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Nicholas gaped at the majestic pokegirl that appeared in front of Blaine. She stood nearly seven feet tall, with billowing off-white hair reaching from her head to her feet. Her bright red eyes found him and the girl smiled, tightening her orange and black sleeves and straightening the sideless dress she wore. As she prepared herself her hair caught the warm air of the gym, rising to waist height and forming a gently waving mane.
“ASHLEY, GET IN THERE!” Nicholas released the Pidgeot and couldn’t help but immediately notice the difference between the two pokegirls. Ashley looked… almost barbaric in front of her regal opponent, with her breast wrap and not much else.
Before the fight could start he grabbed his pokedex, pointing it at Blaine’s pokegirl. “Arcanine. The legendary pokegirl.” It reported.
“Arcanine’s breed classification is meant as a form of respect.” Blaine replied. “For a long time they were considered legendary pokegirls. I think you can see why.”
Nicholas slowly nodded.
“Wendy, show him why you are my Alpha.”
“Yes, Master.” Nicholas groaned when even the Arcanine’s voice held an air of grandeur. “Are you the one meant to face me, little bird?”
Ashley growled. “I mean to beat you.”
“Excellent!” Wendy cried happily. Then let. Us. Begin.”
With every word her face had contorted, eyes widening and lips drawing back to reveal a mouth of glistening fangs. Yet somehow, even as she threw her arms down and arched her back to release a piercing howl, even as she returned her attention to Ashley’s nervous face and Nicholas could see the pure animalistic fury in her expression… she still retained her unnatural beauty, and he understood exactly why she was both Blaine’s Alpha and a member of a pokegirl breed once considered on the level of Articuno.
Ashley dashed towards Wendy but the Arcanine was faster. With a snarl she jumped, flames licking from her mouth before she let loose a roaring inferno that swept across the arena. Ashley barely managed to avoid it, flapping above the sea of fire and turning back to her opponent.
Wendy was preparing another attack when Ashley’s first hit made contact. The Arcanine laughed, brushing off the slicing winds and taking more careful aim at Ashley.
Another burst of flame came blasting towards Ashley, and this time she didn’t have a chance to get out of the way. The Flamethrower caught her squarely in the chest and Ashley screamed when the flames licked hungrily across her body.
“FOLD YOUR WINGS!” Nicholas roared, watching Ashley fan the flames with her panicked movements.
Trust him. Ashley wrapped her wings around her body and dropped from the sky. She held on for as long as she could before snapping them open again to save herself from hitting the ground, feeling the blast of air soothe her tender skin. The fire was gone.
“Get inside her range!” Nicholas yelled. “Another big one, watch out!”
Ashley instinctively followed his commands, ducking under the next blast and hitting Wendy hard before wheeling away. “Thank you, Master.” She flipped back into position before tucking her wings and dropping like a stone towards where Wendy waited. “I needed your words.”
“Wendy, end this.”
Ashley was moving so fast that all she could hear was the wind across her ears, and yet somehow Wendy moved faster. Ashley screamed when the Arcanine seemed to teleport forwards, crushing her fists into the Pidgeot’s body and sending her crashing out of her attack to slam into the floor. She felt one wing fold under her, going white when the bone snapped and she finished her crash by tumbling multiple times until she came to a moaning halt.
“Ashley!” Nicholas gazed at the barely moving Pidgeot in horror. “ASHLEY!”
“She’s done, Nicholas.” Blaine called. “Don’t make Wendy hurt her any more than is necessary.”
Nicholas recalled Ashley. So this was the true power of a gym leader.
“Kary!” Nicholas released the Dragonair and pointed. “Douse her flames.”
“Hohoho, you think you can extinguish us?” Blaine laughed. “Can’t you feel it, Nicholas? The volcano is active today. We’re all fired up!”
Nicholas blinked a drop of sweat from his eye. He did feel a bit warm, now that Blaine mentioned it. “Volcano?”
“Cinnabar Island is a volcanic island, you see.” Blaine explained. “The burning passion of me and my pokegirls is fueled by the fiery inferno flowing beneath our feet!”
Blaine frowned when Kary began laughing. “Ha ha… hahaha… HAHAHAHA!”
“What are you laughing at?”
Kary had one hand covering her face as she laughed. “I feel it, too.” She said with glee. “Feel it flowing, surging with power.” She lowered her hand to reveal that she wore a similar expression to Wendy. “COME! TRY ME!”
Wendy let out an excited scream and dashed forwards, slamming into Kary and riding the Dragonair to the ground. Kary retaliated by smashing her forehead into Wendy's nose, hissing with laughter when the Arcanine reeled back.
Steam billowed across the arena when Kary raised her hands, water swirling around her in direct defiance to Wendy’s flames. The Arcanine came to a halt, preparing more fire as Kary was lifted into the sky by the water pressure.
“DROWN!” Kary screamed, unleashing the wall of water on Wendy.
The Arcanine stood her ground, taking deep breaths to fuel the inferno in her jaws. As the water got close she lifted her head, unleashing a wall of fire that smashed into Kary’s attack.
The explosion of steam covered the arena in an instant and Nicholas coughed, peering into the mists in an attempt to see what had happened. “Kary!”
A burst of wind cleared the air and Nicholas could see Kary with her hand on Wendy’s throat. The Dragonair was covered in horrific burns but she still had strength in her as she held down the drenched Arcanine.
“Surrender.” Kary rasped.
Wendy replied by laughing, her eyes smoldering as she prepared to fire a blast at point blank range.
Both humans covered their ears when Kary screamed, waves of energy battering Wendy until the Arcanine went limp.
Kary fell to the ground when her opponent disappeared and she struggled to her feet when Blaine released a pokegirl with flowing red hair and a horn on her forehead.
