Neasa was sitting with her back to the warm spot on the wall of Elena’s greenhouses again. She tossed down her quiver and bow; softly on the grass with a repulsed shove. They were all fine, nothing needed maintained.


She never found anything she could even begin to recognize on that island beyond, ‘a tree,’ ‘a grass,’ ‘a shrub.’ It wasn’t nearly as interesting as whatever was so secret it required discussion in a secluded island bunker with counter-scrying measures produced by a legendary pokegirl Neasa had never heard of. They weren’t in there long and Isaac looked upset when they left.


Really upset, although he was handling it well. She probably wouldn’t have recognized it before she was made so familiar with grief herself. Who was he grieving for? She wanted to try to cheer him up, or at least a part of her did. It didn’t matter whether the rest of her agreed because when she questioned this impulse for what it expected her to do to bring some happiness to someone else she was only met with helpless confusion and rage. All she could think about was her time as a prisoner of Samodiva. She couldn’t recall the happy memories from before, it felt.


So she was left helpless on the very outskirts of the social circle as usual.


Everyone else was able to show Isaac they recognized his hurt. He even thanked Chandrakanta for ‘getting him out of there.’ Neasa was the only one left on the outside. The literal outside now. Astoreth and Chandrakanta had returned to their homes and everyone else was inside Elena’s.


Neasa thought Elena’s house was far more reasonably constructed now that she’d seen the profane concrete blocks hollowed out and studded with uniformly spaced windows. While not a student of architecture, so she couldn’t condemn the post-modern brutalist construction by name, she still had eyes and could see the absolute lack of beauty or care or thought that went into making a space feel habitable. It was an alien graveyard.


It was much better to be among the trees. Trees offered shelter and sustenance. It was good to be among the trees.


At least in general this was true. The trees were not offering her much right now. Neasa grabbed her quiver, pausing to turn the little bronze leaf charm over in her fingers, and then untied a knot and partially unlaced the stitching so she could get into a secret compartment. She had a wineskin inside. There wasn’t very much left, in fact there never had been very much to begin with. Wine was only for the obedient in Samodiva’s court. Or the thief. Neasa tipped her head back and squeezed the last of the drink into her mouth. She couldn’t prevent her body from shuddering in response to the harsh chemicals that were responsible for the enjoyable and unenjoyable effects of the beverage. The wine was supposed to be mixed with water.


Neasa looked at the empty wineskin with disdain. “That was stupid,” she muttered to the predecessor of the flask. She could already feel herself losing the inhibitions she’d been relying on to stay calm. It was a good thing she didn’t have much wine left. She twisted it in her hands and tilted her head back with the nozzle over her extended tongue. A few more drops were coaxed out before the miniscule plant type pokegirl stood and swept her vibrant green eyes across the undergrowth. There were some shrubs with berries possessing psychedelic properties. She wanted to feel good, not have her psyche turned inside out. Her mother’s chief shamaness warned her about disrespectfully calling the spirits.


‘Go to him.’ A voice from the depths of her mind spoke to her consciousness. It was as if Neasa had said it, but while imitating her late mother.


‘He will enslave you,’ a countervoice hissed. Now Neasa’s internal voice was mimicking Samodiva. The princess-in-exile scowled. Hadn’t she slain this inner demon already?


She rose to her feet. She didn’t need him, she simply wanted someone to share her body with. Someone to be close to and hold, to care for and receive care from. Elena would be willing. So Neasa made her way to the house. Isaac was sitting in the small living area the front door opened to. It was the closer of the two doors but the Elf went around to the other side to enter through the kitchen. She ignored the challenging glare she received from Jin, who was chopping vegetables to be canned. Tucked underneath the stairway leading up to the bedrooms was the darkened nook that led down to the Grandelf’s lab. The heavy wooden door with iron cross beams extending from the hinges was shut tight. Elena was working and wouldn’t want to be disturbed. Neasa had been rejected without even a chance to make her request.

