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<Philadelphia, New American League>
Rui nervously gripped her backpack. “Yea.”
The Lioness gazed at what had been home for most her life. “I’m good.” She looked at Camilla. “Where to?”
“I want to head back to Allentown to regroup; after that, I’m not sure.”
“We got time for a quick stop?” Vira asked.
Camilla frowned. “Sure?”
“There’s a place I liked to go. I have some friends I’d like to say goodbye to, if that’s alright.”
Rui sighed. “Vira, this isn’t the ring, is it?”
“It might be.”
“You do know if we go there, we’ll get roped into a fight or two. It happens every time.”
Camilla looked between the two. “What are you talking about?”
“It’s a training arena.”
“It’s a fight club.” Rui amended. “Pokegirls aren’t really supposed to be having unsupervised fights and all that.”
Camilla sighed. “Is this important, Vira?”
“Then let’s make it quick.”
The four made their way through the streets, Vira pausing in an alley before ducking through a fence and into a building. Camilla followed, looking around at the space that opened up.
There weren’t many girls inside, but all eyes were on the group as they walked in. One of the more human looking pokegirls hopped to the floor, strolling over. “Vira. Who’re these?”
“You know Rui.”
The pokegirl sent a sour look Rui’s way. “The others?”
“This is Tanya, my new partner; and Camilla, my new tamer.”
Conversations ceased as the pokegirl stared at Camilla. “You’re fucking kidding me.”
“I came to say goodbye, Valkyrie.” Vira crossed her arms. “Camilla is a Journeyman.”
“Don’t use my goddamn stage name, Vira. We’re friends.”
“We never really were, were we.”
The pokegirl stared at Vira for a while before snorting. “Fine. Leave, see if I care. When you’re crawling home you won’t find me there to pick you up again.” She started to turn when Vira called her name again.
“I have a score to settle before I go.” Vira growled. “With Sledge vs Valkyrie.”
The pokegirl didn’t turn back. “Sledge is dead.”
“She vanished. No longer a part of this family.” Valkyrie finished turning away and began walking across the room. “Leave.”
“Um, is this a gang?” Camilla muttered nervously.
Vira didn’t reply, a low growl ripping through her throat before she charged. Valkyrie dodged when she got close, the two exchanging blows before tumbling off the raised platform and into the dirt arena.
“Vira says they’re her friends and this is a training arena.” Rui’s voice was tired. “Do you believe her, or me?”
“Right now I believe you!”
“It’s a gang. Vira was the leader for a while before she took me in.” Rui watched the two pokegirls roll around the arena. “She’s such a stubborn bitch, you know that?”
“Why didn’t you say anything before we got here?”
“Because she was telling the truth. She needs this before she leaves.” Rui pulled her backpack off and strode to the edge of the arena. “I’ll be right back.”
Camilla’s jaw dropped when Rui pulled her clothes off, revealing a tight leotard underneath. The lights flickered before her body exploded with power, electricity licking up her arms and legs and painting a monstrous shadow across the nearby walls.
Inside the arena Valkyrie glanced over, hissing at the image before disengaging from Vira. “Your pet is loose.”
Vira didn’t even look. “She knows not to interfere unless you do.” She smiled when there was a clap of thunder and the air suddenly smelled of ozone. “Whoops.”
Next to Vira a figure flew through the air, the formerly invisible pokegirl falling to the ground and laying motionless. Valkyrie screamed in rage, renewing her assault.
“There.” Camilla jumped when Rui flashed into view next to them, lines of power still rippling across her dark skin. “Don’t know why they tried the same trick twice.”
“Can you please explain what’s going on?”
“Not much to say.” Rui shook her arms, waiting for the electricity to dissipate before pulling her clothes back on. “I was adopted by a gang leader. How do you think our free time was spent?”
“Beating the shit out of people, apparently.” Camilla muttered. “You never said a thing about all of this.”
“It’s about to be her past.” Rui watched Vira sidestep and slam a fist into Valkyrie’s face. “Didn’t think it was important to share, until Vira decided she needed one last fight.”
Valkyrie spat blood, glaring at the emotionless Lioness in front of her. “You bitch.”
“I won’t take my position back once you’re on the ground, Valkyrie.” Vira growled. “None of this is my problem anymore.”
“You’re the one who’s going to suck dirt.” Valkyrie spat. “Just like when I kicked you out before.”
“You simple, stupid woman.” Vira snarled. “Are you saying that you honestly believed you were better than me? I let you win, bitch. I had a life to live, far beyond your petty games.”
Valkyrie screamed, charging in and grabbing Vira’s face. She started to squeeze when she felt the Lioness’ arms drive into her stomach; instead of cushioning the blow, it seemed to multiply through her body until she let go with a silent cry.
Vira watched impassively as the pokegirl flipped, crashing on her back and laying completely still. She waited for a few moments to make sure her opponent was well and truly unconscious before turning, pulling herself out of the arena and walking back to where Camilla stood.
“Be well, girls. Gabby, maybe you’d be a better leader, don’t you think?” Vira grinned at a smiling pokegirl. “All of you, it’s been fun.” She stopped in front of Camilla. “I’m ready to go.”
Camilla gazed at her. “There’s something you need to say to me first.”
Vira lowered her eyes. “I’m sorry that I wasn’t honest with you. This is my only secret, and it’s done now.”
“I keep some of my own, so I don’t blame you.” Camilla patted Vira’s shoulder. “Alright girls, let’s get moving. I want to be in Allentown before dark.”
“Who are you messaging?”
Camilla flipped the lid over her pokedex screen. “Doesn’t matter.” She smirked at Vira. “I’ll tell you later.”
Tanya laughed to herself. “I know what that means.”
Vira glared at the two. “Fine, this is revenge, I get it.”
“A little bit.” Camilla smiled. “Seeing you fight made me realize something. I need to know exactly what you and Rui can do.”
They had returned to Allentown and Camilla had sent Tanya to find Henry or one of his pokegirls. The man himself hadn’t been available, but a curious Maryna had come along. She was currently watching the group from a moderate distance.
“And who’s the spectator?” Rui asked curiously. “She feels strong.”
Tanya glanced at the Electrocat. “She doesn’t feel anything to me.”
Rui turned. “You haven’t been fighting as long as I have.” She smiled. “Haven’t you ever felt like someone is just overbearing, like their very presence will snuff you out if you dare to fight them?”
Tanya shuddered, remembering the Warvern. “Yea.”
“Not many people would want to walk around while making people uncomfortable, so they relax a bit. That’s what she’s doing, relaxing, but she can’t hide her skill completely.”
“Can you teach me what to look for?” Tanya asked.
“You’ve already seen a bit of what we do.” Vira interrupted. “I want to see what she can do.”
Camilla started to glance at Maryna but Vira rolled her eyes. “Tanya, not your friend.”
“She’d need an opponent.”
“I can take a hit.” Vira chuckled. “Come on, show me what you’ve got, Tanya.”
