Iuri’s Tale

   Iuri Tadahiro was a young, over-powered, and arrogant 14-year-old hermetric mage who was dropped into a bizarre composite world – in which he proceeded to run slightly amuck, indulging his normal adolescent desire to claim territory, exert his new authority, dominate rival males, and build a harem. Outside of that, he tended to be reasonable and helpful.

   Iuri’s tale never gets particularly graphic, but many of the characters are underage by current US law (2050 UCAS and extradimensional is another question) and there’s plenty of violence, mentions of casual sex, and ruthless (mis-)behavior. If this is likely to upset you, don’t read it.

 

   Description; Iuri is Japanese, with black hair and eyes, a frame slightly smaller and lighter then average (Albeit within normal limits), and good looks. In his “corporate mode” he’s a junior yuppie-mage. As a gang leader he looks a bit feral and slightly dangerous; the sort of boy that mothers warn daughters about. Even as a “gang leader” an alert observer can see that his clothing is much cleaner, and of higher quality, then is at all usual for a street thug. He generally wears his personal Mon (Two stylized Ky’lin circling a plum tree) somewhere on his person.

 

   His Loyalties are a bit confused – but his family, personal friends, and gang, definitely have a spot in them. He’s never truly questioned his general loyalty to Yasoda – but for now, his major obligations are to his family and his gang. They need him a lot more then Yasoda, or his corporate friends, do.

 

   Religion; As a Japanese mage, Iuri leans towards Shintoism – albeit with the normal plentiful admixture of Buddhist teachings.

 

   Personal Data; (Yasoda Personnel Files; Executive/Clan Tadahiro/Family Members/Iuri Tadahiro/Summary) :

Iuri Tadahiro, Dependent, Triple Citizenship; UCAS (Birth), Yasoda (Employee Offspring), and Japan (Clan). Birthdate 07/16/2046, Male, Human, <<<Select here for Genetic & Biochemical subfiles>>>, <<<Select here for pictoral identification>>>, <<<Select here for school subfiles>>>. *MAGICALLY ACTIVE* (Full Hermetric Mage, apparently self-initiated on awakening, has displayed greatly enhanced memory for spells, metaplace access, loremaster, possible masking talent, possible ability to summon nature spirits, probable enhanced reflexes, enhanced conjuration, enhanced physical, and enhanced mental abilities. Known spell designer, full list of spells possessed unknown, has downloaded an extensive formula archive. Additional research on his abilities is recommended. Every effort to retain his loyalties should be made, handle with caution). Cybrenetically augmented after injuries during extraction attempt on Father/Ukon Tadahiro (Chief of Research) <<<Select here for medical files and detailed list of cybrenetic systems>>>, primarily with cybereyes & low-level skill enhancement systems, Psychprofile shows minor trauma from earlier injuries resulting in vindictive tendencies and a fear of having enemies behind him, normal adolescent rebellion, high intelligence (Current performance at collegiate level or higher), highly responsible, sexually active since age 12, high family loyalty. In general, precocious, somewhat hedonistic and securely – if vaguely – loyal to Yasoda Corporation <<<Select here for biographical files>>>. Ethnic japanese, Age 14, Height 5’0, Weight 96 Lb, Single. Evaluation; Potentially a major asset, recommended for advanced training, development of his arcane abilities should be fostered, limited exposure to “street” realities should reduce overly idealistic tendencies. Subject may be indiscreet due to age, but is rated as a minimal security risk if entrusting him with classified information becomes necessary. Minor indulgences will build loyalty to Yasoda, appropriate payment should be provided for any useful activities.

 

Pre-Game History :

 

   Iuri Tadahiro was one of the sheltered ones of the world of 2050. His mother, Nariako, was one of Yasoda Corps upper executives. His father, Ukon, was one of their best researchers. Immersed in money and power and every available advantage, if surrounded by corporate walls, it was almost inevitable that he follow in his parent’s footsteps.

   Almost.

 

   His early childhood was idyllic. He saw a lot of the best of the world. While a bit spoiled and overly willful for a child, Iuri was exceptionally bright, and had an amazingly retentive mind. He found it easy to excel in school – and the readiness of his parents to hire special tutors when he showed a special interest in something made it difficult to get bored. He saw a bit of the more ruthless side of corporate life – but it certainly wasn’t normal. His primary worry (Other then going metahuman; something everybody knew about, but which was never openly mentioned) was simply that he’d disappoint his parents by getting delayed on the fast track to corporate power and success – somehow.

   They actually wouldn’t have minded much. It wasn’t like they would ever be short of money or anything.

