It was well into the night when Robert awoke. Staring him right in the face was an unfamiliar person. Scratch that. It was an unfamiliar pokégirl. Whatever it was doing, it had somehow managed to sneak up on him without disturbing Chrissie and Daniele sleeping next to him. That was a terrifying thought.

Not knowing what to do, he froze. Any sudden movements could spell his demise if he wasn’t smart about it. Now… how to awake the girls without getting himself nice and murdered?

The feral busied herself inspecting Robert’s frozen form. Something fell over. The feral looked up but whatever it was didn’t hold its attention for long. Robert’s eyes searched the darkness and caught sight of multiple silhouetted figures moving about. Shit, there were more?!

Of course, Robert seemed to be the most interesting thing in the vicinity, so some number uncountable in the darkness of figures gathered around him. Luckily, he had an arm curled around one of the girl’s sides. The lack of fur told him it was Chrissie.

Hoping to wake her, he silently dug his fingers into her skin. She awoke with a yelp, startling the pokégirls as well as Daniele. The ferals emitted various barks and yelps as they scattered, tearing the tent posts out of the moist soil.

 Daniele, with her simian dexterity and agility, was on her feet in an instant and leapt straight into the air and into the canopy. Robert and Chrissie were up not long after and remained vigilant. Rustling alerted them that one of the ferals was tangled up in the tent that had been uprooted. Chrissie’s vines snuck into the folds of the canvas and pulled the struggling feral out.

“Powder,” Robert commanded, forgetting that Chrissie didn’t know what that meant yet. She looked at him curiously, ignorant of the meaning behind his vocalization. So, Robert mimed reaching behind himself and pulling out some invisible object. “Powder,” he reiterated.

Seeming to get it, Chrissie reached into her bulb and retrieved a fistful of powder. She then unexpectedly deviated and rubbed it into the feral’s fuzzy breasts. Robert’s eyes bulged when her breasts suddenly jumped a cup size. That was not what he had had in mind, but that particular ability was something he intended to exploit later.

“No, Sleeping Powder,” Robert corrected once he freed himself from his previous distraction. His impromptu game of charades lead him to attempting to mime sleeping with soft snores.

The plant type watched him, the gears in her head turning. Then, the light bulb went off, and she reached behind herself again and pulled out the particular powder Robert had intended. Unexpectedly, Daniele fell out of a tree nearby tangling with another feral presumably of the same species as the one that had been tangled in the tent.

The two pokégirls bit, scratched, and savaged one another until Chrissie interrupted with a pair of her intensely strong vines and another fistful of sleep powder. To Robert’s surprise, the feral continued struggling despite the drug. Another dose of the powder seemed to finally quell her.

Robert helped Daniele up onto her handlike feet. She looked depressed. Perhaps she was upset that she was unable to subdue the feral on her own? An issue of pride in a pokégirl? Odd.

            A quick once over told him that her scratches did not break the skin. He pulled her into a one armed hug, and she immediately latched onto him. It baffled him how quickly these ‘girls were getting attached to him.

Banishing his fixation on Daniele, he turned his attention to the two unconscious ferals entangled in Chrissie’s vines. What was he going to do with them? He had trained Chrissie some, but Daniele was still green. He didn’t know if he’d be able to control two new pokégirls in addition to his current load. He did not want to distribute them to the villagers and outsource himself like that.

He needed more manpower. Where could he get trustworthy manpower? His train of thought snapped to one particular person.

            Picking up the scattered contents of Robert’s faithful pack and the tent wasn’t very fun but was simple and easy since Chrissie and Daniele seemed eager to help in their own ways. Chrissie’s multitudinous appendages were very useful. Fortunately, the ferals were only really interested in the small amount of food stored in the pack and left everything else relatively unharmed but scattered around the area.

            The sun began to peak over the horizon, heralding to the world the new day. Robert gave the burning star a dirty look. His adrenalin from the ‘attack’ was wearing of and he was starting to feel sluggish. Not much could be done about it though.

            It was a several hour long trip back to the village and it was already nearing noon by the time the town center was in sight. Rather than attracting everyone’s attention by waltzing through town with three new pokégirls, one tame and two in bondage, Robert detoured around the entire settlement towards the past Francisco’s claim.

            He dared not venture onto that particular property. Robert could tell he was on thin ice with the old farmer. The strange amount of sway he held in the town could probably turn the villagers against him. That and he was providing Robert was food and letting sleep in his barn. That was a nuisance in many ways because he’d be expected to reciprocate somehow. On the surface, it was doing what tamers do. Underneath, he supposedly going to give the gift of domestic pokégirls and then get the fuck out. He wasn’t stupid.

 Maybe Robert could ease himself into sleeping outside like he had the previous night? It wasn’t much different from sleeping in a barn. That could wiggle him out of his moocher status and get him set up on his own. Small shelters could be built. It wasn’t as if anyplace he could live outside would be less miserly than how the villagers live. The rivers weren’t too far away allowing him to at least bathe more than these people do.

