Author's note:

This story was written to give me the opportunity to explore certain concepts as well as to snip off some loose threads from my previous works involving Iain Grey and some others. As such, there is a lot more discussion in this story than is found in others of my works. Up front, I'll also admit that there is an overriding plot arc and pretty much as soon as I started writing the characters started doing their own thing (as usual) and shot that pretty much to hell.

There will be references to previous characters and events, in many cases without me bothering to recap them. I decided not to do the recaps because the events should be familiar if the reader has read my previous works and, if not, the references, while important to the part they appear in, are not critical to the primary story arc.

Having said that, also understand that I will be using some of my favorite characters with the most developed personalities, and they tend to do things that not even I expect. That includes Iain, and he's supposed to be me, but in hindsight I can look at the decisions he made and say, yeah, I'd have made 98% of them too. So I guess it's accurate in that.

Chapter sizes are going to vary because while I'd like to stay near my ten thousand words per chapter as usual, sometimes the breaks are such that I can't do that and I'd rather post a shorter chapter than a twenty thousand word monstrosity.

Kerrik

This work is fiction. The work has no relationship with any person existing at any time anywhere whether real or imaginary or copywritten. Everything in this work is mea culpa.

This work is the property of Kerrik Wolf (saethwyr@ (SPAM) hotmail.com). Please remove (SPAM) to contact me.

You should not read this work if you are under the age of legal consent wherever you reside. This work may or may not contain any and/or all of the following: death, cannibalism, dismemberment, violent acts, implied sex, explicit sex, violent sex, rape, blasphemy (depending on your religion), BDSM, torture, mimes, necrophilia and just about anything unwholesome that you could consider.

Feedback is encouraged. I enjoy hearing from people. Positive feedback will be appreciated, cherished and flaunted in front of people. Negative feedback will be appreciated, cherished and listened to, that I might continue to grow. Flames will give me a good laugh. Feedback may be delivered to: saethwyr@(SPAM)hotmail.com. Please remove (SPAM) to contact me.

Loose Threads

One

Raven and Whisper are here and they want to talk to you, Theodora informed him.

Iain glanced at the platinum blonde Elf standing guard nearby. “Heather?” She looked at him, her hands tightening on her living bow. “I’m going to have a couple of visitors from Kerrik’s place. I don’t think you’ve met Raven or Whisper before.”

“No, sir, I haven’t.”

He smiled. “Just like almost everything involving Kerrik, they’re pretty and lethal but not overly aggressive unless provoked.”

Heather smiled back. “I’ll keep that in mind, sir. Have you provoked them?”

“Not that I’m aware of.” Iain checked the burner and adjusted the flame slightly. “Theodora, please lead them to me.”

I will. The hologram of Theodora that was standing with Raven and Whisper turned to the two pokegirls. “Iain’s in the laboratory. Please come with me and I’ll take you to him.”

Raven frowned. “I didn’t know you had a lab.”

Theodora led them away from the Sabine house and into the gardens surrounding it. “You wouldn’t. A short time ago Dominique and Iain decided that it was time for him to start learning traditional magic on top of everything else. They’re hoping it will also help him with his unique powers. She required a lab at the house for Iain’s studies and that’s where he is right now.”

It’s not really near the house, is it, Whisper asked through her twee.

“This was the closest Iain allowed it to be placed,” Theodora replied as she led them into the woods. “It has a five hundred gallon propane tank in it and he didn’t want it where the kids could easily find it since sometimes the burners have to be on for days.” She looked back at them. “Heather is his guard today and she’s very protective of him, even when compared to most of the rest of the clan and she’s a fast and deadly shot with her bow. I would recommend you don’t threaten him in her presence, even in jest.”

Whisper’s ears twitched. Why is he so special to her?

“Heather was rescued by Iain and Ninhursag from William Sanderson when they tracked him down to kill him. She was being pretty badly abused by Sanderson and, according to Iain; she also thinks he protected and rescued her from being killed by Ninhursag at the time.” She shrugged when Raven’s eyebrows rose. “Ninhursag said she had no such plan for Heather, but the truth is that at that point she would have killed anyone who she even suspected of being the least bit in her way during her pursuit of revenge against Sanderson. Heather might have recognized that and responded to it even if it wasn’t aimed directly at her. As a result of the incident, she idolizes Iain and, being well aware of how fragile a human is in today’s world, is extremely protective of him.” She led them into a clearing where a nondescript building stood. “This is the lab.” A heavy looking door had a sign on it that announced no entry in English and Spanish. Five locks ran down one side of the door.

“Why so many locks,” Raven asked.

“Rebecca and Hannah like to use their telekinesis to try and pick locks open. Five locks will warn me before they can finish.”

“Those are Canaan’s girls, right?”

Theodora nodded. “They like to turn things and gas valves would probably be attractive to them. Now that Zareen is getting close to delivery I’m installing phase blocks too.”

