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The plain was bigger than Iain remembered it being, but then he suspected that could be because he was much smaller and closer to the ground than he’d been during his last visit. Nightraven immediately headed for the tower with the rapid long strides she favored and Iain fell into a trot to catch up. She didn’t look down at him as she walked. “I will test you to see how your studies have advanced since you were last here. How long have you been away?”
“A few years.”
She turned her head to regard him for a moment. “It has been long enough for you to forget how to address me.”
“I think we should stop this discussion until we are inside the tower where the gods and your other enemies cannot eavesdrop,” Iain said firmly.
Nightraven looked at him evenly before lengthening her stride. Iain began loping to keep up with her. Soon they approached the tower and the door swung open before them. Once the door swung shut behind them, Nightraven grabbed Iain by the neck and slammed him against the wall to dangle in her hand. “You will address me with the respect I deserve, student.”
In a blur, Iain sank the claws of his hands and feet into her arm and shredded the flesh to the bone in a spray of blood and tissue. Nightraven tossed him hard to slam into the mantle of her fireplace. She glanced at her now crippled arm and the wounds were gone. Iain bounced off the mantle, rolling upright before he hit the ground so he landed on all fours and crouched, his teeth bared. “I am treating you with the respect you deserve, teacher,” he snarled. “Of course you can teach me how to change form. You are the one who ripped away my humanity in the first place.”
He rarely saw curiosity in her eyes, but he had just often enough to recognize it now. “You know. How?”
“It’s my gift, remember? I recognized the breed the instant I saw what my spirit looked like. I did make extensive notes on them. I just never expected you to turn me into one of your race and that without my permission, which, by the bye, was a mistake on your part.”
“I made no mistake with you, Iain. The time for decisions has come and I decided that you would do for what I need you to.”
“Remember where you said you’d need to trust the person you selected? You destroyed any trust I had in you and therefore if you have selected me, you made a big mistake.”
She regarded him for a moment. “You have no trust for me therefore I cannot trust you to care for my interests.”
“At this point you cannot trust me not to scheme with your enemies.”
“What must be done to return that trust?”
“Return my humanity and then ask.”
“I made no provision to change you back to human and therefore I cannot. You will be a dragon henceforth. You should accept it for the honor that it is.”
Iain growled loudly. “Then you probably should kill me. You certainly cannot trust me.”
She shook her head slightly. “You are my choice and that choice is made. To unmake that choice would end my quest for that choice cannot be made twice.”
“Why should I care about your quest?”
“If I do not achieve my destiny, the destiny of another will come into effect. Should that happen, that other’s destiny will come for us both and destroy us if it can. You are not powerful enough to survive it unless you continue your study under me. And that person will destroy us root and limb which means your women and children will also be undone.” Her head tilted slightly. “You know this is true.”
Iain snarled profanities in Noir, Arabic, Hebrew, Spanish and Swahili for several minutes. Finally he sat upright and crossed his arms over his chest. “Teach me how to change shape. Once I have mastered that I will return home. I have other responsibilities besides being your student and I will not neglect them. I will return to learn under you and, if you wish, you may come to my home to teach me.”
She shook her head. “My method of teaching works best in isolation and that is here. I do not like bargaining with my student.”
“I still can’t trust you and so I will never be your mindless student again. But I am willing to continue learning from you and to give you the opportunity to show me that I can trust you somewhat.”
She looked into his eyes for several minutes. “Agreed. I will need your trust so that I can trust you in turn.”
“If you show me that you can be trusted then you will be able to trust me.” He dropped back down to all fours and loped over to stop in front of her and look up at her. “How long will it take you to teach me to change back to human?”
“I cannot teach that.” Iain snarled in the back of his throat but she didn’t respond. “I cannot teach that which is not. There are spells which will let the caster change shape but that is not what you truly wish to learn.” She turned and walked away. “Come.” Iain followed her upstairs and to the battlements. “Jump up here.” Iain crouched and sprang onto the battlement, which put his eyes roughly at the same level as hers. “You must learn to ask the right questions, Iain. You are no longer human and therefore you can never turn into a human, no matter what form your body takes. We do not change shape. We only force our physicality into a new form. All forms are ours if we wish to command them, but in all of them we retain that which makes us unique. Instead of changing form, we reshape the reality of what we are into what we wish to be. As a result of that we cannot be trapped in any form. Once you accept that, you will be free.” Her head swiveled as she surveyed around her lands. “As for how long it will take you to accept that, that is up to you. However, I can help you do so and I do not think it will take more than a single year. I will not delay your instruction in how to control your form so that you may free yourself, but I see no reason not to continue where you left off during that time. Do you?”
Iain resisted snarling in frustration. “I do not.”
“Then eat and return here at moonrise. Your lessons will begin then.” She turned and headed for her private quarters.
Ninhursag watched as Iain looked up at Nightraven. “I’m ready.” Multicolored lights swirled around them and for an instant grew too bright to see into. When they faded away, Iain stood there alone. His hair was long enough to fall around his face and he was wearing clothes she didn’t recognize, but her delta bond led straight to him and the grunt he made as she grabbed him up was the one he’d always made before. He smiled. “Yes, it’s me.”
Dominique joined them. “Are you going to become a dragon again?”
“I said I’d show the others, so yes, but only when I want to and I won’t get trapped as one again.”
“How long were you gone?” It was Kerrik, who hadn’t moved.
“I was at the tower for a little more than eleven months.”
Kerrik nodded. “How is she doing?”
“She is as she always has been; which is weird.” Iain looked at Ninhursag. “I enjoy you holding me, but I think you and Dominique still have training to do and I left the Theodora, so, my free time ended and I probably have training too now, if I remember the time correctly. April and Sofia are unlikely to let us out of it just because weird shit happened to me while I was studying.”
