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

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Loose Threads

Fifty One

 

            Iain looked around the room at his command staff, which now included Kasumi and Ygerna. “I was told that you hadn’t considered what it would mean in regard to me when we go to fight the goblins as a clan.”        

            Ninhursag made a face. “Ganieda was right. We hadn’t taken the discussion to its logical conclusion. And then we talked to Theodora, who told us the histories of the clans and how they make war. Do you intend to carry on their philosophies?”

            “As far as I safely can, I do. Clan leadership leads and they lead from the battlefield and that is where I need to be.” He smiled humorlessly. “But did anyone really expect any other response from me?”

            “No.” April smiled warmly at him. “You are Iain and you couldn’t be anyone else and be the man that I love.” Her face became serious. “But traditionally clan leaders did have guards.”

            “I know and I will have guards on the on the battlefield too. However, the composition of my guard needs to change when we go to war. Ganieda and Canaan are too powerful to be relegated to standing behind me watching you fight or killing just the enemies around me when I end up in a melee.”

            “If you accept Zareen in Ganieda’s place, I think we can figure something out,” Ninhursag said. “But I want Heather too. She’s turning into an inspired small unit commander and has won the respect of the fire team she took over since becoming an Elfqueen. They’re hers now.”

            “Does that mean that they no longer think she got into my guard on her back,” Iain asked curiously.

            “What they did or didn’t think about how Heather entered your guard no longer matters. They accept that she’s an Elfqueen now and the fact that she was evolved by you has helped her new status immensely.”

            Iain shook his head and muttered something obscene under his breath before shrugging. “Whatever. So I get Zareen and Pandora, since I couldn’t pry Pandora away from me during what’s coming with anything less than lethal force. With the understanding that goblins target the enemy leadership if they can identify them, making it more than likely that I will become ground zero for a whole lot of shit if they can localize me, who else do I get?”

            “I have not trained with your harem to any great degree,” Lucifer said. “The reasons were so that I could maintain my distance during my tenure as leader of the Sisterhood and so fewer would see me as your leman. I have trained with you, however, and we mesh well in combat so that makes my most useful place being in your guard.”

            “And you keep Dianthus,” April stated. “She’s going to be distracted if she’s not near you and absolutely merciless if she is.”

            “What about my dead harem?”

            “If they make an appearance on the battlefield the goblins will flee instantly,” Ygerna said. “They fear the undead with a terror that only the immortal can understand as they fear becoming undead in turn if injured by one. For that reason, if your undead creatures join the battle before my mother is incapacitated our plans will be stymied.”

            “If that’s what’ll happen then we should keep them in reserve in case we need to chase the goblins from the field for some reason or mousetrap them and keep them surrounded,” Iain said thoughtfully.

            “What reason would there be to chase them away,” Kasumi asked.

            “Maybe we’re getting our asses handed to us,” Iain replied. She looked confused and he smiled. “That’s a slang phrase and it means we’re losing badly.”

            “Do you have slang for everything?”

            “Yes,” Ninhursag and Eve said together. Allison snickered loudly, and people began laughing.

            “I don’t think I do but apparently there is some slight disagreement within the rest of the inner clan,” Iain said with a slight smile.

            “No,” Vanessa’s voice was firm. “We are in complete agreement in that, Iain. It’s you who does not agree with us.”

            He chuckled. “Do you see what I mean? In the meantime, my plan so far is as soon as we’re in orbit and can identify High Cloud valley Theodora will blanket it with sensors and map it completely so we can begin operational planning for this mission. We need to decide how much of a combat role Theodora and our ships will play as well. Ygerna has pointed out that the area has very primitive technology and we may not want to introduce any sort of technological contamination if we can avoid it. Fortunately pokegirls make excellent weapon platforms all by themselves.”

            “Does that mean that we won’t be using firearms and things like that,” Ninhursag asked curiously.

            “It means we will discuss what we’ll be using as part of our deployment strategies. At this point in Ireland ‘s history it is the latter half of the Neolithic period and copper is coming into common use with the only iron being meteoric in nature and pretty much always appropriated by the fey for their weapons when they encounter humans with it. And that appropriation includes the goblins and other non-Sidhe races since they wanted the star metal too.”

            “The Sidhe already knew how to work iron,” Ygerna corrected him. “We had small mines and our smiths could make good iron for our use. The smiths kept everything secret within their ranks, however and most Sidhe didn’t have any idea how it was worked. But it meant that our weapons were almost always made of iron or, very rarely, steel and were considered magical by any human because of it. It helped us to hide just how many truly enchanted weapons and tools we had from our enemies among the other fey races.”

            “If we are going to be doing the planning later,” Allison asked, “why are we meeting now?”

            “I wanted to establish that I was going to be on the battlefield now,” Iain replied, “before others tried to make that decision for me.”

            “We understand and for the most part we agree with you,” Ninhursag said. “The fact that you’re willing to accept your guards helps.”

            “This is definitely harm’s way and I don’t fight my guards when I really need them. It’s the other times when we have problems and will most likely continue to do so.” He leaned back in his chair. “If there’s nothing else that’s pressing at the moment, I think we can end this meeting.”

            “What’s planned for your day,” Ninhursag asked him curiously.

            “Kasumi and I have a trip to go on and we’re taking our guards with us so everything should be fine.”

            “The fact that you pointed that out,” April said, “makes me worry about just how fine everything will be.”

            “Do you think Iain would take me into a dangerous situation,” Kasumi asked curiously.

            “I think you might insist on going and he’d eventually agree if you thought it important,” April replied.

            Ninhursag chuckled. “It’s all right, April, I know where they’re going and everything should be perfectly safe. Iain’s just running an errand for his wife’s edification. And if it turns out his assessment is wrong, he’ll call for help immediately. He told us because he’s trying to get us to reduce his guard and if he hopes that if he’s honest with us it’ll eventually work.”

            “Is that likely,” Sofia asked, her ears canted curiously.

Ninhursag shrugged. “We all agree that it’s a work in progress and that it needs more time to see what will happen with it.”         

Iain smiled. “There is the usual disagreement on how much time should be allowed though.”

Silver grinned. “I’ll bet. Still, I hope it works. Your being angry isn’t as much fun as your being happy is.”

            “I agree with that,” Iain said. “It’s not as much fun for me either. And let’s never forget that fun, ladies, is important.” He rose. “Now Kasumi and I have a trip to take while April and Sofia have planned out some small unit fun for all of you to enjoy. Have fun.”

            “You still have your training,” Sofia pointed out with a smile. “We will save your part for you when you return.”

            “I know,” he said amusedly. “To be honest, I’m looking forward to it.”

***

            “This should be the right spot,” Iain said as he examined the large rock that had several ofuda seals on it. “Ganieda?”

            She closed her eyes for several seconds. “I see someone matching the images of Happosai you showed us from Kasumi’s memories. He appears to be asleep or in some kind of hibernation.” Her eyes snapped open and she scowled as her ears flattened. “I closed my eyes again, didn’t I?”

            Zareen grinned. “Yes.” She moved closer to Iain and spoke through their delta bond. He’s in the back of the cave and curled up on his side, facing the stone which blocks the entrance. I see nothing in the cave that could give light but his eyes are partially open. His breathing and heartbeat are slow and steady at one heartbeat and one inhalation or exhalation occurring every half minute.

            Thank you. Iain glanced at Ganieda. “Details, please. I need more than you think he’s easy prey.”

            The Snugglebunny Splice nodded, her attention clearly elsewhere while she spoke. “He’s in the back of the cave and facing towards the entrance. He’s lying on his right side and is roughly ten meters from where the stone blocks the cave. I see some scattered things that could be ashes and small bits of wood. He’s got stuff in his pockets or distributed throughout his clothing, a lot of things I can’t identify and some knives and needles or nails. There’s a garrote in his left shoe. Behind him is a rough shell of metal of some kind, possibly he’s manufacturing one of the bombs you said he uses. The shell is empty.” She frowned. “His mind is moving very slowly and he’s dreaming of the horrible things he intends to do to Genma and Soun. And he’s dreaming of getting laid.” She looked at Iain. “I’d say he was in some kind of deep meditative state to conserve energy until he’s ready for something to happen, there’s a timer running down inside his head but the reason for it isn’t readily available. Shall I probe deeper?”

            “Please do not,” Kasumi said firmly. “No one should be subjected to the things in his mind.”

            “We proceed as planned,” Iain said. “How light is his sleep?”

            Ganieda’s ears twitched. “He will wake up if disturbed and that includes loud noises.”

            “That’s what we needed to know,” Iain replied. “That means with go with Plan A. The spell now, please.”

            Ganieda nodded and quickly cast a spell on Iain. “Now focus on the cave and he will hear you as if you were beside him. You will hear his responses just as easily.”

            Iain told his twee to send the conversation to everyone around him. “Master Happosai,” he said urgently in fluent unaccented Japanese, “please wake up.” With his perception ability, he could see the figure inside the cave twitch and his breathing rate increase to normal. “Master Happosai!”

            Happosai jumped to his feet and raced to the rock, stopping when his hands hit it. He made an angry whine in the back of his throat as he ran his hands over it. “Who is there?”

            “I got Genma Saotome drunk, master, and he told me where the cave was,” Iain said earnestly. “I have a witch with me and she made it possible for you to hear me, master. I want to be your student and to train in your style.”

            He watched Happosai’s eyes narrow speculatively. “If you can free me from this cave, you will be the first among my students.”

            “I brought the witch because she can defeat the magic wards on the cavern, master.”

            Happosai’s eyes went suddenly very wide and Ganieda snickered quietly. “Is this witch pretty?”

            Zareen smiled coquettishly at Iain. “I pretty?”

            Iain glanced at her and shook his head slightly “She is, master.”

            Zareen nudged him, her smile fading as she slapped her bare stomach. “Skyclad,” she murmured in his ear.

