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

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Loose Threads

Thirty

 

            Kasumi gave Iain a desperate look. “I’m terrified,” she admitted softly.

            Iain wrapped her up in his arms and she pressed herself against him as he stroked her hair gently. “You still have time to cancel this.” He glanced around. Present were Kasumi’s three pokegirls as well as Pandora, Ganieda and Canaan. Dianthus and Heather were in the woods nearby, using their Elf powers to remain undetected. Everyone else was on standby in case of a problem.

            “I can’t. He’ll still come here no matter what.”

            “He will,” Iain said in agreement and she looked up at him in surprise. “And then I’ll tell him he’s wasting his time and you’ll get back to him.”

            She nodded. “I have to do this, don’t I?”

            “Eventually, yes you do. But it’s not for the reason you think and it doesn’t have to be today.”

            She lifted her head and frowned at him. “What reason do you think I need to do this?”

            “You’re meeting with Shikarou because you think it’s fair to give him a hearing and you hope that because of it he will no longer be a threat to us. That’s not a good reason to meet with him since he’s not a threat to us. I know you need to meet with him so you can cut the last of your ties with him, just like Ygerna did when she was given the Grimoire. As much as I detest the word closure, in this case you really do need it.”

            “I’m just so worried about this. I don’t think I can face him.”

            Iain hugged her tighter for an instant. “You don’t have to face him. This isn’t an inquisition and he can’t demand anything. You divorced him. And you won’t be meeting with him alone. If you’ll let me, I’d like to be there. So will your guards as will mine.”

            She shook her head. “I can’t ask you to do that.”

            “Then it’s a good thing you’re not.” She looked up at him curiously and he smiled. “I’m asking you, so the question has been raised.”

            “Why do you want to be there?”

            “First, I want to show my support for you. Second, I make Shikarou nervous. Third, I can act as a helper and keep you from making any snap decisions based on guilt or some other emotion he evokes in you. Fourth, I’m really good at pissing people off. So if I focus Shikarou’s attention on me, he won’t be badgering you. And I can do the same thing for Kozakura or Branwyn if I have to.”

            She smiled faintly. “Are the same rules of engagement in effect?”

            “That’s for guests. You are clan and there are no rules of engagement. I will help you however I can whenever I can and the only way you can stop me is to expressly forbid it, at which point I’ll think about doing what you request.” He smiled suddenly. “And I need to ask you if you’re free Friday.”

            “What?”

            “Are you free this Friday? There’s a performance it’s been suggested I see.”

            “I have seen Pygmalion. I saw it with you. I don’t think I need to see it twice or you a third time.”

            “I’m not talking about that. I want to see a nogaku that’s being held in Tokyo on Friday. Your grandmother suggested it. I think she’s trying to make sure I have some culture.”

            “I would like to see a nogaku. I’ve never been to one.” She smiled again, this time with more warmth. “I would have to ask my clan leader if I could have that day free for you because he is the only one who could ask my schedulers to release me from training and chores.”

            “Don’t worry about it. I’ll deal with him. Now if he says it’s ok, will you go with me?”

            “I’d like that and I will.”

            “Excellent, just understand that this isn’t the only reason I asked you to see nogaku with me, but now you can tell Shikarou that we’re dating.”

            She chuckled. “Is this one of those instances where you’re trying to think several steps ahead of everyone else?”

            “Asking you to go out with me might be, but when it’s added to the fact that this long hug means that Shikarou will definitely be able to smell my scent on you and yours on me I’d say yes is the answer to that question.”

            Kasumi turned bright red and pulled away from him with a jerk. “You are such a barbarian, Iain Grey!”

            Iain was rubbing his ribs where her fingernails had drawn lines of fire down his skin. “Are you sure you’re not growing claws?”

            “If I were, you’d deserve being scratched after something like that.”

            “Mistress, I think you should ask him to hug us too.”

            Kasumi blinked and turned to Giselle. “Why should I ask that of Iain?”

            The Pegaslut smiled slyly. “Then we would also smell of him, mistress, and Shikarou would most likely be confused by it since he was never supposed to touch us.”

            Kasumi nodded. “That is very crafty, Giselle. Iain, would you hug my guards?”

            “Wait, I cover you with my scent and I’m a barbarian and Giselle is a genius for wanting me to do the same thing to her, Ayame and Nishiko?”

            Kasumi smirked at him. “I never said that was why you are a barbarian, Iain.”

            “You have spent entirely too much time around Ygerna.” He turned to Giselle as Kasumi chuckled. “I am more than willing to hug all three of you, but neither Ayame nor Nishiko have requested that I do and you cannot order them to do this. Not even Kasumi can because we are clan now and that sort of personal decision can only be made by them.”

            “Please hug me,” Nishiko said instantly. She blinked. “Sir.”

            “Sir, I would like you to hug me as well,” Ayame seemed less confident than her harem sisters.

            Iain waved Ayame over. “You don’t have to do this because the others are,” he said quietly.

            The Enchantress looked searchingly into his eyes and reached out with her twee. Sir, you will protect Kasumi, will you not?

            I will protect her always, even when she might not want me to.

            Sir, will you protect me because I am important to my mistress and you will protect her?

            I will protect you because you are of my clan and therefore part of my extended family, Ayame. I will protect you as much as I will protect Kasumi.

            Her eyes were intent. Sir, I am her guard and part of her harem. If you would choose between protecting me and protecting my mistress, protect her.

            Ayame, I will protect her first. But as soon as she is safe, I will come to your aid and you cannot stop me from doing so.

            Will you protect us from Shikarou?

            I will do my damnedest to protect you from anyone, including him.

            I am afraid, sir.

            What are you afraid of?

            The last time a man touched me it was wrong. She grimaced and looked at Canaan. “Look in my mind and help me to explain.”

            The Splice’s antennae twitched. It isn’t that difficult to explain, she said to Iain. Shikarou is the last man to have sex with Ayame. When he first approached her, she refused his advances as she knew Kasumi had asked him to never touch her harem. In spite of her refusals he continued to pursue her determinedly and she eventually gave in so he’d go away. She intended to merely tolerate his touch, but she enjoyed the encounter. The problem is that she truly loves Kasumi and feels she betrayed her mistress when she enjoyed the sex with Shikarou because she knew she wasn’t supposed to be with him. She has extreme trust issues with anyone other than Kasumi and her harem because of it.

            Thank you. He smiled reassuringly at Ayame. “Canaan explained it to me. The problem is that you’re never going to believe what I say, so I can tell you that I will protect you but it won’t mean anything.” He frowned thoughtfully. “Can I ask you trust me a little bit for a day?”

            She seemed to think about it before nodding slowly. “You have never deceived us. There is much you have not revealed to us, but we have just joined the clan and my mistress has not become close enough to you for you to reveal the greatest secrets of the clan.”

            “There is one way that you can always trust what I say, but it involves some magic.”

            “You will have to get my mistress to allow this, sir.”

