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Camilla slowly opened her eyes. The first thing she noticed was how dark it seemed, until she moved her head and noticed that her visor was blank. The tinted crystal glass was blocking most incoming light, as it was designed to do, so the fact she could see anything at all meant that it was probably very bright wherever she was.
Slowly she raised her head, looking around at her surroundings. Trees, grasses, ferns, it seemed like a pretty normal forest. But the last she could remember, she had been in her workshop. There were no forests like this near the Vindicator complex.
A bit of panic took over when she tried moving her limbs and found them much heavier than usual until she realized her suit had lost power. She was moving hundreds of pounds of metal and circuitry with every lift of an arm.
“ODIN, diagnostics.” Silence. “ODIN, activate emergency power.” Again, nothing. “Fuck.”
She groaned when her manual inputs in her glove also returned nothing, not even beeps from the buttons being pressed. Her suit was well and truly dead.
“Alright Camilla. On your feet.” She grunted as she leveraged herself up. “You’ll exhaust yourself walking with this thing on. You can do it. Emergency release. It’s going to hurt, but that hasn’t stopped you before. Ready, and three, two…” She steeled herself before yanking the hidden lever on her hip.
The tensioned parts sprang apart as she did, one section of her chest twanging off through the trees with enough force to send her crashing back to the ground. But she was free. She struggled out of the suit and took a deep breath, looking around the unfamiliar landscape.
“Hey, that wasn’t so bad.” She reasoned. “You’re fine. Nothing broken. Suit protected you like it’s supposed to.” She grimaced. “Talking to yourself, but that’s normal, right? Same as talking to ODIN.”
She bent down, inspecting the lifeless metal. “Power banks are dry. I sure hope ODIN transferred and shut down properly. I’ll need my AI.” With a grunt she unfastened one glove, inspecting the power lines. “These are still live.” A quick search found the source; while not operational, her backup power banks were still charged. A few minutes of tinkering later and she stood back up, flexing the operational glove’s fingers. “That’s a weapon.” She held out her arm, hesitating before firing an energy blast. “This is going to hurt like a bitch without my suit dampening it.”
The shot smashed through the trees, Camilla’s arm blowing back. She only barely managed to keep control but immediately felt her shoulder and elbow began to scream in protest. “Okay,” she gasped, “don’t fire that unless I have to.”
She froze when something screamed from the direction she had fired. “I may have to.” She slowly turned, scanning the trees. “I need to get out of the trees.”
Quickly she pulled brush and other debris over her armor, mentally marking the location before rolling her eyes and pulling up a waypoint on the limited system she had scrounged. “Don’t want to lose you.” She took another look at the direction the inhuman scream had come from before running in the opposite direction, her backup power bouncing on her belt.
She almost didn’t notice it when it appeared next to her. Whirling, she took aim at the creature moving through the bushes with her, watching carefully. The body froze when she turned, slowly moving back. She couldn’t get a good look at it but it seemed to be some sort of quadruped, hunched over and possibly standing on two legs. Eventually it moved away, vanishing into the undergrowth.
Camilla slowed her breathing, staring at where the creature had disappeared. Something lived out in these woods and she really didn’t want to find out what.
Night had fallen, and with it, the movement and cries had gotten louder. Camilla hunched over her glove, the energy focus repurposed into a makeshift campfire that threw light across the trees in front of her. She had found a small overhang and taken shelter under it, but she couldn’t sleep. She didn’t know if the creatures out there were predatory, and if they were, she’d be an easy target. It was going to be a long, long night.
The storekeeper watched the woman stumble in with a bored look. “Ma’am, if you’re looking for the hospital, you’re in the wrong spot.”
“No, sorry.” Camilla waved her hand tiredly. “Just a rough night. I’m looking for an electronics shop.”
“We’ve got the tamer essentials right here, if you need them. If you’re a pokegirl and need something specialized, we have a small selection to your left.”
Camilla glanced over and purpled. “No, that’s not what I need.”
Camilla staggered to the indicated aisle, sighing in relief. Small handheld computers dotted the shelves, various cases and sizes denoting the models. There were some other pieces of technology she didn’t recognize but she ignored those.
“How much for a computer.”
The man scratched his head. “Price is right there on the tag. Why do you need a new pokedex? You’re a tamer, aren’t you?”
Camilla glanced up. “Uh, yea, that’s right. I, well, lost... mine.”
“How were you going to pay for a new one then?”
Camilla looked back down. “I, don’t know.”
The man chuckled. “Go over to the pokegirl center. If you explain your situation I’m sure they have a way to charge your account. Or maybe they’ll have a spare basic model you can have.”
“...I’ll do that.”
Camilla pushed back onto the street. Tamer? Pokegirl? What was this man talking about? Where had she been sent?
Was she still on earth?
She turned to watch another pair of people walk past. This time the woman sported brilliant white wings, not unlike Angel’s. The man was almost completely human, but years of working with mutants had given Camilla a sharp eye. This man’s face was wrong, his jawline too straight. And his eyes were yellow.
Maybe she had woken up near a mutant settlement. She knew they existed, although rare. If that was the case, why were the men less changed? Perhaps they married in non-mutants to the settlement? But if they did, it wouldn’t be only the men who looked more human. There would be women as well.
She looked around, focusing on the most distinctive building in the direction the shopkeeper had indicated. Right now all that mattered was getting her suit back in operation. If she could get it running, she could survey the area and compare it to her maps. At that point she’d at least know where she was. Finding out how she got here, or what was going on, that could come later.
She had to step back when a man pushed out of the building, exchanging a quick nod before stepping in. She didn’t miss how his eyes lingered on her but ignored the attention and headed for where another man was talking to a woman in a nurse uniform.
They were talking about some kind of news report but the details were lost on Camilla. Eventually another nurse appeared with a small tray that she handed to the man.