            Iain chuckled. “I must warn you, master, that she isn’t decent.”

            “What does that mean,” Happosai asked curiously.

            “She isn’t Japanese, master, and according to her magical tradition she does her magic without wearing any clothes. She’s ready to defeat the wards on your cave now, master.”

            Iain could hear the squeal through the rock as well as inside his head and was glad he wasn’t standing next to Happosai. It probably would have shattered at least one of his eardrums and, as he’d learned when it happened to him on the Defenseless, having an eardrum get ruptured hurt a great deal. “She’s NAKED? GET ME OUT OF HERE THIS INSTANT MY FAVORITE STUDENT!”

            “Yes, master, I will. The witch has to stop this spell to begin working on the wards, master, but I will see you soon.” Iain drew a finger over his throat and Ganieda ended the speaking spell. “Zareen, that was inspired.”

            “I yours only.”

            Iain cupped her cheek and she leaned into his touch with a purr. “You are mine,” he whispered. “Now you get over to the rock but don’t try anything with it until we’re in position.” He turned to a scowling Pandora. “Go ahead and get it out of your system.”

            “Ganieda should have entered the cave and taken him prisoner instead of playing this game.”

            “He’s a scumbag but he’s a master of martial arts,” Iain said. “I don’t want her fighting him in an enclosed space in the dark. And since phasing an object requires her to touch it she can’t grab him with her telekinesis and bring him out through the cave’s rock walls. I don’t want anyone touching him until he’s completely immobilized. He loves poison too much to let anyone near him. If he’d stayed asleep she could have done that but he didn’t, which means the only way this will work is if he gets freed and then we capture him out here where we have the advantage. If we can’t capture him, then we kill him. This was one of the options we had to game out. Now you, Heather and Dianthus make yourselves scarce.” He looked at Kasumi. “You and your ladies too.”

            “Be careful and do not let him make me a widow or harm my sister.” Kasumi said to him before following her harem into hiding.

            Iain looked at Ganieda. “You ready?”

            She grinned. “Yes.”

            Iain turned to Zareen as the Snugglebunny Splice faded into invisibility. “All right, break the seals.”

            The Nightmare created an energy blade and slashed it across the ofuda seals. Light flared and died away to show the seals unmarked by the attack. Zareen scowled and slashed across them again. “No like.” She tried a dark blade with the same result. She glanced at Iain. It is not deflecting my attacks, it is instead absorbing the magic of the techniques before I can damage it, probably to power the seal’s magic.

            You would make an awesome mage, Iain told her as he moved forward. “Let me try something.” He summoned his sword and cut the seals into pieces. “There.”

            I would have to talk to them to learn. No. Zareen put her hands on the rock and glanced at him. “Help.” She cocked her head and looked back at him. When you learn their magic, you could teach me. You I would listen to.

            “I’ll keep that in mind,” Iain said as he moved around to her side of the rock. “Do what I tell you on my call.” She nodded. “Push!” The stone rocked slightly and Iain watched closely as it settled back. “Push!” It rocked harder and he waited until it rebounded slightly on the return. “Push!” The rock began to leave the spot where it had rested for so many years. “Get back!” Zareen stepped away several paces as Iain used the rock’s momentum to walk it away from the cavern’s opening. He carefully stopped it and made sure it wasn’t going to move when he took his attention off it before turning to the now revealed entrance to the cave. “Master Happosai, you can come out now!”

            The little wizened man was already slowly stepping out of the cave, his hands held up to shield his squinting eyes from the sun’s glare. He blinked several times before looking at Iain. “Who are you?”

            “I am Iain Grey, sir, and I would like to learn the school you are the master of.”

            “You are a Westerner.”

            “The fame of yourself and of your school is known to us in the West, sir, even if not widely. I still want to learn your style.”

            Happosai’s face lit with satisfaction. “Good.” He looked around eagerly. “Where is this witch?”

            “Here,” Zareen called in a sultry voice.

            Happosai’s head came around so fast that Iain wondered how he hadn’t hurt himself. His eyes bugged in his head and he gaped at the nude Nightmare for a long moment before launching himself into the air towards her. “SO PRETTY!” His eyes went even wider when he stopped in midair. “What,” he started to say but that was all he got out before the rune chains from Zareen wrapped him up until there was no Happosai left to see, only a silvery bundle that jerked once or twice before going still. She released the chains and they finished wrapping around him.

            Ganieda appeared in front of Iain, her hand already extended towards him with her hand open and palm up. “Give me the transponder.” Iain dropped it into her hand and she smiled as her hand closed around it. “Thank you for not fighting me on this.”

            “I am avoiding the obvious dangers, remember? Put it anywhere on his head where there is a decent concentration of nerves.”

            She frowned. “Where were you going to put it?”

            Iain kept his voice low. “I was going to use the greater occipital nerve since it taps into the base of the spine. The transponder has a nerve blocking system built into it which deadens the implantation site so he won’t feel it go in or its presence afterwards.”

            Ganieda’s eyes unfocused for a second. “Ah. I know where it is.” She slipped behind the floating figure and stabbed the transponder into a seam between the layers of magical bindings.

            A few seconds later Happosai cursed loudly in Japanese. “Release me this instant, student! You do not want to make me angry.” He jerked in his bundle. “Now!”

            I’m in, Theodora said in Iain’s mind. I am beginning the download of everything in his mind. The estimated time to completion is four minutes.

            “Don’t worry, Master Happosai,” Iain said as he waved for Kasumi and everyone else to join him. “I know you’re right and I don’t want to make you angry,” he paused and started to say something again before just shaking his head with a smile.

            “That’s right!” Happosai jerked again, his voice turning ugly. “I will get free eventually and you don’t want me angry at you.”

            “That is very true,” Iain said amusedly. “I can’t let you get angry at me and still let you live.”

            Happosai went very still for a second. “What,” he asked in a suddenly calm voice. “There is no need to make any hasty decisions. After all, you’re my favorite student. You even brought me the pretty naked black lady. You don’t have to threaten my life.”

            “I’m afraid you’re operating under two misconceptions, Master Happosai,” Iain said cheerfully. “The first is that I’m stupid enough to let you go or that I’ll give you enough time to work out a way to escape from your bindings. I’m not going to do either of those things. The second misconception is that isn’t me you should be begging for your life. It isn’t. Another person holds your life in their hands”

            The bundle squirmed briefly “If it’s not you who is it then, the witch?”

            Zareen laughed. “No.”

            “Your life has been given to my wife,” Iain said. He looked at Kasumi. “As we agreed, once the download is complete, he’s all yours.”

            “Thank you,” Kasumi said quietly. “What will you do if I decide to spare him?”

            “Bitch loudly and long,” Iain said.

            “Who is your wife,” Happosai asked, “other than a wonderful and merciful woman, I mean?”

            “I am Kasumi Grey,” Kasumi said.

            “You sound familiar,” Happosai sounded curious. “But I don’t remember you.”

            “My father is Soun Tendo,” Kasumi told him.

            Happosai squirmed beneath his bindings as if he were trying to turn to face her voice. “He’s my best student! I remember you now. You’re his eldest and his most precious and obedient child. Why would his dutiful daughter want to harm her father’s master?”

            Kasumi drew her sword and Happosai flinched at the steely sound. “Tell me, Master Happosai, did you not murder the kami Yuko by poisoning her with the plant that the spirit folk call the Lotus of Death? Yuko is my ancestor and I carry her blood in my veins.”

            “I did it for your family,” Happosai said frantically. “She selfishly had the land that your school is on and refused to give it to her granddaughter so that she and Soun would have a place to raise a family. I was helping Mizuho and Soun and even you too! I wanted your family to flourish!”

            “Is that what was happening,” Kasumi asked him in a voice that sounded merely curious but Iain could hear the undertone that had warned him in the past. “You were looking out for the Tendo family?”

            “That’s right! I was!”

            “I see. Then there is only one other thing that I don’t understand,” Kasumi said.

            “They sealed me up here over a huge misunderstanding,” Happosai almost shrieked. “I never tortured them like they claim!”

            “That isn’t important to me,” Kasumi told him quietly.

            I’m finished, Theodora told Iain. I have a copy of the memories of his entire misbegotten life.

            You are a wonderful woman, Theodora. “Kasumi?” She looked at Iain questioningly. “We’re done with the download.”

            “Thank you,” she said. “I can ask my last question now.”

            “What is it you want to know,” Happosai wailed. “Don’t kill me!”

            “Master Happosai, if you were helping the Tendo family by poisoning Yuko so that Mizuho would inherit the property she held in trust,” Kasumi asked quietly, “why then did you later murder Soun’s wife Mizuho with the same poison?”

            The bundle jerked again. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t have anything to do with her death. She got sick from some virus!”

            “I want to see his face,” Kasumi said to Iain.

            Zareen nodded before Iain could speak. “Easy.” She stepped up and touched the chains with a finger. They writhed and began moving around, slowly revealing Happosai’s head and neck. They stopped for a second and then began moving again, this time constricting around his upper torso and then the rest of his body until the little man moaned in pain. She stepped back and cupped her left hand under her left breast and lifted it towards Happosai, her thumb flicking over the nipple. His eyes fastened on Zareen’s bare breasts and he moaned again, this time in lust. She made an amused noise and looked at Kasumi. “Talk.”

            Ganieda was watching with wide eyes. “How does she do that? Rune chains aren’t mobile like that. Once they stop moving, they’re fixed. I need to get her to teach me that.”

            Iain shrugged as Kasumi touched Happosai on the nose with the point of her katana to focus his attention back on her. “I do not like people who lie to me and you just lied to me. We both know that you killed Mizuho Tendo. Why did you murder her?”

            Happosai glared at her. “I’m not telling you anything.”

            Theodora appeared nearby Iain. “I have his memories, Kasumi. This conversation is pointless. An analysis of his personality from those memories indicates that he will never give you the satisfaction that you seek.”