Neasa walked up the stairs, ignoring the groans of the tree corpses under her feet. It wasn’t unbearably revolting but the wild born Elf found it tacky. The same way a house with too many taxidermied animals may be viewed. Oleksandra was upstairs in the attic room Isaac slept in. Neasa found the Battle Battle Angel ponderously holding up the small collection of second hand clothing Isaac had purchased from a thrift shop the day before. The orange furred rabbit ears jumped upright a little and swiveled to point the cartilaginous sound channels towards the source of noise behind her. Neasa fought down a jump in response to how quickly Oleksandra turned to look at her. The Battle Angel quickly relaxed when she identified the doorway’s occupant. “You appear to possess the desire to engage in communication.”

Neasa’s scowl deepened as she picked apart the sentence in her mind. This bunny had an unusual way of speaking. “I was wondering if you would like to share bodies,” Neasa stated. Oleksandra froze after dropping her head to one side in an inquisitive tilt. Then she got a concerned expression and looked at the two garments in her hands before looking at Neasa and herself with the exact same puzzled expression. “Sex, taming, whatever the humans call it.”

“Oh, thank you for clarifying. No, I do not wish to engage in sexual activity with you.” Neasa bit the edge of her tongue between the line of molars when her teeth clamped down in anger. Her footfalls were heavier descending the stairs than ascending them. Another rejection.

At the foot of the stairway Neasa was faced with a new choice. Forward and to the right went to Jin. Jin was hostile towards her. Neasa wasn’t surprised about that, she could comprehend that she hadn’t treated the Witch in a way that she’d appreciate. Forward and to the left was Isaac. Isaac was much more understanding and was the person her heart was pushing her towards approaching anyway.

She turned right.

Jin glared again but held her tongue until Neasa spoke. “Look, I know we didn’t get off on the best footing but… Would… Would you like to share bodies with me?”

Jin stared impassively for a moment and then adopted the perfect demure manner she had displayed when introducing herself to Vardan way back in the spring. “My apologies, I am but a lowly servant. You will have to seek out my master for such things, as it is below my authority to lend myself out to others.” If Neasa had been carrying her bow with her she may have shot the Witch right then and there. A third, scathing, rejection.

She stood in the dim junction between the different rooms and routes throughout Elena’s home. She had one choice left. The choice she wanted to make to begin with and was so angry about wanting. Everything she was trying wasn’t working, they were all ganging up on her to give herself away to him. ‘He will enslave-’

‘Shut up you wicked hag, every word you spoke was poison!’ That internal voice was Neasa’s alone, true to her own persona. She balled her fists and bared her teeth to the empty antechamber.

Isaac sat making marks in his drawing pad. Its pages had only been partially spent during the last trimester’s magic fundamentals course. Deep scratchy marks that ground the graphite into the compressed tree fibers. He wasn’t trying to produce anything beyond catharsis.

The mildly intoxicated Elf leveled an unfocused glare at the young man. “Make me feel good.”

“What-” When Isaac didn’t respond the way she wanted, Neasa dropped herself onto his lap and smashed her front against his and gripped her hands together behind his head.

“Make me feel good. I don’t care anymore.”

Isaac tried to back away but couldn’t get out from between the Elf and the back of the chair. “Neasa, I don’t think you really want to have sex with me.”

“I already told you I don’t care. Make me feel good.”

Isaac was preparing to argue more. That she’d feel different when she was sober. That it was the alcohol and whatever else lowering her inhibitions. But those would only work on sober Neasa. She was acting inappropriately but he could react inappropriately as well. The words she spoke replayed in his head and he looked into her pained eyes in spite of the chemical numbing she’d inflicted upon herself.

He hugged her, as close and securely as he could.

Neasa froze, then put her hands on his shoulders as if to push him away but didn’t commit the effort. Her head fell forward to rest against his shoulder. Her body shook every so often as her breath continually caught in her throat. Her arms slowly wrapped around his neck again and she hung there in a frozen moment. Her words escaped in a tiny, trembling whisper. “It’s my fault.” Isaac was still mostly frozen in uncertainty and trapped underneath the petite woodland pokegirl, so he could only make an inquiring sound in response.

