The reaction to Austin walking towards the Second Chance was somewhat a disturbing one. While he was more than used to a couple of stares at this point or whispered comments thanks to both his status as a Jumper and the fact that Suzuka had become his first Pokegirl, he now had to deal with the sudden wide distance that a number of folks were giving him. Or, in actuality, Pira. While even he had to admit that her face could be a little frightening and off putting when she gave you a wide grin, the tamer didn't approve of the way some people were running away and, in one case, screaming.
Thankfully, the plant Pokegirl took it in stride. She didn't seem to mind having most of the sidewalk to herself, using the fact that she didn't have to move for anyone else as an excuse to stay latched to Austin's side. Four of her six eyes were extended skyward as they walked, looking this way and that, while her remaining two stayed firmly in her skull. If the tamer had to guess, those were her main eyes, the closest thing the girl had to being human. Just what would it be like to be her for a moment, capable of looking at all directions at once?
Making quick time to the store now that he knew the way, Austin was a little surprised just how much damage had been done to the front of the store. At least one whole section of it had been melted away, the gooey remains of what used to be stone and brick spilled out onto the sidewalk beside it. Half of the windows in the front were smashed with their glass littering the ground before them, and the doors were blasted smooth of their hinges.
"Hell's Bells. The feral couldn't have done this." He said, shaking his head. He had been almost certain that the Grizzlar had been near the back of the store the entire time, especially after he drew her attention away.
"It's what you call mob panic." A male voice pointed out, its owner being a slouching lanky young man that was resting his back against the wall of the store. Running his hand through his slicked up hair that was a rather unflattering shade of green, he approached the pair, allowing them to get a better look at him. A set of three piercings ran along side his left eyebrow while two more featured on his nose, giving him a rough punk like appearance. It was all capped off with a long tattoo in the form of what appeared to be a mermaid that ran from the corner of his right eye down past his neck before disappearing beneath his leather jacket, a frayed T-shirt and jeans finishing the look. Austin couldn't help but note the fact that he didn't even spare a second glance to Pira.
It was the tattoo in particular that sparked Austin's memory, it's unique shape and placement standing out against the few others he had seen. "Wait… Don't I know you?"
Quirking his pierced brow for a moment, the punks dark blue eyes lit up in recognition, bringing up his fingers in a snap. "Oh hey! You're that Jumper guy that swiped Suzuka out from under Wendell's nose! Yeah, I'm Jaden, from the old Battleaxe's training seminars."
Austin nodded, recalling when Jaden had been put on the spotlight by Yuel, his own Pokegirl losing a fight despite the type advantage. "Yeah, though I still don't get why you say 'swiped' from that ass. Suzuka made her own choice to come with me and I never forced her to stay."
Jaden laughed, waving his hands before him defensively. "I getcha man, it's more of a running joke around these parts. Wendell's one of those stuffy upper-crusts. You know, the kind who got everything handed to him on a silver spoon by a naked Neo-Iczel? Spent the last year and a half or so trying to get Suzuka as one of his harem, all while throwing credits around to show off how important he was. His parents got fed up with him and stripped him down to a single Pokegirl."
Couldn't happen to a nicer asshole, Austin thought to himself while also making a mental note to look up just what in the heck a 'Neo-Iczel' was if it was been added to that old turn of phrase. "Which is why he's had it out for me since then, right? Forgetting about rich pigs and losing their blankets, what was that earlier mob panic?"
"It is what I said. Heat of the moment kind of deal, ya know? When you get a lot of folks panicking at once, it tends to spread and everyone goes nuts to get as far as they can from the danger as quickly as they can. That," he paused, pointing to the melted hole the Jumper had noticed. "Was from a fire type girl who freaked out and wanted the quickest way out. The windows? Someone's Geogal deciding they didn't want to wait to get through the front door. And I don't want to guess what knocked those doors off their hinges."
"Agent K was right. A person is smart, but people are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals." Austin said with a small laugh before shaking his head. "I take it you're here for the All Call as well?"
"Yeah, the pay is good enough and it's better than the higher level All Calls for one of those stupid strong girls." Jaden confirmed with a wince. "Last time I saw one of those, we lost about a fourth of the entire damn town before the girl was taken down."