            Kasumi let her sword drop. “Iain, you would truly let him live if I chose to spare his life?”

            Happosai nodded frantically. “Spare me, lady!”

            “I didn’t say that,” Iain replied. “I said I’d complain. I didn’t say I would or would not do anything else.”

            Kasumi sighed. “I cannot commit cold blooded murder, Iain. Happosai is helpless and I can’t take the life of someone who is helpless no matter how vile they are.” She looked at her husband. “But we cannot let him live. He will find the others and Ranma and his harem are under our protection.”

            “I WILL BE GOOD FROM NOW ON! I SWEAR IT ON MY SOUL!”

            “Do you wish to witness his death,” Iain asked.

            “I do not but I must that I know the truth.”

            “Very well. Go to Ganieda.” Kasumi came to him as Zareen backpedaled quickly. As soon as she was behind him, Iain drew his pistol and shot Happosai in the head.

            At the shot, Kasumi whirled, raising her sword. She blinked and lowered the weapon at the sight. The hypersonic round had essentially removed Happosai’s head in a spray of gore and as she watched, the body dropped to the ground as the rune chains evaporated and Ganieda released the corpse from her telekinesis. She swallowed hard and sheathed her weapon. “Thank you, Iain.”

            Iain was looking at the body thoughtfully as he holstered his pistol. Suddenly he smiled. “You’re welcome.”

            Pandora put her hand on his shoulder. “Is everything all right?”

            “I’m good.” He glanced at her and chuckled at the concern he saw in her eyes. “The answer is still no.”

            She nodded. “I’m glad to hear that.”

            “No,” Kasumi asked curiously. “What is the question where it is good that your answer is no?”

            “Did I enjoy killing someone in cold blood is the question,” Iain said. “As long as the answer is still no, I’m not likely to start looking for reasons to kill people.”

            “The way you answered that,” Kasumi said cautiously, “makes me ask if you enjoy killing people in other circumstances.”

            Iain laughed. “You are still smart and pretty. The answer is that I enjoy killing when I hunt. Now that I’m a dragon I enjoy it even more. But so far people are not my preferred prey. I prefer to hunt things I can eat and I’m trying very hard not to put sentient creatures on that list. So I also enjoy slaughtering animals for food. I felt only satisfaction in killing Happosai because he needed to die and I killed him quickly and efficiently.”

            Kasumi nodded. “Good. Why did you want his memories?”

            “They’re for you.”

            She looked surprised. “What use would I have for Happosai’s memories?”

            “I’m not saying that you need them, but after Theodora has turned them into standard information, you can have some of them uploaded so you will know everything he knew about your family’s style of martial arts. He is its founder, after all. I’m having that knowledge locked so only you have access to it for the next thirty years unless you countermand that instruction.”

            Kasumi frowned. “What does limiting it to me do?”

            “You wanted to learn your family’s style. Now you can finish learning from your sister and her fiancé and then use Happosai’s knowledge of it to become its master and then you can teach me like you said you would.”

            She looked surprised. “You won’t have access to this database?”

            “Not for thirty years. Until then I’ll only know what you teach me from it and so will our children and anyone else you decide to teach.”

            Kasumi twined her fingers in his. “Thank you, Iain.”

            “You’re welcome, Mrs. Grey.” She smiled happily at him. “And it also means that you’ll have things to teach your family from what you’ll learn from the Happosai database, should you decide they should learn it.”

            “I will have to carefully consider what I learn from it,” she said thoughtfully. “I am sure there are techniques that in the wrong hands could prove disastrous.”

            Pandora shook her head. “We are talking about the things in Happosai’s mind, Kasumi. Of course there are going to be things in there that nobody else should learn. There will be things in there you probably should not learn either.”

            “If it pertains to my family’s style of martial arts I will learn it,” Kasumi said firmly. “If I decide not to teach it to anyone else and to ask Iain to forbid its release in thirty years, that is my decision and will be based upon my judgment. But I will have to know what is in the style to decide if it can or should be taught.”

            Pandora sighed. “And you seemed so reasonable when we first met. Iain is a bad influence on you.”

            “I have not yet used profanity,” Kasumi pointed out. “And my husband has been nothing but good to me. I do not see where he has tried to change me in any fashion, much less where he has succeeded.”

            Ganieda looked at Iain. “Shall I dispose of the corpse while they argue?”

            “It’ll rot just fine where it is,” Iain said. “He needed to die. He does not need to give some lobsters heartburn.” He looked at Kasumi. “Are you satisfied and, more importantly, is your honor satisfied that we have done what was necessary to give Ranma and his harem a decent start on this world?”

            She looked thoughtful for several seconds before nodding. “I am.”

            “Then our business on this world is complete.” He reached out through his delta bond to Ninhursag. We’re finished here. I’d like to leave sometime in the next few days.

            It will take a few days to wind down our operations here. We should be able to leave in three days.

            Excellent. He turned to Kasumi. “We should leave in three days.”

            Kasumi nodded. “What are we going to do in the meantime?”

            “We’ll say goodbye to Ranma and everyone else and then we’ll help April and the others work to finish their errands.” He thought for a second. “Considering the list that I approved we’ll probably be doing shopping in the United States for the rest of our time here.”

            “Will we be working together?”

            He shrugged. “That will depend on what still needs to be done. Let’s go check with April and see.”

***

            Dominique looked up from where she’d been looking at the data from the resonance crystals in one of the missiles. “Iain, the coordinates are the ones you gave me for Three.”

            He nodded. “Theodora, take us through. Remember that this is Shikarou’s pokegirl universe and therefore there may be some surveillance left behind by their group. Unless Selene is in regular contact with it and told it about us, it won’t know us from Adam, much less that we’re clan. We need to be careful because we have no idea if they’ll fire on us or not.”

            Theodora nodded. “I will be paying attention for any potential problems. I’m in no more of a hurry to let my hull get scratched up than you are.”

            The Theodora cautiously drifted through the portal and then slowly began accelerating towards the orbit of the Earth as the gate shut behind them. Theodora looked at Iain. “I have launched stealth drones towards the planet and I have not detected any Tirsuli transmissions at this time, but I am picking up radio from the planet which indicate the presence of the various leagues and information on pokegirls that we would expect from Three. ETA to the rendezvous is thirty nine hours due to the stealth requirements. The drones will be in position in seven hours and I will begin compiling a better set of data on the planet and any remaining presence from Shikarou’s group at that time.”

            Iain powered his chair back. “Then you don’t need us here anymore?”

            “I do not, but I thank you for being here for the transition.”

            “You are very welcome.” He stood. “Now I’ve got to finish preparing for the open house.”

***

            “Thank you for doing this,” Ninhursag said as she draped an arm around his shoulders and leaned gently against him. “This will help a lot to dispel the mystique about what happens in here.”

            Iain watched the women and kids wandering around inside his laboratory and managed to make his shrug look careless. He hoped his voice sounded just as unconcerned because he really didn’t want them in here and he was trying very hard to hide that fact. He’d asked for one little place to be his and then he’d fucked it up by letting others inside it. He’d chalk it up to a lesson learned and not make the same mistake next time. “I realize that access to my lab was being used as a status determiner in the harems and I hoped that having this open house would help to dispel the myths I’ve been hearing about it and what happens in here.”

            “It will, at least it will dispel some of them.” The Elfqueen glanced mischievously at him. “How many women have been in the bed you’ve got downstairs?”

            Iain’s laugh was completely genuine this time. “Nobody has been in that bed. It’s for when my studies might last overnight and that hasn’t happened yet. And nobody has been fucked in it. I haven’t even taken a nap in it.”

            “So where do you nap?”

            He shot her a look. “First of all, I try really hard not to nap here at all, but when I am just too tired, before I became a dragon I napped in my chair. Since I’ve become a dragon my few naps have been on my desk. The reason I don’t use the bed is because if I get sleepy and then get up and walk all the way down to my bed then the walk will wake me back up and I’ll be too awake to nap at that point.” He watched Olivia playing with one of the offworld plants. “And just so you know, none of those plants are toxic or otherwise hazardous. I wouldn’t eat some of them, but the children will be safe enough around them.”

            “I didn’t think you’d let our children around anything overtly dangerous to them,” Ninhursag said quietly.

            Iain nodded. “Have you taken the opportunity to look around in detail yet?”

            She chuckled. “No, I haven’t.”

            “Well, since you are the maharani and this is supposed to be the last place I need a guard, go ahead. I’ll wander around and play host to answer questions. When everyone else has left, I’ll give you a guided tour if you’d like so I can answer yours.”

            “You’d do that just for me?” She leaned down and kissed him gently. “Thank you, Iain.”

            He watched her head away and smiled to himself. “You’re welcome,” he murmured before turning and planning his route to cover the most area the quickest.

***

            Iain watched the hologram of the planet rotate in front of him in the center of the table and glanced around at the various members of his command staff before addressing Theodora. “What have you found out?”

            She smiled. “I have a satellite constellation in orbit, but it is currently powered down in stealth mode and is not active. I also found a claim beacon from Shikarou and Faelan. As far as the Wolf family is concerned, I have found numerous mentions of Shikarou and his family in Blue and Edo, with detain and hold orders in both leagues for him and any member of his family that can be located. At this time there isn’t anyone in custody under those orders. Devon Harris and his group are undisturbed and doing as well as can be expected in Scotland. Nicodemus Azrael and his wife Isabella are operating a ranch in Ireland where you expected them to be.”

            “What about Stephen,” Kasumi asked curiously.

