Markus was running away from his own pokégirl. He had no idea what had happened. One moment, everything was fine; then, there was all this noise from Terminus; it sounded like the reserves were being mobilized to resolve some kind of domestic conflict. He had already been stationed near the western beach of Basshead north of the Confederacy’s silly little wall on the lookout for any enemy movement land or sea based. Being called away from it was very shocking. Something must have been very urgent.

When he had first gotten to his destination, where the cargo from the most recent raid on the Confederacy was being offloaded, chaos was about. He and his small collection of pokégirls arrived later than the others due to interference in their shortwave radios. When they first teleported in, they nearly got mauled by this giant, hulkin, black cat-type. She didn’t seem to be feral either and was cursing up a storm at them as they fell back. That wasn’t the weird part. The strangeness started when other pokégirls started dog-piling on top of her. She tossed them off, but one of them seemed to… burst- for lack of a better word- and sprayed this noxious gas in the big cat’s face. One of the odd ferals running around got a lucky shot in and managed to kill the ‘girl.

Then they turned on him and his ‘girls. Originally, Markus was just going to teleport out of there, but his Cheshire got taken down right after the black cat-type did. He didn’t want to get a whiff of whatever that gas was, so he and his remaining ‘girl booked it down and away from the action. Quite disenheartening, he saw his Chesire stumbling after them with her head lolling to the side like her head was a sack swung over her shoulders. Despite the bizarre, frightening goings on about him, eventually his Harpy had enough running space to take off with Markus clinging to her back. It was not a very favorable arrangement, but hopefully putting some space between them and the ferals below would allow them to recoup and report back to Terminus. It was odd though. All the ferals had appeared ill, ill like they were about to fall over and die.

Shaking himself, he focused on shouting instructions over the wind to his Harpy. She didn’t understand much English, but she did know what Terminus was and seemed to get the idea that that was their destination. Of course, a rotten smell hit them from upwind, and it was then that a Pigeota with several bare ribs showing through her flesh and black skin dangling down the side of her face suspended by only a single thread of tissue descended upon them. Just great.

“QUIET!” Charles bellowed over the cacophony. Eyeing the men and their pokégirls assembled before him. “We have lost contact with Basshead and the eastern coast of Naranja; scouting parties shall be briefed shortly so that they may go and assess the events. We need to do damage control. Scouts, remember: get in and then get out. You are not the first line of defense, and reinforcements shall be sent to address the problem. Remember, something prevented our men from teleporting away, so exercise extreme caution.” Taking one last look around the room, Charles nodded. “Get to work.”

Shit, what the hell had happened? He needed eyes. Something was going down, and it was trouble. Charles thought of that wall the Confederacy was building. It couldn’t keep [The Center] from doing whatever it wanted. What was it meant to do? Walls keep things out or keep things in. Considering the Confederates were at war with them, one would think that it would be to keep [The Center] out. However, both sides should know that it was futile. What did they want to keep boxed in [The Center]’s territory?

A scout of the center hid with the help of his Vampire shifting out of phase with the rest of the world. His Golbutt, dodged and weaved through what looked like several flying ferals. She knocked a few away with a couple well placed Gusts before swooping down and joining her master and his Vampire. Birds may have been some of the fastest flyers in the world, but bats had always had the better maneuverability and grace in the sky. That remained true in Sukebe’s take on what nature had created.

She chattered at him in her high pitched voice, but only a few real words were laced through her speech. His Cutie Charlie Angel hit the ground next to them afterwards, looking much more harassed. An unknown Harpy with a human clinging to her back landed soon afterwards. The CC‘Angel didn’t have time for words and motioned up to the ferals that had spotted them and were preparing to swoop down. They all teleported away.

Charles looked down at the man on the gurney. He was in bad shape; he had been in constant agony sweating and vomiting regularly for some time. He had some bad claw marks on his back that had turned gangrenous in a remarkably short amount of time. They had no means to treat him outside of disinfecting the wound. The medics who tended to him were wearing masks and other protective apparati to guard themselves against contagion. Occasionally his wounds would open up and a gaseous substance would spill out. It reminded Charles of gas gangrene, a disease that infected your skin and melted through your nervous tissue and other tissues, dissolving them into gaseous substances before turning everything necrotic. It was often renowned as one of the most painful, lethal diseases.

The extreme necrosis forming on Markus’s body and the gas leaking out of it implicated gas gangrene as the culprit. His pokégirl also seemed to be infected, but her infection seemed to be spreading much more slowly. There wasn’t much that they could do other than keep them isolated and make them comfortable.

“Markus,” Charles addressed through the intercom, “I know it’s hard, but we need to know what you saw.” Charles released the intercom button and Markus’s screams filled the speaker system. The speakers crackled and whined. They were decrepit and powered by an inefficient, deteriorating electrical grid. He tried again. “Markus, can you hear me?”