“Rapidash. The fire horse pokegirl.”
Nicholas glanced down at his pokedex and back to the battle. “Kary, paralyze her if you can!”
“Yea.” Kary muttered, electricity sparking along her arms. Before she could fire the attack the Rapidash charged, shifting into a tauric form halfway to her target and whirling to kick her back legs straight into Kary’s chest.
Kary flew backwards, her head smacking against the floor, but struggled back up to stare at the prancing unicorn. “Fuck you.”
The Rapidash snorted, lowering her head and charging once again. This time she simply slammed into Kary, using her bulk to cause serious damage to the skinnier pokegirl.
Kary grimly held onto the Rapidash when she started to break away and the girl screamed when electric current pumped through her body. Nicholas triggered Kary’s recall when the Rapidash bucked her and the Dragonair didn’t get up again.
“Elizabeth. Finish the job.”
Elizabeth materialized and immediately took a defensive stance, shuffling towards the Rapidash as the centaur’s back burst into flame.
Elizabeth grunted when the Rapidash slammed into her, laughing when the girl squealed and pranced back to nurse where she’d been impaled by one of Elizabeth’s spikes. “What’s wrong,” she taunted, “did Kary’s little shock slow you down this much?”
The Rapidash growled and ran forwards before stumbling and skidding to a halt. Elizabeth stalked forwards as her opponent struggled to move.
Elizabeth hit so hard that the girl shifted back into her human form mid-flight, avoiding the tangle of limbs that would have no doubt resulted from her ungainly slide across the arena. Elizabeth sighed when the Rapidash got back to her feet, battered, bruised, but still able to attack. She took the counterattack head on, gritting her teeth and enduring the flames until the Rapidash had to rest.
The Rapidash keeled over when Elizabeth blasted her with water before the Nidoqueen fell to one knee as well.
“Burned pretty bad.” She gasped. “Master?”
“Can you throw another water attack at whoever comes out next?”
The next pokegirl Blaine released wore a flowing robe and as she took in the arena a pair of fox ears popped from beneath her long blonde hair.
“Alright, Elizabeth, hit her!” Nicholas urged before looking at his pokedex.
“Ninetales. The fox pokegirl.” It said.
The Ninetales smiled when Elizabeth began to build water again. “Oh, dear. You should be careful with things like that, sweetheart. Someone might get hurt.”
Elizabeth gritted her teeth. “That’s the idea.”
The Ninetales sighed and her tails spread behind her. “I mean you, darling.”
Elizabeth was about to fire what she had when the tips of the Ninetales’ tails began to glow, multicolored orbs popping off and swirling rapidly towards her. Elizabeth staggered, rubbing her eyes as she tried to fight off the effect. “What the…”
The Ninetales snapped her fingers, a small flame appearing above her hand. “Surrender.”
Nicholas recalled her when flames engulfed the Nidoqueen. After a moment he released Dahlia. “Dahlia, I’m sorry, but you’re needed.”
The Ninetales snorted when Dahlia materialized. “You would have done better to remain in your pokeball.”
“Does your mouth have a name?” Nicholas snapped at her.
The Ninetales’ eyes lit up and she laughed. “HA! Do I have a name. I do indeed, human. I am Kyuko.”
“Dahlia, make Kyuko shut the fuck up.”
Kyuko’s peals of laughter echoed as Dahlia stared down the flames she was wielding. “Master… I can’t beat her.”
“Cassidy can.” Nicholas replied. “Can you help her?”
Dahlia’s face set. “Gladly.”
“Let’s see you try, little plant.” Kyuko’s arms burst into flame and she charged. Dahlia didn’t bother attacking, instead beginning to spread her powder through the air.
When Kyuko encountered the cloud the flames on her arms ignited the flammable pollen, ripping through the air until everything around the two was a blazing inferno. Dahlia screamed in fear when the Ninetales burst through the wall of flames, laughing maniacally as she brought her flames crashing into the Venusaur.
Nicholas reached for Dahlia’s pokeball when Kyuko jumped back and left her trapped in the spinning flames. “Alright, Dahlia, I’m-“
Nicholas gasped when Dahlia dove through the fire, her cries of pain echoing in his ears. “No.” She repeated, clutching her blackened skin. “She’s… attacking… again.”
“You don’t have to take it!”
“I do.” Dahlia stared at the ready Ninetales. “If you bring me back, Master, she’ll be ready to hurt Cassidy. I need to force her to attack. That way Cassidy will have a chance.”
“It’s okay.” Dahlia stepped towards Kyuko. “This is what an Alpha does for her harem.”
The Ninetales growled when she took another step. “Stay down.”
Kyuko snarled, raising her hands, but Dahlia was already in motion. The Ninetales cursed when powder blew into her face and she desperately scrubbed her eyes, staggering when she breathed the pollen into her lungs. “You…”
“Sleep.” Dahlia retorted.
Nicholas swore when the cyclone of fire shifted towards her. “Dahlia, look out!”
Dahlia didn’t turn in time and was engulfed by the flames, her screams echoing before she vanished into the recall beam. He looked over at Kyuko to see that the Ninetales had slumped over and was snoring softly.
“Cassidy-” Nicholas started to give a command but the Alakazam materialized in motion.
“Thank you, Dahlia.” Cassidy whispered, her hands shimmering with power before she focused and sent a blast of energy into the slumbering Ninetales.
Blaine recalled his pokegirl. “Two remain.”
“Should I have Victoria come in, Cassidy?”
The Alakazam shook her head. “I intend to finish this, Master.”
“Then focus on avoiding damage.” Nicholas wiped his brow. The heat had been steadily increasing throughout the fight and he was drenched in sweat. “And-“
“I know, Master.” Cassidy glanced back at him with a small smile. “I can hear your every strategy. There’s no need to speak.”
