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Iain ghosted through the air of the Theodora’s park, his tail shifting minutely as he used it to adjust his flight and allow him to twist soundlessly around the trees as he flew roughly ten meters up in the air. He sighted his target and adjusted his wings to change his trajectory. As he’d done a hundred times before in simulations, he braked as he came over his target and folded his wings to drop like a thunderbolt on his prey. Just he’d done in a hundred simulations, his aim was unerring and true. But in none of those simulations had the rabbit suddenly hopped two paces to the right to lower its head and nibble on something.
Iain slammed into the ground next to the rabbit and immediately whirled, lashing out with his teeth. Reacting with the speed that millions of years of evolution had given a creature that was small, relatively defenseless and tasty, the rabbit had instantly bolted and Iain sat up on his hind legs as he spat a mouthful of fluff from the rabbit’s tail. “Bloody fucking hell!”
Theodora appeared next to him as he dug in his mouth with a finger for an errant bit of fluff that was stuck somewhere in his cheek. “Remember, Iain, roughly two in three hunts for most predators end in failure. That’s why they’re opportunistic hunters.”
Iain’s head twisted around to look up at her. “Oh, yeah, that fucking helps me to feel better.”
Theodora frowned and knelt next to him. “Would you do a test for me?”
“What is it?”
“You have your hand crammed in your mouth and yet I can hear you perfectly well. I’d like you to close your mouth completely and speak to me.”
Iain tried to spit and hacked up a spray of saliva. “That’s right, no lips to speak of.” He pulled his hand free and closed his mouth deliberately. “Like this?”
“Interesting. You can talk perfectly without using your mouth. Please try to speak.”
Iain shook his head and spoke normally. “What exactly am I supposed to say?”
“Excellent. That time I pinpointed the sounds as coming from inside your mouth and from the location of your vocal cords. Please do the mouth closed talk again.”
Iain whacked himself in the forehead gently and closed his mouth completely. “Me talk good this way, no?”
“Now the sounds are coming from just under your chin.” Theodora sat back on her heels with a thoughtful smile. “It’s exactly the place that the unicorn’s voices come from. I wonder how you learned to do that.”
“The unicorn’s voices come from under my chin? Does that mean they’re mute when I’m not around?”
She chuckled as she got back to her feet. “I do appreciate it when you’re funny, Iain.”
“That sounds a lot like I’m not being funny right now,” he said drolly.
“That would be the implication, yes,” she flashed a grin.
Iain shifted to his human form and stuck his finger back in his mouth. “Got it!” He spat hard. “Fucking hairy hares.”
“Shall we return to simulated hunting instead?”
He stood, brushing dirt off his bare knees. It was easier to change back and forth if he took off his clothes beforehand and right now anything that made it easier was a good thing. “No like an engineer once said, the best scale for a test is a hundred centimeters to the meter.”
“So real life is a better test?”
“Exactly.” He headed for Zareen’s rock. “Go ahead and round up the rabbit to put with the others for shipment to the surface tomorrow. If I chase that rabbit and fail anymore today I’m likely to start hurling hell fire at the poor thing out of frustration.”
“I’ll take care of it. What ‘s next on the schedule for today?”
“With your help I’ll be exercising.” He shifted to his full sized dragon form of five meters long and loped for the doorway. “Is anyone else on board besides us?”
“Good. It’s time for a speed run.” He shifted fluidly into a gallop.
Fortunately for Iain, the pads of his feet gripped the metal flooring well enough as long as he remembered that he now massed fifteen hundred kilograms and slowed before trying to whip around a corner as he ran. And when he did forget he wasn’t in his small form, the walls were always nice enough to stand firm to stop him when he lost control and slammed into them.
Theodora monitored his progress but didn’t offer to help since they both knew he had to spend time as a dragon here and get used to it or else one day he’d need to use it and fail because of inadequate preparation. Most of the passageways on board were too narrow to let him use his wings for balance and so this was good practice for the future.
Finally he arrived outside his training room, which had been added not too far from his laboratory. Inside the room free weights were arranged around the periphery while the central area was open and contained a shallow pit ten meters across that was filled with pebbles of blue corundum. Theodora had said she’d selected the stone because of its durability since corundum rated a nine on the Mohs scale, but as he stepped into the pit Iain decided it had to be a joke of hers to have as him a dragon training on what was essentially a large pile of uncut sapphires that was part of the stuff she’d collected from the asteroids she’d been processing. After all, she could have filled the pit with steel ball bearings, basalt or granite just as easily. But the polished blue stones were pretty and they worked as well as anything else. And to be honest he found the idea of a dragon lying on a pile of sapphires amusing too.
Iain crunched out into the middle of the pit and stood in a relaxed posture on all fours with his wings tight against his back. “Crouch just a little more,” Theodora said to him. Iain did so. “That is good. Now hold it while I begin.”
Iain held position as the seconds trickled past. As he stood, there periodically was a soft crunching noise from the corundum as it shifted beneath his feet. The muscles in his legs and neck began to quiver until suddenly he went prone with a loud thump.
“We’ll call that your current static maximum,” Theodora said as she appeared standing outside the pit in front of him. “That is 67.191 meters per second. As you asked I’ll dial it back twenty percent to 53.753 meters per second for your exercises.”
Iain slowly lifted his head. “That’s still more than I thought and it’s difficult to move right now.” He pushed upright and back to a standing position. “Fuck.”
“Do you want me to go lower on the gravity?”
“Not yet. I want to see if I can handle this.” He slowly began doing deep crouches, the four legged equivalent of pushups. Finally he stopped and slowly lowered himself down to the surface of the pit. “Damn, that’s hard.”
“Your dragon form is already stronger than I’d expect it to be,” Theodora said. “Is this necessary?”
“I still need to get stronger. Doing it now will help me as I get older and bigger.”
She nodded. “That certainly works for other creatures. Are you going to use this form when you’re training with the girls?”
“I expect I won’t have any choice in the matter. April already knows this is my real form.” He shook his head slowly. “I don’t sweat anymore. How do I release excess heat?”
“Your respiration has increased significantly already and the humidity of your breath has gone way up. You’re panting.” Theodora suddenly flashed a grin. “Maybe heat release is what drove dragons to learn to breathe fire.”
“That would kind of suck since normally I won’t gain that power until I’ve been alive for another fifty or sixty years.”
“I can drop the temperature in the room.”
He nodded slowly and pushed to his feet. “You can, but the problem is that if I get into a situation where I have to do a lot of exercise somewhere else I need to know how to manage heat.”
