A/N: added a bit i forgot to put in at the very end 11/12/21.
* Story Start *
The cat-like Being regarded his visitor. "Seriously? Now you're a worldwalker just stretching your abilities and working out the basics?"
"Well, yes," said Xander.
"Interesting, not like that one fellow. What was his name?" The cat looked like he was trying to remember. "Zel-something. Zelreich? Zelwrench? Zelretch? I think it was that one. Funny fellow. Weird sense of humor."
Xander had to wonder what an Elder Being present for the creation of the multiverse turned self-titled god of mischief and chaos would consider a weird sense of humor.
"I'll admit I don't know much about your style of magecraftery," said Toltiir. "It looks like you take territory and can then pull mana from it for various effects. That about right?"
"Sounds about right," agreed Xander.
"Have you tried stepping?" asked the cat. "You know - that Long Earth stuff?"
"Uh, no," said Xander, not familiar with it.
"Try it sometime," said the cat, popping a box made of clear plastic with some devices in it. "Just make sure you're not carrying ferrous metals when you do. It'd be really annoying to lose your car keys that way."
"Is that... a potato for a power source?" asked Xander.
"Yeah. Set of universes off that way. A PRA-series, I think. Not the Discworld one though."
Xander brightened at the thought of being given a path to the Discworld of that series of books.
"What happens if you try to claim land which has a genius loci?" asked the curious-as-a-cat. "Or claim lands tapped by a source other than another worldwalker of your type?"
"Not familiar with either," admitted Xander. "But then I haven't been doing this long."
"What about pokemon worlds?" asked the cat. "Would it impact the pokemon at all?"
"I'm familiar with the game," said Xander. "It's based on the Shinto belief of everything having a sort of spirit. Animism - I think it's called. I certainly haven't been to a pokemon world."
"Hang on, I'll make one," said the cat. "I think - THAT one."
"Isn't that a Worm-verse?" asked Xander. "They're kind of messed up from the get-go."
"I was in the neighborhood," said the cat. "Relative dimensionally speaking. Done."
"Done?" asked Xander. "You just put a system of elemental nature spirits together on an existing world while we were talking?"
"This is a major aspect of my Being," explained Toltiir. "Though I may have slipped up a bit. Not all the spirit-beings are strictly speaking pokemon in anything like a traditional sense."
Xander was curious now. "So I can check into tapping into terrain on that world now?"
"Oh, hang on, let Taylor start things rolling and that'll give you a better chance. Besides, you could probably copy pokemon once you inspect them."
Xander thought about that, and the possibility of having a pikachu zap the hell out of some annoyances. It certainly had its appeal.
* Locker, January 3 2011 *
"LET ME OUT!" yelled Taylor, hearing only laughter in reply.
Silently she sent out a plea that someone, something, would help her. After all, nobody would.
[Okay, Taylor Hebert. Do you accept this gift and vow to share its bounty? To go forth and do good in the world?]
"Who said that?" asked Taylor.
"I did," said Emma's voice. "You're as pathetic as eyer, Taylor! Just die in there."
[I am someone who can help you. But only if you agree. Power can be freedom and burden at the same time.]
Taylor pitched her voice very low. "If it gets me out. I agree."
[Done then. Focus like this.] Taylor felt something shift in her perception of the world, she could feel vast currents going through everything around her and that current formed twists and little nodes. [Then choose them. You'll know the words. Oh, and I'm putting a pokedex in your inventory. Be sure to use it.]
Taylor focussed on one of the nearby points of light. Yeah. She could see it. "Help me, I choose you."
"What was that, Taylor? Lost it already?" There came a bang on the door of the locker.
"Eh? What's that supposed to mean?"
"Pika? Pika pi?"
"What the hell is his ugly thing? A yellow potato?"
"Pika- CHUUUUUUUUUU!" (Sounds of electricity grounding itself through various things.)
There was a clicking noise as something fumbled with the lock.
"Pika? Pika! Pikachu!"
"That's a pikachu. A real pikachu. Holy hell, Taylor Hebert has a pokemon?!"
"Are you sure you should be yelling her name when people are recording this?"
"Screw that man. You know how many likes I'll get over this?!"
Taylor thought about it, apparently the nearest thing had been electrical so she'd summoned something electrical. She needed something to get her out of the locker. So how about THIS little bright point?
"I accept the contract," came a voice on the wind. "Though you are young and inexperienced, this time I will come to your call for the need of you acquiring the time to resolve both."
There were footsteps coming down the corridor, though it was quickly drowned out by the sounds of the crowds outside.
