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Chapter 26





         Ryuko burst into the broadcast room with her sword drawn. Only a few lights were on, casting deep shadows across the chairs and sound equipment that were sectioned off into various stages. There were no grunts to be seen. Slowly she walked through the dark room, her eyes darting from cover to cover, her steps making no sound.




         Ryuko paused to answer Nicholas. “There’s nothing here, Master.” She cast about once more and focused on a large set of doors at the end of the room. “A few offices. No Rockets.”


         “Do you see the broadcasting equipment?”


         “Yes, Master.” Ryuko kept her sword ready as she approached the computers. “Do I destroy it?”


         “Is it safe?”


         Ryuko looked around again uneasily. Her instincts told her there was danger here but she couldn’t see any. “I don’t like it, Master. But the room is clear.”


         “I’m coming in.” Ryuko didn’t turn when Nicholas followed her into the room, Sera and Miyuki hovering around him. “Huh. Dark.”


         “Everything screams ambush, Master,” Ryuko muttered. “If this is the broadcasting room, why aren’t there guards?”


         “We blasted the guards on our way up?”


         Ryuko hissed. “No.” She turned to him and Nicholas could see uncertainty in her normally resolute eyes. “I swear it, Master. There is something wrong here. Do not lower your guard.”


         Sera and Miyuki shifted nervously and Nicholas nodded. “Kalmiya. This is the broadcast room. Where’s the signal originating from?”


         “I am not reading any activity from this room, Master.”


         Nicholas sighed. “There’s your answer, Ryuko. Where is it coming from Kalmiya?”


         “Above us.”


         Nicholas glanced up at the ceiling. “Directly plugged into the antennae. Makes sense.” He also scanned the room and focused on the large doors. “Stairs at the other end.”


         “Allow me, Master,” Ryuko murmured, approaching the doors and looking for a handle. “I see no way through.” Her eyes settled on a keypad. “Electronic access.”


         “Can you cut through?”


         Ryuko rolled her shoulders and readied her sword. “KAIYA!” Nicholas winced when a deafening screech of metal on metal blasted the room. Ryuko stepped back, inspecting her sword with a growl. The door had a wicked scratch running from corner to corner but besides that was undamaged. “Eventually, Master.”


         “Eventually is too long.” Nicholas was moving towards her when a door slammed open.


         “WHAT IS GOING ON?” Nicholas whirled, Ryuko tensing to charge as Miyuki shoved in front of him and Sera sprang into the air. “WHAT WAS THAT GOD AWFUL NOISE!”


         “RYUKO!” Ryuko was in motion when Nicholas yelled and she slammed to a halt with her sword a few feet from striking a man in business clothes. “Who the hell are you?”


         The man spluttered, backpedaling away from Ryuko as his eyes widened. “Who the- Who are you?!” He flicked from her sword to the other two pokegirls in striking position and the blood drained from his face. “C-Criminals?”


         Kalmiya stirred. The voice…


         “Identify yourself. Now,” Nicholas growled, “or I will order my pokegirls to attack.”


         “I-I’m the director here,” the man stammered. “W-Who are you?”


         “The director? Where’s Team Rocket?” Nicholas and the harem were starting to relax slightly and he stepped past Miyuki. “Your tower is overrun.”


         Ryuko, however, hadn’t relaxed in the slightest. This man was familiar. She didn’t recognize him, but something about him kept her on edge.


         “Team R-Rocket?” the director gasped. “Overrun? My tower?”


         “Master. Something’s not right.” Ryuko readied her sword. “Why is he free? Team Rocket would not allow that. Where are the leaders? Why is the door locked?”


         “The door?” The director looked in Ryuko’s direction. “Oh, the observation deck? It’s Sunday. We’re closed to the public.” He laughed nervously. “Can you please lower that weapon, miss pokegirl?”


         Suddenly a gasp echoed through their radios. “His voice! Master, that man is from Team Rocket!”


         Ryuko didn’t wait for an order. With a battle cry she lunged.


         The man yelped, throwing his hand up as Ryuko struck. That close, there was no way a human would react in time…


         Nicholas dove to the floor as an explosion rocked the room. Ryuko slammed to a halt, her sword twisting upwards to meet a falling pokegirl and she roared as poison gas surged over her.


         “NICHOLAS!” Miyuki grabbed him, bodily throwing him towards the door and sending Nicholas crashing through a number of microphone stands. “RUN!”


         Nicholas stumbled as he tried to get to his feet, feeling the bruises from his impromptu flight and scrambling away before turning to check the battlefield.


         Ryuko was gone, completely hidden by a thick purple cloud, and Miyuki was trying to avoid it as it crept in her direction. Wind sliced through the cloud when it got too close, Sera carefully pushing it back as a number of forms started to appear from inside.


         Nicholas turned when the man began to laugh. He could barely be seen at the edge of the cloud, a ventilator covering his face as he watched three Koffing approach Sera and Miyuki. “We meet again, hero. This time, however, only one of us is getting away.”


