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I am very sorry to disturb your study time, but I need you to tell me to violate privacy for Lynn.
Iain blinked and looked up from his truewizard book with a frown. Theodora? This doesn’t sound quite right.
I wouldn’t ask you to order me to do this unless I thought it was important and you know I wouldn’t. If it helps, Daya agrees with me.
Another presence entered his mind. I do. What is happening right now is bad for the clan and possibly for Lynn too. Then it was gone, subsiding back to the low hum of presence that he always felt from his inorganic harem.
He glanced at Heather where she was guarding him and then gave a mental shrug. I see. Theodora, I have been led to believe that something must be dreadfully wrong with Lynn and if you or Daya know anything about what’s going on with her, I want you tell me. Privacy for her is waived in this situation.
Siobhan is concerned that Lynn is clinically depressed. I believe she’s right. She has been moody and listless for some time and her behavior is not anything like her normal self. More importantly, recently she has not shown proper concern for her own safety and has been hurt fairly badly in training and while doing chores like herding cattle. But nobody except me has tied all of the events together and I am unsure as to the reason. You are her male and her friend and hopefully she can be convinced to open up to you.
Iain’s book vanished onto his arm as he reached up and grabbed a tree branch to pull himself to his feet. “Heather.” Where is she?
Getting her ass badly kicked by Chuck at the training ground in area four.
Heather glanced at him. “Iain?”
“Take me to training area four.”
“Then let’s go.” She held out her hand and Iain took it.
They arrived not far from training area four and Iain took in the scene as he let Heather’s hand go. Lynn was bleeding from her ears and mouth as she got to her feet and moved slowly forward, obviously favoring her right side. Her left ear was missing, and a sheet of blood ran down that side of her head, narrowly missing her eye while her face was swollen and dark red, with her left eye almost shut. Chuck obviously didn’t think she was a threat, for the Wolf Queen was standing with her fists on her hips and a wide grin on her face. Sofia, on the other side of the arena, was watching impassively, but the set to her ears said she wasn’t happy. Her ears went back even further when Iain reached out to her with his twee. What is going on here?
It might have started out as training, but it looks more like an old fashioned beat down. Stop it before it becomes open abuse.
Sofia scowled, but her ears came up slightly. You are right. It has crossed the line and is no longer training. I am sorry I didn’t realize that. “Hold.”
“Don’t stop on my account,” the Growlie snarled.
“Lynn Grey!” Iain’s voice cracked like a whip.
Lynn jumped at the sound of his voice and snapped to attention, groaned, hunched to favor her ribs and then gritted her teeth and came back to attention. “Iain?”
“Sofia is to be obeyed without hesitation when she’s overseeing your training. Anyone overseeing your training is to be obeyed without hesitation, right?”
“Good.” He looked at Sofia. “Heal her up and cut her loose into my custody. She and I need to have a talk.”
Lynn paled at the grimness of Iain’s tone, which suggested that she was not going to enjoy this talk. “Sir, I have training until sixteen hundred.”
Sofia nodded. “He wasn’t talking to you, Lynn, and he wasn’t asking. Give me your pokeball.”
The Growlie blinked and her one ear flicked uncertainly. “Um, I don’t have it. I think it’s in my room.”
Sofia’s ears went flat again. “The standing order is for all of us to have our pokeballs on our persons or for them to be in the possession of our squad leaders or training officers during strenuous training. How can we recover you and keep you from dying if you are critically injured, Lynn?”
“It’s not really that big a deal,” the Growlie mumbled.
Allison appeared near Iain at his mental summons. “Duty runner reporting. You sent for me?”
Iain nodded. “Go to Lynn’s room and bring her pokeball here please.”
The Umbrea’s ears flattened. “She doesn’t have her pokeball?” She gave the Growlie an angry glare. “Why not?”
“Allison?” She straightened at Iain’s tone. “If you don’t mind, I’ll handle this without your help. Just go get her ball please.”
She glared at Lynn again. “You are in such deep shit.” Then she vanished.
She appeared. “Yes, Iain?”
He was still watching Lynn. “Clear my schedule for the rest of the day. I have to deal with something.”
“Done. Anything else?”
“No. Thank you for asking.”
Theodora smiled as Allison returned. “You are very welcome, Iain.” She vanished.
“Should I send for Ninhursag,” Sofia asked.
“I’ll take care of it.” He looked at Allison, who held out a pokeball. “Thank you, but give it to Sofia, please.” He waited until Sofia had taken the ball from the Umbrea. “Allison?”
She cocked her head curiously. “What is it, Iain?”
“I’m going to deal with Lynn.” The Umbrea’s ears flicked at the firmness of his tone. “As far as this is concerned, the matter will then be closed, and I’d appreciate it if you let me deal with it and not try and punish Lynn more behind my back. I realize that this is unusual and that I don’t normally interfere in harem matters so openly, but I think it’s necessary this time.”
Allison’s gaze shifted to examine a visibly worried Lynn, before returning to Iain. “You understand just how serious a safety violation not having her pokeball ready at hand is.”
“I do,” Iain replied. “I helped institute the policy and it will be dealt with.”
She nodded. “Then I put her correction in your hands.” Her eyes met his for an instant. Is this why you wanted the members of the command and general staff to start carrying a breaker ball or two?
I suggested that because eventually someone is going to get critically injured and their ball won’t be anywhere around or it would have suffered a mischief. It wasn’t specifically for Lynn. In fact I was more concerned about the children. That’s why we developed the version of the breaker ball we use to hold either kits or adults.
That makes more sense. Allison glared at Lynn. “You will do whatever the clan leader wants you to do and you will not resist him. If you do not obey him, we will have a reckoning over your disobedience to him and he won’t be able to protect you from it since it will be entirely separate from the safety violation he is going to address. Do you understand me?”
Lynn swallowed hard. “I do,” she said in a small voice, her tail as well as her remaining ear held carefully neutral. She looked at Iain. “I will do whatever you want, I promise.”
“Good. Now Sofia is going to heal you up and then we’re going to take a walk.”
“Wait,” Chuck protested. “She’s not done with the training session.”
“If the clan leader wants to take Lynn away, he will take her away,” Sofia said as she returned the Growlie to her pokeball and loaded her into the waiting healing machine. One had been installed at each training area to service the multiple arenas at each one. Her ears flicked as she looked at Allision. “Would you like to take Lynn’s place in the arena so Chuck has a challenge? Or you could officiate while I spar with Chuck.”
Allison shook her head. “Being on duty means I’m in the middle of something, but,” her ears flicked and Canaan appeared, “she’ll help you challenge Chuck.”
Canaan grinned, laced her four hands together and cracked two sets of knuckles, one right after the other. “Maybe, for once, Chuck could actually challenge me.”
Chuck’s ears went back. “I can challenge you,” she rumbled. “I can challenge you into unconsciousness.”
Canaan’s grin widened. “I know. You keep going unconscious when we spar. Try not to do that so soon today.”