A shorter girl materialized and Cassidy immediately leapt into action, forming a Shadow Ball and hurling it at her opponent. The pokegirl squealed, thrashing about in the attack before puckering up and spitting fire at Cassidy. Cassidy took the hit in order to focus on her meditation, carefully building power until her eyes snapped open and she let loose a raging beam of psychic energy.
Nicholas barely had gotten his pokedex pointed when the attack cleaved into their opponent, the girl tottering about before her eyes crossed and she collapsed.
“So that was a Magmar.” Nicholas read the entry while Blaine recalled his pokegirl. “She went down quick.”
“I targeted her mind.” Cassidy whispered with her telepathy.
“Can you do that again?” Nicholas muttered.
“No.” Cassidy gazed at the girl that had just appeared. She stood barely as tall as the Magmar had and had soft red hair cascading over shoulders. “Her mind was untrained, easy to overload. This one, she can resist.”
“It seems that we’ve come down to our finale.” Blaine said. “You’ve displayed some beautiful fireworks, Nicholas. You and your pokegirls. But I wouldn’t be a good gym leader if I simply let anyone who challenged me leave here with a badge.”
Cassidy sketched in the air in front of her, forming a glimmering barrier. “I will win today.”
“Your master might, but I promise that you won’t.” Blaine retorted. “Aster, ignore her shield!”
Nicholas checked his pokedex. “Flareon. The flame pokegirl.”
“My barrier protects me from your strikes.” Cassidy snorted. “What do you hope to achieve?”
“This.” Cassidy’s eyes widened when the fluffy girl dashed forwards. She wasn’t as fast as Cassidy, but she was small, so she easily ducked under Cassidy’s first attack and slid right under the barrier the Alakazam had erected. As Cassidy jumped back Aster leapt to her feet and struck, driving a rigid hand into Cassidy’s solar plexus. Cassidy gagged, faltering slightly, before looking up to see the Flareon lunging at her with her mouth open wide.
Cassidy roared in pain when Aster bit her breast, sinking her fangs into the unprotected flesh. Cassidy staggered but struck, smacking the top of her assailant’s head.
Aster said something, muffled by her mouthful of tit, and Cassidy screamed. “YOU WOULDN’T DARE!”
The Flareon giggled and Cassidy’s eyes rolled back from the pain when fire licked from the girl’s mouth and spread up her chest. Aster released Cassidy, jumping back and readying another burst of flame that washed over the stunned Alakazam.
Cassidy fell to her knees, barely able to breathe, as she felt blood begin to drip from her wounds. One more…
Nicholas recalled her before the Flareon could finish the job. “You’re a strong little thing.” He raised Victoria’s pokeball, watching the Gyarados materialize. “Victoria! Give it everything you’ve got. One blast. Take her down!”
Victoria took in the small girl in front of her. “Her, Master?”
“She hits hard, so don’t let her get close.”
You are a dragon.
Victoria took a deep breath of the sweltering air. She could feel the humidity energizing her.
Forget how to fear.
This was a gym battle. It was okay for her to be angry here.
The fight was over in an instant.
Victoria roared, slamming her tail into the ground and spreading her arms. She could feel the water, it was here. She just needed to bring it out.
The Flareon stumbled when the room began to shake, Victoria’s roars growing in volume as water began surging around her body. More, and more, until the Gyarados was cloaked in a bubble of liquid.
The Flareon whimpered, bracing to run, but Victoria wasn’t going to let her. With a scream the deluge flew across the arena, catching the Flareon and sweeping her off her feet. The pokegirl’s screams cut off when the surging water swallowed her, battering her through the air until she slammed into the far wall. Victoria didn’t let up, pushing every drop she had gathered into the pinned fire-type.
Blaine turned to look at his unmoving pokegirl when Victoria finally relented and the Flareon crashed to the ground. After a moment he recalled her, turning back to gaze at Nicholas and Victoria.
“You’ve truly extinguished our flames, Nicholas.” He stepped into the arena and walked over to the other side, holding out the badge. “We’ve burned out. The Volcano Badge is yours.”
Nicholas accepted it and shook the other man’s hand. “If I hadn’t had Victoria, we’d have lost.”
“You’ve built a balanced team.” Blaine removed his sunglasses and held Nicholas’ gaze. “And you held out against some of my stronger girls beautifully. I don’t know if any of them could have taken your Gyarados, but you never needed to find out.”
“You’re welcome.” Blaine tapped the glasses against his palm. “I want a rematch. One day, after you’ve faced the Elite Four, come back and find me.” He slid the glasses back on and turned away. “I’ll be waiting.”
Nicholas recalled Victoria and suddenly felt very tired. The heat, the strain of the battle… He couldn’t take it anymore. He felt faint.
Nicholas staggered out of the gym with Victoria’s pokeball clutched tightly in his hand. He needed to get to the pokecenter. As he stumbled down the street his mind wandered, thinking over the battle. Five for five. They’d tied, and Victoria had been the last pokegirl standing. It had been so close.
Too close. Their training wasn’t enough.
Nicholas waited in the pokecenter lobby while the attendants ran his harem through a healing cycle. He felt drained. Exhausted. The sweltering heat of the gym combined with the most intense battle he’d ever participated in had left him barely able to think straight, let alone function. He figured his pokegirls must be feeling the same way, especially Dahlia, after she had tanked that hit so Cassidy could switch in safely.
She’d all but sacrificed herself for her harem.
His thoughts wandered. From their recent ordeal with Articuno to the strange interactions with Koga, and back to the Saffron City siege. He’d been through so much on this journey. But... he didn’t regret it. Even when he thought he was going to die in the Seafoam Islands, he’d had no regrets.
Something nagged at the back of his mind. There had been something else recently something... not adventurous, or stressful, but thrilling, and... he frowned to himself. What had it been?