“It’s my fault. She pretended to like me, to want to teach me, but she took me hostage and forced my mother to accept the duel. I’m the reason she’s dead. I’m the reason Samodiva killed my mother. I’m the one she used to control everyone else. It’s my fault.”

“Neasa, it’s not your faul-”

“How can you say that?!”

“Because Samodiva is the one who did everything. She killed Queen Vershnyk, she made her court suffer. If she wasn’t an evil lying monster you would have only been making a friend, Neasa.” Green eyes swam in tears as she stared into his eyes. “It’s not your fault.” Neasa fell forward and cried, and wailed, and sobbed, and bawled and whined and whimpered and shrieked with repressed anguish. Jin and Oleksandra came to stand in the stairway hearing the commotion but didn’t act beyond the little Witch from Edo desperately wiping her own eyes dry.

Neasa looked up when she felt a hand touch her shoulder. Jin had come over and was avoiding looking the Elf in the eyes. “Hey, I’m, I’m sorry I-” Jin squawked when Neasa detached from Isaac and threw her arms around the Witch. Oleksandra’s ears dipped and she leaned in to provide reassuring physical contact to both other pokegirls. Isaac stood and offered his arms to the group embrace as well, and it immediately shifted so that all three pokegirls were holding onto him. Finally, their little group had defined itself.


“Jin, you’re losing stability again. Concentrate.” Hovering in front of the Witch in question was a blob of luminous magical energy. It was mostly dim white with a flickering of hot energy spreading like fractures where the crude orb bulged and pinched. In response to Isaac’s critique it suddenly ballooned outwards and burst. “Fack!” Sometimes the expletive came out a little rougher than usual and Jin’s idiosyncrasies could be rubbing off on him. Isaac pulled his hand away from the two person ritual circle and covered the angry red patch of skin on the backs of one palm with the other

Jin’s words spilled out like a box of empty cans that’d been upended “Isaac! I’m so sorry I was trying but then saw it was failing and then you said it was and I-”

“It’s okay Jin. We’re learning. This isn’t bad, look, I’ve already healed it.” Jin’s eyes locked onto the clear patch of skin and her focus wavered as she pulled herself into a ball of discontentment. She made a very unhappy sound, a stressed groan that tapered into a miserable whimper.

“Why do I need to hold back anyway? Why shouldn’t I put more power into the spell than it needs to make sure it hits her hard enough to take her down?”

Elena looked up from her mug of tea from where she was going over her own notes. She was interested in what answer Isaac would provide. Isaac and Jin were sitting cross legged on the ground outside. They were using a two person adaptation of Tkachenko’s Ball of Light to work on establishing Jin’s ‘meditative level,’ a consistent and low level of magical output that was considered an essential skill for the formal study of spellcraft. Some of Elena’s contemporaries wouldn’t believe, they would vehemently disbelieve in fact, that Jin was capable of using the catalog of spells at her disposal without mastering the skill.

“Jin, is throwing Mana Bolts all you want to do as a mage?”

“No! That’d be stupid! I already use more than Mana Bolt when I fight.”

“Okay, is all you want to do with your magic fighting? If all you want to do is fight, do you only want to be able to cast a few spells and then rely on Neasa and Oleksandra? Or the big sisters?”

Jin didn’t respond as quickly and was studying Isaac’s face with a hint of suspicion. He was leading the conversation somewhere and she didn’t like the direction. “Noo…”

“Some spells are just too dangerous to try without mastering a meditative level of output. Especially healing. Some of the worst magical accidents come from healing spells and they require specially trained healers to fix. Before they developed these specialized techniques the only solution was surgical removal. That was only an option if it was affecting a part of the body that could be amputated without killing the patient. Teleportation is another category of spells that’s the same. And an accident with either of those types of magic might hurt me or your harem sisters rather than yourself.”

Jin grumble-whined more. She loved channeling magical power and meditative level magic didn’t even feel like she was casting anything.

Elena rose and walked over. “If I may interrupt, Jin looks like she could use a break and I have a task I could use her assistance with.”

Jin looked up at her skeptically. “What sort of assistance.”