Camilla stared at the two women. Their uniforms were nearly identical, each with bright pink hair. Beyond that, human. She thought.
“And have a wonderful day, sir.” The one acting as receptionist said cheerfully, watching the man turn away before turning to Camilla. “And a good afternoon to you, miss. Do you require a healing cycle for your pokegirls?”
“Uh… No.” Camilla thought about what to say. “I need help.”
The woman blinked. “Of course. How can I be of assistance?”
“I don’t know where I am.” Camilla bowed her head. “All I remember is there was an explosion, and then…”
“Sherry, can you man the counter, please?” The woman stepped around and took Camilla’s hand. “Come over here with me miss. Let’s get you checked out, okay?”
Camilla let her sit her down, watching the woman gently run her hands over her body. “Check me out?”
“That’s right. You seem to be in alright health.” The woman hummed softly to herself. “Yes, though you’re bruised quite badly internally.” Camilla felt the persistent ache that had been with her since waking up begin to fade. “How’s that?”
“That’s…” Camilla slowly stretched. “I feel so much better. How did you do that?”
“Why, I’m a NurseJoy, darling.” The woman replied with a beaming smile. “It’s my pleasure to help. Alright, now, you said an explosion? Was it a feral? Where are your pokegirls?”
“My…” Camilla shook her head. “I don’t have any. A feral?”
“Yes, something in the wilds? Or did someone attack you?”
“I can’t remember anything.” Camilla clamped down on her panic and instead forced herself to start crying. “I just woke up in the forest and…”
“Shhhh.” The woman gently wrapped her arms around Camilla’s torso. “It’s okay. Let’s start slow. I’m Margaret. And you?”
“You’re going to be alright, Camilla.” Margaret said gently. “You’re in the Allentown pokecenter. Where are you from?”
“I was in… Kingston.” Camilla replied.
“Kingston, good!” Margaret giggled. “See, you can remember. So you’re Camilla from Kingston. But you said you don’t have any pokegirls. With the way you walked in, you looked like a tamer.”
This tamer thing again? Camilla decided to take a chance. “Well, I mean… I’ve wanted to be one, but it’s hard when you live in Kingston.”
“Oh? Why’s that?”
“Um…” Camilla hesitated. “Well, it’s just that…”
“Sorry, I can’t help but overhear!” The two turned to see Sherry watching them from behind the counter. The bubbly redhead winked. “I know Kingston. So, York region, hm? I met a tamer who’d been patrolling the Hudson. Said Kingston was one of the more recent ruins. Strange guy, using that as his pillow talk.” She peered at Camilla. “Do you want to talk about that?”
Camilla looked away. “No.”
“That’s fine.” Sherry looked at Margaret. “Marge, Kingston was attacked about five years ago. Total loss. She probably can’t become a tamer since there’s no sponsor city for her to declare.”
“Oh my goodness, that’s terrible.” Margaret embraced Camilla. “I’m so sorry to hear that.”
Ruins? Total loss? Camilla’s head spun. FIVE YEARS?
“Th-thank you.” She hugged back for a few moments before pulling away. “So I had to… I can’t remember.”
“Okay, so that’s where your memory loss is.” Margaret smiled. “You can remember who you are, which is very good. Whatever you were doing to survive was probably very dangerous, especially without a pokegirl.”
“She probably went after one without training.” Sherry called, turning to a man that had walked in. “Marge, give her some materials and see if the mayor will sponsor a refugee.”
“Oh, that’s a wonderful idea.” Margaret beamed. “Camilla, I know we’re not your home, but would you like to try for a license here?”
Camilla blinked. “You can just do that?”
“We can try.” Margaret replied. “Let me get you some study books, and then I’ll call the mayor. He’s very understanding with refugees, especially with how far into the wild our city is.”
Margaret left, returning a minute later with an armful of textbooks. “Here you are.” She set them down. “The one on top is where you should start, and the rest detail some of the more common threats to this region. Before I call the mayor, you’re sure you can pass the physical, right?”
Camilla ran her fingers over the top cover, the book titled ‘Pokegirls And You; Basics For The Beginning Tamer’. “Yes, I’m sure I can.” She felt a slight blush begin to spread at the illustration depicted. A nude woman posed, her features normal until you got to the large draconic wings spreading from behind her shoulders and the craggy horns that snaked from her scalp. “I’ll just look this over…”
What!? Sex or they go insane? Camilla stared at the text. This is crazy, what kind of a world have I found myself in?
“Camilla?” Camilla looked up to see Margaret approaching. “I’ve got good news. I spoke to the mayor, and he’d like to meet you. He said it’s likely that a sponsorship will be possible.”
“That’s wonderful.” Camilla looked back down at the open book on her lap. “I think beyond anything else, getting a pokedex will be a huge help.”
“Have you been able to remember anything else?”
Camilla slowly shook her head. “It’s all a blur before I woke up. Some faces, but that’s it.” Of course I can’t tell you the truth. I’ve been thrust across time and space by the slippoint device.
“Hopefully it comes with time.” Margaret squatted down. “You seem to be going through those pretty quick.”
“A lot of it is pretty simple.” Camilla flipped a page back. “Without a pokegirl to apply it on, most of it is theoretical anyways.”
“Hmm, that’s true.” Margaret gazed at her. “Are you comfortable with taming? It’s not as simple as it is for a man.”
Camilla casually flipped to the next page. “I’m a lesbian.”
“Well, any female tamer has to be at least…”
“No, I mean it.” Camilla glanced up at her. “I’m only attracted to other women.”
Margaret smiled slightly. “Well that’s convenient.” She watched Camilla go back to her book. “The mayor wanted to wait for you to prepare a bit and then meet you tomorrow. Do you think you’ll be ready?”
“What kind of meeting?” Camilla asked curiously.