"Pathetic," said the woman's voice, now a lot clearer. "So many of you. Yet you allowed yourselves to be cowed by three bullies, broken spirits though they are. Yet you are children still, and may yet grow to be someone of worth. I urge you to consider it, and your actions so far."
There was a brief intense surge of cold and the sound of metal cracking, then someone pulling her free.
The woman revealed looked Japanese and very regal, carrying herself as a queen might despite the burden of teenage girl she was pulling from a locker. That she looked to be a very realistic ice sculpture was also of note. "Shiva am I named child. Call on me only in greatest need. Still do I thank you for forming the vessel."
"Shiva?" squeaked Greg Veder, his phone trained directly on the tableau. "That's Final Fantasy, not pokemon."
"I am simply what I am," said Shiva. "The Queen of Ice and Winter. My summoner requires aid of medicinal nature. You shall summon such."
"What do you think you're..." began Sophia as she got up.
Sophia went shadowy and tried to dive through a set of lockers. The lightning bolt hit her before she could make it.
Everyone was still recording, at least four were streaming video.
* Brockton Bay General *
"-but I'm telling you it's a matter for the PRT! The outing of a Ward, a new parahuman triggering, and a projection ability!"
"And I am telling YOU! It's a bullying campaign that we already have gotten testimony on from at least twelve witnesses so far that were being intimidated by those three and one of them was YOUR Ward. Who has a criminal record still for going around and assaulting people!"
"She's a hero, she's supposed to assault criminals."
"I'm talking about witnesses, a few of the victims for 'not being strong enough' and other students at Winslow who were inclined to protest the attacks on Miss Hebert! That IS your problem with the Ward. Not her minions as those are normals! There's the biohazard to clean up - again NOT PRT business. And that's not a Projection."
"It's a yellow potato blob!"
"PiKA." (crackle crackle)
"Ixnay on the insultay on the pokemon that can short out electrical equipment in an Emergency Room please!"
"Besides, Miss Hebert here isn't a parahuman. We scanned. She doesn't have a Corona Pollentia."
"That's impossible. You're lying."
"And someone shut up this miserable little yellow-"
"Apparently if you hold still the little guy can be very precise in terms of voltage and target. Good to know."
"Good shooting. If you want to work for Brockton Bay Police, we could use a few like you."
"Seriously, you're going to try recruiting Miss Hebert's pokemon?"
"I have a teenage daughter. If I didn't at least try she'd be quite upset."
"Point. Definite point. Ah, Panacea. Can you verify for the record about Miss Hebert not having a Corona Pollentia?"
"Yeah, I... is that a pikachu? A REAL pikachu?"
"Can I touch you? I just want to... Oh. Oh. This is... fascinating. You're real but unlike anything I've ever seen. How? What is-"
"Pi pika pi?"
"Uhm, sorry. Just so... Let me see."
Taylor considered the words and stopped feigning unconsciousness as she thought Panacea would be able to tell. She thought about the whole sharing the gift thing. Maybe...
"Can I try something?" Taylor asked the brunette who was holding her wrist.
"Try what?" asked Panacea.
"Summoning a pokemon and then assigning them to you?" asked Taylor. "It's tiring to do it, but I think I can... are you sparkling?!"
"Who, me? Absolutely not," said Panacea about as sincere as a cornered politician.
"I'm just worried about a talented healer not having some form of backup or protection," tried Taylor, figuring that maybe Panacea was opposed to getting things as repayment.
"I suppose that would be nice," admitted Panacea, fighting a grin and trying to do cool professional type.
Taylor closed her eyes, feeling around. "Ah. There's one. Air or Flying I suppose. Put out your hand. Say 'I choose you. Pidgeotto.' At least I think that's what it is."
"That will work?!" asked Panacea.
"If the spirit is willing, I think so, maybe," said Taylor. "I haven't done this before."
"I choose you. Pidgeotto!" said Panacea.
There was a bird cry and the sound of fluttering wings.
* Dallon Household *
"Amy? What are you doing here so early?!"
"Pidgeotto, go in the backyard please!"
An extremely large bird went hopping past her.
"What?" asked Carol Dallon, finger still raised from where she was ready to give New Wave Public Image Speech #3.
"A new patient today was concerned about me going around without protection, so she gave me a pokemon," said Amy in a tone that tried to sound casual.
There was a stumping on the stairs before Vicky showed up. "Was it Taylor Hebert? You got a pokemon?! Which one?!"
"A wha?" asked Carol Dallon.