Austin let out a low whistle. "Was the girl really that strong? I knew some Pokegirls can be pretty tough, but to wipe out that much of a town…"
The tattooed teen gave a small shake of his head, scratching at his nose and making one of the rings embedded in it shake. "Some girls can outdo even that one in damage, but that's not the reason we lost so many folks. Before that happened, the amount of tamers who had Pokegirls worth a fight barely amounted to a single full harem. It's one of the major reasons why the old Battleaxe is always around these days teaching us newbies what to do, just in case we get another terror like that one."
"Didn't think tamers and battle ready Pokegirls were that badly needed…" Austin said softly, the thought of a single creature of any kind being able to level that amount of death and destruction sending a small shiver down his spine.
"Depends on the area, really. Rivers Pass isn't exactly swarming with ferals that could destroy the town with a shake of her ass, but after that experience? Not many folks are willing to take the chance anymore." Jaden responded with shrug before rolling his neck and jerking his thumb to the store. "We should probably get on helping them out in there, lest we wanna miss out on the possible pay."
It was with that the pair of tamers moved to enter the Second Chance store, though as they did, Austin couldn't help but bring up one more question to Jaden as he thought of it. "Say, if you don't mind me asking, why haven't you really been bothered by Pira at all? Not that I mind, but after most of the folks I've seen avoiding her like the plague, I'm a little curious why you don't seem to care."
Jaden gave a small smirk as he pushed open the door that lead into the store proper, waving his hand in a gentlemanly way towards Pira. "Because, unlike most folks around these parts, I don't give a flying Girlrilla about appearances."
The plant Pokegirl gave Jaden a small smile for that before sauntering through the door, a motion that caught both men's eyes before they followed her.
The inside of the store itself was just as bad as it's outside, with merchandise of all kinds scattered across the floor, shelving units in similar states of disarray and destruction, and a number of human and Pokegirls both picking up and fixing the entire mess. A few of them gave way to Pira and looked at her warily, which made Austin frown just a bit.
It took a few minutes, considering the amount of people who had offered to help, but eventually the trio were able to find Cole directing a large, dark skinned pokegirl with one of the holes in the wall. She gave a small nod before her hand shifted into what Austin could only guess was mud before slathering it against the wall, using some of the substance to start rebuilding the wall, replacing the bricks.
"I don't think I'll ever get used to just all the shit that Pokegirls can do…" Austin said softly, shaking his head before waving over at the man that had helped him so much since coming to this world. "Oy, Cole. How's the cleaning going?"
The dark haired man turned and grinned once he caught sight of the group which turned into a laugh once his eyes fell onto Pira. "I called it." he said before clearing his throat at Austin's raised eyebrow and giving a small shrug. "It's going alright. Mostly got a lot of my regulars coming in. Here to help out as well?"
"Yeah, where ever you want us, man." Jaden said with a small grin, brushing some of his hair back once more with one hand.
Cole nodded with another grin before looking around. "We've got most of the rebuilding here and in the front of the store taken care of, so right now we'd really just need clean up of the merchandise. You all can hit the Pokegirl items by the back since I don't think any of your girls are the kind that could help with the repairs. Sounds good?"
"I'm good with that. It'll be a good time for the girls to meet Pira here as well." Austin said, nodding over to the Mille with a small smile. She had been mostly quiet this entire time, her stalk eyes pushed up and outwards, twitching and shifting around every few seconds to take everything in. It made Austin wonder if she was alright with the sheer amount of people around her, considering the territorial nature that left the breed alone.
"Really, man? I'm a little surprised. From what I've seen of ya, I thought you'd get all your girls to hang out already," Jaden quipped, raising a small eyebrow. "Usually don't seem to ever have them in their Pokeballs during the seminars."
"It's a time thing," Austin explained with a small shrug. "Just kinda something I did with Beryl first since I was laid up in the Center for my injuries, but I try my best to make sure that for that first day or so I spend it with my new Pokegirl. Give her some personal attention, you know?"
Jaden gave a small grunt in understanding before returning his focus over to Cole, giving the man a small bow of his head. "We'll take care of things in the back. Give us a shout if there's anything else you need us for, alright?"
Cole gave them a simple nod before leaving them be, walking off to help another group of folks that had come in through the front of the store.