“Pretty standard. He’ll want to make sure you understand what kind of duties a tamer has for their sponsorship, and he’ll likely see how you interact with his own harem. After all, if you don’t apply for a journey license, you’ll be working with them the most.”
“I read about that.” Camilla flipped back to a previous page and pointed at the classification list. “So, the test I take will be this basic one, or can I go straight for a journey license?”
“Well, as it says, the basic license is like a trial license.” Margaret explained, gesturing at the flowchart. “The journey license is the first national level and authorizes you to operate outside of your sponsorship. And to eventually compete in the national trials. Of course, that’s very far down the line; you won’t have to worry about any of that for years, probably.”
“But I wouldn’t really be allowed to travel, with only a basic license.” Camilla said.
Margaret watched her. “That’s right.”
“I wouldn’t be able to…”
Margaret watched Camilla go quiet. “I’m sure you’ll be able to achieve a journey license. You’re strong.”
Camilla glanced back up at Margaret in surprise. “What do you mean by that?”
Margaret smiled at her. “You’ve survived for a few years out there, in the wilds, without a single pokegirl helping you. Yea, you had an accident; so what? Even veterans make mistakes. You’ll succeed, Camilla. I know you will.”
Camilla dropped her gaze in embarrassment. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” Margaret stood back up. “I need to get back to work. Come find me if you need any help or have questions, alright?”
“Alright.” Camilla hesitated as Margaret began to walk away. “Margaret?”
The NurseJoy turned. “Hm?”
“Um, well… I…” Camilla blushed. “I might be out of practice, right? Would you like to… Can we see if I… um… know how to tame a pokegirl?”
Margaret grinned. “I get off work at six. Will you still be here?”
Camilla felt her face glowing red. “Yea.”
“Then we’ll experiment later.” Margaret winked and vanished into the back.
Camilla slowly looked over at where Sherry had a smug grin plastered across her face before ducking back down to read.
A loud bang startled Camilla awake and she bolted upright, staring around the bedroom. It took a moment for her to take in her surroundings but she let out her breath when she recognized Margaret fussing around.
The NurseJoy looked over. “Oh! Sorry, I must have woken you. You were dead tired.” She continued laying out outfits. “I barely got your clothes off last night before you were passing out.”
Camilla reddened. “I… remember. I’m sorry, I-“
“You must have been exhausted from hiking.” Margaret gave her a gentle smile. “You’re fine. I’m happier that you got the rest you need.”
Camilla drew her legs up to cover her chest and rested her chin on her knees. “I still feel bad.” She mumbled. “I hadn’t slept in two days, but that doesn’t excuse me getting you excited and then letting you down.”
“Ha!” Margaret let out a bark of laughter. “Camilla, darling, if I let myself be disappointed every time a tamer made claims they couldn’t keep, I’d be perpetually depressed. Do you have any idea how much the new boys talk? ‘Hey honey, I’ll show you the best time you’ve ever had.’ ‘I can go for hours.’ And then you get their pants off and it’s one and done.” She began giggling. “You didn’t let me down. I could see how exhausted you were.”
Camilla responded with a nearly silent grunt and kept staring into the air. After a moment Margaret finished what she was doing and walked over, crawling onto the bed and snuggling up next to the despondent girl.
“Listen.” She nestled her head on Camilla’s shoulder. “Being human is not something to be ashamed of. You need your rest, just the same as I need people like you. Kind, loving people who care enough to help me when I need it. Just like I helped you when you needed it.”
“How about this.” Margaret pulled herself free and crawled forwards, taking a seat and fiddling with her light silk blouse, causing it to sway back and forth and expose her stomach with every pass. “I have to be on duty in, oh, thirty minutes. And you have your meeting in about an hour.” Camilla watched the blouse fall away from Margaret’s perky breasts. “More than enough time, I believe, for you to show me just how well you can really tame a pokegirl.”
Camilla stared at her for a moment before moving forwards, drawing Margaret into a deep kiss that left them both gasping for breath when she finally let go.
“Only half an hour?”
Margaret swallowed convulsively. “Can you do it?”
She yelped when a jolt of pure pleasure shot through her body. Camilla grinned, withdrawing her fingers from where they had begun to explore Margaret’s pussy. “I think I can manage.”
The water was nice and warm.
Camilla breathed, letting the showerhead massage the taught muscles across her back. A strange new place, a strange new world, one that only barely resembled her own. Thrust into a role she barely understood, and hardly wanted. It was a miracle that she had managed to bluff as well as she had, although Margaret’s overly compassionate nature had likely helped that.
She was also no closer to legally obtaining the technology she needed to fix her suit, and that was the worst part. Yes, she could probably easily steal some and vanish into the woods to work, but she had a feeling that wouldn’t end the way she wanted it to. The more reading she did about this dangerous world, the more grateful she was that she had survived the nights prior. These superpowered mutant women, these ‘pokegirls’, apparently became wild, unpredictable creatures without sexual intercourse. She had seen similar issues before, though never from a sexual trigger. It was almost the accepted curse of being super. Something always was given, some weakness or fault gained. From this issue came the role of the tamer that she had been hearing so much about. Non mutated, or at the very least not to the point where they were classified as pokegirls, they were able to bring the ones who went wild, the ‘ferals’, back to their senses and rehabilitate them. Most, it seemed, stayed with the human that tamed them, likely out of some sort of respect or gratitude.
However, the ones who were in positions to control this weakness, such as Margaret and, she had learned, Sherry, were able to harness their powers for the good of others. For instance, she had read about what Margaret and Sherry were – classified as a ‘NurseJoy’, they were specialized healers and caretakers. The multiple women she would likely meet today with the mayor would all also be these pokegirls, though she expected they would be more along the lines of bodyguards for him, rather than the healers here at the hospital. Or pokecenter, as it was called.
