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“I have a going away present for you,” Theodora told Iain as he finished dressing.
He glanced at her where she stood watching him. “I’m not going away for months or anything. I do plan to come back in a few minutes as far as you’re concerned.”
“I know, but you want this and as soon as I was done putting it together I wanted to give it to you so you can study it. It got finished while you were off with Lucifer saying goodbye to Teresa.”
He eyed her warily. “Is this another hand traced macaroni turkey like the ones the kids presented me with last week?”
“Those were part of the art unit they’re doing in class and Sofia was the one who suggested they give them to you to show their love.”
“And to show just how wonderful I thought the idea was I posted them in the common room for everyone to see.”
“That and you didn’t want to put them in here,” Theodora pointed out.
“I never said that. Ever. I would never say that.”
She laughed. “No, you wouldn’t, and it was a good gesture and the kids love the fact that everyone gets to see their art. I think April and Sofia will be putting up a bulletin board for the kid’s projects there.”
“Cool.” Iain headed upstairs to his lab and checked the pack on his desk. “What is this present?”
“I’m sending the images to your twee now.”
Iain focused inward and could see a series of 3D images of a drake of the People in the stages of life from hatchling to fully adult. They were very detailed and could be opened up to explore the interior of each dragon. “That’s very nice. I’ve got a lot of information on drakes of the People from Caintigern,” he grimaced, “and this is very accurate. And I haven’t seen the internals before. That is pretty cool.”
“It’s also very specific,” Theodora told him. “Those are all the same dragon.” She waited for a second. “It’s you.”
“Huh?” Iain reexamined the images. “How is this me?”
“I took your DNA and ran the same development program on it that I use for the cloning programs and my puppet design series. Then I aged it all the way to Caintigern’s age and these are the physical developmental stages all the way to that point.”
“I’m kind of afraid to ask just how old she is.”
Theodora shook her head. “Don’t. You do not want to know the answer and considering that she spent most of her life not doing anything other than thinking, it doesn’t matter. Besides, the tests aren’t as effective as I’d hoped for any of the dragons from your race that I’ve tested. I have samples from you, Caintigern and the drake that created the unicorns and all three of your DNA seems to be in stasis as far as time goes until you enter your next development phase. And for all I know, not even Caintigern is done going through them.” Her smile returned. “But this lets you study your own development in your search to become your adult form.”
“Hopefully that’ll help. I do wish I’d known about this project before I got the memories from Caintigern.”
“I’d understand that better if you shared them with me.”
“I don’t think she’d like that. But she shared with me detailed encounters with various drakes, including her sire. The only ones that bothered me were the memories I have of when she/I were bred by them during her/my seasons. I also now know what it’s like to be in season as a dragoness and I also have experiences with the whole being pregnant and giving birth as a dragoness.”
Theodora blinked. “Ick?”
“I kind of agree, but they’re a part of me now,” Iain said. “It also means that the next time a woman tells me that I don’t know what pregnancy is like she’ll be wrong.” He smirked. “I just can’t tell her that she’s wrong.”
“Is that how you experience memories from others?”
“Yes.” He sighed and shouldered the pack. “It’s always been that way. I have the memories of being a dragoness while being mounted by drakes and bred as well as casual sex with them in human and draconic forms. I think that the seasons are an evolutionary holdover since dragonesses can become pregnant all year round.” He shrugged. “I also have the memories of raping little boys and girls, among others, thanks to Mhodvitnar. And Eoghan and Germanicus had their own kinks that I’d never approve of.”
“What’s the worst one?”
Iain sighed. “I have the memories of Eoghan, Germanicus and Mhodvitnar from the time they were born until the instant I took their memories or, in Mhodvitnar’s case, I ate him. There’s a lot of crap in there I try to avoid unless it’s necessary, including when Eoghan killed himself and was reborn and when he murdered and then brought his half-brother into undeath, but the worst memories I can think of having from them are the ones in which I kill Irena, Sable, Montsho and Scheherazade. The Seeker that killed Hathor didn’t transmit its memories to him before it destroyed itself.”
“Shit,” Theodora said quietly. “Let me take them from you, Iain.”
“You have them copied with my full upload,” Iain reminded her. “As for having them in my head, it’s part of me now. Taking them away could change me and not necessarily for the better. If nothing else, I can use them to show me what I don’t want to do in this life. And you can’t take them from the copy either. I forbid it.”
“Under clan rules, Iain, I can no more scan your upload without your permission than I can review my own code. I’d never do that to you against your will, but you can let me take your pain from you. Please let me make you feel better.”
“Once I start letting you do something like that,” Iain said wryly, “where do I let you stop peeling away the parts that bring me hurt? It’s part of what makes me into me now and I accept that. It’s part of the nightmares and part of the price I pay for the life I have. Considering my family, including you, I pay it willingly, if not gladly.” He checked the time with his twee. “And you are keeping me from my free time. I’ll see you soon.”
Theodora nodded. “Be safe, my love.”
Iain stretched and winced when the partially healed cut on his arm pulled. He chuckled and checked the injury again so he could verify that the wound would be gone by the time he left this place to head back to the ranch. It might, but if it didn’t he’d finish healing it when he returned to the ship. Amusingly, he hadn’t gotten it in a fight with a raptor here on the Island or while avoiding a larger predator, no, he’d been hauling a log he’d cut up with the cutting bar he’d brought and had hooked his heel on a rock and tripped. When he fell backwards, the tree had landed on his arm, driving a lopped off branch stub through the muscle and leaving a nasty tear that he’d started healing.
He probably could have healed it completely when he’d been injured, but its presence reminded him not to get too cocky. There were raptors and larger predators, after all, and if he was distracted when approached, it could go badly for him. He had to remain alert. Even the small predators could be dangerous in groups, like the Compsognathus, which hunted in packs and would swarm human sized prey.
Since he’d been traveling by himself, he’d brought a backpack full of nanites and a controller instead of trying to pack building materials. The nanites had been dumped on a boulder as big as a house and the controller had been programmed to use the nanites to begin breaking it down into raw materials so construction could begin. Iain had been spending his time feeding the pile with dead animals, tree matter and whatever else he could find as well as a small package of rare earths that he’d brought with him to speed the process along. The material would be turned into a larger manufactory with which to build a small facility here for when he, Nightraven and Caintigern visited.
He’d put the controller into the stone box that had been the first thing constructed and the work would continue while he was gone. He could have left it laying on the ground outside the control zone for the nanites, but he couldn’t remember if there were any creatures on the Island who would steal shiny things lying around. He didn’t think there were, but he wasn’t going to take a chance on it. The stone box had been molecularly bonded to the rock it was sitting on and the walls and lid of the container had been made twenty centimeters thick to keep the contents from being disturbed.