 

   It changed with a botched extraction on his father when he was ten. The blast when the runner’s getaway helicopter blew sprayed hot shrapnel across the roof, and into the skull and back of the youngster who hadn’t managed to get far enough away. Luckily for the boy, the hyped-up troll street samurai who’d been about to grab him from behind took the brunt of the blast.

 

   He hurt unbelievably. He couldn’t even move right, much less get up. It was dark, and something hot and wet was running down his face. He tried to push past it – and something gave. Suddenly he couldn’t feel anything at all, but he could see – he was surrounded by light – and he could move easily again. Panicked – KNOWING that someone was after him – he fled, looking for a hiding place.

 

   It isn’t good Mr Tadahiro. We can fix the damage to his spinal cord, lungs, and heart while he’s on life support. His liver will repair itself, and the damage to his digestive tract is fairly minor. The fragment that destroyed his eyes didn’t damage his optic nerve at all, so we can replace them easily.

   It’s the shrapnel in his brain, and the coma, that’s worrisome. His language and motor centers are severely damaged. We can regenerate the tissue, but he’ll have to learn to move and speak again from the beginning – if he ever wakes up at all. It’s very possible – even likely – that he won’t; his brain functions are about as minimal as they can get short of death.

   You want to do WHAT?

 

   The Tadahiros had an answer for that; Even a basic skillwire system could exercise his body and help him learn to move again. A simple knowsoft link would let him communicate for now and would give his brain direct access to the languages he’d need to relearn – and eyes were easy to replace. They had the surgeons go ahead while they arranged to fly in a top-notch mage healer to deal with the coma. If their son could be awakened at all, he would not wake up paralyzed – or unable to speak – for want of a few nuyen worth of cyberware.

 

   He’d warned them that if the boy’s spirit was gone there would be nothing he could do. It would be no favor to anyone to maintain a body with no one in it, and that was what it looked like. Still, the pain in the parent’s eyes meant a lot more then the cash they dispersed so casually. He’d probe as far as he could.

 

   Strange… There was no spirit in the body, but it showed no sign of the usual subtle deterioration that a corpse on life support normally showed. No sign of death-trauma either. The boy’s silver cord, the link between his spirit and body, led – away?! (Did your son ever show any sign of magical ability? No? He hasn’t shown a sign of life for five days now?). Couldn’t be ordinary astral projection – he’d have died long ago. There wasn’t anybody maintaining a gateway. That left only… Surely the child couldn’t have…

   The boy was going to be a hell of a magician after he was trained.

 

   “I’ll need to use the next bed for awhile”.

 

   He found him on the metaplanes.

 

   Iuri’s recovery still took some time. He has yet to rebuild his muscle strength to “normal”. He still suffers from some minor neurological weaknesses and a few psychological traumas – but he was up and around in a few weeks. There was even some jealousy amongst the other youngsters; not only did he survive, instead of being out of the competition, but he’d acquired magic and some neat cyberware as well. It just wasn’t fair. It rarely is among the wealthy – but this seemed just a bit more over-the-top then usual.

   The next few years were interesting. There were difficulties in dealing with a magical prodigy, but a massive – and perhaps overindulgent – infusion of money solved many problems. Yasoda supported it; mages were valuable. A mage that powerful, and that young, with such handy cyberware to back up his magic (Most mages weren’t willing to get any), was beyond “valuable”.

   It got more troublesome when he developed a few of his own spells and started augmenting his abilities – but it could still be handled. Numbers and experience were a match for youth and energy.

   Adolescence was, as always, a period of rebellion, especially for a “wiz kid”. This was well understood. Usually it showed up in harmless defiance – clothing, slogans, music, “secret” sexual liaisons, and so on. The kids would get past it.

   Iuri was diverted for a time. There were quite a few willing partners among the daughters of the lower echelons (A consequence-free liaison with the wealthy, handsome, magically powerful, and skillful son of two major corporate figures? Sure!), but he was more then intelligent enough to realize that these “rebellions” had little substance.

   Besides, he wanted to see a bit of reality outside Yasoda corporation.

 

   It took him a while to arrange it – but eventually he managed to arrange some free time most evenings. A slightly more serious affair made a splendid “cover”. Turning up the biocontrol program’s “sleep regulator” function let him spend most of the night on the prowl rather then sleeping, and a bit of magic ensured that the girl would keep her mouth shut about him slipping away after bedding her instead of going to sleep.

   He may not fool security, or his parents, for that long, but is spending quite a lot of his time “out on the streets” for now. It’s an interesting experience. Acquiring a few street skillsofts made it easy to fit in, but it took time to build trust. He readily dealt with some of the local predators who tried to take on “that stupid corp brat” – but the number of desperate people, and kids, out on the street was a real shock.