The door opened to reveal Iain. “Ladies, do come in.” He looked at Theodora. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” She vanished.

Iain waved them to a couple of overstuffed chairs near a whiteboard. “We don’t see each other as much as I see Morwen, so I’m still learning about both of you. Do you drink other liquids besides blood?” Behind him, Heather shifted so she had a clear line of sight on both women.

Raven chuckled as she sat down. “Is it important?”

“I don’t have any blood available, but if you did I was going to offer you something to drink other than me,” he replied.

I can consume many beverages but I derive no nutritional value from them, Whisper said through her twee. Raven can only drink water and blood. Anything else makes her ill.

“Yes,” Raven said grumpily, “that includes sperm.”

Iain blinked. “I wasn’t going to ask. As far as I’m concerned that falls under the designation of too much information. Would you like some water?”

“No,” Raven said.

He nodded. “Then, considering you’re happy with Kerrik and none of us are really friends yet, why are you here?”

Have I mentioned that I really appreciate your directness? Iain shook his head and Whisper smiled. It will be many years before Kerrik comes back into his full power. Only then will he be able to correct the mistakes in mine and Raven’s genetic code so our daughters will not carry our curses. She waited until Iain nodded his understanding. You know things that it should be impossible for you to know. Misery intends to become pregnant soon because she can and we cannot. We don’t like that. Can you fix us?

Iain leaned against the whiteboard. “Is this about wanting to give Kerrik children or is this about status between you three?”

“It’s both,” Raven said.

Iain considered his words carefully before speaking. “Have you considered asking Autumn and Kerrik to make Misery wait? Misery is unlikely to get pregnant without Autumn’s help and if Kerrik asked her to wait, she would.”

Having to ask others to help us stop Misery would make us look weak and petty.

Heather started to speak but stopped when Iain glanced at her and shook his head almost imperceptibly. He clasped his hands in front of him. “When Kerrik says that genetics are a hobby for him, for the rest of us and in light of how he pursues that hobby, the word hobby can be replaced with the word obsession. He has worked on projects without even stopping for food. Sometimes he ignores meals until starvation drives him out to eat. He has said that he will solve the issues that you feel keep you from having children. Even if I knew how to do so, and I do not, Kerrik is my friend and I wouldn’t take the chance to take his opportunity to give you that gift from him. It wouldn’t be fair to him and it wouldn’t be fair to you.”

Raven scowled. “Theodora couldn’t look at our genetic code and see what needs changed to fix our daughters?”

Iain shook his head. “Genetics alone are unlikely to be the cause of how you are, Raven. Magic is almost certainly involved and Theodora can’t analyze magical influences. However, if you’d like I can take samples from both of you before you leave and I can have her check. But honestly I don’t expect the answer to be different from what I suspect.”

Raven nodded eagerly. “We want you take those samples.”

“OK.” It didn’t take long before Iain sealed both swab kits and locked them in a drawer. “But please understand that it’ll be a while before Theodora will have any results for you. This isn’t just scanning your DNA. She’ll have to develop viable changes that might pose the solution you are looking for.”

Whisper rose to her feet. We understand. We will try to be patient. Thank you, Iain.

“We’re trying to be more social,” Raven said as she stood. “Can we do that with you?”

“Of course you can,” Iain smiled. “I probably need the practice too.”

He held out his hand only to freeze when Raven stepped past it to hug him with one arm and pull his head down with her other hand as she went up on her toes to kiss his cheek. “Thank you,” she whispered.

He hugged her back and let her go. “You’re welcome.”

Whisper hugged him too and patted him lightly on the head with her ears. We appreciate you trying to help us.

“I’m glad to.” He walked them to the door. “You two are always welcome here, so don’t be strangers. Next time if you give me some advance warning I’ll play referee and you can meet mine and Canaan’s daughters.”

Raven’s eyes lit up. “We’d like that.”

As soon as they were gone, Iain locked the door. He looked at Heather. “Were you going to point out that their coming here and asking me to help them made them look weak or petty?”

She nodded. “It’s true.”

Iain shrugged. “They’re problem solving. I can appreciate that since I encourage it in the people here. But taunting those two is like poking a bear with a short stick. Eventually you’re going to get mauled. Don’t poke the bear.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s ok,” Iain smiled. “I’d hug you but you’re on duty.”

She beamed at him. “I go off duty in three hours. Can I get the hug then?”

“You can and you will.” He turned to the whiteboard. “Theodora, I need to talk to Kerrik and I need to talk to him as soon as he is alone and will remain alone for the duration of our talk. I think it’s urgent.”

The whiteboard turned black. “He says he’ll call you in six minutes.”

“Thanks.” Iain opened a small fridge and pulled out a bottle. He looked at Heather. “I know you won’t drink beer on duty but would you like some water?” She glanced at the door and he smiled. “All five locks are engaged.”