“And you have to show the rest of the harem,” Ninhursag said as she slowly let him go.
“And I have to show the rest of our family,” Iain said. “And then Theodora is going to want to drain me dry of every fluid she can think of.”
Kerrik snickered. “That sounds bad.” Misery blinked and began laughing softly while Raven just grinned.
Theodora shook her head. “It’s for science.”
“I’m sure it is,” Misery said while still laughing. “Just like I test Kerrik’s endurance and volume every time and it’s for science too.” She looked surprised and then grinned. “Theodora is blushing.”
Theodora’s cheeks were pink but the glare she shot Misery had nothing soft in it. “Iain, come to medical when you can.”
“Good.” She vanished.
“Eve is going to want to get you a haircut,” Dominique said as she ran her fingers through Iain’s hair. “Don’t let her.”
“Fine, I won’t.”
“Would you grow it longer for me?”
Iain shrugged. “I’ve had short hair for years for Eve. If you want me to have long hair I don’t see why not.”
“Will I get it for years too?”
“I think that’s up to Kasumi,” Ninhursag said quietly.
“I think it’s up to me,” Iain said. “I’m willing to listen to others’ opinions, but the final decision is mine.”
Dominique blinked and nodded. “That’s true, but up to this point you did what Eve wanted about your hair.”
“And now I’m willing to do what you want, for a while and as long as you don’t get too pushy about it.”
“I hear you,” Dominique said. She looked at Kerrik and back at Iain. “So bringing you here did do what you wanted.”
Iain smiled. “It did, even if not exactly how I thought it would. Thank you, Kerrik. Even if you didn’t help me, you were willing to try.”
Kerrik’s ears flicked. “You do realize that tomorrow’s training session is going to suck.”
“You get to find out how I’ve changed. I expect that’ll take more days than just tomorrow. The only annoying thing will be I’ll be doing essentially the same thing at home too.” He looked at Ninhursag. “Did Ganieda and Canaan stay away because you told them to or did you have to resort to threats?”
The Elfqueen smiled. “I employed many threats of course.”
He nodded. “Let’s go home and start the long process of sorting this out. I’ll see you tomorrow Kerrik. And you as well, Misery and Raven.”
Raven grinned. “Do you think you’ll be more fun to hunt now?”
Iain regarded her evenly. “I think you’ll have to find out.” Ninhursag took his hand and they vanished, followed a second later by Dominque.
Kerrik chuckled and Raven looked at him. “What?”
“I think I’d approach the situation with a little more caution,” he said. “I got the distinct impression that Iain hopes that hunting him will be less fun for any of you.”
“How can he be less fun,” Misery asked. “Yes, he’s stronger than most humans now, but he’s still just human.”
“He was,” Kerrik said, “human and never, I’d say, just that. And now he’s not human anymore. I think he hopes that he can make hunting him unpleasant enough that you won’t find it fun anymore.” He flashed a toothy grin. “At least he might want to make catching him a lot more unpleasant.”
Raven eyed him for a moment. “Misery will be the one to hunt him first.”
The Min-Top grinned. “Awesome!”
“We’ll see,” Kerrik said.
Iain had stopped at the house long enough to change clothes while Ninhursag called an assembly of the inner and outer harem. He was lacing up his boots when April stuck her head in the room and knocked on the doorframe. “Can I come in?” He nodded and she settled down on the bed to watch him finish dressing. “Ninhursag won’t tell me what’s going on. I’m your beta and I should know before the others.”
Iain chuckled. “Now there’s a word I haven’t heard in a while. Are you pulling rank?”
She smiled. “I am. As the beta I have it and this is a good time to use it.”
“I became a dragon today. The assembly is so I can show what my new other form looks like so I don’t get ambushed by our people if I use it to go for a stroll.”
April regarded him for several seconds. “You are aware that you are not a Blue and especially not English. You were not born and raised as one. If anything you’re Irish like I am.”
He gave her a puzzled look. “I know that.”
“Then don’t use understatement to try and deflect the enormity of what you just told me. We Irish don’t do that.”
He chuckled. “I have to be careful what I say about the subject. Do you remember when I spent ten years with my other teacher?”
April’s eyes narrowed. “I do. Does this explain the hair?”
“It was eleven months this time and yes it does. I got stuck as a dragon and she showed me how to change back to this form.”
“Which is the real you now?”
Iain smiled. “An excellent question and the answer is I am always me.”
“Am I going to lay eggs when I have your kids?”
Iain couldn’t help grinning. “No. This particular breed of dragon doesn’t lay eggs. It is live bearing so it has a pregnancy and delivers a lot like humans do. And yes, I am still completely fertile with you.”
“Good. I want more Duelist children before I become a pokewoman but I still want yours after that.” She glanced at the door. “Ninhursag wants me to wait so we’re not both pregnant at the same time but I don’t want to.”
“Then don’t. The two of you being pregnant together shouldn’t cause too much trouble unless you both decide that everyone else needs to die to free up more time with me.”
April snickered. “I decided that a while ago. It’s just that my plans to avoid any suspicion for their deaths are not quite ready for execution.”
Iain looked at her for a long moment. “Do you ever miss the days when there were a lot fewer of us than there are now?”
“Honestly, no.” April smiled at his sudden expression of surprise. “It’s not what you expected to hear but back then we weren’t as safe as we are now. I wouldn’t have dared to consider becoming pregnant with all of the threats around us. And I wouldn’t have become Mrs. Grey then.” Her smile faded. “And I’d still be an Ingénue.”
“You were still a fascinating woman, something that hasn’t changed.”
She cocked her head. “No regrets about me?”
“None whatsoever. Sometimes you piss me off so much I want to break things, but no, never any regrets about taking you up on your offer to share your bed that night or anything involving you that has happened since.”
April frowned. “You have regrets about other things?”
