“Isaac, what is she?” Jin whispered sharply from beside her tamer.
Isaac reached for his pokedex device out of habit, using it during academy to obfuscate the fact that he could identify a breed on sight after a moment studying the pokegirl. He wasn’t wearing his equipment belt though and since they had simply been attending a small party he didn’t feel the need to bring his gear with him. Oh well, it wasn’t a secret to the people here.
He studied the rabbit eared pokegirl and took in all of the details. She was tall, very leggy, with the sort of body that was made to move quickly. The dirt and dust that clung to her skin made it difficult to say what her complexion might be beyond light. Her hair was a disaster of neglect and overgrowth, although it wasn’t fused into one solid dreadlock so she must have been grooming it in some way. Isaac had his answer but logically it didn’t make any sense. “Battle- Battle Angel...”
“She’s a Battle Angel? Why does she have bunny ears?”
Isaac was going to correct Jin because he had paused awkwardly while stating the breed but the strange pokegirl, in understandable impatience, made her plea again. “Please, I need your help.”
“Sorry,” Isaac said, “what do you need me to do? Chandrakanta is a better healer and you’d have to use Elena’s bath…”
“Sexual stimulation,” she stated bluntly. “Preferably to the point of orgasmic response. I am in danger but I am also feral and cannot describe the danger due to the mental degradation.”
Astoreth stepped forward to place herself between the stranger and Isaac even more than she had been. “If you’re in danger you’re bringing danger here. If you want us to think about letting you near our man, you need to tell us what you can, now.”
The newcomer made an abortive jump away from Astoreth’s aggressive tone and posture before she locked her eyes on the infernal. She began rattling off a string of incoherent words as her entire body locked up and became rigid. A strange timbre, like an electronic hum, entered her voice and her tone flattened as if she were suddenly channeling a different personality, or perhaps a total lack of one. “Hunter, killer, GunValkyrie, aerial, interdiction, home, mission, sisters, the Council, OffSci, OffSec, incoming barrage, storm, fire, blasts, pain, blinding, vital failure, contingency, mission failure, dark mist, choking… Then I ran.” The last three words were spoken with the original voice as her body became animated once more.
Astoreth’s eyes shined under the moon as her eyebrows rose in curiosity. “She does need taming, her memories are an absolute mess. Somehow she experienced the same attack from two separate perspectives, one much more aware than the other. It’s like she’s a G-Splice…”
“She’s a Battle Angel with the Battle template. Battle Battle Angel.” Everyone turned to look at Isaac. “That comes from a dying Zeromer bonding with another pokegirl, and the Zeromer’s memories are loaded into the templated host’s mind.”
“Yes, Isaac is correct. I, she was a Zeromer. I have her memories and… they let me speak with you. They are how I know, and changed. They are too much even now. If I am ‘tamed’ then I should be able to interpret them more accurately. I will fight to protect you from the danger if you tame me. I will be yours.”
“You’d just give away your freedom so easily,” Neasa asked in anger and disbelief.
“I do not understand what you mean by ‘freedom.’ I am feral, not free.”
“But… you’re able to think and speak for yourself! You can go anywhere you want and-”
“I must be tamed. My current capacity for speech and thought are insufficient.” The Battle Battle Angel’s ears angled towards the Elf challenging her. “You are the one the Grandelf was speaking to. Neasa. You said you would watch him. Have you verified her statements regarding Isaac?”
“I-!” Neasa shouted as her face lit up like a hot tomato. “Not yet! Do whatever you want, be his slave!” With her endorsement of the newcomer, Neasa dashed off to the space she’d been occupying behind Elena’s greenhouses.
“Her emotions are volatile.” No one could disagree with the strange new pokegirls observation but they were left with no sense of how to resume discussing the matter as she then turned her rapt attention back on Isaac.
After looking to each face for a sign of dissent, and feeling just as much approval as reservations over his delta bonds with the three veterans of the Pokegirl War, Isaac fell back on his childish aspirations of being a knight in shining armor and resolved to help the desperate Battle Battle Angel. “I can capture you in a pokeball so you can be healed and cleaned. Also you’re strong enough I’m going to want to get some restraints, at least on loan.”
“This is agreeable,” she said curtly.
“Confirmed, signal lost.” Martian Interdiction Agent Hera responded to her sister over their two way communication channel. The icon that represented the origin of the broadcasts they were tracking had changed to a flashing red square with the last readings displayed within the shape. The data streams had been different since the nanite contingency had been enacted by their quarry; more compressed with an erratic bandwidth and random infrequency. That was to be expected based on the information they had received during their briefing.