Theodora’s eyes widened. “Iain, please try spreading your wings and flapping them slowly.”
“You want me to do that in five and a half gravities?” Iain slowly spread his wings and pumped them up and down. “Actually, that’s helping. What gave you the idea?”
“I did a review of how various creatures deal with overheating.”
“Hmm. We’ll have to do some tests to see just how tough and durable the wing membranes and scales are. This works well, but I am concerned that if I spread them in a fight only to have them get shredded that will remove my ability to quickly retreat or give chase to my opponent if I need to.”
“Dragons probably weren’t designed for sustained combat,” Theodora said. “Their magical and physical abilities would tend to end any combat before physical exhaustion became a factor.” She shook her head. “So you’re obviously going to focus on that weakness in a fight if you can neutralize their magical abilities. Logical but it sounds like a lot of extra work.”
“I won’t be able to use any innate dragon magic for a long time,” Iain noted sourly as he began working his wings harder. “Until then physical abilities are pretty much all I’m going to have with which to defend myself if I end up alone somehow. And once I do have innate magical abilities I’ll still want to stay strong for the dragons I have to face.”
Theodora folded her arms. “And you are certain that you will have to face other dragons and be alone during the fight how?”
Iain sighed. “I can’t talk about it. It’s part of that forbidden stuff that swirls around my other teacher.”
“Then I should change the subject?”
“I would really appreciate it.”
“I would like your help with the unicorns.”
He nodded as he worked his wings harder. “Is there a problem getting them in for a medical checkup?”
“No. I built an open scanner bay so they don’t feel enclosed except for the few seconds of the scans and sampling. The foals think it’s fun. The problem is in profiling them and you can talk to them better than anyone else can.”
“You’re profiling them?”
“It’s part of any medical project. You get samples and test results and plot these against gender, age and socioeconomic status and a whole myriad of other factors looking for trends and indicators.”
“All right, what do you want me to do?”
“There’s a problem with determining their ages and I’m hopeful that if you can talk to them about it you can help me resolve it. Their idea of time is very imprecise.”
“I think their idea of anything involving numbers in imprecise.” Iain worked his wings harder, making wind whip around him. “I hope that when her twee comes online Golden Cloud will be able to use it to better calculate the passage of time so I can work out when these dragon wizards last visited. I get the impression it was a long time ago indeed but then I’m still not sure how old she is.”
“How can her twee help?”
“Once it has skimmed through her memories it may be able to count her years of life.”
Theodora looked surprised. “She doesn’t have to understand how we count time as long as her twee does. That’s brilliant.”
“I wouldn’t schedule the party until we find out if her twee can at least somewhat accurately measure her age in a way we can use, her memories are complete and finally if she lets it tell us what it has figured out.”
Theodora frowned. “Why would she not?”
“Ah. She might not trust us.”
He nodded. “I wouldn’t trust us very far if I were her.”
“I think it’s more that she wouldn’t trust us if she were you. You don’t trust easily.”
He stopped flapping and folded his wings. “That’s because I’m smart.” He went back to doing pushups. “What did your samples discover?”
“The genetics of the herd varies a great deal from individual to individual. And by varies, I mean that some of them have a different number of chromosomes, Iain.”
“That would make them a different species, wouldn’t it?”
“That’s the problem. It is beginning to look like there are different species of unicorn within the same herd. I’m still doing the workups because I don’t have any baselines on them. After that the genetic mapping will take still longer. I want to be careful until I know more about what each gene does what for them and why their genetics vary so much.”
Iain kept doing his pushups. “What if you had access to a larger study sample?”
She gave him a curious look. “What do you mean? I’ve collected DNA from all of the unicorns.”
“You’ve collected DNA from all of the living unicorns,” Iain said. “But Golden Cloud said that they brought the bones of their dead with them. And if I can get those bones you can get an estimate on how long they’ve been dead.”
“Depending on how large the sample is that would be very helpful.” Theodora shook her head. “Honestly, any additional samples would be helpful.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” He stretched and shook. “Return the gravity to normal, please.”
Iain changed to his human form. “Let me shower and put on some clothes and I’ll talk to Golden Cloud about her dead.”
“Thank you for doing this during your free time, Iain.”
“I know you are the one person who won’t take this as an opportunity to shave away at my free study,” he replied airily as he headed for his lab.
“There are a few others who would be as considerate if you caught them at the right time,” Theodora disagreed quietly. “But I am the only one who would be consistent about it.”
“That’s right. Now let me get cleaned up and I’ll see if I can get Golden Cloud to give me her dead like she said she would.”
“I don’t feel any different,” Ryan said as Iain slid off of her back. “I did some reading and I should feel different.” She pulled her rifle around and checked the load and safety automatically before dropping it across her chest.
Iain thought about pointing out that she was certainly more annoying than normal but stopped himself since he was pretty sure that wasn’t what she was talking about. He kept his tone gentle. “Ryan, dear, you’ve been pregnant for less than a week. The hormonal and physical changes you’re talking about are still ramping up. You may not feel any different for a while yet.”
The Unicorn looked slightly disappointed. “So nothing has changed?”
“I didn’t say that. Your scent has changed a little.”
Her head came around. “It did?”
Iain was amused that she sounded excited to learn this. “Yes. Lynn and Chuck could probably tell you’re pregnant already because their olfactory senses are much better than mine are. But I can smell the change too. You’re starting to smell something like what April and Zareen did when they were pregnant.”
Ryan’s smile could have lit up a dark room but, to her credit, her attention never wandered from sweeping their surroundings. “Thanks, Iain.”
“You’re welcome.” He managed to keep from rolling his eyes and looked around to see if he could spot Golden Cloud as he unstrapped the pack from over Ryan’s equine hips where it had ridden on the trip to the forest.
Ryan unconsciously echoed his thoughts. “I don’t see her but I’ve already found out that unicorns are damned good at hiding if they don’t want to be found.” She glanced at him. “They’re better than cows are.”
“They have more magic than cows do,” Iain pointed out. He shrugged. “She’s supposed to be here somewhere but I’m not going to bust my ass trying to chase her down since she could actually be kilometers from here. I’ll plant the seedlings Golden Cloud asked me for and then track her down with Theodora if I have to.” He opened the pack and removed a folding shovel, one of the new decanters of endless water that Dominique had made and twenty one great grape seedlings. “Where do you think I should put these?”