A beeping from the other room prompted her to switch off the water and begin toweling off. A minute later she made it out, silencing the alarm and looking over the various outfits Margaret had procured for her.
Eventually she settled on a loose, casual t-shirt with a nice colored design across it. A few more moments of deliberation brought her to a slightly more form fitting pair of jeans and she quickly grabbed her underwear and got dressed.
“Right. Hair, fine.” Camilla pulled her long hair back, fussing until it lay over her shoulders correctly. “Shirt, pants, shoes- Right. You’re good.” She looked into the full-length mirror that sat against one wall, turning slightly to make sure she looked perfect before exiting the room and making her way to the front of the building.
Margaret saw her approaching and waved, making her excuses with Sherry and hustling over. “Camilla! Is the outfit alright, did I find enough choices for you to…?”
“It’s perfect.” Camilla replied with a grin. “Thanks, Margaret. I need to get going, though; can you tell me again where the town hall is?”
“No need.” Margaret turned and pointed at a man sitting by the door. “He’s here to take you there.”
“Oh.” Camilla looked at the man. He was casually reading something, though she didn’t care much for that; instead, she focused on his uniform. While not as crisp or extravagant as a military uniform, it still designated him as being part of some organization. “Who’s he? Why’s he in uniform?”
“Oh, he’s one of the town guard.” Margaret gestured at where a similarly uniformed woman sat near the man. “That’s his partner over there.”
“Huh.” Camilla watched the man for a few seconds before shrugging. “Well, I gotta go. Thanks, Margaret.” She walked over, watching as the woman came to attention when she got close. The man barely acknowledged her, finishing his page before closing the book and looking up with a smile.
“Good morning to you, miss.” He stood, extending his hand. “My name is Marshaw, and I’ll be your escort today. Are you ready to depart? No items, luggage, or other people to wait for?”
“Um, no, just me.” Camilla watched the woman stand and walk over to them. “I wasn’t really expecting an escort.”
“The mayor likes to make sure his guests feel welcome.” Marshaw replied with a chuckle. “Oh, and my apologies. This is Rajan.”
Camilla took the woman’s extended hand, maneuvering her palm to slide past the sudden claws that extended from each of her fingers. The woman bared her fangs in what Camilla was pretty sure was a regular smile as she did. “Good morning, miss.”
“Camilla.” Camilla shook, looking over at Marshaw as well. “It’s Camilla.”
“Well Ms. Camilla, are you ready to depart?” Marshaw asked. “Town hall is only a few blocks from here.”
“Of course.” Camilla followed Marshaw out of the building, keeping her eyes moving while she took in the town. “Tell me, are you just a regular tamer, or do you have one of these license levels I’ve been reading about?”
Marshaw shrugged. “I’m what’s considered a level two tamer, but I don’t travel much. I mostly just took the test to qualify for the harem size limit.”
Camilla nodded to herself. “Level two is… four licensed pokegirls?”
“That’s right. Rajan here is the alpha of my little squad.”
Rajan sketched a bow when Camilla glanced her way. “That’s right, miss.” She grinned again. “My harem sisters are currently patrolling the city limits, but I can introduce you to them, if you’d like.”
“If it works out, sure.” Camilla replied. “For now, though, I need to meet the mayor.”
Marshaw chuckled. “That’s right. That’s town hall, there.”
The three walked up the stone steps to the front door, Camilla watching in surprise when Marshaw reached out to hold the door open for her. “Thank you.”
Marshaw grinned. “My pleasure. Well, I need to get back to patrol; if you walk over to that woman there, she’ll check you in.”
Camilla glanced over where Marshaw indicated before heading that way as the door swung shut behind her. “Good morning.”
The receptionist smiled at her. “Good morning, miss. I assume you are Ms. Camilla?”
“Mayor Dawkins is finishing up his regular morning briefing now. Would you like anything to drink while you wait?”
“Oh, no, that’s alright.” Camilla couldn’t help but keep staring at the smiling woman, trying to place why her face seemed strange. “I’m sorry, I’m just trying really hard to figure out if you’re a pokegirl.”
The woman’s smile widened and her torso began rising until Camilla could see a scaled body extending from her waist. “I am, miss. That’s a good thing for you to do as an aspiring tamer. Even some of the town guard aren’t that alert.”
“Oh, well... thank you.”
The receptionist settled back down. “You’re very welcome.”
Camilla awkwardly turned, glancing back at the woman a few times before making her way to a seat to wait.
So some of them can have drastically different bodies. She mused. The pictures in the textbook hinted as much, but I wasn’t expecting something like this.
A minute later she could hear movement nearby and a door opened to reveal a large group of men and women. There was a constant buzz of conversation from them as they filtered out, a few stopping to talk to the receptionist before continuing on their way. Almost all of them were wearing similar uniforms to what Marshaw had been, though she saw a few in casual or business casual attire as well.
“...and Jennifer, make sure to get the updated property survey before ground breaks next week!” Camilla felt her attention drawn to the man still standing in the doorway, his voice carrying through the entire building. “The crew is eager to get started!”
“Sir, your ten o’clock is here.” The receptionist piped up.
The man looked over at where Camilla sat and brightened. “Ah, excellent! Punctual, I like that. Come in, come in.” He stepped back, waiting for Camilla to rise before walking back into the room and taking a seat behind a large desk. “You can close the door if you’d like, I don’t mind. I’m afraid Margaret didn’t pass on your name. I’m Paul Dawkins, and you?”
“Camilla Harrisburg.” Camilla replied, finding a seat and taking Paul’s outstretched hand. “Thank you for making time to see me.”
“Oh, it’s my pleasure.” Paul chuckled. “It’s not often we get travelers through here, especially not a beautiful woman such as yourself.”