Sofia stepped up next to Iain and offered him a pokeball as a loud snarl ripped from the Wolf Queen’s throat. Her head came snapped around like a turret locking on target. “Chuck, you stand down or I won’t heal you up to full strength before you fight Canaan.” She glanced at Iain and dropped her voice. “Don’t be too hard on Lynn. She hasn’t been herself recently and I’m worried about her.”
Iain took the ball and slipped into a pocket. “That depends on Lynn, but I’ll keep your concerns in mind.”
The Ria nodded and kissed his cheek. “Thank you.”
“You are very welcome.” Iain took Heather’s hand. “Sabine House. I’m going to the Theodora so you’ll be released then.”
“I’ll let Pandora know,” she said as the scene around them changed and they were standing outside the Sabine House. “And I’m glad I don’t have to watch what you’re going to do to Lynn. I wouldn’t talk about it, but people would know I was there and they’d try to get me to gossip about what happened, which is pretty irritating. You work your miracle with Lynn.”
“I’ll try.” He watched her leave and headed inside and to the door to the Theodora. Once on board, he stretched. “Nothing against you, but here is considered my territory and isn’t neutral enough for me to confront Lynn. I’ll take her to the Ireland site on Thirteen and station my undead harem as guards. That way you can send someone to get me if there’s a problem.”
Her voice came from the air in front of him. “Thank you for dealing with this so promptly.”
“I made you and Daya my advisors so you could give me advice I should listen to. I’d be stupid not to do that. See you in a few minutes.”
“Be careful, my love.”
Iain chuckled. “I will.” He stepped forward and shadows slid out from under a nearby bench to swallow him up.
He was standing in what looked like a solarium that was part of an old dilapidated building. The windows were all in place, but there was so much dirt and grime on them that he doubted they’d pass much light. But he knew it was night since the vent windows of the solarium were open and it was dark enough outside that the sounds of the crickets serenading for prospective mates drifted around him. With his perception he could see a tall, slender woman with pale skin and long black hair standing behind him. She had stepped into the room only seconds after he arrived and had been silently watching him ever since. He turned to face her while scouting out the closest shadows to escape into. “Um, good evening, ma’am.”
She smiled at him. “My husband didn’t inform me that we had a guest.” She held out an elegant, pale hand, palm down. “I am Morticia Addams.”
Iain reacted automatically, taking the hand and kissing it. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Addams. I’m Iain Grey and, unfortunately, I appear to have taken a wrong turn and ended up in your solarium. Also, unfortunately, I did not arrive here through any of the doors.”
Her smile warmed as she pulled her hand back. “You’re quite the gentleman, Mr. Grey. And where were you trying to go?”
Considering who he was talking to, honesty probably would be better than a good lie. “I was aiming for an entirely different universe, ma’am, and exited here. If you’d allow me, I’ll just continue on my journey from here, but if you would like me to leave your house first, I will understand and comply.”
She clasped her hands together in delight. “This is marvelous! We get so few wizards visiting anymore! Can you stay for tea?”
“I am afraid I cannot, ma’am. I am on an important errand for one of my family and I cannot tarry for tea.”
Her disappointment was obvious on her face. “Perhaps later you could return?”
Iain shook his head. “I don’t think that would be possible.”
“Are you married? My daughter, Wednesday, just turned seventeen and has not been spoken for.”
“Mrs. Addams, I have several wives and more women that are dependent on me that I will probably marry later on.”
She smiled. “Then there’s hope for Wednesday too. It has been a very long time since we added a powerful wizard to the family who isn’t already related to us.” She cocked her head. “You aren’t an Addams by blood, are you?”
Iain managed not to let his exasperation show. “Ma’am, I’m not even human.”
She nodded. “That is not unusual in our family, Mr. Grey, but are you trying to say that you are not an Addams by blood?”
Iain suppressed the subsonic growl he could feel trying to bubble up in his throat. “I am not an Addams by blood or marriage.”
Morticia smiled again. “Then when you come for tea, bring your family with you so they can meet us and, especially, Wednesday.”
“I really should be going now, Mrs. Addams.”
“Farewell, Mr. Grey, and return soon.”
Iain stepped into the closest shadow and sank into it. He emerged inside the fenced area of the Ireland site on Thirteen. He stopped dead and let the sun bathe his face for a second before looking down. “Emerald, Natalie, please set up a perimeter so I can talk to Lynn without having to worry about the local wolves trying to get at us.”
The green Dragoness and the Blazicunt that he’d picked up at the end of his short stay as Vincent MacMahon’s prisoner poured as smoke from his arms and formed in front of him. Emerald bowed her head. “We will ensure your safety, my lord.”
Natalie merely glanced at the Dragoness and then turned her attention to Iain. “My lord, shall we destroy the wolves and other troublesome beasts that we encounter or merely drive them away?”
“Drive them away but leave them unharmed if you would,” Iain replied. “The smell of roasting wolves might be too distracting right now and the stench of the corpses later would disturb others who come here.”
“Yes, my lord.” Natailie looked at Emerald. “Eirian put you in charge.”
Emerald nodded. “Follow me.” They raced into the woods.
Iain pulled Lynn’s ball from his pocket and activated it. She materialized and looked around quickly. “Where are your guards?”
“Two of my undead harem are standing sentry,” Iain replied. “We’re on Thirteen, at the Ireland site.”
She nodded as turned back to him. “I recognized it from when you and Dominique brought us here for the survey. Why are we here instead of in your office?” She frowned and sniffed the air. Her eyes narrowed and she took a step towards him. She leaned forward, still sniffing, until her nose almost touched his mouth. She growled and straightened up, her ears flat. “Why do your lips smell like some strange woman?”
Iain was proud he managed to keep from rolling his eyes or groaning at her. “I walked the shadows to get here so we could talk alone without worrying about us being disturbed,” he said. “The intermediate step to here entered the universe in a house and the lady of the household and I spoke before I came here. She held out her hand to be kissed and so I did. I didn’t want to be rude.”
“What is this lady’s name?”
“Morticia Addams. She’s married and has at least one child, a daughter named Wednesday.”
“Kasumi was the same way when she first came here,” Lynn said. Her ears came back up. “Did she want to marry you?”
“No, she wants me to bring the family back so we can meet her daughter, who is of marriable age.”
“Is this family powerful?”
Iain shook his head. “I didn’t bring you here to discuss the Addams family. I brought you here to ask you what’s wrong.”
Her eyes flicked away from his. “What could be wrong?”
“Lynn, I have seen you ecstatic with joy and I have seen you so angry you almost burst into flame. You are unhappy about something and it’s made you reckless with your safety. I want it to stop, so I want to try and find out what’s wrong and see if we can’t make you smile again.”
Her ears flicked and she shot him a look. “I doubt that.”
Iain managed not to sigh. “Let me get some refreshments from the house while you secure the area to your satisfaction. Then we’ll sit down in that shade over there and talk.”
Her eyes flicked away again. “There’s nothing to talk about.”