         “Hero?” Nicholas’ eyes narrowed. “You’re the disguise guy. Petrel.”


         “Disguise master,” Petrel corrected. “How was this one, eh?” He popped open the dress shirt, stripping the padding underneath and proudly displaying his Rocket uniform. “Had you completely fooled!”


         “False.” Petrel looked over into the cloud as Ryuko’s voice drifted out. “I knew.”


         “What’s taking so long, Matilda?” Petrel snapped. “Why is she still conscious?”


         The sound of flesh against metal could be heard and Nicholas finally made it to his feet. The three Koffing were drifting, trying to find an opening as Sera and Miyuki fended them off, and Ryuko was still fighting inside the poison. He didn’t have time to regret falling for the ruse. “Sera! Break that cloud apart and rejoin Ryuko!” Nicholas gasped when another two Koffing emerged from the cloud and began floating towards him.


         “Uh-uh-uhh!” Petrel laughed. “Ooh, better release more of your pokegirls, hero. You’re completely outnumbered!” He cocked a hand around his ear. “Oh, you can’t? Whyever not?”


         Nicholas ground his teeth together. He could see some kind of high-tech earplugs in the Koffings’ ears, obviously to keep them from being affected by the radio signal. The only one he could possibly release now was Lili. And she’d bring the whole building down around them.


         “Surrender.” Petrel spread his arms triumphantly as his Koffing closed in. “You lose.”


         One of the Koffing approaching Miyuki shivered. For a moment she thought she had seen her breath misting.


         “Tell them to stand down, hero!” Petrel taunted. “Or it won’t be a smokescreen you taste next!”


         “Yes. You really should.”


         Petrel lowered his arms slightly. “Eh?”


         Nicholas smirked as he listened to Kalmiya in his ear. “You Koffing should really stand down.”


         “I respect that. Defiant to the end.” Petrel made a fist. “Finish them.”


         “Master-“ Petrel swiveled when one of his Koffing dropped to the ground, her entire body shaking. “It’s… cold.”


         “Cold?” Petrel’s eyes traveled to Sera and Miyuki. “Why would it be…”


         Frost was spreading across every surface around Miyuki. Her eyes were pure white as she focused, the shard in her dress glowing with her. Sera had kept her out of view with her wings and now she pushed forwards, energy swirling around her until a raging blizzard howled. Another Koffing gasped, trying to flee, before the spreading storm swept her up and she joined her harem sister on the ground. The third managed to retreat to the poison cloud, joined by the two that had been accosting Nicholas, and all three began charging attacks.


         Sera hadn’t escaped either. She was frozen solid, her wings still outstretched. She had sacrificed herself to give her Alpha an opportunity. Nicholas recalled her as Miyuki continued to approach the rest of the Koffing. She’d known what would happen and still done it. His knuckles went white as he clenched her pokeball and snarled. Because of him, she’d been hurt. A few months ago he’d have despaired. Today, he only felt rage.


         At himself. At Team Rocket. And at Petrel, still standing behind his Koffing. “MIYUKI!” He slammed his fist into a nearby table, cracking the surface as he did. “BURY THEM!”


         Petrel snorted. “Suffocate her.” The Koffing began spewing gas, quickly filling the empty air between them and Miyuki as she walked closer. Petrel laughed when she vanished into the cloud but his laughter slowed when the gas began swirling, the cloud stopping its forward motion and beginning to reverse at walking speed. “The hell? How is she still moving?”


         “MAST-!” A Koffing screamed as a beam of ice blasted her through the air and pinned her to the wall. The other two screamed battle cries, lobbing globs of poison towards the moving cloud before another beam found its target. The sole survivor paled, abandoning her attempts and flying into the cloud to hide.


         A few seconds passed before snow exploded away from Miyuki, filling the room entirely. Petrel lowered his arm to see the poison cloud dispersing, the snow picking up the particles and dragging them to the floor. “No…”


         Nicholas blinked to clear his eyes. The removal of the cloud had revealed a Weezing restraining Ryuko, the other Koffing standing petrified between them and Miyuki. “RYUKO!”


         “Took you long enough, Alpha.” The Weezing gasped when Ryuko suddenly came to life and the Koffing whirled in a panic. Her Alpha, the Glaceon, she was paralyzed by indecision until the next Ice Beam sent her to join her sisters.


         The Weezing put up a good fight but Miyuki wasn’t going to wait to see who won. Ryuko shivered, ice coating her armor, as Miyuki sent the Blizzard surrounding her crashing over the pair. The Weezing collapsed and Ryuko broke free of the thin sheet of ice to walk to Nicholas’ side. He could see her still shivering slightly but she had easily taken Miyuki’s attack and remained standing. “I’m sorry.”


         Ryuko gazed at him for a few moments before smiling. “Mistakes happen, Master.”


