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Rise of the Unwitting Hero
“I heard you did something incredible, Elizabeth.”
Elizabeth didn’t break her stride. “Strange to hear that come from you, Ash.”
“Oh? Is it?” Ashley swooped past Elizabeth. “Have you gotten so far into our little competition that you can’t take a compliment?”
Elizabeth swatted at her when Ashley buzzed by again. “Cut it out or you’ll get Master on us again.”
Ashley twisted to look at Nicholas. “Nah. He’s busy talking with Dahlia.”
Elizabeth sighed. “What do you want?”
She was forced to slow when Ashley landed in front of her. “I want to congratulate you for a battle well won.”
Elizabeth stared at her before pushing past the Pidgeotto. “Where’s the needling? The cheek?”
“Did he say anything to you, back when I was goading you into a fight?”
“I was going too far and he put me in my place.” Ashley replied. “And then the next day, Victoria did the same to you.”
Elizabeth bristled. “What of it.”
“Elizabeth, I’m sorry for being such a bitch.”
Elizabeth stopped dead. “Say what?”
“I don’t know why, but you’ve constantly pushed yourself to be stronger and stronger. I thought you were challenging me, you know? I was here first, his first… Alpha. I got territorial.” Ashley gently nudged Elizabeth to keep walking. “You didn’t exactly dispel that belief, you know.”
“Um… I guess not.”
“You belong here.” Ashley said firmly. “That’s the truth. At first, I think I was trying to push you away, but now I understand how I was wrong.”
Elizabeth walked for a bit, lost in thought. Finally she replied. “I appreciate it, Ashley.” She turned to the bird girl. “This won’t just stop us from fighting though, will it?”
Ashley grinned at her. “I hope not. I just wanted to make sure you knew I was sorry.” She glanced at where Victoria walked. “The big girl taught me that it was important.”
Elizabeth chuckled quietly. “Yea, I guess she gave me that lesson, too.” She cocked her head towards the sky with a smile. “I guess I’m sorry too. I’ve let my anger turn into disrespect. You haven’t deserved that.”
“Thanks, Liz.” Ashley hesitated. “Is that okay? If I just… call you Liz sometimes.”
“It’s my nickname, isn’t it?” Elizabeth teased.
Ashley gave her a warm smile before taking off into the sky.
“It’s ridiculous how they can just… close down a city like this.” Nicholas was grumbling. “But I guess it’s a common situation.”
“The underground tunnels make no sense otherwise, Master.” Dahlia agreed. “Why would there be a way to bypass the city if it wasn’t needed?”
“So we need to go allll the way around, here, just to continue east and west.” Nicholas grumbled. “I can’t wait for Ashley to evolve so she can just carry me around.”
Dahlia laughed. “She could do that now, Master.”
Visions of the Pidgeotto lifting him in her claws immediately flashed through Nicholas’ head. “No. No, no, no…”
“I only wish I hadn’t gone wild, Master.” Cassidy said from behind them. “I know that, at some point, I was traded through a pokecenter in Celadon. If I had focused on memorizing a place there to teleport to, then…”
“It is what it is.” Nicholas replied. “And if you had never gone wild then I wouldn’t have been able to catch you, would I? So it wouldn’t have mattered.”
Cassidy blinked. “I suppose so, Master.”
“No, we just need to get through this stupid mountain cave path.” Nicholas grumbled. “Cassidy, I want you to get some experience in your new form, so I’ll be relying on you to fend off all the wild pokegirls. Feeling up for it?”
The Kadabra nodded. “Yes, Master. With my new technique, I won’t let you down.”
“I wasn’t expecting you to.” Nicholas replied. “By the way, are you really not going to wear anything else?”
Cassidy shifted her latest acquisition, yet another of his t-shirts. At this rate he’d need to start stealing them back within a week. “No, Master. I find this to be perfect for me.”
“Your pussy is on display!”
“As is Ashley’s and, until a few days ago, Elizabeth’s.” Cassidy pointed out. “Dahlia wears no shirt, so her ‘tits are on display’, as you would put it. The only one, in fact, who regularly is fully clothed is Victoria.” She looked over at the Gyarados. “And her bikini isn’t much.”
The bikini in question had been picked up in Vermilion before they had walked back to Cerulean. Luckily a store in the port town had had the exact color scheme Victoria liked, so she now sported a black and silver trimmed two-piece. Unluckily – or luckily, depending on if you asked Victoria or Nicholas – it had been a size too small. Functional, but a bit tight on the Gyarados’ chest.
However, as Cassidy had pointed out, she hadn’t been the only one to get something new. Elizabeth had been insistent that they return to Cerulean and once they had arrived she’d headed immediately to an armorer downtown. Now she walked around with a glittering sapphire blue metallic top protecting her soft chest as well as a laughably small bikini covering her groin.
‘I’m sick of chicks slicing my tits.’ Elizabeth had snapped when Nicholas questioned her sudden need for armor.
“I’m not afraid to go nude.” Victoria pointed out.
“Hm.” Nicholas grunted. “I’d complain about having exhibitionist pokegirls, but that’d be a lie, and I’m pretty sure every tamer feels the same way.”
“You’re too used to a lab setting, Master.” Dahlia explained. “Professional. Nudity there would have been distracting, right?”
“Yea, I guess that’s true.” Nicholas conceded. “And true, most of the tamers we run into have pokegirls in some state of undress. I’d just chalked it up to horny teenagers.”