It took the group a little while longer after that, partly in thanks to the throng of both shoppers and cleaners that clogged up some of the aisles, but soon the trio found themselves where a lot of the lions share of the merchandise for the store had been held before the attack. Everything from Pokeballs to sex toys and more had been near scattered across the three aisles with one of the big rows of shelves having been completely crumpled.
"Jusnekyo's Curse…" Jaden uttered as he looked over the damage, prodding the nearest bent bit of metal with a finger. "These things were made to handle a freaking Snorlass sitting on them. Whatever the hell that feral was, she was packing some power."
"Yeah…" Austin said softly, giving a sidelong glance over to Pira and reaching out to grab the grass girls hand. She gave him that smile that showed off all of her razor sharp teeth while she squeezed his hand in return. It made the Jumper feel a little better about it all. Even if he had gone and 'repaid' her by taming the Mileeboro, it still didn't change that he had gotten her involved where she otherwise wouldn't. The fact that she held no ill will made him feel a little better.
Feeling that there was no better time than the present to get things over with, Austin pulled out the Pokeballs for the rest of his harem, opening them up and letting the girls free. Wondering for a moment if he should be concerned how used to the concept he was of the girls being able to be contained in the tiny spheres, he smiled once they formed out of that customary flash of light. "Sorry for keeping you girls in those things for so long."
"It's alright, Austin. Sometimes it's required." Lehn said, perhaps the most used to a Pokeball out of the harem. She frowned lightly as she noticed the area around them, shaking her head. "Kinda wish I had been better about protecting this place…"
"There wasn't much we could have done, but that's also why we're here now, to help clean up." Austin pointed out before stepping aside and waving his hand to the Milee. "Anyway, I'm wanting to properly introduce you all to Pira, the newest member of our group."
Of all the things he had expected out of the meeting of his Pokegirls, hostility wasn't one of them. No sooner than Pira had seen Suzuka did her entire demeanor change. Gone was the playful grass pokegirl that had wanted another taming session that morning and in her place was the same teeth baring, eye stalk protruding monster that had taken down the mutant Grizzlar. A small hiss of warning escaped her, all six of her eyes focused on the Ronin.
The reaction from the rest of his harem wasn't anywhere near as aggressive as Pira's, but it was something that the Jumper had noticed regardless. Suzuka narrowed her eyes, her lips pursing, while one hand slid down to the hilt of her bokken. She didn't grip it like she had before when she knew had to fight, simply keeping her hand on it in preparation. Beryl and Lehn followed their harem sister, the temperature dropping a few degrees and satellites moving into an offensive position, both ready to strike should a fight truly break out.
Austin wasn't going to have any of it. "Mind telling me why you all look like you're reenacting a high noon scene from an old western?" He asked, his tone dripping with both annoyance and disappointment. Even in the little time he had been in this world, he had heard enough stories about infighting between harem members that he was wanting to put a stop to it now.
Pira flinched, two of her stalk eyes shifting over to look at him, but her posture didn't change. She remained tense with the rest of her eyes all focused on Suzuka. The Ronin gave a small nod before raising her hand to the other girls, slipping her hand off the weapon, though it never strayed far from the hilt. "She remembers me, Austin."
She nodded, looking at Pira directly. "We were both living in the forest and our paths crossed, from time to time. At least once we ended up fighting each other as I escorted a lost human like I had done for you. There was no clear winner at the time."
Raising an eyebrow at that, Austin looked back and forth between the two Pokegirls. Perhaps Suzuka was a bit stronger than he had been giving her credit for if she was able to fight Pira on an even level. Or at the very least skilled enough to avoid the Bad Breath attack. He opened his mouth to say something more about the situation when Suzuka took a small step forward and bowed her head low to the Mileeboro.
"Pira, was it? I know that there was blood shed between us, but I do hope that we can both put that behind us, if only for Austin and to keep the harem intact." She said, keeping her head down low.
Her body relaxing, Pira looked a little confused at first. Having been feral the night before, the Jumper guessed that she wasn't sure to handle the situation. After about half a minute longer, Pira mimicked the Ronin and bowed before her. Once the two of them rose, she focused all of her eyes on Suzuka. "Friend?" She asked, the word still unsure on her lips.
The Ronin nodded lightly, her face a cool mask as she gazed back to Pira. "I think we could be."
"And now that all that's out of the way… how about we actually do what we came here for instead of having another potential stand off?" Jaden said, the man giving the girls a smug little grin. He had let his own Pokegirl out during the discussion between the others. Zyra herself looked more than a little bored, tapping one long finger against her pale green legs, trailing it across the leaves that barely covered her figure.