He shrugged. “I regret what happened to Scheherazade, Montsho, Hathor, Irena and Sable. It’s my fault they’re dead.”
April scowled. “No, it’s the fault of the fucker who attacked us.”
“He came because I was there, April. He killed them because they tried to stop him from killing me. He’d have most likely ignored them otherwise.”
“He was a vicious murderer who attacked us without provocation, Iain. Kerrik and Magdalene have proven that truewizards don’t have to be like that. He was just evil.”
“I’m well aware of that.” She frowned and he tapped his forehead. “He’s in here, remember, along with Eoghan and Germanicus, although I just have their memories.”
She sighed. “I worry about that sometimes. I know the first one was an accident, but the other two,” she shivered. “Was it worth it?”
“It was. Someday when I can do formal magic it’ll be worth a lot more but I learned a lot from their memories.” He stood and offered her a hand. “It’s time to go.”
She took his hand and used it to pull herself to her feet and into his arms. “I love you so much,” she said quietly. “Thank you for letting me into your life.”
He chuckled and tilted her head up so he could kiss her gently on the lips. “Thank you for deciding you wanted a place in my life, April, and hounding me until I made one for you.” She raised an eyebrow and he smiled. “I love you too.”
She tugged him towards the door. “Are you going to tell Kasumi about what happened to you?”
“That was the plan. Do you think I shouldn’t?”
“No, you should but I wanted to check. Now let’s go.”
Iain looked around the room at everyone looking back at him and worked really hard not to let his nervousness show, which was really difficult since it meant controlling his heart rate, respiration and adrenaline levels for the people with enhanced hearing or olfactory senses. These people were important to him and he really hoped that nobody decided they were done with him or the family over what had happened to him almost a year ago or, as he reminded himself, today for them. “Good afternoon, ladies.” He was sitting cross legged on a table at the front of the room while everyone else was sitting in chairs. “No, this is not my podium nor is it my pedestal. Something happened to me today, all of you need to know about it and this is the quickest way to explain.” He looked around the room. “However, everyone needs to be aware that this is a harem secret.” Ears flicked and people shifted slightly but no one spoke. “I’d like to keep it a secret from everyone, and that includes the outer clan, for as long as we can.”
“Ygerna has all of her guards here and Kasumi’s harem is here,” Daphne said quietly. “They are not harem.”
Kasumi nodded but Giselle spoke before she could. “We are going to become outer harem.”
“That means you have to fuck Iain,” Daphne said.
“It means we will share our bodies with him,” Giselle replied tartly. “I do not fuck.”
“And my guard will be joining the outer harem too,” Ygerna said. “And by the same way everyone else has. The only difference is that they won’t have to be in the regular rotation with Iain as much since they are also sleeping with me.”
“Are you willing to consider more bedmates,” Rosemary asked. “I am Iain’s but I have never been with a Sidhe and I’m curious.”
“Kasumi and Ygerna both are free to invite or not whomever they please,” Iain said firmly in a voice which carried clearly to everyone. “They are also free to refuse anyone, so don’t go appearing up in their bed and telling them that it’s your turn like you used to do with me.” Chuckles sounded around the room.
“Does that make us harem too, Daddy?”
Iain shook his head and glanced at Lucifer, who was obviously not sure how to respond, so he decided to take a stab at the issue. “Do you remember the talk with Dominique about young women and profanity, Seraphina?”
“Well, just like you’re too young to be able to decide to use profanity, you are too young to decide that you need to have sex. You’re in the children’s harem. When you become an adult, we’ll have a formal ceremony inducting you into the adult harem. However, please understand that I will never be your male.”
“We know, Daddy,” Olivia said in her quiet voice. “We’ve seen it. You will always love us with all of your heart, but never like that.” She smiled. “But we do get to keep sleeping with you and Mommy, don’t we?”
“Of course you do,” Iain replied.
Ninhursag stood. “I want everyone to understand this point. This is a harem secret. If it gets out I will break privacy rules if I have to in order to find out who revealed it and when I do their life is going to become a living hell for a very long time.” She looked slowly around the room. “And it’s going to be a hard secret for some of you to keep because Iain just became even more powerful and he will pass that power on to our children when we become pokewomen, so some of you, hell, all of you are going to want to brag about it to make other harems look bad. Do not do that. There is no excuse for revealing this that I am going to accept.”
“What if someone pulls it from our minds,” Silver asked.
Ninhursag looked at Iain’s guard. “Dominique, has everyone mastered the protective spell you’ve been teaching?”
The Archmage nodded. “Everyone in the inner and outer harem, yes, although it needs to be understood that Ygerna, Kasumi and their harems have not had lessons. Even Olivia and Seraphina can cast the protection spell.”
The Elfqueen looked around the room. “That spell will essentially add the psychic protections of being a dark type while it’s operating. Kasumi and the others will be scheduled for lessons. The rest of you had better be using that spell, which means you still have no excuses.”
“I’m using it every morning,” Silver said. “I just wanted it clarified because I know that not everyone is.”
“Then they’d better start.”
“Are we done with the disclaimers,” Iain asked.
Ninhursag nodded. “We are.”
Iain smiled. “Good. As many of you are aware, it was discovered relatively recently that I have the spirit of a Western dragon, which means that one day I am going to actually turn into one. That happened earlier today.” He waited for the sudden murmuring to die down. “For a while I was stuck in the form of a dragon, but we went to Kerrik’s place and got that sorted out.” He held up a hand and rotated it slowly. “But what it means is that while I look human, I am not. What this means for the future is something we’ll discover together after Theodora finishes her tests on the new me. In the short term it means that sometimes I’ll be in my dragon form and I don’t want to get attacked so you’ll all get to see it today. And, yes, it’s small enough to fit in here without anyone getting hurt.” He looked down. “In fact, my dragon form will fit on this table which is why I’m sitting here.” There wasn’t any transition but suddenly he was replaced by the small dragon Ninhursag and Dominique had seen before. “And this is it.”
