Austin sighed to himself, scrolling through the different options for Quests on his Pokedex, shaking his head as he ignored another request that would require him to go after these ‘Gym Badges.’ He honestly hadn’t looked much into those things at all, what with the fact that Rivers Pass was a small enough town not to have one of its own, but he still wasn’t sure about using Suzuka and Beryl in fights against other Tamers. The thought of fighting off the wild ferals, of protecting others? That was worth fighting for. Throwing the girls headfirst into a battle with another tamer’s girls for sport and cash? It reminded him off all the things he had ever hated about the sports industry back home. Glorifying smashing another person’s face in for the entertainment of others.
Taking a small break from looking over the numerous requests, the Jumper turned his attention to his two Pokegirls. Suzuka was slowly working her blade through the air, something that he guessed must have been a kata or whatever those things were called that fighters did to commit their styles to memory. He had seen her do it once in the privacy of their room, shortly after he had brought her out of her feral state, but this was the first time that the Ronin had done it so openly.
Beryl, on the other hand, had made herself useful to the Pokecenter to occupy her time. Ice types were rare in such a humid and hot region of the world and as such the Ice Maiden had offered her services to those who requested it. The results were… a little mixed. Those that were nice to the formal feral got their drinks cooled and served ice cream kept at the perfect temperature. The few that made fun of her lack of hand ended up slipping on a rather sudden patch of ice that appeared under foot. The one person that had insulted her was still being treated for a bad case of frostbite. Currently, Beryl was resting against her tamer, head on his shoulder while following his fingers on the Pokdex.
“Here we go.” Austin said to himself, smiling as he enlarged the Quest that had finally caught his eye. The job was similar to the last one, take care of a wild Pokegirl that was causing some issues. However, the main difference was noted that the Quest giver themselves, a person who simply went by the name of K, would actually be joining them. That would both put Dalaa’s fears of him getting injured again to rest while also allowing Beryl to get a bit more experience out in the field. As useful as Yuel’s teachings were, the best way to learn was often to throw yourself into the fray.
“Find something good?” Suzuka asked, sheathing her blade.
“Yeah, dealing with another feral, but we’ll get help this time,” Austin nodded, looking up to the Ronin with a small smile after accepting the Quest. “Having another Tamer on hand should help things and keep me out of trouble.”
A small laugh came from his Pokegirl, nodding lightly with a smirk across her lips. “Just make sure to listen to me this time when I tell you to run, alright?”
“Yes, Mom.” He responded flatly, eliciting another laugh out of the fighting type.
The beeping of his Pokedex caught his attention, a response from K, accepting the Quest. Though the speed in which he got the response got a raised eyebrow, he was more than fine about this. “Looks like we’re actually going to be heading out once they get here. Want to go and wash up before hand, Suzuka?”
His Pokegirl shook her head. “Not really. I didn’t work up that much of a sweat doing my forms and if we’re going to fight something, I’ll probably need to clean up afterwards regardless.”
“We going to fight?” Beryl asked, lifting her head for the first time.
“Yeah, in particular you’re going to be on point,” Austin stated with a smile, patting her on the head. “Suzuka will be there if we really need her, but I’m wanting you to be the main one in the fight so we can get you a bit used to battling with me, alright?”
The Ice Maiden frowned ever so slightly, but eventually gave a nod as she gripped her sole hand around her tamers own. “I do best, Master.”
Austin chuckled, returning the squeeze with one of his own. “I know you will, Beryl. Don’t push yourself too hard about it. I’m still a new Tamer myself, so I don’t know all the ins and outs and you’ve only been tame for about two weeks. We’re mostly going to be relying on this K person and making sure they’ve got an extra hand.”
After having assured his harem about everything, Austin simply sat back, watching as the life of the Pokecenter worked around him. It had been a little under a month since he had been dropped into this world. There were still things that amazed him, not only just how both alike and unlike it was from his own, but the different kinds of Pokegirls he had seen in the short time here.
While some of the girls he had met already had given him a decent idea of just how deep the rabbit hole went, it still failed to prepare him for even half of the visitors that walked through the Center’s doors. Originally, he had thought that most Pokegirls tended towards the more human side of things, with things like the classic centaur and naga looks to round out the more animalistic aspects. That was thrown out the window when he met his first Buzzbreast, the Bee girl looking like she could have starred as an extra in ‘The Fly: The Porno’. It wasn’t to say that she wasn’t attractive as a whole but a lifetime of human women could never prepare Austin for something even close to his size having compound eyes.
