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A New Adventure
“You’re finally leaving?”
Nicholas bustled about the house. “Yes. I’ve had two separate calls from the league about why I’m still in Kanto and not showing up for meetings. We managed to fend them off for a beautiful few months though.”
Sasha clambered across the walls as she chased him. “Not completely.”
“No, but did you see that poor guy when the reclusive Champion not only shows up to accept the challenge, but demolishes his harem?” Nicholas snickered. “Galina had so much fun.”
“I’m glad she did,” Sasha said wistfully.
“Oh, starting to think about fighting, are we?” Nicholas teased.
“Of course not.” The Ditto dropped to the ground in front of him, forcing Nicholas to come to a halt. “I’m glad for another reason~”
Nicholas shook his head slightly. “I’ve heard from Professor Oak what your breed can do. I don’t want to come home to a house bursting with eggs.”
Sasha grinned and Nicholas groaned when she took his shape. “Oh don’t you worry, girls. Master is here!”
“Do you have any idea how creepy it is to hear your voice coming out of my mouth?” Nicholas asked as he continued walking. “Seriously, please don’t get them all… I don’t know. Is pregnant the right term? I’m no breeder, I don’t understand how Kary and Victoria made an egg in the first place.”
“Pregnant works. Until they lay the egg,” Sasha leered.
“Just don’t.” Nicholas sighed. “Whatever thingy pokegirls do to get pregnant, avoid it, please. I won’t be able to keep up if my harem doubles on top of whoever new I get in Johto.”
Sasha returned to her regular form and smiled. “I won’t, Master. But I can’t promise they won’t.”
“I can handle one or two new additions. What I can’t handle is a horny Ditto churning out eggs with every single girl in my harem!”
Sasha burst into a fit of laughter and glomped onto him. “Yes, Master. I’ll behave, Master.”
“You’d better,” Nicholas grumbled, stepping out into the main hall.
Ashley grinned when he appeared. “Ready?”
“Good luck, Master Nicholas.” Nicholas turned and nodded at where Kali stood. “I expect to hear of your victories soon.”
“I’ll do my best, Kali.”
Kali smiled. “You will.”
“Keep helping Dahlia while I’m gone, won’t you?” he asked. “It’ll keep you occupied.”
“I will. Or perhaps you may hear of a traveling pokegirl stalking the cities you sleep in at night.” Kali flashed her teeth. “Do not worry for me, Master Nicholas. I intend to stay busy one way or another.”
Nicholas chuckled to himself. “Alright.” He turned to Ashley. “Let’s go.”
It was a long flight. So long, in fact, that Ashley had to take a rest at the Indigo Plateau before continuing on into the Johto region.
Nicholas stared down at the unfamiliar landscape beneath them. Finally, after what felt like hours, Ashley winged down towards a small seaside town. As he dropped from her arms a man stepped out of a nearby building and waved. “Ho! Are you Nicholas?”
“Yeah, that’s me,” Nicholas replied. “Are you Professor Elm?”
“Yup!” The man beckoned him inside. “Come in, come in. Would your Pidgeot like me to transfer her back home via pokeball?”
Ashley laughed. “I will fly, but thank you, sir. Give us a call whenever you want to come home, Master.”
“For some reason I think all I’d need to do is call for Kali,” Nicholas replied drily.
Ashley grinned. “Maybe. I’ll see you later.”
Elm waited patiently while they kissed. “Now, are you ready?”
“Yeah,” Nicholas said when Ashley took off.
“Then please, this way.” Elm led him into the lab. “Now, I hear you’re a researcher yourself, is that right?”
“That’s right. I’m an evolutionary researcher.”
“Excellent! Then perhaps you’ll like the proposal I have for you.” Elm pointed at a waiting group of pokegirls. “I am currently researching pokegirl growth. Specifically, while the pokeball is an incredible resource for transporting pokegirls easily, I have always wondered if it inhibits a pokegirl’s natural growth. After all, the sensations of being in a pokeball are most like being asleep. How is the pokegirl meant to learn if she is asleep?”
“Actually-“ Nicholas started.
“So, I was hoping you could take your new pokegirl and let her travel alongside you instead of simply in her pokeball.” Elm chattered on, completely oblivious to Nicholas’ attempts at speaking. “It’s not uncommon here in Johto for pokegirls to wander about, even sometimes without their tamers, so there should be no issues. What do you say?”
Nicholas sighed. “Yeah, I can do that.”
“Excellent!” Elm gestured. “Over there are three girls who are ready to join a tamer on their league challenge. Please, go ahead and choose one.” He checked his watch. “I have another tamer coming by soon, so if you want first pick, you might wish to hurry.”
“First pick,” Nicholas grumbled. “Elm makes it sound like you girls don’t have a choice.”
He’d walked over while talking and now stood in front of the three pokegirls. One, which had to be a Grass-type with the vines in her hair, looked surprised to hear him say that. “Sir?”
“We’re going to be partners, aren’t we? Saying that it’s all my pick is silly.”
“I… don’t understand, sir.”