Austin gave the smallest of embarrassed grins, shrugging a shoulder softly. "Sorry, I didn't think there would have been any problem in the girls meeting," He said before giving his harem a small nod, smiling to each one of them in turn. "Alright girls, so we're here to help clean up the store a bit. Pick up what you can, condense them, and we'll see if we can't re-shelve them once we've got everything sorted out."
Getting nods from the group, Austin lead the charge in the cleaning, moving to where the biggest pile of mismatched merchandise had been cluttered, either by the panicked shoppers having dropped or pushed them aside in their panic to escape. He guess some of the folks cleaning things up might have also just shoved them over into the corner to get repairs done. Either way, it had ended up becoming a mountain half as tall as the Jumper himself.
The assortment of items that had been thrown in the pile was haphazard to say the very least. Everything from Pokeballs to potions to sexual items that Austin didn't even want to think about had been all piled together. With the others by his side, he slowly started sorting them through, separating them as best as he could and asking Jaden about what items would go where when he got to the ones that he didn't recognize.
"Gotta say, for a Jumper, you've adapted pretty well to our world," The man said as he went through his own pile, picking up what could only be described as chain mail armor, folding up the arms before setting it nice and neat on the ground beside him. "I don't think I would have handled it all that well myself."
"It hits me sometimes… usually at night," Austin admitted, keeping his voice low enough to prevent his girls from hearing him. He didn't want any of them to know his thoughts on this particular matter. "The fact that I'm not going to be going back to Chicago… that I'm never going to see my family or friends again… I can only wonder just how much my mother is freaking out."
Jaden gave a small frown, running a hand through his green hair and slicking it a little further back. "Didn't mean to make you feel bad about it, man. More meant it as a compliment. The last guy that I knew who was a Jumper didn't last that long around here. Went out with his first Pokegirl and she came back about a week or two later without him in another dudes harem."
"I getcha. I think I've been adapting to stuff well enough. Been wanting to learn as much as I can, but sometimes I feels like the world is holding out on me until it wants to throw an extra kink that I'll have to deal with."
A laugh escaped Jaden, the man nodding ever so slightly. "Yeah, the world can be right messy at times. Better to just to learn how to roll with the punches then ending up on your ass."
Snorting softly, Austin just shook his head and tried his best to hide the grin crossing his face. "Sometimes, I feel like ending up on my ass is the only way I'm ever going to end up figuring things out. What about you? You seem to know about me, mind sharing a bit of your own story?"
A small, almost invisible wince crossed Jaden's face, one that Austin barely caught, and he turned his gaze down to the pile he was working on. "Not really that important, honestly. Just a guy living out here with his Pokegirl and trying to be halfway decent as a trainer."
Austin nodded, though he hid a small frown. He could only guess that the wince was telling more than Jaden was really letting on, but the two of them were at best acquaintances. The Jumper figured that it would be better to just leave him if be if he didn't wish to share. With a small hum, he decided to switch subjects to something that had been confusing him for a while. "Hey, curious… Why is it that a lot of the other tamers around here don't have many Pokegirls? I've only been around for a few months and I'm already at a team of four, and yet almost everyone else seems to only have one or two."
"Eh, it's mostly personal preference and what most of the folks around here are capable of handling." The other tamer said with a small shrug of his shoulders, placing a short, flat collection of disks off to the side along side the chain mail and the few bottles Austin recognized as potions. "For some, they're just not wanting to handle the conflicting personalities or instincts of Pokegirls. Putting a predatory girl alongside what she would see as prey, for example, is usually a recipe for disaster."
"That makes sense. And with the powers they've got here, I bet it gets a lot more destructive than some of those old Tom and Jerry cartoons." Austin said with a small grin.
Confusion flickered over Jaden's face for a moment before he shrugged it off. "I guess. Anyway, that's not the only reason, though. There's money, skill level, the available Pokegirls in the area, hell, the libidos of the girls as well. Not everyone is able to get it up enough to be able to tame a full harem of six Pokegirls, especially if they're the kind to want it every night."
Heat flushed up into Austin's cheeks at that particular thought. His own girls so far hadn't been that demanding, but being faced with the idea of having to satisfy his harem of four girls now, one after the other, seemed like a much more daunting task than he first realized. "Didn't exactly think about that part."