“I’m sure that plays a part in it, Master.” Dahlia laughed.
“Yup.” Nicholas looked to his right when the trees fell away. “Oh, wow.” He could see some sort of building in the distance behind more trees, but the path curved away before it got there. “What do you think that is?”
“No idea, Master.” Dahlia replied. “Maybe Ashley could take a look?”
Nicholas stared at it for a few seconds before shaking his head. “It seems pretty far away, and I don’t want her all alone like that. We’ll figure it out later.”
“At least there’s another pokecenter all the way out here.” Dahlia noted when the building appeared from the trees. “Guess the league doesn’t want tamers getting hurt in the caves.”
“Nope. But we’ll be fine.”
Cassidy smiled along with the others. “That’s right, Master.”
“Welcome to Lavender Town, tamer.”
“Oh, thanks.” Nicholas replied to the elderly lady smiling at him. “Um, is there a gym here…?”
The woman laughed. “Oh, no. We’re just a small community, playing host to the Pokegirl Tower.” She turned her eyes to the skyscraper nearby. “It’s a terrible thing to lose your partner, you see. Here, we honor the souls of those pokegirls who have passed on without their Masters.”
Nicholas felt his eyes drawn to the tower. “Wow.”
“I hope a man as young as you doesn’t have anyone to lay to rest here?”
Nicholas pulled himself back to the conversation. “No, no I don’t. But still…”
The woman bobbed her head. “Anyone is free to pay their respects, tamer. If you so wish.”
“Yea.” Nicholas muttered to himself.
Cassidy watched the woman walk away before speaking. “Master, are you alright?”
“It’s nothing.” Nicholas muttered. “Do you mind if we take a quick detour, Cassidy?”
Cassidy nodded. “Whatever you wish, Master.”
They walked into the tower, bypassing a greeter and heading straight for the stairs.
“Have you lost someone, Master?” Cassidy asked gently while they climbed the tower stairs.
“No… Well, yes. But nobody here, and nothing recently.” Nicholas replied. “Both of my parents have passed away, but they’re not here.” He paused on the steps. “This is dumb, this is a place for grieving tamers, not-“
“Master.” Cassidy wrapped her fingers around his arm. “This is a burial site, but it is a place to honor the dead as well. The spirits here will not be angry that you are paying respects to someone who doesn’t rest here.”
Nicholas shivered. “How do you know that?”
“I can hear them.”
“You… can hear the dead?”
“Not always.” Cassidy replied. “But here, in this place… There are so many of them, it’s hard not to hear their voices.”
“Are you alright?”
Cassidy smiled. “I’m fine, Master. They are not angry, only sad and lonely.”
“…I don’t know if that’s better.”
As they continued to climb the tower Nicholas began to feel the temperature drop and pretty soon there was a low mist covering the floor.
“There are a lot of graves.” Nicholas observed, gingerly walking past. “How many floors do you think are on the tower?”
Nicholas yelped and whirled. A figure stood against the wall nearby and as they stepped further into the light he could see the ceremonial markings on their robes.
“Welcome to the tower, sir.” The woman said, bowing slightly. “Please, unless you have reason to proceed, stay here with me.”
“Um... I think we’ll keep going, thanks.” Nicholas awkwardly replied, continuing forwards with Cassidy.
The woman stared unblinkingly after them.
“There’s a lot of people up here.” Nicholas muttered as they moved through the next floor. “I guess there are a lot of people who want to pay their respects.”
Cassidy was nervously glancing around as they walked. “Something isn’t right, Master.”
Nicholas glanced at her. “Hm?”
“The spirits, they... they’ve begun growing angry. I think something’s happened.” She slowly raised her eyes to the ceiling. “Their attention is being drawn towards the top of the tower.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t go up there, then.”
“You can’t leave!” Nicholas jumped. One of the ceremonially dressed women had snuck up on them. “No, no. You must stay. The spirits demand it!”
“She must be a human who can hear them too.” Cassidy stepped in front of him. “Ma’am, my Master has-“
Nicholas swallowed when she froze mid sentence. “Cassidy?”
“Master, get back.” Cassidy replied. “This woman is not human.”
Nicholas stumbled back, barely catching himself on a headstone when Cassidy shoved him away. The woman dove at the Kadabra with a shriek and Nicholas was fumbling for his other pokeballs when Cassidy spoke.
“Go to hell.”
The woman’s scream snapped off and she crashed to the floor. From his position Nicholas stared at the figure transfixed in midair by Cassidy’s psychokinesis.
The writhing pokegirl was almost entirely see-through but slowly she was coming more into focus. Eventually Cassidy’s eyes flashed and the pokegirl fell to the ground.
“A pokegirl?” Nicholas pulled out his pokedex.
“Gastly. The shadow pokegirl.” His pokedex said.
“What in the world was that?”
“She was possessed by a wild pokegirl, Master.” Cassidy replied. “More will come. We need to move forwards.”
“But you just said it’s dangerous!” Nicholas desperately tried.
Cassidy glanced back at him. “And so am I.”
Nicholas watched her continue moving for a few seconds before sighing. “Yea, I guess I can’t argue with that one.”
Cassidy smiled to herself when he jogged after her.