            “I know, but I want your permission first. What I’d like to do is have Kasumi use the delta bond spell to bond you to me for today. My emotions don’t lie. I can suppress them, but I cannot falsify them to you.”

            Ayame turned to face Kasumi. “Mistress, would this be allowable?”

            Kasumi looked past her at Iain. “What is this about?”

            “All I can say without violating privacy is that Ayame needs to be able to trust what I say to her today and this is the quickest way to make sure she can.”

            Kasumi nodded. “Ayame, do you wish this?”

            “For a brief time I do, mistress.”

            “Would Ayame be in our harem or yours, sir,” Giselle asked suddenly.

            “Ayame would be in my bodyguard for the day,” Iain replied. “She would stay in Kasumi’s harem but she would be under Pandora’s command and would protect me. Since we’ll be protecting Kasumi, her protection wouldn’t be lessened during that time.”

            “Can a pokegirl have two simultaneous delta bonds?” Kasumi looked curiously at Iain.

            “They can. It can be confusing, but if Ayame wants to keep her bond to you too, we can make it work.”

            “I would like that, sir,” Ayame’s voice was quiet.

            “Then we’re just waiting for Kasumi to give you the permission you asked for.”

            “I will allow this,” Kasumi said.

            “You’ll have to do more than allow this,” Iain responded. “You have to cast the spell.” He smiled. “Yes, Dominique could come cast it but this is about building trust and I trust your ability to cast spells on me as much as I trust Dominique to.”

            “I see.” She came over and quickly cast the spell, linking Ayame and Iain.

            “Thank you,” Iain said as he felt the artificial bond form. He hadn’t had one of these in a while and, as he remembered, it felt strange compared to the natural ones that branched out from him. But he could feel Ayame’s anxiety and worry and he automatically reached out and soothed her through it, letting her understand just how firm his resolve was to keep her and the others safe. Ayame was staring at him and he cocked his head curiously. “Are you all right?”

            She came to attention. “I am, sir.” Then she gave him a deep bow. “Thank you, sir, for this.”

            He knew better than to try and bow correctly in return, so he just smiled. “You are very welcome, Ayame. Now do you understand that you are safe here, even from me if necessary?”

            “I do, sir.”

            “Good. Now do you want a hug from me?”

            She shook her head. “May I wait, sir?”

            “Not only may you wait, Ayame, but you don’t have to ever have one from me. I won’t force my touch on someone who doesn’t want it. Conversely, anyone can ask me for a hug at almost any time and I will be happy to give them one.”

            She smiled. “That is because you like touching us, sir.”

            “True, but I also know my hugs are reassuring. See Pandora for your duty assignment.”

            “Yes, sir.”

            Iain turned to Kasumi and her two other pokegirls. “Do any of you want a hug from me right now?” It turned out that both of the pokegirls did and Iain hugged them happily before looking at Kasumi, who was watching him with an expression he was learning meant she wasn’t sure how to feel about something. “What is it?”

            “What is happening with Ayame?”

            “Remember what happened with her and Genma twenty years ago?”

            Her eyes narrowed. “I do.”

            “It’s something like that. However I can’t tell you unless Ayame would let me and you shouldn’t order her to explain. I can say that what just happened is a good step to helping her to overcome it.”

            “Is this about Shikarou, sir,” Giselle asked. “He is the only other man Ayame has been with since we came into the service of our mistress.”

            “It is, but that’s all I can say.” Iain cut Kasumi off as she started to speak. “Shikarou will be here in a little more than an hour. Are you less terrified now?”

            “I am annoyed.”

            “That’s not terrified.” Canaan snickered as he continued. “We are not offering Shikarou hospitality, at least not on this visit unless I change my mind. He initiated this meeting, so they’re not guests. We know the three of them are here to talk to Kasumi, and we can guess as to what the meat of this discussion is going to be about, that being her and him.” He looked at Kasumi. “I have to ask this so we’re all on the same page. Do you have any inclination toward letting him back into your life, either as your husband or former husband or in any other capacity that you can think of?”

            “No.” She smiled suddenly. “I just started dating you.”

            “Then you need to keep that firmly in the center of your mind,” Iain replied. “Shikarou’s a bright boy and he knows your weak points. It’s likely he might try to use them to try and get you to agree to whatever he wants. I suspect that’s why he’s bringing Kozakura along, especially since not a week ago she was still in Nippon.” Kasumi blinked and he smiled. “No, I haven’t been tracking her but she did ride back to Haven on one of our transports. Branwyn is his transportation here and other than that I expect her to not say much since she doesn’t want Kasumi back in Haven. Unfortunately, other than that there’s not a whole lot of preparation we can do. Theodora will be standing by in weapon’s free mode and will have a teleport block on standby. It won’t keep him from summoning help while trying to use force against us but it does mean any support will be minutes away and have to make their way through our defensive systems. Are there any questions?”

            “Yes,” Kasumi said. He waited and she smiled. “Were you serious about me having fourteen children with you?”

            “I said at least fourteen and yes. You wanted a large family and that’s a good start on one.”

            She nodded; her smile fading. “When did you want to start having children together?”

            “I would prefer to wait until we’re a couple, but if you really wanted we could start today.” Giselle’s intake of breath was easy to hear and she turned bright red in embarrassment. Iain politely ignored her. “May I inquire as to why you wanted those questions answered?”

            “Shikarou may have decided that perhaps we do not have to wait to have another child and might offer that to me as a salve against our divorce. As you have said, he knows my weaknesses and that is certainly one of them. Your answer will armor me against what he might try to offer.”

            “Good.” He flashed a grin. “I won’t ask the obvious question since I figure you’ll let me know when you want to get started on that.”

            Kasumi turned slightly pink. “We will know when the time is right.”

            “We will.” Iain’s smile faded. “When Shikarou gets here I would like to speak to him for a few minutes before you join us, if you don’t mind.”

            She cocked her head. “Are you protecting me?”

            “A little, but mostly I want to make sure he understands he’s here to talk to a member of my clan and that politeness is the rule and not the exception. You are no longer part of the Kingdom of Haven and he cannot treat you as such. I intend to make sure he understands that before he talks with you. It’s easier if I do that first rather than after he’s tried giving you orders or something else silly. If I instead waited, then it would sound like I was trying to protect you.” He frowned. “Oh, and your divorce paperwork got filed in your home world’s Tokyo about a week after our last visit there so everything is official and done.”

            Kasumi gaped at him for a second. “How?”

            “After you came here you gave me a copy for safekeeping, remember?” She nodded. “Dominique and I made a quick trip to your universe and filed the paperwork with the appropriate authorities in Nerima. We were only gone for a few hours and didn’t go anywhere near your former home.”

            Kasumi blinked. “I need to tell them that I am divorced now.”

            “We’ll go back to visit when we can, but it won’t be for a bit,” Iain said. “Hell, I’d still like to see how the other Ranma and his harem are doing, if only to test a personal theory of mine about pokegirls.” He scratched an ear idly. “So, will you let me meet with Shikarou before you do?”