Jaden let out a small laugh, shaking his head. "Not a lot of people do, really. Some newbies get as many 'girls as they can when they first start out and then have to start selling them off or something like that to just be able to survive being drained or from going broke. Full teams like that are usually something you'd see from someone who makes being a Tamer their full time job."
At that, the Jumper nodded. It made some kind of sense for that to be the case, though he had never really thought about it. With both his stipend and Dalaa's nature, there was no chance he and his girls would go hungry, but even that wasn't something that would hold out forever. Eventually, he would have to do something more than just sit around at the center while doing the occasional quest.
The pair had been about halfway through their sorting when it happened, the sound of screaming that was followed by a flash of light that blinded Austin. By the sound of the yelp beside him, Jaden had also suffered similarly. The screaming continued the entire time the two tamers tried to get their vision back and when Austin's eyes finally cleared, what he saw surprised him.
Standing not ten feet away from him was Lehn, the poor girl still screaming at the top of her lungs, her hands clawing at her head. Her satellites, which normally rotated or circled around her in a graceful orbit, were jerking around crazily like drunken helicopters. Electricity crackled around her, stray bolts occasionally lashing out and striking against the linoleum floor. A near shriek of "GET OUT OF MY HEAD!" burst from her lips, Lehn throwing her head back, more power bursting from her form. The rest of the girls were staring at her with wide eyes, though Pira looked ready to fight again, all of her stalk eyes looking around for a possible threat.
"Return her!" Jaden shouted, breaking through Austin's stupor. Jumping at the yelp, he nodded before fumbling with the Pokeball, recalling her in a beam of red light, Lehn's screams cutting off completely.
He trembled lightly, staring down at the ball that now contained the Maggiemite. "Jaden, what the fuck just happened?"
Jaden didn't answer, walking over to where the poor Pokegirl had been, glancing over the floor. He knelt down after a moment and grabbed at something. It turned out to be a simple, dull rock that was jagged at the ends. Yellow in color, it was also marked with a single small rune on the top of it, that in the shape of a thunder bolt. "Shit…" Jaden snarled lightly, gripping the stone in his hand. "I didn't think they'd have evolution stones sold here."
"Evolution stones? Jaden, what's going on?" Austin demanded, his voice rising.
"Guys, we head screaming. What happened?" Cole shouted, denying the Jumper his answer. He stopped before the group, panting a little, looking around. By his side was a woman in, perhaps, the most form fitting police uniform that Austin had ever seen. Considering the size of her eyes, the green stock of hair, and wide enough hips that begged the question of how she didn't walk with a permanent sway, The Jumper could only guess that she was a Pokegirl. "Is it another feral attack?"
"No, Cole. We were cleaning up over here and Lehn ended up finding a Thunderstone." Jaden answered.
He blinked for a moment before a wince crossed his face, Cole shaking his head before turning to face Austin. "Damn it, I completely forgot we just got a batch of stones. We rarely get girls in these parts that evolve with them, so I didn't think I'd have much to worry about…"
"Can someone just tell me what the fuck happened to Lehn?!" Austin roared out now, finally losing his temper. As if responding to his rage, Pira let out a hiss of her own anger, all stalk eyes now glaring at the ones responsible for her tamer's anger.
The officer took notice of the Mileeboro's stance and shifted her own, planting both feet shoulder's length apart. Her hand raised up, a small revolver appearing in it, the muzzle pointing right at Pira's head. That got not only another reaction from Pira, who let out another hiss as all of her eyes focused on the smaller woman, but out of the rest of Austin's harem. The temperature around them dropped as Beryl called upon her ice, the slight sound of grinding coming from her frozen hand shifting into the shape of a fist. Suzuka's hand moved down, her hand gripping around the hilt of her weapon, eyes narrowing.
"That's enough!" Cole snapped, his voice hard and commanding. Everyone stopped at that, human and Pokegirl alike, and looked over at the dark-haired man. He turned his eyes over to the police woman, his gaze showing the first real anger that Austin had seen since arriving in this world. "Miranda, stand down. You know for a fact that he's the Jumper, it's perfectly reasonable for him to be freaking out when he doesn't know something."