“You promise not to punch me?”
Vira raised an eyebrow. “That’s not a good start.”
“I never intended on being a fighter.” Tanya apologized. “I want to compete, not put people in danger.”
Vira frowned. “You’re not a coward, so what do you mean by that?”
“Um, well…” Tanya shifted nervously. “It’s already everything I can do to stay calm. If I fought, I’d lose control. I know I would.”
Vira’s eyes danced. “That’s what I want to see.”
“I don’t.” Tanya whined. “If I get super angry like that I might hurt one of you. I don’t want to do that.”
“Tanya,” Vira gently laid her hand on the Combusticunt’s arm, “I’m asking you to go a bit crazy with me. I want to see what you can do so if we’re ever in trouble, I know what to expect.”
Tanya still hesitated but eventually she nodded. “Alright.”
“Are we okay to fight here?”
Camilla glanced at Maryna, speaking when the Pirouette nodded. “Fire shouldn’t be an issue.”
“Then let’s do it.” Vira pulled her jacket off, bouncing a bit to settle her shirt and smoothing it over her breasts. “Tanya, I want you to do everything you can to knock me out. Okay?”
Tanya nodded silently, watching Vira walk away and turn. “Ready?” She called. “Go!”
Camilla turned to Rui when Tanya burst into flame and began charging the Lioness. “Hey, can you do that thing with your hair again?”
Rui frowned. “Oh, you mean my Lightning Body technique?”
“Yea, how you made the electricity arc from you and all that.”
Rui grinned. “You’ll get zapped.”
“So do it safely.” Camilla chuckled. She glanced over when Tanya drove her foot into Vira’s block. “They’re having their fun.”
Rui nodded, stripping again and stepping a few feet away. Camila watched as the patches of fur across her body stood straight out, the flash that marked the technique activating enveloping her body before focusing onto her limbs and across her back and tail.
“Are you making it look like that?”
Rui rolled her head, her eyes sparking with power. “Not really. It’s what it does.”
“You look like an actual cat.”
Rui bared her fangs in a smile. “I like to call it my monster cat form.”
“So what exactly does it do?”
Rui released her focus, the electricity fading. “I get faster, mostly.”
A noise from the clearing drew their attention as Tanya pummeled Vira. The Lioness flagged for a moment before getting her feet back under her and pushing the Combusticunt back.
“You’re great!” She cried excitedly. “What do you mean you don’t want to fight? You’re great at it.”
Tanya grimaced, forcing the building rage back down. “Can we stop?”
Vira’s eyes glinted. “Not a chance. Do it! Get me!”
Tanya roared, winding up for another strike. The flames around her suddenly burst outwards, Tanya screaming in pain as she stumbled and fell.
Camilla had started to run towards her but Maryna was faster; the Pirouette was already putting out the fire that licked around Tanya’s body.
“I believe that’s far enough.” Maryna glanced at Vira and the Lioness stepped back when she saw the look in her eyes. “You need to learn restraint.” She pulled Tanya to her feet. “Both of you.”
Camilla watched Maryna move back to her post. “Um… Rui, Vira, can you spar for a bit? I want to watch you, and we’ll rotate Tanya back in after.”
Vira sat silently, holding her legs to her chest. Nearby Tanya sat against the wall, her eyes idly following the movements of the ceiling fan.
“…I’m sorry.” Vira whispered. “I went too far.”
Camilla was sitting at the table with Rui, both watching the two talk. “I was assuming that the whole bitch thing was a comfortable joke.” Camilla sighed. “Guess I was wrong.”
Rui nodded. “She really is trying.”
“Oh, I can see that. She understands when she pushes too hard and afterwards makes her apologies. The issue is that she needs to figure out when that point is going to be and stop before she reaches it.”
Rui shrugged slightly. “She knows that.”
“Then I look forward to seeing her progress.” Camilla turned to the Electrocat. “Rui, you act like Vira’s subordinate most of the time, but the reality is a bit more flipped, isn’t it? You’re the calm half of your relationship. The one directing Vira where she needs to go.”
Rui shook her head. “Vira is the leader.”
“Every leader needs a strong advisor.” Camilla countered. “Including this one. I need an Alpha.”
“Ha.” Rui snorted. “Ain’t gonna be me or Vira. We’re brand new and still feeling the growing pains. Even if it was it wouldn’t be me. Vira’s a Lioness; leading is what she’s designed to do. I’m just a fighter who doesn’t know when to keep quiet.”
“I’ll take that into consideration.” Camilla pulled out her pokedex, opening up a map and beginning to read. “Our first order of business will be finding somewhere to get work. Got to keep us fed somehow.”
Rui nodded. “Not around here?”
“There’s an open request for assistance in Lancaster.” Camilla replied. “Local police needs some extra hands. It’ll pay for a few weeks until we figure out a more long term solution. Maybe we’ll just start responding to feral calls.” She shook her head. “I also want to start enrolling Tanya in competitions so she can build a competitor’s profile. It’s her dream, after all.”
Rui looked over at the Combusticunt. “It must be nice knowing what you want to do with your life.”
“It’s scary, actually.” Camilla explained. “You always wonder if you’re really doing the right thing. Sometimes, going with the flow is the best choice.”
Rui smiled. “I’m good at that.”
“And you’ll find where you want to go eventually.” Camilla laughed, putting her pokedex away. “We’ll strike out for Reading tomorrow, unless something else comes up. Any fights we get in along the way will just be a bit of extra cash in our pockets.”
The four drew a few stares when they walked into Reading, but Camilla ignored them all. The trip had not been an easy one. Halfway through they had been ambushed by a massive pack of ferals, and Vira had nearly been taken down. Only quick action from Rui and a painful field job with Tanya’s fire kept the Lioness from bleeding out. She had, of course, immediately insisted that she was fine and didn’t need to be in a pokeball; her bloodied form was what was drawing the most attention. Her shirt was in tatters, her shorts not faring much better. And worst of all, her favorite jacket had lost a sleeve.
“C’mon, you stubborn woman.” Camilla spotted the pokecenter and pointed. “Let’s get you back to full strength.”
“That’s where I already am.” Vira countered even as she swayed slightly on her feet. “Just need a nice… bath.”
Camilla chuckled, pushing her through the doors. “Anyone able to help my stubborn lion?”
A NurseJoy nearly ran out of a back room. “Lay down, short breaths-“ She stopped when Vira yawned. “…those wounds look serious?”
Vira obediently sat, watching the doctor begin to heal her wounds. “Hey, Camilla, we’ll get some good cash from those ferals, right?”
“Can I get a new jacket?”
Camilla looked at the ripped leather that hung from Rui’s arm. “Maybe. Depends how much is left after I put aside a bit for living expenses.”
Vira sighed. “I’ll make do, I guess. Shit.”
The NurseJoy shook her head, standing and throwing her hands in the air. “How can you be this calm? These wounds would be fatal for most pokegirls!”
