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Loose Threads

Fourteen

The air thundered around him and the ground trembled as the water roared so loudly that if they were closer to the falls he could shout and still not be heard. The river itself was a huge silver presence in the moonlight and the mist from the falls glowed like fog in headlights. “To be honest,” he said loudly, “I thought you'd want a flowered glade or something like that. I'm not saying it's bad,” he gestured out at Kaieteur Falls and the two hundred meter high wall of falling water, “just unexpected.”

Lucifer smiled. “It's wonderful, Iain, just like I pictured when Theodora described it. I would love to live here.”

“I can see if it's abandoned,” Iain was eyeing the falls. “Guyana was never heavily populated and most people wouldn't want to live within kilometers of this place. If nobody is here, we can claim it and build a place to stay in when we come and visit.”

“I would like that.” She looked around. “And we could put in a flowered glade or two because I do like them, but these falls are magnificent. What league is here?”

Iain shrugged. “The leagues in South America are really badly organized and they tend to claim everything they can see on a map of South America. So in theory, this area is claimed by all of them.”

“That's kind of silly.”

Iain grinned. “No, it's very silly but then the whole league takeover was full of silliness. The idea that they could just waltz in and declare themselves the new leaders and expect everyone to just nod and say 'good show' was laughably silly.”

“I do get the impression that the resistance was mostly unexpected,” Lucifer tucked her arm in his. “In my world it was different, but then the continents had been reshaped and people were so desperate that they were more than willing to dump the tatters of the old governments who had spectacularly failed them for the newcomers who swore they knew how to help everyone. By the time the masses had realized that they had merely exchanged one group of masters for another the league leaderships had consolidated their holds on the reins of power and it was too late for effective resistance. The new regimes understood the need for brutality and what few protesters emerged at that point were easily suppressed.” She sighed. “We helped where we could, but the Sisterhood was still in its formative stages and I was too busy with the girls who eventually became the command cadre scrambling to loot all of the bases and redoubts that I and my followers could find to do much for the humans. It was terrible. I wanted to act decisively to aid them, but I lacked the resources and troops to do so and by the time I did the leagues were too firmly entrenched to dislodge.”

“That explains your determination to have the Prometheus Society expand as far as it can. Are you going to use the Sisterhood's troops to stop some of the leagues?”

She shook her head. “You and Kerrik are right when you say that the humans need to work with us to solve their problems and not to act alone to solve those problems without their input. First, we don't know if we'd actually be solving the right problems and it would be too easy to become their leadership and just take the place of the leagues. I never wanted that, the humans wouldn't want that and my place is with you and the rest of my family now.” She rested her head on his shoulder. “I love Eve more than I can ever say, but even with her beside me as the leader of the Sisterhood I have always stood alone for we were made to crave you and for our lives to be incomplete without you in our lives. And I mean it when I say you instead of humans or males. I feel my life has been just passing without purpose without you in it.”

“No longer,” Iain said firmly. “You are one of us and I will always be here for you.”

“And those are the things you say that make my heart melt for you even when I swore it would never belong to anyone but Eve.” She smiled. “I don't even think of her as Danielle anymore and neither does she, for if she did you'd let her take that name back for herself.” She pulled away and turned to take both of his hands in hers. “And tonight you willingly bind your soul and Eve's to mine forever. I never dreamt this day would come.” She let his hands go. “I'm sorry.”

“For what?”

“I've gotten all sentimental on you.”

“And there's nothing wrong with that,” he took her hands. “I am who I am and I know that I'm not really normal the way that other people are. I don't feel things that way. I also know that there's nothing wrong with me because of it, I am an evolutionary sport from an earlier time when people like me were the best survivors and I accept that. It doesn't mean that I can't appreciate beauty and that I can't watch someone else be sentimental and emotional and try to share in it as much as I can.” He raised her hands and kissed them one at a time. “I don't understand why you haven't run away from me and taken Eve with you because of what you are, but I guess Olivia and Seraphina are right when they say I'm a good bad person and you sense that. And yet, knowing what I am you still want to stay. I'd be a fool to let you get away.” He smirked. “And it's excellent cover for me to surround myself with Celestial pokegirls.”

“I have tasted your words when you tell the women that you love how you feel,” Lucifer told him. “And you do not lie. You feel love so you are not nearly as emotionless as you claim to be.”

“Then taste these words, Lucifer. I love you.” He smiled when she froze and her eyes went so wide it seemed like he could fall into them. “It's good that I can still surprise you from time to time, considering your power to predict things.”

“Say that again,” she breathed.

“I love you, Lucifer.”

And suddenly she was in his arms, wrapping her arms painfully around his neck and kissing him fiercely enough to leave both of them breathless. “I love you, Iain Grey,” she whispered when she finally relaxed her hold.

“You would never had let me find out about Seraphina and Olivia, much less brought them to me if you hadn't,” he said softly.

She gave him a warm smile. “I am not in your stories, Iain Grey. Do not presume to know me.”

“I don't, not like that. I do know how much you regretted sending me Eve and I know that you would not let your only treasure greater than her anywhere near me unless you were absolutely sure about our future beforehand.”

“See, you know me better than you should,” she kissed him again and stepped back. “Now, it is time for our souls to join until the end of time.”

Iain took her hands and smiled. “As you wish, Lucifer.” As the light exploded around them he looked inside of what Scott had done to her, the first Megami-sama. Unfortunately, he hadn't deliberately bonded Eve and so while what he was seeing was fascinating, he wasn't sure if it was in any way different from later Megami-sama. And, in truth, it didn't matter since it was Lucifer and she was his. So reached into the pattern and burned the delta bond into both of them, feeling it punch another hole in his psychic defenses and wondering, yet again, if some day the next one would bring them crashing down. Again, it didn't matter, not right now. He also looked at the other end, at himself, and considered potentialities, but in the end he was too scared to try anything and pulled back, locking his power again as the light faded away.