That didn’t even touch on how different some of the Pokegirls could be within the same species. Two different Catgirls varied wildly in their looks. The first of the girls could have passed for human outside of the ears atop of her head and the long furry tail that sprouted out above her rump. Her counterpart, on the other hand, was covered head to toe in fur with paws replacing both hands and feet. What was perhaps the most interesting thing about those two examples to Austin was their actual personalities, with the close to human girl being mostly feral and only just learning how to speak while the more animal one was capable of full English. It just made it clear to the Jumper that you couldn’t judge anything in this world by appearance alone.
Austin’s head shot up as he heard a squeal come from behind him. The source of the sound turned out to be Dalaa vaulting over the counter, running into the open arms of another Pokegirl. She was short, a fact made even clearer by the fact that the Joy had to dip her head down to kiss the other woman on the lips, but she made up for that in a toned body that even a sedentary individual like himself could notice. She had close cut, strawberry-blond hair, and fierce blue eyes that with her body that gave her the overall look of someone’s favorite aunt that had been fused together with a trained warrior. The new woman smiled after breaking the kiss with the Dalaa, squeezing her hands. “Always love your greetings, hun.”
“Give me some time alone tonight, Karrin, and I’ll give you a much more proper greeting,” Dalaa purred, stealing another kiss from the shorter woman. She pulled back shortly afterwards, lips twisting into a confused frown. “But I thought you weren’t going to be back until the weekend?”
“Ran into a bit of a snag out in the forest,” Karrin responded, annoyance dripping from her words. “Came back to rest for a spell and get some backup. Even put in a Quest for it, which is why I’m here now. Some guy named Austin accepted it.”
“Wait, you’re K?” Austin asked, standing up now. “Huh, I guess it makes sense why you accepted me for the quest so fast. Didn’t think you’d be a Pokegirl, though.”
An exhausted sigh escaped Karrin, her hands slipping away from Dalaa to rub her face. “And I didn’t think I’d be stuck with another asshole tamer that couldn’t tell the difference between a human woman and a Pokegirl. Guess we're both going to be dealing with things we didn’t think we’d have to.”
He blinked a bit at the snapping comment, taking another look at the woman before him. She was indeed the most human looking woman he had ever seen since coming to this world. Even Suzuka and Dalaa had their own features that belied their Pokegirl nature, something that became more obvious when he looked at them in comparison to Karrin. Hair was one of those features, what with Dalaa’s pink ‘do and Suzuka’s natural and yet unnatural bangs that hung on either side of her face, but what surprised him more now that he noticed it were the eyes.
Even the most human of Pokegirls had eyes that were noticeably larger than Karrins, taking up more of the forehead and even being a bit more detailed. It almost reminded Austin a bit of the characters from anime, with how big and expressive their eyes were when compared to something like American comics, which would at times strive for a more realistic approach. The difference hadn’t been big enough to really throw off the Jumper before or even hit into that realm of uncanny valley, but he couldn’t help but notice it now that he had something to compare it to.
“Ah, Karrin, don’t get so angry at him!” Dalaa soothed, breaking the young man out of his train of thought. The fact that he had let himself get lost again in his analysis of things made him groan a bit in irritation even as the nurse continued. “He’s the Jumper I was telling you about. Probably hasn’t seen a human woman since he got pulled here.”
“More like I wasn’t even told that there were any human women left. From the way that Cole was going on about it when I first got here, I thought that there were no human women left in the world… period.” Austin said while giving a pointed look at the Nurse joy. He then turned to face the other woman and grimaced. “Sorry that I thought you were one at first.”
Raising a slender eyebrow, Karrin let out a grunt that would have done a linebacker proud before offering her hand. Austin took it and hid a grimace at the strength of the woman's grip. He took it as an extra note not to anger her in the future. “I guess I could give you a pass this time around…” Karrin muttered, her posture relaxing somewhat. “You seem like a good kid at least. The amount of natives that would actually apologize to me are small enough that I could count them on one hand. That said, Dalaa’s told me you’re a bit reckless.”
Austin let out a small groan of annoyance, giving a glare to the suddenly innocent looking nurse. He pointed to the scar on his face. “I’ve learned the hard way that I can’t always help out when I want to, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to just sit on my ass. The girls deserve more than that.”
Karrin rose an eyebrow at that, even as the corner of her lip curved upward. “Well, I guess being chivalrous is better than what I normally deal with. Just don’t go opening doors for me. I take it you and your harem are pretty much prepared to go?”