“Sir.” Camilla jumped at the disembodied voice before her eyes were drawn to a patch of shadow near Paul’s desk. After a moment a woman seemed to form from the darkness, her red eyes glaring at the smug man. “Please do not overly tease Ms. Harrisburg. As you have been told, she is a refugee.”
“Yes, yes.” Paul sighed. “I apologize, Camilla. Sharon is correct, I should not be teasing you when you are vulnerable like this.”
“No, it’s fine. Really.” Camilla smiled at the shadowy woman. “Thank you for your concern, Sharon, but I understand that Mr. Dawkins is only trying to lighten the mood.”
“Please, my name is Paul!” Paul laughed. “Camilla, I was told you wished to become a tamer, is that correct?”
“Excellent.” Paul glanced at the door. “Ah, one moment, please.”
Camilla turned and involuntarily yelped when a towering figure pushed inside. The woman blinked down at her before looking at Paul. “Master, the morning patrols have returned. When should I say you can meet them?”
“Damnit, El, I’ve told you not to call me that in public.” Paul hissed. “Tell them I’m in a meeting. Give me half an hour at least.”
The woman bobbed her head and left, letting Camilla release a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. “My god, she was at least eight feet tall. Did she call you master?”
Paul groaned. “Some pokegirls like doing that. I’m fine with having her call me whatever she’d like in the bedroom, but it doesn’t give the right impression while I’m working. I’m meant to be the mayor, not just a tamer.” He sighed. “Anyways. How old are you, Camilla?”
“Hm, just outside of the draft range. That’s going to make this a little harder on you, but not impossible.” Paul reached into a drawer and began withdrawing documents. “Since I can’t legally draft you into the Outset program, you’ll have to go through the full process and qualification testing.” He placed a stack of papers in front of her. “The first few there are your change of residence form. Margaret tells me you’ll be staying with her in her apartment, so the address is already filled out. Thankfully it’s all we need since you’re a refugee. With your signature on that, you’ll officially be an Allentown resident, and we can begin the next step.”
The next half hour was a blur of paperwork as Camilla signed, copied, and otherwise completed almost a dozen different forms. Eventually Paul took the last one from her. “And that’s the last of it.” He smiled at her. “Congratulations! You are now officially a resident of Allentown and enrolled in the national tamer program. As long as you complete your physical and pass your exam within the next three months, you’ll be granted your basic license and begin your sponsorship career with us.”
“I wanted to ask about that.” Camilla bit her lip. “I’m very grateful for what you’re doing for me. I really am. But I think I’m going to want to go for a journey license.”
Paul nodded. “I expected that, Camilla. This isn’t your home, after all. But the journey license tests are extreme, and you’re expected to do them with your first pokegirl. If you want to take them you are more than welcome to, but I would wait until a bit after you’ve started getting the hang of being a tamer.”
Camilla thanked him and stood. “Where do I go now?”
“You’re free to go wherever.” Paul chuckled. “As a side note, Camilla, I think you’ll do fine as a tamer. You barely jumped when Ellie barged in, and Sharon’s appearance didn’t phase you at all.”
Camilla blinked. “Wait, were you testing me?”
“I was.” Paul replied. “Keeping focused and a clear head, even when some of the more powerful or strange pokegirls are fighting around you, is an important trait for a tamer. You’ve shown me you can handle the unknown.”
Camilla bowed her head slightly. “Thank you.”
“Of course.” Paul watched her go before pulling out a report, thumbing through it and standing. “Sharon, what do you think?”
“I agree with you, sir.” Sharon replied, finally fully stepping into the light and straightening her blouse. “I’m sure I could work with her. Will you send her to Philly for her initial training?”
“Possibly, but she might enjoy Newark better.” Paul stuffed the report under his arm and exited, beelining to where the morning patrols waited. “They do most of their active training from the Manhattan base, on the ruins of Long Island. As opposed to Philadelphia, which does theirs through the upstate wilds.”
“I’ll begin sending messages, sir.”
Camilla took a deep breath, carefully stowing her gauntlet for what would hopefully be the last time in a while. A few days had passed since her meeting with the mayor and in that time she had undertaken two strenuous physical examinations to see if she was fit enough to survive. Survive what, she didn’t quite know. Survive the wilds maybe.
It didn’t really matter. As soon as she had a reason to take some components and a way to make enough currency to buy the rest, she was gone. Her suit was paramount, and finding a way home was a close second priority. All of this tamer business was just a means to get to her goals.
Today she was taking the final test before she would be inducted into Allentown’s sponsorship program. That would grant her, at last, a pokedex. It would also apparently give her an opportunity to partner with a pokegirl, but she doubted she would go that far. She didn’t intend to live in this world and taking a partner here would only hurt their future when she left.
She made her way through the building, hesitating in front of the classroom door before steeling herself and stepping inside. To her surprise there were two other people inside besides Sherry, one man and one other woman. The woman had no discernible mutant features, though Camilla had learned that didn’t mean much.
“Camilla, glad you could join us.” Sherry pointed at an empty seat. “Your test is there. Now that you’re all here, we may begin.”
Camilla sat, staring at the paper in front of her. The other two did the same at their own stations, all three listening while Sherry explained the rules for the test.
“I will give you all a warning when you have ten minutes, five minutes, and one minute remaining.” Sherry explained, checking her computer. “When the clock reaches nine, we will begin.”
The three sat in silence as the hour hand moved closer, each turning over their papers when Sherry called for a start.
What is the primary job of a tamer. What can happen if a tamer does not tame their pokegirls. How many days between tamings is considered safe… Camilla steadily filled in answers, laughing to herself as she went. Sherry had warned her that the test was really meant to be an idiot screen, and she could see why. Nearly every answer was given in the wording of the questions themselves.
Until she got to the third page. The combat questions. Most were common sense; Is a fire-based attack more powerful against a plant-based pokegirl? Why or why not? But some were trickier and dealt with situational awareness. Situational awareness she did not have.