Pewter City – Boulder Badge
Cerulean City – Cascade Badge
Vermilion City – Thunder Badge
Dahlia, Ivysaur – Level 27
Ashley, Pidgeotto – Level 25
Elizabeth, Nidoqueen – Level 25
Victoria, Gyarados – Level 24
Cassidy, Kadabra – Level 26
Nicholas crept along behind Cassidy as the Kadabra dropped another Gastly. “There’s so many.”
“The spirits are distracted, allowing the wild pokegirls to take over.” Cassidy replied, her voice strained from her exertion. “Whatever has happened above us is to blame.”
“So, we just keep going?”
“Guess we don’t have much of a choice.” Nicholas grumbled.
“Behind you!” Nicholas whirled to see another figure charging at him and sighed in relief when Cassidy knocked the possessed human out. “Come, Master. Hurry.”
They continued up the tower with Cassidy fending off increasing numbers of Gastly until they emerged into a large, more open floor.
“What is…” Nicholas trailed off when he saw another human sitting in the middle of the room. “Uh oh.”
As he spoke the human opened her eyes. “Who…?” She gasped. “Quickly, come inside!”
Nicholas exchanged a look with Cassidy before hurrying forwards. As he got close he felt a tingle run through his body and his jaw dropped when a lattice of white lines sprang into view around him.
“Yes, inside the circle, come quickly.” The woman urged. “Your pokegirl as well. Only the Gastly will be repelled.”
Cassidy stepped into the circle. “What magic is this?”
“A barrier spell.” The woman replied. “I have set it here to protect me from the pokegirls that have possessed the others.”
“Yea, we’ve been seeing them.” Nicholas gingerly took a seat. “What happened here?”
“I’m not sure.” The channeler replied. “But there are people still trapped above. Before the spirits grew distracted a large group of men went to the summit. They were all wearing black, so likely they came to mourn.”
“Then they’d be trapped, or possessed by the Gastly.” Nicholas mused.
“Possibly not possessed, as I saw at least some of them with pokeballs.” The woman replied.
“But isn’t the problem at the summit?” Cassidy asked.
The channeler looked at her in surprise. “Well… Yes, I suppose it is. What are you getting at?”
“Maybe the men caused it.”
“But who would commit an act that would so anger the dead?”
Nicholas winced. “Men in black.”
“Was there anything else on their shirts? Say, maybe some red lettering…?”
The woman looked confused for a few seconds before her expression morphed into horror. “Team… Rocket?”
“I’m just saying it’s possible.”
The channeler shivered. “If those criminals are here, then… Yes, it is very possible that they did something to anger the dead.”
“Yea.” Nicholas sighed. “Cassidy, you weren’t with me in Mt. Moon, but Team Rocket has tried to kill me before. I’d be very happy to never see them again.”
“I don’t know if we have a choice, Master.” Cassidy replied. “We slowed down too much.”
Nicholas frowned at her before whirling to the staircase they had come up.
There were a dozen people crowded into the opening and Nicholas could see the flickering forms of well over a dozen more Gastly around them. “They can’t… get in here. Right?”
“N-no.” The channeler stammered. “The barrier keeps them from coming closer, but…”
“But our way out is blocked.” Nicholas finished. “Which means…”
“The only way left is up, Master.”
Nicholas continued staring at the crowd for a while before walking towards the other staircase. “If we calm the spirits, they should be able to push back the Gastly.”
“Fucking hell.” Nicholas swore. “Let’s go, Cassidy.”
Somehow the next few floors were empty. Cassidy remained on high alert but as they continued forwards and nothing appeared she began to relax.
“The woman must be a powerful priestess.” Cassidy said as they moved up to the next floor without issue. “Every wild pokegirl has been drawn to her barrier and trapped below.”
“Yea, I hope it holds.” Nicholas muttered.
“Hopefully.” Cassidy pointed at the next flight of stairs. “There’s the way up, Master.”
“Hold on.” Nicholas was staring across the room. “Is that someone over there...?”
Cassidy turned. “Is that...? Yea, it looks like it?”
The person straightened up and Nicholas hissed when he saw the red R.
The Team Rocket member casually scratched his head. “Look-y-here. Some chump climbed all the way up here. Come to join your pokegirl, is that it?”
“What have you done? Why are the dead angry?” Nicholas yelled.
“Oh ho ho. So we’ve got a do-gooder on our hands.” The man chortled. “I don’t have time to play with you, bud. Move along now. Go on.”
Nicholas stiffened when he heard the weak voice and the man glanced down at his feet. “Still alive? Damn, almost feel bad that we couldn’t sell you off.”
“HEY!” Nicholas screamed when the man drew his foot back. “KNOCK IT OFF!”
The man jumped back when he saw Cassidy run forwards. “Ah, it’ll die anyways. The rest ran off but this little hero decided it needed to fight.” The man dodged away and began running towards the stairs. “Sound familiar, tamer? Run away or the same will happen to-“
Cassidy was halfway to the feebly moving figure when she whirled with a gasp.
Nicholas felt... something blow past him and he barely kept his footing. The Team Rocket Grunt’s sentence cut off and his body flew sideways, impacting against the wall with a scream.
“M-Master, get over here!” Cassidy called fearfully. “Quickly!”
Nicholas ran over and turned to stare at the scene.
A tall, buff, tanned woman stood over the whimpering man. One hand held a massive white, almost bone-like club while the other clutched her head.
“N-no, that’s impossible.” The man was blubbering. “We killed you. We killed you! YOU’RE DEAD!”
