Back at his apartment/office building headquarters, Marty was once again getting things organized for another family expansion – this time younger siblings and Limey’s cubs. Sure, the Thralls would take care of it if he didn’t – but letting the Thralls take care of it would certainly wind up with his younger siblings running completely amuck!
Besides, he had a nasty feeling that he was looking in a mirror. After all, his Father and his adopted child were behaving almost… exactly the way that he used to! Drat Gelman anyway! Introspection was NOT good for maintaining a battling business edge!
At least infusing Limey with more power had gotten him fairly well stabilized… Not quite either the Laptop OR the Werewolf Child that he had once been – but attempting to undo that merger would have been to leave dozens of children fatherless and to kill the person he had become. He’d never really understood “emotional exhaustion” before!
At least Limey’s new pack had been easy to settle in… Limey had – in some ways unfortunately – simply followed Marty’s short-lived precedents when he’d set out to compete with him. He’d claimed a nearby park as “his territory”, put out a call for girls – although, fortunately, he’d gotten a LOT fewer applicants,- and set to work. Marty had been a bit startled to find that the “pack” included forty-odd mostly-pregnant female Thralls and twenty-two attendants – but they were rather more startled to find out that Limey hadn’t gotten permission before starting all of this.
The girls had wanted to know how badly Limey was being punished – they were fond of him – and were relieved that it was only being grounded for a month until he was of age.
He had a “forest village” set up on his headquarters grounds. Primal and idyllic on the surface, but with standard Core conveniences. They’d be a friendly playful pack for his younger siblings and hos own offspring to meet and play with, and it would be a nice change of pace from the casino. Some of those Aztec (oh, Mayan? What’s the difference?) murals could be creepy.
Oh well. At least Limey had done a good job in following his instincts. The attendants were a bit surprising though, considering his personal objections. He gave him another lecture – and a bit of a surprise once he was moping and contrite:
(Marty) “There. That’s a good laptop… er, werewolf… er, whatever. Guess what we’re going to do after you’re not grounded anymore? We’re going to go driving. And guess where you’ll be sitting?”
(Limey) “On the roof?! On the hood?!”
(Marty) “It was a trick question! You’re going to BE THE CAR!”
(Limey) “Ooh! Will I have submachine guns and missile launchers?!?”
(Marty, startedly) “Uh… I don’t think that’s standard on cars, Limey.”
(Limey) “It is on James Bond Corporate Raider’s Cars!”
Oh, why not if he was good. It wasn’t like Kadia didn’t have autodueling tracks!
(Marty) “If you’re a very good boy while you’re grounded, yes!”
(Limey) “I’ll be good!”
(Marty) “I hope so, I miss solid cars.”
Limey would spend a lot of time over the next month powered down; it was the easiest way to be good and it was a small sacrifice for high speed and machine guns!
Marty always had liked his cars fast and maneuverable, and a re-summonable vehicle was very handy indeed – especially when you were driving around the Manifold.
The “Werewolfmobile” had an all-leather interior, fur everywhere, a motor which growled most ferociously, headlights which glared like terrible eyes, a grill like fangs, and tires which gropped the road like claws! As well as far more built-in tricks than any silly batmobile! Did the Batmobile repair itself, or launch lightning at its foes? Limey didn’t THINK so! He was an… American Werewolfmobile from London!
The only trouble with that – at least as far as Marty was concerned – was that he’d NEVER be able to go back to Battling Business World London again, at least not with Limey. Lloyd’s would be all over them both.
It was about then while Marty was finishing up getting the werewolf-Thralls installed in their temporary apartments – that Todd turned up. Marty was happy to see him shaved, bathed, and in decent clothes. He’d always felt sorry for the guy, even before he’d actually met him.
Todd was too horrified by Marty’s interior decorating tastes to speak for a moment, but he recovered
(Todd) “Mr. Tabard?”
(Marty) “Hey! Todd! (There was a slight moment of hesitation as he recalled eating all of Todd’s food) Nice to see you looking better! When did you arrive in Kadia?”
(Todd) “A few months ago. If you’re worried about the food, your replacing it was enough of an apology. That was you, yes?”
(Marty) “Well, yes… I am sorry about that though! I’m trying to think about things in advance a bit these days!”
(Todd) “That’s in the past, Mr. Tabard. Now, Lord Sanwell told me you were planning an offensive against certain eldritch abominations. Is this true?”
(Marty) “Oh yes! I’ll teach those miserable bastards to keep blowing up MY CITY. “
(Todd) “Lord Zero could have done far, FAR worse to New York’s ley lines. What exactly were you planning? The Number Lords are wily opponents.”
(Marty) “Well, for a first attempt, I was planning to simply render myself immune to as many of their powers as possible, tap into as much power as possible – Kevin’s been showing me some tricks there – and see what they’ve got.”
(Todd) “Well, you know what they say about consuming energy fiends larger than your head. And Lord Sanwell has shown you some tricks?”
Todd took a look at Marty’s aura… Oh dear… A great deal of power – nothing like the energies that surrounded Kevin Sanwell, but it was clearly trending towards more-than-mortal power.
(Todd) “Mr. Tabard, are you pursuing apotheosis?”
(Marty) “Well… It seems like one way to match the Number Lords!”
Todd wasn’t so sure about Marty’s planning – or his sanity – but his determination was admirable – and it certainly made it far, FAR more likely that he would survive a confrontation with the Number Lords.