Lucifer stepped up and plastered her body against his as she draped her arms around his waist. Her eyes closed and she held perfectly still for a moment before smiling widely and opening her eyes. “Your love is so powerful, Iain. It wraps me in warmth and is so protective that I feel I could fight anything and emerge victorious.”

Eve appeared and wrapped her arms around both of them. “What you feel is what we can do working together,” she said. “I didn't intend to disturb you but this was so strong I had to come.”

“Ever the selfish youngling,” Lucifer chided her gently.

“Just because I wasn't born already ancient like you were doesn't make me a youngling,” Eve smiled at them both. “And I'm not staying.” One last quick hug and she quickly kissed each of them before vanishing.

Lucifer squealed when Iain scooped her up off of the ground. She suddenly laughed loudly, making him give her a questioning look. “I understand now why my daughters love this so much,” she giggled, “when you swing them this way.” Iain spun her in a circle and she laughed again. “More!” He spun around and around while she laughed until he finally staggered to a halt. “Aw, you stopped.”

“I'm very dizzy,” he muttered, “and you are just as bad as the girls are about this. They don't want to stop until someone is ready to collapse.”

Lucifer wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed his ear before purring sultrily into it. “Let me show you what I can do with you that the girls will never.” He nodded and they vanished.

***

One of them got away and is circling back, Canaan thought to him. I think it's going after Kasumi. She and her harem are powerful individually but their lack of team training is showing. They're sloppy.

Iain caught the glee inherent in the message and shook his head. Is anyone in danger?

Doubtful. Canaan seemed amused at his concern. Kasumi is a kami after all and a powerful mage on top of that. Still, she did send her entire harem off in pursuit of the Growlies and so I'll intercede if she's in real trouble.

Keep a close eye on her. Her harem has its own watchers.

I will. There was a pause. The feral found her. Another pause. Shit. It's a Denmother and she's all over Kasumi. I'm getting involved.

Iain leaned forward without realizing he was doing it, making Dianthus smile to herself. Do you need help?

No. I'm using telekinesis to grab at the Denmother's arms when she swings at Kasumi to steal the strength from her hits. Kasumi shouldn't ever know I was involved. Good, she's called Ayame back to help her. They've taken the Denmother down and Ayame has been sent back to the hunt.

Kasumi has requested medical aid, Pandora told him. I'm taking Siobhan to her.

Keep me appraised. And Siobhan needs a twee.

She also needs to learn how to haul her own ass around, April said. She can learn to teleport and she should be able to learn the same flying spell Dominique taught me. Pandora doesn't need to be carrying her dead weight from place to place. We are not going to be sloppy.

She's just joined us.

Yes, and now she gets dropped into our training program just like everyone else does. I have Sofia already putting together one custom designed just for her to start bringing her up to speed.

Iain kicked at a rock. Keeping out of it, aye.

Good. You do that. After Kasumi gets done we'll shift west into the Blood League and Ygerna can go after that warren of Blade Bunnies. She hasn't read all of the information on them other than Theodora's first report and is likely to be surprised when she finds out there are half again as many as the initial intelligence showed.

You are enjoying this entirely too much.

He felt a surge of anticipation from her. Not yet, but I look forward to doing so.

A few minutes later Ayame appeared and let Kasumi go before vanishing again. Kasumi's armor was trashed and her uniform had been partially shredded and scorched. Her face showed bloody marks that Siobhan had healed and her hair had been savaged. She tiredly made her way over to Iain, but he could see the satisfied glow deep in her eyes from several feet away. She smiled at him. '“I was surprised that Canaan didn't get involved when the last one went after me. I was pleased, but still surprised.”

“The agreement was we get involved if we think you're in danger. Canaan didn't think you were when the pokegirl turned and backtracked. As a kami you're a lot tougher than I am.”

She nodded, running a hand through her hair. “Do you have someone skilled as a barber? I need my hair evened back up.”

“Akane had her hair sliced up by Ryoga,” Iain said, “and had to have it cut. I know the technique Kerrik does that will let me pull your hair back out to its original length if you'd like.”

Kasumi looked surprised. “He never taught any of us that technique.”

“He didn't teach me either,” Iain admitted, “but I saw him use it on his harem a couple of times and figured out how it’s done. I'd use it more on my ladies, but they're happy with their hair in what they call combat length. Your hair will still need trimmed up after it's lengthened, but I can do it this evening if you'd like.”

“If you know about what happened with Akane and Ryoga then you know far more about my family than your stories reveal.”

“A decent writer does a whole lot of research that never makes it into a story. It helps to make the characters more lifelike.” He flashed a grin. “It seemed to work. You are very lifelike.”

She laughed. “I certainly hope I am.”

Iain dug through a pocket and came up with a foil pouch. He opened it and waved it in her direction. “Jerky?”

She sniffed the air and, in a blur, ripped the pouch from his hand. She dug out a big piece of jerky and stuffed it into her mouth, chewing with a contented noise. She sighed and was pulling another piece out when she saw him rubbing the fingers of the hand he'd offered the jerky to her with. She suddenly turned bright red. “I am so sorry, Iain. I have no idea what happened to me.”

Iain chuckled. “I will agree that my jerky is pretty good, but what happened is you got injured and healed. It takes resources out of your body and makes you hungry. The jerky is the best way I've found to put those resources back into my body and apparently your body recognized that.” He waved away the pouch when she offered it to him. “I carry several of them, since I get hurt on a fairly regular basis, either from enemies or training with family. Go ahead and finish it.”