"He shoud'a known by this point," Miranda growled back, a slight accent coloring her speech. She did lower her weapon, pointing the threatening end of the firearm to the ground. Her stance remained, however. It was a clear that she would take the shot if she felt like she needed to. "Evolution is one of the most basic thangs for Pokegirls. On'y an idiot would still be ignorant of that after a few months."
"Fine, I'm a goddamned idiot then!" Austin said. He had just about enough of all this and he wanted an answer now. "Just tell me what happened to Lehn."
Cole let out a small, tired sigh. He rubbed at his temples, trying to get his face under control before looking up at the Jumper. "As Miranda said, it's one of the more basic aspects of Pokegirls. In essence? When certain conditions are met, be it experience in battle, taming in bed, the time of day or special items like that stone, Pokegirls go through evolution, changing into a completely different breed of Pokegirl, in which they usually grow stronger, bigger, and more capable than they were before."
"But it ain't always good…" Jaden added in. "While every Pokegirl's got their own Personalities, the instincts or nature of their breeds can still be hell mary to deal with. Maggiemites are like that, where their evolved form can be… problematic…"
"Problematic how?" Austin asked, a sick filling washed over him. He knew how scared Lehn had been, the creeping dread of the possibility that she might be gotten rid of because of her emotions flipping as they did. If things got worse with that, it could further explain her fears and why Karrin had given the girl to him, knowing that his own nature wouldn't get rid of her even with the evolution. Hell, thinking about it now, the whole 'full potential' bit that required Lehn to have a Delta-Bond now made sense too, if that was also an evolution requirement.
"Fucking hell, bastard don't even know about Maggietons." Miranda spat. That earned her a hard glare from Cole, which the police woman only scoffed at.
"I think it might be best for you to just talk to her and find out, Austin… Lehn might really need the comfort now that the shock of her evolution is done with." Cole growled, giving yet another harsh side eye to the police woman beside him. "Trust me when I say that it'd be better done sooner than later."
Frustration ran through the Jumper, part of him just wanting to flat out just drop everything around him and walk right out the door. Why, after all this time of being in this world, couldn't they just give him a straight answer about this? He looked over at his harem for answers, but he found it unlikely that either Pira or Beryl would be able to tell him much being feral as they had been. And Suzuka hadn't let her focus fall from Miranada either, the Ronin still gripping onto the hilt of her weapon. With no other answers coming, Austin opened up Lehn's ball, praying that the poor girl was alright.
What emerged surprised him.
Before whatever the process of evolution had been, Lehn was a short, small little thing that had barely come up to his chin. Between that and her gentle features, she had reminded Austin at times as someone's kid sister instead of the woman she was. That was all gone now. Before him, the newly minted Maggieton was now a hair taller than himself, resulting in Austin looking right at her chest instead of her eyes like he had intended. And what a chest it had developed into, heaving with a weight and size that was only outdone in his harem by Pira. The rest of her figure followed suit, with wider hips, thicker legs, and an overall more mature body. Perhaps the last thing he noticed was her satellites rotating around her had also grown in size, going from small golfballs to the size of his fists.
It took Austin more than a moment to wrench his eyes upward. Lewdness could happen later. "Lehn?" He said softly, reaching out. "Are you ok?"
For a heartbeat, his Pokegirl looked heartbroken. Tears had welled up in her eyes, and her lip trembled. It reminded him of the last time he had experienced her downward mood swing. Then there was a change. Lehn's eyes suddenly went hard, her back straightened, and the undertones of a snarl escaped her. She took a stomping step forward, her entire body tensing with violent aggression. "Of course she isn't ok!" The girl snapped. "No one would be okay after this!"
Austin took a step back, eyes widening. Never had he seen the Maggiemite act like this, even when her moods were at her worst. She tended to go between the highs of happiness and the lows of depression, but anger had rarely been a part of it without reason. Now she looked like she wanted to take his head off with her bare fists.
There was small shudder of Lehn's body before anything more could be done, and then there was another change. The heat and fury that the electric type had been displaying just seconds before vanished into nothingness. In it's place came instead a steady, controlled air. Her lips thinned into a line while a small sigh of annoyance escaped her mouth. Lehn's eyes rolled and she looked off to the side, glaring at nothing. "And you really think he'd know about this? We never told him and neither did Karrin. We should have been up front with him at the start."