"I got a Pidgeotto," said Amy.
"A wha?" asked Carol Dallon again.
"Cool, do you think you can evolve him to Pidgeot?" asked Vicky. "It would be so cool to have you flying alongside me!"
"I know, right!" agreed Panacea, looking happier than anyone could remember seeing her in a long time. Not that this was a particularly high bar.
"Wait, what?" asked Carol Dallon, still trying to get a handle on all the unfamiliar terms.
"And using her power got me an Inventory and a Pokedex!" said Amy, reaching into the air and pulling out what looked like a game device.
"How many slots?" asked Vicky, immediately envious.
"Only six, I'm still experimenting," said Amy, reaching into the air and pulling a plastic bottle out of nowhere. "Oh. It's still cold. I can store cold drinks in there and they'll still be cold later."
"That could be SO handy," admitted a now-obviously envious Vicky.
"Come on, I'll introduce you. I was thinking of naming him 'Biggiewing'."
"Sis, you remember that frog you named 'Mister Turtle'? We agreed you are NOT naming things ever again."
Carol Dallon slowly lowered her hand as she stood there alone in the room. "What just happened?"
* KBBR, the voice of Brockton Bay, January 4 2011 *
"This is John McCrae in Brockton Bay, as usual joining me this morning is my dog wonder - Wagamuffin!"
"We just had the national news on at the top of the hour, but let's get to the story making a huge splash on the national scene. She was outed as a cape, but we're using the name Summoner for her because them's the Rules. So there's a new cape on the scene. Big deal you say. Here in this city you can throw a metaphor and hit three capes, you say. Well, there's differences. First, it's been medically verified. Not a parahuman in the usual sense because she lacks the physical differences normally associated with capes. If you want details, there's books and a nice piece in JAMA from a couple decades back to look at."
"Or get someone to read it to you, no offense. Second thing. She does pokemon. And can GIVE people pokemon. Panacea, a lot of you have met or used the services of Brockton Bay's star healer, now has a bird pokemon. Apparently it tires out Summoner every time she summons, so do everyone a favor and don't pester the poor girl because you want to catch 'em all. Also apparently, the animal has to be willing to enter into the arrangement. That about right, Summoner?"
"That's right. The more powerful the elemental spirit, the more it takes out of me to manifest them and some of them don't want to manifest and my power just slips off of them."
"If you haven't guessed, we have Summoner in the studio today. Who's that pokemon?"
"This here is Squirtle, he's a water spirit bound into the form of a bipedal turtle."
"Wagamuffin is absolutely confused about the turtle, but I'd expect a lot of humans would be confused when seeing a pokemon for the first time."
"Now, Summoner, I know capes are generally vague about their powers because they get into fights all the time and don't want to disclose their limitations before potential enemies. You're also trying to figure out your abilities still, right?"
"That's right, Mister McCrae. So far I've only matched up one pokemon to one other person besides myself. I've also, as seen online, summoned one major spirit but she's definitely not a pokemon and not hanging around me."
"That would be Shiva, right? What exactly IS Shiva? Oh, and call me John. We're not all that formal here."
"Shiva is the spirit of winter and cold. She's not friendly to humans, she's not hostile to humans. She might favor certain individuals but humanity isn't her concern. You might view her as you would the myths of Queen Mab, not the cape with that name, something alien that just wears the form of humanity. The form just came to me while I was panicked at being trapped in that locker and my only thought at that time was getting out."
"Well, if you're listening, Shiva - let my producer know sometime and we can get your point of view sometime. We have cocoa with the little marshmallows if that helps. So, your abilities... hang on, my producer is signalling at me."
"Apparently the PRT is trying to storm the building. Why is the PRT after you?"
"Oh, that's because it turns out they were involved in protecting one of the people who shoved me into that locker. They're also apparently trying to hold me responsible for her being broadcast."
"Sounds like bureaucrats being idiots. The video was pretty obviously from bystanders and not from you. The cape in question used her powers in her civilian identity on her own, knowing full well that there were cameras present."
"My father told me it's likely to be less about legal stuff, and more about control."
"Sounds about right. Okay, apparently Armsmaster just pushed past security and is on his way. It was nice talking to you, Summoner, and hopefully we'll get to speak in the future."
"Yeah, sounds like I have to go. Maybe we can do a phone interview or something."