   He told himself that he was just building up a few contacts, favors, and information sources for later use – but it wasn’t really very long before he’d become a local gang leader, dealt with numerous threats to his gang and the local street people – and gotten quite a bit more vicious and practical.

 

 

Chapter One; In Which There Is Far Too Much Monkey Business And Our Heroes Get Into A World Of Trouble.

 

   Unfortunately, Nariako and Ukon had discovered their son’s nightly expeditions. While Ukon was somewhat amused, Nariako – who had a considerably clearer idea of just how dangerous the streets could be – was not. Still, they didn’t want to just confront him. He was at an age where that might well lead to him trying to run away. Fortunately, their justifiable concern for security offered another alternative; it was time for the boy to have his own bodyguard in any case – so it might as well be one of the best.

 

   What a PAIN. “Bodyguard”, SURE. I mean, I suppose he’s very good (Mom never hires an incompetent) – but could they say “nursemaid” any clearer? I can’t even go SHOPPING – on the fifteenth floor of the corporate arcology yet – without him trailing along behind. How am I going to get anything done? The man (Ha. He was an ORK. How tasteless could you get?) was proving to be impossible to talk into ANYTHING and wouldn’t take any orders from HIM – only from his parents.

   It’d serve them right if he bought lots of equally tasteless junk to clutter up the place.

   Iuri was looking over some racks full of “classic” African carvings when the whole store started shaking and collapsing. The storefront came down, and blocked the exit, as a whirling disk of colored light wrapped itself around a “tunnel” hanging in the air, and opened up. Assensing almost reflexively, Iuri found himself looking into a hole in the universe. Unfortunately, his back was already against the wall – and sheer shock kept him from spellcasting.

   His bodyguard had better reflexes. When something unexpected happened you got whoever you were guarding under cover and dealt with it –

 

   Even when “it” turned out to be a small child – or something which choose to look like one – clutching a big hammer that knocked holes in the barriers between worlds, and accompanied by a horde of flying monkeys.

   Iuri’s physics skillsoft hiccuped, and classed the hole as a singularity-class gravitational “wormhole”, with an effective mass of several billion tons and huge gravitational side effects. At least that explained why the building was shaking. Facing that kind of raw power, he decided that calm, polite, and soothing was a good way to avoid being killed. “May I see that?”.

   The “Kid” was quite willing to let everyone take a look at the “Dimensional Hammer”. He was even willing to let them try it out. They opened some portals, and tried to dump the kid, the monkeys, and even the hammer through them – but it didn’t help; the “kid” had come for subjects for his “experiments” in world-building, and had more then enough raw power, and flying monkeys, to get them.

   At least he was “considerate” enough to send their equipment (Along with lots of ugly tasteless carvings) with them. For Iuri that was quite a lot of stuff. On the other hand, he dropped them and their gear in the middle of an open field, forest to one side and water to the other, without a clue as to where or when they were – or what to do.

   Iuri called up a field spirit in hopes of locating some outpost of civilization.

 

   Unfortunately, on a world still under construction meaningful directions were difficult to come by. The best it could do was to point them towards the (only) other sentient beings that it knew of; a mine full of monstrous minotaurs.

   The mine, at least, showed signs of being in use – although the trampled area was neatly circular. It looked like the entire mine had simply been picked up and put down there.

   It probably had been.

 

   Calling down the mineshaft produced a reaction – A massive minotaur-creature who promptly attacked them, even though it seemed to speak good english. Neither was amused. It was easy enough to render the thing unconscious. They tied it heavily before they woke it up and engaged in some fairly crude interrogation. It seemed that there were close to twenty more of them – and that it had attacked them because his bodyguard was an ogre, and Iuri “looked like” the kid with the hammer who’d dragged them here. (Nearsighted aren’t they?)

   The bodyguard wanted to just kill it, but Iuri had another idea – the beast was extremely strong, he had a lot of stuff to carry, and bulls and oxen had been used as beasts of burden for millenia. He had the engram-manipulating spell to condition it with. It seemed that it’d be much easier to condition it as a steer – but castration was an easy bit of surgery. The spell still took several hours, but it gave them a reliable slave – and much better information as to what was in the mine; 17 more basic minotaurs, one minotaur-mage, a minotaur leader named “Shinab”, a Basilisk, and quite a lot of supplies.