Nicholas spared a glance at the nude body nearby. He thought it was probably a pokegirl, but he’d have to scan her to be sure. What he could be sure about was the blood running down her face and her feeble movements.
Nicholas whirled and gasped in horror. The woman had brought her club down into the man’s skull. As he watched she wrenched it free before slowly turning towards him and lowering her other hand.
Nicholas blanched. Her skull was caved in, the shattered remains of some sort of helmet covering the rest of her head, and as she stepped towards him he could see an identical wound on the dead Rocket grunt. “Cassidy, she’s-“
“I know, Master.” Cassidy replied. “The vengeful spirit of a pokegirl.”
“Is she going to kill us too?” Nicholas whispered in fear.
“She’s getting closer.” Cassidy stammered. “Master, we need to run!”
“But this girl-“ Nicholas glanced at the feebly stirring pokegirl. “She is a pokegirl, right?”
“We can’t just leave her to die!”
Cassidy took a deep breath. Well, this was the kind of Master she’d hoped for. Stupidity and all. “I can’t fight a spirit, Master. They’re worse than a ghost-type pokegirl.”
Nicholas edged closer to the dying pokegirl. “They look similar, don’t you think?”
Cassidy spared a second to look at the girl on the ground before turning her attention back to the advancing spirit. “Maybe a little, Master.”
“Maybe if we help the living one, the dead one will leave us alone.”
Cassidy sighed. “Alright, Master. Go for it.”
The spirit snarled when Nicholas started moving towards the girl and Cassidy stepped between them.
The three stood frozen for a few seconds before the spirit howled.
Nicholas slid next to the girl as Cassidy shouted, beams of psychic energy shooting out to push back the attacking spirit. “Alright, let’s see the damage.” He carefully straightened her out, quickly running his hands over her skin. Somehow he couldn’t find any open wounds until he got to her head.
It was horrifying as he lifted her short hair to see skin hanging off her skull and the white bone shining in the light. He forced down his nausea and gingerly pushed the flaps back into place before pulling out a potion and beginning to spray.
Cassidy launched another attack at the spirit, cursing when it dodged away and threw its massive club towards her. She barely managed to duck out of the way, wincing when the headstone behind her disintegrated into a spray of pulverized stone.
“If you’re this powerful, how on earth...” Cassidy was mumbling as she got back to her feet.
The impact across her back came completely by surprise and she slammed forwards, stars dancing across her vision. She looked up to see the spirit catch her returning club and step towards her.
“Like a boomerang.” Cassidy managed to mutter before she slipped into unconsciousness.
The spirit paused when Cassidy went limp. After a few seconds it turned and stepped towards Nicholas.
Nicholas jumped when he heard the growl and turned to see the spirit towering over him, Cassidy unmoving behind her.
“I’m trying to help.” He blurted out. “She’s not dead, she’s-“ He scrambled backwards when the spirit growled again. “Okay! Okay.”
Cassidy might be dying too but if I make any sudden moves I’m dead! Nicholas thought desperately, watching the spirit bend over the weakened pokegirl.
The spirit gently nudged at the girl, making questioning noises as it did. When the girl didn’t respond the spirit grimaced, whirling towards Nicholas and letting out an ear-splitting roar.
The pokegirl stirred. “Ma...”
Instantly the spirit whirled back to the pokegirl. “Guh. Lee.” It managed.
“Ma...ma.” The girl choked out, her hands grabbing at the spirit’s body. “Mama...”
“She’s still weak.” Nicholas quickly held up his hands when the spirit whipped her head up to glare at him. “I have medicine. To help.”
The spirit was beginning to growl again but stopped, looking down at the pokegirl before returning her eyes to Nicholas and nodding slightly.
Nicholas pulled out one of his Super Potions and edged forwards. Very, very slowly he placed the potion to the pokegirl’s lips, waiting for her to begin drinking before scrambling backwards again.
The spirit held the pokegirl in her arms as the girl drank, letting out soft noises when she began to cough from drinking too quickly.
“Mama, where did you go?” The girl feebly asked. “It hurt. The men with the knives and the...” The girl stilled as if she was listening to something. “Is that you, Mama?”
The spirit bowed her head, tears glittering in her eyes as the girl continued questioning. Nicholas gulped when she stood, picking the pokegirl up with her and turning towards him.
“You have saved my daughter.” Nicholas heard a voice whisper in his mind as the spirit walked towards him. “Now I can rest in peace.”
“Whoah, hey hey hey!” Nicholas blustered when the spirit got closer. “I just did what-“ he stopped when the spirit bent down and laid the pokegirl across his lap. “-huh?”
The girl finally opened her eyes when she felt his body up against hers. “Mama?”
The spirit’s form was shimmering. “Goodbye, my daughter.”
“Wait, Mama!” The girl tried to push off of Nicholas but was still too weak. “No, please! Don’t leave me!” Her grasping hands slipped through the spirit’s dissolving form.
“No… … Don’t leave…”
Her fingers dropped to her lap as the spirit dissipated. “No…”
Nicholas would have given the sobbing girl all the time she needed but Cassidy was still lying in the middle of the floor. “I need to get up.”
The girl spilled onto the ground and struggled upright while he recalled Cassidy. She was watching him check his gear when she spoke. “Who are you?”
Nicholas paused. “Just a traveling tamer. You’re not feral, so I assume there’s someone out there waiting for you. There’s a woman down a few floors; she’ll be able to help you get out of here.”