“Yeah, though I heard you say you needed a rest, so take your time getting ready. The girls and I will be ready to go when you are.” Austin said, nodding to Beryl and Suzuka both.
Nodding to him, Karrin smiled once more. “Alright then. Let me get something in me and we’ll be off!”
It was roughly an hour later when Karrin and Austin finally left the Pokecenter. Suzuka and Beryl both were at Austin’s side while Karrin had released her own Pokegirl out from her ball. She was taller than her Tamer by a few inches, with dark green skin and hair that matched. A rather large half bloomed flower was set against her back, which Austin could only guess was there to offset the fact that she was bustier than even Dalaa, just the barest bit of fabric keeping her covered there.
“Molly, take point. We’re going after the bounty again.” Karrin stated, her voice sharp and commanding. It wasn’t the same harshness that Austin was used to from Yuel’s training sessions, but the authority in it was something he could hear. The flower girl, which the Pokedex identified as an Ivywhore, gave a salute and started out.
“So, what exactly are we going after here?” Austin asked, noting the path they were taking was drawing them back to the same forest where everything had started. For a moment, he wondered if there was always going to be something that sent him back to the woods, but figured that it mostly came down to the fact that out of all the wilderness that surrounded River’s Pass, the forest was the one most rife with dangerous ferals.
“We’re not completely sure, other than it’s big, dangerous, and angry.” Karrin said, cracking her neck as she pulled out another Pokeball, this one marked as empty by the fact that the button on its center was grayed out instead of the normal white.
“Welp, I’m glad that Dalaa wasn’t around to hear that, otherwise she would have had a fit and a half.” Austin responded with a laugh. “You should have seen the way she acted after I got Beryl. I think they only just now repaired tile in that hospital room.”
“She does have a bit of a protective streak, though it’s not like I could blame her. Dalaa’s gone through a bit more than most.” Karrin paused, frowning for a moment. “Just how much do you know about this world, kid?”
The Jumper blinked, thrown off guard by the question. He thought for a minute before shrugging. “Not that much. I know how the whole world came about thanks to Cole, about that insane Sukube guy, and that the fact that I’m not the only one from another world that got pulled in here. I can’t say I know every little thing though.”
She nodded, pursing her lips for another moment before turning her gaze back to the path before them, stepping lightly as they entered the forest proper. “Well, I’m not sure if you knew this before or not, but Pokegirls are able to breed with humans, and they result in either humans or Pokegirls. We’re all raised the same, but for a lot of families, they tend to sell off the Pokegirls when they become of age. Sooner if the girl is a rare or powerful breed.” Karrin’s voice became harder as she went on, her knuckles becoming white around the Pokeball in her hand. “Dalaa, being a NurseJoy, was one of those girls. The moment she was old enough to require taming, her family sold her off to the League. She didn’t even get to say goodbye to her brother before she was shipped out here.”
A low whistle left Austin’s lips, shaking his head. He knew already that this world wasn’t all sunshine and roses. The way that Wendell and a few other tamers had treated their Pokegirls during Yuel’s training was proof enough of that. But to hear that Dalaa’s family had sold off their own daughter like that made his stomach churn. “Didn’t think people would be like that to their own kid.”
Karrin snorted, an unladylike sound that was at odds with her looks, as she continued. “Not everyone’s like that, but it’s a common enough practice. Just about everything revolves around Pokegirls here, kid. Hell, we’re going after one that’s got a bounty placed on her head, dead or alive. It’s my job as a Hunter to bring that in.” She got quiet after that, before pausing long enough to turn and look at him. “But for Dalaa… there’s a reason for her being so protective of you… Her brother would have been on his journey now for about two years.”
Austin winced. That made the overprotective nature of the NurseJoy make a lot more sense. Losing a family member was never easy and a sibling was even worse. Even if this world was inherently different than his own, there were some things that were universal. “I guess I owe her an apology then.”
The group was quiet as they continued through the forest, having to skirt the Mileeboro’s territory. Austin wondered just how big that particular girl’s domain was but considering how nearly everyone he talked to so far had suggested avoiding it like the plague, he wasn’t exactly eager to come face to monstrous face with the Pokegirl. In fact, that thought nagged at him. “You’re a Hunter, right? Why doesn’t anyone want to get rid of the Mileeboro?”