“I do.” A grinning redheaded girl shoved past the other and took a jaunty pose in front of him. “And you sound like the kind of Master I want.”
Nicholas chuckled but looked at the third, a timid looking girl with short blonde hair and a pleasing blue-black pattern covering her back. “What about you?”
The girl barely shook her head. “That’s okay, sir,” she whispered. “If she wants to go with you…”
“You’re a Water-type, right?” Nicholas asked the redhead. “Your skin gives it away.”
“Just because I have blue skin I have to be a Water-type, Master?” the girl teased. “What if I was an Ice-type? What then?”
“I’d be wrong,” Nicholas replied. “And what are you doing calling me Master already? I haven’t made my decision.”
“Oh, you have,” the girl replied adamantly. “I’m going with you.”
“Sounds more like you’ve made a decision,” Nicholas joked.
“So what if I have?” The girl challenged him with her eyes. “Whatcha gonna do about it?”
“Hmph. I like your attitude.” Nicholas grinned and turned to find Elm. “Professor! I’ll take her.”
“One moment, one moment… Ah, Totodile! Take care of her, Nicholas.” He checked his watch again with a slight frown. “That other tamer was supposed to be here by now. And Nicholas, didn’t you have a friend who would be coming as well?”
Nicholas blinked. “Huh?”
“Yes, that other young man… Michael, was it?”
“Mike was going to be coming?” Nicholas asked in surprise. “Last I knew, he’d retired.”
“He’d what?” Elm sputtered. “But I assumed he would be here… I don’t have anyone else lined up…”
“Why’s that important?”
“We can’t just have one of these girls without a tamer!” Elm cried. “Oh, what am I going to do…”
“I can give you Michael’s number,” Nicholas offered, “and you can contact him. See if he’d be willing to take in whoever is left.”
“Oh, yes, yes, that will work. Here, this is my number.”
Nicholas exchanged numbers, making sure he got Michael’s correct. “There.”
“Oh, thank you.” Elm whirled when the lab door opened “Ah! And here is our other new tamer. Remind me, young man, your name is…?”
“Doesn’t matter,” the man retorted, shoving past Professor Elm. “I’m just here for my pokegirl and that’s-“
Nicholas was watching with his arms crossed. “What’s your deal, bud? The Professor doesn’t have to give you jack shit.”
The man stared at the Totodile next to him. “You’re here for a pokegirl too?”
“You took that one?” The man cursed. “She’s a redhead! I’m a redhead! I want that one!”
“Should have gotten here earlier, then.” Nicholas replied coolly. “Now why don’t you start over, thank the nice Professor, and introduce yourself?”
The man snarled but turned. “Hi. I’m John.” He whipped back around and stomped over to the other two pokegirls. “Alright. Which of you-“
The Fire-type squealed and dove away from the glowering man, leaving only the Grass-type. John stared at her for a few moments before shaking his head. “You’ll do.”
“What’s your issue?” Nicholas squared up behind John. “You’re scaring the pokegirls.”
“If they’re scared I don’t want them,” John replied haughtily. “I only want strong pokegirls. I have no room for weakness in my harem.”
“That’s a dangerous mindset to have,” Nicholas warned.
“And what do you know? You’re just some nobody beginner.” John turned back to the Grass-type. “I’ll take you. Let’s go.”
“Well, if that’s settled you’ll need these…” Elm trailed off when John stopped in front of Nicholas.
Nicholas instinctively placed his hand on the Totodile’s shoulder when John leaned in too close. “I don’t know who you are, buddy, and I don’t care. But stay out of my way. I don’t need some weakling trying to flaunt their ‘holier than thou’ attitude. Got it?”
“No weaklings. Crystal clear,” Nicholas replied calmly. The Totodile looked to her side in surprise when she felt his grip tighten. “Don’t worry, friend.”
John’s eyes narrowed and he swept away, snatching the bag from Elm’s hand and disappearing through the door.
“…alright then,” Elm said. “Well, I guess if you have your pokegirl, Nicholas… You’re good to go. I’ve already registered you in the system.”
“Got another message for you, Professor!” Nicholas turned at the voice to see a younger teenager entering the room. “It’s from Mr. Pokegirl.”
“Ah, bring it here, then.” Elm took the message while the teenager stopped to look at Nicholas. “Ah, he’s made another ‘discovery’. Of course.”
“Hey. I’m Ethan.” Ethan reached out to shake Nicholas’ hand. “You must be one of the new tamers. I work with the Professor in his lab.”
“Nice to meet you, Ethan,” Nicholas replied. “I’m not exactly a new tamer, but it’s true that I’m starting the Johto league challenge today.”
“Oh? If you’re not new, what are you?” Ethan turned when a mouse-like pokegirl rushed inside. “Hey, Mary, slow down!”
Nicholas chuckled when the pokegirl launched herself into her Master’s arms. “Well, I guess this is as good of a time as any to reveal this.” He turned to the Totodile. “First of all, what’s your name?”
“Don’t have one.”