            “You are our clan leader,” Kasumi replied. “I can’t argue with you about it.”

            Ganieda snickered, the sound echoed by Pandora and Canaan. “Yes, you can,” the Snugglebunny Splice said. “Anyone can argue with Iain about pretty much anything unless we’re in the middle of a fight.”

            Kasumi smiled slightly. “Then I do not wish to argue with him about it. This meeting is going to be hard enough for me. I want it to be over and for Shikarou to be out of my life for a time. If Iain can keep there from being yelling or other impoliteness, it would help a great deal.” She looked at him. “I am sorry that this may prevent you and him becoming friends. I understand that things were better between you and him since Ygerna’s redress meeting.”

            Iain shrugged. “It won’t prevent it, but it will probably delay it some. But I’m not worried about it. Right now he’s dealing with the fact that he’s never had a woman leave him before now. In his mind, in quick succession it’s abruptly happened twice, and the second time is with his wife. He’s hurt and he’s angry and he’s smart so he’ll get over it eventually.” He grimaced. “And the fact that he feels I stole his headmistress just aggravates him even more. He’ll get over it.”

            “What about Kozakura,” Pandora asked.

            “She’s the wild card. I’m not sure why she’s here. She isn’t that close to her mother. But what I need to remember is that she’s a spoiled little princess with an attitude problem about mortals, which is what she’s going to consider me. It could be she’s coming to try and convince her mother that breeding with me would be an insult of some kind or that any children would be impure. Nipponese can be big into purity and Kozakura has been in Nippon trying to find a kami male she can pair up with, which suggests she might be into the purity of the blood thing.”

            “You’re not, are you,” Pandora asked Kasumi bluntly.

            “Iain does not make me impure,” Kasumi said flatly. “And if we have children his blood will not harm them.” She looked at Iain. “I have a question. You said I was attracted to Shikarou because he is kami and it called to my blood even when I did not know I was kami and attracted me to him.”

            “I did,” Iain finally said when she didn’t say anything else.

            “When we first met, I felt a similar attraction to you.” Iain blinked in surprise. “And I have continued to feel it ever since. I dismissed it at the time because I was married but now I wonder why. You are not spirit folk, are you?”

            “I am not.”

            She smiled. “Then we have a conundrum.”

            “We do,” Iain admitted. “And we have to test to see if it is something from me or something from you.”

            “I agree, but where to we start?”

            He frowned for a second before snapping his fingers. “Yuko. It’s a rough test, but we should ask her if she felt anything off about me. It’s not definitive, but it’s a good first step.”

            “I am kami and she is kami and of my bloodline. That is a good place to start.”

            “Well, it’ll have to wait. We have to get through this first and we have less than an hour. Pandora, rotate people through both guard teams for bathroom breaks and drinks and snacks while Kasumi and I will do the same for ourselves.”

***

            Iain nodded to Shikarou’s escort. “Thank you, Silver.”

            The Pegaslut nodded. “You are welcome, sir.”

            She headed off as Iain gestured at the massive marble table in front of him without rising. “Shikarou, Branwyn, Kozakura, I bid you greetings and please sit.”

            Shikarou settled down and motioned for the other two to do so as well. “I came to speak with Kasumi, preferably alone.”

            Iain kept his tone light. “She’ll be joining us in a moment. I wanted to have a word with all three of you first so I asked her to wait a bit.” He gestured at the tea service. “If you’d like something to drink or some biscuits, please help yourselves.”

            “Thank you,” Branwyn busied herself pouring tea for all three of his visitors.

            They were seated in a wooded area not far from the Sabine house. There was plenty of shade and a gentle breeze that carried the scent of roses from the garden Ninhursag had built cooled them. Ganieda, Pandora and Ayame stood sentry while Canaan, Heather and Dianthus patrolled around them for ferals and other trouble.

            Shikarou’s ears stayed up as he looked evenly at Iain. “What did you want to say?”

            “When I was in Haven I followed Haven’s rules, more or less,” Iain said quietly. “When Kasumi was visiting here and people came to bring her home to Haven, I stayed out of that situation for the most part as it was between members of the Kingdom and not really any of my business. I only got involved when they seemed to be moving past the rules of hospitality I have for guests. Today is a very different situation. You are here on my land and Kasumi is no longer a member of the Kingdom. She has joined the Grey clan and your divorce is complete so the two of you are no longer married.”

            Shikarou’s ears folded halfway down even as Kozakura’s flattened completely. “I disagree,” he said pleasantly. “The protocols for divorce in Haven haven’t even been formalized so there’s no way she could have used them to divorce me.”

            “While interesting, it doesn’t matter,” Iain replied. “You married Kasumi in the Tokyo of the world she was born on in the Tendo dojo and under Japanese law. She served you with the proper paperwork under that Japan’s law and it has since been duly filed in Nerima in her home universe. As she has not tried to Americanize the divorce by asking for any kind of money or property except for what is already hers and since you have no underage children to decide custody for, you are no longer married to Kasumi and she is no longer married to you.”

            Kozakura hissed like a tea kettle as Shikarou’s ears went flat for a heartbeat. He started to say something and took a quick breath before speaking. “You took her there to file this paperwork? How did you get the coordinates?”

            “I have before figured out the coordinates of universes by magical observation,” Iain said. “And Dominique is getting to be quite proficient with the dimensional gate spell that we have.”

            “Without agreeing that we are divorced,” Shikarou said, “what does your pointing out this is your territory mean for this meeting?”

            “It means you will be expected to be polite in all dealings with clan members or you’ll be asked to leave. This includes Kasumi, Giselle, Ayame and Nishiko, as they are clan now. All three of you have tempers and I don’t want to see them on display today.” He looked at the three faces in front of him in turn. “Do you agree to this?”

            “And if we do not,” Branwyn asked in a low voice as Kozakura actually growled.

            Iain glanced at the young kami and promptly ignored her as he smiled at Branwyn. “Then this meeting is over and we’ll have to reschedule it for a later date when everyone can be available.”

            “I want to see my mother now,” Kozakura didn’t quite snarl, but her eyes were angry and her ears flat.

            Iain eyed her briefly. “You don’t get to make demands here.” He glanced at Shikarou. “You might want to shorten her chain.”

            She’s going to correct his attitude, Ganieda warned the others.

            Behind Iain, Pandora’s eyes lit up in anticipation. Don’t get involved unless she actually hurts him, she thought to the other guards.

            Why not? This was from Ganieda.

            She is already inside his defense zone, giving him the advantage. It’s a test of his ability. Instantly thoughts flew between all the members of his guard as bets were made.

            In the same instant as the guard was making bets, Kozakura shot to her feet. “I WANT TO SPEAK TO MY MOTHER NOW!”

            Iain jumped to his feet. “SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP YOU SPOILED LITTLE BRAT!”