Heather went to the door and checked the locks before nodding. “Yes, please on the water.” She slung her bow and caught the bottle he tossed to her as she moved to where she’d be out of view of the screen.

A few minutes later Kerrik appeared in the screen that had been a whiteboard. “Iain.”

“Kerrik, Raven and Whisper just got finished paying me a visit. They’re trying to be social, so they hugged me.”

Kerrik nodded. “Thanks for the head’s up on why they’ll smell like you. So why do I need to be alone for this?”

“They were here because Misery intends to get pregnant soon and they’re unhappy about the facts that she will and they can’t until you can correct the issues they feel keep them from having children. They wanted to see if I could address their concerns early.”

Kerrik’s ears flattened. “I didn’t know about this.”

Iain shrugged. “Misery probably intends to present you with a fait accompli. You won’t terminate her pregnancy and so she gets children and she gets to beat out her Hunter sisters in something. It’s a win-win for her.”

Kerrik sighed. “I don’t suppose you could fix them, could you?”

Iain shook his head. “I told them I had no idea where to begin. That’s not exactly true, but I don’t think Whisper has any insurmountable problems and what Raven needs is marrow that does its fucking job so she doesn’t take more than Morwen and for it to be inheritable. You can build that faster than I could even with the wait you can’t avoid. I’d have to teach myself genetic engineering first and that would take a lot of time. And on top of that, considering the amount of blood Raven needs daily, magic will probably be required for her modifications.”

Kerrik frowned. “Any suggestions as to how I keep this from exploding in my face?”

Iain smiled. “I made people getting pregnant into a ceremony where I get to help. That way I can claim that all of the kids are mine too even with parthenogenesis. Almost more importantly, it means I know exactly who is getting pregnant. You could do the same thing with Autumn and suggest it to Caradoc too for Naomi.”

“How do you help? I presume it doesn’t involve you fucking them in front of Ninhursag.”

“No, it doesn't. I unlock my power until they can feel it and Ninhursag and the woman getting pregnant both absorb some of it during the ceremony. I didn’t think it actually would do anything, but then again we are truewizards and April’s girls don’t look like complete clones of her. Or so she says since I haven’t seen any baby pictures of her.”

Kerrik looked thoughtful. “So Misery would have to get my help and at that point I can try to explain to her about how pissed off her sisters would be. I think I can drag that out until my powers return.”

“If not, attack Sunshine,” Iain said helpfully. “That’ll distract her, especially if you emphasize how pregnancy and children could negatively affect her kill count.”

Heather gaped at him in shock as Kerrik grinned, showing his teeth. “That’s an excellent idea, Iain. And we could drag out a low intensity conflict with them for decades.” He chuckled.

Iain chuckled too. “If nothing else, you could go after that Wasp nest they’re so terrified of.”

“True. Speaking of leagues, how are things going with Indigo?”

Iain shrugged. “The town we built on the other end of the Canal Bridge is doing a nice business selling foodstuffs, tamer gear and other essentials to the Indigos and they acknowledge the need for it enough not to punish people for shopping there. On the other hand, they still refuse to meet formally with anyone from the Texas government or admit we’re not part of Indigo. I’ve got an informal cease fire in place with them, but we both know it doesn’t really mean anything.”

Kerrik nodded. “They don’t want to recognize Texas as legitimate since Texas is their best chance at large amounts of easily accessible oil. But I think the Rush Rebellion should keep them busy for a while.”

Anton Rush had been an Indigo politician from Chicago. Five months ago he’d suborned the military elements in Illinois and declared it the Illinois Free Republic. Indigo’s response had been to send in the ILA and crush the nascent rebellion. Unfortunately for them, they’d badly underestimated how few of the Illinois military remained loyal to the league and the Free Republic Army had stopped the first incursion cold. Then Rush had counterattacked Indigo, capturing Milwaukee to the north and pushing east almost to Indianapolis. Now Indigo was scrambling to collect the assets necessary to defeat Rush decisively without weakening its forces enough elsewhere to let someone else pull of a similar coup. And since there were rumblings that others were considering that very action if the opportunity arose, Indigo was pulling together a new expeditionary force rather slowly. Rush was using the reprieve to dig in and expand his army.

“I had Theodora put some surveillance in place to keep a close eye on what’s going on with Rush since he could tie up a lot of Indigo forces and that is usually something to be encouraged,” Iain replied. “What she found isn’t good. There are some pretty nasty incidents taking place that I wouldn’t even wish on Yankees. I actually hope that Indigo smashes him quickly and I dislike what’s going on there to the point that I briefly considered offering to help.”

Kerrik looked surprised. “I hadn’t paid that much attention to it. What kind of incidents?”