Nicholas raised an eyebrow. “Well, do you have one you’d like me to use?”
The girl frowned. “Not really.”
“How about Becky, then.”
“That’s the best you can come up with?” the Totodile asked. “Come on.”
Nicholas laughed at her petulant expression. “For a girl who doesn’t know a name for herself, you sure know what you don’t like.”
“Alright. How about this.” Nicholas bent down so that the two were at eye level. “My best friend’s Alpha is a Blastoise named Vanessa. She’s one of the strongest Water-types I know. How would you like to be named after her?”
The Totodile perked up. “Really?”
“Yeah. But it might be awkward to give you her full name, so why not the second half? Nessa.”
The Totodile nodded slowly. “Nessa. I like that, Master. It even sounds interesting.” She grinned. “I’m Nessa.”
“Nice to meet you, Nessa. I’m Nicholas.” Nicholas chuckled. “And now that’s out of the way, I can answer your question, Ethan.” He turned back to the teen. “I’m the Indigo League Champion. Nicholas Topolski, at your service.”
Ethan’s eyes bugged and Nicholas heard an audible gasp come out of Nessa’s mouth. “You’re the WHAT?”
“Indigo Champion. You know, of Kanto and Johto? I qualified in Kanto.”
“The- the current one?” Ethan stammered. “Wait, yeah, I recognize you! They were replaying your battle with Gary Oak for weeks!”
“That’s right,” Nicholas said. “I’m here in Johto to get the full experience. After all, if I’m the Champion of the region, I should really know what it’s like.”
“That’s incredible,” Ethan stammered. “Um, can I get your autograph?”
Nicholas laughed. “Sure. But you’d want my pokegirls’ autographs more than mine. They’re the ones who actually do the battling.”
“Yeah, but… I don’t see any pokeballs, so you must not have them with you,” Ethan muttered, digging around the tables until he found a pen. “Alright. Here!” He pulled his hat off and held it out with the pen. “Just, your name, is fine, no need for any silly message.”
Nicholas signed the brim and handed it back. “I take it you’re a fan of the league, Ethan?”
“A fan? You bet. I’ve thought about trying the challenge for years.”
“Why not go for it?”
“Well, Mary doesn’t really battle,” Ethan replied, scratching his pokegirl behind her ears, “and I’m worried that if I start taming more pokegirls she’ll get jealous.”
“Sounds like you’re where you need to be, then,” Nicholas said with a smile. “Me, on the other hand, I’m off. Got anything for me, Professor?”
Elm shook his head. “I’ll get in touch with your friend Michael and see if he would like the Cyndaquil. Other than that, there’s nothing else!” He paused. “Actually, no. Can you swing by Mr. Pokegirl’s house on the way past Cherrygrove? He lives just north of the city. Let me know if his new discovery is anything to get worked up about.”
“Sure, I can do that.” Nicholas walked towards the door, twisting to wave at the two. “Thanks, Professor! See you around!”
“Nicholas- Master.” Nicholas turned to Nessa as they stepped outside. “You’re really the Indigo League Champion? And you- you chose me?”
“Really you chose me.”
“But you could have said no.”
Nicholas shrugged. “Yeah, I guess that means I chose you. Sure.”
“I know it’s a very slight distinction, but it’s important to me.” Nessa drew herself up to her full height. “As your first pokegirl in Johto, Champion Nicholas, and the first you have chosen to be in your new harem, I swear I won’t disappoint you. I promise that I’ll live up to the name you have given me.” She frowned when Nicholas began chuckling. “What?”
“Nessa, you’re not going to disappoint me. I’m sure of that. But more importantly you also won’t be living up to Vanessa’s name.” Nessa felt a thrill run through her when he gave her a firm smile. “You will surpass it.”
Nessa quickly nodded. “Yessir.”
Nicholas took a few extra moments to admire the posturing Totodile. She was built like a sporty teenager, displaying enough muscle mass to define her without overpowering her feminine aspects. He’d already seen her sharp teeth when she’d smiled at him in the lab, so now he focused on her other inhuman traits, like her blue skin and the reddish-orange spines that ran from the back of her neck to the tip of her short tail. He was curious to see if her skin was tougher than a human’s or if the leathery appearance was just for show. He almost hoped it was the former.
Nessa noticed him staring and smiled, relaxing slightly and tilting her head into his line of sight. “Master?”
Nicholas absently gestured. “Those spikes of yours. Are they fixed in place?”
Nessa twisted to bring her tail within reach. “They are.” She shivered when Nicholas stroked the edge of one of them. “Why?”
“I was wondering how we were going to tame.” Nicholas pulled his hand back. “I was already thinking, since you’re a few inches shorter than me...” he chuckled when her bright red eyes snapped back to him, “...that maybe you’d have to be on top.”
“We should test that.” Nessa blurted out.
“Lets get out of town first. I have a tent.”
Nessa bolted, dashing towards the path and Nicholas followed with a goofy grin on his face.
Nessa, Totodile – Level 5
“Would you- NESSA!” Nicholas jerked to the side to avoid the Totodile again. “For crying out loud, SLOW DOWN!”
