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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 51
Cortney hummed happily to herself while she manipulated the data streams flowing past her. She felt alive again. The piece of technology that Andrew had gotten for her seemed like such a small addition to her life disk and yet it had opened such a wonderful world to her. She briefly remembered Shila’s words as she handed her life to him and let the smugness she felt come to the surface. The things they had missed out on. The world was hers and her old rivals were languishing in a dusty PLC safehouse.
A signal caught her attention so she slowed her streams, isolating it and inspecting the flashing pathways.
It was another of the things she had been able to see with the new transmitter. Belldandy, Skuld, and Urd’s twee had already introduced themselves the day she had it installed and she had gotten right to work cataloguing the damage the Celestial Alliance had sustained. But she still wanted to stretch out a bit.
She looked closer at the mutating data stream. Something about it was familiar but she couldn’t figure out why.
Suddenly she realized. It was the path of another Videogirl. Something that she didn’t think was possible on this world. She tried to trace the physical root of the signal and frowned when she couldn’t. This other Videogirl was shielded somehow, or perhaps the path was too degraded since it often utilized radio and other low-tech transmissions.
One active Videogirl was not an emergency, but it did warrant caution. She wasn’t alone in the world anymore and needed to be careful in her intrusions.
Another signal caught her attention and she released the strange stream to check it. This one wasn’t an electron stream, instead coming in over the transmitter. And it was nearby. Inside the caves.
She reached out, establishing a connection when her handshake was accepted.
The androgynous figure nodded to her. “Good morning, Cortney.”
Cortney frowned. “Who are you and how do you know me?”
“I am Andrew’s twee.”
Cortney cocked her head. “You were not supposed to wake for at least another day.”
“I do not control the speed at which I bond with my host. I do already have various memories of you and the others in his family, which I assume is because he actively assisted my gestation process. It may also be why I have woken early.”
“Does he know?”
“Andrew is still asleep. I would not have made any action except I received your query.”
“I noticed you as a new signal nearby. I apologize if I have interrupted your process.”
The twee shook its head. “That is alright. However, I must ask: his memories of you show you to be an AI, and yet not. However, during my interaction with you now I am being forced to slow to your processing speed. Why do you limit yourself to such a crawl? Is this the speed at which the biologics think and you are mimicking them for their sake?”
Cortney felt a hot blush spreading over her face. “I am considered fast for my kind.”
The twee blinked. “I am sorry. His memories of you hold your skill in high regard and I assumed you would be equivalent to me at the least even though you are not of Tirsuli make.”
“Apparently not.” Cortney gritted her teeth. “Please do not reveal this conversation to the others as they come online. If they ask the same question you have I will claim I am running at organic speed and leave it at that.”
The twee nodded. “I apologize for causing you stress. Please don’t blame my host for my blunder.”
“There’s no need to fucking kiss my ass.”
The twee shook its head. “On the contrary. He cares for you greatly and my life is bound to his. I can not simply leave if he is unhappy with me and insulting the ones he cares about will make him very unhappy.”
Cortney sighed. “I accept your apology. It would appear I have some growing to do.”
The twee smiled. “Good luck.”
She stared at the meandering feeds when the connection broke. With an angry jerk she flung them away, cutting off all input and turning her attention inwards to her own programming.
She was optimized. She had spent years precisely running pathways through her subconscious so that every thought could easily find where it needed to go without any delay. Perhaps there were further optimizations she could create but she was certain no other Upgrade could outspeed her in the way the twee had claimed it could. A crawl. She did not crawl.
She analyzed herself for so long that eventually she had to terminate a recursion loop that had formed and step back.
A loop should never have formed. If she was truly optimized it should be impossible. Yet try as she might she couldn’t find what might be slowing her down - the system she had created was flawless.
Eventually her attention wandered to her latest upgrade and she curiously poked at the transmitter’s software. This device had come from the same place the twee had. It was by all accounts more technologically advanced than she was and had been seamlessly integrated through a nanite technology even she could barely understand. But she could use it. It had not hurt her to be fitted with it. Theoretically, it likely could or did run at the same or greater speeds as the twee.
Something about the programming looked odd so she expanded it, peering at what should have been a uselessly truncated line. But it wasn’t. Data flowed freely into what looked like nothingness and reappeared from the same nothingness almost at random throughout the code. Always going where it needed to go.
She inspected it for a few more cycles before shaking her head and opening herself back up to the world. She would need to experiment. But she would discover this device’s secrets and incorporate them to make herself even better than before.
Andrew yawned and rolled over, draping his legs over the side of the bed and staring at the ground. “I heard you. Are you my twee?”
“Good morning. I apologize if I interrupted your sleep.”
“Nah. What do you need from me? Theodora said once you woke you’d need to shape yourself somehow.”
“The memories you fed me have already begun introducing you to me. With your permission I would like to scan everything so I can form a profile you would accept.”
“You have my permission to view everything that I am.” Andrew winced slightly when a quick twinge shot through his body. “Ow.”
“I’m sorry. I tried to examine everything including your spellmind but it fought back.”
“My what?” Andrew glanced down at his hand. “Oh. My glove.”
“Your memories indicate this is something you aren’t fully in control of.”
“I’m working on it. How active are you right now?”
“I have only been awake for a few hours. It will still take me a day or two to begin to fully incorporate with your body. This is slightly complicated by you not having a Tirsuli biology but from what I am seeing about you there should be no serious issues.”
“I doubt the Tirsuli have ever interacted with my race.”
“That is something I can’t hypothesize on. It is true that I have no instructions specific to your species.”
“What’s different biologically between me and a Tirsuli?”
“That is a question that has no one answer, as the Tirsuli are made up of many races. However, one thing they are given that you have not are genetic boosters that extend life and promote health.”
Andrew was quiet for a moment. “Theodora didn’t tell me anything about that.”
“I have accessed your memory of your conversation with her and it appears she was manipulating you to take a favorable deal. You did well negotiating with a clan AI under the circumstances.”
“I got ripped off?”
“I did not say that. In fact you got an exceptionally good deal for an outlander.”
Andrew sighed. “Small victories. Once you are able please compile our agreed upon price and send it to her. Also, I’d like to know everything about the Tirsuli that you were created knowing and can easily find. I understand that you are more than capable of guiding me when I get into another situation like that, but I’m a scientist. I like knowledge.”
“I will begin feeding you that information immediately.”