“What was that?” Charles tried to make his voice sound sympathetic. The sight of his suffering didn’t make it difficult.  Large patches of his skin distended as gas and liquefied, putrid tissue attempted to escape his body covering his back like a thousand black, insectile eyes. Occasionally one would burst and leak fumes and bubbling milky, liquefied tissues out and down his sides. Blood flow stopped to the infected areas long ago. His body was becoming necrotic. There was nothing that can be done.

“FER-“ he cut off halfway to bite into the thick leather strap suspended in front of his face. One of his limbs had already been amputated; the remainder needed to be strapped down in order to prevent him hurting himself more. His information was too important to lose. The scout they had sent had only seen a fraction of what Markus had seen. All the scout had reported was a high concentration of feral activity. Markus had been trying to get something out since he arrived, but the pain made it difficult for him to gather his thoughts.

Charles admired the man’s tenacity as he struggled to speak. He only wished that they had sedatives for him.

“FERALS” another one of the gas bubbles burst through his skin. “ROTTING”

Charles’s eyes widened. The ferals were infected with this disease… then it was probably what was driving them mad… but how did it become so widespread? Gangrenous diseases were contracted through bacteria getting in open wounds, and even then they didn’t necessarily become this type of gangrene. His eyes shifted to Markus Harpy. She was in the same room as he, restrained to another bed. She was shifting from side to side, her eyes staring blindly around her. Pustules and necrotic tissue were appearing on the portions of her body not obscured by feathers.

-What was going on? Had the Confederacy somehow concocted some sort of biological attack? It seemed farfetched considering that the disease he was thinking of was not something that could be easily spread from person to person like a virus. Charles pondered as Markus’s screams still came forth from the crackling intercom. Had the Confederacy somehow managed to reconstruct the Monster Flu or Red Plague? Those also infected pokégirls… but why would they suddenly create necrosis when no record of necrotic tissue for victims of either disease had been reported?

Charles sighed. Markus probably couldn’t say much more. He was in a lot of pain. A mercy killing would probably be a favor for him at this point. Euthanasia had never been a subject that Charles was fond of, but it was horrid to see Markus in such a piteous state and knowing that nothing could be done. The infection was already on his neck. He’d be dead in a few hours. He wasn’t sure how to handle this. If he asked his men what they thought, he could appear indecisive at a critical period. If he waited too long, he could appear cruel and uncaring. If he acted too quickly, that could have a similar effect.

Liz read his thoughts and sidled up closely to him, offering her physical comfort and a mental nudge of sympathy. This was one of those points where morality had no meaning in the long run; everything was too grey for that. He had to ignore the conflicting emotions in his head and think of the pros and cons of expediting Markus’s tragic death sentence concerning his men and [The Center]’s future. In the end, he nodded to Liz. In a heartbeat, Markus’s head rotated around one hundred eighty degrees. His screams stopped.

A couple of Charles’s men who were with him flinched visibly. Charles looked at them. “There was nothing we could do. Would you rather he had suffered?” he asked. His men averted their eyes and said nothing. Charles sent a mental signal to Liz and asked her to get a Ladyien or some sort of other psychic to observe the Harpy.

A few hours later, the Harpy expired. The psychic stationed to watch her felt her pulse and brainwaves disappear and declared her dead. A team of pokegirls dressed to protect against contagions approached the door. It was about that time that the Harpy seemingly decided she hadn’t expired just yet. Much to the bafflement of the psychic, the Harpy slipped out of her restraints by dislocating one of her shoulders and ripping several foot long bolts out of the wall. She shouldn’t have had the leverage to do that, but the damage her body took allowed the rest of her to pull away from the restraints.

The psychic watched in morbid fascination as the being stepped up without so much as a brainwave and buried her face in the diseased back of her late master, taking a mouthful of the putrid tissue. Tiny signs of brain activity came from here and there, but the psychic couldn’t tell if it was from infinitesimal amounts of cerebral activity or from stimuli from the rest of the irrelevant functions of the body was stimulating responses from the lower regions of the brain. It was like gazing into the abyss. The nothingness coming from the pokégirl deeply unnerved the psychic.

The team that had been sent down to extract the bodies wasn’t sure what they were to do, and they certainly didn’t want to get into a fight with a feral-like creature carrying a deadly disease. This had to be reported to the higher ups. When Charles received the news, it was all he could do to resist from asking if he was being joked with. It was almost as if their world had been melded with a bad horror story. Charles didn’t know if it was the bastard’s fault, but he wouldn’t put this kind of shit past Sukebe’s insanity. He couldn’t imagine any other human being doing something so outrageously stupid or crazy as creating these things.