"Now, while Summoner goes off and tries to escape unlawful arrest, let me say one more thing. I already mentioned not bugging Summoner for pokemon and per the Rules you should know not to bother her when she's out of costume. Everyone who has watched the video knows her civilian name but we do NOT treat her as a member of New Wave and assume she's gone public. That was entirely against her will where she was outed. During the pre-show, Summoner mentioned how stressed out Panacea is getting and how people apparently walk up to her and want things like a few pounds taken off around the middle."
"That's right. People. Be polite. She's not at work, she's just at the grocery store or something, don't stress out the healer who has fixed more problems than she's caused. We could wish more capes did that. Panacea has eased people's suffering, healed people that medical science isn't up to fixing, and saved lives directly. As someone who has played RPGs, there's an old saying. Do NOT piss off your healer. If you see her, say hello. Wish her a nice day. Buy her a latte if she's in line at the coffee shop. Don't demand she fix something for you, or perform cosmetic work for free even if you think it's no effort and will just take a second. I don't go up to my mechanic and demand he do anything for free. I don't see someone in a grocery store, wearing a Waffleburger uniform, and try to wheedle free baked chili fries out of them. Panacea doesn't charge for her work in the hospital, so your bill there is between you and that hospital - so don't even complain about your bill to her."
"Now I think that Panacea SHOULD do cosmetic work on the side, but she SHOULD charge for it. Girl has to eat, her costume's getting a bit worn in places, and making some money on the side would at least pay for college when she gets to that point. Someone wants bigger boobs? Find out what the going rate is, charge 90% of that, and she'd be able to get into a GOOD college if she does one hour a week. Anyway, that's just MY opinion and... oh hello Armsmaster and heavily armed troopers. Do you have time for an interview?"
"Where. Is. Summoner?"
"She just left. Why is the PRT trying to arrest her? HEY! Don't point that gun at my dog! One of the PRT troopers is pointing a gun at my dog folks. That is NOT cool. I-"
(Loud bang. Radio broadcast cuts out. Commercial begins playing after brief silence.)
* PRT ENE HQ *
Director Piggot rubbed her forehead. "Tell me they didn't shoot the damn dog."
"Uhm," Squad Leader Henderson looked distinctly uncomfortable. "It was a beanbag gun."
"You shot the dog. On live radio. On the biggest talk radio program in Brockton Bay. On a broadcast that is now being played by a large number of other stations and getting commentary on various networks. CNN is saying that they were harboring a fugitive and that it was an accidental discharge. Was it?"
"Of course," said Squad Leader Henderson.
Director Piggot stared for a moment, then nodded. "We'll go with that officially. If the damn dog dies though - I'm pretty sure that trooper is going to get villified by some of the other networks. It's a mutt terrier and apparently very photogenic, so there's going to be a lot more bad press than if you'd just shot the owner."
"Armsmaster failed to catch Miss Hebert?"
"We caught her turtle though!" pointed out Henderson.
"And how did interrogating the turtle go?" asked Director Piggot, her voice heavy with sarcasm.
"All it says is its name and parts of that," admitted Henderson.
"Henderson, you have vacation time accrued. Trooper Howard has vacation time accrued. Make plans. Use it."
* PRT HQ *
Contessa slipped into place at the table without a word.
"So you interviewed her when you got her out of the building?" asked Alexandria.
"More than that," said Contessa, holding a red-and-white orb in one hand. She lightly tossed it. "Totodile, I choose you."
"CRAAA!" announced the little green crocodile as it appeared on the table. It glanced back at Contessa who handed it a little hat and cane. It began dancing with them, apparently quite enjoying itself as it did.
"You got a poked man from her," said Alexandria.
"It's 'pokemon'," corrected Legend.
"Whatever," said Alexandria.
Contessa reached into a pocket, pulled a little red device out, and pointed it at the pokemon.
"Totodile," said the box. "The big jaw pokemon. This pokemon loves using his chompers, so trainers beware."
"Crunchjaw here loves to dance too," said Contessa as she indicated the two foot high reptile doing a softshoe on the table.
"I thought it was a 'totodile'," said Alexandria.
"It IS a totodile, I named him Crunchjaw," said Contessa. "He likes jawbreaker candies."
"DILE!" agreed Crunchjaw.
Doctor Mother stirred. "You obtained a specimen. Good work."
"You are NOT performing surgery or killing my pokemon," cautioned Contessa. "Or destroying my pokedex. I like having the perks of being a pokemon trainer."
"Wait, so Summoner can give equipment away," said Alexandria. "Who makes it?"