“A few minutes ago, with Allison as a witness, did you or did you not volunteer to make a binding promise with a fey and promise me to do whatever I want? Well, I want you to talk to me.”
Her mouth dropped. “You’re going to hold me to that?” She shook her head. “Of course you are, you’re Iain and you’re a lot smarter than I am.” She came to attention. “What do you want?”
“First I want you to secure the area so you aren’t worried we’re going to get jumped while I get us some refreshments from the house. Then I want us to talk and I want you to be honest and as complete as you can with your answers to the questions I have for you. Understand that we’re alone on this world, except for my dead harem, and they don’t gossip. You should be aware that neither do I. Anything you tell me here during our little talk will be covered under privacy unless you say otherwise.”
She regarded him thoughtfully for a moment before giving an abrupt nod. “You have never betrayed my confidences. I can trust you.” She looked around, sniffing the air. “I’ll be right back.” Her eyes flicked in his direction. “While you’re inside, wash your mouth please.” She winked. “You don’t know where this strange woman’s hand might have been, and I don’t want to kiss her hand if I kiss you.”
“I’ll take care of it. Let me know when you’re coming back.”
“I won’t take long.” She raced off into the forest as Iain headed for the door and used his twee to take the house out of standby mode.
Lynn looked at the platter piled high with fried chicken and the various thermoses of drinks before giving him a questioning look. “This is light refreshments?”
“It is for us. I’ve seen you eat and I’m not much better when I’m actively training,” Iain said.
She grinned and filled a plate with chicken, before sighing and putting it down. “You want honesty, right?”
Iain had just picked up his empty plate and immediately laid it on the blanket when she put her plate down. “I do.”
“Honesty isn’t fun.”
“Not always, but it can be very rewarding.”
She nodded. “Why am I here? Not here with you now, but why am I in the harem?”
“The most basic answer to that is I asked you to join and you said yes. But that’s not the answer you are looking for, is it?”
“It isn’t.” She folded her hands in her lap. “You don’t need me. The harem doesn’t need me. Raquel and Daphne are far more powerful than I am and so you have both primary and back up fire types with them. You don’t need me to fight and, honestly, I’m not excited about my future role as the clan’s babysitter.”
Iain cocked his head. “I don’t have any plans to saddle you with the kids and I’m not aware of any plans to do that.”
She grimaced. “April and the others want me to get pregnant. As soon as I give birth, I’ll become a Denmother and become the clan’s designated nanny for everyone’s kids.” She met his gaze. “Damn it, Iain, I am a combat pokegirl and I am damned good at what I do.” Her face twisted. “Only Daphne and Raquel are a lot better than I am. They’re so good I can’t compete, and you know I’m not wrong about that.”
Iain nodded. “They are better than you are, but that doesn’t mean I don’t value your combat skills, Lynn. You’re impressive on the battlefield and that’s the truth.”
“You don’t call the shots on the combat teams, Iain. April and Ninhursag do, and I don’t impress them.”
Iain nodded slowly. “And I’ve agreed to stay out of that. So we need to make you more impressive somehow and in a way that you’d like. Can you think of a way that we can do that?”
Her ears went back and her eyes narrowed. “Is this a joke?”
“I assure you that I’m not joking, and I am not sure why you’re suddenly upset.”
Lynn’s ears didn’t come up. “April talked to you, didn’t she?”
“I have discussed your situation with Theodora and Daya, who merely suggested that you were unhappy and I needed to see if it could be resolved. Nobody else has said anything to me about you or your recent behavior until today when Sofia told me she was worried about you when she gave me your pokeball.”
“Is that what she said? I’m learning to see and hear outside my ball, but I’m still not very good at it.” Iain nodded and she frowned. “Why didn’t I know this?”
“She’s your instructor and therefore it’s not her job to be your friend right now. I am, so I get to talk to you about these things. What happened between you and April? And you promised and I’m enough of an asshole not to care that you might not want to discuss it.”
“I want to evolve,” she said in a rush. “April said I could evolve to Denmother and not what I wanted to, even though I know you could evolve me.”
Iain’s eyebrows rose. “Outside of some very narrow situations, April cannot tell me what I can and cannot do with you, or you with me, Lynn. She knows that, so this is kind of odd.”
“She said it would hurt you too much to even bring the subject up and forbade me to discuss it with anyone else.”
“I see,” Iain said slowly. “It sounds like I am going to have to have another one of those talks with April about how much I may or may not need to be protected from the universe. Are you being hazed by the harem or any particular individual?”
Her ears canted sideways. “What? No, Iain, I’m not.”
Iain leaned back on his hands. “What do you want to evolve into?”
Her fingers laced and tightened nervously as she spoke in almost a whisper. “A Dire Wolf.”
When he didn’t speak her eyes came up searching for his and she relaxed at what she saw in them. He considered options before speaking again. “Why do you want to become a Dire Wolf?”
“You’re not upset?”
“At you wanting to become a Dire Wolf? No, I’m not.”
“But Scheherazade,” she began.
Iain cut her off. “Yes, I love her. But she has been dead for several years. I will always miss and mourn her, but I am as over her death as I can be, and her death has nothing to do with what you want, does it? If she were still alive it still wouldn’t have anything to do with this conversation.”
“Actually, her being dead does matter for this, at least a little.”
Iain frowned. “Please explain that.”
“I’ve been in the storage area where her kits are waiting in stasis to be born. They’ll need a mother and someone who can teach them about what they are and what they can do. Scheherazade isn’t here to do that and, as a Dire Wolf, I could.” Her eyes were intent on his. “Yes, they are Dread Wolf kits, but as a Dire Wolf I’d know a lot more about what they can and cannot do than Kasumi or April would.”
“Will you be willing to have Dire Wolf kits?”
She smiled. “I want to, Iain. I want to have children and have you help me play with them and teach them to be clan. What I don’t want to do is give up combat and have my life be nothing but children. As a Dire Wolf I’d be even more useful and could rejoin the first rank combatants.”
“Are you aware that becoming a Dire Wolf might get you removed from the first rank combatants as well as the line troops altogether?”
Her eyes went wide in surprise. “No, I didn’t. Why would that happen? While I’d be a celestial, I’d be a premier fighter.”
“The primary goal of a Dire Wolf is to aid and protect her general. Unless something really screwed up happens, I would be that general and you’d probably be permanently transferred to my bodyguard. More importantly, you will most likely insist on that happening after we bond.”
Her ears flicked uncertainly. “Bond?”
“You will become a psychic pokegirl and a telepath, and if history serves, you will feel unfulfilled if you cannot create a permanent psychic link with me. It’s not a delta bond, but it’s damned close to being one. Scheherazade had one with me and was rather insistent on having it until I let her have her way. She didn’t warn me that it was permanent beforehand, either. Additionally, you will be the lowest ranking member of my security detail, which means you will be the newcomer in what is arguably the most powerful squad in the clan. Your increased power at that point will only get your foot in the door and you will not be able to outmatch your teammates for a very long time, if ever.”