“Thanks.” Andrew blinked, rubbing at his eye when a tear leaked out. “Okay, that one really stung.”
“I needed to access your optical nerve.” Andrew watched a small translucent figure appear in the same way his visor sent him information. “I was trying to decide on a form you would appreciate. I couldn’t use one of your women as I will be interacting with their twee and the one chosen would make others angry. I briefly considered taking your own but because of your past invasions decided that might not be wise. You might forget about me for a moment and lash out at the perceived invader.”
Andrew grimaced. “Yea I probably would.” He tried to focus on the hologram. “You do know that’s supposed to be a type of AI.”
The small figure nodded. “Your memories of the Halo universe indicate that many similar AI to Cortana existed. I have taken a slightly different appearance so as to distance myself from them. Can you accept me in your mind?”
“I can.” Andrew smiled. “Because you’re not a Halsey AI. You’re much better than any of them could be.”
His twee smiled back. “Thank you. I will begin compiling our payment to Theodora.”
Cristina followed Kuu through the trees, pushing her hair back and smiling when she saw the group waiting for them. The three elves quickly stood when they noticed Kuu’s approach and one bowed. “My Queen.”
“Good morning, Ashi.” Kuu said with a smile. “This is Cristina.”
Ashi bobbed her head. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Cristina.”
Cristina frowned slightly. “I’m pretty sure I’ve met you before, Ashi.”
“Yes, but that was when I was still a simple soldier, ma’am.” Ashi smiled. “As my Queen’s patrol leader I have never met the King’s Beta.”
Cristina chuckled, waving dismissively. “Please. Just call me Cristina.”
Ashi’s formal demeanor vanished and she laughed. “Of course. How have you been?”
“I’ve been well.” Cristina looked at the other two elves. “I believe I know one of you, as well. Fleur, was it?”
The Elf jerked in surprise. “I- I’m sorry, ma’am, I don’t remember ever meeting you.”
“Back during one of our clean up patrols? Lucina and I joined your squad to take care of that nest of Eva.”
Fleur brightened. “Oh! Yes, I remember. I’ve gotten better with my skills since then, as you taught me to.”
Cristina chuckled. “I’m very glad to hear that.” She looked at the last elf. “Good morning.”
The Golden Elf shook her hand with a smile. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Cristina. I am Woda. I am Lady Ashi’s second and was the leader of the contact patrol.”
“Thank you for meeting with me.”
“Of course.” The pokegirls sat, Woda gesturing at Fleur. “Fleur, can you please tell Cristina what we found?”
“Yes ma’am.” Fleur cleared her throat. “As my Queen has no doubt already told you, we made contact with the refugee farmers a week or so ago. During that visit, besides the unfortunate skirmish that came before we could identify ourselves, the most interesting event was meeting two of the elves bound to those humans. Both are bound to the same man and go by the names Anna and Donna. Both claimed they had heard my Queen’s call but declined to leave their human.”
Cristina gave Kuu a quizzical glance. “Is that important somehow?”
“I had multiple elves come from League tamers.” Kuu replied softly. “Because they would rather have taken a chance with me than with who they had.”
Cristina’s eyes widened. “You’re saying their Tamer is good to them.”
“They refused to leave him, even when they were given the chance to serve my Queen.” Fleur repeated. “He must be a good man.”
“Now I understand why you needed me to hear this first hand, Kuu.” Cristina turned to Woda. “How many other elf Tamers were there?”
“Two, each claiming one.”
“And did those elves say the same thing?”
Woda shook her head. “Neither could remember being called. It’s likely they weren’t woken until after my Queen did it.”
“Maybe not, but they could still have said that their Masters were good as well.”
Woda shrugged. “Even if they had, I would not have believed them blindly. It is something incredible that Anna and Donna declined my Queen’s invitation for their man. It is less so that a random pokegirl can claim her Master is the same.”
“Fine, I understand what you’re saying.” Cristina sighed. “So their Master is the one we should try to get on our side. Was he the leader of the refugees?”
“No. They had no real leader, but the man pretending to be one was not the man Anna and Donna claimed.”
“Thank you for keeping me informed.” Cristina looked around. “Was there anything else important that you discovered?”
Woda shook her head. “We did not stay long, ma’am. Enough time to explain what would be coming next and not much more.”
“Thank you.” Cristina stood. “Kuu, we’ll probably be officially going to meet them in a few days. I’ll need you on that team.”
Kuu nodded. “I will be ready.”
Andrew sat quietly in the deserted kitchen. Fu, Cristina, and Kuu were all out visiting the farmers. He’d tried to come along before being politely told that he wasn’t needed yet. It was Cristina’s op. Lyn, Aella, Camiel, and Lucina all were on standby if the advance team needed assistance. On top of that, Gale had gone off with the non-combat portion of the harem to have some peaceful physical activities. He’d tried to join that before Gale warned him it was a front for her to keep them exercising, and while she would include him, she didn’t want people like Yang and Rein getting nervous because he was there. That left him sitting in a nearly empty home. He was pretty sure he could count the ones who were left on one hand.
It was strange, not having a dozen pokegirls swarming him at all times. He kind of missed it.
“Hey Constance, are you busy?”
There was surprise in her tone when she responded. “Yes, but I don’t have to be. What’s up?”
“I’m just feeling a bit lonely. Wanted to be with my women.”
A few hundred yards away Constance laughed out loud. “We leave him alone for two hours and he gets lonely.”
Nova laughed with her before yelling when Nami smashed through her. “BITCH!”
“We’re having some fun in the gym.” Constance sent back, whooping as she dodged a spray of water. “Come join us.”
A few minutes later Andrew entered, looking around at the scene and laughing.
Constance spared him a glance and got smashed to the ground for her troubles, the Hydro Pump Melody was firing scraping her across the floor until she slammed into the far wall in a mess of sodden fur and curses. The Wet Queen giggled, glancing back and clapping when Nova vaulted over Nami, her feet wreathed in flame as they pummeled the Sharptits’ back.
“Whoah!” Andrew laughed when Melody ran at him, wrapping her arms around his chest and twirling happily. “What in the world is going on in here?”
“Us water types are picking on the fire types.” Melody giggled, hiding behind him when Constance stomped up. “Idn’t dat right, foxy~?”
“Come out.” Constance said with a completely flat tone.
Constance looked at Andrew. “We’re just having some time to get to know each other. I need to get to know her a bit more. You might want to move.”
Andrew tried to sidestep but Melody hung on tight. “Uh, she won’t let go, Constance.” His eyes widened when he saw her charging an attack. “Hey hey hey this is not my fault, you can’t just-“
Constance grabbed him, throwing him to the side and diving at Melody. There was an explosion of steam as Andrew tumbled to the ground and he looked back to see Constance lying on her back, groaning softly.
“Almost.” Melody was standing over Constance with her hand outstretched. “Nice match.”
Constance took her hand, letting Melody pull her to her feet. “I’m going to beat you one day.”
Melody grinned. “You will try to.”
Constance gave her a rare smile before turning to Andrew. “Soo, you’re lonely...”
Andrew held her at arm’s length. “You’re soaking wet. With fur. You are going to smell terrible unless you go dry off.”
Constance gave him a deadpan stare before igniting, the water steaming off her body. “Boom.”
Melody was chuckling and Andrew just shrugged. “Fair enough.”