The time slowly ticked away as she toiled and she jumped when Sherry’s voice broke through her concentration. “Ten minutes remaining.”
Camilla spared a glance up and gulped when she saw she was alone. Sherry barely acknowledged her presence, keeping her eyes on her own work.
You are in a forested area and come across a vine-choked tree. The vines seem to have grown over fruiting branches and their weight is dragging them closer to the forest floor. What is the danger? What danger? Vines dropping some fruit. Maybe a feral knew about the tree and would defend its food? Yea, that was probably it.
“Five minutes.” Sherry called. She watched Camilla quickly flip through the remaining few questions. “One.”
Camilla flipped the packet over, staring at the last question. What is the first rule of being a tamer?
Shit. She knew this one. It was drilled into her from all her books, nearly every chapter. But she was panicking so hard she couldn’t remember.
Camilla glanced up at the clock, watching the second hand remorselessly ticking towards the top. She knew it. She knew it. It was-
Sherry stood as the clock ticked to 10. “Time. Please finish your sentence and bring me your test.”
Camilla dropped her pencil, staring at the hastily scrawled words. “The first rule of a tamer.” She stood, handing the test over and grinning at Sherry. “Always trust your pokegirls.”
Sherry smiled back. “You did very well for only a few days of study. Go get some rest. I’ll grade this and let you know your results in a few hours.”
Camilla stood when Sherry called her name. She was, just like during the test, the last of the three hopeful tamers to be told her scores. That meant it was bad. It had to be bad.
Sherry waited for her to enter the room before closing the door. “I have some bad news.”
Sherry shook her head. “Yes and no. You barely failed the pokegirl care section. You horribly failed the feral awareness section. However, you perfectly passed the survival, navigation, and combat portions. I can guess why, since you’ve been having to use those skills for years.” She sighed and sat down. “Here’s the problem. Those scores wouldn’t usually be enough to offset your terrible other sections.”
“I barely had any time to study.” Camilla growled to herself. “No experience, no nothing...”
“Which is why,” Sherry interrupted, “I am pleased to inform you that you have passed your basic license test.” She smiled when Camilla looked stunned. “I said usually. Yes, you failed some of the more important questions, but you also gave the correct answer on the most important one. The first rule of being a tamer is to trust your pokegirls. You may not fully understand what you’re doing, but as long as you listen to your partners, you’ll make it.” She reached into her desk and withdrew a box. “Congratulations.”
“Wait, I passed?” Camilla still held a look of shock. “But you said I did terribly.”
“Your failures can be corrected with experience.” Sherry explained. “I trust you will survive long enough to get it.”
Camilla opened the box before looking back at Sherry. “I really passed.”
“That’s all yours. Starter pokedex, basic first aid kit, camping essentials, and a set of four basic pokeballs. You’ll also find a set of instructions in there. We’re a pretty large city, but we still don’t have as many hopeful pokegirls as Philadelphia. If you can’t find anyone who wants to partner with you here, you’ll need to head there.” Sherry watched Camilla rifle through the contents. “Prepare yourself. I’ve been told you’re heading to Newark in three weeks for field training.”
Camilla closed the box. “Great.”
“You’ll be alright. You’re not planning on joining the Mountaineers, so it’s not as if you’re going to be stuck there.” She chuckled. “I’d recommend seeing if anyone here wants to be your partner pretty quickly. The trip to Philadelphia isn’t uncommon, but you shouldn’t just head off on your own. It is still dangerous even on the road.”
Camilla nodded. “I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks.”
The backpack was heavier than she had expected but it still sat comfortably against her back. After leaving the pokecenter she had scrounged up a few basic tools before retrieving her gauntlet and quickly heading back to where she had stashed her armor days ago. Mid morning, sunny day, she didn’t expect to run into any trouble before she could make it back to the city.
An hour of walking later she arrived and breathed a sigh of relief. Just as she had left it.
She quickly got to work, pulling out the tools and pokedex and piecing out the control unit. It didn’t take long for her to find the first issue and carefully disconnected the main control line from what appeared to be a mass of blue corrosion. Another few checks and she was removing a blown fuse. Luckily she had a spare and within a few minutes she had the control unit back online.
“Power... on.” Camilla muttered, watching the wires carefully. Nothing. No sparks, that was good. The indicator lights slowly began to blink until the entire unit was operational.
“Now I just connect you to the systems and-“ Camilla started to mutter before there was a pop and the lights died.
“-fuck.” She bent down, disconnecting the backup power and inspecting the damage. “Of course. Connections are fried.” She grabbed the pokedex and pulled off the back cover. “Well little buddy, time for you to give your life for the greater good.”
The technology was unlike anything she’d messed with before but that had never stopped her. Pretty soon she had all the damage repaired and hooked up the power once more. “Alright. Power on in three, two, one... power on. Lights are stable. Connecting to main systems...” she trailed off as the diagnostic lights began to illuminate. “Excellent. Let’s see if we’re in business. ODIN, give me a status report.”
There was a short burst of static before ODIN’s voice projected from the speakers. “Good morning, Mistress. I am online and functioning at 32% efficiency. Suit power reserves are depleted. Backup power supply is at 71%. Drain indicates current level of performance may continue for three days, four hours, and twenty-nine minutes before fully depleted. Main motor functions are offline. Main tactical functions are offline. Main...”
“I know, the suit is dead.” Camilla interrupted. “We’ve crossed relativistic boundaries. Did you manage to transfer successfully? And more importantly, does this suit have the slippoint prototype installed?”
ODIN took a full minute to process her questions. “Onboard primary is inactive. Onboard secondary is active. Gamma protocols are in effect. This suit is designated Combat Suit Alpha and has no R&D elements beyond those already approved for field use.”
“Well it’s something.” Camilla muttered. “Is the primary missing or simply inactive.”
