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Iain checked the door to make sure it was locked and required a key on the inside to unlock before sitting down on the couch and leaning back while he considered what was coming. He was in one of the empty suites in the Barton House. In addition to the locked door which led into the hallway there were three other doors, one of which led into the bedroom, one which led into the kitchen and the last which was near the door. Behind it was a closet that currently held Iain’s boots and socks. The living room in which he sat held the couch, an overstuffed chair, a small table made of solid wood and an ottoman that doubled as a seat for winged or thick tailed pokegirls until their customized furniture could be built. The bedroom held a queen sized bed and a dresser. The bathroom led off from the bedroom and held the toilet, a combination tub/shower and a sink. Drawers under the sink contained some bars of unscented soap and shampoo. Towels and washcloths hung from bars on the wall next to the bathtub. In the kitchen were a .2 cubic meter refrigerator, a two burner stovetop and a microwave along with two cabinets, two drawers under the stovetop filled with plates and cutlery and a small sink. It was the standard setup for an unassigned outer harem suite and was set up to give maximum privacy while still encouraging the resident to join everyone else for meals and other social events. The owners were expected to decorate to their heart’s content. The pattern had been copied at the Sabine Ranch and there were identical suites in the employee housing.
After a few minutes he made an annoyed noise and headed into the bedroom. He opened the bathroom door and paced off the distance between it and the far side of the bedroom from it. Then he turned on the water in the shower and adjusted it to a comfortable temperature before getting out a bar of soap and the shampoo and leaving it on the counter next to the sink.
Then he walked to the other side of the bedroom and turned, pulling a pokeball from his pocket. When she'd been run through a healing cycle April had gone ahead and moved her into a clan pokeball since it was far more durable than the cheap ones he'd been able to buy in Blue. He aimed it carefully and activated it. The Glasgow NurseJoy materialized in the bathroom and went into a defensive crouch as she glared balefully at him. Water dripped from her body to splash loudly on the ceramic flooring. “Since I’m talking to you,” he said in a calm voice that made her eyes widen, “I’m not a Zombabe, even if men could be one. While you take your shower, I’ll be in the living room. There’s a robe on the hook on the inside of the bathroom door if you want it. You are feral and we need to talk when you’re finished bathing.” He met her eyes. “I’ll have tea waiting.” He left the bedroom and heard the bathroom door slam shut as he went into the kitchen to heat water for tea.
It was a good half hour before he heard the water shut off and another fifteen minutes before she came out of the bedroom. She was holding the robe in both hands against her body as she slowly eased into the living room. Iain was sitting on the couch and humming with his eyes closed. Two cups of tea along with a small decanter of cream and plate with sugar cubes rested on the table. He didn’t open his eyes as he spoke. “I’m afraid you took so long that the tea got cold and if I get up I’m worried that you’ll bolt.”
“Who,” she asked in a melodious voice.
“My name is Iain. What’s yours?”
“Siobhan.” She swallowed hard. “Master Gordon?”
“Master Gordon is your owner?” She nodded. Iain opened his eyes and gave her a sad smile. “I’m sorry to have to inform you,” her face started to crumble, “that Master Gordon is dead, most likely killed by Zombabes.”
Tears began to roll down Siobhan’s face and she made a sound that Iain had heard once before coming from a fox with its leg caught in a trap. It was penetrating whine that held anger and despair and hopelessness and acceptance of death all rolled into one agonizing noise that made the hair on the back of his neck stand up. Iain stood and faced her, holding his arms out. Siobhan launched herself into his arms so hard that she knocked him off his feet. With her in his arms and her arms around him he couldn’t cushion the blow and he hit hard, his head cracking against the floor as she began crying against his chest in great bawling sobs while Iain tried to get his bearings and hoped he didn’t have a concussion.
She cried against him for nearly an hour before sitting up and sliding off of him as she wiped her face with the robe. She leaned back against the couch and watched him with red puffy eyes as he slowly sat up and felt the back of his head. His shirt was soaked with tears and spit and snot and he carefully pulled the rapidly cooling fabric away from his chest. He’d have taken it off, but didn’t want to panic her that she was about to be raped. “Hurt?”
He’d healed while lying prone but carefully didn’t shake his head. He knew what it would feel like. “No.”
She stared at the robe in her hands before looking back up at him. Each word was forced out one at a time with a pause of several seconds between them as if she was forcing her mind to work through the fog. “You. Said. I. Am. Feral. Master.”
“You are. You have a reduced feral state. Your pokeball sat too long before it was found.”
She looked at him for a long time before speaking again. “You. Find?”
“No. Soldiers found you and put you in storage. I got you later.”
There was another pause during which tears began rolling down her cheeks again. “How. Much. Later?”
There wasn’t really a way to explain what had actually happened to her until she wasn’t feral. Iain doubted that trying to tell her that the storage device she’d been in had been stolen by extra dimensional thieves who had then removed her to a third universe where she now was would make sense. So Iain gave her a sympathetic smile. “It’s hard to explain. Right now I’ll say a lot later.”
