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         You should not read this if you are not of legal age where you reside. This work can contain rape, BDSM, cannibalism, and probably anything else my sick, twisted mind can come up with.







Chapter 44



         Andrew shot upright when someone banged on the door. He waited a moment, glancing at the slumbering form next to him, before sliding out of bed and walking to the bedroom door.


         He flinched when they knocked again. “I’m here.” He grumbled, pulling the door open.


         Aella swept in. “Good morning.” She glanced at the bed. “Nova, go get ready.”


         The Blazicunt slid to her feet, her baleful red eyes staring at her Alpha. “It’s early.” She muttered, slipping out of the room and padding down the hall.


         Andrew watched her walk away, admiring the way her strut jiggled her ass before turning back to Aella. “Why are you interrupting her night?”


         Aella shook her head. “I stole ten minutes. She’ll live.”


         “That wasn’t my question.”


         Aella blinked at his tone. “Something wrong?”


         Andrew fought back his initial reply. “Why are you here early?”


         Aella sighed. “Gale told me what she recommended you do today.” She peered at his face. “She insisted that it would be a good endurance test for you, whatever that’s supposed to mean. I’m finding it rather hard to believe that what else she said is true.”


         “Which part?”


         “You just suddenly can match her speed? Really? What else are you going to tell me, that you can wrestle a feral to a standstill? Single handedly fight off any attacker that comes for you?” She snarled. “What’s the next story, that you can match all of our skills? Should I go find a Legendary to test you with?”


         “That was a bit of a jump.”


         “Because it’s ridiculous.” Aella snapped. “Lyn removed your buff spells when she... when she evolved. She drained them to get the power she needed. You have no way to stand on the same ground as a pokegirl. It’s ridiculous. You need us to protect you.”


         Andrew frowned, something about her statement nagging at him. Suddenly he realized. “You’re in the same camp Cortney is.”


         Aella shrugged. “What’s that mean?”


         “You see me as a liability. Don’t you.”


         Aella blinked, her mouth dropping as she gasped. “What! No! Why would I think anything like that? You’re my Tamer. You’re everything to me. I just- I can’t lose you. What’s going to happen if you start to think you can stand alone? When a feral is bearing down and you and you think ‘oh, I can take her’? You’re going to die. And I will never be able to forgive myself for letting you get into that situation.”


         “I get it.” Andrew looked away from her. “But that worry doesn’t change the facts.”


         “What facts.” Aella retorted. “The facts are you’ve never matched up to us. You’re strong, yes. Fit, yes. It would take a bloodgifted human to beat you. But that doesn’t mean a thing when our enemies are even faster and stronger than that.”


         Andrew sighed, closing his eyes. After a few moments he held out his hand. “Here.”


         Aella looked at it in confusion. “What?”


         “Just take my hand.”


         Aella took hold, waiting patiently. “Yes?”


         Andrew didn’t respond, just beginning to pull. Aella sighed, barely trying to resist. “Andrew, I’m one of the stronger pokegirls here.”


         “Middle of the pack.” Andrew replied.


         “Middle of the pack is still something like eight times what you can do.” She tightened her grip when she felt him try to surge ahead. “You can’t overpower me. This doesn’t prove anything.”


         Andrew focused. “How about now?”


         “What about-“ Aella blinked when she felt his grip tighten. With a yelp she threw her full strength behind her pull, jerking him through the air and sending the two tumbling to the ground.


         She stared at his silver eyes in shock. “What- What are you?”


         “I’m Andrew.” He shook his head, waiting for his power to fade. “This is what Gale meant, Aella. I’m not human.”


         “When did this happen?”


         “I’ve always been this.” Andrew grimaced. “I just used to run from it. Hate it. I accepted it about a week ago and a few days ago... I was running with Kuu and I figured out how to use it.” He stared down at her. “I’m scared, Aella. Part of me still wants to lock it away, to pretend it doesn’t exist, but I can’t do that anymore. I know the truth, and it isn’t going to go away just to be convenient.”


         Aella was saved a response by the morning alarm. The two remained staring at each other for the full duration before Aella pushed him away and clambered to her feet. “I don’t like this.”


         “I’ve got mixed feelings myself.”


         She sighed. “Get dressed. You’re running with us today.”


         “I didn’t do this to hurt you.”


         Aella snorted. “I’m not happy, but I don’t blame you. I’ve just- there’s been some things I’ve been working through.” She stared at the door. “I never realized how much Cristina did to help me.”


         Andrew didn’t respond. If she was honestly feeling the blowback from not having Cristina to fix her mistakes, then it was working. If she was just trying to manipulate his sympathy, like Cortney had attempted to, he wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction. Either way, his reaction was the same.


         She continued to stare at the door for another few seconds before pushing outside. “I’ll see you in a bit.”







         “Girls, Andrew will be running with us from now on.” Aella glanced at where he stood near the edge of the crowd. “I don’t want to catch any of you slacking just to stay with him. Am I understood?”


         “Um.” Constance hesitantly raised her hand. “Does this mean I don’t get punished anymore for being slowest? I should be able to run faster than Andrew can...”


         Andrew smirked to himself when Aella answered. “He is joining the training fully. If he is slowest, he has to make up for it. I’ve told him as much and he agreed.”


         Constance shot Andrew a hesitant smile, completely missing his smirk. “Alright.”


         Kuu was giggling as Aella gestured. “You all know the route. Cortney is waiting.”


         The lead runners left first, Aella quickly catching up to and running with Ann and Melody, the two breathing easily as they shot down the trail.


         Nova and Nami burst into action together, Nami taking a few friendly swipes at the Blazicunt before they vanished from sight. A few more began running to catch up, Nevaeh swiftly passing the group in order to bear down on the lead trio.


         “Guess I should get moving.” Andrew chuckled, watching Constance leave in a dead sprint. “That should be enough of a head start, yes?”


         Gale and Kuu had stayed behind. “It should.” Gale snickered. “Fu’s Constance’s only hope now. And Fu doesn’t slow down for anybody.”