“Thank you.” She happily went back to the jerky. “This does not taste like kattle. What is it?”

“That one is alligator. The stupid thing tried to take me and Pandora killed it so we turned it into jerky. I've also got beef, pork, kattle and jerked fish. The different flavors and textures keep it from getting boring, not that I've ever found jerky boring.”

He watched with amusement as she licked her fingers clean before going back for another piece of jerky. She caught him watching and flushed slightly. “What are we doing next?”

“After your ladies finish off the Growlies then we're moving to another area and it'll be Ygerna's turn to catch some ferals. She has specifically asked for a challenge, so we've worked to find her one that's challenging but not disastrous.” He grimaced. “We found a nest of ten Mantises, but I vetoed that one. Neither one of you is ready for that kind of challenge.”

Kasumi looked surprised. “What is going to happen to the Mantises?”

Iain shrugged. “I was asked that by Eve. It's in Ruby so we fabricated a Tamer report for them so they're aware of the problem. After that, it's up to the Ruby military.” He stretched. “For Ygerna we'll be moving to the Blood League. We've lined her up with something suitable for the size and composition of her harem. The big question in the pools is whether Ygerna will engage in combat too or not and how useful she will be if she does.”

“She is a remarkable fighter,” Kasumi said. She was running a finger around inside the foil looking for anything else to eat. “I have seen her training and she is proficient. Of course, that was several years ago.”

Iain nodded. “She's trained with us a little and she's blowing the rust off fairly quickly.”

“And how do you measure up?”

“He is no Kerrik Wolf,” Dianthus said, “but my master is improving quickly and something Kerrik has taught him is making him stronger and faster. Still, he is young and has a long way to go.”

Iain chuckled. “That sounds like a firm and confident vote for mediocre.”

“It does, doesn't it,” Kasumi agreed with a smile as she crumpled up the pouch and tucked it into a pocket. “What are the plans for after Ygerna is done capturing ferals?”

“We've got to stay local for about a week and then we return to Four,” Iain said.

Kasumi nodded. “And I return home. I want to thank you for bringing me on this trip. I have enjoyed the break very much.”

“You're always welcome at the ranch, you know.”

“It depends on what my family wants,” she said quietly. “I have responsibilities.”

“I know.” Iain patted her on the shoulder. “We all do. The trick is not letting that become all you do. You have to decompress or any job becomes so obnoxious that you start taking it out on the people around you, even if they don't deserve it.”

Kasumi turned to face him. “Ygerna told me that if I ever needed a private hug to come to you. Can I?”

Iain kept his surprise from showing. He knew that most Nipponese were not into casual touching. “Yes, you may.”

“Thank you. I would like a hug from you tonight.”

He nodded. “Just let me know when.”

“I will.”

***

Ygerna grabbed Iain's arm. “Tara and Enid will be all right, will they not?”

Iain nodded. “Tara's wing got chewed up pretty badly but it's considered minor and it will be easily handled by the PHU. Enid's arm will have to be regrown and then she'll have to learn to use it again, but that won't take long and she'll also make a complete recovery. Even if for some reason neither Siobhan nor Eve can grow it back, we have a full healer on the Theodora and that will put anything other than actual death back at a hundred percent.”

She let his arm go. “Thank you, Iain.” She shook her head. “There were a lot more of them than we were expecting and they used wave attacks on us.”

He regarded her for a moment and made sure they were out of obvious earshot except for Dianthus before speaking. “You didn't read the supplemental report that Theodora compiled before going in. If you had you'd have known a large hunting troupe came back the day after Theodora's initial survey.”

Ygerna scowled at him. “And why didn't you say that before we attacked the warren?”

“I asked if you wanted help in planning this mission and you not only said no, you asked that we stay out of it just as much as we stayed out of Kasumi's hunt. That tied my hands.”

“So I did this to myself?” Ygerna's scowl deepened.

“Surprise is what happens when you walk into a situation and misunderstand what you see. You got surprised. To your credit, you and your harem reacted quickly and professionally and pulled back long enough to reassess the situation and change your tactics to the perceived danger which arguably prevented fatalities from your group. April will have a full combat debriefing and parts of it are undoubtedly going to be harsh, but they will not be overly harsh just to be harsh. And finally, you defeated the warren and took nearly all of them. Of the three you missed, you killed one of those.”

“Only two got away? That will do nicely.”

Iain smiled. “Good.” Technically none of the Blade Bunnies had escaped since once Ygerna had called the hunt his ladies had nabbed the two escapees and now they were in storage with the ones Ygerna had captured. “Are you interested in an experiment?”

She cocked her head. “What kind of experiment?”

“I don't know if you're aware of this but there doesn't seem to be a Order of Pendragon.”

“I hadn't sensed their presence but since this isn't a world we're interested in colonizing I didn't think it important to bring up.”

“That suggests three possibilities. The first is that Eoghan didn't become a lich and there are active Sidhe here. The second is that everyone is dead and their stuff is up for the finder to claim. The third is that there were never any Sidhe here.”

“I don't see where any of them would benefit us, Iain. In the first situation the Sidhe will protect their possessions and they would expect me to join their court before I could gain access to the few treasures available for the entire court to use. In the second, I looted all of the courts that I knew of and found with items of value and we have those books and treasures on the Theodora. The third, of course, does us no benefit.”

Iain nodded. “All of those are definitely possible. Now I have a question. Have you looked through the Germanicus library inventories?”

“I have.”