She began crying into the robe. It was quieter this time and only lasted for a few minutes before she looked up at him again. “You. Master. Now?”
“Maybe.” She blinked at him in confusion. “I hope so. I will wake you. Then you and I will make decisions.”
She nodded and waved a hand to encompass the room. “Where?”
“We’re close to the Indigo League.” It was better than trying to explain Texas to her. “There are a lot of things that I can’t explain to you while you are feral.”
She watched him for several minutes. “Truth?”
He frowned. “If you’re asking if I’m telling the truth, then yes. I hope you’ll stay. I don’t lie to those who stay.”
Her eyes narrowed and her mouth firmed. “Truth?”
Apparently he’d reached her intellectual limit. He’d try it her way. “Me truth yes.”
He’d forgotten how much he didn’t like that word. “Yes.”
Siobhan’s face fell, but she nodded. “Yes. Need.” Her mouth set. “No. Want. You. Want. Master Gordon.”
“He must have been quite a man for you to still want him while feral,” Iain said quietly. “Or maybe it’s just the quality of your reduced feral state. It’s so different across individuals, much less breeds. I should have made it more consistent when I had the chance.” She was watching him intently, but there wasn’t really anything he could say that would make her happy. “I’m not Gordon.”
She put the robe to the side and rolled onto all fours facing away from him as her hair spilled down around her face and making her voice sound a little muffled as she spoke. “Tame.”
Iain looked at her for a second and shook his head. “Gee, that looks as appealing as a knothole in a tree,” he muttered to himself, “and about as wet.” He got up and she twitched. “Hold your horses, woman.”
She turned her head and lifted her hair with one hand so she could see him. “Tame.”
“Soon.” He stepped past her and disappeared into the bedroom. He quickly went through the dresser and then went into the bathroom to search it. “You have got to be fucking kidding me.” He came back into the living room to see her sitting up and watching for him.
As soon as he reappeared, she went back to all fours. “Tame.”
“Wait. I come back.” Keeping a close eye on her, he unlocked the door and slipped out, locking it behind him.
When he came back she was sitting on the couch with the robe next to her. Both teacups, the sugar bowl and the cup of cream were empty and her lower face was covered with tiny bits of sugar. She glared at him. “Why. Leave?”
Iain had taken the time to change into dry clothes and from pants into shorts. He held up a bottle. “You’d think that in this house of all houses this would be easy to find, but no, I had to scrounge to come up with it. I’ll have to update the starting room inventories.” She scowled angrily and he smiled slightly. “That’s right. It’s monosyllables for the win with you. Lube.”
She eyed the bottle uncomprehendingly. “Lube?”
Iain looked at her and pointed to the floor in front of him. “Tame.” Yeah, he hated that word. Even nailed was much better than tame and he wasn’t fond of that word either.
Siobhan scrambled in front of him and went to all fours to present her ass to him as Iain opened his shorts and pulled them off. He dropped to his knees behind her and poured some lube into his hand, which he rubbed against her pussy. Siobhan yelped and jerked forward only to stop and forced herself back into position in front of him. “Tame!”
Iain poured more lubricant on his fingers and slipped them inside Siobhan. She hissed and held still as he worked two fingers slowly in and out, working the lubricant as deeply as he could. When he pulled his fingers out, her hips moved backwards slightly following them and she made an angry noise and pushed forward back to where she was.
I can't help it if you like some of this, you are a pokegirl after all and made for sex, he thought to himself as he rubbed lube on his cock. Fortunately or perhaps not, thanks to his time with his women, the sight of a woman even looking like she was ready had him hard. And frankly I'd prefer it if you did. He rubbed the head against her and slid it slowly in, gripping her hips lightly for balance. Siobhan hissed as he pushed into her. Thank god for the lubricant. He pulled most of the way out and slowly slid back in as Siobhan made a noise in the back of her throat. On his third thrust he felt more wetness and a new warmth as Siobhan moaned softly. I was hoping that would happen.
She moaned again and suddenly her head whipped around to glare at him. “No!”
She tried to scramble away but he tightened his grip to hold her still and slammed his full length inside her. “If you get away,” he grunted, “I'll have to do this all over again.” He thrust faster as she clawed at the carpet, trying to get some traction even as she moaned louder each time he hit bottom. Her body began to quiver and she started yelping each time he thrust into her.
There were tricks that a man could use to try and keep his orgasm from happening and Iain ignored all of them, instead imagining April beneath him as a pokewoman and trying for their first baby. It worked and he felt his orgasm rising.
“Stop!” Siobhan screamed and came, her body jerking as her pussy rippled and then clamped down on his cock as she suddenly began rocking back to meet him each time he thrust. That sent him over the edge and he wrapped his arms around her waist and buried himself as deeply as he could get as his balls emptied themselves into her. His weight forced her head and chest flat on the carpet and she clawed at it before slowing to a halt.
Iain stayed inside her until he'd shrunk too far to do so in order to force as much semen into her and hopefully speed the awakening process along. Then he slowly got up and watched as she kind of collapsed sideways to lie on the floor. Her eyes were closing and her breathing evened out.