         Andrew took a deep breath, allowing his power to suffuse his body before hopping to find his rhythm. “Ready? Go.”


         Gale danced after him, quickly passing before holding her position a dozen yards ahead. Kuu grimaced, having to push harder than she had expected just to stay with him.


         Constance glanced back when Gale blew past her. “Yea, ye-“ She gaped when Andrew easily did the same, stumbling when Kuu similarly blew past. “W-w-w-“


         Andrew laughed, rounding a bend to see Furia’s back ahead. “Excuse me.” He remarked brightly, slipping past the astonished Wolf Queen and continuing towards where he could see Lyn slipping through the trees.


         “My Queen?” Furia gasped, watching Kuu pass her. “He-“


         Kuu slowed for a moment so she could run with Furia. “You’re slower than a man, Furia?” Her eyes danced with humor. “What an embarrassment.”


         Furia growled, her pace increasing as Kuu took off after him. “No.” She snarled, doggedly pursuing the group. “No.”


         Andrew finally managed to catch up to Lyn, sparing the Archmage a glance. “Good morning.”


         Lyn glanced back at him with a smile. “Good morning.” Her smile widened when she began pulling forward. “Oops, this your limit?”


         Andrew grinned at her teasing but nodded. “For now.”


         Lyn giggled. “Then one day I look forward to running with you.” She flicked her hair back, her pace increasing until she was running beside Gale. “BUT I CAN’T TAKE IT EASY TODAY!”


         Gale watched her pull away from them. “I should stop holding back.”


         “Go.” Andrew waved at her. “Kuu’s with me.”


         Gale nodded, catching up to Lyn and sticking with the Archmage as they rounded the next corner. Andrew ran, hearing Kuu’s footsteps as she followed him. After a few minutes the two were alone, each running group having separated from their speed differences.


         He was here


         The bird circled around, its eyes picking out the figures when they seemed to shimmer into view. They are leaving the protection


         “This is a long path.” Andrew gasped, starting to feel winded from the constant pushing. “How far does it go?”


         “Aella lengthens it every time I expand my borders.” Kuu replied. “I believe it’s around ten kilometers at this point.”


         “Holy shit.” Andrew managed. “Seriously?”


         Kuu chuckled, her pace bringing her level with him. “What’s wrong? Already losing steam?”


         Andrew grinned back at her. “Hardly. I’ll keep this up till the end.”


         Kuu laughed with him. “Then so will I.”


         Andrew blinked when he felt them leave the heart of the forest. He felt it more strongly now that he was drawing on that power. Kuu was probably right; Telpëlass would not exist without him. But he wasn’t going to admit that to her.


         The bird wheeled. There


         Kuu glanced up when she felt the forest send her a warning. “Andrew.”


         He glanced at her. “What?”


         “There’s something following us.”


         Andrew blinked. “What?”


         “The trees say a bird is following us.” She glanced at him. “It is large. The size of a pokegirl.”


         “But it isn’t one?”


         “No.” She hissed. “The forest does not recognize it.”


         “Slow down.” Andrew measured his pace. “Try to let Fu or Constance catch up to us.”


         He slowed. Had he noticed her?The bird stalled, flapping its wings to stay above the not-human. Or did it have allies behind it


         It turned. Regardless. She should go now


         Kuu slid to a halt, pulling her bow from her shoulders and loosing a flurry of arrows into the sky. Andrew similarly came to a halt, watching the giant bird unnaturally dive through her attack and wing to the ground unharmed.


         Kuu snarled, nocking a new arrow and taking aim at where the bird had landed. She jumped when Andrew grabbed her arm. “Wait!”


         The bird stared at them, its wings spread. Slowly it straightened, its wings folding back over its body. They watched as its form shifted, a woman standing in front of them, her shoulders graced by a great cloak of feathers.


         “I was half expecting to see Bjorn.” Andrew almost spat at her.


         Eywa slowly shook her head. “He understands you have no desire to see him.” She glanced at Kuu nervously. “Is this your mate? I feel the power she wields.”


         Kuu didn’t outwardly respond, still keeping her bow trained on the strange woman. “In a way.” Andrew replied. “Why have you come here?”


         “I come with truth.” Eywa shifted nervously. “I come to beg mercy, and offer aid.”




         “I have been sent to seduce you.” She flinched when Kuu’s gaze hardened and Andrew laughed. “I do not stand here to deceive you!”


         “I understand, and appreciate your honesty.” Andrew shook his head. “There is just a great irony in that being your purpose here.”


         “It is not the only reason.” Eywa hurriedly continued. “Bjorn wishes to draw you back, but I convinced him strength was not his answer. So I have come.” She took a deep breath. “I ask mercy for the spy that has invaded your home.”


         Andrew nodded slightly, looking at Kuu. “She’s not dead yet.”


         Eywa visibly began to shake. “No, she- she is not.” She grimaced. “I offer my aid. I offer to teach you, of what you are, or what you can be. Of who we are, a history you have never known. Bjorn hopes that in doing so I will convince you to join us once again, but I offer this freely. You incur no debt to me in accepting my aid.”


         “A gift I can not refuse.”


         “You would be foolish to.”


         “Well I am human.” Andrew raised an eyebrow. “We’re known to be rather foolish.”


         Eywa winced. “I have learned as much.”


         “I have no interest in meeting further with you today.” Andrew shook his head. “I will find you when I am ready.”


         Eywa stared at him curiously. “How?”


         Andrew chuckled and Eywa finally noticed how his eyes glowed silver. “The same way you found me.”


         She hesitantly bowed. “I take my leave.”


         Kuu waited for the bird to vanish over the trees before relaxing her bow. “She’s not dead? Not for a lack of trying.”


         Andrew snorted. “I’m not confident you’d win that fight. She seemed content leaving it at that.”


         Kuu grumbled. “Fine. Who was that?”


         “I’ll tell you after we run.” Andrew motioned as he started jogging. “Looks like I need to call an emergency meeting.”







         “She was real.” Kuu gazed at Daria. “I can’t speak for the others he may have talked about, but this one was real. She was no pokegirl.”