“His own notes suggest he looted several empty Sidhe caches and that he took what he wanted and destroyed the rest. If this world had Sidhe on it and he wiped them out in a fit of angst and then either went into hiding or was somehow destroyed, those libraries might be sitting today waiting for a new owner. A lot of books he destroyed, including possibly books of Sidhe history and culture that he'd have found useless and could be very useful for us, not just as research, but for our children to learn about the world their mother came from even if they are not truly Sidhe since they'll be raised in clan society.”

“I am surprised you'd think this was important. Our children will have Sidhe heritage, but they will be Greys.”

“Our children will be the only children of Danu and she will walk with each of them whether they know it or not, just as she walks with you and looks at me and wonders for your sanity.”

“Danu does not speak to me but I am sure that she approves of you Iain. If she did not, I would know it. Your power and our union will help my race.” She looked thoughtful. “Those histories might someday prevent our blood from making the same mistakes the Sidhe did or, as you have pointed out, guide them back to Danu when the time is right.” She frowned. “Answer me this, is the Danu of this world the same as the Danu of Three or the Danu of Four or any other Danu?”

Iain shook his head. “Gods and goddesses do not normally span across universes. The Danu of this world is a different individual from the Danu of yours or the Danu of Four. They will be very similar, but shaped by slightly different experiences.”

“Then we might want to be careful and not draw the attention of this world's Danu to us. She may see me as an interloper or decide to keep me to rebuild the Sidhe on this world. We should avoid the Sidhe sites, occupied or not.”

“You are the expert,” Iain said. “I bow to your wisdom.”

She smiled. “Finally!”

Heather smiled but managed not to snicker as Iain did laugh. “You got me.”

“I am certainly trying hard enough to get you,” she shot back with amusement. “I never envisioned I would pursue a human who, at every turn, put me off with excuses about waiting until we were more comfortable with each other. And yet, I find some wisdom in his words and the chase becomes more and more interesting as time passes.” Her smile faded. “But the chase is not my goal and I will not let you dissuade me from it.”

Iain took her hands as his tone became serious. “I am not Faelan. I am not leading you into a useless pursuit that will never end and I hope you know that. We are getting closer together and soon, I hope, I'll have the opportunity to free up the time that we need to explore each other as you deserve. I don't really want to wait either, but you deserve far better than a quick tumble as our first time together.”

She gave him a teasing look. “We have seven weeks alone coming soon.”

“I will not fight you during that time,” Iain said. “If that is what you want then we have seven weeks to become lovers and get a good start on making sure you are well and truly pregnant.”

“We will definitely do that,” she said, “but that will not be all that we do. I have plans for you Clan Lord Grey.” She winked. “Nefarious plans indeed.”

“With both trepidation and anticipation I look forward to finding out what they are, Queen Ygerna of the Sidhe.”

***

Iain was lying in a grassy glade with Seraphina and Olivia in sugar induced comas nearby while their mother was curled up with them taking a nap of her own while their daughters' power plants refueled. Sofia, nominally his guard, was sitting nearby sewing a toy for the girls. They had three days before the undead harem was finished looting everything they wanted from Glasgow and Iain had run out of things to do on this planet so they'd happily returned to the Theodora for the nice accommodations and, hopefully, some well-earned rest.

Iain felt the strong wave of unsuppressed glee as Theodora appeared in front of him. “Do you have a moment,” she asked quietly. Her eyes danced with eagerness and happiness.

Iain got up and shook his head when Sofia made a move to join him. “I'm not leaving the garden without you.” He glanced at Theodora. “Right?” She nodded. “So you stay and watch the kids and Lucifer.”

“I will,” she said in her accented English as she pulled her sewing back out of the bag she'd just stuffed it into. “Be careful.”

Theodora led him the four hundred meters to the lake, which was really just a large pond. “She makes a good wife for you.” Theodora said as he perched on a stump.

Iain chuckled. “You, me and Sofia are probably the only ones who know. I don't think anyone else has learned enough about her culture to realize her mindset says she feels we're in the normal arranged marriage for her culture that she missed when she hit threshold.”

Theodora shrugged. “We are the only ones who need to know. And by the time the others might wonder about it, you'll probably have formalized your relationship with her and it won't matter.”

“So, what are you pleased about?”

She grinned. “I found what Kerrik was talking about when he said I'd feel robbed about the puppet. And that led to a treasure trove of other things for us, and especially for you.”

“I repeat, so what are you pleased about?”

“It's the Wolf database. Are you aware that Kerrik went to the Shewa home world?”

Iain nodded. “I am. He spent roughly a decade there.”

“Are you aware he was doing research at the time?”

Iain nodded. “He had a project he was considering and thought the Shewa genome could be incorporated into it.”

Theodora wasn't upset. She was used to Iain turning her thunder into static electricity and in her mind it just once again proved his worth as a male and as a breeder to her clan. “While he was there he purchased a complete genome database on all of the known Shewa species and another on puppet design.” She grinned again. “He read the entire thing and I have all of the genetic information on the Shewa and the entire puppet manufacturing process.”

Iain blinked. “That's great.”

“It means that when the clan is ready I can grow Shewa to incorporate into it, both females and males. And right now I can make my own puppet, custom designed however I want.”

“That's why I said it was great, but it may be decades before we are ready to incorporate outside children into our clan. We're still pretty tiny.”

“I know. But the research I did into the Shewa led to me cross indexing the planet in that universe which led me to cross indexing the universe and finding the entire coordinate list of every world that Kerrik has visited.”

Iain caught himself as he tried to topple off of the stump. “Kerrik should have killed all of us.”