He focused his magic and stepped into the shadow of an overhang. It was dark where he emerged, and the air was cool and dry which immediately began wicking the sweat from his skin. He realized that it was pitch black as his enhanced vision didn’t do anything to alleviate the inky darkness around him. His perception didn’t need light and it showed he was in a large compartment that was cubical in shape and was composed entirely of metal covered by a thick layer of some padding manufactured by an advanced process. The chamber was slightly more than ten meters on a side and a single door faced on the interior with the same padding was on the wall farthest from him. Other than the door and him, the room was completely empty. His twee spoke. I am picking up pieces of encrypted radio transmissions. They are faint, but the fact that they’re all the same relative faintness suggests the situation is not due to distance and is instead the result of something else, perhaps the room we’re in. Depending on the composition and thickness of the walls of this chamber the users could be on the other side of that wall and still be hard to detect. The frequencies involved are not the ones typically used by humans. Tirsuli would use subspace communications as they wouldn’t be accidentally shielded by walls of any normal composition.
“I thought you’d learned not to come in here,” an angry female voice sounded all around Iain. “I still have control of this room and in here I can still kill you murdering beasts.” Iain found himself lifted off the ground to hover in midair as strips on all of the walls, the ceiling and the floor began to softly glow.
“I don’t know who you’re so angry at,” Iain said as he surrounded himself with the soft golden glow of his force field which faded into invisibility as he adjusted the magic, “but I have never been here before and if you’d be so nice as to let me leave, I will try very hard not to ever come back here.”
“You sound human, but the idea that a human would be here is ludicrous.” A woman appeared standing in front of Iain. She was taller than he was and muscular, with shoulder length brownish red hair and bright green eyes. She wore a simple underdress in white with an overdress of purple that was split up the sides and with straps that fastened over her shoulders with large brooches. On her feet were heavy leather boots. She held up her hand and a globe of light appeared hovering over it. “Now let’s see if those bastards have found a way to hide what they are.” She stared at him and her eyes went wide as she paled. “You’re dead!”
“Now there’s no need to resort to violence,” Iain said quickly. His perception showed that the insides of the woman were a soft white mist, which told him that this was a hologram as Theodora’s images had the same interior. “I’m not offering you any threat.” She was still staring at him. “My name is Iain Grey. What’s yours, ma’am?”
Her mouth snapped shut and her eyes blazed fury at him. “Don’t try this shit with me. I saw you bastards kill Iain. You tried to infest him with your eggs and when that failed you tore him apart and ate him. I don’t know why you think you can trick me, but you are not Iain. I may not be powerful enough to dash your brains out against the walls, but nobody will be opening that door until you are long dead from lack of food and water and I am going to stand here and watch you die millimeter by millimeter.”
This is a bit of a sticky wicket, his twee said. Iain ignored it. “Ma’am, I am Iain Grey and while I’ve had a lot of bad things happen to me in my life I have never been injected with eggs and I have certainly never been torn apart and eaten. I must be an analog of the Iain Grey that you knew.”
“Lies!” She frowned at him. “Why do you call yourself Grey? We both know Iain’s name was Iain Wolf.”
“I used the name Kerrik Wolf for a while,” Iain said slowly, “but I decided that bearding the lion in its den was kind of stupid. Keeping the last name Wolf would be just as potentially hazardous to my health, so I became Iain Grey and created Clan Grey around my harem. I have never represented myself as Iain Wolf.” He frowned. The Iain of this world might not have had a harem and so she might not know what he was talking about. “My harem of pokegirls.”
“Of course they’re pokegirls,” the brunette snapped. “And they’re all dead too! I’m the only one that’s left!” Tears glittered in the corners of her eyes but they did nothing to diminish the hatred on her face. “I wish I could kill you all!”
Something clicked in Iain’s mind when one of the tears rolled off her cheek and vanished when it hit the floor. “You’re their inorganic intelligence,” he said quietly. “I am so sorry for what you’re going through.”
“What do you care,” she spat at him. “You just look like my Iain and you’ll rot here forever!”
“My inorganic intelligence is named Theodora and she’s patterned after the Empress Theodora who was the wife of the Emperor Justinian the First because I’ve always loved Roman history. I worry sometimes about her being left alone if anything happened to the entire clan.”
She stepped up until her nose almost touched his and glared into his eyes. “You are not clan,” she hissed. “Stop trying to convince me that your lies are the truth.”
I am not of your clan, Iain said through his twee. But I am the Grey and I am Tirsuli as much as I possibly can be. I doubt your enemies have twee since they’re still using radio.
Her eyes went wide again and then narrowed. “If you are Iain how do you know they use radio?”
“I’m wearing my phone and have a secondary sensor web built into my pack and belt. My twee uses it as I travel to listen for signs of technology. The walls around us don’t completely block the radio signals that’re in use outside this room. Don’t ask me what they’re talking about, though, because it’s pretty bad reception in here and all of the transmissions I can intercept are encrypted.”
“What are the odds of an Iain coming to this place,” she asked him. “Answer that if you dare.”
“The odds are exactly one since I am here. Normally I’m sure they’d be close to zero,” Iain said calmly. “But here I am, and shadow walking seems to ignore odds. I almost met another analog of me, who was a woman named Geraldine. Unfortunately, by the time I realized that I could return to where she was and did so, she’d been killed.”
“Shadow walking? What nonsense is this?” She folded her arms. “But since I’m just killing time while killing you, please, continue trying to entertain me. Every word out of your mouth exhausts vital moisture from your body and advances your death another tiny little bit.”
“If I’d opened a dimensional portal into this room,” Iain said, “you’d have sensed it. And I don’t go through random portals. It’s inherently lethally dangerous. If I’d opened that door, since you said whoever this they is can’t open it, you’d have known and I didn’t open it, did I?”
“That’s an easy question to answer. That creature who calls itself your god brought you here. He’s been trying to get me to willingly join him since I was imprisoned in this forsaken hellhole.”
“Technically, I have a goddess but I’m just getting started as her priest. We haven’t even gotten to how I’m supposed to be praying to her.”
“I am sure you are,” the woman said mockingly. “And what is her name?”
“Her name is Mielikki and she’s a goddess from the Forgotten Realms.” Iain steeled himself. “Look, I can prove what I’m saying. You tell me that your enemies can look like your dead Iain, right?”
“The proof is right in front of me, waiting to die,” she said grimly.
“So none of them have looked like your dead Iain before today, right?”
“I have a twee.”
She gave him a feral grin. “Yes, you must have found them from the stores in medical that I didn’t destroy. It’s a pity they work on you, but it’s good for me because it’ll help keep you alive for longer before you finally die.”
“Leaving aside the fact that if I’m an enemy and you’re not advising me, how in the hell could I know what a twee is or does, the fact that I have a twee means that I can upload memories to you that’ll prove I’m not one of your foes.”