The girl continued watching him. “All I had was my mother.”
Nicholas stopped moving about. “Ah. So that’s why she dropped you on my lap.”
It wasn’t the most graceful of things, but he appreciated the way she got to her feet. Even as weakened as she was her body moved with practiced ease. “Was that... really her?”
Nicholas glanced away. “I think so.”
The girl’s eyes filled with fresh tears. “She’s really gone.”
“And you almost followed her.” Nicholas replied. “What happened here?”
“A large group of men attacked us.” The girl explained. “Mom, she... she tried to stop them but they had too many pokegirls.” Her hand drifted to her head. “I don’t understand. They beat us, started attacking us with knives...”
“What did they want?”
“We didn’t have anything.” The girl replied. “I just don’t understand. I would have understood if they’d tried to capture us, but they didn’t.”
Nicholas pulled out his pokedex and pointed it at her. “Let’s see.”
“Cubone. The lonely pokegirl.” It stated.
“Cool.” Nicholas browsed the entry. “Hmm, that’s strange. It says here you would fight... well, with weapons like your, um, mom.”
The girl nodded. “She’s who I modeled my helmet after.”
Nicholas glanced at her bare head. “Um...”
The girl frowned. “What?”
“You don’t have a helmet.”
The girl slowly reached up and felt her hair. “What? But I modeled that after hers, it was...” Nicholas winced when she hiccupped, tears welling up in her eyes once again. “It’s... gone?”
“Where did it go?” She asked numbly. “It’s got to be around here somewhere... Please, don’t be gone, don’t...”
Nicholas watched her begin to search. “Maybe that’s what Team Rocket was after.”
The girl stopped. “You think... they took it?”
“When I found you... the skin on your head had been cut up. They must have taken your helmet then.”
“They took it.” Nicholas frowned at the sudden heat in the girl’s voice. “Those murderers stole it. They killed my mother and STOLE. THE LAST THING I HAD TO REMEMBER HER BY!”
“Wait, you’re still injured!” Nicholas cried as the Cubone got to her feet and sprinted towards the stairs.
When she ignored him he gave chase.
He didn’t catch up with her until the next floor and when he did, he had to look away and steady himself before joining the motionless Cubone.
There was a large pile of skull-shaped helmets heaped on the floor, a number of Team Rocket members crouched around them. He saw one take a helmet in his hands, roughly cleaning it before tossing it to the side.
He wasn’t sure what was worse. The amount of helmets, or the debris he could see still clinging to some of them. Blood. Hair. Nicholas felt his breathing growing heavy as the implications sunk in. This wasn’t a small operation, a few abused pokegirls; no, this was big. This was a systematic operation. Who knew how many pokegirls had been killed by these men? How many more driven into the wilds to just go feral or die?
The Cubone was still speechless when he placed a hand on her shoulder. “There’s a lot of them.” He said, doing his best to keep his tone even. “I don’t know if we can take them.”
The girl shrugged off his hand. “That does not matter.”
Nicholas watched her begin to walk forwards. “I can’t just let you kill yourself.”
“Then attempt to stop me, tamer.” The girl laughed, turning to fix him with a wild grin. “Try to-“ She stopped when he held up four pokeballs. “…what?”
“I can’t just let you kill yourself.” Nicholas repeated. “So I’ll help you.” He triggered the releases and spoke fast, knowing that the criminals would see the release lights. “Girls, I don’t know this pokegirl’s name, but she’s on our side. There are multiple Team Rocket members in the next room and we’re taking them all down.” He looked at Dahlia. “Don’t target the humans if you can help it. If they’re about to do something to hurt you, don’t let them.”
“My name is Galina.” The Cubone said quietly.
Nicholas nodded. “Galina, if we live through this, I’ll introduce you to everyone.”
Galina turned back to the room and the sudden activity within. “I would like that.”
“Where’s Cassidy, Master?” Ashley asked as the others broke into view.
“Long story. She’s out.”
Ashley nodded before flapping her wings, zipping towards the ceiling and rocketing at a newly released Zubat.
Nicholas kept his eyes moving as the fight unfolded, but it was chaos. One moment he saw Ashley and the Zubat pinwheeling through the air, the next Victoria blocked his view. As she eviscerated her target Elizabeth would run by, the Nidoqueen a flurry of blows that caught anything unlucky enough to be in her way. Dahlia was in her own world, constantly sending bursts of powder into the thickest enemy forces.
He resolved to offer a very long, sincere apology to the spirits here once it was done.
Wait! With a curse he searched the brawl. Where was Galina?
Galina smashed her palm into an attacking Ekans, slamming the girl’s head into the floor and stepping past the concussed snake. The Rocket grunt that she advanced on stuttered, desperately looking around for assistance and finding none. “W-w-wait! I recognize you – you can have your thing back. I’ll give you a bunch of them! Take them back to your friends, I-“
“I don’t want my helmet back.” Galina snarled, her fingers clenching with every step. “I WANT MY MOTHER BACK!”
The grunt swallowed. “Oh.” He grabbed at his last pokeball. “HELP!”
Galina’s scream pierced the fight, shaking Nicholas to his core. He’d heard that kind of scream before.
The brawling pokegirls barely gave him a glance when he ran past, but the tamers were paying a bit more attention. “Hey, you-“ One started before gagging and falling back with Nicholas’ fist in his throat.
Another tried to jump in front of the man but Nicholas just ducked past, tripping the grunt and sprinting towards the blinding light that had started to shine.