“Pogroms against the Asians and Jews to start with, but Rush’s people are whipping up sentiment against other groups too. There’s also confiscation of property for no real reason and conscription into the military. Often the conscripts have all of their worldly possessions seized in order to try and limit desertions.” Iain grimaced. “Jews are an easy target, as they have been throughout history, and they don’t have much representation in Chicago’s politics. As for the Asians, they’re the smallest demographic in Chicago and although they’re all Americans they’re still being blamed for the Red Plague.” He shook his head. “And the biggest stupidity is that some of the executions involve feeding living people to the ferals, so they’re losing any fear they might have in regards to humans. Some of them are getting so bold that parts of Illinois belong to the ferals after the sun goes down. And those areas will only grow as the mothers teach their daughters that humans are easy prey.”

Kerrik’s ears went flat. “What the fuck is Rush thinking?”

“He’s using the ferals to keep the population behind him and he’s not concerned about long term consequences. He’s manufactured proof that Indigo is herding feral pokegirls into Illinois to make him look bad and to murder the human population. As you can guess, his proof is nothing but utter bullshit, but most people are sheep and sheep almost always believe whatever they’re told.”

Kerrik cocked his head as he looked intently at Iain. “What aren’t you telling me?”

Iain chuckled. “You are learning to read me way too well. I may have to go to voice only for these conversations. When she heard what was happening, Lucy sent in some of the Thorn’s infiltration teams and made contact with both the Jewish and the Asian leaders. Once she’d established that contact, she came to me with a proposal.” Kerrik raised an eyebrow and Iain shook his head. “I’m not supplying them with anything. Too much of it would end up in Rush’s hands and my relationship with Indigo is precarious enough as it is. What I am doing is providing a transport service to evacuate those who wish to leave. They’re being moved by shuttle to Port Arthur and we help them start rebuilding their lives here. A lot of the Jewish community is proving surprisingly reluctant to leave Illinois, but I’ve transplanted a bunch of the Asian population as well as some other groups that are running afoul of Rush’s plans and people who just want off the battlefield or out of Indigo.” He smiled slightly. “Among those I’ve also picked up a couple of odd groups of Israelis who were visiting the US when things fell apart. Their leader has approached me about taking them on to Israel and I haven’t decided if I’m going to do it or not. I suspect that getting involved in the Middle East may be just as bad as getting involved in a land war in Asia or going against a Sicilian when death is on the line.”

Kerrik frowned. “I know the league takeover caused the Middle East to implode but I haven’t kept up with the situation since.”

“The leagues are just a bad memory in most of the Middle East,” Iain replied. “They came in with their usual program of crushing the governments but as Europeans they were reviled by most people there. Then they split the Middle East into six sectors that were to be leagues and nationalism reared its ugly head and had to be suppressed. On top of that, when the Imams started preaching against them, they went after the mosques, synagogues and temples with their typical brutality. The whole region went insane, with strike followed by counter strike followed by reprisal and counter reprisal.”

He paused for a second to make sure his facts were in order before continuing. “On top of that, while the region won’t support the feral population that say Germany would, the feral population that is in the Middle East has a lot less to eat before they start encroaching on humanity and the bloodshed left a lot of meat for them to get fat on and get used to having humans as their primary food source.” He shrugged. “When the violence kind of sputtered out due to lack of resources and the increasing feral attacks, the leagues still held Turkmenistan and part of Iran. Everybody is busy raiding everyone else and we both know how pokegirls make for dandy raider forces. Israel fared the best against the leaguers, assassinating most of the league tamers inside Israel in the first few and repurposing their pokegirls. They’ve also rebuilt a decent chunk of their industrial base and are manufacturing weapons and munitions faster than anyone else. The Sunni and Shia have hated each other for a long time and right now are openly at war all over the Middle East. The various groups took the opportunity to settle old scores with their religious foes and when the religious fighting got really ugly a lot of Christians fled to Israel from Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, bringing their population up more and giving them more warm bodies for their industries and military. Israel is the only region in the entire Middle East that is showing population growth. And since their Air Force is just flying targets for ferals and their Navy is almost that vulnerable, they’ve focused on their ground game and started working up some decent tactics for using pokegirls as well as building the strongest industrial base in the area.”

Kerrik nodded. “So what is your hesitation in sending the Israelis home?”

“They’re smart,” Iain said, “and the Israelis here saw us adding some stuff for Ciaran to a shipment headed for the British. There’s a colonel in the IDF here and he’s already asked for a computer so his government can start buying supplies. That would involve me in the Middle East. I don’t have any axes to grind there and I’m not really all that fond of the way that most of the people there treat each other, much less pokegirls I might be providing.”

“Why are you helping the British and the Irish,” Kerrik asked quietly. “And it’s not for Chambers since she’s a Blue and you and she aren’t lovers or courting.”

“The ferals are coming and humanity is on the cusp of disaster when they do.”

“Why aren’t you helping Blue?”

“They’re scumbags and anything I sold or gave them would be used against the people living there.”

Kerrik smiled thinly. “And you despise them because of your past with the other Blue League.”