            Kozakura recoiled as if she’d been hit and then her face flushed angrily. She leaned over the table and swung her hand in an openhanded slap that would have broken his jaw if Iain hadn’t pulled his head back just enough that her blow missed. He caught her arm in one hand and jerked hard, pulling her off balance and forward until her thighs slammed into the edge of the tabletop. He released her arm and grabbed her head in both hands to smash her face first into the top of the table as hard as he could before releasing her and stepping back. Kozakura slid backwards and fell limply to the ground next to her chair, leaving a long streak of blood on the tabletop.

            His face expressionless, Shikarou checked her pulse. Iain spoke as the kami shook his head. “Is she badly hurt?”

            “You broke her nose and chin and knocked her out.” He sat upright and glanced at the tabletop where cracks in the marble radiated out from the impact point. “But no, she’s not badly hurt. You’ve gotten stronger and faster. You finally took father up on his offer to make you a hybrid?”

            Iain sat down again, fighting the shakes from the dump of adrenaline into his bloodstream. “I didn’t but he’s been teaching me how to improve the body I already have. I’m just glad she wasn’t really trying to kill me.”

            Shikarou nodded. “She never extended her claws.”

            “You may have just made your life more complicated,” Branwyn said. When Iain looked at her curiously she smiled. “Up until recently Kozakura has been in Nippon looking for a mate. Her complaints so far have been about the fact that the males there can’t beat her in a fair fight so they’re not worth the trouble. She hasn’t been knocked out since she was fourteen and this might cause her to reevaluate you as a potential breeding partner.”

            “No, she won’t.” Kasumi moved into the clearing and sat down next to Iain as Giselle and Nishiko followed her in and took their places nearby. “Shikarou, Branwyn, I am glad to see you are well.”

            “Why won’t she,” Branwyn asked. “You know what she’s like.”

            “She won’t because I will not allow it,” Kasumi said firmly. “Iain and I are dating and Kozakura is not going to be pursuing him at the same time. I saw more than enough of that with Ranma and Akane and his women to put up with it with Iain. And since I know he isn’t interested in Kozakura, I will blame her for any interference and not make the same mistakes my sister did.”

            Shikarou stared at her in shock. “You’re dating,” he broke off and turned to Iain. “I thought you just married Ygerna. At least that’s what Father told me.”

            “He did,” Kasumi interrupted as Iain opened his mouth. “And that has nothing to do with my relationship with Iain.”

            Branwyn looked from one to the other. “How long has this been going on? Is this why you left Shikarou?”

            Kasumi’s eyes narrowed and the muscles of her jaw clenched. “Do not ever insinuate that I cheated on Shikarou.” Her voice was a growl that made the hackles on the back of Iain’s neck stand up. “I was faithful to him.”

            “Is that why you left us,” Shikarou asked calmly as Branwyn paled. “Because you believe I cheated on you?”

            Kasumi’s voice was more normal, but there was that edge in it that made Iain wary whenever he heard it. “That is but one of the reasons Shikarou. If it had been the only reason, why would I have put up with it for most of our marriage? In the end it came down to many things, including the facts that you don’t love me and I, after reflecting, realized that I either never loved you or stopped loving you long before I met Iain and Eve.”

            Shikarou looked at Iain again. “Do you love him?”

            “No,” Kasumi said in her normal voice. “But I have a great affection for him that I believe can be nurtured into love. You freed me from my father and for that I will be forever grateful, Shikarou, but I am not sure now if we ever loved each other.”

            “Looking back, I find myself wondering that too,” he said almost too softly to be heard. His attention sharpened on Iain. “Do you love her?”

            Iain smiled. “My feelings for Kasumi are complicated. Have you read the stories your ladies got from us?” Shikarou shook his head and he looked at Branwyn. “Have you?”

            “I did.”

            “A writer puts a lot of himself into any story he or she writes,” Iain said. “You can learn a lot about them if you look at the undercurrents, both in what they like or dislike but in who they like or dislike. Looking at Where None Has Gone Before, it’s kind of obvious I had a crush on several of the women in Shikarou’s family, including you.”

            “I had wondered about that,” Branwyn said quietly. “I took some basic psychology courses while finishing my education at the Conservatory and they suggested that about you.”

            “One of the reasons you have those stories is to help you face me on a more even playing field,” Iain said. “I didn’t think it was fair for you not to have them since I know so much about each of you and I wanted you to know me better so you didn’t think I was using that knowledge to manipulate you at every turn. But the Kasumi who is in that story has grown into the woman sitting next to me and this woman is superior to that original Kasumi in every way that I can think of. But I am not sure if I know her well enough to say that I love who she is. I do, however, have a great affection for her although I wouldn’t have put it that way. Still, her words work well enough that I can borrow them here.”

            Shikarou looked from Kasumi to Iain and back. “I was hoping to convince you to come home with me so we could work through this but that isn’t going to happen, is it?”

            “Even if things do not work out as I expect them to between Iain and myself, I freely joined his clan and this is my home now, Shikarou.” Her voice was gentle. “I have been welcomed here by almost everyone that I have met. That was never true with your harem. It isn’t your fault, but many of your pokegirls have never really accepted me since I was outside of their hierarchy.”

            “That will be the same here,” Branwyn said.

            “No, it was that way from the beginning with you and yours,” Kasumi replied. “Here we are not kami or human or Sidhe or pokegirl and yet we all are who we are and it doesn’t matter. We are clan and we stand united against the rest of the universe. With you, it was you and the rest of the harem with Shikarou and me with Shikarou or his Elf breeds with Shikarou. It was never all of us together.”

            “Is that even possible,” Branwyn asked.

            “When you and yours aren’t aggravated with us, come spend a week or two with us and see,” Iain said. He smiled at Shikarou. “You can bring him, too.” His smile faded. “But I do have one special condition about you visiting for any length of time.”

            Shikarou cocked his head. “What is it?”

            “You are not to bother Giselle, Ayame or Nishiko. I won’t put them where they’ll normally have to deal with you, but just leave them alone if you would.”

            Shikarou looked confused for a second before shrugging. “OK.”

            Sir, I am not sure if I am hurt, angry or happy that I meant so little to him, Ayame said hesitantly into his mind.

            I think you should be angry. If I am blessed enough that you share yourself with me as Kasumi suggested you might, I will certainly cherish and remember that time fondly and probably hope there will be more than one time.

            But why, sir? Your harem is full of women who all want to be with you almost constantly.

            None of them are you, Ayame, and every woman is different and special in her way and I look forward to finding out how special you are and how.

            But you know my heart belongs to my mistress. Is it just that you do not care, sir? There was a feeling of amusement. The mistress is right, sir. You are a barbarian. But you are our barbarian.

            She usually is. Now stop distracting me, you alluring wench. Iain smiled at Shikarou. “See, nothing too onerous. Just let us know when you’d like to do this so we can be on good behavior and lull you into a feeling of complacency.”

            Shikarou smiled. “I think the fact that you cracked a stone table with my daughter’s face suggests that ship has sailed. For once I’m glad she has such a hard head.” He grinned. “It probably came from me.” He stood and then knelt to throw a still limp Kozakura over his shoulder before rising again. “I hope you’re happy here, Kasumi.”