Galina stepped past the bloody, broken Raticate as her body grew. “I want her!” She howled, each step lengthening her stride. “YOU HAVE TAKEN HER FROM ME!”
She didn’t even notice when white goop poured from her crying eyes, flowing across her face and skull until she wore a skull-shaped helmet almost identical to her mother’s. She had eyes only for the pleading man in front of her.
“But you can’t give her to me.” Galina snarled, the material that had formed her helmet flowing out of her palm and forming a club that she instinctively grasped. “YOU TOOK EVERYTHING FROM ME! I’LL TAKE EVERYTHING FROM YOU!”
The man screamed when she brought the club crashing down into his leg. Galina barely hesitated before bringing it down again, pulverizing his other leg and leaving the man unable to move. “P-p-please-“
“This is what you DID TO HER!” Galina screamed. “SLOWLY! ONE! BY! ONE!” The man cried when she slammed her club into his useless legs to punctuate her words. “AND THEN WHAT DID YOU DO!”
“Please don’t kill me.” The man begged.
Galina’s eyes were hard as she leveled her club in his face. “That’s what she said too.”
Nicholas shoved past the last grunt and gasped when he saw the figure raising her weapon. “Gali-? GALINAAAA!”
Galina stopped her swing inches from the sobbing man’s head. “What. Do. You. Want.” She slowly turned to look at him. “I thought you were here to help me. Are you looking to stop me?” She turned away from the gasping man and took a step towards Nicholas. “Here to protect your fellow human?”
“No.” Galina came to a halt when he spoke. “I’m here to save you.”
Galina stared at him. “I don’t need to be saved.”
“You’re making a mistake.” Nicholas said when she started to turn back to her victim.
Galina ground to a halt. It seemed like there was a war raging across her face as she decided what to do and finally she spoke. “What do you mean.”
“He’s a murderer, Galina.” Nicholas slowly stepped past the newly evolved Marowak. “You’re not. Do you really want to become like him? Become a killer?”
Galina stared at him. “He doesn’t deserve to live.”
“I agree.” Nicholas soothed. “But that’s not your decision to make, not now. He’s helpless. You’d be executing him. Just like he executed your mother.”
Galina shuddered with her rage. “I can’t just let this man go free!”
“He won’t.” Nicholas replied. “Galina, please. Trust me. I know someone who can make sure of that.”
Galina growled, the pitch rising and falling. Finally she spun away. “FINE!”
“Oh my god, thank you.” The grunt babbled.
“Shut the fuck up.” Nicholas snarled before he turned and kicked the grunt in the face.
He looked back to see Galina watching him over her shoulder. When the grunt slumped over she smiled.
“There’s more.” Nicholas observed, gesturing at the still roiling battle.
Galina turned to watch the fights. “Not for long.”
Victoria had retreated, her aggressive fighting style leaving her with some harsh wounds, but the others had done just fine. As each grunt saw his pokegirls fall he recalled them and tore down the staircase until the only ones left were Nicholas, his harem, Galina, and the unconscious grunt.
“Everyone alright?” Nicholas asked.
“We’re fine, Master.” Elizabeth grumbled before glancing at Victoria. “Well, maybe not Victoria.”
The Gyarados hissed as she dabbed at her wounds. “A little bruised, Master.”
Nicholas laughed. “Is that what you call a gash like that?”
Victoria grinned. “Yes.”
They all turned when a crunching sound echoed through the room.
Galina slowly hefted her club again before bringing it down into the pile of bone helmets. She repeated her motions until there was nothing left larger than her hand, at which point she dropped the club, watching it shatter as it hit the ground.
Nicholas gazed around at the dust she had created. “Wasn’t your own helmet there, too?”
Galina looked at him from behind the seamless white skull covering her head. “I don’t need it any more.”
Nicholas smiled sadly. “I thought it reminded you of your mother.”
Galina shook her head. “There’s no need to be reminded of her. She’s with me, she’s not gone.”
“That’s true. All of our loved ones live on within us.”
The group turned to see an old man stepping out of hiding. “Who are you?” Nicholas asked.
“My family name is Fuji.” The man replied. “You don’t need to know an old man’s given name, correct?”
“I suppose not, elder.” Nicholas replied.
Mr. Fuji smiled. “You there, Marowak.” He gestured at Galina. “There was another like you, wasn’t there? Was that your mother?”
Galina dropped her eyes. “She’s dead.”
“I know.” When Galina looked up in surprise he continued. “That’s why I’m here. I came to try and drive out those thugs, and got caught up in this mess.” He shook his head sadly. “After they killed her, they dragged me up here.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re alright.” Nicholas replied. “With any luck, the wild Gastly should have calmed down by now as well.”
“Hm. It appears those thugs have much to answer for.”
“Elizabeth, can you carry that guy?” Nicholas gestured at the unconscious grunt. “They do, sir.”
“And I suppose you are the one who will hold them accountable?”
Nicholas looked at him in surprise. “No, I’m just a wandering tamer.”
He could feel the old man’s eyes piercing right into his soul. “I see.”
“Stop that.” Nicholas muttered, glancing away. “I’m just a researcher on his pokegirl league challenge.”
Mr. Fuji gave him a knowing smile. “I see.”
Nicholas didn’t respond.
As they descended through the tower Nicholas noticed that the woman guarding the barrier was gone, and when they made it to the bottom he was astonished to see a number of police crowding the lobby.