Vira gave the NurseJoy a crooked grin. “I’ve had worse.”
“I hardly believe that.” The NurseJoy muttered. “Well, at least nothing is missing; get some rest and plenty of fluids, and you’ll be back in action in no time.”
“Thanks, doc.” Vira clambered to her feet. “I want a bath more than anything. Get this blood off.”
The NurseJoy ran a practiced eye over the other three. “Does anyone else require assistance? You, madam, with your bruised sternum?”
Tanya blinked. “How could you…?”
“It’s begun turning a nasty shade of yellow. Well?”
Tanya let the NurseJoy touch her and a minute later was breathing easier. “Thank you.”
“Of course.” The pokegirl looked sidelong at Camilla. “I’m very disappointed in you. These women were in pain and you did not use the very device meant to help them.”
Camilla glared at the NurseJoy. “When you become a tamer and look after pokegirls, you can do as you wish. I tried. Vira wouldn’t let me.”
“As a pokegirl tamer-“
The Nurse felt a hand grab her shoulder and turned to see a pissed off Lioness baring her fangs mere inches away. “Camilla did as I wanted,” Vira hissed. “Thank you for the healing. Leave.”
The NurseJoy gulped, ducking away and disappearing back where she had come from.
Camilla looked around at the few watching eyes and sighed. “Let’s go, girls.” She waited for them all to exit the building before speaking again. “So you’ve had worse, Vira?”
“It’s the past now.”
“Understood.” Camilla smiled to nothing in particular. “And as we move forwards together, I’ll help you erase it.”
Vira’s ears flicked. “What do you mean by that?”
“I intend to be a do-gooder, as much as I can.”
“Oh.” Vira replied. “I see.”
“Excuse me, miss?” Camilla turned to see a man waving them down. “Are you a Tamer?”
“In that case you must be a Journeyman, with so many ladies following you around.”
Camilla nodded. “Can I help you?”
“I hope so. My name is Kyle Railand, and I’m trying to compile a survey for our newspaper. You see...”
Camilla tuned him out. “No thanks. Bye.”
“Now please hold on a minute, miss.” Camilla was forced to pause when the man jumped in front of her. “It’s only a few simple questions, no more than ten minutes of your time. This city-“
“I said no.” Camilla growled, turning and narrowing her eyes when the man scrambled in front of her once again with an arm raised.
“If you would just-“ he tried to continue.
Camilla smoothly pushed past him. “Good bye.”
The man was forced to step back when Vira none too gently followed her tamer. A few moments passed while he stared at the backs of the group before he winced, grabbing the hand he had tried to stop Camilla with and massaging his wrist.
Camilla moved quickly, taking a few turns before halting and watching behind them. Satisfied the reporter hadn’t followed them she turned back to Vira.
“What were we talking about?”
The Lioness’s bright brown eyes were staring at her in awe. “How did you do that so quickly?”
“I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”
“That move. With his arm.”
Camilla glanced around again. “I didn’t do anything to his arm. I pushed past him. He was blocking my path.”
Vira seemed to realize what Camilla was saying. “Right, we just had to push through.”
“You’re getting it.”
Rui looked mystified from the strange conversation but forged ahead anyways. “So what do we do now?”
“Let’s get Vira cleaned up and then ask around for anyone who has a job. If we can’t find anything for the evening, we’ll take a break, then head towards Lancaster tomorrow morning.”
The morning sun was nice on Camilla’s back while they walked. She let the warmth flood her body, sighing happily as she felt the tensions of her life begin to fade.
Vira sidled up next to her. “So…”
Camilla felt the moment pass and turned to the Lioness. “Yea?”
“What was that move you used on the asshole?”
Camilla turned back to the path. “Nothing crazy. A simple trap and twist, disguised as a sweep of my arm. Quick, subtle, and effective.”
Vira nodded. “I figured it was something like that. Wanna fight?”
Camilla chuckled. “If I’m remembering correctly, you showed very clearly how outmatched I was when we first met.”
Vira looked confused for a moment before she waved her hand dismissively. “Strength isn’t everything. I want to see your technique.”
“And I’d rather not get smacked around by a super strength pokegirl, thanks.” Camilla replied.
Vira pouted. “But…”
“No.” Camilla slowed. “My answer is no, Vira.”
Vira paused at the tone of Camilla’s voice. “I… okay.”
“I’ll tell you what. Give us a few weeks together, maybe a month, and I’ll start sparring you a bit. Alright?” Camilla glanced at the Lioness. “When I feel ready.”
Vira’s glum look immediately brightened. “I’ll wait.”
Tanya was watching the two and slid over when Vira dropped back. “It only took us about a week for you to do that.”
Camilla had her eyes on the path again. “I didn’t have much of a choice at the time. Now though, I kind of do. Even though the battery will die in just under sixteen days, I can find a way to charge it without Rui’s help. It won’t be as easy as if she was in on the secret, but it would be doable.”
Tanya looked back at the Electrocat. “She’s quiet, isn’t she.”
“Sometimes.” Camilla decided not to mention the exercises she had caught Rui doing the night prior, or the small conversation she had had back in Allentown. “Sure seems like Vira is the driving force between them.”
“I like her though.”
Camilla grinned. “They’re both super fun to be around. I’m happy we ran into them.”
Tanya giggled. “Me too.”
<Lancaster, New American League>
“So you’re a Journeyman?”
Camilla nodded. “Saw the call, came in from Allentown. What can we do to help?”
The uniformed officer winced. “Keep your voice down. We need hands. Keep your eyes open, and act as a Journeyman when necessary. A large piece of the department is out of commission for one reason or another and I’m relatively certain that the local criminal groups will be taking advantage.”
“You have local criminal groups? You mean gangs?”
“We try not to call them that so that they don’t feel empowered.” The officer replied. “Here.” He scribbled a name and number on a piece of paper. “This will be your contact if you discover anything. I don’t want you trying to get in any trouble. If something happens, contact the police.”
Camilla nodded, reading the paper while the officer turned to the next person.
Outside, Tanya straightened when Camilla stepped out of the station. “What’s the deal?”
“They’ll pay us pretty well to just stand around and act as a set of eyes.” Camilla replied. “We’re supposed to report anything we see and not engage.”
Tanya grinned at Camilla’s back, pressing up next to her as she began to walk away. “Why do I feel like you’re not going to do that?”
“Because you know me.” Camilla laughed. “Where are those two?”
“Vira wanted to check out the shops.”
“Let them. Did they mention anything about a meeting point?”
Tanya frowned to herself. “I don’t think so.”
“I’ve got a something special for you to look over and it’ll be much easier if we’re alone. We’ll find them later.”
Neither saw the lounging figure in an alleyway behind them.
Rui poked her head over Vira’s shoulder. “I don’t like doing this.”
“She’s hiding something.” Vira’s ears flicked. “I caught those two whispering when she thought I couldn’t hear. And remember what she said back in the hideout? She’s got secrets of her own.”