She smiled. “Are you aware that being on your security detail is considered to be the most challenging assignment in the clan’s forces?”
“No, but that’s probably because I’m a huge pain in the ass to guard.”
She chuckled. “That isn’t it at all, Iain. It’s because we all know, even you, that you are going to be targeted and, no matter how hard we try to keep that from happening, you and your security detail are going to be in the heart of the storm. The fact that it hasn’t happened yet is because the clan is so good at training to keep it from happening, but it will happen. I can be the worst person in that group with pride, but Pandora won’t let me or anyone else suck.” She grinned. “And I did not just change the topic to sex and Pandora’s prudishness.”
“I know. Pandora is not a prude. She’s just like the rest of us and wants the world to do what she wants it to. And just like the rest of us, she has to deal with the fact that it won’t. Like some of us, she doesn’t always take that fact well.” He regarded her for a moment. “And you still want to be a Dire Wolf, don’t you?”
“I do,” she said without the slightest hesitation.
“You do realize that you really have no idea what you’re asking for, right?”
She shrugged. “Between you and Ninhursag, I’ll learn everything I need to and nearly everything that I’ll want to. And both my daughters and Scheherazade’s daughters will be the better for it. Only then will they be able to add their full strength to the clan’s might when we go to war against the leagues. Without me or Scheherazade being able to teach them, they’ll be weak and unable to help as much as they could.”
Iain sighed. “And Scheherazade is dead. You may end up as an anthropomorphic much more than you are now.”
She grinned. “If I end up with a muzzle I’ll just have to figure out some other way to give you head. I’m creative and we’ll figure it out together. I am not giving up the taste or feel of your cock in my mouth.”
Iain laughed. “I’m not asking you to. I’m not stupid.” He got to his feet. “Come with me.”
She rose. “Where are we going?”
“The clearing over there. This tree gives good shade and I like it. Sometimes when I evolve a girl, it’s kind of hard on our surroundings.”
She stopped and stared at him. “Now?” Her voice had risen at least an octave.
“Yes, now.” He shook his head. “I suppose if you want, I can come up with some purification rituals like Pandora uses before I evolve you, but that could take some weeks and letting my creativity out like that can be dangerous.”
“Now is fine,” she said hastily.
“Good. Just one thing beforehand. This not taking care of yourself needs to stop. You forget your pokeball again or throw yourself into some stupid situation or fight without thinking and I will tear a bloody strip from your ass.” His eyes were serious. “My women are better than that. My women are smarter than that. If we are telepathically bonded, even if it isn’t a delta bond, then you will become inner harem and that is a responsibility you will live up to. You fail me in that and I will not give you to Ninhursag or Sofia to deal with.” He stepped forward until they were nose to nose. “You do anything like that and I will deal with you and you will not like it.”
She gave him a weak smile. “You just scared the crap out of me and made me horny for you at the same time.”
She was telling the truth. Iain could smell the sudden mixed burst of adrenaline and sexual hormones from her. He smiled slightly. “When are you not horny for me?”
“Um, never.” Her ears came up and the humor faded from her face. “I am yours, Iain. I am clan and I am one of the first of the outer harem. I carry your brand. If I lose that when I evolve, I want you to brand me again. In my anger at April, I hadn’t realized that I was failing you and swear to you that I will never fail you again.”
“I will hold you to that.”
She nodded. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“And about what I said in regards to you taking better care of yourself?”
“I swear I will, Iain.”
“You just made an oath with me and I will hold you to that oath. Give me your hands.”
Lynn eagerly laid her hands in his. “Now what?”
“Lynn Grey, you have told me that you wish to become a Dire Wolf. Do you truly wish this to occur?”
She nodded. “I do.”
“Do you do this freely and of your own will?”
“Then I grant you what you desire.” Iain sent his power into her and light exploded around her before quickly moving to engulf him as well. He knew now that it was necessary since he functioned as the catalyst for any evolution he caused, but it was still nerve wracking when he felt the energy flowing around and through them both. He looked into the Growlie pattern that Lynn currently inhabited and found the transition he wanted. Then he forced her into it, only keeping the part that formed a delta bond with him from taking effect as he did. That she had to earn.
When the glow died away, he took a moment to examine the new Lynn. As he’d wanted, she hadn’t changed in height and was still a little shorter than he was. She was anthropomorphic now and her figure was fuller than before, making her t-shirt rather tight over her chest and her shorts too small for her hips. Her face was a mix of human and wolf, with a shorter, broader muzzle than a true wolf and a rounder face and head. She looked a lot like a smaller version of Scheherazade back when she’d been a Dire Wolf, but while Scheherazade had been almost a light blue in color, Lynn was so dark blue that she was almost black, with bright sapphire eyes that glowed against the darkness of her fur.
Iain let her hands go and held up his right hand. Energy spread in a sheet and then turned reflective so she could see herself now. “And here’s the new Lynn.”
Her eyes went wide and her mouth dropped so her tongue could loll out. “Wow,” she breathed. “I look so different.” She blinked rapidly several times and her eyes shifted to meet his. “I know what you meant now.”
“It feels like there’s a piece of me that’s missing inside,” she said quietly. “There’s this hole inside me, this vacuum that only you can fill, and it aches without you.” She shivered and her voice filled with yearning. “Please don’t leave me like this, Iain. I don’t know if I can bear this much longer.”
“I won’t.” The mirror vanished. “Come in, but slowly.”
“I’m afraid I’ll hurt you,” she said.
“You probably will, but as long as you’re slow you won’t damage me. After we get back, you’ll have to spend time with Ganieda and Canaan so you can learn more about having psychic powers and how to use them. Marguerite and Ryan might be able to help you too.”
“I will.” She closed her eyes. ‘Here goes.”
Iain winced when she entered his mind. It didn’t hurt, not really, but she wasn’t the slightest bit subtle and he’d gotten used to the featherlight touches of Ganieda, Canaan and now Marguerite. In comparison, it felt like Lynn was driving a bulldozer into his mind. He tried to guide her, to show her where to go, and was pleased when she followed his lead.
Interestingly, she didn’t lock into the same place that Scheherazade had. It wasn’t far away in the architecture of his mind, but it was very definitely a new location. And then it was done, and Lynn had permanently become part of his life.
She sighed in relief. “That feels so much better.” Her eyes opened and then widened. “Is that what love feels like? It’s so powerful and you love April and the others so much.” Her gaze turned eager. “It’s going to be hard to wait until you feel that for me.”
“You will.” He looked down and chuckled. “It’s a good thing we moved.”
“It is?” Lynn looked around them and inhaled in surprise. All of the grass for a few meters around them was yellow and dead. “Did we do that?”
Iain chuckled again. “Either we did or it’s a remarkable coincidence that this happened while you were being evolved.” His smile faded. “We need to get back now. Normally we’d spend the next couple of hours rolling around without clothes, but nobody knew this was coming and I need to brief Ninhursag, April, Allison and Silver about what happened, and you need to be there. I also need you to release this from privacy so I can tell them about what has happened.”