            “I hope you are happy too, Shikarou.”

            “I intend to try. Iain, I’ll be in touch in a few days. Selene told me you have information on some super monster that may be headed to Earth from the outer edges of the solar system and I’d like to learn more about our chances for survival.”

            “Just call. If I’m not available I’ll call back when I can.”

            He nodded and took Branwyn’s hand. “Let’s go home.” They vanished.

            Kasumi grabbed his hand. “What super monsters?”

            “It’s not common clan information,” Iain said quietly. “Kerrik and I have been tracking a truewizard who is out gallivanting through the solar system. Theodora and Cassiopeia have been playing some war games to work out planetary defense if necessary and they apparently let Selene and Eriu in on the games. Honestly, the fate of the world pretty much rests on Kerrik’s shoulders if this person is inclined towards violence. I’ll just be holding his coat.”

            “You intend to try and help,” Kasumi said. “I already know you that well.”

            “I do seem to have this problem sitting idly by,” he admitted.

            “What can I do to help,” Kasumi asked.

            “That’s the problem; I don’t know how I can help, much less anyone else. We don’t know who it is or what species they might even be. All we do know is that their ship is zipping around and changing direction in seemingly random times and vectors. We have some drones, both magical and tech based, shadowing the ship, but we have no idea what they’re doing. We’ve mapped the elements in space around them in case they’re vacuuming them up, we’ve mapped the cosmic rays, the stellar wind and solar flares and we can’t figure out if there’s a methodology behind what this ship is doing.”

            “Why are you just now telling me about this?”

            “You asked. There are a lot of things about us you don’t know yet. There’s still a lot of stuff I haven’t revealed to Ygerna yet either. In her case, it’s mostly I need the time to do it and the fact that I don’t have a list of things to reveal.”

            “You have so many secrets you forget some of them?”

            He smiled. “I don’t forget the secrets; I just have to remember who knows what. Since I sometimes am not sure, I don’t talk about most of them to anyone.”

            “That is good security, sir,” Giselle said approvingly. “Secrets should be kept that way.”

            “Thank you, but I don’t think Kasumi agrees.”

            “She does, sir, it’s just that she doesn’t feel secrets should be kept from her.”

            Kasumi’s head came around. “Giselle!”

            “It is true, mistress.” Giselle didn’t sound the slightest bit apologetic. “You only like secrets if you know them.”

            “You’re not supposed to tell him that,” Kasumi half grumped. ‘That’s a secret he doesn’t need to know.”

            “So it’s all right for Kasumi to keep secrets from Iain,” he said as he stood, “but it’s not all right for Iain to keep secrets from Kasumi. No, I don’t think I can agree with that philosophy.” She was still holding his hand so he pulled her to her feet. “I think that meeting with Shikarou went better than you’d hoped.”

            She smiled. “It did.” The smile faded. “Did you have to goad Kozakura into striking you?”

            “She came here looking for a fight,” Iain said. “I didn’t want one and this was the easiest way to keep from having one.”

            “That was deliberate?” Pandora was glaring at him. “And you didn’t warn your bodyguard?” Of course, what she really meant was that he didn’t warn her.

            “Branwyn is a telepath,” Iain pointed out. “She’s not the powerhouse that Circe or Stardust is but it doesn’t mean she hasn’t been training with them.”

            “She hasn’t been,” Ganieda said. “And she’s not as good as she thinks she is, but most pokegirls aren’t. Ryan has been working with me and Canaan and she’s already as good as Branwyn is and will soon get much better.”

            Iain realized that Kasumi was still holding his hand and grinned. “Are you going to let go?”

            “You still have secrets.”

            “I do, but you don’t get a rundown right now.”

            “Soon?”

            “Do I get all of yours?” She looked at him and he smiled. “Then no.”

            “If I stay close to you am I likely to learn more of your secrets?”

            “Possibly.”

            “As long as I am holding your hand you can’t get far from me,” Kasumi reasoned. She gave him an innocent look that made her look much younger. “I can’t see where you’d have to go to the bathroom or off to your studies either.”

            “Of course you can’t.” He eyed her thoughtfully. “You’ll note you survived Shikarou’s visit.”

            She smiled back, squeezed his hand and released it. “And I am very grateful for your intrusion into the visit. Without it I don’t doubt that they would have tried to guilt me into returning to Haven.”

            “I am glad that didn’t happen. What are your plans for the rest of the day?”

            She shrugged. “I didn’t make any.”

            Iain looked at Giselle. “Well?”

            She smiled. “Sir, the mistress and we have group training in two hours, followed by individual training and then what I was told was induction testing will take up the rest of the day. I am not sure what that is, though.”

            “You’re taking tests to see what you know that you can teach to the rest of the clan,” Iain explained. “You’re all talented magic users, but the rule is that you have to be willing to volunteer spells that you know and there’s usually some trading that takes place so nobody feels like they’re being exploited. But there are lots of other things you might know that we could learn from you. Anything that’s useful will get you scheduled as an instructor, but no, you will not be expected to reveal the secrets of Haven. We will not ask you to betray your former loyalties.”

            “And if we volunteer, sir,” Nishiko asked.

            “Then we will exploit the hell of whatever information you see fit to provide,” Iain said. “We’re polite, not stupid.”

            “Yes sir.”

            Giselle looked at Kasumi. “So we have the next two hours free, mistress. What would you like to do?”

            Kasumi looked at Iain. “What are your plans?”

            “I was supposed to be doing a report for the Rangers right now, but I don’t have time to finish it before I’m scheduled to meet with Ninhursag in twenty minutes on some expansions for the farm portion of the ranch. She has some specific plants she’s looking for and we’ll be scheduling when we’re going overseas to look for them. I know she wants to visit the Maluku Islands for clove and nutmeg trees and she’s looking for a place to get a strong strain of lemons and limes.”

            “What about oranges?”

            “We already have blood oranges and Cara cara navel oranges.” He shook his head with an amused smile. “I wonder if she plans to make sure we are growing or can grow almost every plant she can think of.”

            Pandora chuckled. “She has centuries of not growing plants to make up for. Of course she plans to do them all as soon as possible.”

            “True. After that I’ve got my magic studies and then a meeting with Dominique that she’s deliberately being vague about.”

            “Does she do that often?”

            Iain shrugged. “We all have our issues. She likes surprising me with things and she’s not alone in that. Anyway, that’ll take me to dinner and then I’m supposed to be free until bedtime.” He glanced at the sky. “Anyways, I need to be going if I’m going to make that meeting with Ninhursag.”

            “Thank you for helping, Iain.”

            “You are very welcome.”

            Kasumi looked at Giselle. “I think I’d like to spend the time before training with the older children. I want to see what kind of father Iain is.”

            “Yes, mistress.”

            “Sir?” It was Ayame. “Where do I go?”

            “You’re in my guard until that spell ends tomorrow,” Iain said. “Kasumi, when April has a problem with the fact that Ayame isn’t at training, send her to me.”