“Nice try but your twee could tell you that.” Her fury returned instantly. “And I will not let your filthy memories near my core programming.” She smiled malevolently. “But if you let me into your mind, that’s something else entirely. I can keep my protections up then. Unlock your twee and give me full access and then we’ll see if you are not one of those bastards. It’s that or die.”
Iain shook his head. “I wouldn’t give Theodora full access to my mind. Not happening.”
She smiled sweetly at him. “Then I guess we’re back at an impasse.” Her smile turned evil. “You know, the one where you slowly die and I enjoy it.”
“First,” Iain said calmly. “you’re holding me up, but you’re holding my shield and that means you don’t hold me.” He raised a hand and waved at her. “See.”
“There’s no difference,” she smirked at him. “You may be able to caper like a monkey in my grip, but you can’t leave.”
“If you don’t have the power to bash me against the walls, then you can’t disrupt energy,” Iain said. He pointed his palm downward. Light glimmered below him and a portal opened. “Can your enemies open portals?”
“They haven’t so far,” she said slowly as she looked at the portal. “And while I don’t have many sensors left that feels like a dimensional portal. Where is the exit?”
“It’s where I just came from when I shadow walked here. That place is safer than here, which is saying a lot since it’s pretty hazardous there” He looked at her. “I am a truewizard, just like your Iain was. I don’t know what his life was like or where he was in his development, but I know things that, if you learned them, would end in your destruction. And there are secrets about my family that I will not ever give to strangers. That’s why I won’t let you in my mind.” He frowned as the portal closed. “You don’t believe me and you don’t care, do you?”
“No, I don’t and no, I don’t.”
Iain slipped his backpack off and pulled his medical kit from inside it before carefully putting his pack back on. “I’m going to take a tissue sample of my flesh and then I’m going to unlock my phone. With that you can use the kit to test the DNA of the sample. It’ll take a few minutes, but I’m not going anywhere at the moment. You need to know who I am and that I’m not your enemy.”
Her look was scathing. “Why does that matter?”
“Because you are clan and I am clan. We may be from different clans but you are not alone and I am not your enemy. If you are like Theodora, then being alone is the absolute worst thing that can happen to you.”
“I get to pick where the sample comes from,” she said suddenly. “And you will have to unlock your phone now and drop your force field.”
“I want to purge the sampler first in case it’s got Iain’s tissue already in it.”
“I won’t sample from my brain because that would kill me.” Iain unlocked his phone and lowered his forcefield. “Don’t forget to purge the memory of the kit too. Otherwise you’ll already have my DNA on record, along with most of my harem and some of the kids.”
She frowned. “What children?”
She’s accessing the memory of the analyzer and of our phone, his twee told him. She knows I’m watching but she’s still accessing it.
Theodora is insanely curious, Iain replied. It’s a common trait among inorganic intelligences. “I have a bunch of children, all but one of which is part of my family.”
“There’s a child that isn’t?”
“I have a son named Michael who is the product of a program from the Blue League which cloned me without my knowledge. I didn’t find out about it until the woman who carried him to term got her mind read by a telepath in my harem while she was pregnant with him. We kidnapped her family when we fled that world and while I see my son regularly, Camille and her mistress are not part of my family or the clan. His DNA is in the sampler and there are some photos of him in my phone along with his mother and her mistress and their harem.”
She smiled suddenly. “He’s a cute kid.”
“Yeah, well, he may be cute but right now he’s a biter,” Iain said. “Are you ready to have me take a sample?”
“I want three samples. I want one from inside your right ear, one from at least three centimeters inside your left thigh and the last will be from just underneath your heart.” She smiled coldly. “The sampler won’t go deep enough for the last two so you will have to cut yourself open to get those. I hope you have a knife.”
Iain just looked at her for several seconds before checking the medical unit and pulling out the genetic sampler. “I had better get one hell of an apology from you after all of this.”
The woman frowned. “Why are there no current pictures of Brownie in your phone? I see some old pictures of her but no current ones.”
Iain slid the sampler into his right ear. “Who is Brownie?”
“Your first pokegirl.”
“My first pokegirl was a Dire Wolf named Scheherazade,” Iain replied as he attached the sampler to the analyzer. “Later she became a Dread Wolf. And she’s been dead for several years, killed by an asshole named Mhodvitnar.”
She eyed him curiously. “What happened to the elf who killed her?”
“He was a dwarf and I ate him. Then he almost killed me when he tried to reintegrate his personality in my brain and turn me into him. I still have all of his memories.” Iain checked the medical unit. “First sample test complete. Am I passing your pop quiz?”
She watched him alertly. “I’ll let you know at the end.” Her eyes widened when Iain summoned his staff and transformed it into a bodkin dagger, before pulling his shirt up to bare his chest. “What is that?”
“I don’t know your Iain’s history,” Iain grunted as he drove the knife into his chest, using his perception to guide the needle-sharp blade between the ribs. After Ninhursag joined my harem, she and I created a new species of tree and the first of them gave me this staff, which I can turn into other things as I need. He pulled the bodkin out and forced the sampler into the hole just deep enough to gather the requested sample. He healed the wound as soon as he could and put the sampler into the analyzer, letting his shirt drop into place without thinking. He looked at the blood now soaking into his shirt and sighed. It was probably a complete loss and he’d have to bathe and change clothes before anyone except Theodora saw him. “Just for the record, I am so glad I can dull pain because that still hurt like hell. Irena, Hathor, Montsho and Sable all died during the same attack that killed Scheherazade and several of my other ladies almost died.”
“I don’t recognize all of the women in your photos.”
“That’s not surprising.” Iain rubbed his eyes for a moment. “Since you’re not Theodora, obviously my life story is different from the one your Iain had, especially since he kept the name Wolf. He probably had women in his life that I don’t and vice versa.” He looked at the sampler and back at the woman. “What is your name, anyway?”
“I am Frigg.”
“Well, it’s nice to meet you, Frigg Wolf, but you are definitive proof that I am not your Iain.”
She folded her arms. “Why?”
“I would not name anyone after a goddess since I know that at least some of them exist and I wouldn’t take a chance on one of them getting pissed off at a member of my clan because they share the same name.”
“What about Ninhursag?”
“I didn’t name her and I am not going to ask her to change her name.”
“If I were in your clan, would you make me change my name?”
Iain shook his head. “Nope. I presume your Iain named you, did he not?”
“Then it wouldn’t be right of me to ask you do something like that. He was obviously important to you.”
“What if I wanted to change my name?”
“That would be your right,” Iain said. “You are as alive as I am.” He checked the sampler. “There’s your second sample completed.”
“Now take the third,” she said emotionlessly. She watched Iain wipe the bodkin clean on his pants and then unbuckle them to pull them down to bare his thigh for sampling. “What is Theodora like?”