“So do I…”
“Yes, but I know yours.” Vira grinned. “I want to know hers too.”
“This doesn’t feel right.”
Vira stared at the walking pair. “How’s that?”
“She’s our tamer, not our mark.”
Vira turned to the Electrocat. “I know she is. I just want to know.”
“I guess a week was too short of a time for you to let someone else into your bubble.” Rui stepped into the street and away from where Camilla and Tanya had gone. “Would you listen to yourself for once? ‘She’s the only human I’ve been able to stand’ ‘You look at me for me.’. How do you think she’s going to feel when she catches you stalking her?” Rui shook her head. “I won’t be a part of it. I can’t stop you; you know I can’t. So I refuse to go along with you.”
Vira’s jaw dropped. “Rui?”
“I hope you’re prepared for the consequences of this.” Rui replied, avoiding Vira’s eyes. “She wants to trust us. This won’t help.”
Vira watched Rui leave, her mind churning. Eventually, hesitantly, she turned back to where Camilla and Tanya had vanished.
What should she do?
Tanya studied the pokedex screen. “What exactly am I looking at?”
“Remember back when you evolved into a Combusticunt?” Tanya nodded. “When you did, I decided to become an expert on pokegirl evolution.”
Tanya laughed. “Of course you did.” When Camilla didn’t even smile her eyebrows shot up. “You’re serious.”
“I’ve spent the last few months going over every piece of literature on the subject I can find. ODIN’s been helping compile anything that could be related to you.”
“What did you find?”
Camilla gestured. “You’re reading it.” She smirked. “You might even recognize the author.”
Tanya turned her attention back to the screen, scrolling up and reading the name. “Harris V.?”
“My last name is von Harrisburg.”
Tanya’s eyes widened. “You didn’t.”
“Yup. I wrote that. An in-depth analysis of experience based evolutions, using the Torch Chick line as a case study.” She studied Tanya’s face for a few seconds. You’re how old? 21? Born a pokegirl, not a human?”
“So you’ve been gaining experience since birth. Gradually getting used to your powers, your abilities, but that’s not the thing that causes an evolution like yours. It’s what prepares your body for it, but it isn’t the cause. The cause is applying that experience in a way that tells your brain you’re ready to handle more.”
Tanya looked completely lost but she nodded anyways. “Okay?”
“That happened in the training course. I went back and had ODIN do some digging through the Mountaineer’s cameras. You were a BEAST, Tanya! Those poor girls never had a chance to fight back.”
Tanya blushed. “I guess I was doing alright.”
“You were doing more than aright, that’s the point. You couldn’t grow any more with what you had, so you evolved.”
Tanya’s brow furled. “You’re saying because I had trained my body to its limit, I needed a new one?”
“That’s what my research suggests. Almost every experience evolution is from a weak, barely capable form, to one that can actually hold up to further training.” She pointed. “For you, it was your claws and size.”
“That… makes sense.”
“I hope it does.” Camilla grinned. “I did get published, after all.”
Tanya chose not to react to the offhanded comment. “If that’s all true, do you know when I’m going to evolve next? I don’t think I’ve reached a point where I can’t keep training.”
“It may be closer than you think.” Camilla replied. “You just need the right push. Remember what happened before we left Allentown?”
Tanya looked confused before wincing. “Right. When I was fighting Vira.”
“Your body couldn’t handle what you were asking it to do.” Camilla said. “You’re a Combusticunt. You control fire, and yet yours burnt you.”
“You think it was too strong for me.”
“So what’s the right push?”
Camilla pushed aside some trees to reveal her armor. “I want to try and find out.”
Vira cursed as another tree slapped her in the face. The two had come this way. She was sure of it.
Camilla glanced down when the proximity alarm rang. “ODIN?”
“Unknown pokegirl approaching from the city, Mistress. The scanner integration is not yet complete and I have no way of identifying who or what she is.”
Tanya was resting after their most recent bout and she looked up. “What’s going on?”
“Someone’s coming.” Camilla turned towards where the scanner indicated. “Rest. ODIN says they’re from the city, so there shouldn’t be a fight. Remember, I’m your Armsmistress friend who doesn’t talk much.”
Tanya nodded and leaned back.
Camilla frowned when Vira pushed into the clearing. Next to her, Tanya shot up in surprise. “Vira? What are you doing here?”
The Lioness spat, clawing bits of green from her hair. “Looking for you. Where’s Camilla? Who’s this?”
“This is, uh… Harris. She’s an old friend of mine.”
Vira peered at Camilla suspiciously. “Harris? Like your last name? What’s she doing down here in Lancaster?”
“She, uh, lives here.” Tanya replied lamely. “She heard I was passing through, and…”
Vira shook her head slightly. “Whatever. Where’s Camilla?”
“I want to talk to her.” Vira glanced at Camilla again. “Your friend’s rather quiet.”
“She doesn’t talk much.” Tanya explained as Camilla shrugged. “What do you want to talk to Camilla about?”
“I’d rather not say in front of a stranger.”
Tanya glanced up at Camilla. “She’s fine. I trust her.”
“I don’t.” Vira scowled. “Camilla’s hiding something and I want to ask her what it is.”
“Everyone has their secrets.” Camilla said, letting her suit distort her voice. “Who is this Camilla to you?”
“Doesn’t matter to you.” Vira retorted. “Just tell me where Camilla is, Tanya.”
Camilla walked away, taking a seat as far away as she could and pretending to focus away from the conversation. Tanya hesitated. “She… went back to the city. Said something about shopping. I thought that’s where you went; maybe she was looking for you.”
Vira tsked. “Just my luck.” She looked over at the armored form. “So is she an Armsmistress? Doing some combat training?”
Tanya nodded. “Something like that.”
“Cool.” Vira smirked. “I’ll leave you to it.”
Camilla waited for Vira to have long gone before walking back over to Tanya. “You did good, but Harris? Really?”
Tanya winced. “I panicked. Remembered the paper.”
“She didn’t buy it for a second,” Camilla warned, “but I don’t think she suspects the truth.” She checked the time. “We should head back. I need to find somewhere for Vira to discover me, and you need to rest up. We’ll keep testing later.”
Tanya yawned. Over the course of two weeks the four had patrolled Lancaster, taking in the local attractions and generally acting as tourists. Highly observant tourists.
They’d already called in a pair of pokegirls who seemed to be acting as smugglers, both with specific daily routes and strange habits. That had been the most they’d seen and the following days had been quiet. Until today.
Vira tapped her fingers against the café table. “Are you sure you saw him over there?”
Camilla had her head behind a menu. “I’m sure. I’m also sure that he was displaying colors.”
Vira nodded to herself. Camilla’s familiarity with her own terminology had brought up a new set of questions, but the human wasn’t letting anything slip. It just made her curiosity burn hotter.