            “After accessing multiple sources of data around the world I could determine that someone, probably Kerrik, was careful to remove all traces that Stephen is a member of Shikarou’s family. Remember, he looks rather human and doesn’t take after his father much at all and while Wolf as a surname isn’t exactly common, it isn’t so rare that an automatic association with the vanished Wolf family from Scotland would be made. If I didn’t know he was Shikarou’s son I couldn’t tell from the available information. He’s finishing up his last year before becoming a full doctor.” Theodora looked at Iain. “More importantly for you, there is no reference to any Iain Grey being wanted by anyone, anywhere, and no record of an Iain Grey who looks like you do. Also, the only images of Kerrik Wolf are those of your teacher. There are also no references to any of the Authors that we are aware of. Sanctuary is still an evil power bent on world dominion and the perverted version of the Celestial Alliance is fully operational. The only direct or indirect reference to the other authors that I could locate involves the former US heavy cruiser the USS Des Moines, which is operational in and around the waters of the Sunshine League. However, it is operationally crippled and considered relatively harmless except as a privateer against singleton pirate vessels or small groups.”

            Iain nodded and looked at Eve and Lucifer where they sat together. “No.”

            Lucifer smiled at him. “We were not going to ask. If nothing else, Prometheus has taught us both that we cannot help everyone without wasting our strength and the only way I could truly help the crew of the Des Moines is to bring them to One, and they would be unlikely to be willing to travel to there with us. As for the Sisterhood, I think that two of them is more than enough for any single world.”

            “Good.” Iain looked at Ygerna. “Do you have anything that we need to recover before we move on to the next stage of the operation?”

            “I do not. The upstart Marcus will likely be ruling the Order and he and I have never seen eye to eye. Will you claim the undead Dragonesses that are known as the Legacy of Eoghan that exist here?”

            “That would bring us to the attention of Marcus, wouldn’t it,” Iain asked.

            “Undoubtedly.”

            “Then I’ll pass. I’ll also pass on trying to locate any of the analogs of people I know, so don’t bother asking. We will go with the plan as envisioned, that being dropping a shuttle down in Africa so Ygerna, Dominique and I can shadow walk to the time of the dead Theodora and take the rest of the clan there, get her DNA and then we go after Ygerna’s mother.” He looked around the room. “Is there anything else we need to discuss right now?”

            Vanessa nodded. “I would like to request that we remain in this time and location for a short period of time.”

            “Why?”

            “I would like to approach my analog here and teach her how to kill Typhonna.”

            Iain leaned back in his chair and regarded her calmly. “And if I say no?”

            “We have seen the evidence of what will happen if Typhonna ever awakens,” Vanessa said. “We know that should never be allowed to happen. If I teach this world’s Evangelion how to kill her, she will move to do so quickly. Having said that, I will abide by your decision, Iain. I am not going to take matters into my own hands without the approval of my clan leader and the man I love.”

            “What is she likely going to do if the two of you meet?”

            “She will instantly know who I am and that I am no threat.”

            Iain frowned. “How long would it take to teach her?”

            “No more than a week or two. I will reveal nothing to her that she doesn’t need to know to master this technique and she will be smart enough not to pry when I warn her the first time.”

            Iain looked around the room. “Does anyone see a reason to forbid this?”

            “Will she sense the presence of your daughters,” Kasumi asked Vanessa.

            “They will remain on this ship and she will not.”

            Lucifer looked thoughtful. “If she kills Typhonna and then lets the world know that she’s dead it will destroy the Giovanni family’s power base and set the leagues loose on Team Rocket and the Giovanni family, something the leagues have only paid lip service to doing because of the threat of world annihilation that, to this point, the Giovanni family has used to protect itself. That would cause a realignment of several of the world’s criminal organizations as they are protected somewhat under the umbrella that is Team Rocket and weaken them all substantially in very many leagues.” She smiled at Iain. “I am not counseling you to let Vanessa proceed, merely informing you of what would probably happen afterward if she is successful.”

            Iain looked around the room at the faces looking back at him and read what he saw in their expressions. He looked at Vanessa. “The shuttle is in position in Africa now. You have two weeks from tomorrow. Until you’ve returned, Ygerna, Dominique and I are not going shadow walking in case I have to use it to rescue you. If she hasn’t learned the technique at the end of the two weeks, then she can finish on her own or fail and never learn it. She doesn’t get memories of how it’s done, either.”

            “I understand, Iain, and in any case I can’t give other people memories like you can.” Vanessa got up. “I will leave immediately.”

            Iain held up a hand. “If she attacks you, abort the mission and you are not to engage Typhonna no matter what happens.”

            “I will follow your orders, my clan leader.” She came around and hugged him from behind. “Thank you, Iain.”

            “Be careful. I don’t want to have try and explain to our girls that their mother isn’t coming home.”

            “You won’t have to. I will explain to them what I am doing before I leave and I will come back regardless.” She vanished.

            Iain looked at April and Sofia. “That gives you two more weeks to tweak our training. I’d like to request that we put together my bodyguard and me for the battle and you be as rough on us as you can. If the worst happens I’d like to be able to look back and say: ‘thanks to my training regimen that wasn’t so hard’. Until this is over I’m putting my magical training in abeyance so you can do your worst to me, both in team and individual training. As remarkable as they are, two weeks in my lab or with Kasumi and Dominique isn’t going to make me significantly more powerful as a mage but spending that time in combat training might save my life on the battlefield.”

            April looked at Ninhursag. “When can we have them?”

            “They’re yours. Take anyone you need for his instructors as well.”

            The Duelist nodded. “Iain, come with us. Lucifer, assemble his guards and we’ll start you four out this afternoon right after lunch.” She smiled thinly. “Eat lightly.”

***

            Iain looked at Theodora as he made sure his wings were tightly furled. “Set gravity levels wherever they’re supposed to be now.”

            She laughed. “I’m adjusting it. I haven’t told April how much gravity you can tolerate yet.”

            “Since you’re not telling me either, I appreciate that. She’d probably try to find a way to incorporate it into,” he broke off and grunted as the sapphires underneath him grated loudly when his weight suddenly increased several fold. “Fuck, that’s strong.”

            “It would have killed you before you became a dragon,” Theodora said cheerfully. “It would have significantly injured you when you first started doing gravity training even as a dragon.”

            “Yay.” He began doing his exercises.

            A few minutes passed. “Iain, since I have you captive,” she snickered, “I wanted to tell you that I’ve finished the preliminary genetic workup on the horns of the dead unicorns.”

            “And,” he grunted.

            “It’s very interesting. According to the dating tests I performed, the herd has been in existence for over ten thousand years.”

            Iain’s breathing had become labored. Continue, he said over his twee.

            “I just wanted to make sure you weren’t so focused on exercising that you were blocking me out since that happens as you get tired.”

            I’m not anywhere near tired yet.

            “Let me know when you start to get that way.” She paused as if collecting her thoughts. “The first thing is that the DNA for the oldest horns is fairly consistent and doesn’t change a whole lot for nearly four thousand years. It’s the most complex too, with every sample having fifty five chromosome pairs. It also matches the number of chromosomes of some of the living members of the herd, including Golden Cloud. There’s something odd about that too, but I’ll get to that in a moment. However, six thousand years ago a new DNA profile appears, that being one that has thirty nine chromosome pairs. It is present on a pair of stallion profiles and then it appears more, but only on stallion profiles. After that point, however, the DNA of the mares and the new stallions begin to slowly change towards that of the stallion profiles, with the chromosome count slowly decreasing but the stallion profiles changing much faster than the mare profiles over the same period of time.”

            So at least some of the changes were sex based on the Y chromosome equivalent.

            “That’s right. But from what I can tell, as time progressed, the stallion’s changes began to increase in speed downward towards the original new stallion profiles.”

            Iain paused. “Show me the graphs of DNA complexity over time on my twee please,” he didn’t quite gasp. He went back to exercising as the images appeared in his mind. Is that accurate?

            “It is. I ran the tests and retested the data multiple times.”

            This doesn’t make sense, unless. He paused for a few seconds. Take the DNA and run an analysis to determine how long these unicorns might live if they die from age related causes.

            She frowned. “Give me a moment while I work through the permutations. While I’m doing that do you have any questions?”

            What is the odd thing in the herd DNA that you mentioned in relation to higher number of chromosomes in the earlier herd members?

            “Well, other than coding for an in incredibly high intelligence, this DNA doesn’t seem to do a whole lot. However it isn’t noncoding DNA. I’m just not sure what it does for a unicorn.”

            Have you run a comparison with the Wolf database to see if you can find anything close to it?

            “Iain, the Wolf database is huge, even using the way I measure things. However, I have been doing that for a while without any concrete results.”

            What about results that are questionable but tantalizingly suspicious?

            Theodora laughed again. “There are interesting similarities with the DNA from a handful of draconic races but nothing that would explain why unicorns had it.”

            Iain had stopped in mid exercise and slowly, mindful of the high gravity gradient he was in, straightened up as his head swung to look at Theodora. Have you run a comparison with my dragon DNA?

            “I haven’t since I didn’t go outside the Wolf database.” Her eyes widened. “The oldest herd samples share over half of their DNA with you.”

            Let me guess, it’s primarily in what you say is the unused portion of their DNA sequences, right?

            “That’s right. What do you think this means?”

            Iain growled softly. “The dragon wizards weren’t trading with the herd. They were monitoring a genetic experiment and they used their DNA in creating their test subjects. The lower DNA sequence unicorn stallions were most likely from outside the herd and only share genes with the unicorn portion of the herd’s DNA. They were from a distinct and different species of unicorn, one from outside the herd’s area who wandered in. That’s the only explanation that makes sense.” He looked at Theodora again. “Model the proportions of stallion to mare in the oldest samples, but I can almost guarantee that you’re going to find that there were only a few stallions to service all of the mares of the herd. I’m betting that something happened and the original stallion line was killed off, letting the regular unicorn stallions be the only ones to breed the herd’s mares.”

            “I’ve finished the lifetime limit determinations. The oldest DNA sequences appear to be very long lived indeed. I’d put their lifespans in the thousands and possibly tens of thousands of years. The introduced stallions would have only lived a few centuries or so and the lifespans of the crosses are getting shorter as more of the unicorn genes are introduced into the herd.”