“Isn’t there someone you need to call?”
Gary’s words brought the thought rushing in and Nicholas searched his pockets until he found Sabrina’s note.
We should talk. Give me a call when you’re ready. -S
The real question was how Gary had known about her note, but Nicholas was only thinking about what Sabrina had wanted. Was it something about Team Rocket? Something about his harem, or the gym challenge? He felt himself begin to blush. Was it about something else?
No. No, she was a gym leader, and he was just a random tamer. It would be about Team Rocket, probably. Or maybe she wanted to share the secret of how to evolve a Kadabra. Or just thank him again. There were a hundred reasons she would have given him her number.
Nicholas deliberated for a bit before pulling out his pokedex and keying it in. It was probably just the gym number anyways.
He waited as the call rang and sighed when it swapped to voicemail. “Yea, just a-“ he stopped when a female voice recording began to play.
“You’ve reached the voicemail of the Esper Lady. If you’re calling for league business, hang up and dial the Saffron gym. Otherwise please leave a message and I will call you back when I can.”
“Esper Lady?” Nicholas muttered as the recording beeped. “Oh. Um, hey, Sabrina, this is... Nicholas, the tamer from um, the Silph Co... thing. I don’t know how much you want me to say on voicemail. Anyways, you said to give you a call, so... I did.” He winced. Spit it out! “I just finished battling in Cinnabar and remembered that you’d given me your number and-“ he stopped when he realized he was repeating himself. “Anyways I’m not heading anywhere for a while so if you wanted to talk to me I’ll be available. Bye.”
He stared at his pokedex for a few minutes. Idiot. Why had he been rambling along like that? Because she was a girl? He hadn’t gone stupid when he’d met Erika, or Misty. Maybe it was the fatigue. Yea, that had to be it. He was still exhausted. After he got his harem back he was going to take a nice long nap.
“Sir.” Nicholas looked up. “Your pokegirls have been healed.”
Nicholas walked tot he counter and accepted his belt back. “Thank you.”
“It was my pleasure, sir.” The NurseJoy replied with a smile and a curtsy. “We hope you excel!”
“...thanks.” Nicholas replied with a tired smile.
Tent, shade, nap. Nicholas pushed outside. He needed a good place to sleep.
He searched for a while and was debating whether to ask if he could just use the pokecenter when his pokedex rang.
“Who-?” He fumbled with the device and checked the screen. Some random number, except... he recognized it. Nicholas quickly accepted the call. “Hello?”
The screen came to life. “Nicholas!” Sabrina leaned back with a massive smile. “I was thinking you’d never call me.”
“I got busy.” Nicholas replied lamely. “Sorry.”
“It’s been over a week.” Sabrina laughed. “You must have been doing something quite engaging.”
Nicholas thought about his near death experience. “Something like that.”
“I’m taking care of some business, but I’ll be back in Saffron tomorrow. Would you like to come by the gym? Say, around noon?”
“Sure. Is this something about... who I ran into before?”
Sabrina barely shook her head. “No, nothing about that. I’ll explain when I see you.” Nicholas blinked when she smiled at him again. “Tomorrow at noon.”
He watched the call disconnect. Had she just...
No, he shouldn’t be thinking about that. She was just smiling so much because... she was happy Team Rocket was gone.
Pewter City – Boulder Badge
Cerulean City – Cascade Badge
Vermilion City – Thunder Badge
Celadon City – Rainbow Badge
Saffron City – Marsh Badge
Fuchsia City – Soul badge
Cinnabar Island – Volcano Badge
Dahlia, Venusaur – Level 43 (Alpha)
Ashley, Pidgeot – Level 42
Elizabeth, Nidoqueen – Level 44
Victoria, Gyarados – Level 45
Cassidy, Alakazam – Level 43
Kary, Dragonair – Level 45
Galina, Marowak – Level 33
Sasha, Ditto – Level 30
Abigail, Snorlax – Level 31
“…You know, we don’t have to fly like this every time.”
Ashley smiled. “Like what, Master?”
“You know what.”
“Can we anyways?” Ashley glanced down at the man she held in her arms. “I… I like it this way.”
“Were you going to say something else?”
Ashley returned to staring ahead. “It doesn’t matter, Master.”
“What was it?”
They flew in silence for a long time before Ashley spoke. “Pokegirls can’t love a human, so it doesn’t matter.”
“I am not human.” Ashley replied. “You will never love me like you would another human, and that’s alright. I accept that.”
“Even if that’s true, it doesn’t mean we can’t love each other.” Nicholas replied. “Yes, you’re just my pokegirl, but there’s no reason to let that keep us from forming that kind of bond.”
Ashley blinked away her tears. “I can’t give you what a human can.”
“I don’t care.” Nicholas replied firmly. “I love you, Ashley. I love Victoria, and Dahlia, and Elizabeth, I love all of you.”
“…You didn’t mention Cassidy or Kary.” Ashley said quietly. “Or Galina, or…”
“Because I can’t say the same for them.” Nicholas said. “I love them as my pokegirls, but I don’t know yet if I love them like you’re asking.”
Ashley sniffed. “Thank you, Master.”
A while later they winged over Saffron, Ashley landing in front of the pokecenter and letting him down.
“The city has come alive.” Nicholas murmured, gazing around at the lively streets and bustling storefronts.
“All because of you, Master.”
“I didn’t do much.” Nicholas replied, turning to her. “It was all of you that did the real work.”
Ashley beamed. “But we wouldn’t have been able to do it without our Master.”
Nicholas chuckled, recalling her and walking towards the gym. It was still before noon, so he didn’t expect Sabrina to be there quite yet.
To his surprise as he walked up he could see a number of people going in and out of the doors and, once there was a break in the crowd, he walked inside to see Sabrina standing in the lobby signing autographs.