“That’s all?” Everyone turned and looked at Lynn, whose face and ears turned bright red. “I’m sorry,” the Growlie stammered. “It’s just I thought you’d be bigger.” She blinked when everyone laughed and her flush spread down her chest and under her shirt as she sank down in her chair. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it that way!”
Iain sat up on his hind legs, which put his spine perpendicular to the tabletop and let him use the length of his body and neck as height. “It’s all right, Lynn,” he said soothingly. “First, you’re not saying anything that everyone else here isn’t thinking and, secondly, it was kind of disappointing to me, too. Here I was terrified that I was going to become this huge ravening beast worthy of being a Legendary pokegirl and instead all I can terrorize is a tub of ice cream.” Lynn gave him a look of gratitude as the crowd turned their laughter on him. “But I will absolutely own that tub of ice cream. It has no chance against me.”
Olivia got out of her chair and came over to the table. “Can I touch you, Daddy,” she asked softly.
Iain patted the table. “Come up here and you can.”
“Thank you, Daddy.” The young Megami-sama clambered up next to him and began running a hand over his neck and back. “It feels neat.”
“This brings us to something else,” Iain announced. “I just gave Olivia permission to pet me. If someone tries anything without my permission,” he held up his hands and extended his claws, “I am going to bleed them.”
“So nothing changes,” Daphne said with a smile.
Iain chuckled. “No, not really, except for the fact that my claws are much sharper now. Are there any questions?”
“Can we have sex with you when you’re like this,” Rosemary asked. “I’m willing to give it a try.”
“You’d give a stump a try,” someone muttered from the back of the room.
Rosemary laughed. “It’s not that and you know it, Chuck. Iain accepted me as I am and he will always accept me as I am, no matter what breed I might become. He accepts all of us that way and I am willing to accept him as he is, because it doesn’t matter what he looks like, he’s still our Iain.”
“I appreciate the sentiment,” Iain said thoughtfully. “And I hadn’t considered that question. As many of you know, I can be talked into almost anything in the bedroom, so it’s possible. However, I’m still coming to terms with this form and so it won’t be for a while. We all don’t want to find out that as part of orgasming, I sink my claws into my partner and rake because she should have scales like mine.”
“I don’t mind finding out secondhand,” Rosemary said. People laughed again. “But you’re right; I don’t want to be the person who learns it with you.”
“And since I’m not big into hurting my partner unless she wants me to, for the foreseeable future the answer is going to be no,” Iain said firmly. He changed back to his human form, complete with clothes, and lifted Olivia into his lap where she snuggled happily. “And I don’t have anything else right now.”
Sofia stood. “The day was ended early for this meeting. Enjoy your free time and Iain will be making the rounds so he can spend a few minutes with each of you after dinner. The people assigned to dinner need to report to the kitchen.”
Seraphina got up and stopped at the edge of the table. “Can I climb up there too, Daddy?”
“Come on,” he said with a smile and she eagerly joined her sister and him.
“This was a good way to inform everyone,” Lucifer said as she stopped in front of him. “And eventually I will get over my pique at not being told before the rest of my sisters.” She smiled. “I am certain there is a lot of that feeling going around among your command staff. Who knew before this besides Theodora, Ninhursag and Dominque?”
“Just April and she only found out a few minutes before the meeting. And April cornered me in my room while I was changing clothes and pulled rank.”
Lucifer frowned. “What rank? She schedules our training.”
“She’s my beta and therefore my sounding board and the harem second in command. It’s a holdover from my days as a tamer, but so is maharani.”
“And any difference in rank is paramount to us.” Lucifer glanced back at the Duelist, who was standing out of the way as the room emptied. “She has not mentioned this and I have not seen her spending long periods of time talking with you.”
“You know she shaves me every morning,” Iain pointed out. “We use that time to chat.”
“I had wondered about your apparent incompetence with a straight razor,” Lucifer said amusedly. “I have seen how well you wield many other blades. Do these conversations help you too or just her?”
“She pissed me off once to the point where the daily shaves ended,” Iain said thoughtfully. “I missed them a lot. I think they sometimes help to center me to face the day.”
“I see I have more mysteries to ferret out,” Lucifer noted. “It is interesting that you do not often speak of your past and, apparently, the members of your harem who have been with you the longest have adopted that tendency. Even Eve is often reluctant to discuss the past in regards to you.”
“I didn’t deliberately try to get them to do that,” Iain said quietly. He reached out with his twee. Vanessa, April, Dominque, Eve and Ninhursag, could you join Lucifer and me? They quickly arrived. “I’d like for you to sit down with the command staff and give a summary of our history together,” he said quietly. “Between the truewizards that might attack and how I learned to return to my human form, it could be important.”
Eve asked. “Kerrik taught you, didn’t he? Why would that involve our past?” She frowned. “All right, who taught you how to change shape? Was it Magdalene?”
“Nightraven, and he was gone for nearly a year,” Dominique said. “I’ll explain before the meeting.”
“Shit,” Eve hissed. She blinked. “I’m sorry, girls.”
“It’s all right, Eve,” Seraphina said. “We know those are grown up words and when we’re grown up we can use them if we want.”
Eve glanced at Dominique, who gave her a smug look back. “Grownups shouldn’t use those words either.”
“That’s not true,” Olivia said quietly. “We understand that you don’t want people around you to use them, but that’s a,” her face scrunched up for a second, “a personal preference. When we join the adult harem we will decide if we want to use words like that.”
“Before you try to lay down the law,” April said quietly as Eve’s eyes narrowed. “I would like to remind you that we have had this discussion before and Iain’s opinion of it hasn’t changed. Ever. It is just like his opinion of whether or not we have to wear clothes if we do not want to.”