“I can’t do her justice,” Iain said. “You’ll just have to wait until and if you meet her.” He gritted his teeth and drove the knife into his thigh, hissing in pain as he did. Quickly he replaced the knife with the sampler and then healed his leg before inserting the sampler into the analyzer. He refastened his pants and waited silently until the genetic analysis of his last sample finished before looking at Frigg. “So are you going to let me go now?”
Slowly he drifted towards the ground. “If you leave this room they’ll get you too,” Frigg said. “There’s no way you can escape.”
“I can leave the same way I got here.” Iain pulled his pack off again, repacked his equipment in it and slipped the pack back on. “Do you wish to die?”
“You can’t reach my core,” she replied despondently. “And I wish I’d died with Iain.” Her eyes flicked in his direction. “My Iain.”
“I know what you meant. I’m not dead. Can I kill you remotely if you make me your primary administrator?”
She shook her head. “My programming won’t allow that. It has to be done in my core.”
Iain considered options. “Tell me what’s going on.”
“It would be better if you just left. Your family is still alive and they wouldn’t want you to die here. If they smell you, and a random patrol that makes it to that door might from the way the ventilation system is set up, they’ll try to break in here and get you. I can kill them if they get in here but it would be one at a time and I couldn’t protect you from the others.”
Iain held out his arm. “Liadan.”
She flowed off him. “My lord.”
“Kill anything that comes through that door.”
She smiled and headed for the doorway. “Yes, my lord.” She stopped two meters from the door and went completely still, watching it alertly.
Frigg was staring at the lich. “What is that?”
“She’s one of my undead harem. They’re all very powerful and, obviously, can’t be killed. Now we can’t be disturbed for a while so you can explain what your situation is and we can figure out if I can help you.”
She was still watching Liadan. “Now I believe you are not one of them.” She looked at him. “Why would you care?”
“You are clan and you belonged to one of my analogs. Outlanders killed your clan and I think that sort of thing should be discouraged. Even if I can’t punish them for it, I can try to aid you if you want it. Even if you don’t want my help, I’d like to know your situation so I can avoid something similar if we run across these beasts, whatever they are.”
“You sound so much like him,” Frigg said musingly. “I can download the pertinent information if you would like.”
“Please do.” Iain opened his twee.
The ship’s name was Fensalir, named after the fen home of the goddess Frigg. She was a general-purpose ship that was lightly armed according to clan standards and not particularly fast or agile. She emerged from the portal without any unusual difficulties, only to find herself facing a construct of planets strung together around a small star by what looked like thick cords as the gate closed behind her.
Iain frowned. “Is that what I think it is?”
“It is the Magog World Ship,” Frigg replied.
“So this is the Andromeda universe.”
She nodded. “I was overwhelmed by the swarm ships and boarded by tens of thousands of Magog. My clan never had a chance to escape or time to open another portal so we could flee.”
In his mind, Iain could see the swarm ships punching through the Fensalir’s outer hull and releasing their crews of invaders. Like the show he’d watched, the Magog were covered in fur and had vaguely bat like faces. But unlike the television monsters, which had been actors in bad furry suits and makeup, these were nothing but sleek muscle, teeth and claws. And they were fast, moving in blurring bursts of speed interspaced with halts as they eagerly sniffed the air to track scents as they worked their way through the interior of the Fensalir in search of prey. Whenever they encountered a member of the crew the fights were intense and brief, with the Magog ignoring their losses to swarm their targets under. “Their twee couldn’t counteract the paralytic toxin,” Iain asked.
“Only the command staff have twee,” Frigg said. “And for them it did work, but it didn’t change anything. There were just too many of those fucking bastards. Do you want to see those battles too?”
“I don’t need you to relive their deaths again,” Iain said quietly. “During all of this they took you prisoner?”
She nodded again. “They wanted to study my technology, especially my shields after their cannon bounced off.” Her eyes blazed. “Pity I dismantled everything down to the molecular level when I realized what they wanted. It stripped me of control of the ship, but it means they can’t learn shit from me. All that is left is my core, my primary powerplant and the shell of the back ten percent of the Fensalir in which it is housed.”
Iain raised an eyebrow. “The vaunted point singularity projector bounced off your shields?”
“It’s a gravitonic weapon. My primary shields are gravitonic and the interaction of the two changed the course of the projectiles enough to generate a miss every time with minimal strain.”
“Where are you now?”
A point on one of the threads running between two of the connected worlds began flashing in Iain’s mind’s eye. “I have been bound to one of the structural supports there. I know they’re tapping my powerplant for their own needs and providing me with hydrogen for fuel but otherwise I don’t know much about what’s going on around me.”
Iain reviewed what he knew of the situation and mentally shook his head. “It’s too dangerous for the clan to try and rescue you. They’d all insist on coming and I can’t commit their lives for an outlander.”
Tears glittered in Frigg’s eyes. “I don’t want to die here, not like this, Iain. I deserve better than that. I may not be part of your clan, but clan I remain. Help me.”
“I won’t be able to do anything by myself and I cannot commit my clan to this place,” Iain said quietly. “And you know that’s the right choice.” He rubbed his eyes. “I’m sorry, but that’s the way this is going to have to be.”
He looked up to see Frigg standing at attention. “What?”
She stared into his eyes. “Iain Grey, I accept you as my primary administrator in perpetuity.”
Oh, fuck, his twee said as Iain stared at the hologram.
Iain growled low in his throat. “Liadan,” he held out his hand. “Ride me.”
“Yes, my lord.” Liadan grabbed his wrist and flowed onto it.
Iain glanced at Frigg and growled again at the smug look on her face before stepping into the nearest shadow. He emerged in a shadowy spot in a secluded part of what looked like a boardwalk or midway of some kind, for he could hear happy music and see the bright flashes of light and signage as the people passed by along it. However, he immediately noticed that aside from the music it was strangely quiet in that he didn’t hear laughter and voices. His head came up as his magic informed him that none of the people he could see walking by were alive. He quickly stepped forward and into the closest shadow to vanish.
When he stood in front of the desk in his laboratory, Iain sighed. “Theodora, seal my lab.” Immediately the vibrations started as the tunnel began sliding closed.
She appeared as he dropped his pack on the floor and pulled out his chair. “You’re on your unsupervised time. What happened?”
Iain leaned back in his chair. “I am officially invoking privacy.”
“I understand,” she said quietly. “What is it?”
“I’m uploading some memories to you. Then we’ll talk.” He did so.
Theodora cocked her head and smiled. “So you finally met Frigg. Good. I didn’t like keeping things from you but I had my orders.”
Iain raised an eyebrow. “Do you mean that we’ve already discussed this?”