            Iain nodded. “Golden Cloud said that time touches the mares much more lightly than it touches the stallions now. That would also explain why she thinks they’re getting dumber. My race of dragons is exceedingly intelligent compared to pure blooded unicorns and it sounds like that carried over in their creations.”

            “Why would they create a race of unicorns with their DNA?”

            “That I can’t answer.” He went back to exercising. We may never know the answer to that question. It could be something significant or it could have been a dragon wizard just proving that he could create other life and taking shortcuts to do so. Why they did what they did isn’t nearly as important as what it means for us and the future.

            “What do you mean?”

            I want you to model what the resulting offspring will be like in a cross between me as a dragon and Golden Cloud.

            She blinked. “Ah, that is important. You have more draconic DNA than any of the original stallions ever did.”

            That’s right. I also don’t see a reason to unnecessarily alarm the rest of the clan until you have some concrete results.

            “The modeling will take a few weeks.” She nodded. “Are you invoking privacy?”

            I most certainly am.

            “Then your secrets are safe with me,” she said with a smile. “Not that they weren’t already.”

            I’m sure that’s only true when you want it to be unless I formally invoke. You have already shared my secrets with the command staff when you felt it necessary to help me in some way.

            Theodora looked shocked and then grinned. “True.” Her grin widened. “Did I look alive when I did the surprised expression just now?”

            Iain stopped exercising. “You are alive, my love. I don’t think I’d fall in love with you if you weren’t. I certainly wouldn’t be going through all of the rigmarole to get you the DNA you want to grow yourself a body.”

            “Can I use your DNA in my new body?”

            Iain blinked. “What?”

            “I want to splice elements of your DNA into my new body to make it better. May I have your permission to do so?”

            Iain growled again. “I think I want some time to consider your request before I agree or disagree. I’ll also want a better idea of exactly what you want before I’ll make a final decision.”

            Theodora folded her arms and gave him a mock glare. “You have been spending too much time around the fey again. You’re supposed to give the ones you love what they want without questioning it.”

            “When do the ones who love me give me what I want?” He chuckled when Theodora stuck out her tongue at him. “Exactly.” Then he returned to doing his exercises. He had to get stronger for the things he knew lay in his future.

***

            The chamber was circular in shape and over ten meters high and had a radius of over ten meters. A double wide doorway led to a short hall into the remainder of the Theodora but the rest of the walls were covered with a total of fifty normal sized doors on all sides. But it was the thing in the middle of the room that immediately caught Iain’s attention. For all intents and purposes it was a tank, massively built with twin pairs of wide treads on each side and with two double barreled turrets on top of it along with several smaller turrets running down each side. With it in the room, the chamber seemed crowded even though there was plenty of room between the tank and the walls and ceiling of the room.

            “I see there is no such thing as overkill in this room,” Iain said amusedly. “What kind of weapons are on it?”

            “The main turrets are paired one hundred millimeter thermonuclear fused plasma weapons with an energy throughput of 1.652 megatons per second,” Theodora said. “The secondary turrets are coil guns throwing sprays of explosive and solid hypervelocity rounds. I can almost completely assure you that nothing small enough to enter this room through a door will make it out of here alive or functional if I don’t think it should be here.” She smiled grimly. “And the fact that each door, including the exit, is covered with a force field and I have multiple phase and teleport blocks ready to deploy means that if I want, anything unauthorized will have a serious problem in just making it this far or escaping if I don’t think it should leave. The tank is operated remotely by me but in case my communications are interrupted with it, it has a nonsentient AI that will recognize family and can be overridden by you and Ninhursag.”

            With his perception Iain could also see hidden weapon emplacements in the walls, but he’d agreed with Theodora long ago not to bring things up that others couldn’t or didn’t notice about the security situation on his ship. “I hope you never have to fire any weapons in here in anger but it’s good to know you’re ready if you must.”

            “I hope I never have to use it either,” Theodora replied.

            “As you can see,” Dominique said, “there’s a light and a sign above each door. When the blue light is lit that indicates that the door has been tuned to a destination and the sign will tell what that destination is. Right now only one door has been tuned and that one is to the door in the shuttle on the planet’s surface.”

            Ygerna gave her a curious look. “What happens to a door that’s tuned someplace local, for example the door to the Sabine house, when we go to another universe?”

            “It ceases to operate and the blue light turns amber to tell me that the door is tuned but not currently available. Right now we don’t know how to tune doors so they will cross dimensions.” Dominique glanced at Iain. “But according to him, it may be theoretically possible to make cross dimensional doorways.”

            Ygerna looked curiously at her husband. “You think it could be done?”

            “It’s suggested in the math used to construct the doorways we are using now,” he said.

            Ygerna blinked. “A spell is used to shape magic into the desired result. What math is needed for this?”

            “In my magic math helps to explore concepts of usage that are more esoteric in nature. The math I use as part of the design process shows how to better force the magic into the patterns you want as well as how to adjust the use rate to improve the duration and range. It also helps to keep a difficult spell from blowing up in your face.”

            Ygerna was watching him intently. “How did anyone manage to say you didn’t know magic?”

            “He didn’t tell us this stuff until it was absolutely necessary,” Dominique said with a hard look at Iain. “I had to learn some of the math he uses for the doors I establish, even though I don’t create them the same way he does. It turns out that the math helps me to design the individualized portion of each spell to minimize wastage of magic and extend the spell duration for as long as possible.”

            “So I cannot create these doors?”

            Dominique shook her head. “Not until either Iain or I teach you the math and spells involved. He just makes it look easy when he does it because he does the fucking math in his head while he’s setting the effect up.”

            “That happens to be how I was taught,” Iain said mildly. “And just for the record I did give the math to Theodora and she runs the equations separately from my work, so I can use it to double check my results if there’s time to do so.”

            Dominique eyed him curiously. “Why not just have her do the math for you?”

            “Then I’d forget how to do it and one day that would come back to bite me in the ass. That and I trust my work implicitly.”

            “That is the correct answer,” the Archmage said with a smile.

            Ygerna looked from one to the other. “Can one of these doors be fashioned so as to link the outside world with a hyperdimensional space, like the Order’s demesne?”

            Dominique turned curiously to Iain, who was shaking his head. “Not currently. However, the same solution for crossing universes with the doorways should be applicable to any space like that since a hyperdimensional space is essentially an artificial universe. And there’s a way to put portals where one end doesn’t require a door, or at least the math suggests that too. I haven’t been exploring that option too much because I have too many other things to master to worry about it. That and the math also suggests it’ll be a lot more complicated than the doors you’ve been making.”

            “What if someone does that to us,” Dominique asked.

            “I am well aware of what a door emergence is like and it isn’t the least bit subtle to someone watching where it appears,” Theodora said. “If that happens on board or inside family holdings I will park defense drones around the emergence point and kill anything trying to exit it while I sound the alarm and summon heavier combat units to provide support.”

            “And that’s what’ll happen if someone tries to do that to us,” Iain said. He looked at the doors. “So we have just the one to the shuttle for now?”

            “I’ll move the others from the library to here when we get back to our home.”

            “Then let’s head for the surface.” He looked at Theodora. “That is if the conditions permit.”

            “The perimeter has been established and some feral pokegirls have been captured, including a small group of feral Dameosaurs. All of them are in the storage unit on the shuttle and according to my patrols the area is quiet, at least it is for now. It’s midafternoon, dry and a comfortable twenty-six degrees Celsius.”

            Iain turned to Ygerna. “I’ll need your memories of the years for the bread failure that you and Theodora discussed.”

            She nodded. “I’m going with you and Dominique. I have my guards in their pokeballs for the trip.”

            “I have my guards that way too, I figured you were coming along and I’ll still need the memory so I can take us there.”

            Dominique frowned. “What happened to the rest of the fey?”

            Ygerna looked at her curiously. “What do you mean?”

            “Eoghan massacred the Sidhe. There are no fey alive that I’m aware of so what happened to them?”

            “The Usurper’s spell wasn’t as specific as you think,” Ygerna explained. “As far as I know, his spell killed all of the fey in Europe except for me. I looked for others but found no sign of them alive anywhere.”

            Dominique looked puzzled. “There are fey people outside of Europe?”

            “There are still spirit folk in Asia and in what’s left of North and South America, although their numbers are few, but the truth is that they are fey under the definition we applied to ourselves. The fact that they don’t call themselves that is immaterial.” Her voice turned musing. “I was so lonely that I traveled to Asia once to see if I could make a home with other fey. It was a disaster and I quickly returned to Europe and thence to Eire.”

            “How was it a disaster,” Dominique asked.

            “While it isn’t really any of your business,” Ygerna replied, “let me just say that I like being made a slave as little as Iain does and I had to fight my way out of Asia, killing several of the spirit folk who tried to make me their property as I did so.”

            Iain opened the door with the blue light above it and the sign that indicated the door was tuned to shuttle four. “And since she’s invoking privacy, that’s enough of that. Ladies, please enter the shuttle.”

            They passed through and into the shuttle. “We aren’t going to exit this shadow walk inside the Order’s fortress if we follow your memories, are we,” Dominique asked.

            “We are not,” Ygerna assured her. “I have always taken walks in the forests and on the mountains of Eire at least a few times a year that I might commune with my goddess and seek her guidance. We will arrive on the side of the mountain we called Fangs of the Hunter. I went there several times during the years you wish to travel to and my memories of how it was then are sharp.”

            “I’ve never heard of that mountain,” Dominique said.

            “You would know it as Corran Tuathail or perhaps as Carruntoohil and it’s the tallest mountain in Eire. These days it is a haven for feral pokegirls and therefore tamers go there as a quest to add powerful rock and flying types to their harems but then it was sacred to us and no human set foot on it for fear of the fury of the Sidhe.”