“I agree,” Theodora said. “The fact that he instead lodged a token protest tells me he wants you to have this database for some reason. In addition it has something more important for you than dimensional coordinates.”

“And what is that?”

“It has Kerrik's entire lifetime of study in magic,” Theodora said quietly. “All of the memories have been distilled from it, but there's still so much that doesn't require memories to learn.”

Iain got up, took a single step forward and sat down on the grass. “Just to be safe,” he said with a smile. “How much?”

“Let me put this in terms that you can recognize, even if you can't comprehend it and I don't use such archaic storage. It has every style of magic that he learned, every book, spell, incantation, setup and more. A lot of it is graphic in nature, but the text portions alone take up zettabytes of storage.”

Iain leaned back against the stump. “Fuck me with a telephone pole.” He closed his eyes for a long moment. “That asshole,” he whispered, “that fucking piece of shit asshole is setting me up.”

Theodora looked confused. “How is this information setting you up. Is there a way to encode a spell effect into raw data that I am unaware of and he could use to strike you down?”

Iain shook his head. “No and please never say anything like that around anyone else in my family. My study time would suddenly acquire guards out the ass.” He sighed and gently banged the back of his head against the stump. “What is the one portion of my memory that I have steadfastly refused to let you or anyone else anywhere near?”

“Your time with Nightraven,” she said instantly. “No,” she corrected herself. “It’s almost anything having to do with her.”

“That's correct because she is hazardous with a capital 'You're Fucked' at the beginning.” Long story short, just like everyone else in the multiverse, she has things that she needs and things that she wants. Some of them are the reason she takes in students periodically and teaches them truewizardry. While in the truewizard community it is a badge of great things to come to be dragged into servitude to her for a millennia or so, she doesn't really care about that. Her teaching students is all about what she needs and wants. Kerrik's giving us that database is his way of taking something he didn't want to happen, us acquiring his knowledge, and turning it to a potential advantage in that learning it will make me much more attractive to Nightraven for her plans, hopefully knocking Kerrik out of the running for the position.”

“Is that important?”

“Well, Kerrik is on the shortlist for that job. I am too, which I realized when she let me leave after only a decade of study, even if she forced me to vow to return someday.”

“You don't want this job.”

He shook his head. “Nope. But if she gives it to me I will do it to the absolute best of my ability because the lives of everyone I have ever loved will hang in the balance. That includes electron based life forms, by the way.”

“Is there anything we can do about this?”

“Short of deleting the entire database, no, and we are not going to do that. All we can do is keep the situation in mind. You know what Nightraven looks like and if she shows up warn everyone away from her and send for me. And no, I don't see any reasonable scenario where she would come here, but I don't necessarily use her name and reason in the same sentence all the time. I'm sure her actions are eminently reasonable from her viewpoint, but I don't share it and that's not true for me watching from the outside.” He turned his head without moving his body. “Let's do a timeline check for the data. I'll name a universe and you tell me if we have the coordinates.”

“Very well. Begin.”

He scratched his beard as he thought. “Stargate universe.”

Theodora frowned. “I'm not completely sure. There's a lot of information on stargates, but it's all theoretical. There is some information on the technology and Kerrik has had access to some for study but I don't think he's been in the main universes where the stuff from the movies and television series is located. There are no coordinates labeled Stargate universe.”

“Bummer. Obviously there are several pokegirl universes.”

“There are ninety seven sets of coordinates appended with pokegirl data. Each has basic notes on government and such and some are very different from the ones we have visited.”

“That would make sense. There are also a shit ton of regular human universes and the region immediately around where he was born.”

“Correct.”

“There should be coordinates for several universes associated with Ranma Saotome too.”

“There are. Kerrik even has the coordinates for this Kasumi's home universe. Shikarou gave it to him along with the final home of the displaced Ranma.”

Iain nodded. “That's good to know. There should also be at least one pokemon universe.”

“There is, but naming universes you already know he's been to will not help to narrow down his timeline.”

“True. Potterverse.”

She frowned. “There are several of them, most very close to each other.”

“Cool. I could take Dominique shopping in Diagon Alley.”

“You'd better plan on being there for at least two weeks and bring a lot of gold, Iain. And she is not the only person who will want to shop there. I'd recommend contacting the Ministry first to clear things unless you want me to bombard London when they try to arrest you for being an unlicensed wizard.”

He laughed. “That's true enough.”

“Twilight universe.”

“No data. I don't think he's ever been there.”

“Dragonball Z universe.'

“No data.”

“That probably narrows things down as much as I'm going to be able to right now,” Iain said as he got up. “I'll have to start browsing the magic portions of the database and see how they can help me make my life easier.”

“I will stand ready to supply the information for you, Iain.” She cocked her head. “There is something else that you need to know. Kerrik was heavily involved several times in AI development. I have all of the information I need to design and build several variants of AI kernels, including those used by the Confederation. I also have complete programming protocols for the kestrels.”

“Let's just keep that to ourselves for the time being,” Iain said without hesitation. “The only person I need in my inorganic harem is you.”

Theodora shot him a quick grin. “I agree heartily.” Her smile vanished. “And I should warn you that the girls are up and are beginning to look for you. Do you want me to start teaching them that knocking you off of your feet in greeting is not appreciated?”

“If you know a gentle way to do it, please.”

“I do and I'll be glad to help.”

***

Iain watched the planet recede behind them and smiled happily. “I wonder if Four will suck that badly if we went back to it now after living the way we want to or if it was just this variant that sucks so much.”

“They'll probably feel pretty much the same no matter what the little differences there are like,” Eve said. “Are we done on the bridge?”