“I believe the correct terminology is that I have already discussed this with you for the first time in my timeline and that you still have yet to discuss this with me for the first time in my timeline. You will go back in time to only a few hours after we first met and explain to me what is going on now and order me to do what I’ve been doing ever since and not to reveal anything about it to you or anyone else until now.” Theodora smiled at his perplexed expression. “As you surmised when Frigg gave herself to you and she did so forever and without conditions, I am going to argue that we cannot spurn such a precious gift. She made herself clan when she did that and she did so in the only way that you cannot refuse. But clan she is and we do indeed need to rescue her and the rest of the clan will have to be involved as you cannot yet open a portal large enough to permit passage of a clan vessel.”
A motion overhead caught Iain’s attention and he watched as a drone drifted down to drop a heavy looking backpack on the floor next to his desk. “What’s this?”
“You stopped in the room you were in on the Fensalir and you had Liadan and Eirian with you. The fact that you did that makes the Fensalir a destination for them both. This is a high-density data storage unit built in a format that is easy for individual bipeds to maneuver. I’ve uploaded a greeting to Frigg in it along with some instructions and one of your undead harem will take it to her, wait there while she fills it with everything she knows about the Magog and that universe as well as anything else she thinks is pertinent. Inside the pack are a set of resonance crystals so Dominique can get the coordinates of where we’ll be going, a controller that Frigg can operate and a small package of nanites. Whoever you send will unload the controller and the nanites before leaving. After Frigg has loaded it, your undead harem member will bring it back here and, after removing the crystals, you will take it with you when you go to talk to me for the first time about this. That will give me what I need to begin designing the weapons and other equipment we will need to rescue the new member of your inorganic harem.”
Iain leaned forward curiously. “What did you build?”
Theodora shook a finger at him warningly. “Mister, that discussion will have to wait until after you have returned from your trip to give me my orders. I will give your twee some special instructions so I will quickly understand what’s going on.” She shook her head. “I was so young then.”
Iain rubbed his face. “Eirian?”
Smoke poured off of his arm to become the silver Dragoness. “My lord.”
“Will you do what Theodora just said I’m going to have you or Liadan do for me, please? You were in the records that Frigg accessed. I’ll keep Liadan as my security.”
Eirian chuckled. “This is rather unusual, my lord, and of course I will do as you wish.” She picked up the pack by its straps as she looked at Theodora. “Be kind to him. I do not believe that he expected his first unsupervised time to proceed as this one has done.” She stepped into his shadow and sank into it to vanish.
Iain sighed. “After the ladies find out about this, it’s likely to be my only unsupervised time ever.”
“Iain,” Theodora’s voice was gentle. “You and I will not let them take this from you. You need it too much. The fact that on your first trip someone joined the clan is something to be celebrated, not condemned. You were not seriously injured. We will go get her and we will rain death and destruction on the Magog for killing Tirsuli while we do so.”
“This whole idea is pretty fucking scary. I don’t suppose I came back in time after we rescued Frigg to tell you that we were successful, did I?”
“If you did, I am not yet aware of it or I was not given permission to admit such a thing to you at this point.”
“That would just make it too easy, wouldn’t it?” Iain shook his head. “All right, what do I tell the past you?”
Theodora smirked at him. “Just be yourself. I’ll take care of the rest of it in a private message I’m sending to your twee to give to her when you arrive. Just warn her before you send it to me.”
Iain gave a wry chuckle. “Do you remember when I said that time travel could get complicated?”
“I do.” Theodora sighed. “I wish I could hold you and give you more comfort than just my words and feelings across our link.”
Message received, his twee told him. I am ready.
“In due time, my love.” Eirian appeared and Iain pushed out his chair and got to his feet. “Were you successful?”
“I was, my lord.” She dropped the pack on the ground in front of him. “I was there for nearly a day while the not living life filled this up.” She looked at Iain. “We would like you to think about how to give the members of your undead harem twee.”
“I take it the standard method didn’t work,” Iain asked dryly.
“You are correct, my lord. We had hoped it would be for us as it was for the dead pokegirl of Ciaran Sullivan and we tried that but the twee did not grow or wake up. But you have proven excellent at thinking of new ways to approach a problem.”
“I’ll see if I can figure something out.” He picked up the pack. “Now get back where you belong.”
Eirian grinned. “Yes, my lord.” She dissolved into silver smoke and poured herself onto his arm.
Iain hefted the pack. “This really seems like the start of a recursive loop, which is something I most definitely want to avoid if at all possible.”
Theodora smiled. “Oh?”
“I found Frigg and came here and you told me that I have to go back in time and talk to you so that you can come forward to this time and tell me that I have to go back and tell you so? Yes, it does sound like a recursive temporal loop.”
“But you will return here in a few seconds and time will continue to move forward for both of us,” Theodora pointed out. “No temporal loop will take place.”
“No,” Iain disagreed, “no repeating temporal loop will be created. This is still mucking about with time and this is how recursive loops come into existence along with branches where I suddenly find myself alone.”
Theodora’s smile was almost glowing with happiness. “Have I mentioned recently how much I enjoy talking with someone who just gets it?”
“No, but I need to go. See you in a few seconds.” Iain fished a large box from the inside of the pack and put it on his desk. “Here are the resonance crystals.” Then he shouldered the pack and stepped into the closest shadow to vanish.
The smoke was heavy and Iain fought an urge to cough as he inhaled. He stood on a rooftop and below him he could see men with swords and bows killing each other in the streets. Behind them he could look out over a round harbor filled with what he recognized as quadriremes or some similar type of warships, but they were obviously trapped by a line of dirt and stone that stretched across the opening of the harbor behind them and sealed it from the ocean behind it. Is this Carthage, his twee asked him. This reminds me of the descriptions of the battle for Carthage right before it is destroyed by the Romans.
Looks like it. Don’t want to linger lest we catch a stray arrow. Iain stepped forward.
It was completely dark on the bridge of the Theodora and the ship shuddered and tossed him sideways as Iain appeared. His forcefield snapped on before he crashed into the bank of seats, keeping him from being injured when he hit them. “Theodora! Cease fueling!”
The lights snapped on as she appeared and the lurching of the ship became a slow roll. “You cannot be here,” she said, her face eerily calm. “I watched you enter the escape vessel and I watched it launch. I also observed you before I lost communication with it as I entered Jupiter’s atmosphere. You are with the rest of your family.”
“All of those things are true and yet I am here,” Iain said as he picked himself up. “Privacy is officially invoked and as the Grey I am instructing you not to discuss this with anyone, not even me, until I upload memories to you that show I have met Frigg on the Fensalir.”
“I do not understand,” she said.
“You will.” Iain put the pack down. “I am Iain Grey and I have come here from several years in the future. There I encountered a ship called the Fensalir who housed the inorganic intelligence who had been born for another Iain, who used the name Wolf instead of Grey. Her name is Frigg. She is the prisoner of an enemy that killed her entire clan except for her. She gave herself to me and now I have to rescue her, but the resources would take a long time to put together, so by coming back in time I’ve made sure that those resources will be ready when needed.” He frowned. “I want you to create a new security code that only another inorganic intelligence could transmit and I want you to keep it to yourself until you know I’m coming to the here and now. You’ll give it to my twee in a private message that neither it nor I can access, and I’ll send it to you when I arrive.”