Seraphina cocked her head curiously. “We do not have to wear clothes?”
Iain smiled down at her. “You have to do what your mother wants you to do. The decision whether to wear clothes or not is another adult harem choice. As our children, that’s Lucifer’s decision to make.” He smirked. “I’d let you run around nude of you wanted to, but I like your mothers that way too.”
“OK, Daddy.” Seraphina looked at Lucifer. “Mother?”
“You will wear clothes for now,” she said with a smile, “when I say it is appropriate.”
“Are Kasumi and Ygerna part of our command staff,” Vanessa asked curiously. “They have been attending some of the briefings but have not been invited to most of the meetings.”
Iain exchanged a look with Ninhursag and the Elfqueen grimaced. “I’ll make sure they get invited to them all from now on.”
“Thank you. I’d hate to think we were not using their years of experience just because they’re not pokegirls.”
Ninhursag sighed. “I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen either.”
Iain smiled thinly. “Let me help. Theodora, please make sure Ygerna and Kasumi are included in the command staff activities and don’t be afraid to pick their minds if something might be in their areas of expertise. In the future, if anyone else gets added to the command staff, please take care of them too.”
“I will be glad to make sure that they are included,” Theodora said as she appeared, “in both command staff and activities for the inner harem, and that their guards are invited to the outer harem activities once they have been formally inducted into it.”
Vanessa chuckled. “Now it’s called being inducted? There’s a new word for it.” She looked at Iain. “When is that supposed to happen?”
“I’ve scheduled them to be with Iain,” Ninhursag said. “They should be in the harem before we go to Kasumi’s world again.”
“What about the rotation,” Lucifer asked. “They are outer harem and therefore shouldn’t be in it routinely, but they also have others who bond them, which should be considered in regards to their loyalty.”
“Pokegirls only have a superficial loyalty to an alpha bond,” Iain said. “I’ll do what I have always done, which is to tailor my daily time with each of them as they want and as my obligations to the inner harem and its relationships allow.”
“We all see that the distinction between inner and outer harem is rather blurry,” Dominque pointed out. “We also know that blurriness is only increasing and that eventually there will only be the inner harem. But we also know that each woman is different and will want different things from you and from other members of the harem. As usual, we’ll adapt as we need to and, as usual, it will work smashingly.”
“And I’ll be adapting too,” Iain said. “Speaking of adapting, Eve, the answer to your question is no.”
The bluebonnet haired Megami-sama blinked. “No? And for what reason are you telling me no now?”
“I am not getting a haircut.”
She eyed his hair for a moment. “I have to adapt?”
“Others had to adapt to my short hair.”
Eve glanced at Dominique. “True. Are you going to grow another beard?”
“Then I don’t have a problem with you having long hair.” She smiled broadly. “It’ll give me something to get a good grip on.”
April chuckled. “Are you talking about sex or sparring?”
Eve’s smile turned mischievous. “Yes.”
Vanessa shook her head. “Lucifer, in light of recent developments with Iain, are you rescheduling tonight?”
“I am not. Iain is obviously well and I will reassure myself of his vigor when next the time comes.”
Iain looked from one woman to the other. “Tonight?”
“I am taking Vanessa, Pandora, Dominique Canaan, Eve and Ganieda to Thistle. We are going to vet the Thistle police unit for loyalty. I need forces I can rely on for what is coming in Shield and the police in Thistle are an easy place to begin. I doubt they are heavily infiltrated like I suspect the police in Shield are.”
“And if you have to eliminate anyone?”
“We are taking steps to avoid having to kill them immediately,” Lucifer replied evenly. “If that fails, Theodora is prepared to manufacture an incident with raiders of some kind that resulted in a few fatalities that we can use to keep the traitors from becoming alerted to their impending doom. She said something about using your training robot and similar designs to make the attack realistic enough to alert the base to intruders but still remain controllable.”
“What about their privacy,” April asked.
“Until they are proven loyal to me, they fall under Iain’s orders for the Sisterhood to be a rebellious satellite clan faction. That means they have no privacy.” She looked at Iain. “I want to take only Celestials, Canaan and Ganieda in case our enemies are forewarned by our actions tonight. In that case, it will look like I took only Celestials and our resident psychic pokegirls in an attempt to keep my problems in house and therefore out of your sphere of attention. It should help to keep you from becoming more of a primary target for the traitors. If they feel I have the resources of the entire clan behind me they would be more likely to target you for assassination.”
April shrugged. “Vanessa isn’t a Celestial. Evangelion is a Celestial. Vanessa is a G-Poindexter.”
“I can easily alter my aura to scan as a Blessed G-Poindexter,” Vanessa said with a smile, “although I appreciate your concern for my wellbeing.”
“That’s neat to learn.” Iain frowned. “That’s a good plan. After I circulate and let the members of the inner and outer harem become reassured that I still care for them I think I’ll spend the night on the Theodora. You’re leaving me Heather and Dianthus and I’ll take them too. With my bodyguards attending me it’ll look more like I’m just having a normal day and being off planet will give you more of an ability to segregate tonight’s activities from me and mine since it’ll look like you planned to wait for me to be out of the way before you acted so I don’t find out about it.”
Eve chuckled as Lucifer’s eyes glowed with joy at his idea. “See, they’re a good match for this sort of thing.”
“We’re just a good match overall,” Iain said. “And you can take satisfaction that it’s all due to you or else we would never have met.”
Lucifer smiled as Eve looked surprised and then pleased. “Do not feed her ego, Iain, any more than you already have. I know full well that my love and lover introduced us because she selfishly didn’t want to lose me while gaining you.”
“If I were her I’d have wanted both of us too,” Iain said. He squeezed Olivia and Seraphina against him. “If she hadn’t, I’d have missed out on loving these two little monsters.” He winked at Lucifer. “They are monsters, even if they are your dearest treasures.”