         Nicholas smiled back. In front of them Petrel backpedaled towards the office he had been hiding in. “N-No, hey, you’re no Eevee… When’d that happen that’s no fair!”


         Miyuki breathed out. The ambient temperature in the building had easily dropped ten degrees and she was feeling more and more at home. “You’ve forced me to attack two of my harem,” Miyuki growled, walking towards Petrel as white energy built in her hands. “I am very unhappy.”


         Ryuko watched Petrel continue to retreat. “Aren’t you going to stop her, Master?”


         Nicholas found a chair and took a seat. “Wasn’t really planning on it, no.” When Ryuko raised an eyebrow he shrugged. “She won’t kill him. Probably. And honestly I don’t care if she does.”


         “Hey, wait!” Petrel glanced over at him pleadingly. “Come on, you’re the hero, right? You’ve got the morals, and all that.”


         “See, that’s an assumption you’ve made,” Nicholas replied. “Unfortunately for you I only follow one rule. Don’t fuck with the people I care about.”


         Petrel chuckled and raised his hands when Miyuki got closer. “He-hey, now. What if I give you a gift! Like before, eh? And you can… let me live.”


         “Your last gift was literally useless,” Nicholas replied. “Try harder.”


         “This one won’t be! I swear. Oop-“ Petrel stumbled when he backpedaled through the office door. “I’m- I’m really running out of space here!”




         “The real director! We’ve got him locked up.”


         “And I’ll rescue him when I’m done with you all here,” Nicholas replied. “I’ve got a better idea. Open the door so we can stop Archer.”


         “Um-“ Miyuki raised her hand and Petrel yelped. “I CAN’T!”


         Nicholas sighed. “Why. Not.”


         “You’ll need the director’s keycard to override the security system!” Petrel dodged behind a chair in a vain attempt to shield himself from Miyuki. “I- I don’t have it.”


         “Impersonates the director, doesn’t keep his stuff.” Nicholas shook his head. “And where is it.”


         “Probably with the real director,” Petrel chuckled nervously. “And hey! I already offered to tell you where he is!”


         “Well then.” Nicholas got back to his feet. “I guess your first gift might… MIGHT be acceptable. Where is he.”


         “We’ve got him locked under the department store!”


         “Hm. Locked.” Nicholas thought back to the service door he hadn’t been able to open. “And how, exactly, am I supposed to get through a locked door, in order to get the key for ANOTHER LOCKED DOOR?”


         “In the security office! There’s a master key for the underground. It’s what we used to open everything up in the first place.” Petrel ducked behind the chair. “Please don’t hurt meee…”


         “Miyuki. I think that’s all we need.”


         Petrel yelped when Miyuki pointed at him but the beam didn’t enter the office. Instead it crackled into the bottom of the doorway, quickly building a wall of ice that Miyuki spread across the window as well before lowering her hand.


         “I couldn’t have thought of a better way to do it, Miyuki,” Nicholas praised, walking over and inspecting the sheer wall. “Doesn’t look like it’ll be melting anytime soon.”


         “You’re not going to leave me in here, are you?!”


         Nicholas rapped on the frozen door. “We sure are, Petrel. And when this is all done you’ll be thawed out. By a police Arcanine, ready to put you in cuffs and take you away.”


         “You can’t do this to me!”


         “I think Miyuki just did,” Nicholas replied. “Come on, Miyuki, Ryuko. We know where we need to go next.”


         Ryuko glanced around at the frozen pokegirls. “Master, shouldn’t we do something about them?”


         “Hm. True.” Nicholas glanced at Miyuki. “If you would, Alpha?”


         He shivered as ice blasted through the room, thoroughly encasing every Koffing and the Weezing before Miyuki sank to one knee. Her eyes were closed until he put his hand on her shoulder and she looked up at him. “Sorry. Bit tired.”


         “Remember that stuff Rika gave us in the headquarters?” Nicholas pulled his backpack off and opened the medicine compartment, withdrawing a leather pouch. “I made sure to get some from the elder.”


         Miyuki sniffed the spiky capsules he rolled onto his palm and shuddered. “That’s different.”


         “Concentrated.” Nicholas placed one on her tongue and offered another to Ryuko. “Apparently it’s raw energy that they harvest from the Dragon’s Den.”


         Ryuko breathed out as the medicine suffused her with strength and a moment later Ryuko stood as well, both pokegirls looking as fresh as they had when they entered the radio tower. “How much did he give you, Master?”


         “Enough.” Nicholas stowed the bag again. “Come on. We need to find that key.” He glanced at the closed door. Ryuko had talked about feeling something wrong. Well, he was feeling it too. A dreadful sense of foreboding that only got worse with every passing second. He needed to hurry.







         “The signal still doesn’t reach down here, right Kalmiya?” Nicholas clutched the master key in his fist as he ran down the underground stairs. Ryuko and Sera had been recalled to be safe. The streets had been deserted. “I might be charging into a horrible trap.”