“Yes, I’m done traveling now.” Sabrina was saying to a teenager. “Saffron is my home, and I’ve been leaving her alone far too often. I promise to do better from now on.”
“I heard… People said you were in league with those guys.”
Sabrina smiled sadly. “I trusted Silph Co. to look after Saffron, but it wasn’t enough. I made a mistake, and I’m sorry.”
The teenager nodded and turned away. Sabrina was turning to the next person when she noticed Nicholas standing in the door. “Oh! Nicholas?”
“Oh, uh, hi.” Nicholas awkwardly waved when a number of heads turned his direction. “I thought I’d get here early.”
“I wasn’t expecting to hold our meeting until noon.” Sabrina said. “Would you please wait for me to finish here?”
“This way, master Nicholas.” Nicholas looked over to see Diana waving at him. “Over here.”
He walked over, following the Alakazam down a short hall into a small sitting room. “Sorry, I just came from Cinnabar…”
“We knew you would be on time, sir.” Diana replied with a smile. “Mistress Sabrina will be finishing up soon, and then she wishes to change into clothing more appropriate for your… appointment.”
“What’s it all about?”
Diana shrugged. “My Mistress doesn’t share everything with me, sir.”
Nicholas shrugged and settled back to wait.
His clock read 12:08 when he heard someone approaching the room and he put his pokedex down. “Sabrina?”
“Yes, sorry, I ran over a few minutes.” Sabrina entered the room fiddling with her hair. “Ready?”
Nicholas couldn’t respond for a minute. When he had come to challenge the gym, Sabrina had been wearing a red blouse and form-fitting skirt over a black bodysuit. He’d seen her in a nearly identical outfit signing autographs, so he’d assumed it was her gym uniform. But the woman standing in front of him now wasn’t wearing her uniform. Sabrina had changed into a casual red top and long white pants, held up by a black belt with a silver diamond buckle.
“…Yea, I’m ready.” He finally managed. “I was expecting to see you in your uniform.”
Sabrina shrugged. “Well this is going to be casual, right? So I changed and slipped into some more comfortable shoes.” She picked one foot up to show him the red loafers. “Anyways, if you’re ready, let’s go.”
“Hold on.” Nicholas said when she turned back to the door. “Where?”
“Oh, right, I didn’t tell you.” Sabrina glanced back at him. “There’s a nice open air café a few blocks down. Thought we could get lunch.”
Nicholas watched her exit the room with his head spinning. A café? Going to lunch? She’d said he was here for a meeting, Diana had said appointment… What was going on?
Had he- had he just been asked on a date?
Nicholas hurried out of the room and caught up to Sabrina in the lobby. “Sorry.” He followed her outside and glanced down at his slightly wrinkled t-shirt. “If I’d known we were going out somewhere I’d have picked a different shirt.”
Sabrina laughed, a bright sound that made his heart sing. “You look like you just flew in from Cinnabar.”
Nicholas cracked a smile. “Well, I suppose I did.”
“Don’t worry about it. But if it really bothers you that much, you can use the facilities at the gym to change.”
“Does it bother you?”
Sabrina shook her head. “Not at all.”
“Then I’m good.”
“Excellent.” Sabrina led him through the streets, pointing at a small patio. “There it is.”
“Ah, table for two?” The host asked when they walked up. “Inside or outside?”
“Outside?” Sabrina asked, glancing at Nicholas. “It’s a beautiful day.”
“It is.” Nicholas agreed. “Outside, please.”
“Right this way, please.” The man pushed through a small gate and showed them to a table near the building. “Would either of you like anything special today…?”
“We’ll be taking a few minutes before we order, so can we get some water?” Sabrina asked.
“Of course, miss.” The host bobbed his head and vanished into the café.
Nicholas was staring after him and jumped when Sabrina cleared her throat. “Huh?”
“I asked what you’ve been up to.” Sabrina said. “Still working on your gym challenge?”
“Uh… yea, I am.” Nicholas replied. “I’m up to seven, but Blaine proved to me that we’re not ready for the Elite Four, let alone the eighth gym at this point.”
“Seven? Which was I?” Sabrina took a sip of her water.
“Fifth, I think.”
“Fifth. Mm.” Sabrina put her glass down. “So that’s why I felt a little behind through the whole thing.”
“Behind? I only barely won!”
“Well, you still did.” Sabrina replied. “Usually I hold out at least once with challengers. Although…” She hesitated. “That was when I had… those other influences.”
“Speaking of… What did you want to talk about?” Nicholas asked. “You’ve been really vague.”
Sabrina slowly began swirling the ice in her drink. “I didn’t have anything in particular.”
“I wanted to get to know you.” Sabrina said, looking into his eyes. “As more than just a gym leader and challenger, I wanted to understand who you were, Nicholas. You’re the first person… The first one who wasn’t afraid to stand up to me. To, to forgive me for what I’ve done.”
“I think we might be remembering that meeting a bit differently.” Nicholas mumbled in embarrassment.
“I don’t think so.” Sabrina replied. “Do you know how easy it would have been for you to tear me down right then, Nicholas? You’d taken my selfish, self-serving excuses and thrown them back in my face. You’d just accomplished what I had been too afraid to do for myself, and I knew it. I’d lost, Nicholas. I’d lost to a man I’d never met before in my life.” She put her glass down. “But instead of finishing me off, you hugged me. You told me ‘I don’t hate you. I pity you, and I’m going to help you.’”
“…it was the right thing to do.”
“I wanted to get to know the man who did the right thing.” Sabrina replied. Nicholas could see a light blush on her cheeks as she ducked her head and mumbled something into her glass.
“Nothing.” Sabrina hurriedly replied.