He knelt and cleaned her up as best he could with the robe and then gathered her into his arms before heading into the bedroom and carefully depositing her on the bed. He retrieved an extra blanket from the closet in the living room and covered her with it before grabbing his shorts and disappearing into the bathroom for a quick shower. He'd tidy up a bit when he was done and then wait for her to wake up, hopefully aware this time.
Siobhan’s eyes blinked open and she slowly sat up. She was no longer on the floor in the living room where she’d fallen asleep and it took her a moment to realize she’d been placed on the bed with a thick blanket pulled up over her.
Her bladder sent her a warning and she rolled off the bed and headed into the bathroom, shutting the door behind her. A new robe hung on the hook, this one pastel blue and a quick look around showed that the towels and washcloths had been replaced. Only the soap and shampoo had been left untouched, although opening the drawers showed new ones in their place. After peeing, she took another shower and dried off. Before leaving, she grabbed the blue robe and carried it with her, holding it to cover some of her nakedness as she walked out of the bedroom.
Ian was sitting on the couch reading a holographic display from his computer. He glanced up at her and nodded before gesturing towards a trolley holding some covered plates. “I took the liberty of getting some food for you. It’s a breakfast taco format with eggs and some vegetables. Everything is segregated in case you don’t like something; you have food allergies or are vegan.” He smiled slightly and she tensed. “We are not in the Blue League and the rules are different here about clothes. In any case, I’m of high enough rank that you can wear clothes if you’d like to put on the robe instead of hiding behind it.”
“Thank you, master.” She slipped on the robe but didn’t belt it before exploring the contents of the trolley. She filled a plate with some food and curled up in the chair, still watching him alertly the whole time.
When he got up without warning, she hopped to her feet and put the plate down on the small table to free her hands. Iain paused and eyed her warily. “I am not going to attack you, Siobhan, or is this some rule that you have to rise every time I do?” He continued on without waiting for her to answer. “I’m getting myself something to drink. Would you like some tea?”
“I can get it, master.”
He shook his head. “Sit and eat, Siobhan. Once you’re done we can talk and see what’s going to happen next. And take your time. We have as long as this takes and the last thing I need is you getting sick after shoving a bunch of food down your throat.”
Siobhan watched him go into the kitchen and come out a few minutes later with a small tray holding a teapot, a cup, sugar, cream and a large mug. He stopped. “Would you mind moving your plate?”
“I’m sorry, master.” Siobhan grabbed her plate from the table and stood watching as he put the tray on the table and took the mug with him back to the couch.
He sat and looked up at her. “You’re still standing. Is there some rule that you have to stand when I do?”
She shook her head and sat down again. “No, master, but Master Gordon wanted me to do so, so it’s become a habit.” Her face twisted again and she dropped her gaze to stare at the plate in her hands.
“What was his full name?”
“He is Master Gordon Wallace, master.”
“You were very fond of him, weren’t you?”
She looked up, her eyes filled with tears and nodded. “I was more than fond of him; master, he and I were Recognized.”
Iain looked surprised and then understanding filled his face. “So you loved him. That would explain your behavior while feral. I’m sorry for your loss, Siobhan.”
“Do you know what happened to him, master?”
“There was a festival for magic,” he said softly. “Something bad happened and all of the pokegirls who were not in pokeballs were turned into Zombabes. They slaughtered everyone who wasn’t already affected.” He frowned. “Except you. How were you not affected?”
Siobhan shrugged but didn’t look up from her plate. “Master, I do not know. I had been in my pokeball all day since class wasn’t until the evening. Master Gordon released me around ten, later than usual and told me that nobody had showed up for class and that he was going to go out and get us a late supper. I went to bathe and the Zombabes broke in a few minutes later through the back door. I realized what they were and activated my pokeball to get away from them. Then they figured out how to open my ball and I had to fight them off to get back into it. Then I was here.”
Iain blinked and smiled. “Ah. You were probably released after the spell had already swept through the city.” His smile faded. “I know what Recognition is and what can happen when someone dies in such a pair bonding. Are you going to starve yourself to death to be with your master again or try to kill yourself?”
She looked up at him. “I hadn’t thought about it, master.” She looked thoughtful. “He would have wanted me to live.”
“What’s important is what you want, Siobhan. He’s not here to give you orders.”
She shook her head. “Master, what you want is more important than what I want.”
“That may have been true before, but you’re here now with me and what my ladies want is pretty important to me and to them. What I want is supposed to be important too, but that’s what happens in a relationship. That’s why I’m telling you that if you really want to die so you can be with Gordon, I’d rather help you do it now than have my harem and me get attached to you only to watch you commit suicide somehow. That wouldn’t be fair to them.”
She frowned again. “It wouldn’t be fair to you either, master. There is no way you could have recouped my price yet.”
“None of the universes are ever fair; Siobhan,” Iain said simply, “and they’ve never been shy about demonstrating just how little I matter to them. I don’t expect that to change for me anytime soon.” He looked away from her. “I don’t know your pain but I do know what it feels like to lose people you love unreservedly. I know about wanting to be with them again so badly that it tears you apart and I know the price I had to pay and still pay to keep the survivors of that disaster from knowing how I felt because they need me to live. It took a long time for me to understand I need to live for me too. So if you want to die to be with Gordon, I’ll help you, but this offer is only for here and only for now.”