Lynn nodded slowly, her ears flicking. “You’re right. I release this for general distribution. Can we roll around later?”
“We will,” he reassured her. “Now I have a question for you. Do you want to stay a frontline fighter?”
Lynn’s brows wrinkled for a second and then, abruptly, she shook her head. “No. Before I evolved, it was almost the most important thing that I do exactly that, but now I would fight it. My place is with you. When we get done briefing the command staff, I’ll petition Pandora to test me to join your guard.” She pulled her lips back to show her teeth in a wolf’s grin. “Since you called that one perfectly, is there anything else you know about me as a Dire Wolf that I don’t that you’re willing to share?”
“I’d suggest that you speak to Eve and Dominique. They were both here when Scheherazade was a Dire Wolf and they will remember a lot of what she showed she could do during training. Eve, especially, might be able to help you learn to do what she could.”
“That’s good advice.” Her ears flicked. “Do you think I could kick Chuck’s butt now?”
“Both Sofia and I believed you could do that when you were a Growlie,” Iain said quietly. “But you didn’t believe it and so you couldn’t.” He smiled. “But there is a much more important question I need to ask you.”
“Do you remember what I warned you about regarding your personal safety and, more importantly, do you believe that I was serious about the repercussions involved if you stay careless with the body of one of my women?”
She cocked her head thoughtfully and then nodded solemnly. “I stand by my oath. I can feel that you believe you can punish me if I am that stupid again. That means you probably can. I can also feel your affection for me and your worry about my safety.” Her eyes met his. “I won’t be that careless again. My children and Scheherazade’s will need their mother just as much as they’ll need their father.” Her ears flicked. “And my general needs me almost as much as I need you.” Her ears flicked again and her eyes widened. “I’m sorry.”
“We’re clan,” Iain said quietly. “What are you sorry for?”
“I found your pain and worry for all of us. I didn’t realize I made you hurt that much because of my stupidity and carelessness. I’m sorry I did that to you.” She blinked. “You showed that to me. It’s gone now. Why let me see it at all?”
“Because you needed to know that I worry about you as much as you worry about me.”
Lynn reached out and took his hand. “Nobody else would believe this, but I think you worry more about us then any of us does about you.”
“I think,” Iain said with a smile, “that what matters is that we all worry about each other a lot. Who worries more isn’t important if our worry makes us take steps to keep each other as safe as we can.”
Lynn nodded. “But we still must keep in mind that we must put ourselves into harm’s way sometimes and that we can only reduce the danger, we can’t stay out of danger or our enemies will win.”
“Does that apply to me too?”
“It applies to you most, Iain. Yes, I’ll try to explain this to the others, but they won’t accept the truth behind my words. They already know that’s true and it doesn’t matter at all to them. They must keep you as safe as they possibly can.”
Iain raised an eyebrow. “And you?”
“I am with Sofia. You are my general and my general fights, so she and I will make sure you are as good a fighter as you can be so you survive and we get you back after the fights are over.”
“That works for me too.” Iain gestured towards the picnic. “Now, I want some chicken. How about you?”
She opened her mouth and blinked. “I am the hungriest I’ve been since I became clan.” Her ears flicked. “You knew.”
“What did I know?”
“You knew I wanted to become a Dire Wolf and that I’d be hungry after I evolved.”
“I knew you were depressed,” Iain replied. “I didn’t know why you were depressed, but I like to eat when I’m depressed.”
Iain shrugged. “That’s all I’m going to admit to and you are not going to speculate. Now you sit and eat or I’ll toss it over the fence for the wolves that live here.”
She tugged him towards the picnic. “I won’t let you do that, mister.”
Ninhursag watched Iain carefully as she settled into her seat. To her, who had loved him and been with him for several years, it was plain that he wasn’t happy about something, but he didn’t look like he was angry. She glanced at April, Allison and then Silver to make sure they didn’t know why they were here either before speaking. “I was informed by Theodora that you wanted us to drop what we were doing for this meeting. Is there an emergency?”
“No, but this can’t wait.” Iain rolled a pokeball around in his hands for a few seconds. “The first thing is that I want to issue is a general warning. Feel free to pass it along to anyone that you think needs to hear it.” He looked at each woman in turn. “I am not the maharani or anything else in the harem hierarchy, but I am the head of this clan and no one is to forbid any other member of the harem or of the inner or outer clan from coming to me if she has a problem.” He smiled humorlessly. “Or he, if that is the case.” The smile vanished as if it had never existed. “This is not negotiable and if anyone tries to weasel around it somehow, when I find out, and I will because I have given Theodora and Daya rather strict instructions on how reporting this particular item ignores any privacy restrictions, nobody is going to like how I react.”
The women exchanged looks. “You’re probably going to have to be more specific,” Allison said quietly. “We understand the warning, but I have no idea about what made it necessary.”
Iain nodded. “You’re right. Just understand that I’m not asking for apologies or recriminations or punishment or anything else for what has happened in the past. It’s the past and I’m letting it go and so should you. But if anyone tries to isolate one of the clan, one of our family from me in the future, all bets are off.” He tapped the pokeball. “Recently, Lynn’s behavior changed. She’s gotten careless with her safety and become more of a liability than an asset to us. She’s been injured more and even reached the point where she wasn’t even bothering to make sure her pokeball was available in case she was critically injured. This came about because she was depressed, and she was depressed because not only was she forbidden to come to me for a solution to a problem, she felt she had been told how her life would unfold and had no choices left to her. It made her feel that we didn’t value her for anything she thought was important and so she started not valuing herself. I found out that there might be a problem and went to Lynn to try and find out why she’d suddenly developed something of a death wish.” He looked at Allison. “That was earlier today, as you remember.”
“I do. You said you’d deal with her. What did you find out?”
“When Lynn came to us, she had been a soldier in Sukebe’s armies. Here she did the same thing, and was happy with that, even though she was unhappy that Daphne and Raquel are better than she is. She felt that she was valued more for being a fire type and not for being Lynn, and now she was third and wanted to do better than that, as any of you would. So she tried to figure out an advantage, again, just like any of you would.” He met the eyes of each of them in turn and they nodded. “She felt she’d found one but it would involve me and, hesitant to approach me without support, she went to April and was told that not only could she not approach me, her life plan had already been made and it didn’t involve her getting anything that she wanted.” Everyone was looking at April, who looked shocked. “I believe,” Iain continued, “that wasn’t exactly what you told her but that is what she heard.”
“That’s good,” April said, “because I’m not sure what Lynn was talking about.”
“She came to you about asking me to evolve her to Dire Wolf.”
April blinked. “That was over a year ago.”
Iain shrugged. “Apparently it’s been eating at her ever since. Did you tell her no?”
She sighed. “I shouldn’t have, but I did. But I didn’t say anything about plans for her.”
“According to her, you told her she had to become a Denmother and she felt it meant that she was going to become a professional babysitter while we went out to fight.”