“You mean other than not having to deal with Bad Breath? Couple of reasons, actually,” The Hunter responded after she ducked under a lower hanging branch. Austin made a face as he had to crouch down to get underneath it, his height making it far more work. “Milee’s tend to be pretty passive girls all things considered. They prefer to be left alone and if you don’t just barge in their territory, they’re perfectly fine in ignoring everyone else. Add in the other threats they keep away by being that much of a danger on her own and most people knowing the borders of her claimed land, they’d rather just let her be instead of bothering to remove her.”
“I get it. So, I take it the thing that’s running rampant in here is a bigger threat than even her?”
Karrin gave him a look before nodding to Molly, who pushed aside some waist high brush like it was nothing, showing off a small clearing before them. “Tell me… what do you think?”
He looked. The forest, which had up until that point had been the thick redwoods and overwhelming brush he had come to accept as normal, was thrashed. Several trees had been knocked down entirely, their trunks splintered in half, broken bark looking like jagged teeth. Entire bushes had been ripped up, roots and all, only to be tossed aside like garbage. The scariest thing however was the huge chunks of the hard earth that had been torn up like someone had taken a giant but narrow ice cream scoop to the land, leaving the mounds of dirt beside grave sized holes almost as deep as Austin was tall. It had made the destruction he had seen from the Sideviper look like a child’s tantrum.
“Master…” Beryl whispered, the ice type girl clutching close to her tamer. He could feel her shiver and that alone made fear creep even further down Austin’s spine. Through their practice fights and drills within Yuel’s training seminars, the Ice Maiden had shown herself to be a confident fighter and willing to face down most of her test foes with an aloof look. That alone told him just how dangerous the thing they were chasing down.
“Austin, I knew you were wanting to have Beryl be on point, but I think this might need all of us,” Suzuka muttered, already drawing her blade. Her knuckles were white against the hilt of the weapon.
Karrin stepped forward, ignoring most of the ruined woods, and went to the towering redwood at the edge of the clearing. Not even the standing giant had escaped unscathed, a sizable chunk of the bark stripped away and leaving the pale wood underneath open to the air. Her gaze went beyond the tree, following a path of bent branches, scraped bark, and trampled brush that went further into the forest. “She went that way.”
“Think we’ll be enough?” Austin asked, trying to keep the tremor out of his voice. He could only guess as to what kind of thing that was capable of this and none of the images conjured by his mind painted a pretty picture.
“Outside of something incredibly powerful, we should be fine,” Karrin said, nodding once more to her own Pokegirl, the Ivywhore taking the lead and walking down the destroyed path. “Molly’s capable of different status ailments and can restrict most enemies’ movements. Your girls specialize in ranged and melee fighting which we can tailor to just what this Pokegirl is capable of. The only thing that would truly worry me would be a fire type, and we would have had half the forest on fire at this point if that’s what she was.”
He blinked. He hadn’t even given any thoughts to what type the enemy Pokegirl could be. It made him look at their combined teams and agree. With a plant and ice type girl, fire would be a disastrous thing for them to deal with. Austin made a mental note to overlook the different elements after this little adventure and make sure he could learn all their ins and outs. “I take it the more volatile elements leave behind more obvious signs in their wake?”
“Pretty much,” Karrin responded, pointing out the damage as they passed more of it. “Your Ice Maiden there fought with ice and had her entire territory decked out in the stuff, right? It’s the same thing for most other girls with strong elemental powers. Fire types fight and work with fire, Water with water, yadda yadda yadda. If I had to put money on it, what we’re dealing with is either a fighting or bug type girl.”
“How do you figure that?”
“Mostly how things are destroyed. We’re already looking at a Pokegirl that prefers to use physical strength, so that counts most elemental users out. The level of destruction tells us she’s on the upper level of strength which means things like Normal, Flying, and Ghost types aren’t likely since so few of those girls have high strength ratings.”
Austin paused at that, eyes going wide as he looked at Karrin. “Ghost types?” He asked, not entirely sure he heard correctly.
Karrin ignored him continuing, as if he hadn’t said anything at all, stepping over at least one more toppled tree trunk along the ruined path. “Then there was the type of damage we saw. Between the trees and the ground it was pretty clear this girl had claws of some kind, though I’m not sure what exactly would make those pits. Those were really narrow for what I’m used to around here.”
“You’re really good at figuring things out like this, aren’t you?” He asked, raising an eyebrow. Austin had considered himself to be a fairly observant individual, capable of picking up on things that most people tended to ignore. Karrin blew him out of the water. She paid more attention to the surroundings than he had and even was able to put her experience to use. Part of it was the simple fact that she was a native of this world and thus knew what to look for, but it was still obvious that Karrin knew what she was talking about.