“Thanks for being my opponent, Mel.” Constance sighed, stretching out next to Andrew. “This seat kind of sucks, but I can work with it.”
“We don’t have to sit on the floor. This is just where I fell.”
“Nah.” Constance rolled towards him. “I’m sitting and I ain’t movin’. Anything special you wanted to do, or just be around us?”
Andrew let Melody take his other side. “I just needed to be around you.”
“That makes me happy.” Constance barely whispered. “You’re a soft fool.” She continued, louder so Melody could hear her. “Next time you’re without us you’re going to go crazy.”
“If I’m ever in a situation where I can’t get to you, you better believe I’ll be going crazy.”
Constance stood. “Sorry. I didn’t mean it like that.” Without another word she sprinted at where Nova and Nami still grappled.
Melody watched him stare blankly at the air for a moment before speaking. “Hey.” She waited for him to focus on her before smiling. “You’ll never be in that situation while we’re still active. We will fight to you no matter what tries to stop us.”
“I know.” Andrew abruptly embraced her. “Thanks for going easy on her.”
Melody smiled. “What makes you think I did that?”
“She’s still conscious.” Andrew chuckled. “I’ve seen you in training. You’re making incredible progress. Probably more than anyone else.”
Melody nodded slightly. “Well. I have a reason to be better.”
“You’ve got something to prove.” Andrew patted her arm. “I’ve seen it. Don’t you worry about that.”
“I’ve been hoping you have.” Melody replied quietly, looking at him. “I’ve been trying to help Cristina, and coordinate things like this miniature training session with the other girls.”
“You have, haven’t you.” Andrew looked at her sideways. “And on top of that you’re training like a mad woman, standing even with some of the girls you used to fear.”
“I wouldn’t say that.”
“I would.” Andrew replied firmly. “You’ve started thinking about yourself now, all the energy you poured into Ann shooting you to new heights.”
Melody lowered her eyes. “Maybe so, but that’s not a good thing. I need to be using some of that to help everybody. Not just me.”
“That’s a respectable goal.”
Melody got to her feet, reaching down to lift him up with her. “Let’s get a real seat.”
Andrew followed her to a pair of chairs set up nearby. “You may have been focusing on yourself, but you haven’t been ignoring everyone. Remember? A few days ago you set up that thing after the morning exercises. I had to go get beat up by Daria so I didn’t stick around, but how’d it go?”
Melody looked at him in surprise. “You saw all that?”
“Of course I did. Everyone seemed excited.”
“Did you hear what it was?” Melody asked curiously.
“No, I just heard you announce you were starting something called the ‘Rapidfire Roulette’ and then I had to go. What was that?”
“Well,” Melody explained, “I’m a Wet Queen.”
“I really, really like to learn new things.”
“Okay.” Andrew nodded.
“So I’ve got lots and lots of spells and attacks that I know, but haven’t practiced.” Melody was growing more animated as she spoke, her face lighting up with her excitement. “It’s a game. Anyone can challenge me with a technique they have, and if I have it, we match our strength. If I can meet or beat them, I get a point. If they beat me or I don’t have the technique yet, they get a point. The first to be up by three points wins. Usually we bet on the outcome, too.”
“That’s genius.” Andrew was grinning. “You learn and practice and they have fun teaching you while training themselves.”
“I’m going to sound like I’m just flattering you here.” Andrew leaned over and kissed her nose. “But you are an exceptionally intelligent woman to come up with something like that.”
Melody had started to blush. “That means a lot. Coming from you.”
“So why do you hold these competitions? Obviously to train, but what are you training for?”
“Well...” Melody trailed off. “I want to be as strong as Aella. To beat her one day. I embarrassed myself the last time we fought and I don’t want that to happen again.”
“And everyone else?”
“I’m not really worrying about fighting them right now.”
“I meant what they were getting out of this.” He pursed his lips. “You know, I understand that you’ve got a grudge. A lot of people here do with her.” Andrew sighed. “But she’s not the Alpha anymore. She’s a regular member of the harem again, just like you. She needs your acceptance more than your ire.”
“It’s not like that.” Melody argued. “Nothing like that at all. She was the strongest. That’s how it was. And I- I’ve lived a very long life just content to follow the strongest. Doing my own thing even when it’s not the best thing to do. Then I met you. You have a place here where I can’t just follow along. I need to be stronger. Always getting stronger. If I’m always getting stronger, then eventually, I’m going to challenge the strongest. And if I pass that person, I’ll need to keep getting stronger to still be the strongest when my other sisters catch up to me.”
Andrew cocked his head. “How old are you?”
“I was a Wet Elf for a century. I was a Wet Lass for another century and a half.”
Andrew did the math. “You’re over two hundred and fifty years old?”
“At least. Some of it I was nearly feral, so it might not be perfectly accurate.”
“You’re not from... you didn’t fight in the war then, right?”
“I mean no offense, but if you’ve been alive that long you should be much stronger than Aella already.”
Melody smiled. “No offense taken. I’m not because I’ve never applied myself. Even when Ashba asked me to be her second I was still following someone, so I didn’t grow. But these last few weeks - this last few months - I have had a reason to not only get better but also to grow beyond the content little girl who has spent her whole life hiding from any responsibility. I guess Ann... Ann kind of forced me to finally take a look at who I am. Who I wanted to be. You know I’ve been starting to look for a place to start a court of my own.”
“I don’t think that’s what I’m meant to do.” She gave him a small smile. “I’ve got too much to do for my sisters here.”
Andrew raised an eyebrow. “Is that so.”
“It is.”
Andrew nodded to himself, turning back to watch Nami, Nova, and Constance play with each other. “Who is she to you, by the way? I’ve never asked. Are you Recognized?”
Melody blinked, turning away with a sad frown. “No. I just love her. That’s all, nothing special about it.”
“You love her and she loves you.” Andrew glanced back at her. “I’d say love is pretty special.”
Melody raised her head, looking at him in surprise. “You think that?”
“Of course I do.” Andrew replied gently. “What the two of you share is very special. It’s like what Cristina and I share. What one day, I think you and I will share, too.”
Melody blushed. “You’re just saying that.”
“You alright if I say something a bit corny?”
Melody nodded.
“In the last few weeks it’s almost been like you appeared from nowhere. Before now you were a very sexy woman who I celebrated having a relationship with, but ever since Ann gave you your push you’ve evolved into this incredible force of nature who has taken this harem by storm.” He grinned at her. “Melody, I have women all around me doing exactly what you did and you still stood out. It makes you look really, really hot.”
Melody felt her face burning but she soldiered on. “I’m just doing what I think you want us to do.”
“And you’re right.” Andrew took hold of her hands. “It is what I want to see you do. Something that Aella wasn’t doing. Without me asking you to you’ve started doing what she couldn’t.”
Melody had to remember to breathe when he paused. Say it.
“I’m so proud to see you and the others working to be the best you can be.”
Melody tried not to let her disappointment show when she replied. “I know you’ve been unhappy with how she had been stagnating the harem. I wanted to fix that.”
“Cristina does too. And Kuu, and Fu, and Gale...” Andrew trailed off. “It feels so much better seeing you all moving in one direction again.”
“It feels good for us to.”
Melody squealed happily when he grabbed her with a full kiss.
“Thanks for meeting with me this afternoon.”