Ryan glanced at him and around the area they were in. It was a clearing on the edge of the trees they’d brought from Golden Cloud’s world where the new trees faced the preexisting pines of the former Sabine National Forest. “They’re plants. Here looks as good as anywhere.”
Iain looked around. “Yeah, these suckers like sunlight and they’ll get plenty of it here for the next dozen or so years.” He unfolded the shovel, picked a nice looking spot and started planting seedlings.
For all but one of them the routine was the same. He’d dig the hole, unwrap the cloth from around the seedling, unroll the roots, which the Elves had conveniently rolled counterclockwise around each base, plant the seedling to the proper height, backfill and gently tamp, water and then gently tamp and add more dirt and water over and over until the dirt showed that all of the air pockets had collapsed. Then he’d pull some grass and put around the base as ad hoc mulch and ground cover for the plant and move on to the next one, spacing them at least three meters apart in a staggered line.
The last seedling was different in that it had the root ball like the others, but otherwise it was a stick with tiny branches and no leaves. At Iain’s request, the Elves digging them up for transfer had put this seedling into winter sleep before giving it to him. They’d been surprised by the request but even more surprised at how easy it had been to put the plant to sleep since great grapes were evergreens and never hibernated.
He planted it the same way as the others, but then put the shovel down and fastened the water bottle sized decanter to his belt before attuning himself to plants the way he’d learned to from Ninhursag and focused on the seedling, trying to reach down into it and coax it from its slumber. It needed energy and so Iain fed it magic in what he thought was a tiny trickle suitable for such a small plant.
The seedling exploded upwards and downwards, growing over three meters up and out in the span of a single heartbeat while sending roots down in all directions. Iain cut of the flow of magic and sighed as he looked the plant over. It looked healthy and still felt that way to him but it was now thick and vigorous looking, with branches covered with leaves, flowers and fruit in various stages of ripeness.
“You are very skilled.”
Iain froze at the feminine voice coming from behind him. His perception was a sphere nearly twenty meters across right now and there were no living creatures within sight except for Ryan and some rodents and small birds but that voice was coming from right behind him. He slowly turned and his unhappiness increased when he saw the attractive brunette watching him curiously. She was only there according to his eyes and not according to his sense of perception. His nose agreed with his eyes that she was real enough as he inhaled the scents of human woman, wood smoke and a faint floral scent that Iain couldn’t immediately recognize. The woman was wearing a simple calf length dress made of wool that was decorated with elaborate needlework and sturdy boots with a thick wool belt fastened around her waist. A heavy looking dagger and a couple of pouches hung from the belt. His anxiety spiked when Ryan looked right past the woman without reacting at all. “Actually, I’m still learning about how to do things like that.”
“I disagree. You controlled the magic well, even overcoming the mistake you initially made.”
“While Ryan can’t see you, she’s going to figure out something is wrong when she realizes I’m standing here talking to empty air. Even if she just wonders about my sanity she’s going to call for help.”
The woman nodded. “She would most like do exactly that. The centaur mare is very alert but she will notice nothing of this conversation unless I wish her to.”
Inform Theodora of what’s going on and feed her this live but ask her not to interfere unless I’m in obvious danger, Iain told his twee.
Already done, his twee replied. She thinks warning Ryan could prove dangerous for her and possibly for you.
I agree. We keep Ryan safe. “Are you Lady Mielikki?”
She frowned slightly. “I am. The question then becomes how is it you are aware of my presence?”
“I wasn’t. Golden Cloud mentioned that you moved here with the forest and the herd and who you are. I am allowed to use logical deduction and there are no other goddesses around as far as I am aware except possibly Danu, who has yet to make an appearance. You could be her, but this is the forest of the herd and you were the logical first choice because of it.”
The frown didn’t go away. “Why would she tell you that? My presence is only of import to the forest and its inhabitants, which include the herd.”
“I think she considers me to be at least somewhat part of the herd,” Iain said.
“Why would she do that?”
“Probably because I’m supposed to breed her until she produces a foal.”
“Many things have transpired that I am unaware of. Why would she wish you to breed her?”
“I think it’s payback for pointing out her last stallion was an idiot so she dumped him.”
“What is dumped?”
“It means she decided he was no longer a worthy breeding partner and exiled him from the forest.”
“You are not a unicorn. She would see no reason to breed with you.”
“I pointed that out,” Iain said dryly. “She responded by informing me that I’m a dragon who can become a unicorn stallion if I can learn how to and that as a stallion I can breed her.”
Her eyes narrowed slightly. “Ah, I recognize what you are now. I thought they had stopped coming to the forest long before I came to it.”
He frowned. “If you’re talking about the dragon wizards that were trading with the unicorns, they did. I’m not from that group. I live on this land with my family. May Ryan and I leave?”
The woman glanced at Ryan. “You are concerned for her. What is she to you?”
“She’s one of my women and part of my family.”
“The centaur mare is part of your family? Are you lovers?”
“You may leave. Inform Golden Cloud that I wish to speak with her.” The woman dissolved into smoke and was gone.
Iain sniffed the air and reloaded the pack. “Ryan.” Her head came around. “Let me get this strapped on and we can get the fuck out of here.”
She nodded. “I take it you feel it too?”
“Something is here. It’s not unfriendly, but it’s not really friendly either.” She glanced at him and her eyes narrowed at his carefully neutral expression. “I missed something, didn’t I? What did I miss?”
“I’ll explain when we’re far from here.”
“Then get your butt on my back now so we can leave.”
“After you told me she wanted to speak to me I did so and the goddess is favorably inclined towards you,” Golden Cloud told Iain as they walked towards the Sabine House.
“With the understanding that I am rather likely to guard my words around her even more than I guard my words around you, what does that mean?”
Golden Cloud laughed. “It is another sign that the legends are being fulfilled.”
“You mean the one about the rebirth of the herd’s people and its growth in power?”
“There are other legends that go along with that one. One of them involves the goddess finding a place where she can finally be at peace.”
“There are monsters breeding like crazy in the wilderness. There won’t be a lot of peace for some time to come.”
“There are always monsters, Iain,” Golden Cloud said amusedly. “But the enemies of a goddess make monsters seem like tadpoles in a stream.”
“I suppose that’s true except we’re the tadpoles and they’re big, hungry dragonfly nymphs,” Iain replied. “I have a question. If she’s the queen of the forest, why did you get to make the decision to move it?”
“She has delegated certain powers to me during her rest. One of them pertains to the health of the forest and the health of the forest can be improved if it moves to a purer land.”
“We’ve had a lot of technological based pollution here. I doubt this land is purer than the one you left.”