His answer never came as Karrin held up a hand. Molly had frozen completely where she stood, hiding her curved form behind the nearest tree, a vine emerging from her flower to point down the path. Austin followed the path up with his eyes, then had to cover his mouth to keep himself from making a sound once he saw what lay at the end of it.
The Pokegirl was gigantic, standing tall and straight. From the torso up she was mostly human, muscular and toned like a professional athlete, built for power. She had a fiery mane of red hair that ran down her back and what could only could be described as armor running up the sides of her body before stopping under her breasts, the same going along the length of her arms. Below her belly is where the girl became more monster than human. A long, bulky armored body the size of a small car served as a lower half, six massive legs supporting the sheer size of her form. Two sets of massive claws featured the front of the inhuman form, working their way through the forest before her. The first pair were blunt and made for grabbing while its sisters were razor sharp for cutting, that particular use being shown off as the lower claws sliced through a fallen tree effortlessly. Her most terrifying aspect, however, was the tail. A massive segmented thing that curled up behind her head and coming to end in a cruel stringer, twitching ever so slightly in the air as she moved about.
“Scorpiagirl.” Karrin hissed, her voice so low that Austin had to strain to hear her. “The hell is one of those doing around here…”
“She shouldn’t be here?” Austin whispered back, staying close. Beryl and Suzuka both hunkered down behind him, both of them looking uneasy at the sheer size and deadliness of the Pokegirl before them.
“No. They’re almost never found in this part of the world outside of someone’s harem, and the Sunshine League is VERY serious about keeping tabs on ‘girls like these.” The hunter shook her head, letting out a small breath. “This might be a tougher fight than I thought. Scorpiagirls can be pretty deadly.”
“I noticed that when she cut the tree in half.”
Ignoring his sarcastic remark, Karrin waved Molly to rejoin the group, keeping an eye on the Scorpiagirl before them. She watched the girl tear out down another tree, red hair whipping around as she searched for something. “Alright… looks like we’re dealing with a hungry one here. She’s trying to scare out any prey that was dumb enough to stick around during her earlier rampaging. Molly, poison and lust powders aren’t going to work on her. If she gets close to you, hit her with a Stun spore. Otherwise, stay at range and don’t use your vines unless you can keep those second claws of hers shut. They’ll just cut through through them.”
“Sure thing, Boss lady.” Molly whispered, her face lined with determination.
Karrin turned to Austin, nodding to him. “Beryl’s going to be our main offensive force here. Aim for the joints of her legs and cripple her movement if you can. She’s not a fast ‘girl, but she’ll hit us like a truck if we don’t keep her down. Suzuka, don’t go in at all unless the shit hits the fan, alright?”
Austin nodded, giving his own Pokegirls a look. The Ice Maiden took a small breath before settling into her aloof battle mask, the air surrounding her dropping a few degrees. Suzuka’s lips pursed into a line, but she also nodded, her wooden sword drawn in preparation.
With their strategy finalized, the hunter and her Pokegirl slipped into the brush, their forms laid low only the barest shaking of leaves giving any hint to their location. It instantly reminded Austin of Yuel’s seminars, detailing the best way to tackle a powerful enemy. Running headfirst, even with the element of surprise, often did little in a fight. Attacking from multiple sides and splitting their focus was advised instead. Giving Beryl a raised hand, they waited for their signal.
It came with a cry of “Razor Leaf!” and several of the appropriately named foliage sailing through the air and slicing deep into the feral’s arm, thin lines of red flowing freely. A roar of pain came from the Scorpiagirl as her tail lashed out where the leaves had come, taking out another tree as the stinger burrowed through the trunk effortlessly.
“Now!” Austin cried out, pointing Beryl forward. The ice type obeyed his command, focusing her power through her right arm and thrust it forward. A sharp white-blue beam ran through the air and slammed into the bug girl’s left hind leg, ice coating the limb in heavy chunks that quickly encased it. The Scorpiagirl didn’t even realize what had happened until she tried to move and found her leg weighing roughly five times what it used to.
More razor sharp leaves flew through the air, finding the tender flesh of the girls unarmored torso. A shriek escaped her lips, scorpion body rising up into the air as she reared up. All of her bulk came down onto the ground with an earth shuddering slam, her right most claws swiping blindly where her unseen assailant had been. Luck was with the feral as her blunt claw found Molly where the brush was thickest, the Ivywhore being lifted into the air by the strength of the swipe and coming to land with a crumpled thump.