“Nothing’s happening now.” Vira watched the flow of traffic across the street. “What did you think I’d see, some sort of secret handshake?”
“You’re the one with the right experience.” Camilla turned the menu over. “Aren’t you?”
Vira scowled but said nothing.
The waiter came and went, their food arrived, and Camilla was getting ready to call for a bill when Vira straightened.
Camilla glanced over to see the man she had picked out a few days before. “That’s him.”
Vira hooked the salvaged shoulder of her torn jacket over her body. “What’s the plan.”
“The plan is to pay the bill.” Camilla replied easily. “What’s he doing?”
Vira watched the man stop in front of a building. “Talking to someone. Probably a door guard.” She waited. “He went inside. Door barely opened, so they didn’t want anyone seeing in.”
“I think that’s all we really need to know.” Camilla stood, waving over their waiter and presenting her pokedex. Once she had paid she gestured. “Let’s head back.”
Vira couldn’t contain herself as they left. “What’s the point of this shit? The police won’t act. They can’t. We’re here because they don’t have enough people to take care of their own problems.”
“This isn’t Philly.” Camilla replied. “You’ve got nothing to gain by challenging them. We’ll report it, the police will either act on it or ignore it, and we’ll continue doing the job we were hired to do.”
“That’s bullshit.” Vira growled. “What happened to the Camilla who I was talking to before? Ms. ‘Goody two-shoes’? We both know exactly what kind of people are behind that door.”
“What happened is she sat down in an open-air café, surrounded by civilians, and understood that a fight would result in unimaginable casualties.” Camilla’s tone was sharp. “Meanwhile, her criminal pokegirl thought of none of these things and began advocating for the very fight Camilla wanted to avoid.”
Vira knew she was wrong but couldn’t ignore the insult Camilla had offered. “I’m not a criminal.”
“No, you’re just a street thug.” Camilla retorted. “What do you want me to call you, Vira? You were a gang leader. Valkyrie sure didn’t seem to be a nice girl.”
“What Valkyrie did had nothing to do with me.” Vira growled. “Those girls were mine long before she arrived. I only left because I met a young, scared, homeless pokegirl who needed someone, ANYONE to care about her. She wouldn’t have survived with Valkyrie’s eye on my friends.” She stopped. “Damn you, look at me.” Camilla turned to see Vira’s eyes begging her. “I’m not a criminal, Camilla. I never was. We were a gang. Yes. I admit that. I was a thug, or a bruiser, or whatever you want to call it. But we never attacked the innocent. We fought the other gangs. Nothing more.”
Camilla gazed at her for a few moments. “Rui?”
“You can’t even trust me to tell you the truth right now?” Vira asked desperately. “I have nothing to gain by lying about this. My past is done. It’s gone. Over. You appeared and everything I once was vanished.”
Camilla turned away. “How can I trust you when you don’t try to trust me?”
Vira’s heart sank and she didn’t need to look to know that Rui was shaking her head sadly. Tanya must have told her. Camilla knew she had tried to figure out her secret.
“Okay, I was wrong.” She blurted out. “I went where I didn’t belong. I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”
Camilla had stopped, the city’s traffic flowing around them. Eventually she turned. “Come with me.” She looked at the three pokegirls. “All of you.”
Vira had nothing but questions but she waited as they walked to the edge of the city, Camilla turning near where the packed roads transitioned to a dirt path. They followed her into a small opening between the buildings. The noise of the city was muted, at most a shout or two echoing from the nearby streets.
“Sit down.” Camilla perched on a broken wall and looked at the two catgirls. “Rui, I need to apologize to you as well. I intruded on your privacy a few weeks ago.”
Rui blinked. “What do you mean?”
“I saw what you were doing the night we stayed in Reading.”
The Electrocat’s confusion cleared. “Oh. I mean, I can’t be too mad about that; you’d find out eventually.”
Now it was Tanya who looked confused, Vira turning to address Rui. “She saw your weapons?”
Rui grinned cheekily. “I guess so.”
“They’re a nice set of paired swords.” Camilla commented. “Why don’t you use them more often?”
“I don’t need them.” Rui explained. “I fight just as well, if not better, with my body.”
“With your electricity.”
Camilla nodded. “Just goes to show how much more we all have to learn about one another.”
Rui nodded slightly as Tanya looked around. “I’m lost.”
Camilla laughed but it was Vira who spoke. “Rui’s got two hooked swords that she uses sometimes. In Philly she had to hide them, since the cops would get pretty antsy if they saw a pokegirl with weapons she isn’t licensed to have.” She pointed at herself. “I gave them to her as a gift. I don’t think I need to explain how I could get them.”
Camilla shook her head. “I can guess. As well as why she’d need them.”
There was silence for a few moments before Tanya cleared her throat. “Swords are designed for one reason. Right?”
Camilla sighed, gesturing at the trembling Electrocat. “C’mere.” She grunted when Rui impacted, cradling the crying girl gently. “You need some too, Vira?”
Vira was clutching herself but she shook her head. “No.”
“You two have had it tough, haven’t you.” Camilla gently stroked Rui’s back. “I’ve lived my own share of hardships, but I won’t insult you by pretending to know your full story.”
“It’s not one that should really be told.” Vira murmured. “Which is why I keep trying so desperately to leave it behind. For her. For both of us.”
Camilla nodded slightly. “I’ve been hiding something from both of you, and that’s not fair. You’re trying to make a new life and here I am, a person you’re meant to trust, holding secrets and tearing you down in the same breath.” She shook her head sadly. “I’m sorry. I’ve been selfish and that wasn’t right.”
Vira let out her breath. “No, it’s my fault. You already said you’d tell us when you’re ready, and I’ve gone ahead and rushed you. I’m sure you had your reasons.” She affixed a jaunty smile to her face. “I trust you did.”
Camilla couldn’t help but chuckle slightly. “Yea. I did.” She gently pushed Rui to her feet and stood. “I’m a superhero, girls. I didn’t want to tell you because I wanted you to know me for me. Look how well that’s turned out.”
The two looked at her in confusion. “Superhero?” Rui sniffed. “Like, in the movies? But you’re a-“
“Human? That’s right.” Camilla tapped her chest. “Human, plain and simple. No super powers, nothing. That’s why I use tools.”
“There is no Harris, Vira.” Tanya explained quietly. “Or rather, you were correct in thinking the name seemed familiar.”
The Lioness was stunned. This wasn’t anything that she had even considered. “Wait, the armor… That was you?”
“But if you’re not strong enough to… How could you move?”
“It’s a powered suit.” Camilla explained. “I may not be able to punch through a wall, but the suit can.”
Vira shook her head. “This is crazy.”
“A little.” Camilla agreed. “But it’s true.” She turned to Tanya. “Would you mind reporting to the police, and then coming to find us? We’ll be where you and I have been training.”
Tanya nodded and left the two catgirls staring at Camilla.