         Daria grimaced, rubbing at her eyes. “Fuck.”


         Aella gazed down at her food. “Are we under attack?”


         “No.” Andrew replied. “If anything, this is a good thing. It shows that they are avoiding a fight, for now. Sending Eywa was their version of an olive branch.”


         “What did she say she was here to do? Seduce you?”


         “They probably believe if I find her attractive, she can lure me back with her.” Andrew snorted into his drink. “I just proposed to one woman and have at least two others vying for the same honor. I’m going to be indisposed for at least a decade, if not longer. I’m not going anywhere.”


         Aella glanced at him. “Only two?”


         “Nobody else has confessed.” Andrew replied around a mouthful of food.


         “Is she, though?” Aella watched him swallow. “Is she attractive?”


         “If I didn’t have any of you around and she asked me to have sex? I’d accept.” Andrew chuckled. “Aella, she isn’t human either. She’s likely been crafting her body to look as sexual as possible ever since she realized she’d need to attract men. But that doesn’t fix her personality.”


         “He’s saying yes, but he’s not interested.” Daria interrupted. “Andrew, are you really taking her up on this offer? To teach you, I mean. You just took up Fu’s offer to learn her martial art.”


         “I told her I’d find her when I was ready.” Andrew gazed back at her. “I’m in no rush to add a third teacher to my already crowded schedule. If I find time, I find time. If I don’t, I don’t.”


         “But if she can show you how to control your power...”


         Andrew glanced at Kuu. “If she can, I’ll make sure she shows me sooner rather than later.” He looked back around the table. “I’m not hearing any major complaints.”


         “Besides the fact that there’s a strange woman trying to get in your pants?” Aella smirked. “No, nothing major. Kuu says she’ll always be with you when you go looking for this Eywa, so I can’t argue for a guard. And you’ve proven to me today that there really is something more about you. If she can help you control it, I support it.”


         Andrew looked at her in surprise. “That’s... thank you, Aella. I wasn’t expecting to hear that from you.”


         The Shinryu ground her teeth together. “I don’t want there to be anything more to you, but I’ll be damned if I let you run off and get yourself killed trying to learn in secret.”


         Andrew smiled. “There’s my Alpha.”


         “Laugh it up.” She stood. “I need to go laugh at Constance. What’s your plan for the day?”


         “Nami has... ‘requested’ to have a day with me.”


         Aella snickered. “I thought we just established you shouldn’t be trying to get yourself killed.”


         Andrew groaned. “I know. I’ll do my best.”


         Kuu watched Aella walk away. “Is Cristina doing well?”


         Andrew blinked at her. “Hm? Probably. I haven’t seen her in a few days.”


         Kuu nodded absentmindedly. “Their training clearing grew a new pit, so I was wondering.”


         Andrew frowned. “A what?”


         “I don’t really know. You’ll have to ask her about it. All I saw was the aftermath.” She looked at him. “I think Camiel did it.”


         Andrew resisted the urge to demand an answer then and there through the Delta bond. “I’ll ask her the next time I see her.”


         “Just a curiosity.” Kuu rose. “I must return to my court. You are welcome in the forest whenever you wish, Master.”


         Daria kept her eyes on him as Kuu exited. “How’d it go otherwise?”


         Andrew stretched. “Gale estimates that I’m equal to a highly bloodgifted human. I won’t be beating Fu in an arm wrestling match any time soon, but she won’t casually snap me like a twig, either.” He grinned into the distance. “I wonder if I can hold my own with Cristina now. Won’t that be a surprise on our honeymoon.”


         Daria smiled when she saw his casual joy. “Keep the smiles coming, Andrew. Your women cherish them.”


         Andrew drew his attention back to her. “Yea? Is that why you’re smiling, too?”


         Daria shrugged. “You’ve accepted me.” She rose, leaving him alone at the table. “Keep practicing formal magic. No lessons for a while.” She winked. “I heard a rumor that we soon might be pretty busy.”


         Andrew shook his head. “Little spy.”


         “Your little spy.” Daria flashed her fangs. “You should find Cristina. Ask her about that pit.”


         “Maybe I will.” Andrew watched Daria exit, looking around at the remaining pokegirls. “But first,” he groaned, “I have to withstand Nami.”







         Cortney hummed, watching her various simulations scrolling by. A blinking indicator drew her attention and she cocked her head, accepting the call. “Good afternoon, this is Cortney.”


         “Cortney, hello.” Cortney frowned at the blank video feed. “Is Mr. Ranger around?”


         “Who is this, and how did you get this number?” Cortney sent a pulse along the connection, her frown deepening when it fizzled out halfway there. “How can I help you?”


         “Lucifer gave me the number.” The woman on the other end of the phone leaned back, casually twirling a lock of her hair. “Is he available?”


         “You still haven’t introduced yourself.”


         “I’d rather do that with him.” The woman smiled when she saw another probe. “Please don’t do that. You can’t hope to pierce our firewall without really committing to an attack, and at that point we’d just go active on the defenses.”


         Cortney relented. “You said Lucy gave you the number?”


         “That’s right.” The woman pushed back from her desk, walking over and gazing out a window. “She said you were looking for a few... let’s say training instructors.” Her smile faded. “And now I’ve answered your questions as much as I’m willing. May I speak to Andrew, please?”


         “He’s currently busy.” Cortney glanced at the image of her Tamer laying on Nami’s chest, the Sharptits in her battle form. “And if I may be blunt, is currently doing something incredibly important. I won’t be interrupting him.”


         The woman nodded. “That’s fine. Theodora can link him to me when he’s ready.” She lowered the handset, terminating the line.


         A knock on her door caught her attention. “Enter.”


         Another pokegirl stepped in, throwing a swift salute. “Ma’am. Reporting as ordered.”


         “At ease, sergeant.” The first woman sat. “Thank you for reporting so quickly.”


         The second nodded, relaxing her stance but declining to sit in the chair available to her. “Permission to speak freely, Ma’am?”