They had also been briefed on possible reasons for the signal suddenly dropping. Death of the Zeromer or destruction of the host of the Battle template, the target traveling deep underground or within a structure that interfered with electromagnetic waves, or capture within a pokegirl holding device. If the pair of GunValkyrie were lucky then it was the first option, perhaps the host had been critically injured during the barrage. It was foolish to assume they had been lucky. “Contacting command to report the situation,” Hera spoke into the mouthpiece.
“Acknowledged. I will proceed to the last known location of the signal and perform recon.”
“Acknowledged.” Hera clipped the tracking transceiver to a strap around her hips and keyed her communication device to a new signal. She stood in a military rest position as icons flashed and blinked indicating the transmission was being encrypted as well as her device linking up with the array of secret satellites that would bounce the message to Frontier on Luna. She came to attention when, after a few minutes, a connection was finally established. “Sir, OffSec M.I. agent Hera, reporting.” She listed off a long string of numbers, letters, and short phrases according to Office of Security communication protocols. It would give the officer on the com at Frontier knowledge of her situation and confirmation that she was who she claimed.
“This is Frontier, go ahead Hera.”
“Target has been terminated but enacted nanite contingency protocol. The presumed host was able to escape due to superior speed and we are yet to reacquire. Signal has been disrupted, last known location within the bounds of a Sapphire League village, population approximately three hundred.”
“Reacquire target but avoid detection. Observe but do not engage unless mission failure appears imminent.” That meant they were authorized to attack if the target was making contact with apparent league personnel. “I will forward this report to command at top priority.”
“Acknowledged. M.I. agent Juno is already moving to reacquire the target. M.I. agent Hera moving to support.”
“Understood. Ending transmission. Good hunting.”
Isaac pushed open the flap to his yurt, which they had set up in Elena’s yard to hold the restraints Isaac had borrowed. He only had to pay a small deposit that would be returned to him after he returned the restraints to the pokecenter. Unless he failed to return the restraints, then he would be fined exorbitantly. Well over the value of the restraining system itself. Jin pasted herself against his side and pressed her face close to his. “How was she?”
Isaac had no idea how to answer. Jin was always curious about his sexual encounters, with Vardan, with Elena, Chandrakanta, and Astoreth, and with Neasa as well. “Confused and locked in restraints. I don’t think it would be fair to use this time to judge her, Jin.”
“Mmn, fair.” Jin seemed pleased with this response. Maybe this borderline voyeurism was her way of processing jealousy. “So why does she have bunny ears?”
“Well, she was a Bunnygirl who had a bunch of foreign memories dumped into her mind. That would definitely be enough to trigger the evolution to an Ingenue. I guess maybe then the Battle Template fulfilled the same conditions as having her wear a Heavy Metal? It’s just a piece of armor afterall…” Isaac trailed off when he realized that didn’t explain why she retained the rabbit features.
Jin pondered this for a while but her thought was broken off by the pokegirl they were discussing stepping outside of the yurt as well. The healing and cleaning cycle had done wonders for her looks. Her skin was light but with a slight healthy, golden glow from a life outdoors. Her hair was a bright coppery-red that fell wildly down from her crown in all directions. She was unhappily fussing with it as she stepped outside. Her eyes were steely grey and alertly scanning the environment.
The healing cycle had corrected any symptoms of malnourishment. She was no longer obviously underfed and her runner’s body had filled out as a result in a delightful way, particularly in the muscles of her thighs and buttocks. The rest of her was lean and she was wearing some sort of metallic colored leotard that was polished gunmetal in color. It had a high waist, making her legs seem even longer, and no back, which allowed for a short and fluffy rabbit tail to protrude. Its fur was white on the underside and transitioned to creamy offwhite onto a sunny goldenrod. The very tips were even more strongly colored and maybe if it grew out long and coarse enough it would match the red on her scalp. Her ears were covered in the same colored, fine fur.
The base of her tail, base of her ears, and her hands and feet all had a seam where the skin met a flesh toned synthetic material. These junctures of biological and technological flesh formed simple geometric shapes, making them look something like patches sewn or glued in place. They were difficult to see from even a moderate distance and, given he had full access to her body for a respectable length of time, Isaac had determined they felt just like real skin as well.
Her movements seemed just a bit more purposeful and her attention was now focused rather than skittish. She was still very obviously alert but seemed less likely to spring away from any sudden noises or movements. She gave the tiniest of smiles to Isaac when she met his eyes and her ears pointed in his direction briefly. “Master, I require a designation.”