“I think I understand why you didn’t tell us right away.” Rui was wiping her eyes dry. “You’re so used to keeping it a secret because if anyone found out, they’d know that you’re vulnerable without the armor on.”
“More or less.” Camilla agreed. “And it’s also that the league doesn’t exactly encourage tamers like me to exist. After all, if I’m in direct combat, there’s a much higher chance that I can get injured, or killed, and then my pokegirls don’t have a tamer.”
Vira shook her head to clear it. “In combat. You intend on fighting pokegirls?”
“I already have.” Camilla replied, watching with a smile as Vira reeled. “I want to spar, Vira. I’m ready now. Are you?”
Tanya arrived to find Rui watching the two punch their way up and down the clearing. “How’s it going?”
“She’s incredible.” Rui turned to the Combusticunt. “Have you fought her too?”
“Yup. With and without the armor.” Tanya settled down to watch. “When we first met, she made me a promise. That no matter what happened, or what she was told, she’d always be beside me. No matter how dangerous, there she would be, watching my back. And she has. I’ve never been in a fight where she wasn’t right there to hold me up.” She turned to appraise the Electrocat. “You see now why I was so enraptured?”
Rui nodded silently, hissing when Vira stumbled and Camilla landed a solid blow to the Lioness’ face. “Ouch.”
Vira tumbled, scrambling back and nursing her cheek. “Shit. That hurt.”
Camilla’s visor wasn’t down and she smiled. “Want to stop? Tanya’s here.”
“I’ve had worse.” Vira replied with a grin, rushing back in and trading a few blows.
“So if she calls herself a superhero,” Rui thought out loud, “are you like her sidekick?”
Tanya laughed. “Hardly. I asked the same thing when we first met, but no. She’s very clear. We’re her partners, plain and simple. Equals.” She made an approving noise when Vira managed to land a counterattack. “Vira’s not bad. What was it you two wanted to do? Get onto the tournament scene?”
“We’d be able to use our abilities there.”
Tanya nodded to herself. “I heard there’s gonna be an open registration event here over the weekend. Why don’t we all join? It’ll give us some experience.”
Rui blinked in surprise. “Really? That might be fun.” She watched Vira slam to the ground, waiting for Camilla to offer her hand before standing. “I’ll go ask. Good idea.”
The receptionist hurriedly approved her latest applicant, fixing a smile to her face. “Good morning, ma’am. Here to register?”
“I’ve got three girls who want to join in.” Camilla pulled out the pre-filled forms. “None are in the League registry, so if you’d please direct us to whoever manages those, we’ll get out of your hair.”
The receptionist spared a glance at the forms and quickly grabbed them. “You already completed these?”
“Don’t you go anywhere.” She grinned. “I wish everyone was as prepared. Let’s see here… Journey 1 license, all three meet normal requirements… We’re not a regular licensing agency, so we can’t do anything but start the paperwork. You said all three wanted to compete today?”
“Good, good… I’ll get these moving right away. Let me grab their tags.” The girl shuffled through her various drawers before withdrawing three buttons. “Alright. Red for the Lioness, blue for the Combusticunt, and another blue for the Electrocat. Their names accurate here?”
Camilla nodded again. “Yep.”
“Excellent. The brackets will be drawn up in half an hour or so. Locker rooms are down the long hall to the left.” She looked over Camilla’s shoulder. “NEXT!”
Camilla stepped aside, pocketing the buttons and walking to where the three pokegirls waited. “This one’s yours, Vira. You two get the blue.” She handed out the tags and pointed. “She said the changing rooms are over there. It won’t start for a while.”
“Enough time to get some food?” Rui asked hopefully.
Camilla chuckled. “Sure.”
They were sitting and enjoying a light meal when an announcement came over the PA system. “Green brackets have been finalized. Contestants, please find an information booth for your matches.”
“That should be the first of the three.” Camilla said around a mouthful. “I’d guess blue next.”
A minute later she was proven correct. “Blue brackets have been finalized. Contestants…”
“I’ll be last.” Vira grumbled. “Fine. Should be a good way to pass the day, anyways.”
There were scattered chuckles. “You girls looked at the rules yet?” Camilla asked. “Techniques aren’t allowed.”
“Energy techniques aren’t.” Rui corrected her. “So I won’t be able to use my lightning body technique. But agility boosting is perfectly acceptable.”
“Interesting.” Camilla looked around. “Tanya, you’re hit the hardest by that, right?”
Tanya made a face. “Yea. It’ll be tough.”
“You’ll be fine.” Vira thumped Tanya’s back. “Just do your thing!”
Tanya coughed, swallowing before responding. “Yea?”
“Seriously. You’ll do fine.” Vira watched the two get up. “Good luck!”
Camilla took another bite. “Try not to crush anyone too hard.”
Vira shook her head. “I can guess what the colors mean. Weight classes. If I’ve been put in the highest one, I’ve got some trouble coming my way.”
Camilla frowned. “Like what?”
“Like an Amachamp. Or Armsmistress. Or worse.”
“Huh.” Camilla rubbed her chin. “I can see why you’d be worried. Still, you should be faster than those kinds of fighters, right?”
“Maybe.” Vira said uncertainly. “You’ll be nearby, right?”
Camilla smiled. “Standing as close as they’ll let me.”
Vira smiled back. “Thanks.”
“Next up; Rui versus Giselle. Both contestants, please enter the arena.” The referee looked between the two pokegirls and stepped back. “Begin!”
Rui quickly dodged away from the grasping pokegirl, skipping through the ring as she measured her opponent’s range.
“That was bullshit.” Tanya muttered grumpily.
Camilla chuckled, rubbing her hair playfully. “Can’t do much when the judges rule like that. You did alright.”
“Still bullshit.” Tanya grumbled.
Camilla was watching the ring and didn’t notice Vira approaching until the Lioness grabbed her arm. “Cammy!”
Camilla blinked as she realized it was the first time Vira had ever shortened her name. “Yea?”
“There’s trouble outside.”
Camilla immediately stood. “What’s going on?”
“No, hide!” Vira hissed. “I saw a group come into the event center with masks.”
Camilla’s mind raced. Rui was in her own world; she wasn’t going to be able to react. She could recall the Electrocat, but that might cause panic when she hadn’t even seen the situation for herself. “You’re sure?”
“They had the same colors as the guy we saw a few days ago.”
Camilla glanced over. “Tanya-“
The Combusticunt was scowling. “Where are they?”
“Don’t be a hero.” Camilla spat. “We need to…”
“Isn’t this what you did?” Tanya asked. “You saved people. You fought bad guys. There’s bad guys here right now.”
“Bad guys who won’t play nice!” Camilla hissed, grabbing the Combusticunt’s shoulders. “You run out there, you get injured, you might even die. So sit quietly and let me THINK.”
Tanya relented, relaxing slightly while Camilla thought. “Here’s what we can do.” She finally said. “Vira, which direction did they go?”
“The registration area.”