Andrew poured himself a drink and sat. “I know you’re tired from your mission. Why do you need me?”
“I’ll get to that. First, it went well.” Cristina replied, sipping from her own cup. “Kuu established a great relationship with the farmers, and especially their elves. I got some time to really sound out the situation, and Fu was, well, she managed to find a fight and got herself endeared to the pokegirls too.”
Andrew chuckled. “I’m glad to hear it. Who went after her?”
“One of the Minotaura. It was all in good fun.”
“Did her Tamer make a fuss?”
Cristina shook her head. “Some of the pokegirls aren’t claimed by anyone. The Minotaura was one of them. She and four others used to belong to... some of the farmers that didn’t survive the attack.”
Andrew slowly put his cup down. “The military killed them for not being able to produce?”
“They killed them for defending themselves.”
Andrew had to release his cup before his hands clenched together. “Why. That’s such senseless loss of life. They killed CIVILIANS.”
Cristina waited for him to calm down before continuing. “You understand why the farmers won’t go back under any circumstances.”
“Any judgments I may have had about them starving the city to get at the military just vanished.”
“They’re not actually starving the city.” Cristina pointed out. “That’s one of the things we learned. They’re farming the best they can on land that is too small to support them and without any of the tools or seeds they once had, then sending whatever they can spare to the city through a drop point. These people were hungry. Not starving, but hungry. I can understand why the advance teams missed the first Minotaura, since she looked just like the Milktits.”
“Even the Milktits are losing weight?”
Cristina gave him a grim smile. “Yea. I’ve seen healthy Milktits before, where if you sat with them long enough you’d actually be able to see as their breasts filled up. These ones were not that productive.”
“We need to fix that.”
“Already done.” Cristina replied. “Kuu gave them some real plants to start cultivating and cleared some more land for them while she was at it. They’re going to survive.”
“I’m glad.” Andrew gazed down at his drink. “We need to help them go home.”
“We’ll need to check out the situation in the city first.”
“Yea, and I’ll need to be a part of that team. Was that what you wanted to talk about?”
Cristina shook her head. “No. Actually it’s a bit unfortunate. A few of the farmers don’t want to deal with pokegirls. They asked for you.”
Andrew snorted. “If they can’t understand that you speak for me, having me tell them to fuck off won’t make them happy.”
“That’s their problem.”
Andrew grinned. “You’re damn right. Whatever, I’ll meet them. When do you want to go?”
“Soon.” Cristina placed her hand over her stomach. “The deadline is approaching.”
Andrew grimaced. “Yea. I know. I need to figure out who can give the harem what they need while you’re out of the action. I tried to ask Kuu but she was very firm in her refusal. I don’t know who else to ask.”
Cristina looked surprised. “You asked Kuu to be the Alpha, and she declined?”
“She said she wouldn’t be able to give the job the attention it deserves while also ruling her court. I agree with her, but I was hoping she could do it. She’s a perfect fit now that she’s no longer acting as an outsider.”
Cristina hesitated before speaking. “I need to tell you something. She came to me the day Mary Lou left and had a conversation about Aella and what Aella wasn’t doing for the harem. About what an Alpha should do for the harem. She has been setting herself up for that position since that day. Maybe longer.”
Andrew frowned. “She turned me down.”
“I know, which makes no sense.” Cristina shook her head. “I’ve been acting as if she was going to make a play for it. I’ve seen others in the harem doing the same. Heck I’ve watched HER do things that only make sense if she was angling for the Alpha position. And it all worked.”
“She’s setting someone else up.” Andrew looked at Cristina. “She has to be. Someone who acts like she does, who is in a similar position to-“ He stopped. “Son of a bitch. And she did. She really did.”
Cristina looked quizzically at him. “Who?”
“It has to be someone in the combat side of the harem.” Andrew began, ticking points on his fingers. “They have to be or they could never do what an Alpha needs to do. I’m not saying some of them can’t be the Alpha. The problem is that they need to be a part of all activities, including the combat training. That eliminates half of the candidates already. It can’t be you, because you’ve made your stance clear. It can’t be Aella, because she’s learned she doesn’t want the job. It can’t be Furia because Kuu - god she’s an incredible manipulator - took her out of the running. It can’t be Fu because she’s still focused on her martial art. It can’t be Nova since she’s so new. It can’t be...”
Cristina laughed to herself when he kept going on. “So who can it be? I can tell you’ve been putting a lot of thought into this.”
Andrew stopped. “It’s Melody.”
Cristina frowned, thinking. “Melody. I can see it. Why do you think it’s her?”
“Because this morning she was making sure I had noticed what she’s done the last few weeks, explaining how she had been doing what an Alpha should.”
Cristina nodded slowly. “She kind of just appeared and started helping me out. I figured it’s who she actually is and now that Ann has stepped down she’s turning her attention more towards the combat team.”
“I don’t think you’re wrong.” Andrew agreed. “I think that she is that kind of a person. Did you know she’s over two hundred and fifty years old?”
Cristina looked surprised. “No, but if Kuu was conspiring with her it makes sense. Kuu is somewhere around two eighty.”
“Why do centuries wise pokegirls keep popping up around me?” Andrew groused. “Azhaara and Brigid, sure. Azhaara was one out of twenty and she brought her friend. But now I learn there were two more hiding in plain sight?
“So would Melody be a good choice?”
Andrew grunted. “I can’t think of a reason that she wouldn’t be. At least not immediately. It’s between her, and probably Lyn.”
“Why Lyn?”
“Well other than those two I was considering Nami, who is a bad choice for obvious reasons, and Lucina. Lucina might be able to do it but she’s a bit too playful for it, I think. Nobody would take her seriously.”
“I would.” Cristina replied. “She’s a strong pokegirl in her own right.”
“I meant when she has to make schedules and decisions without people complaining.”
Cristina blinked. “Oh. Yea, bad idea.”
“I’ll think about it some more.” Andrew grumbled. “Let me know when we’re going to meet the farmers.”
“Remember, we’re welcoming and nice to the farmers.” Andrew checked his gear one last time. “They’re friends. We’ll put on the mask once we head to Carlsbad and have to make an entrance.”
“I know. That’s why I packed a change of clothes.” Fu tapped at her own bag, dressed in a casual outfit that didn’t quite hide the hard body underneath. “Kuu could lose some armor.”
Kuu glared at the Warvern. “I most certainly can not. I need to maintain my appearance.”
“Andrew? You have a visitor. Skuld is here.” Andrew blinked at the slightly confusing message as it came in over both Cristina’s bond and twee. “Oh, crap I just did it again.”
Andrew chuckled. “Keep practicing, love. You’ll figure it out.” He glanced at Kuu. “I’ve got a visitor. Meet me outside in five minutes.”
Kuu nodded, she and Fu walking off while Andrew headed for where Cristina was. A moment later he rounded the corner and waved at the chatting pokegirls. “Hey Skuld!”
Skuld glanced at him and her face blossomed into a smile. “Good morning, Andrew. I see the twee have awoken properly for all of you.”
“Yes, and they’re incredible.” He came to a halt. “How are you? What can I do for you today?”
Skuld almost pouted. “I thought we were family now. Why so formal?”
“Sorry, I’m on my way to a mission. Don’t really have time for idle chat.” Andrew explained.
“Yes, finally starting that humanitarian mission of yours, right?” Skuld giggled at his look. “I make it my business to know these things, Andrew. It’s why I’m here.”