         “Correct, Master. I can not sense any trace of the enraging signal.”


         “Good.” Nicholas made it to the bottom and turned towards the service corridors. Sera was still out of commission. He wasn’t going to release her, possibly make her suffer in her frozen state, only for her mouth to be frozen shut or something so the medicine wouldn’t work right. That meant he was down to five. Four, he amended, because Lili still wasn’t an option. Having a building collapse on them was bad enough aboveground. Underground, it was complete suicide.


         Hana was probably the best option. In the concrete corridors her lightning would be free to find its targets uncontested. He pulled out her pokeball.


         Hana materialized and immediately covered her ears. “Master?”


         “You’ve got your radio-?” Nicholas nodded when Hana blinked and lowered her hands. “Good. Kalmiya, update her as we run.”


         A few minutes later Hana spoke. “What are we expecting, Master?”


         “I’m expecting a few guards. I’m prepared to find the rest of Team Rocket.”


         Hana nodded. “May I attack without waiting for your orders, Master?”


         Nicholas turned to her. “Hana, I have always encouraged individual thought from my pokegirls. I know you’re still a bit new, but that applies to you too. If you see a threat, stop it. Don’t wait for me to tell you what you already know.”


         “Yes Master.”


         “Here.” Nicholas turned down the corridor that Kalmiya directed him to. “Hold on… okay.” He shifted his belt so that he had easier access. “Just through here…”


         His hand paused with the key a few inches from the lock. The door was warped, the keyhole shattered. He slowly placed his hand on the handle before pulling it back. Cold. Ice cold.


         Hana looked at him. “Master?”


         Nicholas tried the door. It swung open with some difficulty and he stepped through, inspecting the drips of water peppering the floor. “Ice. Lots of it.” He looked around. There was a service elevator next to him, a loading area for pallets, and a staircase ahead. “Be ready.”


         As they started down the stairs Nicholas started hearing voices. One loud and angry, another quiet and apologetic. He reached the bottom and took a deep breath.


         “OF COURSE HE’S GONE! YOU TOOK TOO LONG FORCING THE DOOR!” John smashed his fist against the wall as his Weavile bowed. “DAMN IT, YULA!”


         “I will do better, Master. I swear it,” Yula whispered.


         “Hey. John.”


         John turned and a mess of emotions flickered across his face. “You. Again.” He watched Nicholas approach. “Why are you following me, weakling?”


         “Because we have the same goal, John.” Nicholas came to a halt. “We both want Team Rocket destroyed.”


         “Well you can’t have the coward that locked himself down here. He’s mine.” John turned to a security door and slammed his foot against it. “Once I get this damn door OPEN!”


         “How is it locked?” John twisted to see Nicholas holding up the key. “Lock and key?”


         “What’s that?”


         “The master key for the underground,” Nicholas replied. “I was going to use it to get in here. There’s a hostage I need to rescue.”


         “Ah. Standard weakling move. Save those that can’t save themselves.” John turned back to the security door and was about to kick it again when he paused. “There’s a keyhole, yeah.”


         “Let me open it.”


         “How about you give me that key and I open it myself?” John asked. “Yula.”


         Hana stepped in front of the Weavile before she could take more than a single step. “Don’t even think about it,” she hissed.


         Yula bristled. “Out of the way, fuck toy.”


         Hana’s eyes bugged. “FUCK TOY?”


         “Soft. Naked. No other use for a pokegirl like you,” Yula taunted. “Out of my way.”


         “HANA,” Nicholas barked to keep her from lunging. “You want this key, John?” He slipped it into his pocket. “Fucking fight me for it, you giant pile of shit.”


         John began to chuckle. “You’re telling me I get to smash you, and take what I want? It’s like Christmas came early.” He turned his full attention to Nicholas. “Go on, Yula. Drop his little lamb.”


         “Hana, back up.” Nicholas pulled out Ryuko’s pokeball. The Scizor materialized and immediately locked eyes with the Weavile. “Ryuko. Defend my honor.”


         Ryuko’s eyes narrowed and with barely a motion daggers appeared in her hands. “Gladly, my Master.”


         “What’s this?” John frowned. “The weakling has new tricks.”


         “John. I’m only going to say this once.” Nicholas put his hand on Hana’s shoulder to calm her and matched John’s eyes. “You don’t want to take this fight.”


         “You think I’m scared?” John hissed. “I will obliterate you, take that key, and finish what I’ve started today. Team Rocket dies.”


         “No. Listen to me.” Nicholas took a deep breath. This might be his only chance. “Anger, hatred, revenge. These emotions will destroy you. Even if you succeed, even if Team Rocket is destroyed, you’ll never be the same. You can’t live as you are.”


         John’s expression flickered for a moment. “Why do you sound like him?”


         Nicholas blinked. “Him?”