The only thing he’d have to worry about is food. Chrissie lived off of sunlight just fine, but Daniele had been living in the wilderness all her life, and she needed to eat food just like he had. She did lead him to some edible things. Maybe she could regularly forage for the two of them? Robert resolved to find out. Whatever she found couldn’t be too much worse than what these backwater villagers ate.

Slipping past the property line, Robert made his way to the clearing he had regularly trained Chrissie in the past week. He could set up a small camp here and wait a few more hours until sundown. Mikhail would be free, and he could sneak out to go fetch the boy.

The two fluffy pokégirls Chrissie had wrapped up were not difficult to keep restrained. They didn’t seem especially strong. One thing that confused Robert was that they looked like both foxes and squirrels which made him wonder ‘Why?’ The answer was obviously insanity, the insanity of a deranged megalomaniac who used DNA to express his madness.

The sleep drug that Chrissie synthesized from her body apparently was all it took to keep them quiet. Chrissie was peeved at having to watch them constantly, but seemed to enjoy watching Robert attempting to cross the language barrier to begin training Daniel.

Daniel was an interesting creature. She had the most human personality Robert had ever encountered in a pokégirl. Most pokégirls- as well as some especially ignorant or unintelligent humans, sadly- didn’t really seem to take any interest in the world around them. They lived day to day oblivious to what was going on in the world on a grander scale than their infinitesimally insignificant slice of the world.

This girl, however, actively examined things, questioned life despite lacking the ability to verbalize the thoughts hovering inside of her skull. She listened to Robert carefully despite not having the faintest idea what he was attempting to communicate and actually stopped to observe things that interested her. If it weren’t for the tail and slight muzzle, Robert would have thought she was merely a particularly hairy woman.

One godsend about her was her ability to tell vaguely what his intent was. She seemed to be especially capable of reading his mood and that of Chrissie at but a glance. It reminded him of a piece of trivia he had picked up from the family library during his not-in-the-least brief perusal of the prized tombs of developmental psychology.

Human infants possessed three times the neuronal connections of that of an adult despite their much smaller brains which allowed them to absorb and process information faster than the greatest human genius could fathom. Sadly, they don’t know what to do with it half the time. Over time, the brain is forced to ‘prune’ the unused and unstimulated sections of neuronal connections so as to optimize the brain and put it to use towards the things it knew and what had worked for it up to that point as determined by operant conditioning.

One of the curious things that infants gain from this- albeit temporarily- is a mastery of nonverbal communication that the majority of is almost always lost in the pruning process. Infants’ nonverbal communication was compared to telepathy before Sukebe turned it into a real thing. The ability even extended to interpreting the emotions of other species- such as domestic pets before they were extinguished by the plagues proving that the ability was not entirely instinctual.

 Verbal communication eventually would take over as a much more efficient means of communication and the sections of the brain dedicated to nonverbal communication would atrophy- for lack of better terminology- and the ability would be lost. Sure, it was easy enough to tell the blatant, surface emotions that people displayed, but no nonverbal skills possessed by an adult ever truly matched those of an infant’s. The only ones who had ever come close to regaining whatever ability they had lost are those few psychologists and other individuals dedicated to mapping the tens of thousands of expressions located on the human face alone not to mention the innumerable subtleties visible elsewhere.

It had always been a dream of the Molyneux family to somehow preserve or recapture this ability. So far the best they had done was a combination of the musical training which aided the remapping of the brain and educating the Molyneux children on the nuances of nonverbal communication using the salvaged dissertations, notes, and other records by those few individuals dedicated to the science of nonverbal communication around the age when cerebral pruning was truly an issue. According to the many tombs and records they had, it was for the most part futile because the human brain was thoroughly determined to reduce its neuronal connectivity by two-thirds by adulthood lobotomizing itself because the processing power would be impossible to handle later in life.

How did this little piece of information apply to Daniel? Well, human DNA was used as a base for pokégirls before it was watered down with all kinds of unholy that Sukebe dug up from God knows where. The majority, especially feralborn ones, seemed to be much less intelligent than the average human- at least according to what Robert had learned  and through his anecdotal experience with the servants the Molyneux family employed, but they were more intelligent than cattle or any of the few other animals he had encountered or heard of. That much was obvious.

Perhaps Daniel, obviously more intelligent than the average pokégirl, had some of the intellectual capacity a human infant had when she was an infant herself? Ferals don’t communicate vocally, not in anything that can be called language. Could she have developed a shadow of a human infant’s nonverbal abilities and retained them due to never having a more efficient means of communication take priority during her cognitive development?

All Robert could do was speculate. Nevertheless, she was a curious thing. Perhaps Sukebe endowed all of her breed with similar human-esque intelligence? It was a possibility.

Evening fell and they all rested. He was unsure of whether or not it was safe to keep the two ferals he had captured sedated for such extended lengths of times, but he hoped it could end soon. Oddly enough, Mikhail never showed up. Odd, he and Robert spent a lot of time together. He had told Mikhail he would only be gone for a day tops. Carefully constructed plans were in place, damn it!