“So that’s why you asked me to meet you? Just a casual thing?”
Sabrina nodded. “I wanted to go somewhere with you, as just… as two people. Not even as two tamers, just a guy and a girl going out for lunch. I just... was hoping you’d be my friend.”
Nicholas wasn’t sure if what he felt then was relief or disappointment. Either way, he decided, the answer was the same. “I think I’d like that.”
“Thank you.” Sabrina breathed. “Because of what’s happened over the last six years, I haven’t had any chance to make friends. You’re the first person to... to treat me like a person instead of a gym leader.”
“Well, you’re still a gym leader. It’s hard to forget that.” Nicholas replied. “You’re completely out of my league there.”
“Why does that matter?” Sabrina murmured. “It’s just a job, being a gym leader. I’m not that right now, right? I’m just… I’m just me.”
“I’m just Sabrina, right?” Sabrina asked sadly. “I changed out of my uniform and everything.”
“I mean, you did, but…” Nicholas trailed off. “Look, how old were you when you became a gym leader?”
“Fifteen.” Nicholas snorted. “You beat the Elite Four at the age of fifteen. How am I supposed to match up to that? You’re incredible, Sabrina. I’m nowhere near your level.” He shook his head. “I wish we’d met somewhere other than that gym. I’d have asked you out in a heartbeat.”
“What about now?” Sabrina blurted out. “We’re not at the gym.”
“Yea, but, it’s like I said. You’re completely out of my league.” Nicholas chuckled, completely missing how Sabrina’s face fell. “Besides, you want to be friends, and I’m alright with that. You’re what, twenty-one?”
“Twenty-four, but thank you for the compliment.” Sabrina mumbled.
“See, that makes it even worse.” Nicholas laughed. “You’re exactly my age, and you’ve accomplished SO much more than I have. I don’t deserve someone like you.” He shook his head again. “Anyways. I’m happy to be your friend, Sabrina. We’ve talked a bit about me; how has your week been?”
Sabrina slowly spoke, eventually finding her smile as the two chattered back and forth.
“Thanks for having lunch with me.” Sabrina said with a smile. “I needed some time to relax.”
Nicholas sighed. “Yea. Me too.”
“Stay in touch, alright?” Nicholas jumped when she leaned forwards and gave him a hug. “I’ll be cheering for you.”
Nicholas stood in stunned silence as she waved and walked back into the gym. He would have stood there for an hour if some of his pokeballs hadn’t opened.
Kary materialized an instant before Cassidy did so the first thing he heard was her angry scream. “HOW COULD YOU BE SO STUPID!”
“Kary?” He stammered. “What-“
“Kary, not here.” Cassidy hissed, grabbing the two and teleporting out of the city. “There. Now you can make sure Master knows how much of a moron he is.”
The Dragonair grabbed him and bodily lifted Nicholas off the ground. “Do you have ANY IDEA how hard it has been to not say anything? By the creator, you’re so STUPID.” She slammed him back down in disgust. “I saw you watching her from the moment you entered that gym. And you know what, Master? When she was preparing to fight us, she was feeling those EXACT. SAME. THINGS.”
“What are you talking about?!” Nicholas cried.
“SHE ASKED YOU ON A DATE!”
“No she didn’t, she said herself that she wanted to talk.” Nicholas shook his head. “Why do you care so much? I would think you, of all pokegirls, would be the happiest that I’m not dating a human!”
“I want what’s good for you, Master.” Kary retorted. “She is good for you. And you’re too- too STUBBORN to accept that!” She looked away in disgust. “I know because I watched her look at you when you were distracted, focusing on the battle. She looked at you like I look at you, and in that moment I wanted nothing more than to chase her away.” Nicholas was shocked when tears began to bead in her eyes. “But I made a vow. I’ll do anything for you, Master. And that… that includes bringing that woman into your life.”
“We heard everything, Master.” Cassidy said. “I’m sure Dahlia and Elizabeth did as well, and who knows with Ashley and Victoria. I know Elizabeth has been teaching them to exit their pokeballs. We know that you didn’t lose your chance. Not yet.”
“You really think she feels that way about me? I’m just a random guy. She’s… she’s incredible.” He looked at Kary. “Even if – IF – we somehow started dating, it would take time away from all of you.”
“It would make you happy.” Kary said bitterly. “That’s all I care about, can’t you understand? It’s no different than the time you spend with Dahlia, or Victoria, or any of them. I just want you to be happy.” She sniffed and rubbed at her eyes. “I- I love you. I know you told Ashley that you don’t love me yet, not like her, or the others, but I love you. This woman, Sabrina, she wants to love you too.”
Nicholas sighed. “I would like nothing more than to start dating her. But she’s defeated the Elite Four. She’s on the same level as the Champion! I’m nobody. I don’t even have eight badges.” He hung his head. “I’m not on her level, so it wouldn’t be fair for her. She deserves someone better.”
“You’re so dense sometimes. She did everything but say the words herself, and you missed every hint.” Cassidy grabbed his shoulder, forcing him to look into her determined eyes. “It’s not true that you aren’t good enough for her, and if it’s what you believe, I can’t help you.” Her grip tightened. “But I can fight for you, Master. If you refuse to accept that you’re just as worthy as she is, I will fight until you see that you’re good enough.”
Nicholas watched as the rest of his pokeballs triggered at Cassidy’s thought. “What are you doing?”
“We’re going to train, Master.” Cassidy replied. “Until we’re ready for anything that comes our way.” She turned to look at Dahlia. “Right, Alpha?”
Dahlia stepped forwards. “You’re an idiot, Master, but you’re our idiot.” She looked around the gathered pokegirls. “Playtime is over, girls. Let’s go.”
“This is ridiculous.” Nicholas grumbled.