         The second pokegirl released her breath. “Is this related to our upcoming leave?”


         “Hm?” The first glanced up. “Oh, no, nothing of the sort. We just may be deploying to assist a friend for a few days.”


         The sergeant frowned. “A friend, Ma’am?”


         “One of Lucifer’s friends.” She finished filling out a form, stacking the papers and handing the packet to the sergeant. “Get this to requisitions.”


         The sergeant took the packet. “Understood.”









         “Well you’re still in one piece.” Cortney looked Andrew up and down. “No chunks missing, no gaping wounds. How’d it go yesterday?”


         “That is between her and I.”


         Cortney frowned. “Private?”


         “She answered some of my questions, and I answered some of hers. That’s all I’m willing to share.”


         Cortney sighed. “Right. While you were doing that, someone called. No video, no name, but they claimed to be answering our request for some drill sergeants. They said to call Theodora when you were available.”


         “And you neglected to tell me this last night?”


         “You were still with Nami.” Cortney replied. “This wasn’t an emergency.”


         Andrew nodded slightly. “Thank you for your discretion.”


         Cortney smiled slightly at the praise. “Would you like me to call?”


         “It sounds like this person would like this to be a private call.” Andrew waggled his eyebrows. “Or they would have given you the information.”


         Cortney made a face. “Can I please make the call? It’s not as if I don’t know what’s going on.”


         “If they ask for you, I will allow you to listen in.”


         Cortney glared at him. “I can just eavesdrop.”


         “But you won’t, because that would break our trust.” He gazed evenly at the Videogirl. “Wouldn’t it.”


         Cortney tsked, turning away. “Fine.”


         Andrew input the connection, waiting the second before smiling at his screen. “Good morning, Theodora.”


         Theodora smiled back. “Good morning, Andrew. Should I patch you through, or are you calling for a different reason?”


         “I have no idea who I’m supposed to be talking to.” Andrew chuckled. “So please, patch me through.”


         “Just a moment.”


         Andrew waited when the screen blanked. A few seconds later it came back to life, displaying a woman in uniform. She smiled at him. “Good morning, Mr. Ranger.”


         “And a good morning to you, Ma’am.” Andrew cocked his head. “I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage. I don’t know your name, or even rank.”


         The woman’s eyes sparkled. “First Lieutenant Mary Lou, sir. I believe Lucifer said you were looking for some outside analysis?”


         “I was hoping to get some action to go along with that, but yes.” Andrew raised an eyebrow. “Are you up to that, lieutenant?”


         “Well, I have no information on the situation there.” Mary Lou replied. “What exactly are you looking for?”


         “I’ve got about twenty pokegirls with various skill levels mashed together into a team that has no cohesion.” Andrew smiled slightly. “What I need is some real experience to show my girls exactly what they’re doing wrong.”


         Mary Lou returned the smile. “Is that so? You seem to know what they need.”


         “Ah, but unfortunately I am much squishier than they are. It makes it difficult to... demonstrate their mistakes.” Andrew chuckled. “Do you think you can handle a mixed bag of boots and vets?”


         Mary Lou nodded. “With the right preparation, I’m sure I could. Do you have time to describe your harem?”


         “I can do you one better.” Andrew grinned. “I can send you analysis of each of their fighting styles, as well as over a dozen hours of video of them in action. The footage isn’t completely current, but it should be more than enough to give you the information you need.”


         Mary Lou returned the grin. “I would greatly appreciate that, Mr. Ranger.”


         “Let me send the analysis first.” Andrew navigated to the correct file. “Before I send this, may I receive your guarantee that you will not spread this information beyond you and your team?”


         Mary Lou nodded. “I commend your caution. I give you my word that this information will not be published without your consent.” She waited for the file to load, opening it and scanning the first few lines. “Oh, my. I understand what you mean now.” She rapped her nails against her screen. “I will review these and requisition the proper gear for our visit. Now, may I have a guarantee from you as well?”


         Andrew frowned. “Of?”


         “After I begin, there may be some of these girls who don’t agree with what I do.” She glanced at him. “If they manage to slip away and find you, I need you to make it clear that I am in charge.”


         Andrew cleared his throat. “Of course. Once you are on site, you will be treated as the ranking officer.” He smiled. “In fact, if you can fit me in, I will be right there with my girls.”


         Mary Lou’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Did you not just refer to yourself as ‘squishy’, sir?”


         “I’m not helpless.” Andrew chuckled. “Just not as strong as they are. In fact, if you head to the end of that analysis, you’ll find my own.”


         Mary Lou scrolled down, gazing at the short blurb. “I see.”


         “I have no interest in forcing my pokegirls to do something I am not prepared to suffer through myself.” Andrew gave her a grim smile. “That’s not how an officer leads.”


         Mary Lou had a small smile on her lips when she looked back at him. “I couldn’t agree more, colonel. Will there be any problem with them taking orders from a LT?”


         “If they try to make one, I will fix the problem.” Andrew shrugged. “As I said, you will be treated as the ranking officer while on site. Anyone who has a problem with that is more than welcome to try and take it up with me.”


         “I wanted to be sure, with how this summary outlines your CoC, Sir.” She minimized the analysis. “I can be on site in two days. How does that work for you?”


         “I think that’s perfect, lieutenant. How would you like to arrange transport?”


         “I will meet you in El Paso with my team at 0800.” Mary Lou checked something next to her. “My information shows that is relatively close to your location.”


         “It is. Should be a simple teleport from there.”


         “Then I will see you at 0800 at your teleport location.” Mary Lou bowed her head. “Sir.”


         Andrew terminated the call with a nod of his own, placing the pokedex back where it belonged. “Cortney.”


         He waited for the Videogirl to materialize. “Yes?”


         “Go ahead and remember everything you just heard.”


         Cortney sighed, her tense expression fading. “Thank you.” She paused. “Two days? That’s not a lot of time.”


         “It will be here before we know it.” Andrew agreed. “I need to check in with Cristina. I have barely seen her in almost two weeks.”


         “She is currently eating breakfast.”