"Doesn't mean it still isn't a dumbass question to ask!" Lehn's aggressive voice said again, her posture changing with the flip of a switch. "And even if it's all from her, we all feel that stupid pain!"
"Yes, but our Master isn't the one whose at fault here." The annoyed voice pointed out, another sigh escaping her lips.
A cold, sweeping realization hit Austin as he saw all this before him. All the little things about his Pokegirls breed and aspects fell in place, along with the reason for why so many didn't wish to take in her kind. He licked his lips, trying to keep his worry for his Pokegirl down before he spoke. "Girls… if you don't mind… is Lehn still in there?" he asked.
That got a surprised look out of the Maggieton before the gentle mannerisms of Lehn came through, the tears starting anew as the Pokegirl huddled in on herself. "I… I'm sorry…" She whispered, her voice just barely audible.
Austin brought the crying Pokegirl into his arms, one hand wrapping about her body while the other brushed at her hair and noting idly that it had grown longer with her evolution as well. It reminded him of that first time he had comforted her not all too long ago. "It's alright, Lehn…" he whispered, brushing his lips against her neck, hoping that it would calm her down.
Lehn let out another trembling shudder, a small whine escaping her. There was another shift, one that Austin could feel just by the tensing of her muscles against his. Her hands pushed him back, her face twisted in distrust as she glared up into his eyes. "What the hell are you up to? There's no way anyone would accept this so easily."
Her lips thinned and her breath steadied, her body relaxing entirely. The Maggieton's eyes narrowed ever so slightly, looking at him, calculating. "I must agree… you're taking this in remarkable stride."
There was a small surge of anger that flashed through Austin at the others remarks. It took him a fair amount of control and restraint to keep it from showing on his face, particularly how strung along he felt from the others just not telling him about this before. "Trust me, I'm way past freaking out. But I can deal as long as Lehn's ok. That's more important to me than anything else."
Another shocked, almost distrusting look crossed the Maggieton's face at his response. But another shift later and Lehn was once again looking at him with wide, happy eyes. She let out a small sound as her arms wrapped about his body and squeezed, blasting the air out of him.
"Well… gotta say, I wasn't expecting that to go so well…" Jaden commented, a small grin on his face. Zyra beside him gave a silent nod, her eyes giving Austin a hard look.
"Not surprised," Cole said. The man crossed his arms, a wide smile plastered on his face. "Austin here has an honor streak a mile long. If he takes a job or a task onto his shoulders, he'll do it or die trying."
The Jumper flushed a little at that comment. It wasn't like he did those things on purpose. There were just things that he had always believed to be right and wrong within the world. Leaving someone to suffer needlessly always fell into the 'wrong' category, no matter what. The fact that Suzuka, Beryl, and even Pira were all nodding in agreement with Cole made a low sigh escape him. Ignoring the side commentary for now, he focused on his Pokegirl once more. "Lehn… how are we wanting to handle this?"
Pulling away from her tamer, Lehn looked up at him for a moment. Then her eyes went unfocused, her shoulders slack. The Maggieton stayed that way for about half a minute before she moved again, eyes narrowing ever so slightly as she bowed her head. "Apologies for the time, Master, but we needed to discuss this among ourselves. Evolution through Thunder stone caused a bit more trouble than had we evolved through the other method."
"Right…" Austin said slowly. Seeing that constant switch within his girls own mind was going to take a great deal of getting used to. "And what have you decided?"
"If you are fine with it, we simply request that you treat us all as individuals. We will try to keep infighting to a minimum so as to not cause unnecessary issues, but it would be remiss to not inform you that you might not always have Lehn in control at all times." She said, clearly choosing her words carefully. Then her stance changed, her jaw thrust out, and her eyes grew aggressive once more. "You got a problem with that?"
He shook his head. "I don't. But if that's how it's going to be, I'm not going to be calling you all Lehn. That's her name."
"Yeah, I'm good with that." The aggressive Pokegirl said. She thought for a moment, tapping her finger against her lips before nodding. "I'll be Aella then."
"Aella." Austin repeated, trying to ensure he remember it. "And the other?"
"I had not thought that far ahead…" The controlled voice said. A frown had crossed her face this time, the Maggieton pacing back and forth for roughly a minute before she stopped, turning to look at Austin. "Would Emma be acceptable, Master?"