            “I will.”

            “Good. Pandora, let’s go.”

***

            Dominique looked past him. “What is she doing here?”

            “Ayame is my guard today,” Iain said, “along with Ganieda.”

            Crimson eyes shifted to look into his. “Send her away.”

            “No.”

            “Fuck,” she muttered. “Please?”

            “After your order it’s too late for please.”

            “Shit.” She sighed and rubbed her temples. “Get in here.” She looked at Ayame. “I don’t know how it works where you came from and I don’t really care. This is my laboratory. What happens in my lab is my business and none of anyone else’s including Kasumi’s until I decide that it is. That means clan privacy laws are now in effect. If you cannot keep what you’re going to see private under our laws then tell me now. If you lie to me I will find out and you won’t like it when I do.”

            “I cannot do that,” Ayame said. “I am sworn to my mistress and if she asks I cannot refuse to tell her anything.”

            Iain looked at Dominique. “Are you really invoking privacy?”

            “I am.”

            “Can we reschedule this?”

            “It’s been rescheduled twice already for real problems that cropped up unexpectedly. I’d rather not reschedule again for something this minor.” Dominique looked thoughtful for a second. “There’s a lounge down the hall. She can wait there and before you argue I’d like to point out that Theodora is your guard here.”

            “I will make sure that Ayame is well taken care of,” Theodora said as she appeared.

            Iain nodded. “Ayame, please wait in the lounge. This isn’t any sort of punishment and it’s not unusual here on the Theodora or in my house for my guards to spend time waiting on me. I will call you when I’m ready to leave.”

            Ayame nodded. “Pandora informed me that things like this happen, sir, but thank you for explaining that it is happening to me now.” She turned and followed a glowing blue light down the hall.

            “So, what about Ganieda,” Iain asked.

            “She’s staying. She’ll be my assistant in this.”

            “Really? How long has she been your assistant?”

            Dominique shrugged. “It’s been a couple of months. We’re collaborating on a few projects, including this one.”

            “And what is this project?”

            “Come inside and sit so I can explain.”

            Iain headed into the room. “Why do I have this sudden urge to become intransigent about something?”

            “I think it’s from spending too much time around Celestials,” Dominique said with a smile. “Not including me, of course.”

            Iain pulled himself up on a counter and kicked his feet idly. “What is this wonderful revelation you’ve got for today?”

            Dominique’s scowl returned. “Now that’s not being intransigent. That’s being a dick and I don’t like it.”

            “No, that’s me hopefully circumventing the twenty minute explanation to the point where you actually tell me what it is we’re doing today, thereby avoiding the delay.”

            Dominique raised an eyebrow. “Do you happen to have something better you’d rather be doing?”

            “Better, no, but as much as I love you and enjoy spending time with you I do have a long list of things I need to be working on and this meeting was so vague I have no idea what preparations I should have been doing beforehand. You know it’s annoying and yet you still do it.”

            “We want to shortcut the entire process of learning how to do what you do with conventional magic,” Ganieda said.

            Iain looked from one woman to the other. “How?”

            “That’s not the entire project,” Dominique said. “We set up a bunch of recording equipment and spells because I do hope that someday I will be able to reproduce at least some of what so far has proven elusive.”

            “Sounds good. What am I supposed to do?”

            “There’s a problem with that,” Dominique admitted. “We want you to use your truewizard magic to give one of your abilities to each of us. However, we don’t know what you can do with your magic anymore. You haven’t been discussing your studies or your development with us.”

            “I didn’t and I am not going to make you any promises for a daily briefing. Right now I’ve been primarily focused on the improvements to my body that Kerrik has been teaching me, although I’ll admit that the majority of the work is pretty much complete. Both of you are already stronger than I am so the strength enhancements won’t help you. The increased healing speed and thoroughness would, though and the enhanced senses might help Dominique but I don’t know what she’s already done to herself in that regard. I don’t think my enhanced senses are better than the ones Ganieda currently has.”

            “Healing thoroughness,” Ganieda said curiously. “What is that?”

            “When I heal I don’t scar anymore and broken bones mend completely and straight without me having to set them. Now I’m working to add regeneration to that process.”

            “Wow,” Ganieda said. “But what I want is your perception.”

            “Of course you do,” Iain said. “The question is can I give it to you.”

            “The question,” Dominique said, “is can you use your magic to copy any of your abilities in someone else. If so, it means we don’t have to run around in circles trying to learn how to do it since you already can. And if you can it would make you the go to girl for certain things, but that’s no different than the fact that I am the go to for others and Ninhursag is the person they go to for still other things.”

            “I see.” Iain frowned. “Let me think about it for a minute.”

            “Take all of the time you want, Iain. This is an important question and we’ve never asked it before.”

            “Thanks.” Iain closed his eyes and his breathing evened out.

            After a couple of minutes Ganieda frowned. “Can we talk while he’s thinking?”

            “We can. He can ignore almost anything when he’s like this, although he is paying attention so attacking him might get you hurt.”

            “You’re not a telepath so you probably can’t feel this through the delta bond, but his mind is going faster than any I’ve ever read. It’s incredible.”

            “Is it faster than the mind of an Alaka-Wham?”

            “Alaka-Whams and the other so called genius breeds don’t think faster than anyone else. They instead multi-thread their thoughts so it seems like they are. I’m blended with one and I think that way too. His thoughts are much faster than any of theirs that I’ve read. If it wasn’t for the fact that I multi-thread, I’m not sure I could keep up with him right now.”

            “Does that mean he has already impressed you this week,” Dominique asked with an impish smile.

            “He did that when he knocked Kozakura Wolf out this morning.”

            Dominique blinked. “I hadn’t heard about that. What did he do?”

            “I’ll replay it for you through my twee.”

            When she was done, Dominique turned to look at Iain again. “I’m stronger than he is but he’s gotten a lot faster than he was the last time he was tested. He showed no outward signs of panic or worry about failure when she attacked him, so I wonder if he’s been holding back on us.”

            “I don’t know. There’s a lot of his mind that neither I nor Canaan can touch. She accepts it, but I’m not so sure I do.”

            “If you don’t let him have his secrets,” Dominique said quietly, “he might go looking for yours. Are you sure you want to do that?”

            “I don’t have any secrets,” Ganieda said, but her voice didn’t sound convincing even to her and she growled softly in irritation. “You’re right. With my luck he’d discover I was originally the Damsel I was blended with and I’d become her.”

            “I’d like to point out that your luck has improved a great deal recently,” Dominique said.

            “What do you mean?”

            “You are with us now and you get to watch Geraldine and the former harem mates you hated being Iain’s slaves. You’re delta bonded to him too and that seems to make you happy. And that jumped you to inner harem in the clan with all of the privileges that brings. Finally, Iain would kill himself before he’d go near you with the G-Splice.”

            Ganieda’s head swung to look at Iain where he sat. “I hadn’t thought about it that way but you’re right. Between the ones I remember, my blends have had hundreds of tamers. None of them was like Iain.”