"The equipment states that it is from Elder God Manufacturing, and that pokemon is copyright Nintendo, Final Fantasy summons are copyright Square Enix, and legendary heroes are copyright Type Moon." Contessa read off the device. "I also have a six-slot extradimensional space called Inventory that I can access as a result of being a pokemon trainer."
"Summoner gives a power away, can she do that for non-parahumans?" asked Alexandria.
"Probably, she hasn't tried yet due to the local PRT going after her," said Contessa. "Can I suggest we stop trying to catch her and blame her for Shadow Stalker outing herself? That she's having to hide isn't helping anyone."
Legend checked his phone and winced. "They just arrested Amy Dallon and threw her into Master/Stranger confinement and tranq-darted her bird."
"That is also very much not going to help," said Alexandria.
"Director Piggot is apparently furious at the person who decided this was a good idea," said Legend.
"I wouldn't be either," admitted Alexandria.
* Dallon Household, 4 hours later *
Carol Dallon was not an ideal mother towards Amy Dallon, most people who'd witnessed interactions between the two would get that. However, having a PRT squad bust down her door was not okay in her book. Having them snatch one daughter while repeatedly shooting tranquilizer darts into her bird was not okay. Hitting her daughter Vicky with containment foam when she tried to interfere was not okay. Leaving tire treadmarks all over her front lawn was not okay. Telling her that it was to throw Amy into Master-Stranger confinement because she had a bird was not okay.
"My lawyer senses are tingling," said Carol Dallon to her husband. "I sense much bad PR and a massive payout coming from the Parahuman Response Team."
"Funny, I don't have 'lawyer senses' but I get that feeling too," said Mark.
"I'm still getting bits of containment foam out of my hair, and I kinda get that feeling too," put in Vicky.
"Armsmaster is a dick," said Mark.
"Yeah," said Vicky.
"No comment," said the lawyer.
"Here comes Amy, without her bird, and... I think this is the first time I've ever seen her looking pissed," said Vicky.
"They let me go, Piggot is yelling at everyone involved, but they've stolen my pokemon," said Amy.
"Confiscated," automatically corrected Carol Dallon.
Amy stopped as she opened her mouth to say something, looked very thoughtful, and then reached into midair and pulled out a small red device.
"You've still got your pokedex?" asked Vicky.
"My pokedex, a gadget that allows me information about pokemon," said Amy.
"Yeah, you showed me last night," said Vicky.
"Which has a customer support number," pointed out Amy. "Let's see."
"That's not a real phone number," said Carol as she watched Amy type a number into her phone. "The '555' prefix isn't real, and that's too many digits."
"Hello?" said a voice that didn't sound human at all.
"Is this customer support?" asked Amy.
"You dialed customer support, I show you to be Amy Dallon the pokemon trainer for a Pidgeotto," said the voice which was composed of many different voices all mixed together. "What seems to be the problem?"
"My pidgeotto was stolen," said Amy Dallon. "How do I get him back?"
"Traditionally you'd get into a pokebattle with the thieves," answered the voice. "Talk to Taylor. Your sister could use a pokemon herself."
"I like this idea," put in Vicky.
"I don't," said Carol Dallon. "Who ARE you?"
"I think it only answers to me because I'm the trainer," said Amy after waiting a bit.
"Correct," said the voice over the line.
"Where's Summoner?" asked Amy Dallon. "I am not happy about this."
* PRT HQ *
"What ARE you?" asked Contessa of her pokedex since she was able to use that and it didn't answer anyone else at the table.
"Currently, I'm Customer Service. By the way, if your associate acts on her plans of dissecting the totodile - it won't work. The physical body is a form of permanent construct but upon dying will revert to spiritual energy. The whole dissolving into sparks of light that fade away kind of thing."
Everyone looked at Doctor Mother who briefly made a face then nodded.
Crunchjaw the totodile decided to hide in Contessa's trenchcoat.
"So the totodile is a projection like the Siberian?" asked Contessa.
"No. Taylor's powers are that she can identify, contact, and then shape and bind willing elemental spirits. The pokemon are simply one of the easiest ways to do this. It involves the whole collective unconsciousness of humanity thing. Enough people have played the games, on enough worlds where humanity has developed and a few where other forms of intelligence developed, that the concepts are readily available. The spirit is bound into a living form but with connections to their element or powers."
"So Crunchjaw IS alive?" asked Contessa.
"Yes. This is also getting completely away from the whole 'customer service' angle on your pokedex. Just so you know. Before you ask, neither the pokemon nor Taylor utilize the Entities or the shard-based system."
"It didn't answer your question," pointed out Eidolon.