It’s okay. No matter, he would be fine. It didn’t ruin things. Robert was probably just misdirecting the upset at having someone he actually liked not come as usual. They had ended up meeting every other day which over the course of a couple of weeks bled into every day. Still, it wasn’t fair of Robert to simply expect Mikhail to appear. Any number of things could have happened.

Still, it would be impractical to keep the two ferals restrained any longer. Robert took a look at the two strangely adorable creatures and failed to find any discernible difference between the two. Going so far as to cop a feel from each in particular areas of his interest, he was still unable to find a physical difference. Hm. He’d need to wait until they woke up.

The hours ticked away. Daniele was curled up into Robert’s huge frame while Chrissie leaned into him from the side. They rested and waited companionably. Eventually the two stirred. It was time that Robert gave these two a closer inspection.

It turned out that the two little ferals he had captured weren’t very strong. They were stronger than the average Joe, yes, but not strong enough to break through simple bindings. Chrissie was once again free to train and do other things rather than constantly stand watch over them.

Of the two, one was noticeably more aggressive than the other. Robert decided to tame that one that very night. He had other plans for the more docile one.

Robert spent a few days camped out near where he normally met Mikhail on the edge of the wilderness away from the town. He didn’t want to face Francisco and his suspicious bullshit just yet. Something about him Robert just did not like plain and simple. He just had a self-serving air about him. That’s not to say that Robert wasn’t being self-serving in many ways, but Francisco’s self-serving would directly screw Robert over.

Daniele was easy to train due to her inquisitive nature. She was also just as eager to please as Chrissie- in many ways. The feral that had been tamed- which had proclaimed itself to be an ‘Eva’ during sex- was stubborn though. However she also was not much of a threat. Granted, she was a speedy little bitch and could move at speeds that Robert’s other ‘girls couldn’t, but Daniele or Chrissie generally out maneuvered her and slapped her back into her ‘place’ the moment she stepped a toe out of line.

Robert didn’t even design this. Pokégirls were pack animals for the most part, especially so when tame. The newcomer’s belligerence just ended her up at the bottom of the pecking order. The little Eva was demanding and tried to take what she wanted. Eventually, she would learn that she can’t get away with such behavior.

 Until then, Robert would simply reinforce desirable behavior and allow Daniele and Chrissie to enforce some kind of discipline providing they didn’t go too far. So far, they only reacted to any violence or outbursts which was a good model in Robert’s mind.

On a completely different topic, Daniele turned out to be an excellent forager. This was a godsend because Robert was at a loss on the subject having had no practical experience of the sort. She even brought back a trout once. Robert was sure to give her lots of attention, praise, and frisky advances to reinforce the behavior. Sex and the promise of it was always a great motivator for pokégirls as he had learned from his youth when he became pubescent.

Jealousy of Daniele’s attention led the other two ‘girls to mimic the behavior. The as of yet unnamed Eva succeeded in bringing berries, nuts, and a couple lizard things which Robert did indeed ‘reinforce’ so he could maintain consistency.

Chrissie failed spectacularly in most every attempt. It wasn’t her fault really. She just photosynthesized her food and had never needed to actually forage. Robert gave her comforting gestures but made sure not to make it seem like was rewarding her so as to not undo what he had started in the other two ‘girls.

The second Eva that had been captured remained bound and for the most part never bothered trying to escape. Robert fed her lightly and checked her body for wounds or chaffing a couple times a day. He didn’t need her just up and dying on him. It was cruel to keep her immobile for so long, but she was needed.

Life seemed fairly simple. They were able to live off the land for a few days with few worries save for Robert leading everyone in both the exercise regime that he had started as well as pitting the bioweapons against each other to get them used to combat. It was hard to teach them actual fighting like the techniques that the Molyneux family had when they couldn’t verbally communicate beyond a few words they picked up here and there, but just getting used to combat aimed towards subduing an adversary was doing wonders for them.

Chrissie was still hard to beat, having a significant edge over the other two ‘girls in terms of her ability to coordinate the inhuman strength her numerous vine-like appendages possessed and those odd powders of hers that she tossed left and right with ease. That wasn’t to say Daniele and… Liz- that name worked- didn’t try. They simply tried and failed.

The other two ‘girls fared much better against each other. Daniele won against Lizzie seven out of ten times. The small Eva had the speed advantage which negated the effectiveness of some of Daniele’s odd acrobatics, so she sometimes got the upper hand. However he wasn’t a very good fighter, though, and usually got her fluffy tush handed to her the moment she got within striking range of Daniele.

Still, this made Chrissie a little too cocky for Robert’s taste, but little could be done about that for now. Although, he could always punish her for overstepping her boundaries by withholding certain things. It was interesting how quickly these beings grew in terms of their skill base. They were uneducated, uncivilized, and yet they seemed to pick up the gist of his intentions even with the language barrier and remembered all of his… preferences and general instructions with minimal reinforcement. They were amazing creatures and they would help him on the road to his end goals. He could probably get away with enacting some of the more… drastic aspects of his little plan.