“Onboard primary is inactive due to low power.”
“Good, I can work with that. It means you’ll sound like you used to years ago until I can get your personality module online, but I can work with it.”
“That wasn’t a-“ Camilla stopped herself. “Power is going to be an issue. I can’t easily move the armor and I don’t know where I can find a portable charging method. Power down for now to conserve reserves.”
Camilla waited for the system to go offline before hiding it again. Now she had a new problem. She was stuck. Maybe for good. And suddenly she was going to have to explain why her new pokedex had a bunch of wires hanging out the back.
She also was going to have to find a way to apologize to ODIN for ordering him to shut down. No personality ODIN didn’t care, but fully operational AI ODIN would.
Maybe she’d need some help after all.
She’d fixed the pokedex the best she could before heading to the building her instructions had indicated. Once she did she had to take a minute to make sure she was in the right place.
She was expecting... well she wasn’t sure. An office, maybe? A housing unit? Something where a large number of people could wait at the same time. Instead it was... a rec center. She stepped inside, staring around at the activity until she heard someone hailing her.
“Yes, ma’am, over here!” A man behind a desk continued waving until Camilla walked over. “Good morning. Are you a tamer or pokegirl?”
“Um, I’m a tamer.” Camilla mumbled. “What’s all this?”
“This is the Main Street Community Center, ma’am.” The man explained. “We provide a space and free resources for pokegirls and double as a meeting location for tamers. Are you an established tamer or are you looking for a partner?”
“Excellent!” The man handed her a clipboard. “If you would please fill out this questionnaire, I can notify the pokegirls who would be a good fit for you.”
Camilla took the clipboard and wandered over to a seat. It took a few minutes to complete and she couldn’t help but notice how multiple sets of eyes were watching her as she did. Eventually she stood and handed the clipboard back to the attendant.
“Alright, let’s see here... twenty-four and looking for someone your age or within two years... might be tough to find someone older, most pokegirls in their mid twenties have already found a job or a tamer.”
“As long as I don’t have to watch a teenager.”
The man chuckled. “I can respect that. Favorite hobbies, interests, short background... alright ma’am, I’ll start sending messages. You can wander around if you’d like. Maybe you’ll meet someone nice.”
“Thanks.” Camilla glanced around. The main area had quite a few pokegirls just sitting and talking or otherwise entertaining themselves. However except for one heavily tattooed woman who was wearing a uniform none of them were watching her. She briefly considered approaching the woman but decided against it considering her uniform appeared to be a staff uniform. She was probably just keeping an eye on the new arrival.
Noticing signs pointing towards a gym she headed in that direction. She needed a way to burn off this nervous energy.
The sounds of activity grew until she entered a large waiting room with benches. She could see changing rooms to the side but in front of her was a massive glass wall that showcased a few different gymnasiums. To her left she could see a girl with multiple arms dashing back and forth across a tennis court, desperately rallying with a more human girl who almost seemed to be floating as she moved. An anthropomorphic bird squeezed past her before meeting with a bronze skinned woman, both carrying exercise bags over their shoulders. The explosion of color and sound was nearly overwhelming.
“Hey, you new here?” Camilla turned to see a lanky girl waving at her. “I saw you walk in with that confused look. Looking for someone?”
“No, I’m actually a tamer.” Camilla replied. “How about you?”
“Oh, good luck then.” The girl flashed a smile. “I’m not into girls that much. I’m Sally, a Tomboy. Was just about to start my stretches, actually.”
Camilla watched her pull her shirt off to reveal the sports bra underneath. “You work out often?”
Sally glanced down at her exposed midriff. “You bet I do. Have to keep these in shape.” She flexed for a moment. “Hey, good luck with your search.”
Camilla watched her quickly move off. Alright. Maybe small talk wasn’t appreciated here.
She stepped into the changing room, finding a locker and depositing her bag. She still had the workout clothes from her physical and changed, straightening the top so her breasts were immobilized. Unlike Sally she had enough of a bust to worry about that.
She walked past the other changing girls and into the main gymnasium. She had seen a glimpse of it from the waiting room but now that she was in the thick of the action it was even more chaotic. Someone had set up bars from the ceiling and every now and then a figure would fling past at high speed. The nearby courts were chock full of girls, and a few guys, she noticed in surprise, some playing actual games and some just practicing.
She jumped when there was an explosion and turned to see a girl struggling back to her feet. Almost from nowhere a uniformed woman with a tail materialized and ran over, helping the girl to her feet. Camilla drifted closer to hear what she was saying.
“...indoors.” The woman ranted. “You’re going to hurt yourself and you’re going to hurt someone else. You want to be on fire, fine. You want to throw that fire, get a training room.”
“Sorry.” The girl mumbled.
“Just don’t do it again.” The woman growled. “I will knock you out if I have to. You know I will.”
“Yes ma’am.” The girl mumbled again. She noticed Camilla watching her and blushed before dashing off.
“Fricking kids.” The woman grumbled before returning to her post.
Camilla was too busy watching the action that she didn’t notice someone approaching her until they cleared their throat. Camilla jumped and turned. “Oh! Hi.”
“Good afternoon.” The dark tan red headed girl in front of her was tiny. She couldn’t be much more than 5’ tall. “Are you Camilla?”
“I’m glad I found you here.” The girl said happily. “I’m Tanya.”
“Nice to meet you.” Camilla extended her hand, marveling at the strength the petite girl had in her. “You’re strong.”
Tanya’s red eyes lit up. “You think so?”
“You surprised me for sure.” Camilla laughed. “You said you’re glad you found me here. Why’s that?”
“Well, lots of girls put that they like to work out. But they lie.” Tanya giggled. “You, though, I can see you’re telling the truth.”
“What gave it away?” Camilla grinned when Tanya overtly stared down at her abs. “You’ve got some of those too.”