“They’re probably here for the money.” Camilla rubbed her temples. “I’d bet the center keeps a decent amount of chips on hand for prizes or whatever. With the tournament going, they have an almost open path there. Tanya, you and Vira get over there. Slowly, don’t rush, don’t look like a threat. If you see a problem, keep walking around the outside and I’ll meet you down by the second set of locker rooms. I’ll have Rui by then. Okay?” The two nodded. “Then go.”
Inside the arena Rui slid past a swinging arm and jumped back up to land a solid hit to her opponent’s temple. “DOWN!” The referee roared, running in and ducking to inspect the unconscious pokegirl. “WINNER! Rui!”
Rui grinned and began to celebrate when she noticed Camilla out of the corner of her eye. The human was way too close to the arena, not even in the stands, and as she turned she could see the worry in her eyes.
She waited just long enough for the referee to confirm her information and the medics to retrieve her opponent before quickly walking over. “Camilla? What’s going on?”
“We’ve got a problem.” Camilla replied tersely. “Might be a robbery in progress. And because I’m a Journeyman, we get to investigate.”
“Part of the job, huh?” Camilla was surprised to hear how calm Rui was. “We’re meant to fight everything from ferals to criminals.”
“Yea. You don’t seem surprised.”
“It’s nothing new for me.” Rui vaulted the low wall and gestured. “Where are the others?”
“They’re checking out the situation.”
“Are you going to get your armor?”
Camilla blinked. “That’s a smart idea. Let’s head to the meeting point.”
The other two were waiting when Camilla and Rui appeared. “Unless the town has started hiring literal thugs to guard the building, it’s a robbery.” Vira snorted. “They’ve got the masks on and everything. Not even trying to hide that they don’t belong.”
“My armor is almost here.” Camilla replied. “Did you see any civilians?”
“Two. One human, one probably a pokegirl. They’re not in the main area.”
Camilla tsked. “Still complicates things. If we attack, they have hostages.”
“I can get to them.” Camilla glanced at Rui. “I can protect them.”
“You’re sure?” Camilla asked. “You’ll be behind enemy lines.”
“Let me do this.” Rui stared at Camilla pleadingly. “Let me save a life for once.”
Camilla winced. “Okay. Rui, you protect the employees. Tanya, you and Vira are charging in. I’ll be right behind you as soon as I’m armored.”
The four looked at each other. “Let’s go.”
The two guards were lounging against a wall when the group turned the corner. One scanned them, noticing the two familiar pokegirls and immediately shouting a warning.
“Rui, GO!” Vira yelled. This time the lights in the area did more than just dim. Rui drew every drop of surrounding power, sending an electric surge that knocked out half a dozen bulbs and set the others to a barely flickering state.
The two guards stumbled backwards, only an afterimage showing where the Electrocat had blitzed. Inside the office the one standing over the hostages stumbled, swatting at the sharp pain in her side before screaming and collapsing to the ground.
Rui grabbed the paralyzed water type, throwing her out the door before throwing her body against a nearby desk and shoving it against the doorframe. She immediately turned to the terrified hostages and began muttering reassurances.
The two manning the door managed to gain a few seconds by falling back, one ripping her mask off to reveal a heavily tattooed face, while the other got behind the pokegirl and began shouting into the offices.
Vira’s practiced eyes picked out the tattoos and she scowled. “Tanya, cover me.”
The Combusticunt nodded, flames licking down her arms and forming a fireball that she sent towards the chanting pokegirl.
The girl dodged, barely glancing at the explosion before pointing at Vira and shouting a command. Immediately the Lioness spun out, one leg scrabbling uselessly as Vira fought the spell. She managed to turn the slide into a jump that left her and the spellcaster clawing at each other on the floor.
Camilla glanced back when she heard the clang of metal, opening her arms to let the armor fold over her. As soon as ODIN said the word she was moving, palms glowing with energy before she jumped past the struggling pokegirls and aimed into the office.
The human guard was gone, though she could see the stunned water type Rui had thrown out. To her left the Electrocat was watching her, using the desk as cover.
Rui nodded. “Hiding.”
“I need-“ Camilla stumbled when Tanya shoved past her, the Combusticunt’s flames licking up her body. “Shit. Help Vira!”
Rui nodded, vaulting the desk and jabbing her hand into the writhing combatants. Vira got up, looking down at the gagging pokegirl. “Nice hit.”
Camilla wasn’t there to see Rui’s expression as she placed another precise strike into their enemy’s chest. “I’m only doing what you taught me.”
Vira gave her a sad smile and began to bind the now twitching pokegirl. “Get me a gag of some sort for this one.”
Tanya rounded the corner, ducking when a beam of light passed over her head and blew a hole in the wall. She quickly dove back when the corner shattered in a hail of ice and masonry.
Tanya looked back and grinned at what she saw. “I saw at least five of ‘em. Don’t know how many Vira saw, but they’ve definitely cracked a vault open. There’s a big bag in the middle of the room.”
“I don’t want to fight in here. We should get back and contact the police.”
Tanya scowled. “They’re right there!”
“That money is not worth your life.” Camilla growled. “We’ve secured the hostages. The police can handle it from here.”
Something inside of Tanya broke. “I’m sorry, Cammy, but they can’t.” In her head she was awestruck at the calm words coming from her mouth, completely at odds with the raging inferno that had overtaken her. “There’s another entrance. We wait, they escape, they hurt someone else. We need to go now.”
Camilla gritted her teeth. “Fine. I’ll cover you.”
Tanya nodded, running at the far wall. She jumped, using it as a springboard to rocket past the sights of the waiting pokegirls.
Camilla turned a moment later, blasts from her hands catching the stumbling girls. One fell immediately as the energy played over her body, but the other was able to resist the shock, taking aim and catching Tanya’s leg with a beam of ice.
The attack didn’t do much damage but it did send the Combusticunt off target, spinning into a stacked pile of chairs and biting back her scream as she hit.
Camilla ran forwards, striking at the dodging ice type but missing. The girl jumped back, drawing a sword that radiated cold and settling into a combat stance.
Before she could charge Camilla Tanya was back on her feet, rushing in and slamming into the surprised pokegirl. The two rolled across the floor as Camila raised her hands towards the rest of the group.
Two men pointed guns at her, four other pokegirls ready to attack. With a flash of annoyance she could see another man and woman running down the hall, a large bag over the woman’s shoulders.
“You ain’t cops, so who are ye’?” One of the men called, seemingly unconcerned when Tanya smashed her clawed hand into her opponent and the other girl went limp. “Stand down, birdy. Or the armor gets it.”
Tanya glanced up, poised to attack but faltering when she saw what was aimed at Camilla.
The man grinned when she hesitated. “Yea, tha’s right. Get up, nice and slow.”
“I see you’ve already sent the money ahead.” Camilla called, keeping her voice even. “I’d like to say none of you are getting away with it, but I don’t seem to have much of a choice.”