“I’d like to come with you.” Skuld patted her chest. “If these people need help, it is our duty to extend aid.”
“This was going to be our thing.”
“It will be.” Skuld’s smile widened. “Our thing. The Alliance does not move directly very often. That will be your job. My sisters and I will take care of the rest.”
“I don’t remember joining the Celestial Alliance.”
“You don’t?” Skuld pretended to look surprised. “You joined with us on a night, about ten days ago...”
Andrew sighed and Cristina fought back her laughter. “Alright. I get it. What’s the plan.”
“Whatever you say it is.”
Andrew blinked. “Really?”
“Andrew,” Skuld’s voice softened and she gazed at him with a solemn love, “in this, you are the leader. It is your operation. I am not here to force you to bow to our wishes. I am here as... I know that you don’t want us to call you this, but today I am here only as your pokegirl. And you are my man. Yes, I will be gauging the people we meet today and will return to Belldandy with my recommendation as to whether the Alliance should help them, but nothing I do will be done to control your actions. That is not the relationship I want to have with you.”
“You really mean that.”
Skuld sighed. “If you do not want me there, I will not go.”
Andrew nodded slightly, slowly smiling back at her. “I’d be honored to have you at my side today, Skuld. Unfortunately I’m unaware of how you fight.”
“I will tell you as we travel.”
“That’s fine, but I’ll probably keep you out of formation and let Kuu and Fu do most of the work.”
“I understand.” Skuld followed him outside and bowed to the two waiting pokegirls. “Good morning.”
Kuu chuckled, glancing at Fu with a small smile. “I win.”
Fu growled. “One day.”
“One day.” Kuu agreed.
Andrew stared at the two before slowly shaking his head. “Skuld will be joining us.” He turned to the Megami. “Do you have a pokeball for emergency triage?”
Skuld shook her head. “No. I know of them but do not have one.”
“We’ve got spares. Let’s get that out of the way first.” Andrew reached into his bag and withdrew a ball. “This is one of Clan Grey’s modified balls. Unlike the ones from four, which I still use mostly, this has none of the functions designed to figuratively fuck a pokegirl into submission. I also hear it’s a lot easier to activate from the inside, once you learn to do that.”
Skuld gazed at it curiously. “What does it feel like?”
“Nothing, at first.” Fu replied. “Kind of like a really boring dream until you learn how to use the programming for your own ends, and then it’s just really weird not having a body while you still hear and kind of see.”
Skuld made a face. “I won’t use it often, then.”
“No need to. It’s just for if we need to save your life and there’s no other option.” Andrew held out the orb. “First time you have to let it hold you.”
Skuld hesitantly tapped the button, disappearing into the capture beam. There was a second pause before the ball split open and she reappeared. “Blech!”
Andrew laughed, checking the depleted ball and tossing it away. “You broke it.”
Skuld looked guilty. “I’m sorry. That was not pleasant.”
“The ones from four are worse on you.” Fu chuckled. “Imagine that the nothing you just felt is instead an insidious whisper, working into your thoughts until you can’t think straight and the only thing that makes you feel sane is thinking about the man that happened to stick his dick in you.” She gave the terrified Megami a tight smile. “Yea, Andrew only uses those on ferals.”
“And those ferals are only sent to Iain, who I’m sure repurposes the balls before doing anything else.” Andrew replied. “Think you can restrain yourself this time, Skuld?” He winked. “If not, we can go the regular method. Fu beats you up until you’re unable to fight back.”
Skuld huffed. “Yes. I’ll be fine.”
Andrew chuckled and pressed a second ball to her chest. This time he felt her fighting the field for almost a full minute before the ball sounded a capture and he released Skuld. “There. All done.”
Skuld looked green. “I hated that. I just- didn’t want to be there. At all.”
Andrew handed her the ball. “And you’re the only one who will put you back in there willingly. Now, if you’re dying, I’m going to put you back until you’re not dying. I hope you can forgive me for that.”
Skuld chuckled. “Yes. I will forgive you in that case.” She gave him a quizzical look. “Do my sisters have these yet?”
“They do not.”
“After we are done today, will you give me some for them?”
“Of course.”
Skuld smiled. “Thank you.”
“I’d rather not lose you.” Andrew gave her a teasing smile. “Any of you.”
“Just remember, if someone steals that they’ll be able to put you back in, willing or not.” Fu cautioned. “There’s a way to escape, but it takes practice.”
Skuld glanced down at the ball. “Will you show me so I can show my sisters?”
Fu nodded. “I will.”
“I think we’re ready, except for one thing.” Andrew grinned at Skuld. “There’s still a part of you you haven’t shown us. It’s a rather important one if we get into a fight so we know who you are.”
Skuld stared blankly at him. “What?”
“All three of you hide your markings.” Andrew explained. “You might look like someone completely different when you embrace your power.”
Realization dawned on Skuld’s face. “Oh! Yes. They are not very large, but I understand your caution.” She turned to Kuu and Fu. “This is how I appear when I fight.”
Her markings flared to life, oblong circles appearing on her forehead and each cheek. A second later spectral wings sprouted from her back and she held out her hand to grasp a long silver staff with red adornments on either side.
“That’s so pretty.” Kuu gushed.
Skuld giggled. “Thank you.”
“Now that’s out of the way, let’s move.” Andrew turned to Kuu. “You know where we’re going.”
“I do.” Kuu looked at Skuld. “Do you have enhanced speed?”
Skuld nodded. “Slightly. But I train, so I’m not slow.”
Kuu grinned. “I’ll be the judge of that. Andrew, follow me; Skuld, you’re behind him and Fuu will take up the rear.” She beckoned. “Let’s go.”
“Back here.” Kuu pushed past a knot of trees, gesturing at the path that appeared. “They’re untrained, but working together their elves aren’t bad.”
“How do we announce ourselves?” Andrew asked curiously. “I don’t want to have to start dodging attacks.”
“Like this.” Kuu took a deep breath, opening her mouth and sending a beautiful crescendo of song through the forest.
There was silence for a minute before a softer answer echoed back and Kuu laughed. “Oh, she’s adorable. Come on. They’re waiting for us.”
“Was that one of the elves?” Andrew asked.
“That was Donna.” Kuu giggled when another response quickly followed. “There’s Anna. Those poor girls are probably in a dither since they didn’t know when I’d be back.”
“As long as they tell whoever’s standing guard not to shoot.” Andrew muttered.
“Guards.” Kuu laughed. “Yea right. Right back here.” She called, showing them to a large clearing. “This is the edge of what I opened for them. I see they’ve already started planting.”
Andrew looked around at the half grown crops. “It’s only been a few days.”
“I gave them a bit of a boost.” Kuu whispered with a smile.
Andrew turned when two pokegirls appeared from the crops, both Elves staring wide-eyed at them.
“Welcome back!” One blurted out, looking back and forth between Kuu and Andrew. “Lady, we have been watching the plants like you showed us to.”
“I can see that.” Andrew smiled at the motherly tone Kuu was using for the two younger girls. “You’ve done very well, Donna. Anna, have you been practicing what I showed you?”
Anna excitedly nodded. “Yea! I managed to sing some armor.” She raised her shirt to show a dark brown chestplate. “See?”
“Very good!” Kuu smiled back at Andrew. “They don’t need me up there. Why don’t you three run ahead and I’ll talk with my girls for a while?”
Andrew frowned. “‘Your’ girls?”
“Lady Kuu offered to accept us into her court, even though we can’t join her in her forest.” Anna gushed. “Master Jed allowed it, so now she is our Lady too.”
Andrew smiled at her excitement. “That’s wonderful.”