"What exactly are you?" asked Contessa again.
"I'm an Elder Being. I am older than your universe. Older than the multiverse it is a part of. I have seen civilizations rise to heights you can barely imagine, and watched them fall in the fullness of time. I have seen worlds end, stars die, and galaxies fade into darkness. I have seen universes fall to heat death and others to gravitational collapse. I am not human, not in the slightest, and not subject to your culture or morals. I am doing this because of curiosity, to see if you take the new path available to you - and if you do where that path will take you. One more question though - at which point I put up an automatic answering system that will only answer questions relating to pokemon."
Contessa blinked at that. "How do we beat Scion?"
"Ah. You have all the tools you need, but it all starts with asking the right questions."
Contessa looked at the pokedex for a moment, then folded it back up and put it in her Inventory.
"What did it mean by 'the right questions'?" asked Alexandria.
"I have a feeling that's something I need to figure out," said Contessa, pulling the brim of her hat down.
"Do you suppose that voice was lying?" asked Eidolon.
"I don't think so," said Alexandria a moment later. "So. I need to go to my office and make sure that Taylor Hebert gets to go home. And then I'm going to have a chat with Shadow Stalker."
* ABANDONED ROOM *
"Pi pika pi," said Jean-Luq Pikachu.
"You have to go out?" asked Taylor.
The door knocked.
"Oh crap," said Taylor.
"It's not the PRT," said what sounded like a little girl on the other side.
She was very hesitant to open the door, and when she saw it WAS a little girl she looked around for anything resembling a hit squad.
"Hi. My name is Dinah Alcott, and you have a 95.745 percent chance of keeping me from getting captured and enslaved by a supervillain."
"Pika pi," said Pikachu.
"Straight and to the point but I'm not exactly safe myself," said Taylor.
"If you simply arrange for me to have a pokemon, it increases my chances of escaping capture due to an anti-Thinker effect that involves your power," said Dinah.
"I take it you have a Thinker power that involves percentages?" asked Taylor.
"That's it, and that's why someone's going to try and kidnap me," said Dinah.
"All right, let's see... there!" said Taylor, using her power. If this was legit, she'd be saving a kid's life. If it wasn't - it was a bribe for keeping quiet about her.
Dinah nodded and held out a hand. This had a better than even chance of being something useful, but her precog couldn't give her any direct results. "I choose you."
"ROCK!" said the Rockruff.
"Squeee," went Dinah as she took in the cuteness factor.
"Well, he IS kinda cute," admitted Taylor.
Which was when a door opened in midair and a woman wearing a fedora stepped through.
"Carmen Sandiego?" asked Taylor.
"Not quite, if you'd come with me though - the Protectorate would like to check into the possibilities your power provides," said the woman pleasantly.
* Earth-gamma *
"Got... five," said Taylor, her eyes closed as she concentrated. "Sixteen in range, five are willing to try this. One fire, two water, one plant, and one..."
"Something wrong?" asked Alexandria.
"I hadn't encountered it before so I was having to figure it out," said Taylor. "I think it's Poison-type."
"Trooper Feldon, any preference?" asked Alexandria.
Finding someone in their employ who had played pokemon had narrowed the field. Finding one willing to try something dangerous hadn't narrowed it by much though the phrase "untried cape ability" was enough to cause some reconsiderations. Finding someone very capable and completely trustworthy, that they could count on for independent action and judgement had led them to her.
Trooper Barbara Feldon looked a bit nervous but considered. "Plant."
"Trying that one," said Taylor.
"I choose you-" began Trooper Feldon as a whitish shape began to form in front of her. When the silhouette was complete she knew exactly what it was and spoke. "Turtwig!"
"It's... a turtle," summed up Alexandria.
"Turtwig, the Tiny Leaf Pokémon. Its shell is made of earth and when it absorbs water, it becomes harder," said Contessa's pokedex.
Trooper Feldon glanced up from where she'd been petting the turtle and pulled out her own pokedex. "I've got a pokedex? And a pokeball? And... Inventory?"
"Well, there's your proof. She can give non-capes access to powers through giving them pokemon," said Doctor Mother.
"None of them are exactly heavy hitters though," noted Alexandria.
Trooper Feldon cleared her throat. "Turtwig weighs about twenty-two pounds. If he evolves to Grotle, he'll weigh two hundred thirteen pounds. If he evolves from Grotle to Torterra - that's close to seven hundred pounds."
"Uses?" asked Doctor Mother.
"That's a spirit of plant life, so it can speed up plant growth, shoot razor-edged leaves, things like that," said Taylor.