“I could not have given them to a better man,” Lucifer said gently. “Can you move the reassurance phase of today to before dinner so you can go to the Theodora earlier?” She caught the squealing little girl Iain tossed at her and smiled when Eve ended up with the other as Iain slid off of the table.
“I can,” he said simply as Heather entered the room and moved to stand behind him.
She smiled at the back of his head. “You summoned me, sir?”
He turned as he nodded. “I did. I know it is short notice and you stood watch over me yesterday, but I’d like to request you and Barb guard me until tomorrow morning. Lucifer needs Pandora and Ganieda for a mission tonight.”
Heather looked at Lucifer. “We’ve got this. Go spank the Alliance We’ll keep him safe.”
“Thank you, Heather.” Lucifer looked around as she put her daughter down next to the one Eve had just set on her feet. “Ladies, please come with me.”
“Mother,” Olivia said in a serious tone. “We want to learn.”
Eve drew in a breath of surprise as Lucifer looked down at her daughters. “Do you think you are ready?”
“One day, Mother, you will hand us the Sisterhood so you can focus on your new children,” Seraphina said. “We have seen it just as you have. We need to learn how to make the hard decisions so that the Sisterhood’s purpose stays the course and honors our family and our clan. Father will teach us to be strong, but you need to teach us how to lead.” She looked at Iain. “You are a great leader, Father, but we cannot learn how to lead the Sisterhood from you.”
Iain went down on his knees and hugged the two girls. “You do what you need to,” he said gently. “I will support you wholeheartedly. Just try not to grow up any faster than you have to. Your mother was never a child and she never had a childhood or parents so she desperately wants you to have what she didn’t.” His smile was bittersweet. “I was a child, but my childhood ended when my father died and I had to be the man of the family. I don’t miss it, but sometimes I wonder if I wouldn’t have the monster inside of me if I’d been a kid for longer.”
Olivia kissed him and when she drew back, so did Seraphina. “Father,” Olivia said, “you would not have survived to meet Mother if you had been a good good man. You would have died on the pirate ship. You are as you need to be.”
Iain eyed them curiously. “I was told that I create my own destiny. You sound like I have one that I have to follow.”
“No, Father,” Seraphina said. “Your destiny is in your hands. We cannot see your future except in the very near term and we do not look because it would be rude. But without the strength you have in your soul you would have given up and chosen to die. Others of you who were not as strong pretended to break so they would be freed from their manacles and then waited until they were alone to work nails free from the walls of their cells and used them to cut their throats and commit suicide to escape the pirates and Sanctuary.”
“Well,” Iain said thoughtfully, “if they couldn’t be strong enough to meet you, then it’s best for them that they managed to die by their own choice.” He got to his feet. “It’s your mother’s choice, of course, as to whether or not you go with her tonight for the planning meeting. However I see no need for you to go to Thistle.”
“That would be because there is no reason for them to travel with us to Thistle,” Lucifer said, “and they shall not. Come, girls and closely attend as we plan to purge the Sisterhood of its rebellious elements.”
Dianthus slipped into the room as everyone else left and joined Iain and Heather. “What is going on?”
“Iain wants us to guard him tonight,” Heather replied.
“Then we shall. I just wish I’d known before I left after the meeting was over.”
“I didn’t know about this until just a few minutes ago,” Iain said. “I’m going to go let the ladies see and touch me so they know that although I’m a dragon now, I’m still me. It’ll reassure them that I’m not going to disappear on them. After that we’re going to the Theodora where we’ll spend the night. I’ll explain everything about why when we get there.” He grinned suddenly. “I won’t need guards there, but I was hoping you’d help me with something.”
“What is that,” Dianthus asked curiously.
His smile widened. “Theodora is going to eventually convince me to go back to medical so she can run more tests. She’s also going to want to collect tissue and fluid samples for analysis. I was hoping you could help her and collect the sperm sample she’s going to want.”
Heather grinned back at him. “I think I can be convinced to help with that.”
“We can,” Dianthus said firmly.
Heather looked at her. “We?”
“I am a queen and I am enforcing my rank I will, however, share him with you.”
Heather shot him a look. “Do you think he’s healthy enough for both of us at the same time?”
“It is something we should determine,” Dianthus said seriously. Her eyes sparkled with humor, however, ruining her act. “Our sisters will need to know he is truly healthy.”
“Excuse me,” Theodora said clearly as she appeared in front of them. “I demand the first sample for myself. It will have the highest sperm count and the highest quantity of other fluids that I will be testing. And while some small contamination with saliva is acceptable, that does not mean it goes from your mouth to the specimen container. After that, all of his sperm is yours.”
“Done,” Heather said enthusiastically.
Dianthus frowned and then her eyes narrowed. “Sir, April just requested I ask if you got laid while you were gone. Where did you go and how were you gone so long without us that she is concerned if you had sex with someone?”
Iain visibly winced. Dianthus had used the word us but he didn’t have to be a mind reader to know that she actually meant the word me. “She could have just asked me. Tell her that the answer is not enough but yes and I ask that you trust me to answer your question but only when we’re on the Theodora.”
She eyed him intensely. “Promise.”
“Barb, I promise to explain the events of today and the history behind them, which will give you the information you need for April’s question to make sense and that it will also answer your question.”
Dianthus nodded. “And done.”
“Colonel Bailey, I am your supreme commanding officer. I gave you a direct order that every member of the Thistle MPC was to be here tonight. I did not give you any latitude in that order. Are you telling me that you ignored that order and sent some of your people out on patrol when I specifically directed that they were to be here?” Lucifer’s voice was calm and even, but her expression held the thoughtfulness of a woman who’d found a roach in her home and was deciding if she wanted to crush it or let it live.