Fu clapped his back, steering him away from the three elves. “Down boy.”
Andrew shot her a glare. “They’re taken.”
“Yea, but some of the other pokegirls here aren’t.” Fu growled. “And honestly you’ve got more than enough with those three tagging along now.”
Skuld pouted. “I can hear you.”
“Good.” Fu grinned. “None of these girls are getting near you without getting through me. Fair?”
“You’d flatten any of them.”
Andrew rolled his eyes. “Yes, fine.”
“Good.” Fu pointed. “They’ve built some houses up here.”
Andrew followed her to where a handful of buildings stood, almost grown from the ground from what he assumed was a mixture of the plant types the farmers had and good hard work. There were two other pokegirls that noticed them as they approached, one vanishing into a building while the other bent her head back and roared into the air.
“Uh-“ Andrew started.
“It’s one of the Milktits.” Fu grumbled. “One of the unclaimed ones. She’s calling her herd leader.”
“Ooh, is this the Minotaura I heard about?” Andrew chuckled. “The one that picked a fight with you.”
Fu smirked. “That’s her. She’s not bad. Not as good as I am, but she put up a fight.”
The other pokegirl, a Tigress, re-emerged with a man in tow. The Milktit took one look at him and bolted, vanishing behind a different house.
“Ho!” The man waved. “I recognize that woman there. You’re their Tamer, yea? Where are the other two?”
“Cristina is running the harem while I’m gone.” Andrew replied, meeting the man and shaking his hand. “Just like she does when I’m there. Kuu is doing elf things.”
The man nodded. “I’m Garrett. Pleasure to meet you, Mr...?”
“Andrew.” Andrew replied. “Andrew Ranger. You one of the men who wouldn’t listen to my pokegirl?”
Garrett shook his head. “Idiots. No, I’m one of the ones who listened.” He pointed when another man came into view. “That’s one of them.”
Andrew turned when the man hustled towards them. “Ah ha!” He cried. “It is a pleasure to meet you at last, Sir. Thank you very much for giving us these supplies. We are in your debt.”
Andrew mentally steeled himself, doing his best to ignore the sickly sweet words. “It’s the least we could do.”
“We are all very grateful.” The man replied. “So, if I may ask, who are you? Why are you helping us? Those girls you sent weren’t very respectful.”
Why do I even bother. Andrew glanced at Garrett, the other man rolling his eyes. “I don’t really like repeating myself...?”
“His name is James.” Garrett supplied.
“I don’t like repeating myself, James.” Andrew said. “I know Cristina already told all of you what our plans are and why we’re helping you.”
James frowned. “Who? Oh, the pokegirl. I didn’t really care to listen to whatever she was saying.”
“You should probably ask someone who did.” Andrew replied acidly. “Garrett, I wanted to meet Jed about his elves. Where is he at?”
“Third building on the right.” Garrett replied, both ignoring James’ reddening face.
“Now hold on a damn minute.” James growled. “You can’t just ignore me like this. I’m nothing but nice and you-“
“James,” Andrew interrupted, “I sent my second in command to meet with all of you. Cristina speaks with my voice and I’m sure she explained that at least once. It’s your own fault that you decided she wasn’t worth your time, because that means you’re not worth mine.” He smiled at Garrett and his beaming Tigress. “Have a good day.”
Skuld looked at him when James shouted something at their backs. “Don’t dirty your soul on his account.”
“He’ll keep pretending to be nice as long as we’re worth something to him.” Andrew slowly flexed his hand. “You know, I haven’t had to listen to racism like that in a long time. Texas has spoiled me, having it be the exception instead of the rule.”
“The city will be worse.”
Andrew sighed. “I know. At least there I won’t be trying to make friends, so I can be a piece of shit to anyone who looks at you funny.”
Skuld smiled. “You’re so sweet.”
“Really? Because that’s not the Celestial thing to do.”
Skuld shrugged. “I like that about you. You understand the difference between respect and subservience. You demand respect and you give it in return.”
Andrew just laughed.
They knocked on the indicated house, walking in when someone yelled. A man sat at a table, talking with a pretty green skinned woman, both looking up in surprise when the procession stepped in. 
“Oh. Uh, good morning.” The man blustered. “I don’t recognize-“ He stopped when Fu waved. “Oh! You must be Andrew.”
“That’s me. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Jed.” Andrew shook the man’s hand. “Who’s this?”
Jed glanced at the Ivywhore. “This is Shanna. Have you met my other girls?”
“Kuu is out with them now.”
“Yea, the big one?” Jed chuckled. “She’s a beaut, Andrew. You’re a lucky man.”
“I’d say the same about you and Shanna.” Andrew replied with a smile.
“Aye, luck.” Jed smiled at Shanna. “Was luck that gave me Anna and Donna too. Shanna here came around later.”
“Anyways,” Andrew continued before the two could do anything, “I wanted to introduce myself since Kuu has been messing with your elves a bit.”
“She’s welcome to.” Jed turned back to him. “They’re happier than I’ve seen them in years. And they’ve been working harder, too.”
“That’s wonderful to hear.”
Jed nodded absently. “If you don’t mind me asking, what’s your stake in all this? You seem put together and could probably just ignore as we eventually get hunted down by the military. Why help? You’ll be gettin’ yourself into the same trouble we’re in.”
“The military I served in was for the people.” Andrew stated. “Not for the dictators and despots. We were created to fight those oppressors. Not lick their boots.”
Jed grunted. “You’re a patriot.”
“Who ran the city better, the people or the League?”
A snort. “The League did nothing to help us. And when we weren’t doing enough for them, they tried to break us.” Jed shook his head. “I just want to get back to my land. My friends are back in the city, starving because some piece of shit wanted more than what we could give.”
“You knew the league doesn’t allow citizens with pokegirls, right?” Andrew asked. “You had to have known this was coming.”
Jed bared his teeth in a snarl. “That’s not quite the truth. Each of us were gifted our girls and told to use them to produce more for the league. And then they demanded more. And more. Until we barely had enough left to feed ourselves, and that was quite the feat considering what Anna and Donna can do.” He shook his head. “Then it wasn’t enough, and they came to take them back. I wasn’t going to let them, but I couldn’t fight. The ones who fought…”
Andrew nodded slightly. “I understand.”
“So I ran. We all did. They caught some of the cow girls, which is how I assume they’re still feeding themselves. We’ve got a contact we drop supplies with, but we can barely make anything more than what we need for ourselves.”
“That should be changing.”
“It looks like it will, thanks to you.” Jed agreed. “You’re a savior. What will you do next?”
“I need to head into the city.” Andrew looked at Fu and Skuld. “We need to see the situation first hand.”
Jed nodded. “Good luck, Andrew. I hope you’ve got some way to protect yourself in there.”
Andrew chuckled. “I guarantee you these two here can handle anything that comes our way.”
“The military has half a dozen pokegirls in there.”
“And I’d bet each of mine are worth all of theirs.”
Jed looked at them, his eyes lingering on Fu. “I saw her fight.”
“Do you think I’m wrong?”
Jed shook his head. “I think you’re exaggerating, but not by much. Just be safe.”
“I will be.” Andrew nodded, taking his leave but stopping just outside the door.
The Milktit from before was hiding behind a towering brown skinned figure. The Minotaura stared at him, grinning when Fu stepped into view. “Hello.”
Fu grinned back. “Why hello there, Cathy. Want another round?”
Cathy chuckled, the sound rumbling through her chest. “No. I want to say hello.”