            Iain looked thoughtful. “I wish we could avoid going there in the present, but our starting from there will reduce the random variables that could strike. Be warned, however that at least one Legendary pokegirl has a hidden hideout somewhere in the mountain chain that Corran Tuathail is part of and I don’t want to run across Macavity or her screwy girlfriend. I’d have to kill her again if we ran across Jenova and the first time was messy enough.”

            Dominique laughed. “How many men can say they had sex with Jenova and lived to tell about it?”

            Iain shrugged. “It isn’t one of the highpoints of my life, trust me. And since she got disemboweled while on top of me and with me inside her,” he shook his head. “That was the second messiest sex I think I’ve ever had.”

            Dominique blinked. “You’ve had messier sex?”

            “I do not kiss and tell and yes.”

            “That must be quite a tale,” Ygerna murmured with a wicked smile.

            “It is and I’m not talking about it.” He looked at Ygerna. “I’ll need that memory now.”

            “Let me bring that memory up for you.” She closed her eyes for several seconds before smiling. “And it is ready for you, my husband.”

            Iain touched her forehead and pulled the golden globe from it before pressing it into his own head. “And I have it.” He grinned suddenly. “And it isn’t far from High Cloud Valley.”

            “It is not,” Ygerna said. “I desired to walk it while we are recovering the DNA sample Theodora has requested and see how much it has changed before I was willing to suggest we map it for planning purposes.” She looked at his arms curiously. “Will the presence of your dead harem summon the Usurper or his half-brother?”

            “No, while they ride me their unlife is hidden by my life and vice versa,” Iain replied. “Neither of the brothers should sense our presence and if they do and try to intercept us, so much the worse for them. I think that if they’d encountered us in your past they’d have been a bit more careful about how they approached Shikarou and everyone else.” He held out his hands. “Shall we go, ladies?” Dominique grabbed his left hand while Ygerna took his right one. “Step with me, ladies, when I tell you to.” He looked from one to the other, noting their affirmative nods. “Step.”

            The universe folded around them and they were standing in a hallway that was well lit and quiet. A pair of doors at one end of the hall held a crest of some kind on it and in the other direction the hall turned to the right and continued out of sight. He could see a few other doors around the corner with his perception.

            “What is the Gryphon spaceport,” Ygerna asked suddenly.

            “That’s where they launch the Gryphons into space,” Dominique said. “Why?”

            “The crest says we’re in the Gryphon spaceport concourse A of the Star Kingdom of Manticore,” Ygerna replied.

            “Really?” Iain focused on it and smiled. “It does.”

            “What does that mean to you, Iain,” Dominique asked suspiciously.

            “It means we’ll be coming back here later but for now we need to be going before a security team finds us and decides we don’t belong.” He gripped the women’s hands a little tighter. “And step.”

            They stood in front of a large sea or lake. Water lapped at the rocks in front of them and before anyone could react there was a high pitched chitter behind them. Iain focused with his perception and could see a creature. It was roughly man sized in height but it curved backward at the waist into a centaur form and its torso was at least long as that of a pony. It stood on four legs and had four arms with a pair of wings extending from its back. Various portions of its anatomy were covered with pieces of fur and bits of shaped wood or bone. It hefted a spear and made the chittering noise again with its pointed beak. Iain tugged on the hands he still held. “Step, ladies.”

            They stood in a wooded glade of rowan trees interspersed with ash and Iain looked around cautiously. “This is our destination, ladies.” He let Ygerna and Dominique go and moved to release his guards, only to freeze when the strange woman appeared in the middle of the clearing. She was older and looked to be in her mid to late sixties, but her eyes held a vitality that belied her physical age. His hands continued for his pokeballs. “Hello.”

            Ygerna knelt suddenly and bowed her head. “Goddess.”

            Iain looked at Dominique. Uh oh.

She nodded once and knelt with Ygerna. Perhaps we should have questioned exactly what communing with her goddess meant. That they physically met and talked during these communes could have been important to know beforehand.

            I agree, but it’s a bit late now.

            Ygerna glanced at Iain out of the corner of her eye. “Kneel,” she hissed.

            “Please understand, Lady Danu,” Iain said calmly, “that my kneeling is a sign of respect for you and not an acknowledgement that you are my goddess or that I am at your bidding.” He slowly knelt, but kept his head upright as Ygerna gasped and glared once at him.

            Danu laughed softly. “You are one of my creatures, Iain Grey. Even the dragons are mine.”

            “I am not one of your dragons, Lady Danu. I am of a race of dragons that has probably never before been seen on this world and I am not one of your creations that you have breathed life into.”

            Danu’s gaze sharpened and she seemed to peer inside him. “You speak the truth. Your breed is unknown to me.”

            “I suspect that lying to a goddess is a pretty stupid thing to do and I really don’t want to be stupid to you.”

            “That is indeed a wise thing to desire,” Danu said. “And yet unnecessary this day. I am here for my child, the Sidhe woman Ygerna.”

            “She is my wife, Lady Danu, and I would ask that you not take her from me.”

            “I have no fey, Iain Grey. All of them are gone now and before she left she was the last. Now she has returned and she bears the future within her womb.”

            “You are a goddess, Lady Danu. You could create more fey.”

            “I am no longer that goddess, Iain Grey. That power is no longer mine to command.”

            “But the Grimoire made Eoghan into Sidhe,” Iain protested.

            “And it could make another and then another, but it would be one at a time, it can only turn humans into Sidhe and the conditions must be right for the transformation to occur,” Danu said sadly. “The only true fey are you, your wife and the children that Ygerna carries.”

            Iain thought quickly. “You are the goddess of the fey, Lady Danu. Can you tell where their bones lie?”

            She nodded. “Their cries of pain call out to me even now, Iain Grey. I know where every child of mine fell and now lies.”

            “We could clone them.”

            She frowned. “What is clone?”

            “We take the bones and use pieces from them to recreate the bodies that the bones came from using technology instead of magic. The souls and therefore the people are gone, but the bodies will have new souls and can grow into new people of the fey for you. However, you would have to raise them and teach them what they need to know. We know nothing about raising fey children or whatever culture you’d wish them to have.”

            Danu’s eyebrows had risen. “You offer me a mighty gift for the release of your wife. I would think it too great a gift for this.”

            Iain smiled. “I love Ygerna and she is worth the price of such a gift for the permanent release of her from your control, now and forever. However, there is another thing that I would ask for as well, if I dared.”

            Her eyes twinkled mischievously. “And what boon would you ask of me, Iain Grey? Surely you do not wish to act upon the desire you feel for me.”

            “With all due respect, Lady Danu, Ygerna is enough fey for me. I would instead ask for all of the knowledge that you have on the Fomorians, if you seek to grant boons.”

            Danu looked surprised. “That is a people I have heard little of in a very long time, Iain Grey. Why do you seek the knowledge of my first children who were lost to me like the Tribes of Israel were?”

            “I may encounter some of them in the near future, Lady Danu, and I seek knowledge of them that hopefully we can be friends instead of foes.”

            Her humor vanished. “I see the darkness in your heart, Iain Grey. You care little for the friendship of others.”

            “That darkness does not rule me, Lady Danu. I keep it leashed so that I rule it.”

            “Things change, Iain Grey.”

            “That will never change, Lady Danu. I have wives, loves and children and should the darkness come to rule me I would then become a danger to the few things I truly care for. I will not let that happen.” He smiled slightly. “To be selfish about it, to hurt them would be to hurt me and I never wish to hurt myself.”

            She nodded. “It would be better for the universe if you had the heart of a hero, Iain Grey.”

            “I sometimes do heroic things, Lady Danu, even if not for heroic reasons. As long as my actions help others in addition to helping me and mine, who should judge my motives for the things I do?”

            “And does that include your current mission to return to the past and save the mother of Ygerna from the Black Rock Goblin tribe, Iain Grey?”

            “Lady Danu, I honestly thought I was doing something heroic this time. It’s Ygerna who is being selfish and refusing to accept her mother’s death at that time and place. I’m just trying to give her something that she wants. I certainly don’t want her mother for me.”

            “Attempt your mission, Iain Grey. When you return to this time, I will have bones of the fey dead for you to attempt your technological magic on. You will take them and me with you when you leave.”

            “Um, Lady Danu, the world we now live on has a Danu already living there.”

            “There will be no strife between us, Iain Grey. She and I will share the fey children you will,” she hesitated, “clone for me and we will work together and build a new world for them from the ashes of her old one.” Her eyes bored into his. “That will protect the unborn fey children of the Sullivan family that you seek to protect from the Queen Ygerna of that world.”

            Iain nodded. “Lady Danu, would there be strife between you and another goddess?”

            “I know what my children know and therefore I am aware of the presence of Mielikki on your property, Iain Grey, and I see no reason that she and I would be at odds.”

            “I had to ask, Lady Danu. I do not have omniscience at any level and I want to make sure that there are no surprises in store for me or you if I can avoid it.”

            She raised an eyebrow. “Do the events that befall me really concern you, Iain Grey?”

            “They concern Ygerna and she is important to me, Lady Danu. Therefore, they concern me, albeit indirectly.”

            Danu laughed. “Your candor is refreshing, Iain Grey. Go now and perform your mission. When you return I will be waiting.” She looked at Ygerna. “Child, do not be overly angry at your husband for the way he has spoken to me. It is his nature and I take no offense at his words as he is securing the future of the Sidhe, indeed of all of the fey, and thus doing my will.” She vanished.

            Ygerna rose to her feet, turned and punched Iain solidly in the solar plexus.

            He grunted and staggered at force of the blow. “What was that for?”

            “My goddess told me not to be overly angry at your behavior towards her. She did not tell me not to be angry with you at all,” Ygerna said with a smile.

            “Give me your hands so we can get going, otherwise we’ll have to set a perimeter for both pokegirls and errant tamers,” Iain said.

            “I haven’t seen anything but you’re right,” Dominique grabbed his hand. “Let’s go!”

            Ygerna took Iain’s hand almost gingerly. “Are you mad at me,” she asked quietly.

