power, that was expected. Now Sukanta needed to immediately command an attack that would help prevent the Catgirl from escaping to the other side of the battlefield.
“Thaili, Crunch on that target!” The Hound immediately lunged forward, quickly chomping down on the Catgirl’s right shoulder. The Catgirl screamed out in pain as the bone-shattering attack struck. Immediately, the Catgirl started wildly using Fury Swipes with her still-useable left arm. Without Sukanta giving any orders, Thaili responded of her own initiative to grab the attacking arm and use Crunch on it as well. Sukanta was uncertain whether she should be appreciating not having to micromanage Thaili’s battles, or worrying the Catgirl could have taken the opportunity to escape.
The other trainer yelled out for his Catgirl to use Sabre Claw with her feet and run, and Sukanta hesitated, realizing she had no idea how to order her Hound to prepare for this. So far, the newly tamed feralborn hadn’t been taught any words for body parts, she didn’t know the move Sabre Claw, and she didn’t even know the word for ‘dodge’. As Sukanta hesitated, the Catgirl somehow managed to concentrate enough to gather the chi for a Sabre Claw before raking one of her hind feet up against Thaili. Fortunately it didn’t strike the Hound’s belly, but it did leave a long gash against her upper right leg and hip.
As Thaili stumbled back from the attack, the Catgirl immediately took the opportunity to flee to the opposite side of the battlefield. And immediately after the trainer had yelled out for the Catgirl to use Sabre Claw, he yelled for his Tarantella to use String Shot. At first, when it failed to strike Parbati as a result of her Gust attacks blowing it back, Sukanta thought it had been a bad move. Then, as the Catgirl approached the field, the Pidgy’s sense of panic upon seeing the feline breed flooded through the Delta bond.
Instinctually attempting to flee the Catgirl, as Parbati attempted to break away from the combat on Sukanta’s side of the field and head to the other side, she naturally stopped spamming Gust. That opening was exactly what the Tarantella needed to launch a String Shot that connected with one of the Flying-type’s legs. The Tarantella pulled on the String Shot, sending Parbati crashing to the ground. The only silver lining on this was that the Catgirl had been too busy fleeing the Hound that had crippled her to deal with the downed Pidgy. Sukanta was glad that she had already experienced Parbati training in a few battles at the gym. If this was the first time she had sensed her former pet’s pain from an attack through their Delta bond, there was no way she would have been able to focus.
Now, the Catgirl and Tarantella were on Sukanta’s side of the field, Parbati in the middle, and Thaili remaining on the opposite side. Sukanta had expected her Hound to immediately chase after the Catgirl- but the Dark-type seemed to instead recognize the Tarantella as a threat. Seeing the layout of the battlefield, Sukanta immediately had an idea.
Despite being grounded from the String Shot attached to her leg, Parbati’s wings remained unaffected. Her Feather Shuriken wasn’t that strong, and she wasn’t able to focus it in one area yet, but the Pidgy could definitely use it as an area attack. As the Feather Shurikens were launched across the opponents on the other side of the field, Sukanta immediately saw she had made a good choice. Despite the impact from being forced to the ground, she hadn’t taken any other damage, and was easily able to focus on manipulating her chi. The Catgirl, already heavily damaged by the Hound, seemed to be successfully dealt with by the feathery projectiles, collapsing to the ground. The Tarantella, though not as heavily damaged, was both a Bug and Fighting type, and being struck by yet another Flying-type move, her wounds from the attack looked much worse than they should be.
“Thaili, Takedown that target!” With the Catgirl out of commission, it was time to focus entirely on the Tarantella. That meant even with the type disadvantage, her Hound needed to fight the spider. The bad news was, as the Hound approached, the Tarantella turned so her stinger was facing the Hound. As Thaili rammed into her opponent, slamming her into the ground, Sukanta was certain the Hound must have been injected with some kind of venom.
The good news was, the Tarantella didn’t get up after that final attack.
True, Thaili didn’t get up either. Though the Hound had taken damage from the previous Sabre Claw and the recoil from the Takedown, it looked like the reason was instead Paralysis. This was demonstrated when, a few heavy seconds later, the Hound managed to stand up, albeit with the specific rigidity and difficulty associated with the paralyzed condition.
As the Tarantella and Catgirl both continued not to get up, Sukanta couldn’t help but let out a sigh of relief as the referee announced her to be the winner.
It was time for the second battle- this time against somebody who was taking advantage of the ‘got lucky at Sadie Pokens’ loophole. Parbati and Thaili were refreshed from their healing cycles, and were about to face an opponent with a Platypussy and a Ravage. The really worrying part was that while the Ravage had the Darkness attack, the Platypussy had the Blind Sight enhancement.
In the first round, the opposing trainer had simply ordered his Ravage to use Darkness, and then had his Platypussy use her Blind Sight to navigate it as she attacked without orders. There was no way Parbati would be able to attack in that, being as reliant on her eyesight as she was. And Sukanta would have no idea what was going on so as to be able to give orders to her recently caught feralborn. It was true that Hounds had an incredible sense of smell, which Thaili would have to rely on as she essentially fought on her own.