“Austin, get ready to run!” Suzuka snarled out, not even waiting for a response before she ran forward, blade brandished high. Behind her, Beryl’s once again gathered her frozen power, letting it leap from her ice hand to slam into the Scorpiagirl. One massive claw met with both frost and wood, the ferals full attention on Austin’s pokegirls now that Molly was down. A simple flex of the appendage broke through the encasing ice as the bug swung her claw upward, unbalancing Suzuka. The cutting claw snuck in after that, catching the Ronin against her blade arm. She screamed out, her bokken falling to the ground, blood running down her limb.
A dark smile crossed over the Scorpiagirl’s lips at the sight, all four claws snapping in the air now. Suzuka tensed, eyes focused on the grasping pincers, ready to dodge when the attack came. It was the tail that struck instead, whipping through the air at the Ronin with the speed of a falling anvil. Austin felt his heart leap in his throat when the cruel tip of the tail froze in place before his Pokegirl’s chest, straining hard. It was only then that he noticed the vines wrapped around it, Molly pulling back with all of her strength. From the way she was clearly straining, it didn’t look like she was going to be able to do that for long.
With her foe’s attack bound, Suzuka leaped off to the side, grabbing her weapon and rolling out of the way. The Scorpiagirl continued to struggle, thrashing against the vines, the sheer strength nearly pulling Molly off her feet. She snarled out, taking another step back and straining her vines hard, her entire body shaking to keep up the effort.
It quickly became apparent to Austin that they weren’t going to win like this. Even if the girls were capable of taking hits like Molly had before, there was simply no way they were going to overpower the giant scorpion. She was just too sturdy, capable of brushing off entire hits like they were nothing and stay upright. If there was a way to trip her up…
Wait a minute, that’s it! “Beryl! Use your Ice Beam on the ground, cover the forest floor with ice if you can!” Austin shouted, hoping against hope this would work.
The Ice Maiden blinked, turning to her master in confusion for only a split second before nodding and focusing her frost once again. She aimed it down, at the Scorpiagirl’s feet, and fired. Ice coated the ground like someone had painted it there and the very temperature of the entire forest dropped. In a matter of moments, the forest clearing had been turned into an ice rink.
“Now, Molly! Pull!” Karrin shouted in the distance. Her Ivywhore obeyed, throwing her entire weight back as she tugged her vines. The result was nothing short of spectacular. With no sure ground to brace her six legs and one of them already coated in ice, the Scorpiagirl tumbled down hard, the frozen ice cracking underneath her weight.
In a blink of an eye, Suzuka leapt up on the downed feral, her blade in her uninjured hand and slashing wildly at the Scorpiagirl’s human half. She screamed in pain, legs scrambling uselessly on the ice, trying to throw off the enraged Ronin. More razor sharp leaves and another Ice beam slammed into her insect half, furthering the damage.
After one more strike from her Bokken, this one leaving a heavy line of red against her foes human back, Suzuka jumped off her foe. Karrin took that moment to burst out of her hiding space, throwing a Pokeball at the feral. The entire mass of the scorpion glowed as the Pokegirl was absorbed into the sphere. It dropped to the ground with a small clatter against the icy floor, shaking wildly. The ball kept it up for a half a minute before it became still and sounded off with a small chime.
Austin released the breath he had been holding and smiled. He hoped that he’d never have to fight anything like that again any time soon. “Is everyone alright?” he asked, looking over at his girls. Beryl gave him a small nod, though was shaking a little from the fight. Suzuka winced as she rejoined her harem sister and tamer, her right arm hanging uselessly to the side and her bokken clutched in her left.
“I could use about a weeks worth of sleep, but other than that,” Molly said with a small laugh, wincing almost immediately afterwards. She held her side and only now could he see the large discoloration darkening her green skin.
“You’ll get that and more, Molly. Here, rest in your ball, it’ll take away the pain until we get back to the center,” Karrin said, not even giving the grass girl a chance to respond before returning her. The hunter then turned to Austin before nodding to Suzuka. “Probably should do the same with her, kid.”
Giving a small look to Suzuka and getting a reluctant nod in return, Austin followed the order. Once she was safely away, he smiled. “Not bad for being completely outclassed by the thing, huh?”