            “If I were you would be aware of it,” he replied. “I’d rather you didn’t hit me or stab me outside of training, and if it keeps up I will put a halt to it, but I can understand why you’d think I was being impertinent with your goddess.”

            “I shouldn’t have done that. Do you think you can clone the various fey races?”

            “I already know that’s possible.” She looked surprised and he smiled. “It’s been done according to the Wolf database and I was planning to clone Sidhe already so our kids would have Sidhe blood available to seek mates from if they so choose.”
.           “Why didn’t I already know this?”

            “I don’t feel an obsessive need to inform people of everything I’m doing.”

            “It’s more like he has this obsessive desire not to tell anyone anything,” Dominique said.

            “No, that’s a learned defensive psychological quirk,” Iain replied with a smile, “since there always seems to be someone who wants to stop me from doing whatever it is I wish to do. Now step with me.”

            They stood on a hilltop looking over vast fields of a purplish plant that waved in the breeze. Each field was bordered on all sides by what looked like a gravel road. In the distance something large, metallic looking and smoothly shaped slowly moved through the air over one of the fields. Below it grain was being separated from the plants it grew on and flew up in a purple haze to disappear into the craft. Iain looked around quickly. “We need to keep moving. Step.”

            They emerged in the glade once more, but this time the trees were oak instead of rowan, as well as older and larger than the rowan glade they’d just been in. Light flared as Iain released first Pandora and Dianthus and then Heather and Ganieda. “Set a perimeter.”

            Pandora stationed herself near him as the others faded into the woods. “Where are we?”

            Your handheld or other equipment is no longer detecting any radio or other electronic signals, his twee told him.

            “Presumably we’re at our first stop,” Iain replied as his eyes swept the area. Dominique was already casting her coordinate spell while Ygerna was alertly watching their surroundings.

            The Archangel kept her voice low even as she scanned around them. “Was that really Danu? While I can see outside the pokeball, so far nobody has been able to hear. But I read your lips and you called her Danu several times.”

            “Yes, I believe it was the goddess Danu. I mean why would the universe do anything to make my life less complicated?”

            “I think you like the complexity,” Ygerna said with an amused lilt to her voice. “Perhaps you even welcome it.”

            “I might like not being bored, but I have too much to do already. Anyone who welcomes the meddling of three goddesses into their life is insane, not bored.”

            Pandora glanced at him. “Three?”

            Iain sent her the discussion with Danu with his twee. “She didn’t come out and say it but the other Danu is going to be involved just as heavily as she is. That probably means they’ll both be visiting the ranch, unless for some reason they’re trapped in Eire and I really don’t think my luck will be that good.”

            “I’m finished,” Dominique said, “and we all know that your luck will never be that good.”

            Iain looked at Ygerna. “Well?”

            She nodded. “I was visited by my goddess on Caomh Sidhe so we know that she can at least enter Scotland. Upon reflection however, I see no reason for her to be limited in where she can go.”

            “That takes the number of meddling goddesses back up to three,” Iain said. He blinked and shook his head. “I sound so calm about it. I should be screaming in fear and figuring out where to run and hide.” He shrugged. “But unless I’m willing to abandon everything and disappear by myself, it wouldn’t matter. The things I was running from would find me no matter where we go.”

            “I don’t think I like the idea of you referring to my goddess as meddling,” Ygerna stated firmly.

            “I just made a deal with Danu to recreate some of the dead fey races on my world to get her to leave you alone. You’re free from having to worry about her coming for vengeance. I made a deal for you. I didn’t have to do any of that and you’re bitching at me for how I frame the event? I really don’t fucking care because all I see are meddling goddesses.”

            “What else could you have done,” Pandora asked quietly.

            “I know where a couple of Sukebe’s planet killer asteroids are in this universe. I could have finished the engines and aimed one or more of them at this fucking planet to kill or cripple Danu when I killed everything else. And trust me, Ireland would have been ground zero.” He shrugged when everyone else stared at him. “There are always other options if you’re willing to think big enough and far enough outside the box. I just have to remember to evacuate Stephen.” He rolled his neck to loosen it. “Now finish up so we can pull in the security cordon and get the fuck out of here. We’ll follow the plan and do this in stages. We return with the clan, get Theodora’s DNA and then go farther back in time to rescue Ygerna’s mother. The next stop is the time where Ygerna’s mother disappeared and then it’s back to what we laughingly call the present even though the present is whenever we happen to be.”

            “We will return to our origin time,” Dominique said. “Ganieda, Kasumi and I have been working on terminology.”

            “Do not forget we need to return to the first entry point on this world so we can gather the fey remains and my goddess can join us,” Ygerna said almost meekly.

            “I have not forgotten my obligations,” Iain suddenly sounded tired. “Once again I have put myself into a position where a someone else gets to tell me what to do.” He started to say something else but gritted his teeth instead. “Pandora, pull in the security and let’s go to our second stop. Once we’re done there we’ll arrive at the clearing first in the origin time to let Lady Danu know we’ll be back and then head to Africa so we can move the shuttle to the mountain to give Theodora a point for the transport we’ll need for the fey dead. We’ll use stealth as much as possible but if some outlander shows up and starts causing trouble, if someone calls me I’ll probably just kill him.”

            Pandora put a hand on his. “You’re pretty upset. Do we need to be concerned about you spontaneously starting to bleed from various places?”

            “No. I know how to keep that from happening now. It is exceedingly unlikely at this point in my development that I will accidently kill myself with an emotional outburst.” He closed his eyes and suddenly he was calm. “See? Now do what I told you to do.”

            “They’re already on their way in.” She squeezed his hand and released it. “What will you do with the anger you just bottled up?”

            “I’ll release it later.”

            “I want to see you do that.”

            He looked into her eyes and smiled. “I don’t care. The answer is no. That is for me and me alone. No one gets to see that.”

            “Does Theodora get to see what you do?”

            “I always invoke privacy so she can’t remember what she sees. I get a piece of my life that is mine and mine alone and that’s the one thing that you all have left me. This is not open for debate or negotiation. Drop it.”

            “Pandora.” It was Ganieda, who was with Dianthus and Heather. “If you do manage to infuriate him and he does incapacitate himself so you are proven right that he’s unsafe to be alone, we will be trapped here, centuries in the past on a world that isn’t ours, unless Dominique can cast her spell to successfully return us to the time we came from.”

            Pandora looked at her for a long moment before triggering the pokeballs in her hands and returning all three of the other guards to theirs. She turned and handed them to Iain. “I’m sorry you think I’m wrong but that’s something you can’t keep private. It’s too dangerous.”

            “Someone says that about every part of my life.” Iain recalled her to her ball and turned to Dominique and Ygerna. “Shall we go?”

            Dominique took his hand. “She’s not going to want to let that go.”

            “I’m emotionally tired, Dominique. Right now, I shouldn’t make any decisions about that because if I do she won’t be in a position to harass me about it nearly as much as she would be able to now. Everyone needs their space and right now I don’t have any. That isn’t safe either, not for my mental health. And we all know that eventually, poor emotional health will affect my physical health.” He looked at Ygerna. “I have the second memory so let’s go. Coming?”

            She took his hand. “Where you go, I go.” She winked. “As long as you’re willing to take me there.”

            He chuckled. “Step.”

            They stood a few meters from the remains of a large bonfire. Scattered around in the ashes were obviously human bones, some cracked from the heat while others showed signs that they’d been forced open with tools, possibly for the marrow inside. “Step,” Iain said without a pause.

            This exit put them on the edge of a hill that had been cut through for the road below them. On it flatbed lorries carrying loads of strapped down gray and brown painted Kubelwagen roared by on the way to some unseen destination. “Nineteen forties Europe,” Iain said grimly, “was not a pleasant place to be different. Step.”

            They stepped into a grassy area with trees in the distance. Iain triggered Pandora’s pokeball. “Dominique, make it quick. There are fey alive and some of them might be nearby and sense our magic.” He looked at Pandora as she activated the other three balls. “Everyone stay close. I don’t even want Ganieda mentally searching on this visit.”

            “Understood,” the Archangel replied as her twee gave instructions to the others. They surrounded Dominique, Iain and Ygerna but didn’t leave the immediate area.

            Dominique finished her spell. “I’m ready to leave.”

            Wordlessly, Pandora recalled the others and gave Iain all four pokeballs before activating her own. Iain tucked them away and held out his hands, which both women quickly took. “Step with me.” They stepped.

            The air was chill and wet with fog, dimly lit from above by the pair of full moons that gleamed intermittently in the cloudy night sky. A hiss came from the darkness to their right and a sibilant voice whispered a question in language no one knew. Iain tugged the ladies forward another step and the universe folded around them.           

            When existence finished unfolding them they stood in the clearing of rowan again. Dominique quickly surveyed the area. “I don’t see,” she broke off when Danu appeared once more.

            Ygerna and Dominique quickly knelt, Iain slowly following suit. “Lady Danu,” he said calmly. “We have returned to inform you that we will be coming back with a transport for the dead of the fey. Therefore, we will leave and then we will come back in just a few hours.”

            “That is not necessary for I will be going with you, Iain Grey.”

            Iain frowned and looked around the empty clearing. “What about the dead fey we’re supposed to clone?”

“I carry the bones of the dead with me, Iain Grey,” Danu said.

Iain remembered how Golden Cloud had said she carried the horns of the dead unicorns within her spirit. “All right, Lady Danu. Now we just need to bring the shuttle here so we can get you to Africa.”

Danu strode forward and stopped in front of him. “Stand, Iain Grey.”

Ygerna shot him a frightened look as Iain rose to his feet. “Lady Danu?”

Danu put her hands around Iain’s neck and kissed him hungrily. He blinked at the feel of her lips against his and then she turned into a cloud of silvery energy that flowed into his mouth to vanish. You will carry me to this new world, Iain Grey.

            Ygerna and Dominique shot to their feet. The Archmage cast a quick spell. “You’re all right. What happened?”