As the battle started, the opponent’s Pokegirls used the same tactic as before, enveloping the field with the Darkness attack before the Platypussy presumably went in for the attack. Sounds of battle arose from the shrouded battlefield, as Parbati’s Delta bond allowed Sukanta to know the Pidgy at least wasn’t a part of it. Then, about a minute later, with neither of the trainers having given any orders, the Darkness lifted. The Platypussy was unconscious and bleeding heavily, while the Ravage appeared to be similarly unconscious as Thaili was about to attack her again.
“Thaili, rest!” Sukanta yelled. The last thing she needed was for her recently tamed feralborn to get them disqualified by attacking a clearly unconscious opponent. It would be even worse if she killed the opponent through such an action. Sukanta realized as she yelled this that while the Hound knew commands for ‘stay’ and ‘rest’, Thaili had yet to learn ‘stop’. Fortunately, the command of ‘rest’ seemed to do the trick, as the Hound understood it as an instruction to stop battling. Her opponent, not seeming to trust Thaili to avoid attacking, hastily withdrew his Pokegirls even before the referee announced Sukanta’s victory.
“That battle was kind of taurshit,” Sukanta muttered as she spoke to Sikendra.
While Parbati and Thaili were going through another healing cycle, she and the Firemaiden were yet again discussing tactics. Sukanta had just returned from putting the two in the provided healing machines. The pairings had been posted during that trip, so she still hadn’t looked at what species of Pokegirls she would be facing.
“Mistress, have you seen the matchup yet?” Sikendra asked.
“Not yet, I was busy taking Parbati and Thaili to the healing machines. What is it?”
Sikendra winced, and Sukanta immediately knew there was going to be trouble. “It was a winner of a previous one of these competitions, who is using two Pokegirls he received on Sadie Pokens. One is a Coldonta who was born through parthogenesis and who is thus able to be below level 20. The other is an Icemaiden who the Coldonta will cast Ice Armor on before she enters melee combat. As such, both will have high durability, to the extent I’m not sure either Parbati or Thaili will be able to break through their defenses. I have failed to come up with any advice for how to possibly defeat them. Do you have any insight into tactics I might have overlooked?”
Sukanta blanched. She was now facing a previous winner of one of these tournaments, who had gotten extraordinarily lucky at Sadie Pokens and was now abusing the loophole. How could she possibly stand a chance?
The answer was, she couldn’t stand a chance. Before the battle had started, when both she and the opposing trainer had walked onto the field, the crowd’s response had been notable. As his name was announced, there was booing, and various shouts directed at him that he should give ‘honest newbies’ a chance. Such a reaction from the crowd didn’t even seem to phase him.
He was similarly unperturbed by the crowd’s booing when he won.
As Sukanta, accompanied by Sikendra and a fully healed Parbati, watched the last battle, she scowled as she watched the trainer with the Coldonta win. Beyond using such an obvious combo for an Icemaiden and Coldonta, he didn’t seem to have much battle acumen at all. If he hadn’t gotten so absurdly lucky at Sadie Pokens, she doubted he would have stood a chance in the tournament.
“Well, the judges will be announcing rankings soon. You won the battles in the first two rounds, so the worst case scenario is you only get something that recoups the cost of admission. If the judges rank you well, you can easily get something that could net you a profit from doing this.”
“You’re right- let’s go, then,” Sukanta said, as she headed to the area outside the judge’s booth. As she joined the other participants in doing so, the judges slowly called out the participants in order of how they had ranked. She didn’t have a chance of getting ranked at 16 or better, given that she had lost the third battle, so she tuned out the first few. The participants had at most a minute to look through the specific information about the Pokegirls they were interested in before choosing one. Most entrants didn’t seem to take nearly that long, probably more interested in making a profit than on keeping the chosen girl.
Finally, Sukanta heard it. “Ranked at 22nd place- Sukanta Silwal.” Upon hearing her name, Sukanta entered the closed-off area from which the judges had observed the matches. There was a computer in front of her showing the various breeds that had been offered from the tournament. Unsurprisingly, both the Catfish and the Buttitsfree options were struck through, indicating there were no more left. Immediately heading to the computer, Sukanta decided to click on the Gravelgal tab to see what was left of that breed. There were only 2 left. One of them was a level 11 threshold who, after being sold to a government-owned ranch, had spent years there before being put in stasis for over a year. The other was a level 21 feralborn who, after being owned by a tamer for over a year, had been held in storage too long without being used and been confiscated. Beyond that brief history of who had owned them, their level, and whether they were feralborn, threshold, or domestic, there was nothing more.
Knowing that she didn’t have long to decide, Sukanta made her choice. “I’ll take this one,” she muttered, clicking and confirming the choice of the Gravelgal previously owned by a tamer. Sure, it was another feralborn- but this one had likely learned language in all the time she had been previously owned. If worst came to worst and she didn’t keep it, she could always sell the Gravelgal for a profit.
As she left the judge’s section and the next name was called out, she couldn’t help but wonder how meeting her new Pokegirl would go.
Name: Sukanta Silwal.
Licenses: Trainer Permit.
Harem: Pidgy (Parbati). Level 7.
Firemaiden (Sikendra). Level 25.
Hound (Thaili). Level 16.
Gravelgal (unnamed). Level 21.
Alpha: Parbati. (Nominally- subject to change).