April frowned. “Give me a moment to remember the conversation.” Her eyes closed. Then they opened as she grimaced. “I didn’t say that, but I can see where she might have thought I was telling her that. I should have stressed how powerful a Denmother can be and I didn’t.”
“You should have brought her to me so she could ask me to evolve her. I know you were trying to protect me from the pain of Scheherazade’s death, but even if I haven’t dealt with it as much as I can, it is your job to nurture and protect all of our clan, not just me.” He smiled sadly. “Yes, Scheherazade is dead and yes, I love her. And, as we all know, life and the mission go on. Lynn will be much more useful to us as a Dire Wolf then she would ever be as a Growlie or even as a Denmother. Even if it tore my heart to shreds again to even consider evolving her, it is her right to ask and our obligation to make it possible for her to ask. We can never tell any of our people that they can’t make themselves better and I never want to be unapproachable.” He chuckled softly. “I’ve recently had to do some soul searching about that first part and faced some hard issues that I still haven’t resolved yet.”
“What do you mean,” Silver asked.
“Siobhan and I are going to have a little girl,” Iain said. “She’s going to be what you call human as opposed to being a pokegirl. There will be more of them as time goes on, both girls and boys. We have been working hard to make pokegirls to be as much equal as we can to anyone else as well as remove any stigma associated with being a pokegirl, but what do we do if she comes to us when she’s an adult and asks to become a pokegirl because she knows that she’d be a lot more powerful and feels the sacrifices would be worth it? Can we tell her no? Do we try to talk her out of it? Do we instead grant her wish?”
“I don’t see a problem with it,” Allison said.
“Well I certainly do,” April snapped. “And the people who came here with Iain will too. Which means Iain is right to wonder about it and to wonder about it before it becomes an issue. And what do we do if Michael or another of our sons wants the same thing?” She rubbed her eyes and waved a hand in the direction of the pokeball he was holding. “Is that Lynn and is she a Dire Wolf now?”
“It is and she is,” Iain replied. “And before you meet the new Lynn, there’s a change to the clan’s structure that has to be made.” He looked at Ninhursag. “Combine the harems. Allison will become your official executive officer with April as your beta and Silver as her executive officer. The succession hierarchy will not change. The title of inner clan that has been used for potential recruits to the harem will become the outer harem and inner clan will now become the title that belongs to our children and their mates.”
Ninhursag nodded. “Then things will be as we had planned but hadn’t pulled the trigger on. Does that mean that Lynn is delta bonded to you?”
Allison came out of her seat with a snarl. “What?” Her ears were flat and her eyes blazed with fury. Then she stopped herself with an effort and her ears came up. When she spoke, her voice was even and calm. “Which would make her inner harem with the rest of us, even if I and some of them aren’t bonded to you.” She gave him a rueful smile and sat down again. “I hope our children are as cunning as you are.”
Ninhursag laughed. “Allison, inner harem is all bonded to Iain.”
“I know it was,” the Umbrea said. “But things change.”
“Not that,” April replied. “Iain will be bonding you and the others. It’s part of the agreement we have with him so we can come for him and him for us. All pokegirls in the inner harem are bonded to Iain.”
Silver frowned. “Where does that put Monica and her family?”
“In the septs with Kasumi, Ygerna and,” April hesitated and then nodded. “Mielikki.” She gave Iain an amused smile. “So, you got Vanessa pregnant and we all know that’s impossible. Do you think you can repeat it with Mielikki?”
“We aren’t lovers,” Iain pointed out.
“Neither were you and Vanessa when she turned up pregnant,” April countered. “Although once you two did start having sex she more than made up for it.”
“I think I would like to wait to address the issue until Mielikki and I are in a more intimate relationship,” Iain said firmly. He picked up the pokeball. “And no, Lynn is not delta bonded to me. We do have the permanent psychic bond that Dire Wolves need with their partners.” He looked at April. “I would appreciate it if you and the others who trained with Scheherazade worked with Lynn to master all of the new abilities she can as quickly as she can.”
“Bleed her and sweat her,” Iain said. “I want her to master what she can soonest.”
April frowned. “What’s wrong?”
“She’ll be petitioning to come to my guard.”
April looked surprised for a second. “That makes sense. Don’t worry, I won’t release her to Pandora before she’s ready.”
“Does Lynn come to your bed tonight,” Ninhursag asked. “Or did you and she complete the evolution before you came here?”
“We did not,” Iain replied. “I wanted to brief you and start merging the harems before so as to hopefully minimize the anger directed at me or Lynn.”
“I’ll handle that,” Allison said confidently. “April, Silver and I may have to crack some heads, but it’ll get taken care of before Ninhursag and I work out the new rotation.”
“Am I going to lose the days where I get to choose,” Iain sounded merely curious.
“No,” Ninhursag said. “Those keep people a lot happier since they can always hope you’ll choose them. You may end up with fewer of them for a while, though.”
“That was my thought too.” He looked around the room. “Any comments?” A smile quirked up the corners of his lips. “Are there any questions other than how can I spend more time with each of you?”
“Can I get pregnant soon?” Allison grinned at his surprised look. “That is one of the inner harem perks.”
“It is,” April said with a smile, “and you can.”
Allison turned eager eyes on Iain. “Good,” she said with a purr in her voice. “My kits will be born before Lynn’s.”
“Our kits,” Iain reminded her.
“Do you have any idea what that does to me when you say things like that,” Allison asked in a hungry voice.
“I’m sure he does,” April said. “I can smell it and his nose is a lot better than mine.” She looked at Iain. “We need to meet the new Lynn before this devolves into an orgy.”
“You’re right.” Iain activated the pokeball.
Mielikki looked curiously at Ygerna, Kasumi and Dominique before turning to Iain. “I was amused to discover that I had a meeting with you on the Theodora and there was no subject given. Now I discover that three of our strongest mages are here too and Ganieda, one of our other powerful mages, is your guard. I doubt this is a coincidence and I must admit I am curious.”
“I didn’t include a subject because I wasn’t really sure what to put.” He got up. “But as soon as we’re on the Mars station, it’ll be easier to explain.” He looked at Ygerna. “I know Tara is outside with Ganieda and she’s welcome to come along to the station, but she hasn’t done any training with EVA gear, much less gotten certified. You haven’t either, and because of that, if we go to the surface she’ll have to remain on the station because I don’t want more than one person who isn’t certified tromping around on Mars at a time. I’d suggest you rotate her out for someone else, but none of your guards have done any EVA training. Are you willing to not have a guard or do I need to send for a temporary replacement from my guard?”
“I must admit that I am quite incurious about going anywhere there is not enough air to breathe,” Ygerna said. “Especially since I am pregnant. I would most likely desire to remain on the station with Tara, unless for some reason you insist that I descend with you.”
“I won’t insist,” Iain said. “But I’ll ask again once we’re on the station.”
“I doubt my answer will change.”
Iain nodded. “Then let’s go.”
Once on the station orbiting over Mars, Iain led them into a conference room and pulled up a hologram of the planet below them as they took seats, with Ganieda and Tara posting themselves near the door. He rotated the view so that they could see a long, thin black line that stretched over one part of the planet. “How would you describe that in the appointment system subject line?”