“That too.”

“How do you feel about Israel?”

“I don’t know anything about Israel here and now. Historically they’ve gotten the short end of the stick and still managed to hold their own while surrounded by enemies.” Iain sighed. “And, just like Britain it’s full of people who are on the cusp of disaster when the ferals come and they’re not scumbags.” He looked at Kerrik. “I don’t have enough hours in the day for everybody, even if I wanted to help them.”

“Then don’t help everyone and build a staff to handle the ones you do want to help.” Kerrik laughed softly when Iain just looked blankly at him. “You’re young and you’re used to doing everything yourself. Your family is too busy doing other things, but Theodora can help you turn the ad hoc help you’ve been giving people into a formal operation with other people to take the load off of you as much as possible.” His smile vanished. “You are a fledgling. You must study your magic or it will escape your control and bad things will happen. The training you are doing with Dominique will help but you have to study truewizardry and you have to stop letting everything else take away from that. If your family and clan can’t help you save the world, hire professionals to do it. There are lots of Texans who need jobs and some of them will have the skill sets you need, so turn your aid program into a business and hire professionals to get the job done while you supervise.”

Iain suddenly laughed. “Sofia has this saying that she trots out from time to time to irritate several of my family who feel they’re superior to her. It’s about how the old should give their wisdom to the young. Thanks for giving me some.”

Kerrik’s smile returned. “I begin to see what Magdalene finds interesting in you, Iain. I don’t want you to burn out on the simple things before you grow into your potential. There are too few of us and while we’re not really good, we often do good things for others even if most of them are never aware of how they’ve been saved or aided.”

“I’m aware of at least part of the things you’ve done for me,” Iain said solemnly. “I don’t know why you’ve done it, but I know you have and,” he shrugged.

“Magdalene asked me to take an unbiased look at you,” Kerrik said. “I liked what I saw and we’re becoming friends. Besides, she’s right that unless we end up enemies it is very likely that your family and mine will interbreed if not intermarry eventually, even if she hooks you up with one of her siblings instead of one of our children.”

“Yeah.” Iain shook his head. “Thanks for responding so quickly to my request for a meeting.”

“You don’t say something is important unless it is. As long as that holds true, I’ll be prompt and I expect the same from you.” Kerrik bobbed his head in a quick bow. “I appreciate the warning you gave me about the potential crisis with my harem. I’ll talk to Autumn immediately. Good day.”

Iain watched the screen become a white board again. “Theodora, I need to learn Hebrew as well as Arabic and I need to learn them soon.”

She appeared near Heather. “I’ll take care of it tonight through your twee and then you can practice with the Israelis. Do you want me to offer this to the rest of your family?”

“Yes please. What do you think about turning my aid program into something professional?”

“I think it’s past time that you did it, Iain. I did suggest that very idea a year ago, remember?”

He chuckled. “Yeah. Why didn’t I listen to you then?”

“You don’t delegate well, that’s why. I’ll draw up a proposal of the skill sets you’ll need and see if Lucy’s people can help with the recruiting. If they can’t or won’t, we’ll figure something out. Do you want the headquarters in Austin or Port Arthur?”

“Port Arthur,” Iain said after a moment’s thought. “Austin is growing like crazy anyways, and Port Arthur could use the industry, such as it is.”

“I’ll take care of it.” She flashed a fond smile at him. “And you’re welcome and no, you wouldn’t be able to do pretty much anything without me.”

Iain chuckled. Heather stared at him. “She can read your mind, sir?”

“No, but she has been with me long enough that she can predict with some certainty what I might say at certain points in our conversations.” He gave Theodora a mock glare. “Canaan is annoying enough when she does that.”

She nodded. “Yes, Iain.” Then she whispered in his mind. You know I only do it because I love you.

I know and I love you too.

***

The rain drummed down on them as Ryan twisted her head over her shoulder to give Iain a sour look. “Why are we doing this in the rain?”

“Melanie asked for this delivery this morning and it wasn’t raining at the house. I didn’t think to check the weather here in Austin.” Iain glanced at the sky. “And I’m getting just as wet as you are, so get moving wench.”

Silver smacked Ryan in the shoulder. “There’ll be hot chocolate at Melanie’s and if we’re lucky Iain will towel us dry.”

Ryan grinned at her. “Now that’s a reason.” She moved into a fast trot that made Iain grab her around the waist. “Hang on!” Suddenly she shifted smoothly into a gallop as she accelerated to full speed.

Since at her new velocity the rain went from mostly vertical to completely horizontal, Iain buried his face between Ryan’s shoulders so he could breathe for the couple of minutes it took before she pulled to a halt under a roofed area. His voice was muffled against the back of her blouse. “Are we at our destination??

Ryan twisted away from his breath. “That tickles. Yes, we’re at Melanie’s.”