“Master?” He turned to look at her. “How would you help me?”
“I know some magic. I can create a dagger made of energy and I’d sever your spine just below your ears. You shouldn’t feel much if anything.”
She nodded slowly. “That should be relatively painless, master. What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to stay and join my family. I need someone like you and I want you to be the person I need. But if you don’t want to do that, you don’t have to.”
“How long has it been since Master Gordon died, master?”
“I’m not sure. You were in storage for over a year in Haven and some time before that after the Havens acquired the storage device. I know you were in your pokeball outside of storage long enough to go feral, but I don’t know how long it was before the BLSF found your pokeball and placed you in storage or how much time elapsed between your being placed in stasis and the storage unit being stolen by Haven’s forces. Gordon was probably dead either before you were attacked in the bath or not long afterwards. He would have been stepping into a street that was swarming with Zombabes and his life would have drawn them in droves.” He gave her a sympathetic smile. “I have been in a city filled with Zombabes and only the help of my ladies got us out in one piece. I know that a magic shield was put around Glasgow when it was realized what had happened and that the surveys inside the shield afterwards showed no survivors outside of the pokegirls in their balls.” He counted in his head. “He probably died around two years ago.”
Siobhan gave him a bewildered look. “Stolen? Master, I do not understand.”
Iain took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “There’s a lot I’m glossing over and the details could take a little bit to explain.”
“Please explain, master, no matter how long it takes. You said we had all the time we needed.”
Iain nodded and organized his thoughts. “You may find this hard to believe, but the world we live on is in a solar system that is part of a local cluster of solar systems that is part of the Milky Way galaxy which is part of a cluster of galaxies which with other clusters form the universe, more or less. Do you understand that?”
She nodded. “Yes, master.”
“Well, the pattern doesn’t end there. There are other universes outside this one and there are clusters of them which travel together. And there are other clusters of universes too. What all of the universes in a cluster have in common is that they are very similar to each other in design and contents. For example, if I went into another universe right next to this one, I might find another Iain talking to another Siobhan about universes. However, the farther you travel from your original universe, the more changes take place. In a farther universe Iain might be talking to Betty about cake and they might not be talking in a room like this one. If I went to a different cluster the laws of the universe might be so different that I’d instantly die. Do you understand so far?”
“So for the sake of convenience, let’s call the universe we are currently in One. In One, there are some people who live on a large island that was Cuba before the Revenge War. Now it’s called Haven. For the most part they’re ok people, except for a fascination with a form of government that is great if you’re one of the people on top and not so great for the people on the bottom. But what’s important to know is that Haven has wizards, like Vale.”
“I’ve heard scary stories about wizards, master. They’re evil.”
“Some of them are and some of them aren’t,” Iain replied. “The ones in Haven figured out how to cross between the universes. But they weren’t originally from One. They were originally from another universe, which we will call Three.”
“What about Two, master?”
“I’ll get to Two in a minute. In their home universe of Three, they were under attack by another group and had to leave before they were destroyed.” Iain blinked and smiled. “It sounds like a lot of legends, including those used to kick start the Witch World sagas Andre Norton wrote and I liked so much.”
“Sorry. I sometimes get off topic. Anyway, the wizards lived in Three and had to leave. They did some searching and found One, and in One they found Haven. So they determined to leave Three and move to One. However, they knew that in One they might make more enemies and they didn’t feel that they had enough pokegirls to successfully fight all of their potential enemies and decided to get more.”
“This is an interesting story, master.”
“Thank you,” Iain said. “They had known how to travel universes for a few years before being forced to leave Three and in their travels before the trouble came a group of their wizards had found another universe, Two. They came to Glasgow in Two and got a hotel room during a festival to celebrate magic that was being put on by the wizards of Vale.”
“Is Two my world, master?”
“It is. When the wizards awoke the next day, it was to find out that all pokegirls who were outside their pokeballs had been turned into Zombabes by some kind of incident. The wizards of Vale put a magical shield around all of Glasgow to keep the Zombabes from leaving the city while they tried to figure out how to undo what had happened. It did keep the Zombabes from leaving Glasgow, but it meant that nobody else could leave either and they were quickly killed or turned into Zombabes too, all but the pokegirls who were inside their pokeballs and thus safe from being attacked. They, of course, went feral over time. The wizards from Three were powerful enough to stay alive for several weeks until they could punch a hole in the shield and escape, whereupon they returned to their home on Three. Do you still understand the story so far?”
“I do master. Will you explain how I came to be here on One?”
Iain smiled. “Excellent, you do understand. While the wizards on Three realized they had to escape to One and needed pokegirls to defend themselves when they did, they didn’t have a lot of time in which to get more pokegirls, so when they remembered seeing a storage unit inside Glasgow on Two, they decided to go back and get it.”