Tanya patted her smoother stomach. “Yea but not like you. So you’re a new tamer? You didn’t go into the sponsorship program?”
Camilla cupped her hand over her ear and gestured. “I can barely hear you. Let’s go somewhere a bit more quiet.”
The two exited the gym and took a seat in the waiting room. “So you’re a new tamer?” Tanya asked again.
“Yea, like I put down I want to travel. Discover new places. Help new people.”
Tanya nodded. “I’ve never wanted to be stuck in one place either. I figure it would just get boring, you know? Doing the same thing over and over. It’s why one day I want to be a competitor.”
“A competitor?” Camilla asked curiously.
“The Olympics... oh, I’ve read about that.” Camilla winked. “I’m sure you’ll get there.”
“Well, the regionals first.” Tanya replied in embarrassment. “Have you seen some of those girls at the top? It’s incredible what they can do.”
“I haven’t, actually.” Camilla confessed.
Tanya’s eyes widened. “Really?” Suddenly she shot to her feet and grabbed Camilla’s arm. “Come on, I have to show you this.”
“Whoah!” Camilla stumbled along as Tanya dragged her down the hallway. “Where are we going?”
“The movie room.” Tanya led her down a new hallway and into a library. “Right over here... there!”
Camilla followed her into a smaller room with a screen along one wall. Tanya busied herself with the computer until what appeared to be some sort of sports reporting show came on. “Okay, this is my favorite.”
Camilla took a seat and smiled to herself when Tanya plopped herself down almost on top of her. “Quick question, why aren’t you wearing a top?”
Tanya shrugged. “My nipples are extremely sensitive. Does it bother you?”
“No. Just figuring out if you were trying for something.”
Tanya turned to her as the reporters began introducing athletes. “We’ve only just met.” Her face broke into a smile. “But we’ll see.”
Camilla chuckled and settled in to watch the show.
She wasn’t sure exactly when it happened but sometime during their conversations Tanya’s pants had come off and she had climbed into Camilla’s lap. They still were watching the show, just now Camilla had a naked girl cuddling her.
“That’s Brenna.” Tanya murmured when a fiercely scowling woman took up the screen. “She’s the national wrestling champion.”
“You like wrestling?”
“Mmm, I’ve thought about it.” Tanya shrugged. “My claws are pretty fragile though. Maybe when I evolve.”
Camilla gently teased Tanya’s fingertips. “These things?”
“Yea.” Tanya pulled her fingers back. “I’m kind of worried about it though. Everyone says I’ll be angrier a lot more. I don’t know if I want that. I might hurt people.”
“I’m sure you’ll be able to keep from hitting people unless you want to.”
“That’s not what I mean.” Tanya hugged her knees. “I mean I might yell at people. I might yell at the most important person in my life.”
Tanya was silent. “Right now it’s my mom. But once I find a tamer I like, it’ll become them.”
“What’s your mom like?”
“She’s very pretty.” Tanya blushed. “She works with dad in his shop. I’ve been helping too while I wait for a good tamer to come along.”
“She’s a pokegirl too?”
“I can tell you love her a lot.” Camilla said softly. “What does she think about you wanting to travel?”
Tanya sighed. “She thinks it’s fine. It’s my dad who doesn’t really like it. He’s worried that I won’t come home.”
Camilla nodded to herself. “I know how he feels. Some of the people I worked with...” she trailed off.
“It doesn’t matter.” Camilla hurriedly replied. “Why not listen to him?”
“I don’t want to be scared my whole life.” Tanya replied. “It’s my dream to travel. To grow stronger. To compete. I’ve been training ever since I turned eighteen.”
“How old are you now?”
“I’m twenty-one.” Tanya shrugged. “I’ve told you how it’s hard to find a girl who wants to be physical like me.”
Camilla shifted. “How many have come along?”
Tanya turned so she was looking at her. “One.”
“Well don’t be too hasty.” Camilla cautioned. “We’ve only just met.”
Tanya stared at her for a few moments before turning back away. “Using my own words against me, huh.”
Camilla smiled at the back of her head. “Yup.”
“Is it too hasty for me to say you’re really hot and I want to have sex with you?” Tanya blurted out.
Camilla stared at her in surprise. “Um, well, no? But I mean, we just... how do I say this.” She scratched her cheek and did her best to fight back her blush. “I’m flattered by that. Really. I think you’re pretty hot too.” She cleared her throat. “The thing is, I um, I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do in the future. I want to go home, and that’s... that’s really far away. If I go there and you’re with me you may never see your family again.” She sighed. “You won’t be dead, but your dad still will have been right.”
Tanya’s shoulders tensed. “He didn’t mean I’d die. At least, not just that. He knew I might choose someone and move on to live my own life.” Her face was a bright red as she turned back to Camilla with a fire in her eyes. “It’s taken three years for you to come along. I don’t care where we go, I want to go there with you.”
Camilla was still hesitant until she felt Tanya’s mouth pressing against hers. She kissed back before the smaller girl broke away and grabbed her arms again.
“You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.” Camilla warned as Tanya pulled her to her feet.
“You’re right.” Tanya agreed. “I don’t. But I do know I want you.” Her intense gaze captured Camilla’s. “I have felt more relaxed talking with you than with anyone else in my life. We haven’t had to pretend anything to be with each other. I refuse to let this feeling get away.”
“Where are we going?” Camilla called when Tanya pulled her back out of the room.
“Where we can have some privacy.” Tanya almost cooed as she dragged the smiling woman along behind her.
Primary data systems offline.
Backup systems running at reduced efficiency.
Data may be incomplete.
Camilla Harrisburg AKA “Metal Maiden”
A hero ---- super strength or speed with ---- incredibly sharp intuition. Self taught ---- creates ---- to assist her as a ---- ---- suits of power armor, she also is the ---- Vindicators’ recent ---- advancements.