Bailey was an Officer Jenny and sweat beaded her forehead as she stared back at Lucifer. “Eldest Sister, my mandate is for the Military Police Command to protect the people of Fort Thistle. I cannot do that if my entire force is here. We have to do our jobs, Eldest Sister.”
She is loyal, Canaan said to Lucifer. She is also stupid and believes her mandate takes priority over everything. I guess that means she’s dedicated.
“Eve,” Lucifer said. “I want you to go to communications and locate the patrolling officers. You, Canaan and Vanessa will retrieve them using whatever minimum force is necessary.”
“We’re on it.” Eve waved to the others and hurried towards the radio room.
“Eldest Sister, we need to have patrols out,” Colonel Bailey protested. “What if there is an attack?”
Lucifer’s gaze swung back to Bailey and read the highly polished rank tabs on her collar in a glance. “You are now demoted to Lieutenant Colonel Bailey. Every time you argue with me I am going to reduce you another grade. I gave you your mandate. You enforce it or not at my direction and I gave you specific directions for tonight which you have deliberately violated. Obeying your superior officers is also part of your mandate. Be grateful that you are not under arrest.”
Bailey went white. “Yes, Eldest Sister.” She snapped to attention. “Command me.”
“Assemble your troops. Keep the harems together. As instructed you will verify that each pokegirl has her pokeball. You did give that order, did you not?”
Lieutenant Colonel Bailey nodded. “I did, Eldest Sister. In any case, there is a directive that all pokegirls on active duty must have their pokeballs for recovery in the event of catastrophic injuries.”
“Good. If any do not have their pokeballs, you will note those individuals for disciplinary action after this evening’s activities are concluded.”
“I understand, Eldest Sister.” Bailey hurriedly left the room.
“With Canaan gone I’m afraid you’re going to have process all of them,” Lucifer said to Ganieda.
“I don’t have a problem with it,” the Snugglebunny Splice replied. “I am here to help, my sister.” Her ears canted curiously. “Do you have any restrictions?”
“Please do not kill anyone out of hand.”
“I don’t intend to kill anyone,” Ganieda said. “Dominique has breaker balls in case we have to contain someone who either deliberately or accidentally left her ball at home and I can easily overpower any human without causing them too much injury. Most of them I should be able to evaluate without ever leaving your side. Still, I will touch each of them so that they think they are only facing a rather large Snugglebunny. Now we have to wait for Bailey to do her job so I can do mine.”
Lucifer checked the door before speaking. “Right now I need loyalty more than anything else and Bailey is loyal. However, after this is all over I think I’ll have to evaluate her effectiveness and find a post that’s suitable for her abilities. I suspect that being in command of Fort Thistle’s police may be a bit beyond her grasp.”
Ganieda shrugged as she mentally asked her twee a question. “Canaan was right when she told you that Bailey being stupid isn’t necessarily a liability. She’s aware that she’s not the brightest person and tries to make up for that by being even more diligent in her duties than the average Officer Jenny. She does have a rather high solve rate for cases she is involved in and she and her harem do very well working alone. Her closure rate for cases is statistically higher than that of other police around her. It is administration that isn’t her strong suit. Perhaps she would make a good Ranger.”
Lucifer looked thoughtful. “I hadn’t considered sending some of my people to the Rangers. I will have to consider that idea at length when things settle down.”
“Stupid people also make excellent bullet sponges,” Dominique noted. “Combine their level of intelligence with loyalty and they often volunteer to soak up enemy fire. It is possible that Bailey might not survive the coming firestorm.”
“I intend to make the fires as small as possible for my sisters,” Lucifer said firmly. “Their job is not to die for me. It is to live and to kill our enemies.” She looked at Ganieda curiously. “I wasn’t aware that you knew the Lieutenant Colonel.”
“I don’t. They don’t have privacy so I just accessed the personnel records, phone records and other available information on everyone that I should be scanning tonight. My twee is downloading them right now, but I started with Bailey.”
“Nicely done,” Lucifer said.
Ganieda’s teeth gleamed in her quick grin. “Hey, I’m a genius.”
There was a knock on the door and Lucifer turned to face it. “Enter.”
It was Bailey. “Eldest sister, my troops are ready for your attention.” She smiled eagerly. “They know they’re being evaluated individually for a special mission of an unknown nature. May I request that I and my harem also receive that evaluation?”
“You already have,” Ganieda said as she reached out and touched Bailey on the hand, her ears flicking at the contact, “and you made the first cut, although I will have to check the rest of your team.”
“Thank you.” Bailey hesitated. “What is your rank and name, inspector?”
“Her name is Ganieda and she is an operative on loan to me by Clan Grey,” Lucifer said before Ganieda could speak. “Her equivalent rank would be major, but she does not have to follow military protocol.”
“I must say that you are the largest Snugglebunny I’ve ever seen,” Bailey said. Dominique winced.
Ganieda smiled without showing her teeth. “I am a sport, Lieutenant Colonel Bailey, which explains my size and coloration. My littermates are much more typical of my breed than I am.”
Lucifer spoke before Bailey could. “Lieutenant Colonel Bailey, please proceed.”
Bailey blinked in surprise. “Yes, Eldest Sister. My people are in the mission briefing room. It’s the only one large enough to hold all three shifts.” She turned on her heel and led the way out of the room.
There were twenty two people in the briefing room, mostly a mix of Officerjennies, some Growlies, two Denmothers and some humans, all of whom were sitting along a wall while the pokegirls were scattered at tables in singles and small groups. Standing out amongst the remainder were two identically dressed very near human rabbit pokegirls with black hair, each one sitting with a different group and their ears twitched and eyes widened as they stared at Ganieda when she entered the room. Bailey waved Lucifer to the podium and joined a younger Officer Jenny and a Huskie.