“The kind that requires reckless and uninhibited output of magical energy. There’s some evidence I need to destroy.” A big stupid grin started to stretch across Jin’s lips.

“That’s a good idea. I could use a break too, I’m running a bit low.” Isaac said as he rose and brushed off the back of his pants.

“You’re running low? I feel like I’m going to burst. Where’s this evidence, Elena?”

“Down in my lab,” Jin’s eyes became full to the brim with wonder. “Where all of my other projects are safely stowed away from prying eyes.” Most of the wonder drained away swiftly. They entered the basement level of the home through the exterior cellar door. The cellar was a humble one stocked with dormant root vegetables and canned foods. There was a very heavy  wall cutting through its center with stones and mortar that were much less weathered than that of the other three. Set inside was a massive wooden door just like the one underneath the stairwell. It swung open on masterfully balanced iron hinges.

Elena’s lab was comfortably lit by luminescent, gilded orbs. The warmth of the light and happiness of potted plants nested between shelves, counters, and desks made Isaac suspect they produced light waves truer to sunlight than a simple electric light. There was a writing desk, drafting table, and a stone countertop with alchemical beakers and flasks. The shelves were stacked with books and scrolls or metallic instruments and vessels. There was one counter with a fume hood overtop of it where Isaac spotted the wooden tablet that was destroyed when Elena evaluated him for magical aptitude. There were a number of large parchments rolled up and stored in a scroll tube sitting next to it. The Grandelf led her two students over to them.

Jin hovered over the tablet halves, her face glowing with enthusiasm before she traced the engravings with her eyes and then she frowned. “Boring…”

“Yes, it was. However, what Isaac did to it accidentally was nothing of the sort.” Elena handed Jin a pair of brass magnifying spectacles. “Look closely at the damage.”

Jin’s face scrunched up except for her left eyebrow, which stood raised defiantly. She delicately placed the offered glasses on her face and adjusted their position before flipping down the secondary lenses. “Uwa…” That was one of Jin’s phrases she held onto from before she had been exposed to the speech T2. It was a primitive sound very similar in meaning to ‘wow.’

“There’s an entirely different spell here.” The Witch frantically scanned the entire engraved path for magic to flow throughout the wood. “It’s all an entirely different spell. I can’t tell what it’s for at all. Isaac, look at it!” She peeled the glasses off so fast wisps of hair chased after them before shoving them towards her tamer’s face.

Isaac put the glasses on and studied the wood. It wasn’t as surprising to him. “That’s weird… I remember this, sort of. The wood was a lot older and was starting to form really tiny cracks in some places. I was wondering if that might affect things…”

“It’s the same wood, I just had to borrow an old planer from the woodworker in town and peel off five separate layers from the surface. The pattern was nearly microscopic and expanded in three dimensions throughout the material of the tablet. It all manifested spontaneously when the evaluation ritual went wild. This is what was maintaining the overlay of my home and Isaac’s… personal space.”

“So I could go there like the big sisters did?!”

“If you’re willing to wait thirteen thousand years for the proper celestial alignment again, sure.” Jin scowled deeply. “I’ll be trying to reverse engineer it, don’t worry. It may take a while though, just recording the pattern has taken me this long.” She gestured to the scroll tube and sighed. “If the four of us were still together…”

Isaac and Jin both responded at the same time with the same words. “Four of you?”

Elena’s face froze and Isaac felt the ice building up around her heart as well. “There was, yes. That’s not what we’re here to talk about.” She pushed some hair behind her ears. “So now that I’ve recorded all that I can, it’s time to send this to the conservatory so I can be reimbursed for the replacement Isaac and I made. Since I don’t want them to discover what I did I need a lot more damage to the two halves, which means I need a lot more magical power. I’ve already told them that it was the Witch belonging to my former ward that blew it out trying to see what her own magical aptitude was. Think you can make it look convincing, Jin?” The big stupid grin was back and Jin rolled her shoulders before interlacing her fingers together and pushing both palms out in a stretch that produced several tiny pops in her knuckles and wrists.