“I~ have~ a~ Mas~ ter~” Nessa sang as she came skidding to a halt in front of him. “And he’s the strongest Master there is.”
Nicholas sighed when she lunged back towards him and kissed his nose. “Look, Nessa, I think we need to talk about something.”
“Talk? About what?” Nessa twirled away. “I have a Mas-ter, a Champion Mas-ter…”
“It’s serious, so stop running in circles for a minute and listen,” Nicholas said with just a hint of an edge to his voice. “Can you do that?”
Nessa slowed and looked back at him. “What?”
“I’m not your fairytale tamer, here to tame you and whisk you away into some kind of paradise,” Nicholas said. “I’m here to take the league challenge. You are, supposedly, here to do the same thing. I’m not a new tamer, and that means we don’t have a honeymoon period. We start training from day one. That day is today, so I would really appreciate it if you could focus.”
Nessa walked back to him. “You think I don’t know that, Master?” She smiled up at him. “You must not know much about pokegirls if you’re saying those things. I am excited because I know what’s coming. My fairytale is to be pushed past my limits from the minute I find my tamer. I never thought it would come true.” Her sharp teeth glinted when she grinned. “I want you to break me, Master. More than you did in that tent.”
“Well then, in that case,” Nicholas grabbed her chin firmly, “we start now. I want to know everything you can do. Are you like other ‘beginner’ pokegirls and can only fight with your body for now?”
Nessa nodded the best she could. “Yesh.”
“Not good enough.” Nessa blinked when she heard his hard tone. “Any pokegirl can throw her body at her opponent. I expect more from my girls.” He leaned in and hissed his next words. “A lot more.”
Nessa was starting to regret her words when Nicholas abruptly grinned and kissed her lips. “But we’ll work on it.” He released her and straightened back up. “If all you can do is basic martial combat, we’ll work with what we have. First thing to do is find a wild pokegirl you can test yourself against.”
“I don’t need that, Master,” Nessa replied. “I’m ready for a real battle!”
“Really? Do you have over six years of training behind you already?” Nicholas asked as he pushed into the tall grass.
Nessa carefully followed him. “Well, no…”
“Then you’re not ready.”
Nessa gritted her teeth and jumped in front of him. “I am too!”
“You’re not.” Nessa yelped when he suddenly lunged forwards, twisting her arm around before she felt herself fall off balance and Nicholas drove her to the ground. She spat dirt as she tried to break free, growling unhappily when his knee dropped into the small of her back. “Look at you. You’re weaker than a human.”
“You just surprised me!” Nessa snarled, twisting as she tried her best to break free. “Damnit, Master, let go!”
“Not until you listen, Nessa.” Nicholas replied grimly. “I know what pokegirls are capable of, and I’m telling you that you’re not where you need to be.”
“How many years have you been a tamer? I was only just approved to join a league tamer last month!” Nessa retorted. “It’s not fair! Maybe I’m not ready for what YOU know, but I’m ready for what I know!”
She was surprised when the weight on her back vanished and she rolled over to see Nicholas gazing down at her. After a moment he reached out, helping her to her feet and brushing the dirt from her front. “Sorry. You’re right, and it’s not fair. But you’re not ready. Not yet.”
“Then show me how to be,” Nessa replied earnestly. “Please, Master. Show me how to grow.” Her eyes held a deep longing as she looked at him. “This is what every pokegirl dreams of. Our tamer gives us direction, focus. I want… I need you to make me strong.”
Nicholas smiled. “The best way to do that is to give you a peer, someone you can relate with. Our first order of business is finding you a harem sister to train with.”
Nessa nodded. “Got it.”
“And I don’t have any pokeballs.” Nicholas checked his pockets. “Nope, I was told to bring nothing, so I brought nothing. Great. Well, there’s a town up ahead, right? We’ll get some there.”
“And I’ll… practice as we go,” Nessa said. “Right, Master?”
“You got it.”
“And, Nessa?” Nicholas took a breath when she turned back to him. “I’m sorry for attacking you like that. That was wrong.”
Nessa blinked a few times before hanging her head. “No, I was wrong, Master. You just needed to prove a point.”
“NO.” Nessa jumped. “Nessa, I hurt you. I am supposed to be your tamer, and as your tamer that was wrong. I’m sorry. I should have made my point in another way.”
Nessa looked back up at him. “You… That’s why you’re apologizing?”
“Of course it is.”
Nessa stayed silent for a few moments. “I… forgive you, Master. Thank you.”
“I won’t do it again.”
Nessa shook her head slightly. “Thank you, Master, but… um… Maybe in another… way, you can do it to me again.”
Nicholas laughed and walked forwards to wrap his arm around her shoulders. “Sure. We’ll discuss that later.” He pointed at where some of the grass was moving against the wind. “For now, let’s train.”
Nicholas gazed over the gently moving water.
They’d made it into Cherrygrove without any major issues and now he and Nessa were enjoying the setting sun together. A few other people had gathered on the beach with them and Nicholas felt his thoughts wandering as the sun sank closer to the horizon.