Karrin gave another snort, though this time it was accompanied with a grin. “At least you’re smart enough to realize she was out of our league. That was some quick thinking with that ice there. I don’t think we would have been able to take her down otherwise.”
Austin smiled, nodding. “After being slipped up by Beryl’s ice when I caught her and what she’s done to some of the assholes back at the center, I figured it was worth a shot. Worse came to worse, it would have given us a chance to back off and escape.”
“Well it more than helped. But we should probably discuss this more back at the center,” Karrin pointed out. “We’ve only got one able Pokegirl between us and who knows what we’ll run into now the biggest predator around is gone.”
Not surprisingly Dalaa checked Austin over the moment he and Karrin returned to the Pokecenter, having only paused to send their Pokegirls through a healing cycle. Part of him wanted to roll his eyes at the close attention, but all it took was him recalling her past to make him stay still and take it. “Well, it looks like you finally were able to go outside without needing to be put into a hospital bed again,” She said, giving him a slight glare.
“If it wasn’t for him we would have ended up being a lot worse shape than we are now,” Karrin pointed out, arms crossed against her chest. “He’s a pretty quick thinker.”
Pursing her lips, Dalaa didn’t looked completely convinced but she nodded regardless. “Well, if he continues using that head of his instead of throwing himself in danger…”
Austin did roll his eyes at that one, grinning at her. “I’m only planning on having the one scar, Dalaa, Don’t worry.”
A small hum escaped the nurse before she dropped the subject, returning to her tasks. Austin could tell she was still tense about the entire thing with how stiffly she moved, but at least that was better than before.
“Don’t worry about her,” Karrin said softly. “She’ll get used to it. Might never stop worrying about you, but she’ll get used to it.”
He nodded. He only partially understood her pain. While he had lost his family in the transfer between his original world and this one, Austin knew his mom and everyone else was still alive. They were probably worried about him, now that he thought about it, but there was nothing he could do. It was simply better to push those thoughts away and prevent them from becoming an unbearable mass on his shoulders.
Karrin hooked Molly’s pokeball back to her belt before turning to Austin, giving him a look in the eyes. “You’re a good kid, Austin. You’ve got your head on straight and you’re a half decent sort. I noticed how Beryl’s right hand is made out of ice. Not many folks would take in a disabled Pokegirl.”
“I was told that she wasn’t going to be wanted if I sold her, and what they do with unwanted ferals,” He responded with a wrinkle of his nose. “Considering it’s because of our battle with her that caused her to lose her hand in the first place, I’d rather her live, thanks.”
“Still more than a lot of others, kid. That’s why I’m going a little above with your payment,” She said, flipping open her pokedex and hitting a few buttons on it.
Austin’s own beeped off, signaling the money transfer to his account. He frowned when he noticed it was the same amount that was originally labeled on the quest. He looked over to Karrin in confusion and noticed she now held another Pokeball. She opened it and in the customary flash of white light, a new girl he didn’t recognize formed before them.
She was a short Pokegirl, even more so that Karrin herself, and had large innocent green eyes that blinked in the centers light. Her skin had a synthetic appearance, something that made her look more like one of those life like dolls he had seen in videos about Japan, its color the gray of a cloudy sky. Instead of natural hair, what looked like wires sprouted in it’s place, red and blue strands flowing down her back and warped up in a pigtail that went down to the base of her spine. The Pokegirls arms instantly went around her body, covering her smallish breasts even though she wore a simple t-shirt and shorts. A group of small looking satellites floated about her form, hovering close by her shoulders. “Miss Karrin, you have need of me?” She asked, her tone polite and small.
“Lehn? I’d like you to meet Austin. Austin, this is Lehn. She’s a breed known as a Maggiemite,” Karrin said with a smile, pushing forward the smaller girl.
Stumbling lightly at first, Lehn bowed deeply, her little satellites mimicking the motion. “Um, hello, sir. It’s good to meet you.”
“Hey,” Austin greeted in reply, wondering why Karrin pulled out this girl.
His answer came soon enough from the hunter, a smirk crossing her face. “I’d like you to take Lehn in as your Pokegirl.”
“What? Miss Karrin no!” Lehn said, instantly clinging to the woman. “I don’t want to leave you. I don’t even know this guy!”
“Yeah… I mean, I get that folks in this world sometimes barter and trade Pokegirls like goods, but isn’t it a little weird for you to be giving me one for a quest?” Austin pointed out. Even with that being said, the idea of just having the short Maggiemite just tossed to him didn’t feel good, especially with how she was acting for the idea.