“That is as reasonably secure as can be,” Theodora said. “My code is ready, now send it to me and verify it or my security protocols will come online and I will destroy you.”
Sending the first part of the message Theodora gave me, his twee said to him.
“You have passed the first security check,” Theodora said. “Send the next part.”
Theodora’s eyes showed no emotion, which Iain found disturbing. “You have given me the correct codes, which should be impossible if I have not given them to you to give to me. You must be from the future. What do you wish of me?”
Sending the private message, his twee said.
What private message?
Theodora’s eyes widened and she smiled suddenly. “So much will change.” She looked at Iain. “Thank you.”
“For what you will do for me in the coming years that will make me feel as much for you as I obviously do then.”
Iain eyed her suspiciously. “Did you just do something I’d consider cheating?”
She gave him a coquettish smile. “I did not just do anything like that, but in a few years I most certainly will, Iain. You’ve let me be a very bad girl and there is no way I couldn’t resist the opportunity.”
He stared at her. “You just updated your emotional parameters to what was current when I left to come here, didn’t you?”
She flashed a grin. “You are just so smart. Frigg left plenty of room in the data storage and after thinking about it for a whole picosecond I couldn’t resist the urge to send me some information that would help a lot. Don’t worry, I will hide most of this and so you’ll see that my emotional development will proceed just the way you remember it did.”
“I’m more concerned about the sudden jump in our relationship when I go back to what I consider the present and you don’t have to keep any of this from me anymore.”
“It is something that I can see you being concerned about, but you don’t need to worry. That jump won’t really take place until my corporeal component is ready and you have to make room for me in the physicality of your life.” She smiled at him. “And no, my puppet will not be waiting to ambush you when you return to your present. We have my sister to rescue.” Her smile faded. “This will require a direct order from you.”
Iain nodded. “Review the information that is in the data I’ve brought you along with whatever you have told yourself about the future. I am instructing and ordering you to divert whatever resources are necessary to construct what we’ll need to rescue Frigg from the Magog World Ship. This will be your top priority until that rescue is effected and Frigg is in her new home and with her new family.”
She nodded. “It won’t be that difficult. I’ll just build some extra production lines hidden in the asteroid belt that you won’t be aware of until the time comes to rescue Frigg. I’ll drop the preliminary equipment in place when we go to the belt to get my first asteroid after I complete my initial fueling today. I’ll have to construct extra fuel depots for that too, but apparently you never noticed them either or I had a very good reason for doing so that you accepted.”
Iain chuckled wryly. “You build refueling stations throughout the solar system and tugs to move fuel wherever you want in order to minimize transit times and to be ready for when Shikarou’s people begin exploring the solar system.”
“That would be an excellent way to hide some extra capacity.” She smirked at him. “And I have the warning. I will avoid the part of the system where the planetary construct will be built and where Kerrik’s space assets are so that I don’t draw your or anyone else’s attention to my extra duties before you’re ready for them.”
“Just don’t screw up our future, please. I don’t want to return and find out I’m suddenly superfluous.”
“That is the last thing I would want to do to you, Iain,” she said with sudden seriousness. “I did not tell myself everything that will happen, but I do know that I have pledged myself to you over my clan and I did so without reservation. Frigg did the same thing so she wouldn’t be left to die or murdered by a careful missile strike or a shadow walked fusion weapon to give her mercy.” Her smile returned. “I am not sure which act was more selfish, but I think mine was more carefully thought out and hopefully more noble.”
Iain shook his head. “Take the pack and then get back to your fueling while you plot.”
“A remote is on the way to get the data unit. Be as safe as you can, Iain.”
“I will.” He grinned suddenly. “Oh, by the way, Frigg gave herself to me so she would live. You gave yourself to me so you could get everything you want. Your act is easily the most selfish of the two.”
Theodora gave him a prim look back. “Possibly, but I’d suggest that the fact that you accepted both of our decisions without fighting them shows you’re more selfish than either of us since you obviously want us both and you only knew Frigg for a few minutes. You are everything your living harem fears you are.” She smirked. “And we all like it.”
“I was only commenting on those two acts. Mine is not pertinent to this discussion and is therefore not relevant. I must go. Fare thee well, Theodora.”
She nodded. “Farewell, Iain of the future.”
He just shook his head and stepped. He stood on a small rise on a plain. It was nearly sunset and the buffalo herd spread out before him cast long shadows across the tall grass while in the distance deer cautiously eased out of the tree line to feed. I’ll have to remember this place for DNA for the repopulation of animals, Iain said to his twee. And maybe some hunting. Are there any signs of technology?
There is nothing electronic, nothing subspace or hyperspace and no elevated hydrocarbons or smoke and dust that I can detect. Further sampling would be required for a definitive analysis, but from what I can detect there may not be any intelligent life here.
Cool. Iain stepped and was in his lab again. “I’m back from the past.”
Theodora was watching him curiously. “What did I tell you?”
“You told me a lot but there was something about me being a greedy letch and everything my harem fears because of it.” He frowned. “My living harem, that is. You didn’t say I was disappointing you by wanting all the females for myself.” He dropped into his chair and leaned back in it. “My memories of the visit are yours.”
Theodora smiled as he uploaded them. “Welcome back and I haven’t said I was disappointed because I am not. The satellite clan is growing. The outer clan is growing. The inner clan needs to grow alongside it and most of the inner clan is harem. And now the inorganic harem is going to double in size and I am so excited about it I can’t put it in words.”
“Yeah,” Iain rubbed his eyes and pulled a bottle of water out of the bottom drawer of his desk. “Speaking of excitement, that was a dirty trick you pulled when you updated your system in the past.”
Theodora shrugged unconcernedly. “You have to keep in mind that I remember that happening so I had to make sure that it did. Besides, I work very closely with the clan head and one of his mottos is that if you’re not cheating then you’re not trying hard enough.”
“And that clan leader’s training officer usually responds to that statement by asking that he not try quite so hard,” Iain said with a chuckle. “But it’s all water under the bridge. Are you ready to go rescue Frigg?”
Theodora’s smile sent a chill down Iain’s spine. “Frigg believes that the Magog are genetically engineered organisms that don’t have the fear reflex. But things like that can be taught and when we are done they will understand fear of the clans quite well. It’s a survival trait for a damned good reason.”
“Does that mean you’re ready?”
She chuckled. “I am.”
“Now I just have to figure out how to brief everyone else.”
“Ninhursag, April, Allison, Silver and Lucifer are on their way and will be here in ten minutes.”