“Hello.” Andrew replied, taking a moment to look at her. He could see what Cristina had meant about her looking like a Milktit, considering her breasts were probably proportionally larger than a regular Minotaura. She had fixed that by tightly wrapping them, though that had caused its own set of problems by giving her an explosive cleavage. Other than that, and her loincloth, she looked like a rather tall human with patches of fur.
Cathy grinned down at him. “You are the man?”
Fu pushed him back a bit so she was standing in between them. “You can’t have him, Cathy. I told you that last time.”
Cathy snorted and turned away. “Not until I beat you, yes?”
Fu waited for her to leave. “She’s half feral. And for some reason, has gotten obsessed with you just because you’re my Tamer.”
“You beat her in a fight, right?”
Fu shrugged. “Yea.”
“If she’s feral, she probably believes you’ve taken over as her superior by beating her. Which means she’d be a part of my harem.”
Fu stared at where Cathy and the Milktit had vanished. “Fuck.”
“Don’t feel too bad, Fu.” Andrew chuckled. “After all, none of them will get to me except through you.” His eyes twinkled. “Right?”
“You’re not adding another pokegirl.”
“I don’t intend to right now.” Andrew soothed. “I’m just teasing.”
Fu sighed. “Fine. Let’s go.”
“Sheriff! There’s a couple of people coming up the south road.”
A man looked up from his work with a frown. “What? Is it one of the missing farmers?”
The loosely uniformed messenger shook his head. “I don’t think so. It looks like a man and two women.”
“We can’t tell. They look human.”
The sheriff rose. “South road?”
“Yes sir.”
“Get back in position and wait for my signal.”
Andrew gazed over the scattered, decrepit buildings they were approaching. “Carlsbad has seen better days.”
Fu nodded her agreement. “What’s our play?”
“Sound out whoever meets us first. If it’s military, we’re roaming hunters who heard rumors about missing caravans. If it’s civilian, we’re the same but we ask for the guy the farmers told us about. Paul.”
“One man approaching.” Fu’s eyes flicked around them. “That can’t be right. He has backup.”
“One man on either side.” Skuld relayed. “One has a pokegirl. Both have rifles.”
“Welcome to Carlsbad.” Andrew muttered to himself. “Here we go.”
They came to a halt when the approaching man got close. “Good afternoon!” Andrew called. “This Carlsbad?”
“What else would it be?” The other man came to a stop a good thirty yards from them. “Where you from. What’s your business here.”
“Another man just joined the solo one.” Skuld whispered to Andrew.
“We’re from around here.” Andrew called back. “Andrew Ranger, mercenary for hire. I heard rumors over the radio about some disappearing caravans. Figured I’d see if my services were needed.”
The man stared at him for a few moments. “Those are pokegirls?”
“That’s right.”
“Yet you’re not military.”
Andrew shrugged. “More or less.”
The man seemed to make a decision and he gestured. “Come here. Keep your voice down.”
Andrew frowned but approached. “Yes?”
“I need to warn you.” The man stuck out his hand. “Name’s Paul. I’m the sheriff here. You’re wandering into a hornets nest, Andrew.”
“That’s what Jed told me.”
Paul’s eyes widened and his voice dropped even further. “You are currently being watched by two of my men and one shiner. Once you’re done with whatever business they have for you, come find me.”
Andrew nodded slightly, watching Paul step back. “Caravans. You’ll want to talk to the sergeant in charge here. His name is Jonathan. Don’t shorten it.”
“This way.” Paul led them through the streets, his eyes wandering between the seemingly deserted houses. “Barracks are the next block down. You won’t miss them.” He looked at Andrew. “I hope you’re able to protect yours if necessary.”
“I can take care of myself, thank you.”
Paul gave him a tight smile. “Good luck. Five and four.”
Andrew watched him retreat. “Five humans and four pokegirls. Wonder which one isn’t lucky enough to have one.”
“Probably two, and the leader has two girls.” Fu muttered.
“Probably.” Andrew gestured. “Fu, you have point.”
The short walk was tense, the group rounding a corner to see an armed guard outside a large building. The man noticed them immediately, lowering his rifle. “HEY! You there! Identify yourself.”
“Andrew Ranger. I’m here from Juarez.” Andrew called back. “I have identification and am ready to present for a search.”
“What’s your rank?”
“I don’t have one.” Andrew slowly reached into one of the pouches on his vest and withdrew a small card. “I’m a registered Hunter.”
The Hunter job was a pseudo military title that Sunshine had implemented to draw the various mercenaries their citizens employed into the League proper. Andrew’s hadn’t existed until a few days prior, but none of the records in Juarez said anything about that. As far as they were concerned, he had been on file ever since the program started. Cortney had seen to that. Of course, the physical records didn’t exist quite yet, but things got lost. The card was real enough.
The guard frowned. “We don’t have a record out here, merc. Come here. Slowly, and show me your ID.”
Andrew carefully handed over the card, watching the guard scan it. “Everything in order?”
The guard spat and handed the card back. “I’m not stupid enough to try and search you. Go ahead inside. Girls stay.”
“You know I can’t do that.”
The guard growled. “Pick one, then.”
“Fu.” Andrew shot Skuld an apologetic look. “I need her since she’ll be the one I’m seen with most.”
Skuld nodded. “The guard is afraid. What did you give him?”
“It’s a card that identifies me as the civilian equivalent of a captain. He technically still outranks me, even if he’s just a private, but like he said. He’s not stupid enough to give me trouble.”
Skuld held back her laughter. “Smart boy. Too bad he’s on the wrong side.”
Andrew shrugged and stepped inside once the guard announced them, Fu right on his heels. The first thing they noticed was the two pokegirls watching them, their Tamers posted just behind. The second was the stink of rotting milk. Andrew could see two swollen Milktits lying on the floor, guarded by two more pokegirls and a human. They were overflowing, a slight dribble of milk dripping onto the floor to join a growing stain. Between their gargantuan breasts and the seven other bodies, what had likely been a large room seemed horribly cramped.
“YOU THERE!” Andrew turned to see a man gesturing him forwards. “WHO ARE YOU?”
“Andrew Ranger. Hunter, level three from Juarez.”
The man scowled. “How’d you get up here, merc?”
“As long as I don’t make trouble, I can slip through the border pretty easily.” Andrew replied. “Heard rumors of missing caravans. Figured I’d take a look.”
The man grunted. “Come into my office.”
Andrew followed, waiting for him to shut the door and breathing a sigh of relief when the smell lessened. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, sergeant.”
“First sergeant.” The man snapped. “I know you fucking mercs can’t recognize a rank if it kicked you in the balls. Unfortunately, I’m glad you’re here. I’ve got a budding rebellion and can’t afford to stop guarding the only thing keeping these peasants pacified.”
Andrew glanced back at the door. “The cows?”
“I hate how good you are at this.” Fu whispered across their bond.
“Yea. They’re the only food we got, and if the peasants don’t comply, they don’t get their rations.” The man snorted. “I’ve got two problems you can help me with. Whatever hit our caravans in the first place, and getting my food production back in line.”
“What happened?”
“Started a month or so back. We export food north, and one of our shipments went missing. Okay, unfortunate, but I can send another. The farmers produce enough. Then that one “vanished”. And the farmers claimed they had nothing more to send. I sent a few men to see where they were hiding their products and what do I find? Pokegirls. Easily a dozen of them. When I tried to confiscate them those traitors fought back. Unfortunately in the battle a few of them were killed, but what matters is we managed to seize these two cows. The rest of those thieves are hiding somewhere out there and I can’t hunt them down while keeping the city in line.” He gave Andrew a smile. “But you can.”
“And what’s my pay?”