         “The dragon guy, in Mahogany Town.” John grimaced. “He was strong. Very strong. I’d tracked Team Rocket there but all I found was him.” He clenched his fists. “I just needed to make my pokegirls stronger. That’s why he beat me.”


         Lance. “No, John. Your pokegirls are already strong. They need a strong tamer now, one who brings out their strength instead of forcing them past what they can handle.”


         John’s eyes narrowed. “And now you sound like my Alpha. She has earned the right to question me. You haven’t.”


         His Alpha? Could it be-? Nicholas shook his head when John closed up. The time for words was over. “Ryuko. It’s time.”


         “Yula! Show this… Scizor what your training has made you.”


         “Hai, Master.”


         Ryuko smiled behind her mask. “Interesting.”


         Yula glared at her. “What is, bug.”


         “Do you truly serve your Master?” Ryuko began to drift to one side, forcing Yula to mirror her movement. “Or do you serve another.”


         Yula’s eyes flickered. “I serve my Master.”


         “Liar.” Ryuko settled into a ready stance and laughed. “You do not know the meaning of service.”


         Yula lunged at her with a scream and Ryuko deflected. The two pokegirls’ hands were a blur, knives appearing in Yula’s and almost as quickly being knocked away by Ryuko. Yula dropped back a step, taking a moment of time to form her ice claw before striking once again and hissing when Ryuko cleaved straight through.


         “Did you even graduate, little weasel?” Ryuko taunted, deflecting a thrown knife and striking back. “Your motions are clumsy. Weak.”


         Yula bit back a scream as Ryuko’s dagger flicked across her cheek. Her blood began to drip down her face, a few drops staining her black uniform a darker hue. “Armor is cheating.”


         Ryuko actually looked sad when she responded. “Excuses are an insult to our teachers, Yula. You deserve your tamer.” Before Yula could retort Ryuko’s dagger had slid into her throat. The Weavile gagged, staggering backwards and off the blade before falling to her knees with her blood pouring down her chest.


         John cursed and recalled her. “So she’s your strongest, eh? Not many could take down Yula.” Nicholas let out a sigh when he released his Haunter. “Yuki. You know what to do.”


         Nicholas felt his anger rise when Yuki merely bowed her head and formed a shadowy dagger. “Fuck you, John. Fuck you. RYUKO! STOP HER!”


         Ryuko struck but not fast enough. Yuki’s dagger ripped into her own stomach and she gagged a moment before Ryuko’s daggers also sunk into her chest. Ryuko cried out when the phantom strike tore through her as well but she resolved to stay standing-


         Nicholas recalled her as John did the same to Yuki. “Hana.” He turned slightly when John released his Golbat. “Show him what true strength is.”


         Hana’s eyes sparked and she stepped forwards as electricity began to build. Ellen began to look to her Master for help but he snarled and threw his hand out. “Drop her!”


         Nicholas glanced away as Ellen’s screams filled the underground area, her smoking body thudding to the floor after a second. “John. Don’t do this.”


         “SHE JUST NEEDED TO BE STRONGER!” Nicholas looked back when he heard John’s voice crack. “M-Motoko! I… I need you.” His metallic pokegirl materialized and John gestured. “Please.”


         Nicholas stared. Had John just asked his pokegirl to battle?


         Motoko put one hand on her hip. She was different from when she had shocked him unconscious in the Burned Tower. Evolved, probably. “Why should I, Master?” Nicholas was dumbfounded to hear pure vitriol dripping from her mouth. “Why should I listen to you?”


         “Because I need you.” John reached for her but she shook him off. “Motoko, please. I know I’ve hurt you but-“


         Could it be? Nicholas stared as John begged. His mask had broken. Tears were beading in his eyes.


         “I have no need to obey a Master such as you,” Motoko snapped. “If my other half didn’t still feel for you I would have left a long time ago.”


         “Can I speak to her?”


         “HA!” Motoko sneered. “So you can use me again? I don’t think so.”


         “Motoko. Please.” John bowed his head as the tears broke free. “I can’t lose here. I can’t. This is my only chance. PLEASE!”


         Hana was standing silently as annoyance crossed Motoko’s face. “She’s rather insistent. Ugh. Fine.” She turned to Hana and raised her hand. “But only once.” Hana started to ready herself but the blast of electricity that consumed her was beyond anything she might have resisted. As Hana crumpled, her entire body twitching, Motoko turned back to John and tapped her foot. “Put me back in my pokeball. Don’t release me again.”


         Nicholas recalled Hana and watched Motoko dissolve into red light. He was stunned by the raw power that had taken Hana down but was more confused by what he had witnessed. “Kalmiya. What was she?”


         “Magneton, Master. Evolved form of Magnemite. Magneton have multiple personalities due to their electric field strengthening and modifying their brain waves.”


         “One half hates John, the other doesn’t,” Nicholas murmured. “One half of John hates, the other… doesn’t?” He watched John stare at Motoko’s pokeball. “He’s not a bad person. I knew he wasn’t.”