         “Excellent. I think I’ll join her.”







         Andrew paused in the doorway, staring at the black haired figure that was currently shoveling a heaping pile of food onto a plate. He slowly approached Cristina when she sat and began digging in, glancing around before speaking. “Are you... sharing with someone else?”


         Cristina glanced up, her eyes brightening when she saw him. “Anrew!” She quickly swallowed, grabbing her glass and clearing her mouth. “Phew! I’m so glad I got to see you before I headed out today.”


         He continued staring at her plate. “You never eat this much.”


         Cristina’s smile widened. “No? I must be feeling more hungry today.”


         He shot her a suspicious look. “What are you doing out there to need this much food?”


         “Training.” Cristina giggled at his stare. “How have you been?”


         “I think I need to ask you how you’ve been.” Andrew sat. “Because I don’t think my story is as interesting as whatever yours is.”


         “Oh, nothing too crazy.” Cristina breezed, returning to her meal. “You were right, though. My mom didn’t teach me half of what she knows.”


         “And have you learned any of that?”


         Cristina nodded, glancing back at him between bites. “I’ve learned a few techniques.”




         Cristina chewed thoughtfully. “Did you know,” she mused, “that the trick with Aella’s Energy Blade that she used to destroy Lyn’s staff is actually a bad one?” She looked at him. “As soon as she let go of it, it was basically as harmless as a regular knife. That’s why she had to hide it in another attack.”


         Andrew raised an eyebrow expectantly. “Yes?”


         “There’s over a dozen ways to counter something like that.” Cristina smirked. “There’s another dozen to counter a large, mobile opponent. There’s a further handful to counter armored opponents specifically. And if I wanted to ask Lyn for help, and cheat, I would have another hundred options.”


         “That’s not very specific.”


         Cristina’s smirk grew. “That’s right.”


         “I wanted to hear about what you’ve learned, Cristina.” Andrew watched her stand, frowning slightly at what he saw now that he was closer. “You look different.”


         Cristina began walking away with her dirty dishes, forcing Andrew to give chase. “Do I?” She asked quietly. “Because I feel different.”


         Andrew pulled up when she dunked her plate in the wash bucket, giving it a quick scrub before sliding it onto a growing pile of dirty plates. “You do?”


         Cristina gazed at the pile. “How many days has it even been? Because it feels like a year since I asked her to train me.” She took a jerking breath. “I was just a child. Of course she went easy on me. But I’m not anymore, and she doesn’t hold back.” She turned back to him. “I bleed every day. Sometimes I break something. But she stopped letting me use the PPHU days ago.” She grimaced. “Maybe that’s why I look different. Because I have no choice but to change.”


         Andrew ran his eyes over her. “You’ve lost some weight. And I think a part of the difference I see is what you’re wearing.” He looked closer. “Wait, no. You’ve traded fat for muscle. Are those new clothes?”


         Cristina tugged at her top. “Kind of?”


         “When you wore those casual clothing to come see me, the day you confessed... I was surprised. You’ve always dressed so stiffly, the most risqué I’ve seen being when you wore that blouse with an extra button undone. I’m not counting when you fight, when you don’t have any clothes but your underwear and armor.” He gazed at her. “But that’s nothing like what you’ve worn before. Is that a tank top?”


         Cristina glanced down, running her fingers along the fabric. “I just...”


         She jumped when he took hold of her hands. “I know you didn’t do it for me.” He murmured. “Because you had no idea I would be coming to see you.”


         Cristina took a deep breath. “No, I didn’t.” She laughed quietly. “I feel better. I never wore these things because I... I wasn’t confident that I could make them look good.”


         “You’re standing taller.” Andrew allowed his eyes to wander back to her chest. “Straighter.”


         Cristina snorted, gently pushing at him. “Stop that.”


         “You’ve been working hard, and it shows.” Andrew smiled at her. “You’re not my soft Ophanim anymore. You’re a fighter. Just by looking at you I can see that now.”


         “I was a fighter before.” Cristina protested.


         “But now you’re a threat.” Andrew clasped her shoulders. “Like Fu. I look at her and I see a martial artist first, a dragon pokegirl second, and, well,” he chuckled, “something else third. A few weeks ago I would look at you and I would see my angel first, and a warrior second.” His eyes twinkled. “Now I see my fiancée first, but the important part is that I see a warrior next. Not simply an angel.”




         Andrew chuckled. “Yea. And it’s done wonders for you, too. You just said you’re more confident. Even if you hadn’t, I would see it in you.” He let out a happy sigh. “I’m so proud of you, Cristina. Even if at the end of all this you’re forced to stand up to Aella and make her see the same things I am now, no matter the result, I am proud of what you have accomplished.”


         Cristina blinked back tears, wrapping her arms around him and burying her face against his neck. “Thank you.” She cried, muffled by his body. “I’ve felt so nervous.”


         “You have no reason to be.” Andrew stroked her hair. “You are one of the strongest women I know. I don’t mean that physically; I mean who you are. I would have never asked you to marry me if I didn’t see you as such.”


         Cristina hiccupped, pulling away. “I need to go.”


         “Time for training?”


         Cristina nodded wordlessly.


         “Do you think you could find a few more minutes to talk to me later?” Andrew cocked his head. “Maybe more than talk.”


         Cristina giggled, wiping her eyes. “I would love to.”


         “Excellent.” Andrew let go of her. “I don’t want to keep you. You’re doing so well.”


         Cristina leaned in to kiss him. “Thank you. Your support means more than you know.”


         Andrew jumped when she suddenly vanished. “Oh.” He slowly grinned at the empty space where she had been standing. “I mean it, Cristina. You’ve grown more than I could have imagined you would.”







         Andrew grunted. The only sound other than his breathing was the clank of the weights hanging from his legs as he brought his body up for another rep.


         “Is this where you wanted to talk?”


         Andrew started to turn towards the voice before quickly looking back away from Cristina. “Don’t panic.”


         Cristina blinked. “What?”