“Looks like typical FUN to me,” Ganieda said, her teeth gleaming in her smile.
Ygerna looked confused. “What about that could be fun?”
“It’s an acronym from Iain’s past,” the Splice said. “He learned it in the military. It means Fucked Up Nonsense.” Her smile widened. “We have FUN almost every single day.”
“In this case it isn’t nonsense,” Iain interrupted. “I almost wish it was.”
Mielikki was leaning forward and examining the image. “What are we seeing, Iain?”
“Plants,” Iain said. The image seemed to swoop downwards as it zoomed in on a section of the line until individual plants could be made out. They were of varying heights and sizes, but the closer view showed they were a dark green instead of the black they’d looked at long range. All they seemed to have in common was very wide, almost circular leaves. “They appeared about two weeks ago and range in height from less than a centimeter to a few meters. Some of them have thicker trunks and might be tree analogs. Samples suggest they’re true plants with cell walls instead of cell membranes and there are no signs of flowering parts on any of them. According to what examination shows, most of them reproduce by spores like ferns or mushrooms, while a few use rhizomes instead.” Another hologram appeared next to the first, showing the original distance view of the plants. “They’re undergoing photosynthesis and respiration, during which they are releasing large amounts of oxygen as well as some methane and carbon dioxide molecules, all of which are being almost instantly sucked into the local chemistry and locked in the rocks. And for the scientifically minded, I have no idea where they’re getting water from.” He looked around the room. “That line is roughly twenty two hundred kilometers long and the plant belt, in places, is nearly three kilometers wide. It’s odd enough by itself, but the center of that line happens to delineate exactly the path of the ley line that we opened not too long ago.”
Ygerna was looking at the images. “Did they grow quickly over the weeks or did they just appear?”
“They just appeared, which suggests they’re either a product of magical growth or bleed over from some other universe meeting this one.”
Theodora flashed into existence. “I have been monitoring the area around where you physically opened the ley line and the plants appeared over a period of nineteen seconds, going from shadowy to completely physical along the entirety of the ley line’s path. I have not seen any signs of any motile life, just the plants.”
Dominique was eying Iain curiously. “Since I’m working to remember that you don’t want to die if you can avoid it, you’re not fond of me yelling at you about taking your safety seriously and I know the protocols involved for surface work on Mars say no one is to be on the surface alone, how do you know all of this if you didn’t go down there?”
“Daya and I have been exploring the situation with drones and other remotes since the plants appeared and reporting what we’ve discovered to him,” Theodora said. “Iain hasn’t been to the surface since he went down with you to open the ley line.”
Mielikki nodded. “I presume you waited to brief us on the situation until you knew it was safe for us to go to the surface.”
“Honestly, I only think it’s safe. I can’t guarantee anything because magic is involved. Ygerna probably has the right idea and we should all stay up here. I do know that the plants aren’t lethally toxic to humans, Sidhe and kami unless they consume them, and some of them not even then. However, there is one plant down there that secretes an oil on its stems that will give some people a nasty rash. But once we knew everything that we thought we could we could find out, I wanted to inform you since you’re my magical experts, and Ygerna and Dominique are our experts on ley lines.”
Ygerna raised an eyebrow. “What does this mean for the ley lines on Earth that you’ve touched?”
Daya’s form appeared. “We have been examining them as well and we haven’t seen anything like this at any of them.” She glanced at Iain. “We have also determined that surface radiation levels are much lower inside the plant belt than anywhere else on Mars. We are seeing radiation levels much lower than recorded before. The radiation levels are consistent with those on worlds with a magnetosphere and a deep atmosphere like the Earth has, although neither exists on Mars.”
“Earth is more complicated,” Iain said quietly. “First of all, there’s no easy way to track the ley lines I’ve opened on Earth since, at least so far, there’s no way to trace them by air. Second, if there are new plants, they may prove hard to identify among the plants already growing along the ley line. We’re doing what we can, but the going is slow. However, I’d set up some extensive patrols by Theodora and Daya along the ley line I opened on our property since a couple of weeks before I opened it because I’m an untrusting soul.” He grinned. “And because Rule Thirty is still a truism.” His smile faded. “We haven’t noted anything out of the ordinary so far.”
Kasumi had pulled up the zoomed in view on the display at her seat. “Iain,” she said quietly, “as an author and our creative genius, would you care to speculate on what we are looking at?”
“No, I wouldn’t care to, but I am willing to,” Iain replied with a smile. “I think it’s one of two things. The first is that some time in its past, Mars had plant life and we’re seeing that time juxtaposed with now and it has allowed plants from the past to come to the present.” He peered into the display and frowned. “But there is another theory and I wonder if it might not be closer to the truth of what’s happening since those plants seem to be robust and completely healthy in Mars’ current atmosphere, which they didn’t evolve to grow in.” He looked up, meeting Kasumi’s eyes. “What I think we’re seeing is a dimensional crossover from another Mars to this one.”
“Sir,” Tara said, “what does that mean?”
“I think that there are several different versions of Mars that all occupy the same place in spacetime in different dimensions and we’re seeing spillover from a different one onto this Mars. This other Mars has, at the least, plant life on it and we’re seeing it along the ley line.”
“What does that mean for us,” Dominique asked.
“As far as the Mars ley line is concerned,” Iain shrugged, “not much. Honestly, even if animals start appearing, unless sentients cross over and start setting up spaceships with which to come to Earth, whatever happens down there is not going to affect us.”
“If they’re violently disposed,” Daya said cheerfully, “I believe we can keep them around Mars or destroy them utterly if required.”
“We haven’t seen any signs of animal life of any sort,” Iain leaned back in his chair. “And we haven’t seen any signs of new life of any sort around our ley line. And neither of the Danu has reported anything at all, which I am perfectly fine with.” He rubbed his eyes. “But I want to wait a few weeks before I open up any more ley lines here on Earth, just to see what might develop.”
Dominique chuckled. “Even if something does happen, with all of the other crap going on all over the world, who is going to know to blame us for it? It’s not like we’re going to tell everyone that whatever isn’t right near a ley line is Iain’s fault. We do that and they’ll blame everything on us from feral attacks, too much rain or cold or too little to,” she shrugged, “volcanic eruptions and whatever else they can think of.”
“While correct,” Mielikki said, “I believe that caution in this situation cannot cause harm while haste might well do so. Considering that one of the newly open ley lines is on our property, I would advise to let caution be our watchword for at least another moon or two.” Her blue eyes met his blue and green ones. “However, I would also consider proceeding with opening ley lines elsewhere in the world to be worth advising. If there is an issue with the ley lines on Earth, having more of them open will give us more opportunities to identify these potential problems and evaluate them in regards to the clan’s survival.”
Kasumi frowned. “Are you advising us to wait or proceed opening ley lines that are physically far from us?”
Mielikki smiled. “I am suggesting we do both.”