Nicholas blinked and turned to see Nessa looking at him. “Sorry?”
“I asked if there were any places like this in Kanto, Master.” Nessa turned back to the view. “I’ve heard that it is a very… human region. Large cities. Buildings.”
Nicholas frowned slightly. “There are still places like this in Kanto. What do you mean by it being a ‘human’ region? As opposed to what, a ‘pokegirl’ region?”
Nessa was silent for a few minutes before replying. “May I speak my mind, Master?”
Nicholas replied without hesitation. “I want nothing else, Nessa. I never want you to be afraid to say something to me.”
“There are not many humans who think like you,” Nessa replied quietly. “But there are more of them here, in Johto. Humans who don’t see pokegirls as simple animals. Humans who treat us as… as equals, partners, even though we have no choice but to rely on them.” She swallowed. “I think it’s because of the humans who live here. They respect nature much more than you would expect a human to.”
“Kanto is very much a human region then,” Nicholas replied. “There are places where humans have taken over where pokegirls lived and the angry pokegirls are treated as menaces.”
Nessa shivered. “Ferals?”
“Yeah, but they were there first, weren’t they?” Nicholas shook his head. “I haven’t seen much of Johto yet so I’ll believe you when you say it’s much less industrialized.”
“I hope that in the future I can travel to many new regions, learn about how they coexist with pokegirls.” Nicholas smiled at nothing in particular. “Maybe I’ll do some research into that. Why do pokegirls and humans have the relationship they do, anyways? We must have – heh – evolved together, or something. The weak humans, able to tame and control pokegirls that spit fire or lift buildings.” He glanced over to see Nessa staring at him. “What do you think?”
Nessa blinked a few times. “Well-“
“I don’t CARE what excuse you have, we’re doing it!”
Nicholas turned at the commotion to see two figures arguing. “Wait, isn’t that-“
The Chikorita started to say something but John slammed his foot into the ground with a roar. “I CHOSE YOU BECAUSE YOU WEREN’T A COWARD. DON’T ACT LIKE ONE NOW!”
Nessa was frozen as she watched the scene until she saw Nicholas get to his feet. “Master, wait!”
“What’s her name?”
Nessa blinked. “What?”
“You entered the program together, didn’t you?” Nicholas kept his eyes on the shouting man. “What is her name?”
Nessa slowly got to her feet next to him. “That kind of Master, he probably changed it, but… Her name is Fleur.”
“Yeah, he’ll have changed it. Come on.”
Nessa scampered after him as Nicholas approached John. The man was still shouting when Nicholas stopped in front of him. “Hey. Jackass.”
John cut off mid-sentence and whirled. “Who the- oh. It’s the newbie.” He gave Nicholas a withering look and began to turn back to his Chikorita. “I told you that I don’t have time for your attitude. How about you move along.”
“How about you give Fleur some respect.”
John froze mid turn. “What?”
“Her name. It’s Fleur.”
John slowly turned back. “That’s what she used to be called. It was a weak name. Now… she’s Thorn.”
“If that’s what she wanted.”
John hissed as his eyes narrowed. “It doesn’t matter what she wanted. I wanted her name to be Thorn, so it is. She doesn’t need a weak name holding her back, just like your Totodile doesn’t deserve a weak tamer holding her back.”
Nessa choked in anger and Nicholas gave John a grim smile. “Oh really.”
“Really, weakling. Get out of my face.”
“I challenge you to a battle.” Nicholas raised his voice. “One on one. No prizes.”
“No prizes? What, so you won’t lose anything?” John snapped.
“So that the only thing I take,” Nicholas replied, “is your pride.”
John’s eyes widened. “You son of a bitch.”
By now they had drawn a crowd and Nicholas gestured. “The beach is open.”
“I don’t know about this Master,” Nessa whispered as they walked back to the sand.
“You told me you’re ready for a real battle, didn’t you?” Nicholas kept his eyes forwards. “I know you and Fleur must be friends. But I also know you must have sparred before.”
Nessa nodded. “We did.”
“This isn’t a sparring match.” Nicholas finally turned to look at her. “Fleur is still your friend, but Thorn is your enemy. Understand me?”
Nessa turned to look at the uncertain Chikorita. “I… I do.”
“This is a fight. Not practice. Do not hold back.”
Something flickered in Nessa’s eyes before she closed them and took a deep breath. “Understood.”
“Good. Get ready.”
“Ready, loser?” John called.
“On my count,” Nicholas replied. “Three. Two. One. Begin!”
“Hit her with your vines! Now, do it!” John yelled. “Come on, HIT HER!”
“Nessa, I trust you,” Nicholas said normally. “Just remember – your tail is a weapon, too.”
Nessa let out the breath she had been holding and sprinted forwards, tumbling to the ground when Thorn connected with a vine. Almost instantly the Totodile was back on her feet, closing the remaining distance and sinking her fist into Thorn’s stomach.