            “No one you ever meet will be like him either,” Dominique said. “It’s a good thing he’s the way he is or Sanctuary would have broken him to their yoke. And it turns out he’s more stubborn than Vincent McMahon.”

            “Who is that?”

            Dominique gave her a curious look. “He’s the head of the WAPL.”

            “I’ve never heard of him or of whatever that is.” The Splice frowned. “Theodora just explained it. There is no alliance of leagues in that part of the world from which I came and nobody named McMahon is in any sort of position of power that any of my blends are aware of except for a Henry McMahon who is the sheriff in Kirkton of Durress, which is a tiny community outside of Aberdeen.”

            “Well, that’s great,” Dominique said.

            Ganieda’s head came around. “His mind is slowing down to something reasonable.”

            Iain’s eyes opened and he yawned and stretched. “Are you all right,” Dominique asked.

            “I’m hungry.”

            “Food is being prepared,” Theodora said. “It will be here in seven minutes.”

            “Thanks.” Iain slid off of the counter and headed for a comfortable chair. “I think it can be done, but there could be some potential issues.”

            “What are they,” Dominique opened a drawer and tossed him a pack of jerky.

            He smiled and put it in his lap. “I was or am human. My brain works the way evolution intended it to, more or less. You’re pokegirls and the result of some haphazard genetic engineering and Ganieda’s situation is even murkier than that, thanks to the blending that happened to her. The portions of my brain that do certain things may not be the ones in your brain that perform the same functions. I should be able to reverse anything I do to you two, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that any brain damage you receive from it might not turn you permanently into a vegetable.”

            “I could download gestalts from each of them,” Theodora said. “With that I can recreate their personalities inside the original or new bodies, but this will require their specific authorization and your express permission.”

            “Considering I’d like them to keep their original souls too,” Iain said before either pokegirl could speak, “I would rather not have the damage take place. It will take some time but I think I can map their mental activity to make sure I don’t modify the wrong portion of their brains.”

            “I want her to download me,” Dominique said. “It’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s just so you have my knowledge if I am killed someday.”

            “Are you sure,” Iain asked her seriously. She nodded. “Very well, I give permission.”

            She looked surprised. “No argument?”

            “It would be a bit hypocritical considering I’ve done it.” Her eyes went wide and he shrugged. “If I’m killed and my body completely destroyed then perhaps I won’t become a lich in a new body. Since the clan could easily fall apart without me at this point in time, I took steps to try and avoid staying dead or becoming undead.”

            “Ninhursag hasn’t said anything about you doing this.”

            “That would be because she doesn’t know. You two are the only ones who do. Too many people would be worried that I was making plans to die or I would become reckless because of the download.” He stood and tossed the jerky back to her before moving behind the chair. “Come sit in this chair so I can scan your mind. I’m not reading it, I can’t do that. What I’ll be doing is mapping your brain and then your mind so I can see what parts of your brain are used by your mind to do specific things.”

            “You can do this?”

            “I can. No, I don’t exactly know how, just like you don’t know exactly how your spell casting makes magic happen or how Ganieda can breathe fire. I just do it. Someday I’d like to know more about the how involved, but that’s because the more I know the more I can do.”

            Dominique put the jerky on the counter and sat down in the chair. Iain put his hands on the sides of her head and closed his eyes.

            Ganieda managed to wait patiently for almost ten seconds. “Can Dominique talk while you’re doing this?”

            “She can,” Iain said, his voice just above a whisper.

            “What do you feel?”

            Dominique frowned. “I don’t feel what’s going in inside my head, if that’s what you’re asking. My vision went from color to gray to off and now it’s back to normal. Now my skin is crawling. Now it’s hot and then cold and now, fuck, that hurts.”

            “I have to map the pain centers,” Iain said. “I definitely don’t want to accidentally overwrite those.”

            “Iain, can you talk to us,” Ganieda’s ears flicked.

            “I can a little, why?”

            “Are you finding anything in Dominique’s brain that is different from yours?”

            He was quiet for a handful of seconds. “Nothing that I think is significantly different, but I want to finish this so I can be sure.”

            “But her brain is different from yours?”

            “No two people have identical brain structures,” Iain said. “Even pokegirls from the same litter or identical siblings from a pregnancy have slightly different brains from each other due to genetic variation. All of the differences I’ve found so far can be explained by that.”

            “Why can’t you do combat magic?”

            Iain’s lips curved in a slight smile. “That is an excellent question and way off topic, so please don’t distract me. If you must do that, wait until I’m scanning your brain.”

            Dominique snickered from where she sat. “What is his mind doing, Ganieda?”

            “It’s racing again,” the Splice replied. Her eyes became unfocused. “It’s incredible.”

            “Can I save up the times I have impressed you recently so I don’t have to for a while,” Iain asked with a soft chuckle.

            Ganieda’s response was instantaneous. “No.”

            “Pity.” Iain let his hands fall away from Dominique’s head. “Dominique, would you please get up and let Ganieda sit here so I can scan her?”

            “I don’t have perception,” the Archmage protested. “It didn’t work.”

            “I haven’t given it to you yet. I want to scan Ganieda first and then I’ll give you perception and then I’ll give it to her.”

            “Why does she get it first,” Ganieda said as she stood. “I’ll be sitting right there so you might as well give it to me when you’re done scanning me.”

            “She will get perception first because I want her to have it first.” Iain’s eyes met Ganieda’s. “Her assistant or not, you keep arguing and you won’t get it at all.”

            Dominique laughed as Ganieda stopped, staring in shock at Iain. “Yes, we all want him to be strong and, yes, it fucking sucks when he’s strong against us instead of doing what we want all of the time.”

            “That is very true,” Ganieda grumbled. She grinned toothily. “But I will get it second so get your butt out of that chair.”

            Dominique laughed again as she moved to her previous seat. “I wonder who else will want this.”

            “Canaan definitely will,” Ganieda settled delicately down in the chair and leaned back so Iain could reach her head. “She’s seen what his perception can do from his point of view and the ability to check people for weapons inside and out intrigues her.”

            “Not you,” Iain asked as he placed his hands on the sides of her head.

            “Among other things I want to keep Zareen from sneaking up behind me again. She is entirely too good at that and since she’s a dark type and doesn’t make almost any noise I don’t have a clue she’s there until she hits me or I get lucky and catch her scent. That and it’ll help me to protect Iain when I’m on guard.” She suddenly arched backwards and moaned.

            “It hurt that much,” Dominique asked.

            “It wasn’t pain. I orgasmed,” Ganieda finally got out. “There was no warning and suddenly I came hard.”

            “That sounds better than the pain,” Dominique said with a smile.

            “I’m not so sure,” the Splice disagreed. “I think I’d like to have all of the fun that’s supposed to lead up to an orgasm like that before it happens.”

            Iain pulled his hands away. “And I’m done.”

            Ganieda’s ears flicked. “OK, so give us perception.”

            “You know, you have a very nice furry little ass but get it out of that chair so Dominique can sit down again,” Iain said in amused tone.