Iain slid off of Ryan’s back. “Good” They were under a roofed driveway that had been built onto a large wooden building. It was big enough for one of his freight wagons to be completely protected from the elements while under it. A small porch led to a set of double doors. Next to the doors was a small sign which read: “Melanie’s. Deliveries Only. All Customers Must Go To The Front Door”. “You two change back and I’ll see about that hot chocolate for you.”

Silver gave him a sad look. “No toweling dry?”

He chuckled. “Wouldn’t that just get one end dry and make the other wet?”

The Pegaslut gave him an innocent look before shaking her head in a spray of water. “I really doubt it but I’m willing to take that chance.”

“I’ll bet you are, but if you aggravate Melanie by trying to get me to have sex outside her place she might not even offer you water.”

Silver shifted to her bipedal form. “Well, her definite hot chocolate is a much better option than theoretical and,” she looked around the area, “definitely muddy and cold sex.” She began wringing water from her hair, holding it out to keep the water from getting her clothes more wet. “And when Ninhursag or Allison found out I wasn’t paying attention to guarding you, I’d be in the deep dark shit.”

“And none of us want that,” Ryan said as she changed to her bipedal form and smoothed down her skirt. “I especially don’t want it since I’d be there with you.” She looked at Iain. “How is it that you don’t think with your gonads as much as we do?”

“I do, probably more than you do,” he said reassuringly. “I just let my brain think as much as I let my balls.” His smile was amused. “And if you think you’d be in trouble for that, imagine how many ladies would be upset at me for sex in an unsecured area. But, since nothing happened, there’s nothing for us to be in trouble for.” He knocked gently on the door.

A moment later he heard the lock and the door opened to reveal an attractive Hispanic woman. She looked him up and down and frowned at him. “We’re closed and customers have to go to the front door. We won’t open for another hour and a half.”

Iain smiled. “I’m Iain and I’m making a delivery for Melanie.”

The woman made a show of looking past him. “I don’t see a wagon.”

“It’s in my backpack. We haven’t met yet. May I get your name?”

The woman raised an eyebrow. “I’m Maria and I’m the day manager. Who are the women?”

“The blue haired one is Silver and the blonde is Ryan. They’re my transportation. Look, Melanie said she needed this delivery before she opened and Melanie can vouch for me.”

“She’s still asleep and I’m not going to disturb her for a delivery,” Maria said. “Does Audrey know you?”

Iain nodded. “She does.”

“Wait here.” Maria shut the door and Iain heard the lock engage.

Ryan was staring at him when he turned around. “Please tell me she’s new.”

“She has to be,” Silver said. “I was here two weeks ago and Bill was still the day manager. I wonder what happened to him.”

“Apparently Bill’s moved on,” Iain ran his fingers through his hair and wiped the water off on his jeans. “I hope Maria works out here. Melanie’s going through managers fairly steadily.”

He turned when the door knob rattled and there was a soft thump followed by a feminine voice cursing as the lock turned. The door almost slammed open to reveal an anxious looking Vixxen. As most of the local pokegirls were, she was a domesticate type for her breed, with bright red hair that turned yellow at the ends. Her vulpine ears were almost flat against the back of her head. “Iain, I’m so sorry. Maria just started a little over a week ago and she didn’t know.”

Iain nodded. “There’s nothing wrong, Audrey. I figured as much and I’m not upset. What happened to Bill?”

Audrey glanced over her shoulder and stepped outside, pulling the door shut behind her. “Look, Melanie didn’t want me to tell you this, but Bill made a pass at her. She blew it off and then he followed her upstairs and made a really aggressive one at her. So she had no choice but to fire him.” Her face twisted unhappily. “I had to throw him out in front of customers. It was kind of an ugly scene.”

“And Melanie didn’t want you to tell me why?”

Audrey gave him a weak smile. “Bill didn’t come back and so she considers the matter closed.”

Iain took her hands and she relaxed at his touch. “If Bill hasn’t come back then she’s probably right.”

“So you’re not upset?”

He shrugged. “I’m not happy with Bill, but if I started doing things to all of the stupid people in the world I’d be doing nothing else for the rest of time. I do kind of hope that you actually threw him out in a way that involved him flying through the air and screaming a lot.”

“No, I just walked him outside and told him not to come back unless he wanted to find out how it felt to burn to death.”

“It sounds like you were a little upset,” Ryan said.

Audrey gave them a grin that showed she had a fox’s dentition, “I was completely furious. Bill was so out of line to try that. He knew better. I love my job and I love working for Melanie. And Tom really appreciates the food I bring home and how much my cooking has improved since I started here. Bill was messing with that and I won’t have it.” She pulled her hands from Iain’s and pulled the door open. “So come in and start loading the supplies. I’ll wake Melanie up and let her know you’re here.”

“Can we get some hot chocolate,” Ryan asked.