“He doesn't like being called master.” Jin informed the newcomer.
“What do you refer to him as, then?”
“Understood. Isaac, I require a designation.” When Isaac didn’t respond immediately she added, “A name,” to her statement.
“Yeah, I got that. I’m just really bad at picking names.” Isaac responded. “I always get hung up on wanting to choose one with some sort of meaning to it that’s appropriate but also sounds nice which really usually just means I’ve heard it a lot before. At the same time though I want a name that’s novel so… I haven’t really looked yet. Sorry.”
The Battle Angel with Bunnygirl features and a Battle template studied his face for a second while her ears lifted to stand completely upright and angled towards him. “Your dialect of English is slightly reminiscent of North American. We have no mutual experiences to determine what meaning may be appropriate. However, I have promised to defend you, a man. The historical Greek name of ‘Alexander’ contains elements that may be translated to ‘defender of man’. Would a name derived from ‘Alexander’ be appropriate?”
Jin was staring at the pokegirl who had finished speaking incredulously. “How do you know all of that?”
“I do not know. It is contained in my memories.”
Isaac was also taken aback by the sudden deduction. The pokegirl was a bewildering mix of naive and knowledgeable that made no apparent sense, but it made perfect sense when he considered how she came to be. A feral, possibly for her entire life, with an entirely new lifetime’s worth of information dumped into her brain. “Yeah. I honestly have always liked that name but… Well, maybe… I dated a guy named Alexandr for a little while although he went by Sasha at the time. I guess I just wouldn’t want to call you the same.”
“I propose Oleksandra then. The most common diminutive is Olesya.” Isaac couldn’t think of a reason to reject the proposal. Suddenly the freshly christened Oleksandra’s ear flopped askew. “By ‘dated a guy’ you mean to say you were romantically involved with another male? Curious…”
“I- yeah. Two, actually. I don’t know… I was trying to figure things out, I might not look for a third.”
Oleksandra regarded him for a moment. “I would like to discuss this more but I must brief you and the others on the danger I alluded to previously.”
“Right.” Isaac was somewhat glad the topic changed to a lighter topic. At least as far as he was feeling at the moment. The three big sisters had all been loitering nearby so they could keep tabs on the situation. They converged to hear Oleksandra’s information without any prompting and soon the group were seated around Elena’s garden table.
“The Zeromer who provided me with the Battle template and the memories I possess was deployed from a colony residing on Mars, the fourth planet of the Solar system. All Zerom-”
“MARS?!” Elena’s ears had jumped to stand nearly as upright as the rabbit ears on the head of the one sharing the information. The tips were quivering with excitability as the Grandelf blushed deeply. “I’m- I’m sorry. I just can’t believe he… With the evolved StarlightXpresses?”
Oleksandra focused on Elena and cocked her head, causing her ears to flop unevenly. “The StarlightXpress breed has no known evolutionary pathways and has no members populating the Martian colony.”
Elena shifted uncomfortably in her chair. “Oh. I’m sorry, I just know someone who… Nevermind it isn’t important. Continue.”
“As I was saying, all Zeromer are produced and deployed from Mars with the purpose of gathering intelligence on the situation of Terra, the Earth. The Martian colony is currently embroiled in a civil conflict, with the Office of Security opposed by the Offices of Science and Public Works. Zeromer operate under direction from the Office of Science. The Office of Security sent GunValkyrie planetside to track down the agent sent by the Office of Science most recently. They were able to track her across vast distances without acquiring her visually. They may be capable of utilizing this hypothetical tracking method to follow me here. They will seek to neutralize me and eliminate any witnesses based on knowledge provided by the Office of Science.”
Astoreth was taking in all of the information impassively. “Do you know, did she figure out how they were tracking her? Where were they when this agent was eliminated? How many GunValkyrie should we be expecting?”
“There are two GunValkyrie working in unison. Last point of contact was approximately thirty-five thousand meters to the Northeast. While unable to state conclusively, at the time of death I- she suspected they were tracking her based on broadcasts originating from her person, generated by a subconscious process.”
Elena sat up perfectly erect in her chair. “If they’re tracking a signal that would lead them here.” She scowled deeply. “Are you also broadcasting this same signal?”
Oleksandra frowned and her ears leaned back as the tips moved closer together. “Uncertain.”
Elena sighed. “Well, I haven’t used them in a few hundred years but I know some magic to intercept human electronic signals. Let me go get my books.”