            Iain was palpating his chest. He could feel this indescribable sensation inside his chest. It was mostly pressure but there was something else that he couldn’t frame with words. “I think that was the deepest French kiss I’ve ever received. She literally crawled inside my mouth.” He looked up and tapped his chest over his heart. “She’s inside me, right here.”

            You should not be able to sense my presence.

            “I shouldn’t? Well you shouldn’t be inside me for me to fucking sense!”

            Ygerna took his hand. “Dominique, teleport us to the shuttle. If you can’t carry two at once, take him and return for me after he’s on the Theodora.”

            Iain’s hand clamped down on hers like iron. “You are not going to be left here alone and that’s that.”

            “I can carry all of us,” Dominique took Iain’s hand and they were outside the shuttle. “Iain, is it safe?”

            Yes, Danu said inside him.

            “I honestly don’t know. She’s aware in there since she heard your question and wants me to tell you that everything is awesome. And she is most definitely inside me.”

            Dominique met his gaze. “Is this like when you were possessed by Barbie?”

            “No, it’s not. I’m not in convulsions and she’s not draining my life away yet.”

            Can she hear thoughts, Dominique asked him over their delta bond.

            That answer to that is unknown at this time, Iain replied. For the moment we should probably presume that she can.

            “I’ve told Theodora what’s going on and she wants to know if it’s safe to let you on board.”

            I mean you and yours no harm, Iain Grey. This is the safest way for me to travel with you to my new home.

            “Is there something that’s unsafe about just staying material and walking around like everyone else,” Iain asked acidly. He smiled at the puzzled looks on Ygerna and Dominique’s faces. “Danu is trying to reassure me that everything is just peachy with her coiled around my heart.”

            There are other gods on this world, Iain Grey and they might sense my presence with you and the changes my touch has wrought upon you. This way I can hide my presence and what has been done from their attention.

            Iain blinked. “Changes? What changes?” His voice rose angrily. What did you do to me?”

            No mortal may play host to a goddess and remain untouched by that hosting. What has happened to you to allow this I am unsure of but we will discover it in the fullness of time.

            “Have you ever had one of those days where you open your eyes and a tiny voice says that perhaps you should just stay in bed and skip today? And then you stupidly decide not to listen to it and get up and then bad things happen?”

            Ygerna smiled. “I have and I listened to that voice. Why?”

            “I should have had that voice this morning. I would have listened to it. I was just informed that by having Danu climb down my throat and inside my chest something has changed and I’m different. Well, more different than usual. And she’s not sure what’s changed yet but we get to find out together!” He threw up his hands. “I’m just so fucking lucky!” His humor evaporated at the pair of worried looks he got back. “No, I’m still me. Do you want proof? What just happened to me sucks dick, I doubt the end result is something I’m going to like and I want Danu out of my fucking chest but I don’t know how to get rid of her without killing me.” His head slumped onto his chest as he gave a heavy sigh. He picked it back up. “And I just realized that until she’s gone every sexual event I have is going to be at least a threesome. I hope she’s a voyeur because there’s no way I’m giving up sex just because she’s in my chest.”

            Dominique snickered. “It’s you all right.”

            Iain looked at Ygerna. “You’re not going to tell me that this is a great honor?”

            “I cannot for I am not sure that it is one. This is unheard of.” She touched his chest gingerly as if it might shock her. “You are in no pain?”

            “I’m anticipating a massive stress headache from this but I am not in any pain right now.”

            You won’t get a headache, his twee told him. Not unless it’s magical in nature and I can’t prevent it.

            Can she hear us?

            I don’t know yet but I will be closely watching for both of us to try and catch her up if she can and is hiding that fact from us. Theodora will also be watching her to help us. As far as your person goes, other than a slightly elevated level of adrenaline and other stress related hormones your physiological state is at what we believe is currently the normal for your human form. Considering the situation those elevated levels are easily explained.

            Thanks.

            Iain looked at Ygerna. “She says she’s in hiding so that other gods won’t sense her presence with us or the changes she’s made in me. Strangely, what she said suggests there weren’t any changes until after she climbed aboard the good ship Iain.” He rubbed his eyes. “Man, I am not going to challenge the universe by asking how things could get worse. I’m afraid to find out. Let’s get Theodora’s DNA, your mother and my ass back home where I can feel less like Kane in the movie Alien while waiting for Danu to pop out my chest like a stripper from a cake.” He winced. “Oh, fuck.”

            Dominique grabbed his wrist. “What’s wrong?”

            “Theodora is going to take so many samples I’m going to need about a dozen IV lines to stay hydrated.”

            I will keep you alive, Theodora said in his mind. Please give me the memories of what happened so I can experience what you did. It may help in finding a way to remove your parasite. He did so and she appeared next to him. “He’s coming aboard, Dominique, but he will go straight to medical and Kasumi will be waiting to assist you and Ganieda for his magical exam while I am giving him a medical one. Get on the shuttle and come home. You are going to have to enchant a door on another shuttle because to save time I am going to put this shuttle into an intercept where we will be opening the gate above the rotational axis of the solar system and recover it when we return to this time. That way we don’t have to wait for it to return to our current position before we move to the gate point for the next leg of our journey and since it won’t arrive in the immediate vicinity of the gate until after we’re gone I’ll get it when we return.”

            “I’d like to aid his magical exam,” Ygerna said to Dominique.

            The Archmage faced her squarely. “Is your first loyalty to your husband’s wellbeing or is it to Danu’s?”

            Ygerna looked shocked for an instant before the shock gave way to sadness and then acceptance. “You are correct and within your rights to ask that question,” she said heavily. “Once he assumed responsibility for my care, Iain has never forsaken me. I am unsure if I can say the same for my goddess, for I doubt I was always uppermost in her mind. My first concern is for the wellbeing of our husband. My goddess is my goddess but she is a goddess and I am certain that there could have been found a less invasive way for her to travel with us. I doubt the wellbeing of our husband was the first thing she considered before deciding to possess him.”

            You have not been possessed, Danu whispered to him.

            “That’s interesting,” Iain said.

            “What,” Dominique grabbed his wrist again. “What’s wrong?”

            “All Danu had to say about Ygerna’s statement is that I wasn’t possessed.” He gave Ygerna an apologetic look when he saw sadness flicker through her eyes and vanish. “It only makes sense, my love.”

            “What do you mean,” Ygerna asked curiously.

            “She doesn’t want to die either and for any living organism without a death wish they’re going to make any decision to selfishly choose to live, even at the expense of those around them. You, me, Dominique, anyone would make similar decisions in similar instances if we weren’t all that worried about what it would do to the creatures around us.”

            That is an unfair accusation, Danu said to him.

            “Is it really an unfair assessment of the decisions you’ve made, Danu? You first were going to take Ygerna and maybe me because you wanted to. Then you moved into my chest without any warning or request for permission. And you changed me somehow in ways that not even you know yet. Humans would call that squatting and pollution. Some of them would call it rape.”

            Ygerna looked at him. “What was her response?”

            “Silence.”

            “I feared that would be her reply.” Ygerna looked heartbroken for an instant and then she gave her head a shake and it was gone. “We should get you to medical.” I fear to ask this question, she said through her twee as they headed for the shuttle, but are we to treat her as an enemy now?

            Not yet. Selfish we can work with and predict. It’s logical. Once she’s out of my chest I think I’ll talk to Kerrik and see if there’s a way to keep her from doing that again, but in her selfishness she will help to protect our children until there are so many fey that she doesn’t think they’re as important to her anymore. That means she’s not our enemy, but she’s not our friend either. He smiled. After all, she is an outlander.

 

Iain Grey

 

Inner Harem

Ninhursag Grey - Elfqueen & maharani

Eve Grey - Megami Sama

April Grey - Duelist & beta

Dominique Grey - Blessed Archmage

Pandora - Fiendish Archangel

Canaan - G Splice (Hunter Amachamp & Alaka-Wham)

Zareen - Nightmare

Raquel - Fiendish Rapitaur

Sofia - Ria

Vanessa – Evangelion

Lucifer – Megami Sama

Ganieda – Snugglebunny Splice

Heather - Elfqueen

Dianthus Barbatus - Elfqueen

 

Outer Harem

Allison – Umbrea (Outer Harem Alpha)

Daphne - Whorizard

Lynn - Growlie

Chuck – Doggirl

Ryan – Unicorn

Winifred - Rack (German)

Rosemary - Mistoffeles (Uruguayan)

Silver - Pegaslut

Joyce – Milktit

 

Outer Clan

Melanie – Iron Chef

Siobhan – Nurse Joy (Glasgow)

Golden Cloud – equine unicorn

 

Queendom / Outer Harem

73 Elves

Dionne - Elfqueen

Adrianna - Elfqueen

Heltu - Wet Queen

14 Wet Elves

 

 

Dead Harem

Eirian - Silver Dragoness

Aurum - Gold Dragoness

Skye - Blue Dragoness

Emerald - Green Dragoness

Beryl - Red Dragoness

Julia - human

Ling - Cheetit

Matilda - White Tigress

Liadan - Twau

Sorrel - Armsmistress

Natalie - Blazicunt

Maria - Slutton

Rhea Silvia - Chimera

Geradine - Human

 

 

Mother            s & Children

 

Vanessa

     Myrna

     Saoirse

April

     Dorothy: Duelist

     Meara: Duelist

     Regan: Duelist

Canaan

     Hannah: Huntress

     Rebecca: Huntress

Joyce

     Lisa: Milktit

     Sherrie:  Milktit

     Harriet: Milktit

Lucifer           

     Olivia: Megami-Sama

     Seraphina: Megami-Sama

Zareen            

     Caltha: Nightmare

     Kim:  Nightmare

     Xanthe: Nightmare

     Epona: Nightmare

     Philippa: Nightmare

     Nott: Nightmare

     Nyx: Nightmare