         John’s fingers tightened on the pokeball a moment before he looked up. “This isn’t over. My Alpha will still take you down.”


         “Then let’s see whose is stronger.” Nicholas released Miyuki. “Miyuki. I need you to…” He trailed off when Thorn materialized.


         She had bloomed. Massive flower petals ringed her neck, covering her shoulders, and she had grown almost a foot since he had seen her last. Her chest matched Nessa’s, maybe even exceeded it, but they were only large, not enormous, when seen on her massive frame. The vines twisting behind her had multiplied as well. There could have been dozens for all he knew – their constant motion made it impossible to count. For a moment, her eyes flicked to his with a hint of indecision before she returned them to Miyuki. “Yes, Master?”


         “I… I’ve messed up, Thorn,” John said quietly. “But I can’t back down now.”


         Thorn sighed. “Master. Did you allow your anger to control you again?”


         “I’m TRYING!” Thorn came to attention when he screamed at her. “Just- we have to win this!”


         “Is this your Alpha?” Nicholas tried to catch Thorn’s eye again but she had focused completely on Miyuki. “She seems to have been a good influence on you.”


         John’s pain vanished behind his angry mask. “You don’t get to lecture me, weakling,” he hissed as his voice trembled. “I told you. Only she has earned that right. THORN! TAKE HER DOWN!”


         “Fall,” Miyuki breathed, building power before sending a beam of ice straight at Thorn’s chest.


         Thorn didn’t even move as her vines sprang to life, a few blocking the attack as others burrowed into the beam. Miyuki’s eyes widened when they burst apart, scattering the energy to form shards of ice across the walls.


         “NO!” Both pokegirls froze at Nicholas’ shout. “Miyuki, get back here.”


         “Ha!” John’s eyes widened hopefully. “You surrender!”


         “No.” Nicholas waited for Miyuki to retreat before releasing Nessa. “Just doing what has to be done.”


         Thorn’s eyes widened when Nessa appeared. “Re- uh, N-Nessa?”


         Nessa’s own shocked expression mirrored hers. “Fleur?”


         “No, it’s… It’s Thorn.”


         “Thorn, go on! He’s stupidly sent out his Water-type. You can easily destroy her!”


         Thorn didn’t budge. “Why?” She looked up at Nicholas with a pained expression. “Why?”


         “Because this is how it has to be,” Nicholas replied quietly. “Make your choice, Fleur. You can leave him. Save yourself.”


         “Are you trying to STEAL HER?” John’s face twisted back into rage. “THORN! STOP STALLING AND DESTROY THAT FERALIGATR!”


         Thorn stared numbly at Nessa. Nessa’s eyes were wet, her tears threatening to break free. “I- I’m here to, to save you,” she choked. “I didn’t think… I didn’t think I’d ever see you again.”


         “Leave him.” Thorn’s eyes had grown distant. “Leave Master John.”




         Thorn blinked. When she looked at Nicholas again he saw a steady determination in her gaze. “I can’t. Master John is a good man. I won’t hurt him like that.”


         Nessa reached out with a tortured expression. “Fleur-“


         “I’m sorry, René,” Thorn whispered. “It seems like you found a good Master from the start.” Her hand raised and her vines began to coil. “I won’t give up on mine now.”


         Nessa’s tears dripped down her cheeks. “I can’t just leave you with him.”


         “I know.” Thorn’s vines formed a spear that aimed directly for Nessa’s heart. “That’s why I have to do this.”


         Nessa bowed her head, her teeth clenched as sobs shook her body. Thorn hesitated, watching Nessa cry, before she closed her eyes and clenched her fist.


         “NO!” Thorn’s eyes snapped open in surprise when Nessa roared. Her attack was already in motion and showed no signs of stopping as Nessa slammed her hand into the ground. Directly onto one of the spikes of ice Miyuki had left behind. Blood sprayed into the air as it pierced her hand and she snapped her head up with a snarl. Light built around her pendant and water streamed up her arm, a slight mist forming before she opened her mouth with a heart wrenching scream.


         The Ice Beam cut into Thorn’s vines like a knife through butter. Thorn screamed in pain, her tattered vines falling away, before her eyes widened as the beam filled her vision.


         Nessa choked, falling to both knees and cutting off the attack as Thorn fell backwards. Her face was frozen in a surprised expression as she crumpled, icy mist rising from her body when it slammed into the ground. John just stared at her, and at Nessa, her hand still impaled, before finally recalling her and looking at the floor. “I lose.” He gritted his teeth and Nicholas watched a single tear run down his nose. “Damn you. All of you. Why can’t I win? Why can I never win?” He wiped his face and looked up at Nicholas. “I’ve only accepted the strongest pokegirls into my harem. We haven’t let up the gas, not once. So why do I lose?”


         “Because you don’t treat them properly,” Nicholas replied quietly. “A tamer and their pokegirls… there is a bond there, a special one that you lack.”