"It's a good name, Emma. You're fine." He responded, a small smile crossing his face. "Is there anyone else in there besides you two and Lehn?"
"There is not, Master." Emma said. "Maggietons by their natures only have three personalities, though like Lehn we might also slip into bouts of euphoria and depression from time to time."
Austin gave a nod. He then placed a single hand on his Pokegirls shoulder, mildly noting just how much of a size difference there had been with her evolution. "Well, if you don't mind me asking… Emma? Aella? I know this is all new for you three, but until we can sort things out a bit more later, would you mind if Lehn stay in control for the time being? The two of you have kinda been running over her since your evolution."
The Maggieton's eyes went unfocused for another pregnant moment before the answers came. "That is acceptable, Master. Fine… Fine… But I'm wanting some time out too!"
There was another shudder from Lehn as her control was reinstated. She looked down at her hands, grasping them softly before giving a small sniff, wiping at her eyes. "I… Thank you, Austin."
"Anytime, Lehn. I'm not going to just leave you alone. We'll make things work out with Aella and Emma, alright?" He said, brushing one hand against her face.
She nodded, nuzzling into his palm ever so slightly.
"Well, I think that takes care of just about everything… don't you, Miranda?" Cole said. His eyes were narrowed ever so slightly as he looked over to the police woman.
Miranda herself let out a snort of contempt before she lowered her hands completely to her side, her firearm vanishing as easily as she had called it. "Yeah, fine, the right bastard takes care of 'is girls. What does he want, a medal?" After that, she simply shrugged, spun on her heel, and took off. Austin watched her go, and not at all because she had a large enough rump that it was hard to look anywhere else.
"Cheerful Jenny, that one." Jaden commented.
"She's stressed." Cole replied, shaking his head. "She and the rest of the RPD have been dealing with a group of upstarts, Wendell among them. Considering how quiet it is around here normally, it's been putting pressure on them."
"What's he doing?" Austin asked. He wrapped his arm around Lehn's waist, to make sure she knew that he was still there for her. She responded by squeezing against him tightly, once again threatening his lungs with her strength.
"Forcing folks into fights. Under league rules, you're free to turn down a challenger to a battle should you desire. But he's been trapping them in corners and pushing their buttons until they're willing to get into a fight with him." Cole said. "He's not really breaking any laws, but it's been enough of a problem that his name's came up plenty of times."
That got Austin frowning and looking over to his harem. Though they had fought in battles before, it had mostly been for survival. No matter had it been him and Suzuka's first fight against Beryl, the group going out with Karrin to track down the Scorpiagirl, or even the recent events with the Grizzlar. Each and every situation had put them on the back-foot, placing them at a disadvantage that only sheer luck and quick thinking had gotten them out of. Knowing his luck and Wendell's interest in Suzuka, it would only be a matter of time before he got cornered as well.
It was about time that he took some initiative.
"Hey, Jaden." Austin said, drawing the other tamer's attention. "Mind if ask you a favor?"
"Mm? What's up, man?" he asked, raising a pierced eyebrow.
The Jumper turned to face the other man, once again taking in his appearance. If he was still in Chicago, living his quiet life in the suburbs, there was never a chance that he'd ever talk to Jaden, much less approach him. Now, though, in this world of Pokegirls and having gotten to know him just a little throughout the day, it felt right to ask him here. "Yuel… that is to say the Battleaxe, doesn't seem to think I need the seminars anymore. Thinks I'm good enough to handle my girls and situations thrown at me to be alright out in the wilds. But I don't know a damn thing about actual battles against other tamers."
"And you think I can help with that?" Jaden asked. He had a neutral look on his face. Zyra, too, seemed to mostly appear uninterested.
"I think you're one of the few people I've met here, that I'm also on good terms with, that I felt like would be a good partner in training up and learning how to do things." Austin explained. "I'll understand if you'll want to turn me down, but I think it'll do us good."
A soft grunt escaped him and Jaden turned over to his Cardian. The pair spoke in low, muttering tones for, which surprised the Jumper. With how quiet the grass girl had been, he had been almost willing to bet that Zyra had been mute. The pair nodded to each other after they had finished, with Jaden giving a big smile, thrusting out his hand to Austin. "You're right, mate. A good training partner can only improve us."
Austin felt a grin stretch his face as he reached out, squeezing his new friend's hand.
Things could only go up from here.