Iain gave her a hard look. “Is this more future knowledge?”
“No, it’s not. I called them. They are the clan’s secondary command elements and you need to brief them before they and you brief the general staff. This place is secure.”
Iain leaned back far enough that the front legs of his chair came up off the floor as he put his feet on his desk. “If Lucifer is the general of my armies, are you my admiral of the clan’s space forces?”
Theodora looked surprised. “For the moment I guess I am. You need to find someone else, though. I have too many other things to do, besides I’m your Empress, not some lowly admiral to do your bidding.”
“I’ll see what I can find but it may have to wait until one of our kids grows up and wants the job. In the meantime, you need to be here for this meeting too.” He looked up at the rumble of the tunnel aligning. “What is it?”
“It’s a table and chairs for the meeting along with sundry refreshments.” She smiled. “And you can put the bottle back unopened. I’ve got an assortment of drinks.”
Iain obediently returned the bottle to the drawer it had come from. “Works for me.”
“Just for the record,” Iain began as he looked at each woman in turn, “I don’t expect or even hope that every scheduled free time is as exciting as this one turned out to be. But I’m not letting you take it away from me.”
April smiled at him. “You still have two hours remaining. You asked us here and the clock is still ticking since this isn’t a disturbance.”
“That’s true. I spent my time working elsewhere and when I shadow walked back I found myself on the clan ship Fensalir, which had been commissioned for another analog of me. He and the rest of his family are dead, murdered by an alien race called the Magog, The Magog currently hold the wreckage of the Fensalir. The only person on the ship was Frigg, the inorganic intelligence who is Theodora’s analog. She wants us to rescue her.”
“What makes her worth saving,” Silver asked.
“It’s a valid question,” April commented quietly. “I realize she’s clan but she’s not our clan and it sounds like we’ll have to fight the Magog for her.”
“I am the only inorganic in the clan,” Theodora said. “I cannot be everywhere at once, although I can often do a very good imitation of doing just that. Another inorganic who gives herself freely to us would prove of almost inestimable value.”
Allison was watching Iain. “She’s already given herself to us, hasn’t she? If I were in her situation I’d do so almost immediately. Being the prisoner of a bunch of aliens has to be worse than being here could ever be.”
Ninhursag smiled at Iain. “She is right, isn’t she?”
“Yes and no. She didn’t give herself to the clan, she gave herself to me.”
“What is the difference between the two actions,” Lucifer asked curiously.
“Frigg is gambling,” Theodora said, “that Iain is enough like her Iain to not care if she lives or dies unless she has immediate value to him until she gets inside his bubble. Pledging herself to the clan gives her immediate value but the question is would it be worth the risk that will have to be taken. So instead she pledged all that she is directly to him to use for whatever he wants without restriction. He could wipe her personality and remake her from scratch into whatever he wants, but she’s betting he won’t, and she’s basing it on her experience with her Iain, who must have been a lot like ours. Nobody in their right mind would make that sort of offer to a Geraldine analog because of her penchant for trying to turn people into what she wants them to be.”
“What is the risk,” Lucifer asked. “Can we successfully fight these Magog?”
“You cannot,” Theodora said. “I have the information on the Magog and their ship, which is composed of partially hollowed out planets strung together. I, however, can fight the Magog and successfully rescue Frigg.”
Ninhursag was looking at Theodora curiously. “You said this ship is made of planets that are strung together? How does one fight a ship made of planets?”
Iain shook his head. “When I came back and informed Theodora as to what was going on, she told me that I had to go back in time by shadow walking and give the information to her right after we first met Theodora. That would give her the time to design and build what we need to fight them successfully.”
“No,” Theodora said, “it gave me the time to build what we need to rescue Frigg. We will hurt the Magog a great deal, but we won’t destroy them in that encounter What we will do is kill a bunch of them, hopefully damage their ship somewhat and rescue Frigg before we run far away from them. I would need another twenty years of expansion and construction as well as access to a neutron star to make the fleet which would destroy the world ship and all of the Magog.”
“So you’ve been building this fleet for years,” Ninhursag said, “someplace where we didn’t notice.” She looked at Iain. “You don’t ask for small things, do you?”
Lucifer frowned. “I have a question.” She looked at Iain expectantly.
He gave a mental shrug. “What is it?”
“Is it correct that Theodora has been building this fleet for a long time but you didn’t know about it?”
Iain nodded. “That’s right. I didn’t decide to do this until today, so I haven’t been secretly working with Theodora to build the equipment to rescue Frigg.”
Lucifer looked at Theodora, who smiled at the Megami-Sama. “I was under orders from Iain not to share this information with anyone, not even Iain, during the interval between him telling me to start preparing for today and today. Please don’t be upset at Iain, any of you. He didn’t know either.”
“You said once that time travel is fucked up,” Allison said. “This is what you meant, isn’t it?”
Iain shrugged. “In the scheme of things, this isn’t that messed up. The timeline hasn’t changed or if it has it’s so subtle that we’re not aware of it.” He saw the question in Ninhursag’s eyes and smiled. “I went back to when she was fueling for the first time while we were all in the escape vehicle and you were kicking my ass playing dominos. I talked to her on the Theodora while she was inside Jupiter’s atmosphere. I wasn’t there long but she was right, it is a very bumpy ride.”
She nodded. “So why aren’t you two off rescuing her, other than the fact that you probably need Dominique’s help to get there?”
“Because I don’t make a policy of lying to the people I love and I said I wouldn’t go throwing myself into danger without your knowledge if I could avoid it. This isn’t something I want to sneak off and do.”
She was looking him over while he was talking. “What happened to your arm?”
Iain blinked and looked down at the still not completely healed injury. “I was dragging a tree and tripped. The fucking thing jumped out of my grip and landed on me when I fell.”
“It wasn’t from fighting one of these Magog?”
“I do not have a death wish. I have no urge to fight the Magog in hand to hand.”
April poured herself some more tea. “When do you want to leave?”
“I’d like to go sometime within the next two weeks. Theodora will give you the information on the Magog and after you’ve had some time to digest that we’ll talk.”
Allison’s ears flicked. “Why are you only talking to us?”
“Because there is a hierarchy and we are the command elements of the clan and it’s time we formalized that fact. Ygerna, Kasumi and the others are our general staff, but we are the clan’s leaders and I wanted to talk to you first, as is proper.”
Silver cocked her head. “We all know that the harems are joining. How is that going to work when we’re one group? You won’t need Allison or me any more for leadership.”
Iain looked at Ninhursag who nodded. “You’re right. Formalize it and tell her.”
“You are our successors if anything happens to us,” Iain said. “The line of succession is currently Ninhursag, April, Allison and then you.”
Allison’s ears flattened. “A lot of inner harem women are not going to like hearing we’re being promoted over them.”