“While they were back on Three, the BLSF of Two had opened holes in the shield and were fighting the Zombabes. Any pokeballs that they found were just dumped into a storage unit they’d located that still had power. Every evening, they pulled out of Glasgow and closed the holes to keep the remaining Zombabes from escaping. You were one of the pokegirls they found and put in the storage unit.”
“So the wizards from Three came back to Two and stole the storage machine I was in, master?”
“That is correct, Siobhan. And they brought it with them here to One. I got you from the people on Haven.”
Siobhan cocked her head and regarded Iain carefully. “Master, if these wizards are afraid of being attacked here, why did they sell me to you? That would weaken them if they sold their pokegirls to outsiders. Are you one of them?”
“That’s a very intelligent question. No, I am not of the wizards from Three or their people. However, they trust me a little because I am also not from One. The core of my family is from another world, which we’ll call Four. And I am not from Four either.” Siobhan’s brows furrowed. “I am from Five, which is far enough away from universes One though Four that there are no wizards and no pokegirls.”
“Master, then how did you get here on One?”
“I was kidnapped from Five by some evil wizards on Four and taken to Four where I was their captive. I escaped with the help of some pokegirls who became my family and eventually we moved here to One.”
“What are you doing here, master?”
“We are farmers and ranchers. I have found out that I have some magical talent and am studying magic. And we are training to get stronger because we live in a small place called Texas and the Indigo, Sunshine and Johto Leagues want to divide us up and conquer us. Still, we’re pretty strong and fairly safe for the near to middle future.”
“When will I meet your family, master?”
“Have you made up your mind as to whether or not you’re going to live past today,” he asked gently.
“Would you actually kill me if I wanted you to, master?”
She got up and put the plate down on the chair before moving to stand in front of him so she could look down into his eyes. “Would you kill me without hesitation, master?”
“It’s for a couple of reasons. First, I don’t want you to suffer. Killing you quickly will hopefully keep your suffering to a minimum. Second, there are some strong healers in my family already and if I’m not quick and thorough with you they might try to save your life. A couple of them think people don’t have the right to decide if they want to die. I’m working with them, but it’s slow going.”
“They’re Celestials, aren’t they, master?”
“If you have strong healers, master, why do you want me?”
“NurseJoys and Night Nurses are the strongest healers. Among other members of my family, I seem to need healed an inordinate amount and so they insisted and I finally agreed that we needed a dedicated healer because they’re all primary combatants.”
Siobhan frowned. “Master, what is a Night Nurse?”
Iain smiled. “In One, Three and Four, a Night Nurse is a combat evolution of the NurseJoy. I take it you haven’t heard of them in Two?”
“If I had, master, then Master Gordon would have evolved me into one. It would have made me a lot stronger and more suited for my job.”
“What was your job, Siobhan?”
“Master Gordon taught karate and krav-maga, master, as well as self-defense for Tamers. He was master rank in both and had trained me to be his assistant. My healing skills were primarily used for healing people who got injured in the classes.”
“What rank are you?”
“I was never allowed to have rank, master. I am a pokegirl.” She blinked at Iain’s sudden grin. “What is it, master?”
“Soon we are going to start visiting Israel on a semi-regular basis. If you don’t die today and you stay with us, you will get tested for rank. Israel allows pokegirls to advance in martial arts. And I might be able to swing something with a master in Nippon to get you tested in whatever style of karate you use, assuming it’s not Okinawan. And April and Sofia will probably have you teaching classes in everything you know even if you don’t make rank.”
Siobhan gasped suddenly and Iain looked up to make sure she was all right. She was staring at him with a look of intense curiosity mixed with hope and apprehension. “Master, may I ask you a question?”
“You may ask me questions at any time. I may not answer them, but if I decline, I’ll tell you. However, I will try to answer any question you ask me as often as possible. What is it?”
“You and your family came here from Four, right, master?”
“That’s more or less correct.”
“Master, did the people from Haven that came from Three bring you here?”
Iain shook his head. “No. We came on our own.”
“So you know how to cross universes, right master?”
That master bit was way past old, but Iain wasn’t going to fight that battle right now. If she stayed he’d let the others grind that one down for a while before he tried to get her to stop it. “Some of us do. Why?”
“Master, could we go to Two?”
Iain, no! It was April. Do not agree to this! He could feel agreement from Eve and Ninhursag.
To be honest, Iain was surprised the people observing had been quiet for so long. In any case, he couldn’t help her. “We don’t have the coordinates for Two, Siobhan, and without them we couldn’t go.” He held up a hand as she started to speak. “And I don’t think the people on Haven would give them to us. Their leader, Shikarou, has some issues with me and we’re not on that friendly a basis. On top of that they went to Two from Three and I don’t see them giving us the coordinates for Three either.”
Her face fell. “I see, master. I was hoping to actually see proof of Master Gordon’s death. Until then it’s like he’s not dead.”
Give her what she needs so that she will stay with us. It was Sofia. You have not failed any of us and you will not fail her. I know it and so do you.
But, he started to protest and stopped. He closed his eyes and concentrated. “Siobhan, take off the robe and stand at attention.”