(Todd) “That immunity is bound to confuse them. As far as I know, they grant it only to their followers. But what will you do if they attack the world’s ley lines? They only partially consumed Britain’s and, well, you likely heard the results.”
What WOULD ZERO do if he thought that he was losing control? Japan might hold out, at a grave risk of splitting from the world proper, but the devastation would be massive.
(Marty) “I suspect that – if I can simply divert the number lords for a time – all of Battling Business World will revert to it’s normal state.”
(Todd) “Our world does have a tendency to reset at the drop of a hat. I just want things back to normal… and I would hate to see its vitality drained. I hope you know what you’re doing.”
(Marty) “Sad to say, for once the fact that it would be very difficult to make matters much worse is an advantage.”
(Todd, laughing quietly) “Well, you have my support. They took nearly everything from me, and I want them to feel some of that. I’ll help you as best I can – but I do need a favor from you; please have some mercy on my ex-wife. She’s a mere pawn in this. I want her freed from Zero’s control. After all, I know all too well what that feels like.”
(Marty) “Well, I wasn’t after her anyway! At worst, if she got in the middle of things, she’d lose a day… The Number Lords may not risk her anyway though; she’s about the last agent they’ve got!”
(Todd) “Lord Zero considered it nothing to fling me across half of Manhattan when he was stressed. I think you underestimate his patience… And I don’t mean east to west, either.” (Todd blushed. That had been dreadfully embarrassing).
(Marty) “Eh… Sorry about that. Well, I can try to pick a time when she’s not around.”
(Todd) “Oh, by all means do it when she’s around. We might need to drag Terry kicking and screaming to Kadia.”
(Marty) “Fair enough. If I see her I’ll try to drag her back here…”
(Todd) “Thank you, Mr. Tabard.:
(Marty) “Eh, no problem. Tell you what, I’ll send some of the pack here out for drinks and pizza! (Marty pointed at a werewolf – Hey you! Go and get some pizza! And beer!)
(Werewolf) “Yes Sir!”
(Todd) “That would be nice. I do enjoy a good ale.”
Pizza wasn’t his favorite, but Marty was the host… Very well behaved for werewolves those were… Ah, more Thralls.
(Todd) “Have exotic tastes in thralls, do you?”
(Marty) “Aarrrgh! It’s a long story… Perhaps over lunch!”
Marty did indeed explain over lunch – and Todd had acquired witchcraft and smartclothes, so he could tell a great deal about them.
(Todd) “I had heard about Lloyd’s losing a trainee demo model… The Council’s quite put out over it. I understand there’s a reward of several million pounds for his safe return.”
(Marty, sighing) “Aand he’s gotten accidently merged with a Thrall, and run a bit amuck – thus all the pregnant werewolf girls and the twenty-two attendants. I’m not leaving him unsupervised for awhile!”
(Todd) “I can understand why. And I’d keep him away from Fred if I were you. You know how he gets about the mistreatment of sapient devices.”
(Marty) “Hey, he’s generally pretty happy with things! It’s just that his last little party was a bit much!”
(Todd, nodding) “Well, you seem to have handled it gracefully. And I’m sure he’ll enjoy his drive after his punishment ends.
(Marty) “Well, I’m hoping that he’ll rethink his treatment of the attendants at least.”
(One of the Thralls) “We volunteered sir! Serving Limey would let us stay close to Marty, and he spends a lot of time with Lord Sanwell!”
(Todd) “True, but Limey comes from a culture where you just don’t keep harem attendants! And even if he didn’t ask you to do take that job, he didn’t object or tell you to undo it when you turned up that way to volunteer did he? Ah well. You’ll do anything to serve important people, won’t you? I suppose it’s not a big matter. You knew what you were getting into when you accepted the bond. Who am I to criticize?”
(Thrall) “Well… There are thousands of us who were content in the jobs they had without taking this option Sir, but I thought anything to serve Lord Sanwell and his friends sir! Besides… Limey really didn’t pay any attention to us! He was busy with the girls!”
Todd realized just how lucky Jacob and Tibernia were to be with him. They were being treated as the kids that he’d wanted with Jenkins and never had… Damned Number Lords… Still, apparently the vast majority of the Thralls were holding perfectly normal jobs. Some of them were just a bit too enthused about being near Kevin.
(Todd) “Well, Mr. Tabard. Thank you for lunch, but I’m afraid I must be going. It’s time for my daily archery practice.”
(Marty) “Hey, nice to see you! Drop in again sometime!”
(Todd) “I will. And perhaps we could spar together. I might need the training if you bring Terry in.”
Todd went home, gave his aides a hug – and checked the statistics on the Thralls. That was a simple check – but it would tell him a lot about how they were doing.
It looked like… roughly 99.9% of them were serving in normal jobs – a large chunk in rescue operations, magical services, and trade-support. About one in a thousand was serving in a harem, or working for someone like Dr Brenner – and they were usually rotated in and out. Roughly one in a hundred was being a horse or dog or some such, usually as a spy or familiar. That wasn’t too bad, and the ones in animal shapes seemed to have full rationality. Still, Kevin obviously was taking advantage of the clauses in his contract that said that he had the right to assign or transform them to suit himself.
Still… Thinking back on the celtic stories he’d grown up hearing… Being warned in advance, and having a formal contract, was a pretty good deal! Gods didn’t HAVE to give people fair contracts – much less be so eminently fair.
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 139a – The Council of the Traditions (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 138d – Family Repercussions (ruscumag.wordpress.com)