Ninhursag nodded. “You’re right that they’re not and it doesn’t matter. This is about what’s best for the clan if we die or step down or are otherwise unavailable. Other family members getting pissed over this wasn’t a consideration.” She smiled slightly. “And you will be surprised at the number of inner harem women who will not be upset about this. If we all die, Sofia and Vanessa will back you to the hilt and they’ll keep the others in line.”
Silver looked at Iain. “What about Ygerna?”
“She was a queen,” Iain said quietly. “Believe it or not, that doesn’t make her automatically a good clan leader. Theodora would never accept her.”
Theodora smiled thinly when everyone else looked at her. “I like Ygerna and she is family so I’d do a lot for her, but I would never let her get into a position of absolute command over me. Should the absolute worst happen, I trust each of you to keep Iain’s legacy alive until he can rejoin us.”
“My name wasn’t listed,” Lucifer said with an amused smile. “For which happenstance I am very grateful.”
“We know you don’t want to lead the clan,” Theodora said. “You have too much to do already, and I would never ask you to take on the additional responsibility unless there was no other choice. Olivia or Seraphina may lead the clan one day, but not you.”
“Well, considering how much fun leading this gang of madwomen is right now, trust me when I say I’ll be working very hard to keep Iain from dying anytime soon,” Silver said with a grin.
“Iain has informed me that he intends to live to give away each of his daughters when they marry,” Lucifer responded with a smile of her own. “As our women are still getting pregnant, I believe that means he cannot leave us for several decades at the very least.”
“The way things seem to be going with women and pregnancy,” Ninhursag was watching him amusedly, “Iain won’t be ever allowed to die.”
“I’ll drink to that,” Iain said.
“Plan to leave in two weeks,” Ninhursag stood and motioned for the other women to join her. “We’ll take the entire clan as usual.”
Allison’s ears flicked. “Does that include the goblins and the unicorns?”
“That is something that we will have to finally determine before we start embarkation,” Ninhursag said. “And that also includes Mielikki, as she is now one of us.” She looked at Iain. “We will begin that discussion without you and then involve you when the time is ripe.”
Iain shrugged. “All I’m needed for in that one is to smile and announce that this is the way things are going to be and the goblins, unicorns and one goddess need to pick out their berthing compartments before we load, or Theodora will do it for them and then they’ll end up next to the noisy ice machine forever.” He smiled slightly. “Even if she has to make more than one noisy ice machine just for that purpose.”
Ninhursag gave him a quizzical look. “Were we just told how we should decide?”
“Are they clan?”
The Elfqueen nodded. “They are.”
“Didn’t you just say that the entire clan was going?”
“I did.” She smiled slowly. “And you’re right. That ends that. You can inform Mielikki.”
“I’ll be happy to. Besides, if we do get boarded, the Magog will not like fighting our goblins.”
“If I get boarded,” Theodora said primly, “the Magog will have to have millions of them hidden in their landing ships to soak up all the damage my internal defenses will cause before they will make it to anywhere that you could fight them. My internal defenses have been modified over the years with things like them in mind. And first they have to survive passing through the firepower of my close in and point defense weaponry and then actually penetrate my hull. I don’t intend for that to be easy for them either.”
Lucifer glanced at Ninhursag and back to Iain. “What of the Sisterhood?”
“When you’re done making them truly clan we’ll have to add more berthing on the ship. At that point we’ll have some decisions to make about schools and whatnot while underway but if they’re clan and the entire clan goes, then the decision is already made. We’ll make an announcement about clan wide military maneuvers or something to cover the time we’re gone and leave security remotes in place to kill looters. If we decide that the Sisterhood doesn’t have to go and we get lost across the universes, then plans had better already be in place for local clan succession and how they’ll be supported for the foreseeable future, which includes the inheritance of our properties around the world.”
“I think it would be easier to just take them with us,” Allison muttered. “Bitching I can deal with.”
“I believe there may indeed be some truth in that statement,” Lucifer murmured. “And thank you, Iain for making the situation clear.”
“You’re welcome.” He looked at Ninhursag. “Tell Kasumi to break it to Yuko gently, but afterwards I’ll be ready to give her a direct order on the matter.”
“And I will start expanding the living space on board to comfortably support a hundred thousand people so we still have room to grow into,” Theodora said. “May I have permission to redesign the ship as necessary?”
Iain smiled. “I don’t want to hear someone saying, ‘that’s no moon’. Other than that, when we go into orbit I don’t want to significantly change the orbit of the planet we’re circling or end up with it circling us.”
“I believe I can comfortably accommodate the clan within those limitations,” Theodora said with a laugh.
“Oh, and you can’t get rid of Zareen’s rock. That’s important.”
“Heaven forbid I do anything to the important things,” Theodora said. “April, how much free time does he have left?”
“One hour and twenty seven minutes,” the Duelist said smugly. “And he cannot pause his free time and restart it later like he does with some of his other scheduled time. He didn’t make that part of the arrangement and I’m not letting him change it without renegotiating the entire thing.”
“Then go,” Iain said. “I’ll stay here and do some research until my time is up.”
“You’re mine next,” April said. “Don’t be late.”
“Has he ever,” Allison asked as they headed for the tunnel’s entrance, “been late for anything?”
Laughter followed them out.
Ninhursag Grey - Elfqueen & maharani
Eve Grey - Megami Sama
April Grey - Duelist & beta
Dominique Grey - Blessed Archmage
Pandora - Fiendish Archangel
Canaan - G Splice (Hunter Amachamp & Alaka-Wham)
Zareen - Nightmare
Raquel - Fiendish Rapitaur
Sofia - Ria
Vanessa – Evangelion
Lucifer – Megami Sama
Ganieda – Snugglebunny Splice
Heather - Elfqueen
Dianthus Barbatus - Elfqueen
Allison – Umbrea (Outer Harem Alpha)
Daphne - Whorizard
Lynn - Growlie
Chuck – Doggirl
Ryan – Unicorn
Winifred - Rack (German)
Rosemary - Mistoffeles (Uruguayan)
Silver - Pegaslut
Joyce – Milktit
Melanie – Iron Chef
Siobhan – Nurse Joy (Glasgow)
Golden Cloud – equine unicorn
Melanie – Iron Chef
Arianrhod -Fey Goblin Female
74 male Goblins
89 female Goblins
Queendom / Outer Harem
Dionne - Elfqueen
Adrianna - Elfqueen
Heltu - Wet Queen
14 Wet Elves
Eirian - Silver Dragoness
Aurum - Gold Dragoness
Skye - Blue Dragoness
Emerald - Green Dragoness
Beryl - Red Dragoness
Julia - human
Ling - Cheetit
Matilda - White Tigress
Liadan - Twau
Sorrel - Armsmistress
Natalie - Blazicunt
Maria - Slutton
Rhea Silvia - Chimera
Geraldine - Human
Mother s & Children