         Andrew slowly let out his breath, lowering his body until he could rest the weights on the ground and slide his legs out of the loops. Cristina watched as he turned to look at her and she couldn’t help but begin to laugh. “Oh, how the tables have turned.”


         Andrew slowly grinned at her response. “How’s that.”


         “A year ago, you walked into a gymnasium, and I showed you my eyes. I was afraid, and still expecting to betray the man in front of me. Your fear or disgust would have vindicated me.” She pointed at his silver eyes. “You did not. You embraced what I was, and it dissolved the fear I had built around my heart. You began to heal me that day. Now I stand here, walking into a different gymnasium, and you have shown me your own secret.” She chuckled. “What sort of a woman would I be if I did not accept you for what you are, just as you accepted me?”


         Andrew smiled, glancing down to stare at the floor. “Just like that?”


         “Just like that.” Cristina stepped inside. “Well? Aren’t you going to tell me what this is?”


         “Haven’t you heard?”


         “I heard a rumor that you had changed.” She stroked his face. “Just as you were saying I have.”


         “This is my other side.” Andrew glanced back up at her. “I’m still trying to figure out exactly how I’ve changed, but I stopped hiding from it. You helped me with that.”


         Cristina smiled gently. “So what exactly is this other side?”


         “I think Gale put it best.” Andrew shrugged. “I’ve got a lot of bloodgifts.”


         “That’s it?”


         “No.” Andrew snorted. “That’s just a good way to explain it. There’s more to this than what I’ve been able to use so far, and I don’t know how I’m going to learn about it. But for now, it’s like... I guess like magic. There’s this pool of power inside of me that I can use. To run faster, lift more.” He looked back at the weights. “Those are each a hundred kilo and I just lifted them like they were nothing.”


         Cristina nodded. “Can you do it whenever you’d like, or is there a limit to how much power you can use?”


         “I haven’t been able to fully test that.” Andrew admitted. “I ran out of steam after about half an hour while running yesterday. Yet I’ve been in here lifting weights for almost an hour. I don’t think there’s a hard time limit to it, but I haven’t had enough practice to make sure.”


         “Interesting.” Cristina mused. “So the more energy you use, the faster you wear out.” She smirked. “Isn’t that what we all do?”


         “Hm.” Andrew regarded her. “Could it really be that easy?”


         “Isn’t this supposed to be your body?” Cristina asked. “You were saying that it’s what you are, not some new power you’ve learned. You’re just open to it now.”


         “But I mean- I wouldn’t have-“ Andrew trailed off. “Wouldn’t I have always been able to do these things then? I couldn’t a month ago. I outran Furia yesterday. I could never do that before.”


         “Look at me.” Cristina gazed into his eyes. “I have gone through hell this last week. You want to see something?”


         Andrew shrugged. “What?”


         “What would you say I could do a week ago?”


         Andrew frowned. “I don’t know. A lot?”


         “Wrong question, then.” Cristina gestured at herself. “Is my body the same as it was a week ago?”


         Andrew chuckled. “Not really.”


         “Andrew,” he laughed when she swatted him, “I’m trying to make you feel better.”


         “And I’m trying to figure out what I am.” Andrew replied. “My whole life until now I’ve been as human as they come. Daria ran full scans on me. Gale ran full vitals. I was, 100%, human.”


         “Yet you said that you’ve always been more.”


         Andrew grimaced. “I know. It’s contradictory. That’s why it’s so hard for me to understand.”


         “I can understand why.” Cristina giggled at the look he gave her. “And I don’t have an easy answer. I’m still out of the loop. But I still would like to show you something, to try and make my point.”




         “Like I was saying, I have gone through hell this last week. But I’m still, more or less, the same person. Right?”




         “Could the Cristina you proposed to do this?” She raised her hand, light shimmering between her fingers until a sparking blade took shape. “Or this?” She raised her other hand, sweat beading on her face as a length of chain began to grow from her palm. “At the same time?”


         Andrew shook his head, watching the Energy Blade and Rune Chain disappear when Cristina fought for breath. “No. She couldn’t.”


         “But she could.” Cristina gasped. “Sorry. That took a lot.”


         “You’ve been training hard.” Andrew waited for her to recover. “I don’t see how that applies to me, but it’s incredible progress.”


         “Because- Because I had this ability. I just had to learn to use it.” Cristina gasped. “You’ve always had this. That’s what I mean. Your mind is incredibly powerful in what it lets your body do. I thought I could never form an Energy Blade. I thought I could never Teleport. And yet I have discovered that I can do both.” She placed her hand on his chest. “You’ve been pretending to be human for so long that you’ve forgotten how to be more.”


         Andrew grunted. “Pretty speech.”


         “It’s something Camiel told me.” Cristina shrugged. “When I was complaining that I was just an Ophanim. I was using it as an excuse, and she... uh... convinced me that I was wrong.”


         “It’s still a different situation. You’re a pokegirl. Learning new techniques is part of what you are. I’m- well, I’m not. And this isn’t a technique, it’s my physiology. You can’t just shut that off.”


         They both jumped when a loud knocking sound echoed through the gym, Daria poking her head in after a moment. “You two lovebirds done?”


         “Daria?” Andrew watched the Vampire walk towards them. “What are you doing here?”


         “Cortney said you two were arguing.” She came to a halt in front of him. “You’re making excuses, Andrew, and Cristina is doing her best to help you.”


         “Am I getting teamed up on now? I think I understand what’s going on in my body more than you do.” He raised a hand when Cristina started to speak. “Don’t say anything. I didn’t ask you to join me tonight for an argument. Please.”


         “All I am asking you to consider is that she might be right.” Daria pointed at his chest. “Remember what you told me those people were?”


         Andrew frowned. “No?”


         “When they visited you that night.”


         Andrew thought back. “Spirits?”


         “You said they were shapeshifters. And that you were one of them.” She stepped closer, jabbing her finger into his ribs. “Cristina was probably more right than she realized when she said you’ve been pretending to be human. You’ve pretended to be a woman, you’ve pretended to be a- What was it? With the shadows, and the other stuff.”