“I'll need you back here in seven hours for the dimensional passage,” Theodora said, “but not until then. Iain, you're requested to Zareen's side. She wants you to know that she thinks she's going into full labor.”

Iain popped to his feet. “Is she?”

“She entered full labor twenty minutes ago,” Theodora said. “She didn't want me to bother anyone and she's not in any distress so I followed her wishes.”

“Let April and Sofia know, please,” Iain said. He reached out through his delta bond to Zareen. I'm on my way.

There is no hurry, but you wanted to be here while I deliver. She sounded cheerful enough. It is not my first time doing this and I have never needed someone standing at my feet and staring at my crotch before. I do not need it now, even if this is my first birth while aware.

I said I'm on my way.

He felt resignation overlain with amusement. Yes, Iain. I cannot run away from you until after the birthing so you should be able to find me.

“Where is she?” Somehow he didn't figure she'd be in her perfectly adequate quarters.

“Zareen is in the gardens near the sunning rock.” A holographic dot appeared and began leading Iain as he jogged along the passageway.

“That figures. Tell Sofia and April that Zareen doesn't want help and to stand by if they don't mind. What do you think?”

"Her vitals are well within normal parameters for a woman in delivery who is otherwise unstressed, however I have no data specific to Zareen until now. She has proven in the past to be a fair assessor of her own physical capabilities.”

“At least until it involves food.” Iain chuckled. “She tried to eat her weight in omega fruit and later drank so much lemonade that she ended up projectile vomiting.”

“I'll keep that in mind. The transport is waiting.”

Iain came into the transport room and hopped into one of the four seat versions. The canopy shut as it slid out into the vacuum filled transport tube and accelerated quickly towards its maximum of a kilometer per second. It almost immediately began decelerating and pulled into another transport room over a kilometer away as the canopy slid open where another dot waited. He followed it again at a jog until he headed through the airlock to the garden and inside. One of Theodora's remotes was there with a sack and offered it to him as he entered. Iain grabbed the bag as he went past and walked briskly down the path towards the large flat rock that was perfect for pokegirls wanting to lay in the sun.

Zareen was lying on the sunning rock in her human form and humming to herself. She looked up as he settled down beside her and smiled. “I'm thirsty.” Iain dug through the bag and came up with a gallon jug of lemonade and a cup. She held out her hands. “Please.” Iain opened it and poured her a cup. She gulped it down and handed it back. “You don't have to be here.”

“No I don't and no, I don't have anywhere more important to be.”

She shook her head. “I am ten times your age and I know what I'm doing. My twee said I should just relax and let my mind drift so my body will do as it has done so many times before.”

He chuckled. “I don't care how many times you've given birth, this is my first Zareen delivery and I'm a little nervous.”

April arrived with a bag of medical supplies. “How is she?”

Zareen's eyes had narrowed at the arrival of the Duelist. “Fine,” she said flatly. “Leave.”

She shot him a glare. Why did you bring her?

I didn't. I just asked Theodora to let her know what was going on. “April, dear, did I call you?”

“Theodora told me Zareen was in labor so I got my stuff.” April put the bag down and ran a hand over Zareen's stomach. “She's just getting started.” Zareen's hiss brought her up short. “Stop that.”

“Don't touch. Don't want you, don't need you.”

“You need a midwife, Zareen,” April said gently.

“No.” The Nightmare sat up and leaned against Iain. “You put your hands inside me and I will keep them.”

“Iain,” April appealed to him. “Tell her to stop this.”

“April, it is her choice. She's not in any danger and she gets to decide how she wants to deliver.”

April sighed. “Are you sure about this?”

“Zareen is,” Iain said. “Look, I appreciate you showing up and you're free to hang out nearby, but this is her decision to make.”

She nodded. “What about the kits? There's no way she can feed them all. She would have let most of them starve to death in the wild.”

Iain looked at Zareen. “Well?”

She smiled. “Joyce, Eve and Pandora.”

Iain frowned. “Pandora isn’t lactating and isn’t going to want to help.”

“She, Joyce and Eve told me they would help nurse my kits.”

“I’ll mention it to her.” He reached out through his twee to Eve and Joyce. Zareen is in labor. We’re in the garden near the sun rock and she wanted you to know because you agreed to help feed the kits.

I’m on my way, Eve told him.

I have to drop off my girls at the nursery but I’ll be there before she finishes delivering was Joyce’s response.

Be advised she’s already told April to go away while she’s delivering.

Understood, Eve replied.

Then he reached out through his bond to Pandora. Zareen is in labor and wanted you to come help feed the kits.

He felt surprise and annoyance. Me? There are plenty of women who’d jump at the opportunity to help with more kids. Find someone else to play mother for you and stop these games with me.

Zareen says you agreed to help and she asked for you.

There was silence for several seconds. I did say that, but that was years ago before we ever moved to Four. She can’t believe she can hold me to that.

You can take it up with her when you get here.

I will be there as soon as I can. I’ll deal with her.

He looked down at the Nightmare. “Pandora sounds pissed at you.”

“She would, but she will feed my kits.”

April had gathered up her medical kit and was turning but stopped. “Pandora has resisted doing more than the basics with the kits. What makes you think she’ll help you?”

Zareen smirked. “I want you to stay after all, April. You can witness.”

Iain frowned as April sat back down where she was. “All right, what is going on?”

“Pandora lost a bet. If she’d won I’d have done all of her chores for two months, even the ones she got stuck with from April from losing a bet to her.”

April cocked her head. “Why is it that you talk like this when you’re around Iain but you don’t most of the rest of the time?”

“Iain never made fun of the way I talked in the beginning. Everyone else played games with the new feral acquisition. So I save my words for him.”