         “A bond.” John snorted. “That’s what the dragon guy said too. Is that really what I lack? Is that what’s keeping me from winning.” He shook his head. “I just don’t understand. But it’s not going to end here. Not now. Not because of this.” He raised his hand and pointed at Nicholas. “I won’t give up, you hear me? One day I’ll beat you, and that dragon guy too. I’ll show you. I’ll show both of you!”


         “Listen to your pokegirls,” Nicholas said as John pushed past him. “They love you, John. Let them help you.”


         John winced but didn’t respond, walking, then running up the stairs to disappear back into the underground.


         The room was silent for a few seconds until a sob came from the floor. Nessa clenched her hands, the spike tearing even more of her skin as blood dripped from her palm. “Why.” She raised tear-streaked eyes and turned to Nicholas. “Why? Why didn’t she come with us? Why- Why didn’t you stop her?” Her jaw clenched and she shoved herself upright, blood spraying from her wound as she lunged to grab Nicholas’ shirt. “WHY! YOU PROMISED ME! YOU PROMISED YOU WOULD SAVE HER!”


         Nicholas felt her blood soaking into his shirt as she cried. Miyuki had started moving to stop Nessa but when she didn’t do anything else she settled back. “Nessa.” Nessa’s sobs increased when he spoke. “I gave her the choice. The opportunity. But I’m not going to force her. I would never do that, and you know that.” Nessa’s grip tightened and she rested her head against his chest. “She chose to stay with John. She believes that she can help him. If she can, then it won’t just be her that will be saved. It will be all of them. Motoko, Ellen, Yuki, Yula. John. And Fleur.” He reached up and held her hair as she continued to sob. “We have to respect her decision. Would you like it if someone ripped you away from me?”


         “This is different,” Nessa cried.


         “It’s not.” Nicholas squeezed her. “She’s grown, Nessa, just like you have. You need to let her make her own decisions. No matter how much they hurt.”


         Nessa wailed and Nicholas held her tight as she released all of her pain. Miyuki stood silently until Nessa’s sobs began to transition to hiccups, at which point she stepped in and rested her hand on Nessa’s shoulder. “I’m here for you, Nessa. We all are.” She smiled sadly when Nessa wailed. “This harem, our Master, we’re not going to leave you.”


         “MIYUKI!” Miyuki grunted when Nessa detached from Nicholas and dove on top of her. “I’M NEVER LETTING YOU GO-O-OHHH.”


         “Wait…” Miyuki frowned as she remembered. “Those words… you said that, when I first joined the harem.” A gasp escaped her lips. “Nessa… did you think, back then…?”


         Nessa nodded and clutched Miyuki tighter. “Don’t leave me,” she cried. “Please, Miyuki. Never leave me. I can’t lose anyone else.”


         Miyuki embraced her. “Nessa. You haven’t lost your friend either. You’ll see her again.”


         “I keep telling her that.” Nicholas squatted down next to the two pokegirls. “It doesn’t help.”


         “Oh, Nessa,” Miyuki sighed. “Come on. Up you get.” Nessa hiccupped, crawling off of Miyuki and getting to her feet after her. “Do you need to go back in your pokeball?”


         “Um, no. We don’t have that luxury right now.” Nicholas patted his belt. “Sera is out. Hana is out. Lili is out of the question. It’s you two and Ryuko now. And Ryuko is already hurt.”


         Miyuki rubbed Nessa’s arm. “Then I’ll take the lead. Give you time to recover.”


         “…no.” Nessa took a deep breath. Her pain, her despair. She’d already learned how to channel her emotions. Into something else. Her breaths began getting heavier, her eyes narrowing as her lips curled back. “No. NO. NO! Team Rocket threatens Fleur’s Master?” She turned to Nicholas, her eyes practically glowing with rage. “I WILL TEAR THEM APART!


         “Miyuki. Watch our backs.” Nicholas strode to the security door and unlocked it, turning back to look at Nessa. “Nessa.” He turned the handle, shoving the door open and dodging to the side. “WASH THEM AWAY!”


         With an earthshattering roar Nessa charged.







         “You’re a jerk, Archer,” Proton grumbled to himself. His Weezing floated in midair next to him, her head lolling to the side as she snoozed. “Stick me on bitch duty guarding this chump.” He glanced through the window next to him to check on the imprisoned radio director. “I bet you’re having all the fun up there, huh? She’ll have arrived by now-“ The walls shook and Proton slipped, his feet sliding off the table he had been leaning on and slamming his chair to the ground. “Wh-What the fuck?”


         He was scrambling, roars echoing through the hallway and his Weezing woozily waking up, when a wave of water crashed around the corner.


         “FUCK-!” Proton was blasted out of his chair, swirling around the small office he had constructed as his Weezing, fully woken by a splash to the face, yelped and levitated above the waves. “ARE WE UNDER ATTACK?”