Iain nodded. “I talked to Kerrik about what was happening, if only because Alexandria has satellites in orbit around all of the planets and I figured she’d noticed the change on Mars. It turns out she had and he’d been informed. While he understood the theory behind opening up a ley line as soon as I explained it, he hadn’t done it and is curious about what will happen. It also means this may not be entirely in our hands as, now that he knows how it can be done, I think he’s going to open some lines in west Texas and maybe in other parts of the world, including Nippon.” He smiled. “In other news, Kerrik is going to talk to Naruhito about pokegirls getting more rights in Nippon. After all, he doesn’t want any of the children from his harem or Shikarou’s family getting enslaved by the Nipponese while taking a walking tour of the country or something like that.”
“In the meantime,” Kasumi said, “we continue to monitor the ley line here and, as best we can, the ones on Earth that you’ve opened.”
Iain nodded. “I wanted to brief all of you about what’s going on since it may affect us on the ranch.”
“Are we still going to look for the ley lines closest to our Tokyo property,” Kasumi asked curiously. “I know we wanted to know where they were to make my grandmother stronger and to give us a guide on where they might be on Six for Akane and Ranma.”
“We’ll still look for them,” Iain reassured her.
He turned to Mielikki. “And since we’ve already obligated ourselves to doing so, we will continue with our plans to open ley lines in the British Isles for the Danu twins and the Royals.”
“Are we going to warn them about what’s happening here?”
Dominique shook her head. “We didn’t obligate ourselves to do that and it’ll be a nice laboratory in which to see what happens when several ley lines in close proximity are opened.” She grinned. “The British Isles are a relatively small area which will concentrate any adverse effects and it’s far from where we live.” Her smile faded. “I may want to remove the door we have on our property in Ireland, just in case.”
“I disagree,” Ygerna said. “If we need to deploy troops it will be faster and safer than using teleport and pokeballs.”
“It’s not safe as it is,” Dominique protested.
“In that you are correct,” Ygerna said. “But I have been looking at the spell you use to create the doors and Ganieda and I developed a variant that should be quiescent until activated with a command word. I was concerned about security at the various properties we own, which is what caused us to pursue that particular line of research.”
“And to answer the question you’re about to ask,” Ganieda’s smile was amused. “You still have the problem where nobody else’s work can be as good as yours, so I advised Ygerna to wait before telling you about our research until there was an actual need for it.” Her ears flicked. “Which there certainly is now.”
“In her defense,” Iain said quietly, “the same arrogance is present in Raven too and I think it may be part of the basic personality of the Archmage profile, just like most of the line isn’t big into sharing lovers, they seem to not be willing to share knowledge until pretty much forced to.”
Dominique sighed. “That’s a pretty shitty defense.” She turned to Kasumi. “I think I want to get with you, Ygerna, Ganieda, Kasserine, Ava and Rosemary to design a laboratory that we use as a common room for research. I am part of a clan and a family and I need to work past this jealousy and protectiveness I have about my magic.”
“I would hesitate to call it jealousy,” Kasumi said thoughtfully. “I would instead suggest that you suffer from pride in your accomplishments along with an inability to share with others the fruits of your labors.” She smiled. “And you are not alone with those issues. All of us who practice magic suffer from it to one degree or another. And we should not neglect the other magic users in our family who may wish to work with us, such as Tara and the rest of Ygerna’s harem since all of them are trained mages.” She looked past Dominique. “Would you like that, Tara?”
“I would,” the Dragoness replied, “and so would the rest of Her Majesty’s protective detail, with her permission.”
“You have it,” Ygerna said. “I have been considering adopting one of Iain’s rules, which is, that while I am on the Theodora, she can be my primary guard. This would allow me to release my security to work with me and others as desired or requested.” She turned to Iain. “Tara and I will work out the details later, but that discussion is not for here and now.”
Iain nodded. “Theodora, make all of the information we’ve gathered available for general distribution within the clan so everyone can see the details of what we’ve found out.”
She nodded. “Done.”
“Thank you.” Iain looked around the room. “Since we’ve decided not to go to the surface, I think we’re done here. And since I’d blocked out five hours for this meeting and the subsequent field trip I’d been anticipating, you ladies have some free time.”
“I think,” Dominique said, “we should use it to go back to the Danger Room and work with you in an impromptu briefing on what you’ve recently learned to do with your magic.” She smiled. “And then we can test you on what you’ve learned from us so far.”
Iain shrugged. “While this may surprise you, I’m not against the idea. I’ll take all of the training sessions I can get.”
“April mentioned you are going back to your teacher tonight,” Ygerna was eyeing him thoughtfully. “I would rather you waited a little while longer.”
“I need to go back regularly, and I need to do it now as opposed to later because otherwise I’ll just keep finding reasons to keep putting it off until something bad happens that I might have been able to prevent or at least mitigate if I had been properly attending to my studies with her.”
“Iain is right,” Kasumi said. “And since he won’t be gone from here for more than a few minutes at a time, it’s only because he is willing to share with us the truth of his activities that we are even aware that he is going. I, for one, am pleased that he trusts us with this information and wishes to keep us informed.” She smiled. “And while I am not a pokegirl, I do want my husband to continue to grow stronger so that our enemies will not be able to take him from us. I saw how losing his wife changed my father and I do not wish to have personal experience with the pain he went through before my mother’s unexpected return.” She looked around the room. “And I would wish that pain on none of you as well.”
“And you’re an ambitious bitch of a kami who wants to see just how superior her male can become compared to the other powerful males we know,” Dominique said with a grin.
Kasumi chuckled. “While that is not a primary concern of mine, I freely admit that it is still satisfying to watch such events unfold.”
Iain shook his head as everyone else laughed. “Then let’s go, ladies.”
Ygerna rose and bowed as she waved a hand towards the door. “After you, my husband.”
Ninhursag Grey - Elfqueen & Maharani
Allison – Umbrea & Maharani Executive Officer
Eve Grey - Megami Sama
April Grey - Duelist & Beta
Silver – Pegaslut & Beta Executive Officer
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
Marguerite - Unicorn
Daphne - Whorizard
Lynn – Dire Wolf
Chuck – Doggirl
Ryan – Unicorn
Winifred - Rack (German)
Rosemary - Mistoffeles (Uruguayan)
Joyce – Milktit
Melanie – Iron Chef
Siobhan – Nurse Joy (Glasgow)
Golden Cloud – equine unicorn
Arianrhod -Fey Goblin Female
74 male Goblins
89 female Goblins
Queendom / Outer Harem
Dionne - Elfqueen
Adrianna - Elfqueen
Heltu - Wet Queen
14 Wet Elves
Dead Harem (22)
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 analog of Iain
Alabaster – Dragoness (white)
Onyx – Dragoness (black)
Lapis – Dragoness (blue)
Garnet – Dragoness (red)
Iolite – Dragoness (purple)
Malachite – Dragoness (green with white swirls)
Dabria – Dark Queen
Omisha – Demoness
Mother s & Children