“The damage to the land I am aware of and it presents little challenge to the forest and the herd working in concert. We will heal it soon enough. The monsters too will be overcome between the herd, the forest and the clan. But this land is almost untouched by magic, both good and evil and our magic will remove what few stains of corruption lay upon it. In our previous home there were festering wounds of ancient evil that nothing could eradicate.”
“We do not worship or serve her.”
“I have explained this to her and she accepts that you are not hers.” An ear flicked. “At least she accepts it for now. She may seek to convert you and yours to her worship.”
“Yeah, gods often try to do that sort of thing. As long as she doesn’t use force and isn’t rude about it, she’s welcome to try. And changing people’s minds by using her powers on them is rude.”
“She is the goddess and will do as she wills.”
Iain glanced at her. “Do you know what lava is?”
“I do. It is fiery molten rock from beneath the ground that destroys almost everything that it touches.”
“I will destroy the forest with lava if she pulls that sort of shit with my people.” Golden Cloud stared at him, her ears flat. “I am serious. I see someone using his or her power to make people into servants without them choosing to do so as an attack and I will defend my people from anyone’s attacks. Since I know she needs the forest, I will kill the forest as I’m not sure I can kill her but while I am killing the forest I will damn well try to get her too.”
“I do not know which is more frightful. Saying you would attack the forest and the goddess is anathema but what is possibly even more frightening is that you believe you can succeed. How is this?”
“Outer clan does not get to learn our secrets, Golden Cloud. Just remember that we have flying ships that defy your idea of what a flying ship can be.” He reached out and touched her on the nose. “Also understand I am not threatening Mielikki or the forest. I just want her to understand I won’t let her take us over just because she wants to. I’ve had people try to enslave me before and I’ve always fought it as hard as I can. I always will.” He shrugged. “If nothing else, I don’t want to piss off the mare I’m supposed to breed.”
“I see.” Her ears slowly came up. “I do. You give warning as I did to the wizard dragons when they came to the forest. We would not be slaves either. But serving the goddess is not slavery. We serve her willingly.”
“You do. I do not. If she forces me to, it isn’t willing service and I will resist her with everything I have.”
“What if she asks you to and says please?”
“Then I will at least listen to her request without prejudging it. I commit to nothing in advance.”
She laughed again. “You do guard your words well.”
“No, I watch my words so as to guard myself and my people.”
They stopped outside the front door. “Will I need the booties you showed to me?”
“Medical isn’t that far from the doorway by foot. I don’t think you need them since they’re really for long term use on board. Do you want to try them?”
“I do not.” She sniffed his pockets. “Do you have any treats?”
It only made sense that a creature that had to graze most of its life would be food oriented but she really liked food from him. “All I’ve got is some jerky.”
“What is that?”
“It’s dried meat.”
“I will try it.”
Iain dug the foil pack from his pocket and pulled out a piece of jerky which he offered to Golden Cloud. She sniffed it and then delicately plucked it from him, chewed slowly and swallowed. “I like it. It isn’t really a treat but it is very good. I have eaten meat before and it was good but this is much better.”
“I wasn’t aware that unicorns ate meat.”
Her ears flicked. “Few of us get the opportunity to do so except for the monsters that we kill and they are vile. But rabbit is tasty. It is just very hard to catch and removing the fur is rather difficult without claws or sharp teeth. Is this rabbit?”
“No, this is pork. I have rabbit jerky that I can let you try later.”
“I would like that. May I have more pork?”
“Sure.” Piece by piece Iain fed her the entire pack.
“It is very good.”
“But it’s not a treat?”
“No. Treats taste like treats. This tastes like hard to catch food.”
Iain chuckled. “Yeah, pigs are pretty hard for us to catch sometimes too.”
“But you have hands.”
“Sometimes that only helps so much.” He opened the door. “This way.”
She walked through and waited for him to join her so he could lead her to the transit room. There was a new vehicle waiting there for them, one with a platform under a transparent domed canopy instead of seats. The canopy opened up and they boarded the vehicle, which sealed itself shut and shot out of the transit room. “How fast are we traveling?”
Iain reflected that numbers were meaningless to Golden Cloud. “We are traveling far faster than you ever have before. This ship is so long that it would take you nearly two hours to walk it and over ten minutes to gallop its length. I know that doesn’t mean much to you, but it may later after your twee wakes up.”
“I walked the perimeter of the park,” Golden Cloud said. “And I looked up at the ceiling where there should be sky. But it is so big and so open that it seemed like I was outside. When Theodora told me that the park took up only a tiny portion of the ship I was riding in I was amazed. She said that most of the interior is empty space for storing thing. What do you store there?”
Iain thought for a moment about how to describe an asteroid. “I showed you what outside this ship looks like in the observation room. Do you remember it?”
“I do. It was almost unbelievable.”
“There are large rocks, some the size of mountains and they float in the outside, which we call space because it is so large that it is mostly empty. We track down these rocks and put them in the processing bay, which is what the empty space inside the Theodora is called. They are often filled with minerals and things that we can use; metals and gems among others, and the ship will mine them and remove these valuables for the clan.”
“The things you do border on the miraculous,” Golden Cloud said in a voice filled with wonder. “I understand why the legends say you can return the dead to the herd and increase our strength.” Her ears flattened for a heartbeat. “And I understand why you say that you can destroy the forest if you must. But you do not seem as an enemy of ours.”
“I’m not unless the goddess makes me into one. I did agree to and I do intend to breed you. I’m certain that destroying the forest would make you unwilling to let me fulfill my part of that bargain and I think that you would use it to declare me foresworn and curse me for it. I’d like to avoid that event if at all possible.”
“You are indeed as smart as I suspected you to be. Our foal will be very smart too thanks to our blood, even if it is a colt.”
The car entered another transport room and landed before the canopy spun open. “And we’re here.” Iain said as he got out. “After you, pretty mare.”
Her head tilted so she could regard him with one eye. “Do you really think I am pretty?”
“How am I pretty to you?”
He headed down the passageway and she fell in beside him. “Understand that I am not a unicorn stallion and I have no idea what unicorns think makes another unicorn pretty.”
“I do. That is why I am curious as to what you see in me that you think is pretty.”
“To me you are pretty because you are graceful when you move. Your coat is clean and a pure white that defies description. You are strong and healthy and your carriage and scent confirm that health. And yes, that means you smell good to me. Your head and body are elegant and your horn is straight, strong and true. Your eyes are bright and clear. Your skin and fur are healthy and whole. And it just adds to your attractiveness that you are smart and have a good personality.”