The Chikorita heaved, doubling over as she fought to stay standing, and brought another vine around to send Nessa tumbling backwards. Before she could catch her breath Nessa was back in her face ready to strike. Thorn looked up in a panic as Nessa’s mouth began to drip water and the Totodile screamed, blasting Thorn point blank and sending her crashing to the ground.
“Get up!” John stomped his foot. “YOU’RE A FUCKING GRASS-TYPE, GET UP AND BEAT HER!”
“Finish her, Nessa!” Nicholas cupped his hands around his mouth. “Finish the fight!”
Thorn whimpered when Nessa pinned her to the ground. “Do it.” Her breathing quickened when Nessa pressed her teeth against her neck. “Do it.”
“I can’t,” Nessa whispered. “Fleur, I-“
“Don’t make your Master punish you,” Thorn barely breathed. “Do it, René. Finish me.”
“It- It’s Nessa, now.” Nessa felt tears beginning to form in her eyes.
Thorn’s eyes slid shut. “And I’m Thorn.”
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING! FIGHT BACK!”
Nessa screamed, grabbing Thorn’s shoulders and slamming the Chikorita down. Thorn let out a surprised scream that cut off when her head smacked against the hard dirt, her eyes popping open before just as quickly rolling back when she fainted.
Nessa staggered to her feet, watching John recall Thorn as her tears began to fall. She whirled when she heard Nicholas speak, charging forwards until she impacted against the surprised man.
“And that’s- Nessa?”
Nessa didn’t say a word, only wrapping her fingers into his shirt as she cried.
“Um…” Nicholas looked up but John was already gone. “Nessa, are you alright? Are you hurt?”
Nessa felt her heart shatter and her sobs increased in volume as she wailed into his chest. “WHY?” She grasped at him in desperation. “WHY DID SHE HAVE TO BE TAKEN BY SOMEONE LIKE HIM?”
Nicholas sank to his knees and caught Nessa when she collapsed. “Oh.”
“You CARE so much.” Nessa sobbed. “Why couldn’t she have someone like you? WHY? It’s not FAIR!”
“I… I can’t answer that.” Nicholas gently wrapped his arms around the sobbing Totodile. “All I can do is be the best master I can.”
Nicholas hadn’t noticed until now but the group had dispersed. All but one man. As he turned to see whom it was the man squatted down to join the two.
“She’s your friend, isn’t she?” the man asked quietly. “That Chikorita. I saw your teeth at her throat. But you didn’t strike.”
Nessa barely nodded.
“A pokegirl that doesn’t obey her Master.” The man glanced at Nicholas. “You warned her that this was a fight. That there was to be no mercy.”
“I don’t think you’re helping,” Nicholas replied coolly.
“I’m not trying to.” The man sighed. “If she’s your friend, pokegirl, why are you mourning her? She’s not dead, is she?” The man bent over in an attempt to look at Nessa’s face. “Is she?”
Nessa slowly shook her head. “N-No.”
“Then fight for her.” The man reached under his shirt and withdrew something. “Take this.”
Nessa let him place the pendant in her palm. “What…?”
“Honor it, won’t you?” The man glanced at Nicholas for a moment. “And don’t forget to cherish a pokegirl like her.”
“What is it?” Nicholas asked when the man got to his feet.
“Something I should have let go of long ago,” the man replied. “But I didn’t. It belongs with another worthy pokegirl. Another worthy tamer.” He gave Nicholas a neutral smile before turning to go.
Nicholas watched until the man had vanished from sight.
Nicholas turned. “Hm?”
Nessa was staring into the depths of the blue teardrop pendant. “He’s right. She’s not dead. I shouldn’t cry for her.” She raised her tear-streaked face. “I should fight for her.”
“How do you think we should do that?”
“By beating that tamer every time we see him,” Nessa replied vehemently. “Even if it means… Even if it means I have to hurt her. Over. And over again. Until he understands that he’s wrong.”
Nicholas nodded. “Are you prepared for that?”
“I don’t know.” Nessa clutched the pendant. “And I don’t know why he gave me this.”
“Because I think he wanted his pokegirl’s memory to live on instead of being forgotten,” Nicholas said quietly. “Nessa, you couldn’t see it, but he was crying. What he said, what he was doing… He was letting go of someone he had lost. He was sharing your pain.”
Nessa stared at the pendant for a few minutes before finally nodding her head and looking up at him. “I can feel it. There’s something special about this necklace. Maybe… by carrying it, I’ll carry a part of whoever wore it last.” She carefully fastened the chain around her neck, one hand lightly touching the crystal teardrop before she let out her breath and nodded. “And she’ll help us. I’ll wear it to the end, Master. And when we beat the league, when we bring her there… We’ll come back here, right? We’ll let that man know the places she’s been, and the victories she’s won.”
Nicholas smiled at her. “I think he’d like that.”
“We’ll bring Fleur, too.”
Nicholas’ smile faded. “We’ll try.”
Nessa sniffed. “I guess that’s all we can do.”
“That’s right. We try, and we fail, and we try again.” Nicholas took her hands. “But we never stop trying. We’ll save her, Nessa. Deep down, I think that John is just hurting. He can change.”