Her hands went to the robe but didn’t move. “Master?”
Iain stood. “Damnit, I’m not going to rape you,” he said irritably. “I do not rape. Now do it.”
“Yes, master.” Siobhan closed her eyes and dropped the robe to her feet. She trembled as she heard him walk around her, stopping when he was back in front of her.
“Open your eyes, Siobhan. I’m done and you can get dressed now.”
She snatched up the robe and pulled it on hastily, leaving it open as before. “Yes, master.” She opened her eyes to see Iain using a stylus to draw on the display of his computer. “Master?”
“Go back to the chair and eat your food,” Iain said without stopping. “I’m focusing on trying to give you what you want so I may ignore you for a little bit.” Dominique?
Whatever is going on in there, I don’t care, she snapped back. I’m busy.
Drop it. I’m sending you something. I want you to take a look at it for me. Trust me, you want to see this. He hit send on his computer. If nothing else, if you don’t, I’ll try it myself. He glanced at Siobhan, who had moved near the chair and was watching him warily. “Look, if you don't eat you'll starve to death and then you won't be able to go with us to Two.”
Her eyes lit up. “Master, you will take me there?”
“That’s the plan. What will you do if we find that Gordon is dead?”
Her eyes dimmed again for a few seconds. “I do not wish to die, master, or I would have had you kill me. If Master Gordon is dead, I will stay with you.”
Iain nodded. “And if he is alive and you want to go with him, I won't stop you.”
Dominique appeared next to Iain and Siobhan immediately went into a defensive stance. The Archmage ignored her to round on Iain, her computer in hand. “Iain, is this really what I think it is?”
Iain smiled. “Siobhan, this is Dominique, an Archmage and a member of our family. Dominique, this is Siobhan.”
“Call the master master,” Siobhan said firmly.
Dominique glanced at her. “Piss off, wench. He doesn't like being called master.” She turned back to Iain as the NurseJoy purpled in anger. “What makes you think these are the coordinates for her world?”
“She was captured there and brought here in her pokeball,” Iain said. “Examine her yourself and you'll see that she has almost no contamination from cross dimensional energy.”
“I still haven't mastered that technique,” Dominique muttered. “You'll have to use your spell on me again.”
“Call him master!”
Dominique rounded on Siobhan. “I outrank you in so many ways you wouldn't even begin to understand it. You don't get to try to tell me what to do. And try is the operative world, girlie, unless you want to know what it feels like to be on fire.” She smiled wickedly. “Besides, I thought you didn't want him to be your master.” Her smiled went from wicked to evil. “If you do I can help with that. Who are you going to get to fuck you until we go to Two?” Apparently she'd been lying about not listening to events going on between Iain and Siobhan.
“I can be tamed by the women in master’s harem,” Siobhan said. “That will keep me from going feral until we get to Two.”
“Nope,” Dominique said as her smile widened. “I will make sure that nobody in the clan will touch you sexually, Siobhan. If you want fucked, you'll have to go to him.”
Iain blinked. He hadn't been expecting that one. “Dominique, that's not fair. She can ask whoever she wants.”
And I will make sure that all of them tell her no, Ninhursag said in his head. Dominique's idea is inspired and it'll weld Siobhan to you quickly. Maybe she'll give up this stupid idea of returning to her home universe.
Dominique was sneering at Siobhan. “And they can all tell her to go to hell.” She grinned. “But you’re lucky. Going to Iain is a lot more fun than being with one of your harem sisters. I hope he makes you beg for it. Hell, I hope he lets me watch you beg for it.”
She turned back to Iain as Siobhan turned several shades of red and white in succession. “Why are you doing this for her,” she asked quietly.
“She needs the closure and we need the practice traveling the universes.”
She blinked. “We do?”
“Do you really want our children limited by the available gene pool of people who will live as long as we do,” Iain asked. “And besides, it's fun.”
She smiled warmly at him. “Ok, I agree that it's fun. What other worlds are you planning for us to visit?”
“I'm not sure. I need a couple of more visits to Haven before I think I can lock down the coordinates for Three. Kasumi's hard to read because she's not from Three originally. I'm trying to get those coordinates too.”
“Why? You want a Tendo girl for your very own?”
Iain made a face. “Nope. Not a chance. Shikarou got the best one. However, I can hope it will be closer to my time and tech base than any pokegirl universe so far is.”
“Is that important?”
Iain nodded. “It is critical to me. There are movies, books and music that aren’t from the early 80s. I mean the big hit that made it through the Revenge War was from the group Wham. Even if some of Prince's early work isn't that bad, a lot of the rest, except for ZZ Top is crap. And I can't remember whole songs from my time for Theodora to reproduce. On top of that, CDs, DVDs and Blue-Ray discs last a lot longer than records, cassettes and video tape.”
“This is about music and movies?”
“Well, that and in Kasumi's world there were living fey and kami with unguarded spells and magical items and books,” he stopped and smiled. “You're drooling.”
“You're a bastard; you know that, in hitting a girl where she’s weak.”
“Do not curse at the master!”
“How long do you think it'll be before she stops calling you that?”