"Potentially useful," said Doctor Mother, nodding. "Trooper Feldon, dismissed. Take your turtwig with you and see if you can't evolve him however long that takes."
"Do you need to rest?" asked Alexandria.
"I can still do something like that. Not the big one - the Poison type is going to take too much out of me," confessed Taylor.
Doctor Mother stirred. "Your ability is different from the normal cape abilities, as you lack the brain structures that are found in all other capes."
"Yes," answered Taylor, who was distracted by the thought of getting her father his own pokemon now that it was proven it could be done for non-capes. Maybe some water-type would be best? She didn't have any control over what the pokemon was, it just sort of took over once she started the process. She could figure out what element was though before she pulled on it.
"Researcher Portman," said Doctor Mother. "You had an idea."
"I've read fantasy stories when I was growing up," said the young woman in a labcoat. "One thing in a number of stories was imbuing a weapon or item with an elemental spirit to make, for example, a magic sword."
"Huh," said Taylor, considering that.
Researcher Portman held up a sheathed katana. "This is a masterwork katana donated from a collection. Do you think you could imbue it with an element?"
Taylor turned her attention back to the nearby spirits. Two seemed to find this acceptable. She was sort of surprised at one. "The water and the poison type. I don't think that sword could contain the poison one for long."
"Can you tell what the sword would be able to do then, if you tried to bind the water element to the sword?" asked Doctor Mother, making notes.
"No," said Taylor. "It's like when I do the pokemon thing, I don't choose what kind of pokemon is the end result. I'm never entirely sure what I'm going to end up with."
"Do it, please, we need to find out what's possible here," said Doctor Mother.
* Boardwalk, Brockton Bay *
There was that nice little kiosk that had the fresh donuts. Not the best donuts in Brockton Bay, one of the benefits of her power was that she knew which place had the best tasting donuts. (The Hole Donut on Lafayette Avenue.) Also which place had the healthiest donuts. (Fancy Nancy's on Hill Street.) Which place had the worst in both categories (It's Donuts! on Fairweather) but also had drug deals regularly going on in the men's room. Fresh Donuts To Go was right there on the strip and was about average on price and quality. Better than the supermarket donuts by a couple of points, but not up to the quality of The Hole Donut.
At the kiosk, getting a couple of donuts to go (Double Chocolate and Vanilla Cake) was Panacea. As well as one of the plain glazed donut holes that she was flipping to a large bird.
(Panacea. Bioshaper. Restricts her abilities to minor healing. Capable of being S-class threat if stressed.)
(Stress level has recently dropped. Probable cause: pet.)
"Ouch," said Lisa, her abilities as Tattletale taking one look at the bird and basically throwing up error messages.
(Not bird. Bird form.)
(Error: data not found.)
(Error: power set not found in shard network.)
Lisa blinked. "Say what?"
(Error: anomaly. Error. Error.)
"What the hell?" mumbled Lisa.
(Shard network has encountered medium level anomaly.)
"What the hell is a 'shard network'?" asked Lisa.
(Forwarding data to Thinker Network.)
"Okay, seriously, what the hell. My power is getting confused?" mumbled Lisa as she tried to make sense of it and got another "icepick behind the eyes" headache started. Just that her power was acting like it was seperate from her was somewhat concerning.
(Error error error. Values exceeding processing capabilities of current host.)
"Ow ow ow," said Lisa as her train of thought was derailed by levels of pain.
(Forwarding data to 'Simurgh' for analysis.)
"Agh," managed Lisa, as she tried to avoid throwing up from the pain. This was shaping up to be the worst Thinker headache she'd ever gotten.
Someone touched her and she felt blessed relief sweep through her.
Lisa blinked and realized that Panacea had noted her distress and done an intervention.
"Better?" asked Amy Dallon, removing her hand. "You had fallen off your chair. I thought from the way you were twitching and getting ready to vomit that it was some sort of fit. I've never seen a Thinker headache that bad."
"Ah, yeah," said Lisa, trying hard NOT to look at the bird. "I'm fine now. Thanks. Really. I owe you one."
There was a faint hint of a smile that showed. "Yeah. No problem. C'mon, Pidgeotto."
The bird-shaped Thing followed his mistress and Lisa sighed while trying very hard not to look at the Thing. Then she frowned. Those messages from her power. Her power had now gone silent. She really had to think about this.