Karrin shook her head, looking down at Lehn and brushing a stray strand of wire-hair out of her face. “Lehn, listen to you me… you know why I can’t keep you, right?”
The Pokegirl winced, but nodded, even as her fingers curled tighter into the woman’s shirt as her satellites drooped down, hanging about her hips. Austin tilted his head in confusion. “Why can’t you keep her?”
“It’s because of my Blood Curse,” The hunter responded. She rose an eyebrow when the answer got a blank look on his face. “I take it that they didn’t give you a rundown of those yet?”
Getting a shake of his head, Karrin sighed softly before explaining. “So, you know how I told you about how Pokegirls can breed with humans, right? Well, one of the things that results from that breeding is that some humans are born with a lot of the same aspects as their mothers. So a guy being born from a fire type might have some fire abilities and weaknesses. We call any beneficial traits Blood Gifts and any negative ones Blood Curses.”
“Hell’s Bells, it feels like every time I’m making progress in learning about this place, something else decides to jump up and yell ‘Surprise, you know nothing!’” Austin grumbled, brushing his hair back.
“Life’s like that, get used to it,” Karrin deadpanned with a smile. “Regardless of that, I’ve got a Blood Curse called Mentally Isolated. Because of it, I can’t form Delta-Bonds with any Pokegirls no matter how much I want to. And Lehn’s breed is a kind that requires that to reach her full potential. I don’t want to be the reason she can’t ever get to that point.”
Austin frowned, even as he nodded to the hunter’s explanation. Being forever limited just because you couldn’t bond with someone? He could understand why she wouldn’t want to keep Lehn. “But if she doesn’t want to leave…”
“I don’t…” Lehn spoke up, shaking her head enough to make her pigtail bounce about. “I’d rather stay with you, Miss Karrin!”
“Lehn,” Karrin said softly, taking the Pokegirl by the shoulders and looking her into the eyes. “You know what will happen if you stick with me, right? I can’t bond with you, not for what you need. I don’t think I could bear it if you were unable to grow.”
“B-but…” Lehn whispered, tears forming at her eyes
The hunter brought the small girl into a hug, squeezing tightly. “I know it’s scary, and I know you’d rather be with me. But Austin here is a good tamer and will take good care of you. You know I wouldn’t just give you away to someone I didn’t think would treat you right, yeah?”
The Maggiemite bit her lip, but nodded. She brought her hand up to her eyes and scrubbed away the tears that had trailed down her cheeks.
Austin himself bent down a bit, putting his eyes level with the tiny girl. He smiled as warmly as possible to her. “Lehn, I’m not going to force you to leave Karrin if you don’t want to. I know she’s got your future in mind, but in the end, this is up to you, alright?”
Lehn turned to him in shock, eyes wide. It was yet another reminder how to the Jumper just how some Pokegirls were treated in his world if she was that surprised about him giving her a choice. The Maggiemite took a shuddering breath before looking up at Karrin again. “Would I still be able to see you again?” She asked.
Karrin chuckled, ruffling the smaller girl’s hair wire-hair. “Of course you would. Just because I’m giving you to a trainer doesn’t mean I’m not going to try and visit from time to time.”
“Agreed. I’m not going to be leaving this city anytime soon, so she’ll know where to find me too,” Austin said with a grin, nodding to the hunter.
“If that’s the case…” Lehn said, finally releasing Karrin’s shirt. She stepped away from the woman and moved to her new trainers side, looking up at him and bowing again. “I’ll do my best to be a capable Pokegirl for you, Mister Austin.”
A small chuckle escaped his lips as he winked down at the Maggiemite. “Please, just call me Austin.”
She nodded, though she didn’t say anymore, her cheeks turning a charcoal gray. He smiled softly as he pulled the two Pokeballs from his own belt and let the other girls free. Beryl and Suzuka blinked in their freedom, looking up at their trainer. “Girls, meet Lehn, the newest member of our team.”
Lehn let out the smallest of eeps as Beryl suddenly brought her into a big hug, the taller ice type’s bare bosom pressing against her face. “Sister!” She called out, smiling wide.
Suzuka gave her a long look, eyeing her up and down before nodding to her tamer. “She appears to be quite strong, Austin. I think she’ll work well with us.”
Austin smiled, nodding in return. He then laughed as he noticed Beryl moving behind his newest girl to play with her wire-hair. After all that he and the others had been through today, it was good to see everyone happy, healthy, and good spirits.