“You there!” One strode over. “What pokegirls do you have.”
“Um, you can see my Gyarados, my Nidoqueen, my…”
The officer rested a hand on his belt. “Any others?”
“I have a Kadabra, but she’s in her pokeball.”
The officer didn’t move. “Let me see her.”
“I was told the only non-Rocket left up there had a Kadabra in his harem.” The officer growled. “Release her or submit to arrest.”
Nicholas gave the man a withering look but pulled Cassidy’s pokeball from his belt. “If she dies…”
“Wait.” The officer stopped him. “She’s injured?”
Nicholas bit back his first reply. “Obviously, why else would she be in her pokeball?”
The man grimaced. “We’ve got a Joy here. Let me call her over.”
Nicholas waited for the Nurse to hurry over before releasing Cassidy. The officer took one look and nodded. “You’re free to go.” He glanced at the unconscious grunt on Elizabeth’s shoulder. “You’ll need to surrender him to our custody.”
“Not until I make a call.” Nicholas replied. The Nurse was still tending to Cassidy so he chose his next words carefully. “This man murdered the mother of… one of my pokegirls. I’m not letting him out of my sight until he’s held accountable.”
“You can be rest assured that-“
“No offense,” Nicholas interrupted, “but with the extent Team Rocket has infiltrated everything else in Kanto, I’m not exactly comfortable just handing him over.”
The officer glared at him for a bit. “You don’t have a choice, citizen.”
“Just give me five minutes to call Professor Oak and he’s yours.”
The officer began to laugh. “Oak! That senile fool? Even if he somehow listens to you, what does it matter what he thinks?”
“Just five minutes.”
The officer was still chuckling. “Sure. Five minutes, then we take him off your hands.”
Galina watched the officer walk away. “Did you just…”
“If you’re legally related to me, his crime means something.” Nicholas muttered back. “I know you’re not my pokegirl. Just bear with it.” He keyed in Oak’s number and thankfully the man picked up on the third ring.
“Hello? Nicholas! Long time no talk!” Oak cried. “How are things? Journey going well?”
“Yea, sorry that I haven’t kept you up to date. I’ll do that later.” Nicholas awkwardly scratched his cheek. “Look, I need a favor, and I’m hoping you know someone who can help.”
“What’s the problem?”
“I’ve got a pokegirl murderer here and I’m worried he’ll skate from justice because he’s with Team Rocket, and, well, he didn’t murder a human.”
Oak’s expression was unreadable. “Give me more information.”
“I’m in Lavender Town. There was a Team Rocket operation here, I guess stealing the helmets off Cubone for some reason. One of the Cubone’s mother, a Marowak, was killed protecting her daughter.”
Nicholas swore he saw Oak shudder, but it might have been a trick of the camera. “Was she someone’s pokegirl?”
Oak frowned. “Oh?”
“I told the police here that she was the mother of one of my pokegirls, but that was a lie. The daughter and mother were and still are, technically, unclaimed wild pokegirls.”
“Maybe so, but you’ve said exactly the right thing.” Oak replied. “Someone will be there soon.”
“The officer only gave me five minutes.”
Oak nodded. “Then he’ll be there in two.”
Nicholas watched the call end.
They stood in silence for a few minutes, Cassidy back in her pokeball, when Nicholas heard shouting from outside.
“What’s everyone excited about?” He muttered.
A minute later a man burst into the lobby, closely followed by a towering bird pokegirl. Nicholas’ eyes widened when they turned and began moving straight towards him. “Hello?”
The man came to a halt in front of him. “Are you Nicholas Topolski?”
“I’m Gary. Grandfather asked me to take care of this filth.” His eyes were drawn to the unconscious grunt. “A murderer, you say?”
“Alright mate, time’s… up…” The officer slowed when he saw who was waiting for him. “Um…”
“Officer, I’ve reviewed this tamer’s story and concluded that the man accused should be held for the murder of a tamer’s pokegirl. Under league law, this charge is equal to murdering a human.” Gary said.
“um-um-“ The officer stuttered. “Yes, that’s… that’s true.”
“I trust your department will bring him to the full extent of justice, utilizing any means necessary to do so.” Gary continued. “If you do not have a psychic-type on retainer, I’d be happy to…”
“No! No, sir, that won’t be necessary.” The officer babbled. “There’s, uh, four or five others we… rounded up fleeing the scene. I’ll make sure they are all put on trial.”
“Very good.” Gary turned to Nicholas. “I think you can release this man into the officer’s custody now.”
Elizabeth was all too happy to drop the man and the officer began searching for help. “Yes, we’ll… get him out of here… medic!”
Nicholas watched in awe when the entire room moved to assist. “Who… Who are you?”
Gary smirked to himself. “Let’s get out of here and I’ll tell you, since gramps apparently never did.”
The group pushed out of the tower and Gary sighed when the onlookers began to cheer. “Hello, hello! Please, excuse me everyone, but I’m here on personal business. I promise to be back next week on my regularly scheduled Kanto tour!”
Nicholas stared at the chanting crowd. “Who…?”
“You need somewhere private to talk, yes?” Mr. Fuji chuckled. “Come, follow me. You may use my house.” He glanced at Gary with a smile. “It’s been a while, boy.”
Gary chuckled and followed the man inside. “It’s been a month, Mr. Fuji.”
“You know each other?” Nicholas asked.