Iain grimaced. “It's already been too long.” He turned back to Siobhan. “Are you going to eat or am I going to give this food to starving ferals in Africa?”
She blinked. “Master?”
“Either sit down and eat or I’m going to throw all of this away, Siobhan.”
She grabbed her plate and dropped into the chair. “No, master, I will be good and eat. Whether Master Gordon is alive or not, I must stay strong for what will happen to me.”
“Good idea,” Iain said wryly. “You do that.”
The assault shuttle slowed to a hover, the bright light of the slowly sinking moon gleaming wetly off the rollers passing beneath the craft.
Allison checked the controls and glanced at Iain sitting in the pilot’s seat. “We’re still high enough that damned radar system is getting a return off of us.”
“That’s ok, we want them to or we’d be running in stealth,” he said cheerfully. “As long as they don’t fire on us we’re good. And if they do, our point defense systems should eat their missiles without any effort. Are you getting any chatter?”
Her ears flicked as she shook her head. “We’re still twenty kilometers from the coast and I’m not detecting much in the way of radio signals. Everything I am getting seems to be scatter from AM bands. I can’t find any FM bands or shortwave at all. It is mostly in Hebrew though, with a little Arabic mixed in on some outlying bands.”
“Well, we are where we said we’d be when we said we’d be here, so we wait,” Iain said. He pressed a button on his console. “Colonel Adler?”
A deep masculine sounded from the com net. “Yes, Iain?” Iain could never get over that. Colonel Adler was only 167 centimeters tall and skinny, but his voice sounded like he was closer to 250 cm and built like Batman.
“As instructed we’re on station twenty klicks from Haifa,” Iain reported, “and five minutes ahead of schedule. There’s a radar station that can get a solid return off of us so hopefully someone knows we’re here. Does Haifa airport have a radio capable of reaching out this far?”
“It did, but remember I was last in Israel eight years ago,” Adler replied from where he sat in the troop compartment. “A lot could have changed since then.”
“Lovely. I guess we wait.” Iain sighed and closed the channel before he powered his chair back from the console. “Well, the Israelis were able to communicate with Theodora’s drone in Tel Aviv, but they told us to come here for some reason. It’s probably political, so here we wait.”
“And if they don’t have a decent radio here,” Allison moved her chair back too. “How are they going to talk to us?”
“I don’t care if they send out some guy in a rowboat with a fucking sign,” Iain said. “I could be home in bed with someone warm and cuddly instead of here. The longer I’m not in that bed, the grumpier I’m likely to become.”
Allison chuckled. “Speaking for the warm and cuddly women who’d like to be in that bed with you, I assure you we’re even grumpier than you are.” Iain just grinned at her.
A few minutes later he frowned and moved his chair forward again, keying some displays live. “Damn. That radar isn’t moving, so it’s most likely land based.” He reached up, a finger hovering over a button for a moment before pulling it away. “Theodora, here’s a new question. Is it possible to reconfigure our active sensors to a low power format so when I turn this thing on it doesn’t burn out the systems on any Israeli ship on this side of the horizon?”
Theodora knew he was asking aloud for Allison’s benefit as well as his own, so she appeared standing between them. “The active sensors of assault shuttles aren’t designed for subtlety. What you want to do would require removing the signal transmitters and replacing them with different ones, which are not normally carried onboard.”
“However,” Theodora continued, “if you think there might be something out there, launch your drones and sweep the area. Turn their passive sensor gain up to full power and I’ll have the data beamed to the Theodora. My computers can sift for much more than the software on board this vehicle can filter out of the background and we’ll see what I can find.”
Iain nodded. “That sounds good, but you go ahead and run the drones. You can pattern the sweep to take full advantage of the drone’s abilities.”
Theodora nodded and Iain watched as the shuttle’s complement of drones launched simultaneously. “Iain, are you aware that you’re spoiling me?”
Iain blinked at her. “I am?”
“Apparently so. While I’ve only worked with the Grey clan, I have talked to Cassiopeia and Kerrik’s other inorganic intelligences as well as Selene about what life can be like for us. You give me a range of freedom and responsibility that few Tirsuli would let their clan inorganics have.”
“Really?” Iain thought about it for a second and then smiled. “Their loss.” I doubt many of them fall in love with their inorganics, too.
It is reported to be extremely rare and frowned upon, Theodora replied. “Well, I am glad you don’t mind giving me so few restrictions.”
Iain shrugged. “I wouldn’t limit Allison or any other organic woman I spend my life with. You are as much of a person as they are or as I am. I won’t do that to you either.”
“So I can destroy the Indigo League?”
Allison laughed as Iain sighed and gave Theodora an annoyed glare. “I’d really rather you didn’t.” Allison laughed harder and Iain transferred his glare to her. “What’s so funny?”
She got her laughter under control, but he could still hear it in her voice. “Of course you don’t want Theodora to destroy the Indigo League. If it becomes necessary, you want to do it yourself.” She grinned toothily. “And I want to help.”