         Andrew slowly shook his head. “My antithesis?”


         “Right, that’s what you called it. But you... returned, to this body every time. Because it’s what you believe you are. These last few weeks have shaken that belief. And as you start realizing that you are not the human male you’ve always thought you were, you’ve begun to discover that you can do more than you always could.” She raised her voice when he began to argue. “You think you’re the only shapeshifter here? Look at me, for fucks sake I lived more than half my life changing between what I thought I was and something I learned I could become. Now I’m stuck as something I never thought I would be. You’re stuck, Andrew. You’re stuck in your human form.” She stared up at him. “And you’re stuck because you’re afraid.”


         “Please leave.”


         Daria gazed at his tired expression. “You already knew that, didn’t you.”




         “You have a teacher, Andrew.” She backed away. “There is a member of your race skulking around outside, just waiting to do whatever she can to convince you to rejoin her. You’re a smart man. I’m sure you can extract some answers without arousing suspicion.”


         Andrew sighed, rubbing at his face. “I hate this so much.”


         Daria paused on her way out the door. “You don’t have to like it for it to be the truth.”


         “Sure.” Andrew snorted, throwing his hands up.


         “Is she right?” Cristina asked quietly. “Are you afraid?”


         Andrew slowly shook his head. “I don’t want to talk about it.”




         Andrew stared off into the distance before turning and beginning to pick up his gear. “I don’t want to lose myself, Cristina. I won’t let it happen.”


         “No matter what you look like, you will always be my Master.” Cristina stepped around him and scooped up the plates. “You will always be my husband.”


         Andrew felt the beginning of tears start before he shook them away. “Thank you.” He tossed the straps into his gym bag and pulled it over his shoulder. “I still need to make that official.”


         “Isn’t there supposed to be a ceremony?”


         “There is, but that’s not what I meant.” He glanced back to make sure she was following him. “It’s traditional to present a gift when you propose. Usually that is a ring, but I might do something else.”


         “If you give me something, am I supposed to give you something?” Cristina frowned at his back. “I guess I could do a ring, but...”


         “If every woman I marry gives me a ring, I’ll run out of fingers to wear them with.” Andrew cautioned.


         “Oh really?” Cristina scowled. “Already planning to have a dozen wives?”


         “I already have nearly two dozen lovers.” Andrew countered. “It’s only practical to consider that at least half of them will one day want to be my wife.”


         Cristina quieted. “That’s fair.”


         “Besides, rings are clunky. I would have to worry about losing it, and they can catch on things when you’re using your hands. Not that I wouldn’t wear it if you gave me one.”


         Cristina shook her head. “I’ll come up with something.”


         Andrew finished stowing his bag and turned to her. “I hope you do.” A smile spread across his face. “I haven’t seen you in ages. What say we continue this conversation in my bedroom?”


         Cristina matched his smile, eagerly taking his hand and letting him pull her down the hall.







         “So what did she have you do yesterday?”


         Cristina smiled. “Not much. When I told her what you were planning she was too busy giggling to focus much on training. We ended up taking most of the time to work on my stamina. I want to eventually be able to summon an Energy Blade while I have an opponent bound.”


         “What about teleporting?”


         Cristina shrugged. “I’m precise within about six inches. I’d like that to be zero, but it’s more than sufficient in battle at the moment.”


         They were walking down the streets of El Paso, the early morning sun suffusing her hair with radiant golden light. Andrew had to glance away when the light glinted off the silver bars pinned to her collar, sparing a glance down at his own uniform. “How many people can you teleport?”


         Cristina grimaced for a moment before her face smoothed again. “I will be able to take two. Once.”


         “You’ve already thought ahead.”


         Cristina nodded. “I will take you and whoever they designate back with me, and then find some excuse to stay with you while they arrive.”


         “I’ll make that happen. Don’t worry.”


         Cristina released the breath she had been holding. “Thank you.”


         “It’s 0740.” Andrew twisted his arm to let his sleeve fall back over his watch. “While I’ve enjoyed this walk, we should head back to the store. It’s where Mary Lou insinuated she’d meet us.”


         “Aella must be fuming.”


         “It couldn’t be helped. I’ve done my best to keep this a surprise.”


         Cristina nodded slightly. “You have.” She peered up the street. “How many people are we meeting?”


         “By my count, five.” Andrew replied. The small group was milling outside Carmen’s store, though once one seemed to notice them the assembled pokegirls fell into a loose formation.


         Andrew pulled up, beating Mary Lou’s salute by a second. “Lieutenant.”


         Mary Lou didn’t outwardly react, merely finishing her own salute. “Sir. First Lieutenant Mary Lou reporting.”


         “At ease, lieutenant.” Andrew ran his gaze over the other pokegirls behind her. “You are well outside of my chain of command, lieutenant, but I thank you for your professionalism.”


         Mary Lou nodded. “Of course, sir.”


         “This is my Beta, Captain Cristina.” Andrew gestured, prompting a nod from the Ophanim. “She will be bringing us back to base.”


         “With all due respect, Sir, it would be rude for me to abandon the lieutenant and her team while I teleport you back before returning. It would be more efficient to take the lieutenant with us so she can begin transporting her team.” She turned to Mary Lou. “As long as you are also capable of teleport, Ma’am. I apologize for making the assumption.”


         Mary Lou nodded. “Thank you for the compliment, captain. I am able to teleport, as can each of my sisters here.”


         “Excellent.” Andrew gestured. “Then, captain-?”


         “Didn’t you have some items to discuss before we leave, Sir?” Cristina gazed at him. “I have only been told of the bare essentials, so I assume you still have things to finalize.”


         Andrew was about to respond in confusion when her mind touched his. “I need a minute. Can you make something up?


         “Of course.” Andrew looked back at Mary Lou. “If we could have some privacy, captain?”


         Cristina nodded, pushing inside the store. Andrew waited for the door to close before speaking. “I’ve done my best to keep as many of them out of the loop as possible. Your arrival will be a surprise.”


         Mary Lou nodded. “Has the situation changed since we last spoke?”