The middle aged man in a plain grey, minimally designed suit gazed out of the viewport towards the spinning blue planet thousands of kilometers away. His head was shorn and he maintained a level of fitness that allowed him to stand next to the younger Office of Security personnel without shame. His name was William Demos, and the thirty centimeter round opening in the wall of his office was one of the best views in all of Frontier. The lunar outpost wasn’t designed with the scenic in mind.
William was the chief of OffSec forces deployed from Frontier, it was his team down on the surface hunting down the pokegirl deployed from Mars. He only answered directly to Maurits Mons who was the commander of all of Frontier, the heads of the Office of Security itself, and the Colonial Council. The ruling body had been fractured by the schism though so truthfully no one was beholden to them anymore.
It was Maurits whom William was waiting for. After receiving a priority dispatch regarding the progress of Hera and Juno’s mission on the Terran surface an emergency meeting was called to go over recent developments and reach a decision regarding what the hunter-killer team’s new orders should be. A chime and colored light from the console next to his office door indicated the Frontier commander had arrived and was waiting to be let in. William stood from his desk and with two steps had crossed the entire length of the room. Luxuriously spacious by Martian standards; William folded up half of his work station and stowed it in the wall so that he could deploy the bench module for his visitor. Then he keyed open the door.
Two older men wearing the same sort of suits. One of them was shorter and broader than William, his superior Maurits, and one taller and thinner. Maurits had brought along Haik Diane, the former Office of Science chief on Frontier. Haik had gone along with the coup of the Office of Security but still retained his soft minded idealism. His presence always made making the necessary decisions much more tedious. Maurits spoke first. “William.”
“Commander Mons, Haik, welcome. Let’s get to it.” The three stepped inside the space that was no larger than a walk-in closet would occupy Earthside. They quickly seated and William keyed up his display to show the information he’d been going over to his two guests. “We received a report from the hunter-killer pair sent planetside in pursuit of OffSci’s Zeromer deployment. They landed within the territory of the Sapphire League and the Zeromer was eliminated before she could make contact with any Terrans. However, there was a viable host for her nanite contingency protocol to go into effect and they are in the process of acquiring the templated host.”
“I see. Haik, what are the chances of the host of the OffSci agent’s nanites making contact with the Terrans on behalf of the Office of Science?”
Haik had a nervous fidget that made him obviously not a military man. “Impossible to say, Maurits. It’s largely dependent on the predispositions of the host which can vary based on her breed, age, environme-”
“Understood. We’re dealing with an unknown variable. William, what’s your team’s current orders?”
“Reacquire the target but do not engage unless mission failure is imminent.”
“Good. Gentlemen, that target could represent the greatest threat to the Martian Colony in its three hundred years of operation. The Sapphire League is known to maintain a fleet of the only Terran space-flight capable breed of pokegirl, the StarlightXpress. This positions them as one of the leagues most ready to act against Mars should they be inclined. Preventing contact between the Office of Science and Sapphire League is paramount if we are to ensure the autonomy of our people. What’s the plan, William?”
“Commander Mons, sir, Hera and Juno are my best soldiers. If I give the order for them to eliminate the target, the target’s as good as dead. They will clean up any witnesses as well, no problem. The target would need to make some powerful friends very quickly to require us to deploy a greater force.”
Haik interjected. “You can’t just have them kill the host and whatever Terrans happen to be around at the time. We’re trying to prevent an incident here. Murderous pokegirls from space are sure to excite the Terrans. What if we captured the host, removed the threat that way?”
“We’d need to send down a larger team. That increases the risk of detection and it’s another ten days before we reach the next ideal window to send a Furia down. If we launched now we would be spending up to ten percent more fuel. Capture is not practical.” William had anticipated Haik would propose some sort of spineless solution. He was a scientist and had a head too full of ideals and worthless data to make the hard choices.
Haik wasn’t giving up. “What if you have your agents perform reconnaissance. Observe the target and determine if she is likely to continue the mission for the Office. Of science.” Haik hastily added. Even after over a decade he still thought of himself as one of them.
Maurits pressed his palms down on Williams desk as he rose. “We can’t risk delay, no matter what reason. William, give the order to eliminate.”
“I’ll get in touch with their handler as soon as we conclude here, sir.” William Demos saw the two other Frontier officers the meter’s distance to his door. After they had exchanged the formalities of parting William returned to his desk and spun in his chair to resume staring down towards the Earth. He quickly typed up the dispatch to his subordinate handling the hunter-killer team without taking his eyes off of the distant sphere. The sooner this mission was over and his people were on a Furia heading back to Frontier, the better.