The man’s smile widened. “That’s right. Ye don’t. We’re all gonna leave now, and you two’s gonna stand there all nice and quiet like.”
“As soon as you put down your weapons there’s nothing stopping us.”
The man smirked. “I know. That’s why I’m leaving you two’s with a present.” He gestured at a smaller bag nearby. “Make one wrong move, and my friend here presses his little button. You don’t want that.”
He could be bluffing, but Camilla couldn’t be sure. And Tanya was right next to the bomb. “I get it. I won’t move.”
Tanya glanced back, her chest heaving as she panted. Something about her was off but Camilla didn’t have any time to wonder what.
“We’re leavin’ now.” The man called, slowly backing up with his group. “You can keep those ones. Try not to hurt ‘em too bad.”
Then the delicate situation turned sideways. Behind Camilla, Rui appeared, the Electrocat still sparking with power. The retreating group noticed her at the same time Camilla did, all evaluating this new piece.
The other human must have been jumpy because as soon as the Electrocat appeared he screamed, one arm jerking out with a remote clutched in his fist.
Camilla’s mind raced. The bomb, if it was a bomb, was too close. Tanya would be killed. Most of the criminals would be killed or grievously injured. She’d be fine, but if Rui was hit by the shrapnel, she’d be dead, too.
Tanya was too far away. Camilla felt a pang of grief as she whirled, throwing her body over the Electrocat.
Fire exploded into the office, instantly igniting anything even remotely flammable. Beneath Camilla Rui huddled, whimpering in pain when her tail ignited.
Camilla crouched over the Electrocat in confusion. There had been no bang. She could feel the baking heat on her back but no shrapnel, nothing. “ODIN? Did the bomb explode?”
“No, Mistress.” A small screen appeared in Camilla’s vision. “See for yourself.”
The humans were down, clutching at their exposed skin. Two of the pokegirls also writhed on the floor. In front of the remainder stood Tanya, the fires that had covered her body now cloaking it completely.
“Camilla?” Rui whimpered. “My-“
“Hang in there.” Camilla whispered, stretching her legs to form a wider shield. “It’s Tanya.”
One of the pokegirls howled, the intense heat adding fuel to the wind that she summoned. Tanya staggered, gashes opening across her body but just as quickly cauterizing before more than a few drops of blood could flow. Her attacker quailed when an inhuman noise began to sound from the firestorm. Tanya screamed.
Not of pain, not of grief, not of anger, not anymore. She simply screamed, a pure, piercing emotion that shook the survivors. They ran.
She was still screaming when she charged, bypassing the squirming bodies and smashing into the first runner. The girl coughed, looking down stupidly at the two claws protruding from her chest. Tanya drew her hand back, the flames that helped her now stopping her opponent’s blood loss as she moved to the next enemy.
“I got to go.” Camilla struggled upright, looking over at where Tanya had been.
The bag was ash. Inside was a misshapen mass of metal and some sort of material. She didn’t have to guess to know that it had been a bomb, just as the criminals had threatened. Somehow Tanya’s flames had destroyed the trigger mechanism.
Rui batted at her smoking tail, coughing in the dry heat. The fire had dissipated, following Tanya through the building. In its wake small blazes kept erupting, licking hungrily at the structure.
“Oh god.” She whispered. Quickly she grabbed a nearby extinguisher, spraying until the entire room was covered in foam.
Camilla ran, following the halls. She smashed extinguishers as she went, sending them spinning around the rooms and coating every surface in fire retardant. Eventually she burst into an open space, gasping at what she saw.
Tanya was down, struggling under the weight of a hulking woman. The pokegirl noticed her enter and fell back, dragging Tanya up so the two were facing each other. “Stay back! I’ll snap her fucking neck if I have to!”
Camilla stopped, weighing their options. Tanya’s flames had died, so the room itself wasn’t in danger. But this pokegirl didn’t seem weakened even though she could see horrible burns across her skin.
“Okay.” Camilla called. “What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to fuck off!” The pokegirl roared, tightening her grip. “Back the fuck up. I promise I won’t kill her if she lets me go.”
Camilla’s eyes were drawn to Tanya’s arm. The girl was slowly moving her fingers, forming something as she did. Camilla scowled.
“She’s got a pokeball.” Camilla reasoned. “Let me call for it, and-“
“Fuck no.” Tanya whimpered when the hand on her throat tightened. “Then there’s no danger to her, is there? And I’m left holding none of the cards. Back up, through the hallway. Do that and she might live.”
Camilla glanced up at Tanya’s face. The girl was watching her and, as Camilla watched, Tanya smiled.
Don’t do it. Camilla thought desperately. Don’t be a hero.
“Hey.” Tanya croaked. “Notice anything different about me, Cammy?”
“SHUT UP!” The pokegirl screamed, clenching her hands tight.
Tanya tried to speak but her airway was closed. All she could do was continue to smile.
Tanya’s words finally dawned on Camilla and she bowed her head. “Fine. I surrender.”
The pokegirl grinned, relaxing her grip just enough for Tanya to begin forcing air into her lungs. “That’s more like-“
Then there was an explosion.
Camilla Harrisburg AKA “Metal Maiden”
Other Personal Information Hidden
A hero without superhuman powers, Camilla Harrisburg makes up for her lack of super strength or speed with an above average intellect and incredibly sharp intuition. Self taught in numerous scientific disciplines, she creates various weapons and tools to assist her as a superhero. Known primarily for her various suits of power armor, she also is the leading mind behind many of the Vindicators’ recent superconstructions and technological advancements.
Tanya Harrisburg AKA unknown
Height: 5’ 11”
Hair Color: Red
Eye Color: Red
Other Personal Information Hidden
A type of meta-human known as a Pokegirl, Tanya Harrisburg wields considerable super strength and speed as well as elemental powers in the form of fire. Equipped with natural weapons in the form of her claws, she fights best at medium range.
NOTE:Further data required. Database incomplete.
Vira AKA unknown
Height: 6’ 2”
Hair Color: Blonde
Eye Color: Brown
Other Personal Information Hidden
A type of meta-human known as a Pokegirl, Vira wields excessive physical strength. Equipped with natural weapons in the form of her claws and fangs, she is a natural fighter and highly dangerous in close quarters.
NOTE:Further data required. Database incomplete.
Rui AKA unknown
Height: 5’ 6”
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Gold
Other Personal Information Hidden
A type of meta-human known as a Pokegirl, Rui commands elemental powers in the form of electricity as well as natural weapons in the form of her claws and fangs. While not as strong as her peers, she uses her powers to augment her capabilities, focusing on speed and precision to surgically bring down even the toughest of opponents.
NOTE:Further data required. Database incomplete.
Threat Database Omega
Limited Access Granted
unknown AKA “Truth”
Danger Level: Presumed Epsilon
Personal Data not found.
An unknown type of meta-human that appears to use elemental powers of water. Witness reports indicate Truth commands immense psychic power. Heavy caution is advised on contact.