“We will do this because we love you, Master.” Dahlia said quietly. “You’re so much more than you give yourself credit for. Sabrina deserves you, Master, and you deserve her.” Her vines uncurled into a ready stance. “So unless you’re going to go running back to her, right now…”
“GIRLS!” Dahlia turned to the harem. “I don’t want to see anyone slowing down until we stop for dinner. We are training, training, training, until we can defend Master’s stupidly high standards. Until we can meet them, and prove that we’re just as good as Diana and the rest of Sabrina’s harem.” She grinned at the excited pokegirls. “AM I UNDERSTOOD?”
A week had passed and Nicholas nervously stood outside the Saffron gym. He’d gotten so caught up in their training…
Sabrina stepped outside and stared at Nicholas. “What’s this?”
Nicholas held out the large bags he was carrying. “I’m leaving again soon, so I brought breakfast with me.”
Sabrina laughed and turned to let him into the gym. “I thought your message was an invitation, not an offer.”
“Bit of both.” Nicholas replied. “Where do I go?”
“We can use the same room as last time.”
Nicholas moved down the hallways. “I think I brought enough for your harem, if they’re interested.”
“It’s just Diana and Madeline here right now. The others are off having fun.”
Nicholas nodded. “Madeline?”
“Oh, I forgot you haven’t met everybody yet.” Sabrina cocked her head and after a few moments she nodded. “They’re coming.”
“I’ll just put these down for now.” Nicholas dropped the bags of food. “Hey, Sabrina?”
The gym leader turned. “Hm?”
“I, um... I know at our lunch, thing, we talked about being friends and what that meant and all.” He awkwardly rubbed his neck. “But... I want you to know, if you ever want to tell me something, you don’t have to hold back.”
“I... see.” Sabrina replied. “Thanks, Nicholas. That means a lot.”
“Good.” Nicholas mumbled. “So you know, just... anything. Anything at all.”
The two stood in awkward silence for a few minutes before Nicholas stepped quickly towards the door. “Anyways, it was nice to see you, I should get moving... got places to be.”
“Yea. Yea, I should get ready for the day.” Sabrina replied. “I’ll make sure my girls know you brought them breakfast.”
“I’ll uh, have to meet Madeline some time.” Nicholas replied. “Give me a call if you think of anything.”
“I will.” Sabrina whispered.
Nicholas was long gone when Diana finally poked her head into the room. “Mistress?”
Diana stepped inside. “You don’t sound happy, Mistress.”
“He was so close to saying it.” Sabrina whispered. “Am I wrong, Diana? Does he not like me? Is he just... just being nice?”
“From what you told us after your date, Mistress, I have no doubts that he is interested in you.”
“Then why won’t he say that?” Sabrina moaned. “When I hint at it he gets nervous and deflects!”
“Well Mistress, you’ve never tried to date a boy before. Maybe you’re not doing something right.”
“I asked him out. I told him I liked him. What else am I supposed to do?” Sabrina cried. “I’ve taken every step I was supposed to!”
Diana wrapped Sabrina in her arms. “But have you told him how you feel?”
Sabrina blinked. “I told him that I liked him.”
“You said that you asked him to be your friend.” Diana corrected her gently. “There is a difference, Mistress. I am your friend but we are something more.” She kissed Sabrina’s cheek. “If you’re nervous, and unsure, so is he. Give it time.”
Outside the building, Kary was glaring at him.
“You didn’t say it.”
Nicholas glanced away from her. “I wasn’t ready.”
“For crying out loud.” Kary griped. “YOU want this, SHE wants this, would one of you just ADMIT IT ALREADY!”
“I gave her a chance.” Nicholas tried. “Kind of... hinted that she could say it if she wanted to. But she didn’t, so...”
“Humans are so hesitant.” Kary growled. “I liked you, Master, so what did I do?”
“You pinned me to the ground and made sure I knew you were mine.”
“Exactly. No waiting, none of this stupid back and forth. THAT’S how you need to do this.”
“Look, I can’t do that, okay?” Nicholas said in exasperation. “Can we just go? I told you why I’m not confessing yet, and you’re not helping that by standing here berating me.”
Kary leaned back as she vanished into her pokeball. “Hmph.”
“Cassidy, can you take us back to Cinnabar?” Nicholas grinned when the Alakazam materialized. He was a huge fan of the black leather bodysuit she’d chosen as ‘clothing’. It was a one-piece design, originally with a zipper from her navel to her collarbone. However Cassidy’s enormous breasts had come nowhere close to fitting, so she’d had the zipper turned into an open window that displayed her stomach and the center of her chest.
“I hope they let me walk around this time, Master.” Cassidy replied, taking his hand and teleporting then back to the island. “Maybe?”
“Let’s find out.”
The same receptionist was on duty and when they entered she began laughing.
“She got some clothes.” Nicholas chuckled.
“It’s good enough according to the rules. Have fun!”
“Oh I’m so happy I can actually look with my eyes this time.” Cassidy gushed, following him through the lab. “It’s all so interesting!”
“I’m glad you can as well.” Nicholas chuckled, pulling open the door to the cloning lab. “Ho!”
The same scientist as before was there and he looked up when Nicholas called. “Ah! You’re, ah, Nicholas, right?”
“Yea, I left a fossil with you about a week ago.”
“The procedure was a complete success.” The scientist turned and pointed at one of the tanks. “See for yourself.”
Nicholas walked up and stared at the floating figure. “She grew fast.”
“All pokegirls do.” The scientist replied. “Ever hatched an egg?”
“Can’t say I have.”
“I’ve never seen a pokegirl break out who wasn’t already fully grown and ready to fight. It’s an evolutionary thing, I suppose.” The scientist nodded at the floating pokegirl. “Got a pokeball ready?”
“Yea, sure. Is she asleep or something?”