Iain was starting to recognize when she was surprised and he saw it now. “My personality is important?”
“It is very important to me. I don’t care how pretty a female physically is, if I can’t stand her personality there is no way we are going to have a personal relationship, which is something that is necessary to raise a child together. That means if I do not like her personality, we’re not having a child together.”
“You would not tolerate a personality that you did not like if she was otherwise a superior breeding partner?”
“If I don’t like her personality, she isn’t a superior breeding partner no matter how good her bloodline is or whether she’s a herd queen or not.”
“That is,” her voice trailed off for a moment, “not how a stallion would judge a mare.” Her ears flicked. “It is more how, in part, a mare would judge a stallion’s breeding fitness.” She looked at him. “Why is it that more and more you sound like you are a mare?”
“Could it be because I’m smart and you keep saying that stallions are stupid? By the way, does that include the only colt in the herd?”
She sighed. “He is so far not intelligent and not interested in learning how to be intelligent. He is not stupid, but he is not smart nor is he wise. But he is still a colt and there is still hope he will acquire something that would make him a good breeding stallion.” There was a pause. “This has been a problem among the stallions for some time.”
“What about the mares?”
“Some of the youngest mares are not as intelligent as I would hope or truly as intelligent as I know that they should be. It is, however, not as prevalent among them as it is among the stallions and I do not know why.” She stopped and turned to face him. “Why do you not touch me?”
Iain was getting used to the sudden changes of topic or in her behavior, but this one surprised him. “I don’t understand the question.”
She laughed. “A stallion would never say that. But the question is a simple one. Your women all talk about how you touch them almost constantly and how much they like being touched by you. Yet you have never touched me except when you had to so you could bring me back to my herd. Why do you not touch me?”
Iain started to point out that she wasn't one of his women and decided before he opened his mouth that deliberately antagonizing her wasn't a good way to build a friendship. “Do you want me to touch you?”
Her ears flicked. “How can I know if I do or do not want you to touch me if you do not touch me?”
Iain smiled. “That is an excellent question and one I should have been smart enough to anticipate so that you didn’t have to ask it. Very well, I will remedy that this afternoon, before your dusk graze. Please meet me at the stable.”
“Why will you not touch me now?”
“Since you are unhappy that I have not touched you to this point, I would like to make it up to you by grooming you. And there will be treats.”
“I am not ruled by my stomach, stallion.” Her ears flicked. “But treats would be appreciated. What is grooming?”
“I think you’ll just have to experience it to see if it is something that you like.” He gestured. “Now, if we don’t get this done we’ll still be here and not free to go to the stable.” He hesitated. “I groom Zareen, Silver, Raquel and Ryan and all of them like being groomed. It is a special time that we spend together.”
“Grooming is a special time?”
“It can be.”
“I am curious about this. I will let you groom me.”
Theodora appeared. “You know, I have discovered that although I am inorganic, I am not possessed of infinite patience. You would think that I am. Can we please move this along?”
Iain knew she was reminding him that he had to be somewhere else in a fairly short time. “Let’s go, Golden Cloud, before she gets too impatient.”
They proceeded to medical. Theodora smiled as they entered. “Thank you.” She looked at Golden Cloud. “I have been curious ever since I was told that you carried your dead with you. How is this done?”
Golden Cloud looked at Iain. “I will release the bones of my dead to you. Are you letting her take custody of them but they will still remain your responsibility?”
“I accept responsibility for the care of your dead and Theodora will act as my agent for at least part of that without abrogating my responsibility for their care in any way. She can protect them far better than I can and is unceasingly vigilant in her duties.”
“I accept this,” the unicorn mare said. She turned her head to Theodora. “Whenever a member of the herd dies within the forest, their spirit comes to the herd mare and entrusts her with its horn, which is the focus of our existence. The horn is carried by our spirit inside our body. As each queen is replaced, the new queen accepts the charge for carrying them until the legend can be fulfilled.”
“May I inquire as to what happens if the queen dies before this charge can be transferred?”
“That has happened twice in the history of the herd. Each time the spirit of the dead queen went to her successor and brought not only her horn but all of the dead that she carried with her. In the first instance, the dead queen chose her successor at this point as none had been prepared beforehand. Not even we know when we are fated to die and she was unexpectedly killed by a dragon that had attacked the forest.”
“Will Iain have to carry the horns inside his spirit?”
Golden Cloud laughed. “He cannot. Only mares can carry the dead for only they can carry life to bring into the world. I will release the horns into the world where they will become physical again and because of this they will have to be protected from thieves. My stallion will be their protector and I will stand with him if necessary.”
“How many horns are there,” Theodora asked. She sighed and shook her head. “Let me guess: many?”
Golden Cloud laughed her wind driven bells laugh again. “I do not know. I know that many is not an adequate word for the number, however, for during my tenure as queen I have received more than many dead to carry.”
“So they’re going to take physical form,” Iain said. “That means they’ll take up space and need a place to be stored.”
Golden Cloud frowned and then nodded. “That would make sense. My horn takes up space so the logical progression is that the horns I carry, when restored, will as well.”
“Do you know how much space will be needed to keep them,” Theodora asked.
Golden Cloud’s ears flicked. “I know this space, with the things that are in it, is not large enough but I cannot tell you how large a space will be required.”
Iain looked at Theodora. “Is there an empty cargo bay close to here?”
“Cargo bays tend to be along the outer edge of my hull and kilometers from here. However there is a nearby storage room. It isn’t empty but I can empty it in a few minutes. It is fifteen meters wide, twenty meters deep and ten meters high so its cubage is three thousand cubic meters.” Theodora looked at Golden Cloud’s horn. “The average unicorn horn in the herd is 1.5 meters long and is a triangular cylinder that takes up a volume of roughly point zero zero eight cubic meters. There should be plenty of room for whatever number of horns she is carrying. I’ve started manufacturing some storage crates to repack them into to keep them safe and hopefully properly cared for while I am working with them. Once I know how many there are I’ll build storage cells for each of them in my primary medical facility.” She glanced at Iain. I will be careful not to destroy the horns while I am looking for viable DNA and age testing them. Fortunately I can scan for both before I sample.
She is outer clan and the herd is satellite clan. The dead she carries are ours and I will care for them with the respect they deserve.
Iain nodded. “How long will it be until the room is empty?”
“I will be finished by the time you get there. I was using it as a temporary storage for some maintenance remotes and they're all leaving right now.”