Observing the ironically lively corpse was not very fun, and it tended to make one’s stomach churn uncomfortably. It was, however, completely necessary. Know thy enemy. Meanwhile on the battlefront, some brief hit and run tactics revealed that the creatures were weak to fire and dark-type attacks. Dark types were unfortunately rare for the most part, but there were plenty of fire types including those who could hit from a distance. The enemy had a nasty habit of spraying gas and diseased tissue in all directions when they expired… again. [The Center] attempted to hold off the creatures as much as possible and to evacuate villages and towns to safety. Unfortunately, that wasn’t always possible.

Charles stood at the front of the conference room they had cleared out. The most powerful psychics capable of precognition at their disposal were assembled here. Three Alaka-Whams, two Kaftaras including the one that initially attempted to warn Charles of the trapped cargo, and a strange pokégirl who declared herself to be a ‘Megami’ that no one seemed to recall having before. Charles ignored the celestial’s presence. She had shown up in one of his advisor’s harems several weeks prior. He had already had her vetted to his satisfaction, so he merely had her under surveillance rather than interrogation.

Charles spoke first: “You are here because of your unique abilities in anticipating events beyond that that of the human norm. While I know that there are limits to your ability, it would be unwise to not explore this avenue of information gathering.”

One of the Alaka-Whams sent him a thought.

“Yes, I know that your breed’s abilities are not the same as that of the Kaftara, but your analytical insight onto any information or complimentary abilities are desired.”

The three red skinned pokégirls shifted in their places seemingly pleased with the pronouncement.

Charles was mildly disappointed with the outcome of this meeting. The Kaftaras simply insisted that they move everything to some section of the middle of nowhere without giving any reasons. The Megami was utterly silent throughout the entire meeting. It would have been a total bust if the Alaka-Whams hadn’t had some a few intriguing ideas about how to deal with the current enemy threat, even if some were not doable with the suddenly much more limited resources at their disposal. Liz actually floated a couple ideas out there as well; although, hers were largely impractical. At least they got something.

Ready to give up for the day with the sun having long since set, Charles thought that they’d try this again when everyone had their head screwed on tight. Nothing was ever easy. Life thought it was especially important to drive this home; everyone could tell when the power went out. Charles wanted to think that it was just the generators or some sort of wiring problem. Everything was pretty old and in need of repair after all. His growing paranoia and hypervigilance was not helped by the fact that the Kaftaras started getting weird on him again, they stood and started pacing around the room and peaked out the doors and whined. One of them darted out the door and made some light padding noises as she bolted up and down the hallway.

Charles, looked over to the Alaka-Whams, wondering if they knew anything. Their antennae twitched, but they did not respond to Charles mental or vocal questions. An echoing laughter reverberated from nearby. It was high-pitched and was interspersed with coughing and hocking noises. The hairs on the back of Charles’s hair rose to stand on end. Instinct screamed in the back of his head. Concentration held him still.

The pokégirls around him needn’t be given instructions. Liz telepathically commanded the pokégirls present to remain while she gathered Charles’s harem. In a moment, Daniele, Chrissie, Yvette, Susana, and Liz were all by his side. Daniele went with the Alaka-Wham’s and the silent celestial with her to investigate what was going on. Charles fought the desire to leave the relative safety of the conference room. Liz stayed in physical contact with him at all times so that he might escape if anything sudden were to happen.

One of the Kaftaras opened the door slowly and looked at Charles with stress filled eyes. “Sir, we can’t seem to find any-“ she was cut off by a giggle behind her. Charles’s eyes were drawn to a bizarre site. A very near human type pokégirl stood with her hair slicked back with a white and red substance. It slowly dripped forth. The rest of her face and body seemed to be lathered in black, coagulated blood. A grin that by no means reached her eyes in any pleasant manner split her face in two.  Black boils were already forming on her face. Sadly, none of that was the strangest thing about her.

At that very moment, one of the decomposing pokégirls that had been running amok outside was struggling in her arms as she molested it. She was somehow carefully able to use its body while it attempted to bite her face off. She turned to Charles and winked at him.

“Hey there handsome, you wanna play a game with me?” she asked in a falsetto that did not fit the gleam in her eye. She turned and wiggled her rump at him before Yvette sent a Dark Bomb her way.  The mad pokégirl teleported out of the way before any damage could be done. Unfortunately, she left the contaminated corpse behind and it began to leak its fumes into the air.

Liz got them all out of their in a blink and they were suddenly on the roof of the building. Daniele was still with the Alaka-Whams, but Liz reassured Charles that she was fine and didn’t seem to be in an immediate conflict. Charles was very concerned as he looked out into the city. The enemy had breached Terminus, and they were quite visibly roving over the streets of Terminus and soaring overhead.