Audrey winked over her shoulder. “I have to wake Melanie up first but of course you can have hot chocolate if you’ll trust my cooking. I knew you were coming and I also saved some of the Chocolate Heaven left over from last night. It’ll be cold though.”

Silver grinned. “Cold is just fine for a slice of Heaven.”

Audrey waved them inside. “Silver, you and Ryan grab a table in the dining room and I’ll get Melanie.” She looked at Maria. “Iain is always welcome here and Melanie needs this delivery before we open for lunch. I’ll be right back.” She opened another door to reveal a flight of stairs heading up to the second story and closed it behind her as she started up them.

Maria looked unhappy. “I thought you were some customer.”

“There was no way for you to know I wasn’t. You’re free to keep an eye on me,” Iain said as he slipped into the kitchen. Maria followed him and watched as he stopped in front of a cabinet with a built in digital display and a large platform underneath it. He pulled his backpack off and dropped it on the floor before turning a couple of large screws on the side of the cabinet and swinging the side open.

“I was told nobody touches the dispenser but Melanie.”

Iain glanced at Maria as he moved to the front of the cabinet and touched the display, which lit up. “I installed it for her.” He changed screens quickly and pulled up a scrolling wall of data which he watched for a moment. “It’s a good thing she called.” He began changing screens again. “Most of the modules are low so I can shift the load into maybe two of them to empty the rest and make room for everything I brought.”

“I have wondered how it works.” From her voice, Maria had moved to stand beside him where she could see what he was doing and a quick check with his perception confirmed it. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Iain began typing commands into a virtual keyboard that had appeared on the bottom of the display. “You wouldn’t. There are only two of them in existence at the moment, but I hope to start production next month. Do you know what a pokeball is?”

“I do. My brother is in the TDF and he’s got two girls in his family and they’ve got pokeballs.”

“That’s good to know. Do you understand how a pokeball works?”

“I have no idea. I’m not technical in the slightest.”

Iain nodded. “Well, long story short, matter and energy are the same thing in different states, like water and ice are. Pokeballs convert matter, in the form of a pokegirl and her stuff, into energy and store it. For this, the important bit is that a pokeball is electronic and if you opened it up, most of the interior is hollow. Only the electronics in the walls of the ball are important. They hold the waveguides that store the energy and so interior of the ball is empty no matter what. The only reason the ball is so big is because it needs to fit in a hand.”

Maria shrugged. “If you say so.”

“A friend of mine developed a way to store a ton of material in a pokeball like device called a Dikon. You store your stuff, carry the Dikon in your pocket and when you get wherever you want to deliver it, you release what the Dikon is carrying.” Iain glanced at her to see if she was following before returning to his work. “I bought some Dikons for convenience and a very smart lady I know by the name of Theodora made some suggestions on how to improve their utility. She and I worked out the concept and essentially stripped all of the unessential parts off of the Dikon, leaving this.”

He reached into his backpack and removed a crystal data chip two centimeters wide and five centimeters long. The he pulled an identical chip from the side compartment of the dispenser and slid the one he’d brought into its place. He carefully put the chip from the dispenser into a different pocket of his backpack and pulled a handful more chips from the pack’s first compartment. “Each of these holds a ton of something, in this case supplies for Melanie’s kitchen. The dispenser let’s Melanie sort through the contents of the chips like a pokepack would and just release what she needs for the meal she wants to prepare.” He changed out all of the chips he was holding with ones in the dispenser and put the ones he’d pulled in with the first one back in his pack. “There’s a solar power system on the roof for this place but it’s pretty limited in what it can generate year round, but still it’s the best passive system around and there’s not much electrical generation going on elsewhere in the city. Fortunately this storage doesn’t use much power, everything in it stays fresh until she uses it and it takes up far less room than a standard cold and dry storage would.” He closed the side compartment, spun the screws to lock it in place and paged through the display. “All of the chips are registering properly and it looks like Melanie has everything she has requested available. She shouldn’t need another delivery for a few weeks unless she’s got another series of things to cater again.” He turned to Maria. “I thought Melanie wasn’t opening for breakfast but you said you opened in an hour and a half. What’s up?”

Maria nodded. “We’re not doing breakfast. Melanie stays up way too late doing dinner and closing. However, Melanie lays out the supplies the night before so Audrey and I can make boxed lunches for the people going to work in the morning. We open long enough to sell those and close again to prep for lunch. Business has been excellent and we’re still selling out every morning.” She gestured outside. “Even with the rain we will sell out today.”

The door opened and Audrey came out, closely followed by a yawning woman with tousled light green hair. She was barefoot and wearing a shift that fell to mid-thigh. She stopped, stared at Iain for a second and threw herself into his arms, scissoring her legs around his waist as she wrapped her arms around his neck. “Iain!” Before he could say anything she was kissing him passionately.

Maria stared and Audrey nudged her gently. “Iain is her boyfriend.” She giggled quietly. “Well, he’s her man friend. What she wants from him no boy could provide.”