The walk only took a few minutes and but the room they stepped into was vast and empty. Theodora was waiting for them just inside. "As I said, this room is fifteen meters wide, twenty meters deep and ten meters high. Will it be large enough?"
Golden Cloud looked around, her ears flicking. "It will be." Her ears flicked again. "But not if we remain inside." She turned and stepped back out into the hallway. "Stallion, join me." He did so and she looked at him. "I give to you the dead of our herd. Guard them well with all of your terrible might and may any thieves or enemies perish long before they reach the herd's greatest treasure." Her eyes began to glow brighter and brighter until Iain had to adjust his vision to keep from being blinkded
When the glow faded, the room they'd just been in was full of horns to a height somewhere above the top of the doorway. er
"I am counting now. There are between forty five and fifty thousand horns in the room. They are of varying sizes, but that would make sense as not all unicorns would have been adult at the time of their death and there is a significant variation in horn length and thickness even among the living members of the herd." She looked at Golden Cloud. "You tell us to protect your herd's greatest treasure. These are the dead of my clan and I will not let anything not of the clan touch even one of them." The door slid shut. "I am preparing individual holding cells for them for testing and safekeeping and I should have them all stored by this time tomorrow."
Golden Cloud looked at Iain. "Stallion, may we return to outside?"
He nodded. "Please, come this way."
"Do not forget that you have promised me a groom."
"The proper way to say that would be a grooming, I didn't make you a promise and I'll be there at the time I said. If you don't show up I won't wait forever."
"I will be there."
“Is there anything else,” April asked at the end of the command staff meeting.
“Maybe,” Iain said.
Ninhursag eyed him curiously. “Well, out with it.”
“I have a quandary. I want to take a trip to another universe, but it would be for probably less than a day and there are no feral pokegirls there. However, Kasumi is going to want to come along and so at the very least we will be taking our security teams with us. I don’t think a trip like this one merits the entire clan packing up and going with me, but I want to be fair and lay out this idea for commentary instead of sneaking off to do it behind your backs.”
Ninhursag didn’t look happy at his statement. “Is this part of lulling us into complacency so you can get away when you want to without us managing to successfully chase you?”
Iain shrugged. “No, but you may not believe it. I screwed the pooch when I admitted how tired I’m getting of the constant fact that I can’t be alone and we all know it’ll be a long time before anyone relaxes her guard around me even if I wanted to go off for a round of mini-golf by myself. I want to see how Ranma the tamer is doing on his world.”
“Why would Kasumi want to go with you,” Eve asked curiously.
“Because there is another Kasumi there,” Kasumi said. “And I want to ensure she doesn’t try to compromise my husband like I did Shikarou. If she’s anywhere nearly as smart as I am, she will consider the idea the moment she meets Iain. And if she reacts the way I did after he became a dragon, she might act openly and without concern for embarrassing herself in front of her family.”
“And there’s the fact that there’s a Nabiki there too, and her spirit folk blood might draw her to me,” Iain said quietly. “My primary reason for going there will be to see how Ranma and his harem are doing in a world without pokegirls and with the limited resources Shikarou left him. I mean he gave him a little bit of cash and then told him to rob thieves for their loot. That’s just a step above a list of which restaurants have the best food trash to pick through and the wheelie bins don’t at least plan to get revenge on you for robbing them.”
“What would you have done,” Lucifer asked him.
“I’d have kept from being responsible for him in the first place,” Iain said. “But if I did take responsibility for him, I’d have seen it through to its logical conclusion. Oh, and I want to get DNA from everyone who went to Jusenkyo, including Ryoga if he’s around and the Chinese amazons who went there if we run across them.”
Lucifer folded her hands under her chin. “Are you going to ask for their DNA?”
“I wasn’t planning to. I was going to let Ganieda collect it for me.”
April’s eyebrows rose. “Oh?”
“Sure. She takes a blood sample with one hand’s claws, hits the target with cold water and takes the second sample with her other hand’s claws. Then she teleports to a suitable place for the samples to be collected for analysis.”
Ganieda grinned. “I like his plan.”
April shook her head. “It isn’t surprising that you do since it involves violence. But isn’t taking samples against their will a bit rude even to do to outlanders?”
Iain shrugged. “I doubt they’ll volunteer to let us collect cheek swabs. Most of them are in denial about the whole situation in one form or another. Not to mention if a complete stranger comes up to them and asks for some samples I suspect they will deny the request and most of them will do so violently.”
“I don’t necessarily agree with Iain’s plan regarding how to collect the DNA samples,” Kasumi said quietly, “but Ranma is going to be my brother in law one day and he has expressed an interest in his curse being broken. Unsurprisingly, his father wants his broken too. These people are not more important than that and Ganieda will only scratch them when she is taking her samples.”
“We could get the samples while they are asleep,” Dominique said. “Magic could be used to keep them asleep while we do the collecting.”
“Will they stay asleep when they transform,” Iain asked curiously.
Dominique frowned thoughtfully. “I don’t know.” She looked at Kasumi. “Did that ever come up as far as you know?”
She shook her head. “Cold water being the trigger I can’t remember anyone ever sleeping through a transformation. It takes more than a drop or two to effect the change.”
“Well, shit,” Dominique said. “We could ask your Ranma and Genma to let us test on them.”
“That would entail another trip to yet another world,” Iain pointed out quietly. “I see a bunch of you are against the first one as it is.”
“It isn’t that safe,” Allison said. “And you are kind of important to us.”
“There would be at least nine of us,” Iain didn’t quite snap in reply but his tone was irritated.
Ganieda held up a placating hand. “First, I’d like to say I prefer the original methodology for sampling as it’s less hazardous for us. However, should we use Dominique’s idea, if they wake up we can quickly put them back to sleep,” The Snugglebunny Splice’s ears flicked. “If they remember anything about the event they may just pass it off as a dream and if they don’t, who cares? It’s likely that they may never see us again and if they do, any of them attacking us will get flattened. While they’re all living proof that a bunch of spirit folk can’t keep their pants on around humans, they aren’t really that powerful.”
“I don’t think we’re going to resolve this discussion today,” Iain grumbled. “I should remember that forgiveness is always easier to get around here.”
“Don’t let the children hear you say that,” April warned him with a grim smile. “And that isn’t really true anyway and you know it.”
“Fuck.” Iain rubbed his eyes and turned to Ninhursag. “When can the clan be ready for another trip?”
She looked surprised. “You’re willing to take us with you?”