Theodora chuckled. “She’s right.” Her smile vanished. “There is a frigate sized ship out there, about five kilometers to the west. It’s circling and I suspect it’s as close as it can get to this location with whatever navigational equipment it has. It’s flying an Israeli flag.”
Iain turned back to the controls and the shuttle turned west and began accelerating. “Allison?”
“I have nothing yet.”
“Theodora, move the drone close enough for them to see it and wave it around to see if they’ll try to communicate. If they open fire, get away from it.”
“I’ve got active radar from the ship painting my drone,” Theodora said. “And radio.”
“I’m on it,” Allison said as she powered her chair forward and bent over her console. “Their radar is painting us too and it should be above detection thresholds. It’s Israeli. They say they’re the INS Yaffo.”
“That’s a Sa’ar four missile boat,” Theodora said. “The original armament would have been Harpoon or Gabriel missiles. The radar I’m picking up is far weaker than the Yaffo had originally, so its weaponry might be just as degraded. In any case, even at original strength without nuclear tipped Harpoons the Yaffo posed no threat to this shuttle. I doubt that has changed.”
Allison was muttering to herself, her ears flat as she concentrated on listening through her twee. She looked over at him and grinned. “I get the distinct impression that they thought they were on a fool’s errand and they’re shocked to find us out here.”
“I don’t care as long as they tell us what we’re supposed to be doing next.”
“You’ll probably end up at Haifa airport,” Theodora said quietly. “My survey showed it wasn’t in use as an airport, but the buildings in the nearby industrial park are being kept up as temporary housing for refugees passing through the area. The Lebanese have been moving Christians and Jews out of their nation and sending most of them to Israel by boat or land. The ships are sent here for offloading and the people are put at the airport and other places while awaiting transshipment deeper into Israel.”
“They could have just sent us there,” Iain grumbled. “I am so tired of fucking governments and their games.”
“They were probably concerned that this was some kind of Lebanese trick,” Theodora commented. “Some of those refugee ships have dropped mines as they exited the Haifa harbor and two blew up at the docks, severely damaging them and killing their passengers. Israel is under constant threat now that the governments which helped to protect it no longer exist. The information I purchased in Cassiopeia’s data dump shows that Israel has been attacked repeatedly from all directions during and after the Revenge War. Only the lack of coordination and the massive population drop on all sides due to the Red Plague has kept Israel from being swarmed under. That and the war everyone in the area is having with the Persian League. Things are peaceful now, but it’s mostly due to other problems keeping Israel’s foes busy elsewhere.”
Allison’s head came up. “Theodora wins the prize. We are directed to proceed at a safe speed to the U Michaeli Airport in Haifa and land on the northeastern most concrete strip, which is apron Zulu. I’ll confirm the message.”
Iain turned the shuttle again before activating the com. “Adler, we’ve been instructed to land at the airport in Haifa. The ETA is twenty minutes until we’re feet dry and a landing about five minutes after that.”
“That’s good to hear, Iain,” Adler replied. “I’ll let the others know.”
“Just be strapped down again as soon as you’re done,” Iain said and cut the circuit.
Allison pulled up a map of the region. “Are we going to help the other countries here?”
“Nobody else has asked,” Iain pointed out. “Israel jumped at the chance as soon as we contacted them, but nobody else has. If they do, I’ll have to think long and hard about it before making a decision either way.” Using his twee, he checked the camera feeds in the troop bay.
This type of assault shuttle was designed to carry two heavy infantry companies and their full equipment load outs or three companies of powered armor troops or combat mechs. Four hundred men, women and children had plenty of room to spread out into small groups. Only a small portion of them were Israeli, with the most of them being former American Jews who had decided that their future lay with their historic homeland now that the leagues had destroyed most of the world’s nations. Adler was moving from group to group and speaking quietly to each of them before heading to the next one. The groups he’d spoken to were stowing their stuff and roping reluctant children into the armored seats for landing.
Dominique, April, Canaan and Rosemary sat in the seats closest to the airlock and Iain had already alerted them to the arrival with his twee before telling Adler. All carried the Grey clan assault rifles and all were expert in their use. They were to see to the smooth unloading of their passengers after the lock cycled open.
The shuttle carried no supplies for the Israelis. The first of those shipments would lie in the near future, after Theodora, Ninhursag and Eve finished negotiating with the Israeli government.
Iain looked over at Allison. “You want the landing?”
Her ears came to attention. “I would! I need the experience.”
“The controls are yours. I have the communications and weapons.” The changeover took only seconds and Iain kept a close eye on his apprentice pilot as she began the run in to drop off their passengers and establish primary contact with Israel.
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
Allison – Umbrea (Outer Harem Alpha)
Daphne - Whorizard
Lynn - Growlie
Chuck – Doggirl
Ryan – Unicorn
Winifred - Rack (German)
Rosemary - Mistoffeles (Uruguayan)
Silver - Pegaslut
Joyce – Milktit
Melanie – Iron Chef
Siobhan - NurseJoy (Glasgow)
Queendom / Outer Harem
Heather - Elf
Dionne - Elfqueen
Adrianna - Elfqueen
Heltu - Wet Queen
6 Wet Elves
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
Mother s & Children