“The tank keeps them sedated. Don’t want any accidents.” The scientist turned to a control panel. “I’ll drain the fluid now.”
Nicholas watched the tank empty, the girl settling on the floor. After a few minutes her chest moved and she coughed, fluid splattering the walls as she cleared her lungs.
“What kind of pokegirl is she?” Nicholas muttered. “I’ve never seen anything quite like her.”
“That’s because she’s extinct.” The scientist watched the girl get to her feet. “The Kabuto breed exists only as fossils now. Or, they did, until we started cloning them.”
“Yes, so she might…” The scientist yelped when the girl raised a hand, her fingers morphing into sharp claws that she slammed into the glass tank. “Shit! I’m opening the tank, stop her before she damages anything!”
There was a flash of red and a pokegirl in uniform appeared, dashing towards the escaping Kabuto as her master, one of the other scientists, shouted orders.
“Kabuto were an ancient predatory pokegirl, so it makes sense that she’s aggressive.” The scientist backed up a few steps when the pokegirls clashed. “Careful, watch the table!”
As Nicholas watched the two pokegirls fight he gasped. No, if she moved there, then-!
The scientist glanced at him. “Hm…?”
With a scream the security pokegirl fell back, clutching at a large wound on her torso. Without a moment’s hesitation the Kabuto struck, her claws slicing across the other pokegirl’s body. Panic set in around the lab when the Kabuto roared, turning her attention to the humans when a recall beam saved the dying pokegirl.
“Cassidy-“ Nicholas stared when the girl swiveled to him. “Shit.”
The girl had a large brown shell protecting her back, but the most unsettling features were her glowing red eyes and bladed fingers. She took a small step towards him, her head cocking as she peered at him from behind her bangs.
He was preparing to order Cassidy when the Kabuto began to glow. The evolution was fast and soon the girl stood even taller. Her brown shell had wrapped around her body, forming a set of sculpted armor and thankfully her fingers had returned to normal.
“Alright. Easy, girl.” Nicholas said. “No need for violence, okay?”
He screamed when the girl crouched, wicked blades sprouting from her arms as she dove towards him.
“I’ve got this, Master.” Cassidy stepped forwards, raising her hands and stopping the Kabutops with her telekinesis. “Her mind is very strange. Almost alien.”
“Feral, then?” Nicholas gasped. Calling that girl a predatory pokegirl was an understatement and a half.
“More than that.” Cassidy motioned and the girl went limp. “Fascinating.”
Nicholas heard the tone of her voice. “Sounds like you’ve gained a pet project, Cassidy.”
The Alakazam cleared her throat. “Well, she’s your pokegirl, Master.”
“Uh huh.” Nicholas captured the Kabutops. “Let’s head to Oak’s lab and ask him about her.” He smiled. “I want to check on the others as well. It’s been a while.”
“If you do learn anything, will you please inform Professor Oak? He is usually very quick to share information, and the lab would welcome anything new on fossil pokegirls.” The scientist asked from his hiding place.
“Of course.” Nicholas replied. “Have you heard anything that might suggest they can’t be tamed?”
“Of course not. She is still a pokegirl, no matter how ancient.” He shivered. “And terrifying.”
“Cool. Then this should be interesting.” Nicholas nodded to the slowly recovering room. “Have a good day, everyone.” Once they had made it back outside he recalled Cassidy and released Ashley. “I think we’re done. Can you take us back to Pallet Town?”
Ashley nodded, sweeping him off his feet. “Of course, Master.”
“WAIT!” Blaine ran out of the lab and cursed when he saw the figure flying away. “Damnit, I just missed him.”
“What were you going to say, old friend?”
Blaine shook his head and turned to the old man that had followed him. “He deserves to know the truth.”
“Why? He is but a young tamer, still on his travels.” Mr. Fuji chuckled. “Our crimes do not concern him today, Blaine. Those are for the Champion to handle.”
“He’s been facing Team Rocket. He freed Sabrina.”
“That does not change my answer.” Mr. Fuji replied. “Mewtwo is not that young man’s concern. It would accomplish nothing to burden him with knowledge.”
“I still feel like he should know.” Blaine muttered.
“You worry far too much for today’s youth.” Mr. Fuji chided. “Let them be, old friend. Let them find their own path.” He smiled and pushed off the wall when Blaine approached. “I believe, especially with that one, that you will not be disappointed.”
“I can’t help but worry.” Blaine cracked a grin. “Without new tamers, how could I test my quizzes?”
Mr. Fuji laughed and followed him back into the lab. “You could always try me.”
“Yea? How about this one…”
Pewter City – Boulder Badge
Cerulean City – Cascade Badge
Vermilion City – Thunder Badge
Celadon City – Rainbow Badge
Saffron City – Marsh Badge
Fuchsia City – Soul badge
Cinnabar Island – Volcano Badge
Dahlia, Venusaur – Level 46 (Alpha)
Ashley, Pidgeot – Level 45
Elizabeth, Nidoqueen – Level 47
Victoria, Gyarados – Level 48
Cassidy, Alakazam – Level 47
Kary, Dragonair – Level 48
Galina, Marowak – Level 33
Sasha, Ditto – Level 30
Abigail, Snorlax – Level 31
???, Kabutops – Level 44
Pewter City – Boulder Badge
Cerulean City – Cascade Badge
Vermilion City – Thunder Badge
Celadon City – Rainbow Badge
Fuchsia City – Soul Badge
Cinnabar Island – Volcano Badge
Saffron City – Marsh Badge
Viridian City – Earth Badge
Vanessa, Blastoise – Level 51
Tamama, Exeggutor – Level 50
Hannah, Primeape – Level 50
Riana, Sandslash – Level 49
Madeline, Fearow – Level 48
Kura, Ninetales – Level 48