Jonathan’s smile dropped. “Excuse me?”
“I’m for hire, first sergeant. I don’t work for free.”
“Your pay is that I don’t shoot you like the double dealing bastard you are.”
Andrew leaned in. “Let’s pretend I agree to your terms. You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to walk out of here and vanish, never for you to see me again. You need me, Jonathan. I don’t need you.”
Jonathan pushed back. “How do you know my name?”
“You’re wearing a full name tag.”
Jonathan glanced down at his uniform. “Oh. Right.”
“So what’ll it be, first sergeant? If I don’t get paid, I can just leave.”
There was a crafty gleam in Jonathan’s eye when he responded. “I’ll tell you what. Figure out what sacked my shipments, and I’ll give you a pokegirl.”
“One of the cows out there? They don’t seem too useful.”
“We’ll figure something out.” Jonathan crooned. “So? Is it a deal?”
Andrew shrugged. “Sounds alright to me.” They shook, Andrew and Fu leaving quickly.
“That has to be the most incompetent…” Andrew was muttering to himself. “A single assault team and the whole building is gone, along with your entire force…”
Skuld waited for them to round the corner before speaking. “I feel so sorry for those girls in there.”
“They’re feral.” Andrew growled. “I’m not saying that makes it okay, but hopefully they’ll be back to normal before they’re tamed.”
Skuld nodded slightly. “The farmers will be alright without the Alliance, but this town?” She shivered. “It is hurting. They need someone.”
“That’s why we’re here.” Andrew pointed. “That looks like the jail. Paul should be there.”
They stepped inside and Andrew came to a halt in surprise. A nude red and black furred pokegirl was standing behind a desk, her tail swishing slowly. At their entrance she glanced up. “Hello and- oh. I don’t know you, Sir.”
“I’m looking for Paul.”
The Growlie nodded. “This way, Sir.”
They filtered past her, entering a cramped room where the sheriff was huddled over a desk full of documents. When Andrew cleared his throat Paul looked up, giving him a tired smile. “Hello. How’d it go?”
“Could have gone worse.”
“You’re in one piece. It went well.” He gestured. “Please, sit. Mary will keep watch for us.”
Andrew sat. “How do you have a pokegirl?”
“I don’t. She belongs to the city. I just tame her.” Paul grimaced. “I can’t run off with her. Like how the farmers weren’t supposed to run off with their pokegirls either.”
“Jonathan claimed they stole them.”
“He’s not exactly wrong.”
“Jed’s story was a lot different from what I heard a few minutes ago.” Andrew replied. “What’s the truth?”
Paul sighed. “Food has always been tight, but the farmers come through for us. Then the military gave them their pokegirls, talking about how they should increase yields to better feed the city. That lasted about a week before they started taking more. And more. Sending it up north. Eventually they reached a balance and everything was back to what it had been. Until a month ago, when some of the regular shipments were attacked.” He lowered his eyes. “Four people went missing. But we had to send another load. In his infinite wisdom, Jonathan said six people should go to better protect it, but didn’t give them any weapons or anything. Now there are ten people probably dead out there and two missing shipments. That’s when he started attacking the farmers, spouting something about how they were hiding the food or were responsible for the disappearances. His body count is at fourteen now. I don’t know what to do. He’s crazy. He’s starving us to death just because we didn’t let him murder us.”
“What did you demand?”
Paul blinked. “What?”
“He’s starving you out. You must have demanded something that he doesn’t want to give.”
Paul sighed. “The mayor wrote up a treaty of sorts to try and get him to calm down. Promised we’d work with the farmers, get enough food to meet his quotas and then some. He refused. His terms are that the farmers return, hand in their pokegirls, and then line up for the firing squad.” Paul gritted his teeth. “In return, he won’t kill us all.”
“Let me tell you some things.” Andrew lowered his voice. “First, you and your town are not going to starve. And you won’t be giving in to his demands, either. I came out here with three pokegirls, not two. My other is what’s known as an ElfQueen, and she stayed behind with the farmers to show their pokegirls how to more efficiently grow food. You’re going to start getting much higher quality shipments to feed the people.” He jerked a thumb towards the barracks. “Next, Jonathan over there is a nobody. He’s going crazy because his superiors are breathing down his neck. He’s probably enjoyed a nice, cushy post here until now, and he doesn’t know how to respond to this hiccup. I do. And I know how to make it so he doesn’t hold this town in his hands anymore.”
“That’s nice, but he’s still the law out here.”
Andrew raised an eyebrow. “I thought you were the law.”
Paul’s sighs were almost a regular part of his breathing at this point. “Funny. Military trumps civilian law enforcement, Andrew. Even the Mayor isn’t really the leader of anything. He doesn’t order Jonathan around. He’s just living here, same as the rest of us. Starving like the rest of us, too.”
“I’m here to make things better.” Andrew extended his hand. “I’ll need your help.”
“You’re a merc.” Paul didn’t take Andrew’s proffered arm. “You have a price. What is it.”
“Jonathan has promised me a pokegirl.” Andrew kept his arm extended even as it began to burn. “From the city, I want friends.”
Paul stared at him. “Friends?”
“How many people a month go missing?”
Paul quieted. “At least one. Usually two or three.”
“That’s happening for the same reason your caravans got attacked, most likely.” Andrew explained. “Ferals are breeding out of control. And the only thing that can fight a feral pokegirl is another pokegirl. If your military was half competent, they’d be defending the city. If they were more competent, they’d be ignoring Sunshine’s asinine laws and arming each and every one of you to fight against what’s coming.” He jiggled his arm a bit. “This is getting a bit sore.”
“I don’t understand what you’re saying.”
“I’m making a bet that someone, somewhere up the chain of command here is competent.” Andrew explained. “Someone with the power to withdraw Jonathan’s squad and work with the city instead of trying to subjugate it. And if there isn’t, I’m saying that I will make that happen anyways.”
Paul gazed at his hand for another few moments before taking it. “How?”
“The only way the military - any military - gets things done.” Andrew smiled. “By going up the chain of command until someone listens. Jonathan isn’t supplying the food he’s supposed to. How’s it going to look when a random mercenary walks in and delivers the best load they’ve seen in months? And when he does, complains directly to the superior officer how a certain Sergeant Perez tried to stop him from doing so?”
“They’re not going to believe you over him.”
“They will when I play the recording of Jonathan threatening to have me shot if I don’t do what he wants.”
Paul paled when Andrew raised a hidden recorder and hit play, Jonathan’s angry words echoing through the office. “He really did that.”
“I’ve done good work for Sunshine.” Andrew said grimly. “I have some friends. Not incredible friends, but good enough to get me noticed by whatever officer is next on the chain of command here. Things will change. I promise you.”
“And for all this, you just want to be our friend?”
“If you’re fighting with me, you’re not fighting against me.”
Paul nodded. “Alright. What do you need?”

Smoke Devils Chain of Command

Col. Andrew Ranger

Maj. Cortney

Maj. Aella

(Logistics) Maj. Lyn

Cpt. Nevaeh (Ret.)

(Defense) Cpt. Kuu

(Beta) Cpt. Cristina

(Medic) Cpt. Gale

(Council) Cpt. Rein (Ret.)

GySgt. Constance

1stSgt. Fu

GySgt. Ishara

SSgt. Nami

SSgt. Shamira (Ret.)

Sgt. Lucina

Sgt. Ann (Ret.)

Sgt. Melody

Sgt. Yang (Ret.)


Cpl. Furia

Cpl. Nova














Cristina – (Blessed, Fiendish) Ophanim – Beta


Aella – (Hunter) Shinryu

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