“I was always willing to take the clan it’s just that I didn’t see a reason to haul them along for a day trip. But my options are either I take the clan or I argue this out for the next seven months while everyone in this room hopes Kasumi and I drop the idea completely.”
“More than likely,” Lucifer said quietly, “you would grow frustrated and take matters into your own hands before that time had passed.”
Iain nodded. “That had occurred to me.”
“I appreciate you deciding to work with us instead of against us,” Lucifer replied.
“That is usually my first choice,” he said with a smile. “I don’t normally wake up trying to figure out how I can fuck with people since I’m rather fond of all of you.”
“There is always some disruption no matter how little time we are gone,” Ninhursag’s voice was thoughtful. “I learned that on our last trip even though we were only gone a few hours here. I’d like to wait two weeks before we leave if we can. Eve and Lucifer have a planning meeting with the Norn sisters and there are a few things around the ranch I’d like us to finish before we leave.” She looked at Iain. “I suspect you wanted to leave after this meeting, so is that acceptable?”
Iain looked resigned as he nodded. “It is.”
“Thank you,” Ninhursag said in a relieved voice.
“You’re welcome.” He looked at April. “I guess the answer to your original question is no, there isn’t anything else right now.”
She smiled at him. “We’ll make it work for you, Iain.”
Iain blinked and his eyes hardened. “Yeah, but it only ever works your way and never mine.” He got up and left the room while her mouth dropped in surprise.
“Shit!” Ganieda leaped for the door and was gone in pursuit.
“That could have ended better,” Silver noted sourly.
“It could have ended a great deal worse,” Lucifer said quietly. “And I fear that day may be coming.”
“He had to be protected,” Allison said.
“For Iain there is a fine line between protected and smothered,” Lucifer replied. “Now he has the ability to escape even Theodora’s protection if he truly desires to, much less ours. And I will not forgive myself if he does and then comes to harm when less overweening protection might have kept him from running from us but still kept him safe from our foes.”
“That fucking line moves you know,” Dominique grumbled.
“It would for any of us,” Eve said.
Ygerna leaned back in her chair. “Iain is far from defenseless. The problem is that for some of us he will never be able to protect himself enough without constant guards.”
“Don’t you mean some of you pokegirls,” Sofia snapped.
Ygerna surprised the Ria with her laugh. “No, I don’t, and I do not believe I have discriminated against my pokegirl sisters as you are implying. Yes, he can protect himself somewhat right now but neither Kasumi nor I feel he can adequately protect himself at this time, but that is changing and one day he will be able to.” She looked around the room. “The problem is that he’s right. All of the compromise that I’ve seen recently comes from him and not from the clan. That’s why he lost patience with Mizuho so quickly, since as an outlander she did the same thing to him when she dismissed him from her home and kept her daughter and his betrothed in the doing of it. Right now, the only time he gets to make decisions that he can follow through with is when he doesn’t consult with us. We don’t want to encourage him to do that or he will and the more he gets used to going around us, the more often he will do exactly that.”
April rubbed her eyes. “She’s right. So far he’s been patient but we all know his patience isn’t unlimited and then he will do something that we can’t predict. This battle has been going on since I met him and it’ll be still going on after my daughters are grown and gone. The truce we had with him got broken and it’s time to renegotiate it again.”
“The Alliance wants to kill or capture him,” Silver pointed out.
“Someone always will,” Canaan said with a grin. “He is Iain after all and we don’t want him to be anything other than Iain.” Her grin widened. “But when we’re being honest with ourselves, we’re all happy that around the world there are people that we don’t want to have anything to do with who curse his existence and want him dead. And we’re even happier that his response to every one of them is to bare his teeth and tell them to fuck off and die.” She shrugged, all four shoulders moving in synchrony. “We only have a problem with it when he bares his teeth at us.” Her grin reappeared for an instant. “At least we don’t get told to fuck off and die like they do.”
“Good morning,” Iain said. “May I join you for a few minutes?”
Monica Chambers smiled at him. “Of course you may, Iain.” She gestured at the table. They were on the porch Iain and his family had added onto her house overlooking her garden. “Please sit. Would you like some tea?” She ignored Ganieda, but that was only professional courtesy. “James and Jessica are taking early naps right now.”
“I figured as much when I didn’t see James with you.” Iain settled down in one of the chairs. “And tea would be appreciated.” He grunted when a solid weight got dropped in his lap and he got a kiss on the cheek at the same time. He looked at the grinning baby in his lap. “Good morning, Michael.” Then he looked up at the Ladyien as she winked at him. “Camille.”
“Maybe you can fix your son’s latest problem,” she said and kissed him on the cheek again before picking up the teapot. “Do you want sugar in your tea this morning?”
“No thank you. What’s he doing now?”
“He’s started biting,” Undine said as she pulled out a chair on the other side of the table. “The silly little boy bit me. I barely noticed, but when he bit Donna she got rather upset.”
Iain looked past Monica where the Kung Ewe was standing guard and she shrugged. “We were in the shower and I was washing him when he tried to tear off my right nipple with his razor sharp teeth.”
“I think I’d have gotten a bit unhappy over that too,” Iain said. “I mean if it was my nipple. But a little biting is normal at his age and you need to just calmly discourage him with a firm no and a swat if he doesn’t respond to just verbal cues and we all know that Michael can be as hard headed as I am and sometimes he doesn’t. And it may take a few times for it to stick so watch your nipples and other soft bits around him in the meantime.”
Undine chuckled and reached for a biscuit. “Jackie would have made a comment about what she’d have done with Donna’s nipple in Michael’s place.” Jackie Barstow was the woman in Shield that Monica was in an on again off again relationship with.
Iain shrugged. “Jackie may have that right. I don’t and I’ve never assumed I did.” He looked at Monica. “I thought the two of you had split up again.”
“We are not a couple right now,” she said, “and I don’t know if we are going to be again.” She eyed him curiously. “You weren’t planning to visit today since you know we’re going into Shield to do some shopping later this morning. What is it?”
“I had a painful epiphany and because of it I owe you an apology. Technically I owe all of you an apology.”
“This should be good,” Undine said with a grin. “Go ahead and get started.”
“Undine,” Monica said warningly. The Neo shrugged and Monica turned back to their guest. “What’s wrong, Iain?”
“A couple of times you approached me about moving into Shield. I told you it wasn’t going to happen. I shouldn’t have. If you still want to move, I’ll help if you want. Just understand I’m not going to stop seeing the kids no matter where you live.”