         Andrew shrugged. “Yes and no. The overall situation is still the same, but some events I set in motion should have made the entire harem more receptive to your presence.”


         “Excellent.” Mary Lou glanced behind herself. “I brought four of my finest sergeants. With any luck, there won’t be any major problems.”


         “Good. We will be arriving just after our daily run is meant to start, but it can’t start without me. I hope you have prepared something.”


         Mary Lou smiled. “I have indeed.”


         “Very good.” Andrew watched Cristina return to the door. “Let’s get moving.”







         Aella paced, glaring at the empty path. “Where the fuck is he.”


         “I saw him with Cristina.” Lyn replied. “Did he oversleep?”


         “He never oversleeps.” Aella snarled. “This isn’t like him. What’s going on?”


         “It’s only a few minutes past eight.”


         “He’s never late.” Aella came to a halt. “What in the world is going on?”


         She straightened when she saw a figure hurrying towards them. “Finally.”


         Andrew slid to a halt. “Sorry I’m late.”


         “You’re setting a horrible-“ Aella stopped when she saw Cristina walking behind him. “Cristina?”


         Cristina nodded. “Good morning, Aella.”


         “Where- how have you been?”


         Cristina shrugged. “I’m doing well. How are you?”


         “Doing... Fine.” She gazed at the Ophanim. “I’ve missed you.”


         Cristina cracked a smile at that. “I’ve missed you all, too.” She waved at the assembled pokegirls, paying a special nod to where Camiel and Albia stood. “Hey everyone.”


         Andrew ignored the chorus of greetings. “So Aella, when was the last time you trained like the rest of us do?”


         Silence fell and Aella slowly turned to look at him. “Excuse me?”


         “I asked you a question. Answer it.”


         “I train.”


         “But you don’t challenge yourself.” Came the curt reply. “You set goals for the harem to follow without listening to your advisors. You live in your own world, without regard for the rest.” His eyes narrowed. “You are an excellent Alpha, Aella, but you are a terrible leader. It’s time for your wake up call.” He glanced over his shoulder. “Lieutenant.”


         Aella’s stare was a mix of anger and uncertainty when she saw the pokegirls materialize from the forest. “Andrew-?”


         “This is Lieutenant Mary Lou.” Andrew explained, glancing at the harem. “And for the next few days, she is the ranking officer here. Not Aella. Not me.” He turned to face the Seraph. “Lieutenant. I am ready to be relieved.”


         The five pokegirls had each changed into combat fatigues, the bags they had been carrying left behind in the caves. “I relieve you, colonel.” Mary Lou replied.


         “I stand relieved.”


         “What are you doing?” Aella hissed as she watched Mary Lou walk forwards. “In front of everyone?”


         The Seraph came to a halt. “LADIES!” Her voice crashed through the clearing like thunder. “I am here to assess your combat potential and to fix any misconceptions you may have been laboring under. My mission is to trim the fat and form you into something even close to my own platoon.”


         “Excuse me,” Aella growled, her anger still evident, “who the fuck are you?” Andrew quickly slid away from her when Mary Lou turned her attention to the Shinryu.


         Mary Lou regarded her. “What was that, boot?”


         Aella’s eyes flashed. “I said, who the fuck are-“




         Andrew marveled at Mary Lou’s form. He could still clearly remember his drill sergeant from basic, and the five foot woman currently screaming at his Alpha would have put him to shame. It didn’t matter that she was looking up at Aella, her presence was far and away the scariest thing in that clearing, dwarfing Aella’s murderous intent like it didn’t exist.


         Mary Lou didn’t even wait to see Aella’s reaction, striding past her to address the stunned harem. “Allow me to be clear. I am lieutenant or I am Ma’am. You are boots. You are nothing until I tell you otherwise. You will sweat and you will bleed but by the end of my time here you will be proud of what you have become.” Her expression hardened and she whirled to where Aella still defiantly stood. “IS THERE A PROBLEM WITH YOUR EARS, BOOT? WHAT DID I SAY!”


         Aella snorted. “You’re not taking my harem.”


         Mary Lou moved faster than Andrew could blink and Aella was face down in the dirt. “Start sucking, boot. Up. Down. Up. Down. You know what a push-up is, don’t you boot?”


         Aella surged back to her feet but before she could attack Mary Lou one of the sergeants had intervened. The Megami barely reacted when Aella discharged, lightning skittering across the impassive pokegirl’s body before she slammed Aella back down.




         Any hesitation the girls had from seeing Aella with a Megami-Sama sitting on her back vanished when Cristina dropped to Mary Lou’s commands, both she and Andrew setting the example for the others to follow.









Smoke Devils Chain of Command

Col. Andrew Ranger

(Tech Ops) Maj. Cortney

(Strike) Maj. Aella

(Logistics) Maj. Lyn

(Advisor) Cpt. Nevaeh

(Defense) Cpt. Kuu

(Beta) Cpt. Cristina

(Medic) Cpt. Gale

(Council) Cpt. Rein (Ret.)

GySgt. Constance

1stSgt. Fu

GySgt. Ishara

SSgt. Nami

SSgt. Shamira

Sgt. Lucina

Sgt. Ann

Sgt. Melody

Sgt. Yang (Ret.)


Cpl. Furia

Cpl. Nova




Aella – (Hunter) Shinryu – Alpha

Cristina – (Blessed, Fiendish) Ophanim – Beta


Cortney – (Upgraded) Videogirl

Fu – Warvern

Lucina – Shadowcat

Nami – Sharptits

Constance – Tank Vixxen

Gale – Night Nurse

Shamira – Goldina

Nevaeh – (Blessed, Fiendish) G-Splice

Melody – Wet Queen

Ann – Ice Empress

Nova – Blazicunt

Furia – (Fiendish) Wolf Queen

Rein – Myobu

Ishara – Romanticide

Kuu – Elfqueen

Lyn – Archmage

Yang – Nereidame

Daria – Vampire

Camiel – (Paragon) Archangel

Albia – (Hunter) G-Splice