“Of course. Mr. Fuji here is a good friend of Blaine’s, the Cinnabar gym leader, so I often run into him.” Gary settled into a seat, his pokegirl standing so close she almost touched his back. “Now then. Nicholas, right?”
“The crowds and the cheering are because I’m the Kanto Champion.” Gary smiled when Nicholas’ eyes widened. “Yea, gramps didn’t tell you. If you keep going the way you are, we’ll meet in battle some day.”
Nicholas spared a glance at Gary’s pokegirl. “I don’t see myself winning that fight.”
Gary laughed. “Maybe not now, but you never know what the future holds.”
“I… guess not.” Nicholas conceded. “What’s, um… What’s going to happen now?”
Gary raised an eyebrow. “Happen? I’m just taking a quick break before returning to the Indigo Plateau. Thought I might catch up with Mr. Fuji.”
The old man was bustling about his house. “You’re welcome to stay as long as you want, young Oak.”
“Ah, don’t call me that.” Gary yelled back, but he didn’t sound too mad. “Anyways. Whatever happens next is up to you, Nicholas. Saffron and Sabrina’s gym are to our west, further along you’ll find Celadon, and Erika’s gym, and south of here you’ll find Fuschia, and Koga. Whatever path you choose is yours to decide. I’m just here to make sure that scumbag goes away for a long, long time.”
“I… see.” Nicholas looked around the room at his harem. “Then I guess we’ll just… get going?”
Gary smiled. “Try Celadon first. Erika’s a gentle girl; she’ll give you a fair match.”
“Thanks for the advice.”
“Sure.” Gary stretched. “Mr. Fuji…”
“Wait a minute, young man.” Mr. Fuji called before walking over and presenting Nicholas with an expertly carved flute. “You should take this with you.”
Nicholas accepted the instrument. “It’s beautiful.”
“That may be, but it’s special too.” Mr. Fuji replied. “Give it a blow.”
Nicholas raised the mouthpiece to his lips, feeling very silly as he did. He’d never played a flute before. But when he blew he felt something shift inside the tube, rolling up and down below the holes to create a piercing tune.
After a few seconds he stopped. “Wow.”
“That will wake just about anyone from their sleep.” Mr. Fuji chuckled. “Try not to play it at night. But at other times, you might just find it very useful.”
Nicholas nodded and carefully stowed the flute. “Thank you for the gift.”
“It’s in good hands. You deserved something for risking yourself in the tower.” Mr. Fuji turned to Gary. “Now get out there, tamer.”
Nicholas laughed, waving at the two before exiting the house.
“He’s too modest.” Mr. Fuji remarked after Nicholas had left.
Gary idly played with the drink the old man had brought him. “I noticed. He reminds me a bit of him.”
Mr. Fuji chuckled. “How’s he doing these days, anyway? Still on Mt. Silver?”
“As far as I know. But he’s doing alright.” Gary took a sip. “There’s something I wanted to ask you about, while I’m here.”
Mr. Fuji idly cleaned his counters. “And that is?”
“You know what.”
The old man nodded. “I suppose I do, Champion.”
“Saffron is locked down. Silph Co. is unresponsive. The one thing we were praying for is behind enemy lines.”
Mr. Fuji snorted. “So go in and get it yourself. Or trust that it’s safe. Saffron is a powder keg, you know. One wrong move from an explosion.”
“I know.” Gary muttered. “If I force my way in, the tension will snap.”
“And we’ll have a war on our hands.” Mr. Fuji sat with his own drink. “So relax and wait, Gary. Trust in others to take action. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.”
Outside, Nicholas and Galina gazed at each other.
“You’re free to leave.” Nicholas offered.
Galina snorted. “I thought I was your pokegirl.”
“I lied to the officer to make sure that grunt didn’t just get away.”
“And kept your promise.” Galina replied. “You didn’t lie to me. I wouldn’t want a Master who lies.”
“And I lied to the officer, so that’s not me.”
Galina pushed up in his face. “Did you?”
“Oh my god just KISS already!” Elizabeth yelled.
Nicholas stared at the Marowak. “I didn’t go into that tower to claim you. I didn’t save you because I wanted you in my harem.”
“No, you didn’t.” Galina replied quietly. “So now that you have me, are you going to push me away?”
Nicholas gazed into her eyes for a few moments before smiling. “Your motherdid literally give you to me.”
Galina chuckled. “She always knew best.”
“Finally.” Elizabeth growled when the two embraced. “Hey, Dahlia, that’s six of us now, right? We’re full.”
The Ivysaur watched her Master kiss Galina. “Perhaps.”
Elizabeth frowned. “He wouldn’t throw one of us away, right…?”
“No.” Dahlia turned to the Nidoqueen. “Stop worrying. Let’s train.”
Pewter City – Boulder Badge
Cerulean City – Cascade Badge
Vermilion City – Thunder Badge
Dahlia, Ivysaur – Level 26
Ashley, Pidgeotto – Level 24
Elizabeth, Nidoqueen – Level 25
Victoria, Gyarados – Level 24
Cassidy, Kadabra – Level 26
Galina, Marowak – Level 28
Pewter City – Boulder Badge
Cerulean City – Cascade Badge
Vermilion City – Thunder Badge
Vanessa, Wartortle – Level 26
Petunia, Raticate – Level 25
Hannah, Mankey – Level 25
Riana, Sandslash – Level 24
???, Spearow – Level 14