Nessa stared at him. “How do you know?”
Nicholas didn’t, but he wasn’t going to admit that now. “Because, uh… Because I met someone like him. All he needed was to see what he had become, and he decided he wanted to be better.”
Nessa blinked. “Really?”
“Yeah. His name was Giovanni. He was a gym leader in Kanto.” Nicholas breathed out when he saw Nessa begin to calm down. “Haven’t seen him in a while, but maybe I’ll see him again.” Nicholas’ gaze unfocused as he recalled the Rocket leader’s last words. “I know I will.”
The next day they struck back onto the path. It took about an hour of walking, and Nessa fighting quite a few more pokegirls, but eventually a small cottage came into view. The two walked up and Nicholas rapped on the door.
“Hello? Yes, come in, come in!” Nicholas shrugged and pushed inside with Nessa right behind. “Oh, hello, a tamer? What brings you out here?”
“Professor Elm...” Nicholas trailed off when he saw who was inside. “Professor Oak? What are you doing here?”
Oak shot to his feet in surprise. “Nicholas? I could ask you the same thing! And who is this with you?”
“I finally started the Johto league challenge this week,” Nicholas replied. “This is Nessa, my new Totodile.”
“Oh, so she’s your new starter! Well it’s a pleasure to meet you, Nessa.” Oak stuck out his hand. “Still have a thing for the naked ones, I see.”
Nicholas sighed. “Nessa didn’t have any clothes when I met her, and we’ve only been traveling together for a few days. There hasn’t been any chance to get her anything.”
“Mmm, a likely excuse.” Oak winked. “Well to answer your question, Nicholas, I have a talk show here in Johto. Whenever I come to do a live session I like to visit my friends.”
“Did you say you came from Professor Elm?” the second man inside asked. “If you did you can deliver something for me, right?”
Nicholas watched the man hurry to a bookcase and begin pulling random trinkets from the shelves. “I mean... I guess I could? What is it?”
“It’s right... about... here we are!” The man turned to display a strangely patterned egg. “It’s a freshly laid pokegirl egg!”
“Are you sure?” Nicholas asked. “My Dragonite laid an egg and it looked nothing like that.”
“That’s why I think it might be a new pokegirl breed!” the man exclaimed. “You have to take it to Professor Elm. Please?”
“Yeah, I guess...”
“That is definitely an interesting find,” Oak interrupted. “Nicholas, you’re on your way to Violet City, aren’t you?”
“Well, sure, but I can double back a bit.” Nicholas glanced at Nessa. “Right? It’s more training.”
Nessa grinned. “Right.”
“Oh, that’s fine. I can take this egg to Elm.” Oak got to his feet. “I needed to get moving anyways.”
“You’re leaving?” the man asked dejectedly. “But it gets so lonely out here.”
“I’ve told you numerous times to get a pokegirl,” Oak chuckled. “Nicholas, I’ll take this to Elm. You go ahead and continue your journey.”
“Thanks, Professor.” Nicholas stepped aside to let Oak leave.
“Oh, and Nicholas?” Nicholas turned to see Oak smiling at him. “Good luck. Keep in touch.”
Nicholas nodded and turned back to the other man. “Mr... Pokegirl?”
“That’s what people call me,” the man said glumly. “Go on, get moving. I’ll be fine.”
“Why don’t you have a pokegirl? Oak’s right; one would help you be less lonely.”
“I just haven’t found the right one yet,” the man replied. “But that’s not your problem, young man. Go on. And good luck with your challenge.”
Nicholas and Nessa exited the building, with Nessa looking around in surprise. “Where did the other man go, Master?”
Nicholas pointed at a rapidly shrinking figure in the sky. “He’s up there. With his Charizard.”
Nessa managed to get just a glimpse before the flying pokegirl vanished behind the trees. “Wow. She’s fast.”
“She is.” Nicholas oriented himself before giving up and pulling up his map. “Alright. That was easier than I was expecting, thanks to Professor Oak. Ready to continue to Violet?” Nessa nodded but Nicholas could tell she was distracted. “What is it?”
Nessa absently touched the pendant around her neck. “It… it hurts to see a human without someone.” She turned to him. “How much do you know about Johto, Master?”
“Not much. Just what we talked about yesterday.”
“I wasn’t sure, because the way you act with us… I feel right at home.” Nessa shook her head. “I know every region is different. But here, in Johto, humans and pokegirls live together much more closely than in other places. I can understand why that man in Cherrygrove gave me this. He must have loved her very much.”
Nicholas leaned back against the wall of the cottage. “You told me this before.”
Nessa blinked. “Oh. Sorry, Master.” She paused to collect her thoughts. “I guess… I was thinking about how thankful I am to be your pokegirl.”
“And you want to help this guy find a partner too.” Nicholas sighed. “I’ll send Elm a message. Ask him, if Michael won’t take the Fire-type, if he’d consider seeing if Mr. Pokegirl would.”
Nessa relaxed. “That’s a good idea.”