Lucifer looked around the room with a reassuring smile. “I want to thank you for coming in tonight at such short notice, even though I did make sure that all of you are getting paid for this meeting.” Chuckles sounded. “As you are undoubtedly aware, I need some personnel for a mission. The requirements are very specific, however, and due to circumstances, I cannot share them with you at this time.” Her smile widened as people looked surprised. “Yes, at this moment even the requirements are classified. However, this is Ganieda.” She motioned towards the Snugglebunny Splice who was standing nearby. “She is a variant of the Snugglebunny breed and will be touching each of you in turn to determine if you meet those requirements.” She chuckled. “After all, the only way to truly determine if you met them would be to ask you questions that could lead you to discovering what they are and, as I have already said, they’re currently classified so you’re not supposed to know them yet.”
“This is very irregular, Eldest Sister,” a Growlie said.
Her name is Crystal, Ganieda whispered in her mind. She’s a corporal.
“Indeed it is, Corporal Crystal,” Lucifer replied. The Growlie’s ears perked in surprise as she continued. “But the law and your oaths are both clear in that you are at my disposal if I need you and Ganieda will now begin to determine who among you is what I’m looking for.” Her smile faded. “It also means that you have to allow yourself to be subject to this interview, even if it is rather irregular in nature.” She looked at Ganieda. “Proceed.”
“I want everyone to take off any gloves you may be wearing and remove any magical protections. Then hold out your hand as I come by.” Ganieda started by touching Bailey on the wrist and then moving on to the humans before beginning to circulate through the groups of police. She worked silently and efficiently, moving through the room in a pattern that looked random but wasn’t until she finished. Sergeant Lyudmila has either a spell or a magic item that prevents her from being scanned at all. Not even her aura can be read, but the effect tried to make me think I did read her and found her innocuous. Three others had other protective wards, but removed them as directed. I’ll take her into the adjoining room for the next step. “Sergeant Lyudmila, please come with me.”
An Officer Jenny sitting alone rose with a curious expression on her face. “Why me?”
“Do as you are instructed,” Bailey said firmly.
“As part of the process, I need to ask certain individuals some questions,” Ganieda said calmly. “And the Eldest Sister does not want the others to hear either the questions or the responses. It will only take a few minutes.”
Lyudmila nodded. “Very well.” She followed Ganieda into the next room and the door shut behind them.
Dominique exchanged a look with Lucifer and only seconds later there was a loud crashing noise from the next room and the wall cracked in a long split from the ceiling to the floor. Everyone jumped and spun to face the wall when the door opened and Ganieda emerged, looking exactly like she had when she went into the room. She came to a halt in front of Lucifer and held out a pokeball. “I’m afraid Sergeant Lyudmila’s answers were not satisfactory and I had to detain her.” She is an Alliance agent. She’s technically not a traitor, she was never loyal to the Sisterhood and her oath was given fraudulently. Technically she’s an enemy combatant.
Lucifer took it and tucked into her pocket. “Thank you, Ganieda. Is there anything else?”
Ganieda nodded and held out her other hand. “She had a magical item that kept her mind or aura from being scanned. She opened her hand to reveal an oddly shaped off white plate with a platinum piece of jewelry embedded in it. “I removed it.”
Dominique leaned closer. “Is that bone?”
“It was on the underside of her left clavicle. The sergeant was, unsurprisingly, unwilling to voluntarily allow me to remove it. I used a spell to keep the bone alive and metaphysically connected to Lyudmila as I was concerned that Lyudmila’s mistresses would be warned if it stopped working and it might be keyed to her life force. The rest of the MPC that is here is clean and may be recruited.”
Dominique frowned. “Where did you get this spell?”
“Iain gave it to me. He said it came from someone named Kelvin.”
“Please don’t teach that one to anyone outside of the clan.”
“I don’t intend to teach anyone else that particular spell,” Ganieda said simply. “Iain gave it to me and if I’m the only one who knows it, that makes it a special gift. I wouldn’t sell or give that away. But you need to finish inducting your troops.” She grinned. “I just don’t think you want to do it the same way that Iain is going to induct Kasumi’s and Ygerna’s harems.”
Lucifer shook her head slightly and looked over the room. “I thank you for remaining calm. Now that Ganieda has returned, I am pleased to inform you that all who stand in this room have been vetted and are about to be brought into this special mission.”
Bailey squared her shoulders. “I must ask about Sergeant Lyudmila. She is under my command.”
“She was under your command,” Lucifer said grimly. “She is now a prisoner for she was a traitor to the Sisterhood,” she paused while the murmurs swept the room. “Yes, I said traitor, which brings us to the reason we are here tonight.”
We are returning with the patrolling officers, Eve said in her mind. They are all loyal to us.
Good. Lucifer took a deep breath and began. “It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that traitors came over with us from the world we left and joined us here where we hoped to build a better world for us, the people living here and our combined children.”
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
Allison – Umbrea (Outer Harem Alpha)
Daphne - Whorizard
Lynn - Growlie
Chuck – Doggirl
Ryan – Unicorn
Winifred - Rack (German)
Rosemary - Mistoffeles (Uruguayan)
Silver - Pegaslut
Joyce – Milktit
Melanie – Iron Chef
Siobhan – Nurse Joy (Glasgow)
Queendom / Outer Harem
Dionne - Elfqueen
Adrianna - Elfqueen
Heltu - Wet Queen
6 Wet Elves
Eirian - Silver Dragoness
Aurum - Gold Dragoness
Skye - Blue Dragoness
Emerald - Green Dragoness
Beryl - Red Dragoness
Julia - human
Ling - Cheetit
Matilda - White Tigress
Liadan - Twau
Sorrel - Armsmistress
Natalie - Blazicunt
Maria - Slutton
Rhea Silvia - Chimera
Geradine - Human
Mother s & Children