* Coil *
Thomas Calvert picked up a phone, pushed a button and prepared to give his men an order. Taylor Hebert was publicly known. Taylor Hebert had a father who was apparently quite vulnerable. Taylor Hebert had potentially useful skills. She just had to be persuaded to work for him. He had several methods which should work just fine.
Thomas Calvert froze at the voice behind him before addressing the mercenary who'd just answered the line. "Just a moment." He pushed hold.
Contessa stood there. A doorway in the air visible behind her. "You do not kidnap Taylor Hebert's father. You do not kidnap Taylor Hebert. You especially do not try to torture or break Taylor Hebert. If you find yourself faced with either of them, you will be polite and walk away the first chance you get. Taylor Hebert has skills that Cauldron can use. Do you understand me?"
"Quite," said Thomas Calvert, understanding perfectly that if he did anything to piss off Cauldron he had about as much chance of surviving that day as a cold beer did in front of a thirsty dockworker. "I understand."
"Good," said Contessa, stepping back and vanishing with the door.
Thomas took a deep breath, then took the phone off hold. "I'm going to be incommunicado for an hour. Don't disturb me unless there's an immediate threat to the base."
Disconnecting, Thomas Calvert decided he really really needed a drink. And maybe watch that Last Airbender movie. That had been one of his better investments.
* Cauldron HQ *
"It needs a name," stated Researcher Portman. "How about Wavecutter?"
Looking at the softly blue-glowing katana, Alexandria nodded. "Good enough codename. Try Training Room 4. See what all it can do."
"Anything else? I want to get back to my dad," said Taylor.
"We're going to arrange to go to one of the better schools there, Winslow is entirely too dangerous," said Alexandria as Contessa re-entered the room. "Problems?"
"One was forming and had to be dissuaded," said Contessa.
"Ah," said Alexandria with a nod. "Yes. I believe our other guest is still watching movies about dogs with her pokemon. Once you two reunite, we'll send you straight home. Thank you for your cooperation, Summoner."
* MONTHS LATER *
"I want to be the very best."
Amy on her Pidgeot flies alongside Glory Girl, heading for school.
"Like no one ever was."
A firefighter directs his Squirtle to stream water at a burning building.
"To summon them is my real test."
Miss Militia stops her motorcycle in front of Sinbad's Cafe (a Middle-Eastern restaurant) with her Eevee leaping from shoulder to ground.
"To train them is my cause."
Dinah Alcott shoulders her backpack, her Rockruff snorting beside her as she gets ready for school.
"I will travel across the worlds."
Contessa looks out the window, cup of tea in her hand, as her Totodile snoozes on the table.
"Searching far and wide."
Max Anders strokes the Persian in his lap as he goes over morning e-mails.
"Each pokemon to understand the power that's inside."
Researcher Portman watches the video of a kenjutsu specialist and slides into the same stance with Wavecutter drawn.
Trooper Feldon directs her Turtwig to attack a post with Razor Leaf.
"It's you and me."
John McCrae is on the air on WBBR, with Wagamuffin, interviewing a policeman who has a Growlithe.
"You know it's our destiny!"
Vista heads out for school, patting her Ponyta's neck before putting him in her pokeball.
Danny Hebert opens the door to his office, letting his Kirlia enter before him.
"You're my best friend."
Dean Stansfield glanced up to see his girlfriend flying overhead and turned his gaze back to where Lucy Nguyen had a small dragon on her shoulder.
"In a world we must defend."
Alexandria flies over Los Angeles, a Talonflame riding the air currents nearby.
Taylor let her Pikachu jump down from her shoulder as she prepared to ride her Charizard. "Sorry, Red. Running late. Let's hurry!"
The Charizard huffed in reply and launched himself as soon as she was secure.
"A heart so true."
Xander Harris, worldwalker, watches as members of Dockworkers Union plant a sign declaring the building it is in front of is "Under Construction - Brockton Bay Pokemon Gym."
"Our courage will pull us through."
Shiva, in Antarctica, walks past a Leviathan ice sculpture that follows her with its eyes.
"You teach me, and I'll teach you."
Eternatus slowly flew past the Cauldron base, ever watchful over what it considered its own domain.
"Pokemon! Gotta catch 'em all!"
Shadow Stalker sneered as she got a glimpse of another poster in a shop window, showing some singer who had one of those weird little beast-things at her feet. Someday. Someday she'd get her revenge on Taylor Hebert and all these damn things. She'd be begging to be allowed to die before Sophia would let her.
"Gotta catch 'em all!"
In orbit, the Simurgh unfolded.
(Anomaly data can not be resolved.)
(Further investigation needed.)