When they finally broke the kiss, Iain smiled warmly at her. “Good to see you too, Melanie. How is my favorite Iron Chef?”

Melanie gave him a mock glare. “I had better be your only Iron Chef, mister.” The she spoiled it by kissing him again. “I’ve missed you.”

Iain glanced down at where her shift had ridden up and he was holding her by nothing more than her naked butt cheeks. “I see that as you didn’t bother to dress. I thought your rule was people had to be clothed in the kitchen.”

She nipped his nose. “It’s my kitchen, I am wearing some clothes, I’m not supposed to be up yet and I was hoping that you’d take me upstairs and soon I wouldn’t be wearing anything but you. You don’t come by often enough.”

“With this kind of a greeting I think I’m coming by just enough, Melanie.” He kicked his pack towards Audrey and Maria. “Get that to Silver, please, and let them know that Mel has insisted I drag her upstairs for wild sex.”

Silver appeared in the doorway. “That’s not a surprise, Iain. It happens every time.” She grabbed the pack and disappeared again.

Audrey opened the door for them as Iain carried Melanie through it and headed upstairs. Audrey giggled again as she shut the door. “It’s about time. She’s been getting irritated with customers and that means she needs some time with Iain.”

“She’s one of us,” Ryan said from the doorway. “Of course she needs time with him. Why do you think he always makes the deliveries? It’s not like the dispenser is hard to load.”

“He needs to visit more often,” Audrey said quietly.

Ryan’s horn gleamed in the lantern’s light as she glanced at her. “You’re not clan, but you’ve been with us long enough that I’ll let you in on a little secret about them. Melanie chooses when he comes to visit, not him. If it were up to him, she’d probably live at the Sabine house and commute to work. So he comes by just as much as Melanie wants him to.”

Audrey’s ears canted apologetically. “I didn’t know.”

“You weren’t supposed to,” Ryan said. “I probably shouldn’t have told you but I know how much you worry about Mel.”

“Why do you call her that,” Maria asked. “I did once and she told me that if I ever called her Mel again she’d fire me.”

“You’re a human,” Ryan said, “so you might not understand this. You’re not one of us, so you don’t get the liberties with Melanie that we do. Names are important to us and when we weren’t free our names got changed whenever a human wanted to change them. Iain lets us have our own names and we aren’t going to let anyone take that away from us again. Mel isn’t the name Melanie told you to use, so you shouldn’t. Even if she’s outer clan instead of harem, she’s as possessive as the rest of us of the things Iain gives us. Even we can’t do that under our rules. She had to give us permission to call her Mel before we could.” She grinned wickedly. “And she still hasn’t given everyone permission to use a nickname, pissing some people off royally.”

“What is clan,” Audrey asked, “and how does it differ from harem?”

“It’s just another way we distinguish rank in our group,” Ryan said. “Don’t worry about it since you have your own man.” She smiled suddenly. “So can we get some of that Chocolate Heaven and hot chocolate before Melanie sends Iain down to snag all of it? You know she probably will.”

“Yeah,” Audrey laughed. “You get back to your chair and I’ll take care of it.”

Iain Grey

Inner Harem

Ninhursag Grey - Elfqueen & maharani

Eve Grey - Megami Sama

April Grey - Duelist & beta

Dominique Grey - Blessed Archmage

Pandora - Fiendish Archangel

Canaan - G Splice (Hunter Amachamp & Alaka-Wham)

Zareen - Nightmare

Raquel - Fiendish Rapitaur

Sofia - Ria

Vanessa – Evangelion

Lucifer – Megami Sama

Outer Harem

Allison – Umbrea (Outer Harem Alpha)

Daphne - Whorizard

Lynn - Growlie

Chuck – Doggirl

Ryan – Unicorn

Winifred - Rack (German)

Rosemary - Mistoffeles (Uruguayan)

Silver - Pegaslut

Joyce – Milktit

Outer Clan

Melanie – Iron Chef

Queendom / Outer Harem

12 Elves

Heather - Elf

Dionne - Elfqueen

Adrianna - Elfqueen

Heltu - Wet Queen

6 Wet Elves

Dead Harem

Eirian - Silver Dragoness

Aurum - Gold Dragoness

Skye - Blue Dragoness

Emerald - Green Dragoness

Beryl - Red Dragoness

Julia - human

Ling - Cheetit

Matilda - White Tigress

Liadan - Twau

Sorrel - Armsmistress

Natalie - Blazicunt

Maria – Slutton

Rhea Silvia - Chimera

Mothers & Children

Vanessa

Myrna

Saoirse

April

Dorothy: Duelist

Meara: Duelist

Regan: Duelist

Canaan

Hannah: Huntress

Rebecca: Huntress

Joyce

Lisa: Milktit

Sherrie: Milktit

Harriet: Milktit

Comments (0)

Cancel or