Iain blinked. “Wasn’t that after our talk,” he said to April, “about how I didn’t want any more hazing?”

Zareen bonked her head on his shoulder. “They don’t do it anymore. While I would enjoy watching them be punished for what they did to me and Sofia, it would confuse the newer members and the children wouldn’t understand.”

Iain shrugged. “I wasn’t going to revisit something that old unless there were special circumstances anyways. However,” he looked at April, “I want you to pass on to Ninhursag that nobody wants me to have to have that talk again. I especially don’t want to do it so if I have to I am going to be rather loud and pissed off when I do and if I even slightly suspect there will be more foot dragging on my decision then I might enlist Theodora’s aid to make sure my ruling is being enforced this time when I want it to be.”

April nodded. “I’ll let her know.” She waited a few seconds. “Are you going to ask what happened?”

“It was a couple of years ago. Should I care now?”

“We’re adding new members so I thought you might be concerned.”

“I trust my maharani and her second to keep that sort of thing under control. Should I worry about trusting them?”

April smiled and shook her head. “I’m glad you trust us and, no, you don’t need to worry about us abusing that trust.”

“Then it might be wise not to make me wonder about it.”

Pandora came up the path and stopped, looking at the area. She nodded to April and turned to Zareen. “You can’t really expect me to nurse your kits.”

The Nightmare smiled smugly at her. “You lost the bet. You’d have expected me to fulfill my end of the bet if I’d lost but I didn’t.” Pandora’s jaw set and she glared at Iain, but Zareen spoke even as her mouth opened. “He didn’t know about the bet until today when I told him, so don’t be stupid and try to blame him.” She gasped slightly and smiled. “It’ll be soon now.” Then her eyes went back to the Archangel’s. “Decide. Fulfill your obligations or be branded a liar.”

Pandora turned and punched an oak tree, which shattered under the blow. She looked over her shoulder at Iain as the tree crashed to the ground and leaves drifted down over the area and them. “You didn’t know?”

“Not until I told her you weren’t likely to be interested in nursing and she mentioned a bet. I have no idea what the actual bet was.”

Pandora’s shoulders slumped. “You wouldn’t. If Zareen had told you I’d be free of the obligation.” She sighed. “I need to find Joyce.”

“She’s on her way here,” April volunteered.

“Lovely.” Pandora looked at Iain and gave him a crooked smile. “You’re trying to stop cursing and I want to start.”

“You’re just having a momentary urge,” Iain reassured her. “And how long do you have to nurse the kits?”

“I’ll be doing it until they’re weaned.” She grimaced and sat down next to April.

Iain rubbed his beard. “Dominique might have a spell that will turn your milk production on and off when needed so you don’t have to worry about leakage.”

“I don’t care about leakage,” Pandora grumped. “This is about me having children.”

“I know, I know,” Iain said. “I promise not to tease you,” he broke off when Pandora made an angry noise.

“You know nothing! The problem is that I want children, you idiot, and nursing is going to make me want to have them more.”

“You’ve been telling me for a while that you don’t want children,” Iain said diffidently.

“I’ve been lying,” Pandora muttered. “I’ve never been pregnant. As a Seraph it wasn’t as important as the missions and then when I became a Fallen Angel I was too busy trying to die. I was still a Fallen Angel when you brought me back to life and I didn’t think it right to have children carrying the curse that everyone assumes Fallen Angels have.” She met his gaze. “Everyone assumes that every Fallen Angel has some horrible past and my daughters would have gone through hell for their entire lives because everyone would have wondered what terrible thing they did and the only terrible thing that would have happened to them was that they were born as Fallen Angels. Enough time with people always asking what they’d done wrong they’d have started wondering themselves. The only children who have it worse are the Penance kits but they’re always thought to be abused so they get loved and cared for.”

“We would never have treated them that way,” Iain said.

“Yes,” Pandora snapped, “and you’d have never been their lover either, so they’d have had to eventually find other males. And then they’re sucked into the life of a pokegirl who has a tamer and becomes salvage.”

“You’re not a Fallen Angel any longer,” April pointed out quietly.

“No I am not, and the evil that made all of us into property on our last world already has a stranglehold on this one. Iain still won’t be their male and so they will still face the same problems. They’re free in Texas. And in the rest of the world they’re chattel in the best leagues and the breathing equivalent of lumber in the worst.” She looked at Iain. “It even still exists in Haven. You were given Siobhan and the others because they were extra and useless. If she’d had value to them she wouldn’t be on this ship.”

“And Prometheus is aimed at exactly that problem,” Iain said. “Our daughters will grow up free and I’ll burn this world to a cinder to keep them that way.”

“Iain, you don’t see it, do you? The only way you can keep every one of our children free is if you fuck them yourself and you won’t do that.” She smiled coldly. “If you were willing do to that we’d have a lot fewer children since we don’t want to share you.”

“There are no guarantees, Pandora,” Iain said gently. “We are doing everything we can to make the world we want out of this one, in spite of the truths about pokegirls and going feral. It is going to take time and some of our children will have to be rescued during it. Some of them will die during it. More than likely some of us will die during it. But just fearing what is happening is only going to let them win because we have to fight them and a lot of our children will take up that banner and sword to help us with their humans. And the hard and cold truth is that we need them to do exactly that and they can’t do it if they’ve never been born.” He chuckled. “You think my talking you into having children is hard.”

Pandora gave him a suspicious look. “What does that mean?”