         A hulking form swam around the corner, only a thick scaly tail and a line of jagged spikes poking above the water to betray Nessa’s presence. Proton was steadying himself when his Weezing screamed. Nessa roared, bursting from the water below her and sinking her teeth into the Weezing’s leg. The levitating girl choked, inhaling water when Nessa slammed her down and submerged her before ripping her head back. Pink began staining the water’s surface and Proton scrambled for his other pokeball.


         He grabbed it and looked up to see nothing but blue. Nessa’s fist crunched into his nose, slamming Proton’s head against the wall before the Rocket Admin slid bonelessly into the ebbing water.


         Nessa growled, searching the dead end before sprinting back the way she had came. Bodies covered the floor as the water she left in her wake washed around them.


         Nicholas waded through, listening to Nessa’s roars ahead of them while Miyuki double checked each door they passed. “She sounds like she’s having fun.”


         Miyuki rolled her eyes. “I wouldn’t call it fun.”


         “No? A pokegirl lives to battle, correct?” Nicholas shrugged. “She is.”


         “We both know she’s not happy while doing it.”


         Nicholas sighed. “No. But she’s coping in her own way, and I’m happy for her.”


         Miyuki smiled slightly. “Fair enough.”


         They continued through the signs of Nessa’s rampage until they came to a fork in the corridor. Nessa could still be heard from the right, but the left was silent. Wet, showing she had gone that way, and silent. “Miyuki.” Nicholas walked to the left, turning the corner and taking in the carnage. “Hm.”


         Miyuki peeked her head around with him. “What is it?”


         “That’s the Admin from Azalea Town.” Nicholas walked to the end of the hallway and inspected the unconscious forms. “If he’s here…” He looked up, finding the window and looking through. “Found the director.”


         “I’ll find Nessa,” Miyuki said, pushing back towards the fork.


         Nicholas searched the wall until he saw a door hidden behind a few crates. Shoving them aside he tried the handle, shaking his head when it didn’t turn. The master key didn’t work and he turned to Proton, rifling the man’s pockets until he found a key.


         The director shot to his feet when the door opened and some water washed through. “W-What do you want now?” He blinked when Nicholas stepped through. “You’re not that man.”


         “No. I’m here to get you out,” Nicholas replied. “Come on.”


         The director hesitated. “This isn’t a trick, is it? I’ll get up, and then you’ll mock me…”


         Nicholas rolled his eyes and turned back to the makeshift office. Grabbing Proton, he dragged the unconscious man into the room and dumped him on the floor. “This look like a trick?”


         The director gasped. “Who are you?”


         “I’m supposed to be a lot of things, but right now I’m the guy saving you,” Nicholas replied. “Name’s Nicholas. I need your access card to get to the radio tower roof and stop Team Rocket.”


         “My access card?” The director searched his pockets. “Yes, of course. Here you are.”


         Nicholas took the keycard and nodded. “Good. Let’s get you out of here.”


         He was leaving the room when a thought struck. With a sly grin he moved Proton fully into the director’s cell, walking back out as the man watched him questioningly. When Nicholas recalled the Weezing and closed the cell door, locking it with Proton inside, he nodded. “Now he is the one imprisoned.”


         “And once this is all over he’ll be freed, only to be taken straight to prison,” Nicholas replied, shoving the pile of boxes in front of the door to be safe. “Come on.”


         Nessa and Miyuki were waiting for him at the fork in the corridor. Nessa’s rage had bled away, her body glistening from both her sweat and the water she had constantly been emitting during her rampage. When she saw him she bowed her head. “Nicholas, I…” she hesitated over her words before looking back up. “I know you did everything you could.”


         “Are you feeling better now?”


         Nessa barely shook her head. “I don’t know. But I’m back in control.” Her eyes sought his as she pleaded. “Forgive me, Nicholas. Please.”


         “Oh, Nessa.” Nicholas gave her a gentle smile and walked forwards to embrace her. “There is nothing to forgive.”


         “I don’t want to lose control again,” Nessa whispered.


         “Sometimes we can’t help how we feel,” Nicholas murmured. “But I’m here, Nessa. I’ll help you.” He pulled out her pokeball. “For now you should get some rest.”


         A tear dripped from her cheek as the recall beam took her. Nicholas held her pokeball for a while, lost in thought, before stowing it again and looking at Miyuki. “It’s just you and Ryuko now.”


         Miyuki stretched. “Bring them on.”








Tamer: Nicholas Topolski


         Zephyr Badge

         Hive Badge

         Plain Badge

         Storm Badge

         Mineral Badge

         Glacier Badge

         Rising Badge


         Miyuki, Glaceon (Alpha) – Level 40

         Nessa, Feraligatr – Level 37

         Sera, Crobat – Level 39

         Ryuko, Scizor – Level 39

         Hana, Ampharos – Level 37

         Lili, Pupitar – Level 38