“They’d throw tantrums if you did,” Monica said amusedly. She looked into his eyes. “Are you telling us to leave?”
Iain shook his head and gave Michael a piece of biscuit which he promptly tried to inhale. “No, you’re more than welcome here. I like having all of you around,” he grinned, “even Undine.”
Donna made a noise suspiciously like a snicker but stopped when Camille gave her a hard look. She handed Iain his tea and took Michael back. “If you don’t want us to leave I am curious enough to ask what brought this on.”
“Without going into detail,” Iain said, “family politics made me realize just what a jerk I’ve been being about not being willing to compromise even a little with you about how you live your lives. It was wrong and I’m here to admit it.”
“That must have been quite a fight,” Donna said.
“It’s not over,” Ganieda replied. “And privacy means that’s all I can say about it.”
“Whether or not it’s still going on,” Iain said firmly, “and no matter how it may be resolved, it made me realize I’d been in the wrong about your moving.”
Camille smiled teasingly. “But not about the kidnapping?”
“No, I’m not wrong about that.”
Iain looked surprised. “Oh?”
“While I was pissed off about it,” Monica interrupted as Camille started to speak, “and rightly so since we were kidnapped, it turns out that we’re happier here than we’ve been in years.”
“And by we,” Undine said, “she means her.”
Donna chuckled. “Undine still wonders what life might have been like with you, Iain.”
Iain shook his head. “It’s not my fault Undine left me. She chose Monica of her own free will that night.” He took a drink of tea. “But if it helps, she’d have recently spent several weeks digging ditches with a shovel.”
Undine made a face. “That doesn’t sound like fun. I’d have just kept watch over Jessica.”
“Even the mothers participated fully,” Iain said, knowing full well just how fastidious Undine had always been. “And with your enhanced strength you’d have had one of the trenching spades so you could move a couple of hundred kilograms of dirt at a time.”
Ganieda grimaced. “I did that. It was sticky and sweaty and filthy. Sometimes I still feel like I have dirt stuck under my claws.”
Undine shuddered delicately. “Well, it doesn’t matter since I’m in Monica’s harem.”
“That is true,” Iain finished his tea and pushed the chair back so he could stand. “Anyway, I wanted to come by and apologize for being a jerk.”
“I’m glad you were,” Monica said. “Otherwise I’d have moved in with Jackie and there’s no telling what would have happened since we keep breaking up.”
“Considering how people keep telling me that I’m being a jerk, it wasn’t a problem,” Iain said with a smile. “I can probably easily keep being one of you’d like and if it helps.”
“It did,” Monica chuckled. “You were looking out for our best interests, weren’t you?”
“I was.” Iain’s smile vanished. “Cherry, can I be blunt?”
She nodded. “I appreciate it more when you are. You’re willing to tear the bandage off and I prefer that to talking around something and right now you’re the only friend who is willing to be that way for me.”
“I’ve met Jackie. She’s ok, and the two of you look like you make a good couple but I’ve sometimes gotten the impression she was more interested in Undine and Donna than she was in you. I’m not sure why, but that’s what I saw.”
Monica nodded again. “Camille pointed that out to me after I broke it off with Jackie this last time.” She cocked her head curiously. “Why aren’t you sure why she was more into my pokegirls than me?”
“Redheads are a personal vice of mine,” Iain said with a grin. “Even when she’s not really interested in me I can appreciate the fine curves on one I’m around a lot and you’ve got some very fine curves. I wouldn’t neglect Undine, Donna or Camille if I was in a relationship with you and you were willing to share and they were interested in me, but I certainly wouldn’t neglect you for them either.”
Monica smiled warmly at him. “You are just so good for my ego, Iain.” She waved a hand imperiously. “Now that I feel so much better about myself, you may go.”
Iain gave a bow and smiled. “Yes, mistress.” He walked away to the sound of laughter behind him.
Ganieda was silent until they were well out of earshot of Monica and her family. “Jackie isn’t going to give up,” she said. “And she isn’t interested in Monica very much at all.”
“So you and Canaan have told me,” Iain replied. “But Monica is an adult and she’s figuring it out.”
“You should ask Monica and the others to become clan. Then I can deal with Jackie.”
Iain looked back at her. “I should ask Monica to oath herself to the clan so you can kill someone I don’t happen to like?”
“I don’t mind. If you’d prefer, you can kill Jackie for Monica.”
“Monica and I are not a couple and in any case I can’t kill all of the people who annoy me.”
“No you can’t. Too many of your women would get upset if you did. But I can kill all of the people who annoy you.”
“I suppose you could but, no, I won’t allow you to.”
“Camille wants to have sex with you.”
Iain stopped and turned to face Ganieda. “Camille has been interested in having sex with me since she was six months pregnant with Michael. I know it and Monica knows it and Camille knows we both know it. And it’s probably never going to happen and all three of us know that too. Do you have any more revelations that I already know or can I go off to my morning studies?”
Her face actually scrunched up petulantly like one of his daughter’s. “Now you’re being a jerk to me.”
“For some reason you are trying to antagonize me. You should be happy since it worked.”
She shrugged. “If you’re angry at me you’ll be less upset with the others for trying to protect you.”
“You can see farther into my mind than almost anyone else,” Iain said, “and you keep trying to go deeper all the time. You had damned well better be aware that I have enough anger inside me to be equally angry with pretty much every living thing on this planet at the same fucking time.”
“I know,” she said simply. “But you don’t touch that reserve of anger for us.”
“The fact that I haven’t accessed my pool of anger since you’ve joined us does not mean it is inaccessible. I have accessed it and in fact, I have used it before to kill. Please don’t tempt me to go there again unless I actually need to.”
Ganieda blinked. “Oh. I did not see that in the minds of the others.”
“That would be because I don’t think more than one of them knows about it,” Iain said evenly. “And like you, she doesn’t know any of the details. Unlike you, she doesn’t bring it up.”
Ganieda’s ears flicked. “Now I feel like a jerk.”
“There’s a good reason why you’d feel that way.” Iain rubbed his chin. “Sorry, now I’m starting to be a jerk to you for no good reason. I hope I am not going to be as childish as I seem to be right now all of the time.”
Ganieda grinned. “As long as you don’t try to bite off one of my nipples I’m good with it. But you can bite them some, just not if you’re going to try to remove them.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. Now I am going to my lab.”
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 - Elfqueen
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)
Golden Cloud – equine unicorn
Queendom / Outer Harem
Dionne - Elfqueen
Adrianna - Elfqueen
Heltu - Wet Queen
14 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