Neasa scowled at the glinting pair of shears so close to her face she couldn’t properly focus. They were in the bathroom upstairs, Chandrakanta was leaning over her with a lock of hair from the front of the Elf’s crown between her fingers. The paired blades went schnik. The Megami was taking forever, Neasa would have used a grass blade and been done with a few swift hacks.


She cut Oleksandra’s hair first, which is the only reason Neasa agreed to take her own turn. The bunny’s formerly long hair that spilled halfway down her back was now just a few centimeters long standing from the neckline, but the crown was much longer so that everything could be slicked back in something Chandrakanta had called an ‘updo.’

Now the style being applied to Neasa’s hair was, what had she said? A pixie bob. It was short and was less likely to get snagged in a fight. If the doting celestial pokegirl wanted to waste the time necessary to trim snip after snip after snip making sure it also looked good... 

Neasa wasn’t opposed to looking good, she just hadn’t listened to her mother giving her advice and now…

The Megami reminded her of her mother so much sometimes. It hurt. Schniktnikt. Chandrakanta put the shears down and stepped back to appraise her work before offering a hand mirror. Neasa glared at the reflective surface but then blinked before her scowl cracked from the upwards pull on her eyebrows. She twisted her neck and strained her eyes to look at her new haircut from every possible angle. “Do you like it, Neasa?”

Neasa put the Megami’s mirror down on the counter. “I… It looks okay. It’s better looking than when I cut it myself and it won’t impede me…”

Chandrakanta continued to hold the extra petite pokegirl’s gaze. “Do you like it though? We can work on growing it out to something longer if you do not.”

Neasa turned away from the unearthly prisms captivating her attention. “No, I like it. For now. Thank you, Chandrakanta.”

“You are most welcome, Neasa. Here, let me wash out all of the clippings now.” After a rinse with conjured water, the Megami pulled the flustered Elf princess close from vigorously scrubbing with a towel. It put her immense cleavage so close, Neasa’s nose dipped between the ample mounds.

Downstairs Oleksandra padded across the kitchen floor. She wasn’t hungry, but there were many fascinating metallic objects in this room. Cups of hammered and folded sheet metal for holding a precise volume. Knives and spatula with handles and blades or paddles of different shapes and sizes for various uses. Pots and pans made of many different metallurgical materials. She wondered about what processes were involved in making all of these objects and why they were so different from one to another.

Her ear swiveled towards the source of a new sound. The weight under each footfall and the period of time between steps indicated Isaac was approaching her. Oleksandra liked that Isaac was approaching her, so she turned to engage with him socially. “I offer acknowledgement and greetings, Isaac.”

“Oh, hello Leksya. How does your uniform fit?” The Battle Angel was wearing a tough cadet’s outfit, handspun, cut, and sewn with the Zaporizhzhia Academy’s branding screen printed on the short sleeved, undyed shirt.

“The uniform is properly fitted and produces minimal discomfort. Isaac, this is the third time you have inquired about the suitability of my uniform and I have not observed forgetful behavior from you in most other capacities. Is there another matter which you would like to discuss?”

Isaac froze as he looked into the eyes of his Battle Battle Angel. The void where her social etiquette should be was looming behind her eyes. He sighed. “I… Leksya, I’ve just had this feeling, and we haven’t been together for very long and I wasn’t the best at pleasing Jin either to start with but… Are you enjoying having sex with me?”

Rabbit ears stood tall and facing him as Oleksandra’s dull metallic eyes studied him for the briefest moment. “Not in the capacity that the others appear to, no.” She detected indications of displeasure in Isaac’s response and interrogated her inherited memories as to why that may be his reaction. “I may be aberrant in my capacity to enjoy sexual stimulation. It is a necessary function but outside of the maintenance of my mind I find pleasure in other bonding activities. I appreciate your inquiry, but the process of penetrative sex is comparable to waste excretion in pleasure I derive from it.” Her head cocked to the side, causing an ear to droop asymmetrically. “I do enjoy the intimate stimulation you engage with during the act and would like to turn your question around. Are you enjoying having sex with me?”