“I have those occasionally.” Nicholas watched her for a few seconds before pushing off and turning towards where his map indicated. “I’m thankful that you’re my pokegirl as well, Nessa. And I know that once you meet the others you’ll fit right in.”
“Others?” Nessa asked. “The rest of your harem?”
“Yeah. I think you and Victoria would get along well.”
“She’s a Gyarados.”
“Who else is a part of your harem?”
“There’s Dahlia, Elizabeth, Cassidy…” Nicholas listed off names, showing Nessa a photo every once in a while as they talked. And eventually, when the sun began to fall below the horizon, they made camp.
Nicholas woke up slowly, shifting as the morning sun crept across his face. Eventually he rolled over, rubbing his eyes and blearily opening them with a yawn.
Nessa sat in the door of the tent, each individual sunray picking out a different point on her skin. With it illuminating her he could see the intricate lines of darker blue running across her body. The patterns they formed almost looked like scales and no two spots were exactly the same.
Nessa glanced over when he cleared his throat. “Good morning, Master.”
“Morning,” Nicholas called back. “Did you sleep well?”
Nessa turned her attention back to the world outside of the tent. “I did.”
“Good, because I want to get the rest of the way to Violet City today. And we still need to find you a harem sister.”
A few hours later Nicholas looked up to see the gently rolling hills transitioning to rocky cliffs. Right as the road began to turn away from the mountain he noticed a small path cut away, snaking up to a yawning cave opening.
Nessa glanced back at the cave. “I’m not sure, Master. I’ve heard that there are tunnels through the mountain.”
“Let’s check it out.” Nicholas walked over, slowing when he saw how dark the interior of the cave was. “Ooh, or maybe not. We don’t really have any light and that looks... deep.”
Nessa peeked her head into the opening. “The light just vanishes.”
“Get back from there,” Nicholas warned. “Anything inside can see us just fine.”
Nessa started to step away when a piece of the darkness moved. She screamed as a form burst into the light, the disheveled pokegirl lunging at her with fangs bared.
“GET AWAY FROM THE CAVE!” Nicholas roared, running towards the fighting pokegirls.
Nessa heaved, throwing the wild pokegirl away and scampering into the open. “Master?”
“Fighting in the cave opening would attract more attention.” Nicholas sized up the recovering pokegirl. “She’s a Zubat. Try not to let her bite you.”
“Why?” Nessa asked, ducking away from an attack.
“She’ll literally suck the life from you and use that to heal her own fatigue,” Nicholas replied. “The next time she lunges at you, counterattack!”
Nessa dropped back, letting the Zubat jump forwards with a hiss. As soon as the batgirl was in range she stepped forwards, easily getting inside the Zubat’s guard and sinking her fist into their gut.
“Nicely done!” Nicholas yelled.
The Zubat staggered back, her mouth working as she tried to resist the damage Nessa’s strike had caused. Finally she collapsed, moaning and trying to push herself back towards the cave.
“Do I finish her off?” Nessa called excitedly. “She’s nearly down!”
“No, hold on.” Nicholas pulled out a pokeball. “She’s a bit messy, but she should clean up nice. What do you say? Ready for your first harem sister?”
Nessa took a moment before she smiled. “I am, Master.”
“Cool.” Nicholas took aim at the recovering Zubat. “Let’s get to Violet City. We can rest and clean up there.” He watched the ball until it stopped shaking. “And Nessa?”
The Totodile looked at him. “Master?”
Nessa eyes lit up and she laughed, happily throwing herself into his arms.
Miles away, Kali slipped through the front door of her Master’s house. He’d meant well, but she wasn’t going to let him get away from her that easily. He had a promise to keep.
She pulled up when she saw who was waiting for her. Dahlia just shrugged. “All I can do is ask.”
“I can’t stop you. Only he can even start to control you. So all I can do is ask you to please let him do this alone.”
Kali gazed at her for a few seconds. “I am supposed to be one of his pokegirls. Just like you.”
“Yeah, but you’re not like us, are you? You’re more powerful than any of us can dream, and you don’t need a human like we do. You follow Master because he interests you.”
Kali put down the bag she had been carrying. “I know you well, Alpha Dahlia. You do the same.”
“Yes, because he lets us live like that. The rest of his harem, we don’t have the options you do. We can’t just leave our human if we don’t like what they do. At some level, normal pokegirls all need humans. You don’t.” She sighed. “Just, please don’t ruin this for the rest of us.”
Kali blinked, slowly. Eventually she picked the bag back up and turned to the house. “I can’t fix that part of you or our other sisters. But I can make you stronger.”
Dahlia watched her in confusion. “Weren’t you leaving?”
“He asked me to help you,” Kali replied simply. “By the time he returns, I expect that we will all stand as equals.” She glanced back with a slight smile. “Do you truly dream of me, Alpha?” Dahlia knew Kali was teasing her but she felt herself blushing regardless. “If that is the case, then let us make your dreams come true.”
Nessa, Totodile – Level 10
???, Zubat – Level 4