            The Splice laughed as she headed for her original seat. “If my ass is little that would be the only thing about me that is.”

            Dominique had just sat down in the chair again when the door to her lab cycled open. “Your food is here,” Theodora announced as a cart floated in and settled down near Iain.

            “Break for food,” Iain announced as he lifted the cover on the platter. He blinked and grinned. “Someone has been spying in my mind. I haven’t had steak tartare in years. Oh, this looks good.”

            Theodora smiled. “I was hoping you’d like it.”

            Dominique looked. “She sent you raw meat?”

            Ganieda leaned forward and sniffed the air as Iain chuckled. “No, that’s not just raw meat. That’s raw beef or horsemeat with oil and vinegar or wine, some salt and pepper and fresh egg yolk. She didn’t send the traditional toast either; instead there are tortilla chips and some kind of green salsa in a bowl. That’s a neat twist.”

            “That smells delicious,” Ganieda said.

            “It is beef, I used red wine instead of vinegar, the salsa is actually guacamole, there’s tea to drink and I made enough for everyone,” Theodora said.

            Iain grinned when Ganieda looked curiously at him. “I am more than willing to share.” He took a bite. “Excellent. Is this one of the Wolf recipes?”

            “No, that one is yours.”

            “I think I’ll pass on the steak tartare,” Dominique said. “I like my steak medium or medium well.” She did, however, scoop up a double handful of tortilla chips to dip into the guacamole.

            Ganieda dipped a chip into the meat and popped it into her mouth. She looked surprised. “The flavor is surprisingly light for that much meat. I would never turn down meat but this is much better than I thought it would be.”

            “I’ll still pass,” Dominique said. “I’m good with chips and dip.”

            “Suit yourself,” Iain said. Soon they were done and the tray floated out the door. “Are you ready to do this?”

            “I was ready before the food arrived,” Dominique said. She was back in the chair he’d had them in while he scanned their minds.

            He nodded as Ganieda scooted back to her seat. “Do you have all of the recording spells and such up that you want for this?”

            “I’ve had them up since you arrived.”

            “Then let’s get this started. If what I give you is like mine, it’s always on but you can concentrate on visible sight and it goes into the background, kind of like a light you’re aware of but not focused on. Focus on it and your regular vision can get indistinct, especially in the beginning when you’re not used to using both ways to see at the same time.” He smiled. “I’d ask if you understood what I just said, but you can’t until you experience it. If you’re like me, once you’re used to it, you can use both types of seeing at the same time. Dominique, close your eyes.”

            The Archmage grinned. “Finally.” She snapped her eyes shut. “What the hell?” Her eyes shot open and she twisted around in her seat to stare at him. “When did you do it?”

            “While I was talking to you about what to expect,” he said with a smile playing around his mouth. “Then I gave the ability to Ganieda too.”

            Ganieda blinked at him and immediately closed her eyes. Her mouth dropped. “That’s incredible.” She held up her arm in front of her. “I can see through it. I can see inside it.”

            “You didn’t touch us or gesture or anything,” Dominique said to Iain.

            “Physical contact isn’t necessary for magic and you know that already. After I’d scanned your mind I knew what had to be done to make it possible for you to do this so I did it.”

            “It’s that easy?”

            “I did the hard work beforehand while trying to understand what I’d done to myself. I also theorized about how to do this to others, but I wasn’t sure if I’d ever proceed to actually doing it to someone else until today.” He smiled. “So it’s that easy now.”

            “You’re right,” Ganieda said. “He isn’t a dilettante. He would have been an asset to the Order or any other organized group of mages with the proper training in regular magic.”

            “I’m not sure that would be true,” Dominique mused. “Yes, he would be, but with what he can do that we can’t understand, would he have been trusted?”

            “Certainly not,” Ganieda said.

            “Then they would have sought to control him and Iain doesn’t respond to coercion well. Eventually he’d have found a way to destroy them.”

            “Getting free would have been my first goal,” Iain said. “Then I’d come back and destroy them because it’s unlikely they’d have just let me go.” He held up his arm. “Now both of you, I want you to focus on my arm.” He waited until their heads swung around. “Now look, not through my arm, but into it. See the arteries bulge slightly as my heart beats and watch the muscles move as I slowly make a fist. With practice you can magnify the view and see individual blood cells lining up to move through capillaries and watch muscle strands contract and relax. I don’t know what the limit is yet, but I hope you two will help me to experiment and see what can and can’t be done with this way of seeing.”

            “So you can see through clothes like Eve was worried about,” Dominique said with an amused smile and her eyes still closed.

            “Yes, I can, but I am not a voyeur and I don’t have really have any tendencies in that direction. I don’t go looking through the clothes of women except to check for weapons if they’re new to me and too close for comfort. That doesn’t happen very often anymore, thanks to my guards and my family, something for which I am rather grateful, by the bye.”

            “It’ll take us some time to get used to these new abilities,” Dominique said, “but after that I’m sure that we’ll be glad to help you experiment with them.”

            “Just remember that as with the fact that I can do this, what you two can now do does not leave the inner harem.” He rubbed his eyes. “I’ve got to go, but you know that.”

            “Ayame is on her way back,” Theodora told him.

            “Thank you.” He looked at Ganieda. “There is one more thing you need to tell Canaan before she comes to me for this.”

            “What’s that?”

            “Once you have it, unless I take it away it’s permanent. Considering her tendencies about presents and surprises, it will be very hard for her not to peek inside any wrapped gift for her, taking away some of her fun.”

            The Snugglebunny Splice blinked and nodded. “I’ll be sure to tell her.”

            Iain watched Dominique closing and opening her eyes. “It does get easier to use both at the same time.”

            She smiled at him. “I know. It’s just not what I expected and I also know you warned me about that once.” She glanced at the other pokegirl in the room. “You shouldn’t have Ganieda as one of your guards until she’s had more practice with her new ability.”

            “I’ve already summoned Dianthus to take her place,” Theodora said. “She will remain here with you until I complete some baseline tests for each of you. I did the same for Iain, but unfortunately he’d already had his sight for a time before I was able to design these tests, so yours will be very interesting to analyze.” She looked at Iain. “Your guards are outside.”

            “Thank you.”

 

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

Ganieda – Snugglebunny Splice

Heather - Elf

Dianthus Barbatus - Elfqueen

 

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 – Nurse Joy (Glasgow)

 

 

Queendom / Outer Harem

12 Elves

Dionne - Elfqueen

Adrianna - Elfqueen

Heltu - Wet Queen

6 Wet Elves

 

 

Dead Harem

Eirian - Silver Dragoness

Aurum - Gold Dragoness

Skye - Blue Dragoness

Emerald - Green Dragoness

Beryl - Red Dragoness

Julia - human

Ling - Cheetit

Matilda - White Tigress

Liadan - Twau

Sorrel - Armsmistress

Natalie - Blazicunt

Maria - Slutton

Rhea Silvia - Chimera

Geradine - Human

 

 

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