Isaac’s face was consumed by the flames of embarrassment. “Yeah, except for worrying that you weren’t. I… you have really, really great legs, Leksya.”

Oleksandra smiled a simple, wholesome smile. “I am happy. Please let me know if there is something I may do to enhance your sexual enjoyment when we are together. I do wish to reciprocate your care.”

Isaac just watched the bunny pick up and study a tenderizing mallet for a minute. “Yeah…” That was one difficult conversation down. Too bad he had another along the very same lines still to go.

No one ever really heard Neasa walking throughout the house now that she was more open to spending time inside of it. She was just suddenly in the room. Like she was suddenly in the antechamber outside the kitchen, stairway, and living room.

She studied Isaac’s face, Isaac studied hers. Neither of them seemed ready or willing to speak first. Isaac tried to stand aside to let her pass but she did the same at the same moment and so they went from awkwardly facing each other in the middle of the small chamber to awkwardly facing each other off to the side. Well, if Oleksandra could manage by being so blunt and straightforward maybe Isaac could as well. “Neasa, do you enjoy having sex with me?”

If her reaction had been any more like a startled cat’s she would have had to release a yowl from her throat. “WHAT?! Why-wh-w-w-w-w- Why would you ask something like that?!”

Isaac quashed his own growing panic from the obvious reaction he still failed to anticipate. He spoke quickly. “I just noticed, you and Oleksandra. You’re both new and things just aren’t as good as… as they could be. I don’t think for you. I want you to… I want you to enjoy being with me so if there’s something I can do-”

“I enjoy it.” Neasa told the tiles of the floor. “I… I actually have been trying not to enjoy it. I know it would make me a lot stronger but… I don’t want to evolve right now. If the sex is too good…”

“Oh,” Isaac was so glad it wasn’t what he feared that he failed to consider how the wild Elf princess might interpret what he was about to propose. “Well, I could get you an everstone, although they usually come in a collar.”

“A COL- A collar?!” Neasa pursed her lips and furrowed her brow as she considered. A collar was the sign of a pet and a slave. But Isaac was offering her the collar as a gift of jewelry, because he wanted to help her not become an Elfqueen. She felt angrier as her face started to flush. “It better be pretty!” Now the entirety of her face, neck, and ears were burning. The skin along the back of her neck was tightening. She stomped her foot. This entire idea was ridiculous, it was no wonder she was angry. What else could she be feeling? “N-no bombs either!”

(-[|]-) End Chapter 9 (-[|]-)

Deep underground in a facility built on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in the Sourthern hemisphere of the Earth, a collection of wealthy, influential, and unscrupulous scientists, politicians, and trade leaders gathered to witness the fruits of their labor and investment. The most promising attempt to reverse engineer Sukebe’s portal technology since the catastrophic failure that brought the offworld youth Ranma to their world long, long ago.

At least so far as this team was aware. There was a nervous air throughout the lab and observation deck. Activating was a risk, a calculated risk with the greatest chances of success but a risk nonetheless.

They’d been receiving incredibly powerful signals from a neighboring universe recently. A safe, lower power, short distance tunneling through the dimensions. Everything was as ready as it would ever be. Now was the time to seize the day. The director motioned with his hand as he gave the minimalist order. “Begin.”

Massive and heavy machine pieces began to turn. A great mechanism spun up, a thrum filled the air with power. The metallic archway that would act as the opening for the passage to another universe started to glow with motes of light and arcs of energy. An angry white point formed in the very center of the circular opening. Thunder, fire, and lightning poured into the singularity and then it expanded into an incandescent ring with no thickness and a strange window to somewhere distant and alien filled the archway. The gathered elites slowly began to murmur and raise their hands to applaud.

A viscous and crimson fluid shot from the opening like a geyser and flooded the test chamber, damaging all of the equipment contained within beyond repair before evaporating into insubstantial essence. At the same time a single, massive psy-wave ripped through the psyches of every living being present and reduced their neurological organs into gelatinous, charred pulp. A great, unblinking and bloody eye stared through the portal right before it collapsed from lack of sufficient power.