“Myrna and Saoirse told me a while ago that their future lies on other worlds. I have to convince them that this war is much more important and that they should stay here and help us with it. A whole bunch of powerful people keep nattering on about how I can change destinies and if that’s true then I am going to do everything in my power to see that theirs gets changed. Those other worlds can go fuck themselves. I need my Legendary daughters right here fighting our war.”

Pandora got to her feet and looked at Zareen. “I need Iain for about fifteen minutes. Can you let me have him for that long?”

She waved a hand. “Take him.” When Iain started to say something she smiled. “I didn’t want these people here with us and they’re your fault. Go with her or the next time you’ll find out I’m in labor when I come to you and drop an infant into your arms as I tell you I’m done.” She gasped again. “Not too much longer than that, Pandora. I want him to hold his first daughter from me as soon as she comes from my body.”

“We’ll be back as soon as we can.” Pandora almost dragged him from the area and into the woods away from the sunning rock area. She took him into a heavily wooded portion and stopped. “Are we alone?”

Iain looked around. “As best I can tell. Theodora?”

“There are no people within a hundred meters of your location.”

Pandora took a deep breath. “Theodora, I invoke privacy. You are not to reveal what happens here unless and until I allow it.”

Theodora appeared. “I understand and I accept the responsibility of individual privacy unless you are going to harm my clan leader.”

Pandora nodded. “I accept your stipulation. Iain, I want children and I want them to always come from you. You will be the only one to ever get me pregnant, whether I am a pokegirl or a pokewoman.” She pulled up her shirt and placed his hand low on her belly. “And you will start by getting me pregnant now.”

Iain’s mind stuttered. “Pandora, I’ve never done this.”

“Iain, you can create delta bonds out of nothing. You can turn pokegirls into other pokegirl breeds just by thinking about it and you are not limited by the evolutionary path they are designed to follow. This is something my body is supposed to do and so it should be child’s play for you.” Her eyes peered intently into his. “I have read your stories. You created the Earth Mother technique. You will be able to use it on me.” The absolute certainty in her voice was frightening.

“Let me think.” Iain closed his eyes for a second and let his mind focus on the problem at hand. He’d been present every time Ninhursag had gotten a member of his family pregnant and so he’d felt what using the Earth Mother technique felt like several times, so it was entirely possible that he could tune his energy to that he’d felt coming from his maharani to create the same effect. But he’d also felt the response of the bodies of each of the pokegirls who had become pregnant through parthenogenesis from the Earth Mother technique. And from what he’d learned from his own research and Mhodvitnar’s memories, there was a more direct way to make Pandora’s body do what he wanted it to. And this way allowed him a degree of control that was inherently impossible by using the Earth Mother technique. He smiled without opening his eyes. “How many?”

He could hear the frown in her voice even as he could see it with his perception. “I don’t understand.”

He opened his eyes even as he unlocked his power. “How many kits do you want to carry this time?”

Her eyes went wide. “You can do that? Never mind, you wouldn’t ask if you couldn’t. Two will let me remain as your guard almost until I am ready to deliver and I can feed them by myself if I wish to.” His fingers dug into her skin and she gasped at the sudden warmth that drove deep into her stomach and then swirled up to fill her entire body. “Iain?”

He pulled his hand away and smiled. “Done.”

“I have been your guard through several impregnations. That was not the Earth Mother technique.”

“No, it wasn’t.” He pulled her shirt down and then kissed her gently. “You wanted me to do it and so I did it my way.”

She hugged him hard. “Thank you, Iain.”

“You are very welcome, but I think I’ll enjoy that more when you’re a pokewoman and I get to do it the old fashioned way.”

She smiled. “We can practice that method later.”

“Oh, we will. Go tell Zareen I’ll be along in a minute or two, please.”

“Don’t take too long.”

“I won’t.” He waited until she was gone before reaching out through a delta bond. Vanessa?

Yes, Iain?

Are you alone?

He felt amusement. Yes, but you’re probably too busy for the first thing that comes to mind when you ask me that.

I am indeed too busy for that at the moment. Zareen is giving birth and I’m involved in that. But that’s not why I wanted to know if you were alone. I learned something just now and you need to know about it, but nobody else needs to know about it, possibly ever. I certainly don’t intend to tell anyone else.

He felt surprise from her. You won’t tell anyone else what you’re about to tell me? This must be something very special indeed and I am honored that you are sharing it with me.

I hope you feel that way in a moment. I may have discovered how to make myself that world shaking threat you keep teasing me about being.

I really doubt that but I will admit that is excellent way to build up tension, Iain. Now tell me what this is about.

I know how I made you pregnant and it is easily repeatable. I just thought you might want to know in case you want more children.

He felt the shock whip through her before she dampened down on the emotional loading of their bond so he couldn’t tell how she felt about the revelation. How does that make you a potential world shaking threat?

He headed back for Zareen and the others. It should be applicable to any pokegirl, Legendary or not, which means I could use it to get any Legendary pregnant.

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

Siobhan - NurseJoy (Glasgow)

Queendom / Outer Harem

12 Elves

Heather - Elf

Dionne - Elfqueen

Adrianna - Elfqueen

Dianthus Barbatus - 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

Mother s & Children

Vanessa

Myrna

Saoirse

April

Dorothy: Duelist

Meara: Duelist

Regan: Duelist

Canaan

Hannah: Huntress

Rebecca: Huntress

Joyce

Lisa: Milktit

Sherrie: Milktit

Harriet: Milktit

Lucifer

Olivia: Megami-sama

Seraphina: Megami-sama

Zareen

Caltha: Nightmare

Kim: Nightmare

Xanthe: Nightmare

Epona: Nightmare

Philippa: Nightmare

Nott: Nightmare

Nyx: Nightmare

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