   They needed supplies, some more minotaurs would be handy, and leaving a bunch of hostile minotaurs about (Not to mention a Basilisk) seemed a bit inadvisable. They’d already stunned the mages pet/familiar when it tried to spy on them anyway. A quick raid into the mine netted four more minotaurs and some supplies. It took most of that night to modify and condition them, but Iuri didn’t need much sleep and could leave a minor forest spirit on “guard duty”.

   The stars were all wrong. Admittedly, Iuri was no astronomer, and they were usually drowned out by lights at home – but he couldn’t recognize ANYTHING. Unless they were just in the southern hemisphere this wasn’t a good sign as far as walking home was concerned.

   In the morning there were a lot more animals about the place, although most of them seemed confused. The minotaurs provided some information about their world – definitely not earth – OR here (wherever that was). There wasn’t time for much more then that. A posse of minotaurs, accompanied by the minotaur mage and a high-powered spirit, was coming after them. The ensuing magical battle ended when the minotaur mage cast some (suicidal) combination of fireball, concussive blast, and psychic blast, at ground zero rather then concede defeat. That left them with a dead mage, seven dead minotaurs, four surviving slaves, some nasty injuries – and two more minotaur bulls to process and heal up.

   Iuri finished with the minotaurs fairly early that afternoon – not long before the ones left in the mine tried to negotiate. It didn’t really go that well… “What do WE want? You attacked US!”, but resulted in a tentative deal – peace in exchange for half of their supply stockpile. They had half the minotaurs anyway.

   They weren’t too sure about the truce. Iuri had an allergy to leaving part of a hostile “gang” behind to re-organize – and his bodyguard didn’t trust anybody. Things got increasingly tense – especially when there was no sign of the minotaur leader or the basilisk. In the end they decided to knock out the five visible minotaurs and sort it out later. The basilisk, and the leader promptly attacked from behind – where they had been lurking (Or possibly sneaking up on them?) under spirit “concealment”. They lost another one of the slaves, and took serious injuries in the battle – but captured the remaining minotaurs. The leader was too powerful to bind (The bodyguard slit his throat), but that left them with ten reliable slaves – and a base of operations.

 

 

Chapter Two: In Which There Are Far Too Many Orcs And A Great Battle

 

   The next day or two was busy… They had wounds to heal, supplies to organize, a magical workroom to set up, minotaur slaves to brand, dehorn, and collar (they seemed to expect it), supplies to sort out, and other projects; Iuri spent some time considering a spell to duplicate the dimensional portal the kid had generated. It just didn’t look practical; He might be able to handle the power required – but he couldn’t see any way to build a gravitational vortex without creating a disaster. There obviously was one but (Much as he hated to have to admit it) he just didn’t know enough to design the spell yet… On the other hand, it was easy enough to send a sky spirit up with a sketchpad, and get a map of sorts – the place was a mad patchwork of environments and terrain types jammed up against each other. They even seemed to have their own weather patterns. There was something really weird going on with astral space as well; it seemed to have a lot of different “levels” you could project or look into somehow.

   Meanwhile, there was a small village fairly nearby – although it seemed pretty primitive.

   They decided to go and check the place out anyway. There might be a mage who could help them out. They decided not to take any heavy equipment or minotaurs, since the place looked to be exclusively human. That meant that a masking spell for Jim Bones was probably in order as well.

   “Primitive” was not the word. Mesolithic was the word. The people were friendly enough – but they had yet to develop agriculture, domestication of animals, metals, cloth, or bows. On the other hand, primitives often had very powerful magic. (Iuri’s anthropology program also said that they often had willing girls and few inhibitions. Well, if he was going to be stuck on this weird world for a while, that’d help to pass the time). Fortunately, somebody – most likely the cosmic kid – had decided to establish a common language; The tribespeople spoke “English”.

   The appearance of two modern visitors drew quite a lot of attention. It drew the tribal chief in rather short order. It seemed that a little boy riding in a vortex had grabbed the entire village and deposited it here. They were originally from an arid area, and they found the forest a bit confusing (And damp).

   They were rather disappointed to discover that Jim and Iuri were just as lost as they were – but it wasn’t too hard to talk the chief into letting them speak to the tribal witch doctor.

   The Witch Doctor, Valandur, apparently wasn’t much for “fast” magic. His powers seemed to revolve around enhancing the natural properties of plants and animals, locating and bargaining with spirits, and geomancy. All powerful, flexible (And long-forgotten) abilities – but not fast. He had managed to construct an arcane talisman that merged the conflicting astral planes in the area around the village – but hadn’t had any luck with the dimensional transport problem so far. He had seen that the “kid” was a spirit and his “hammer” and monkeys were simply symbolic constructs.

   Iuri was most impressed with his skill.

 

   Unfortunately, he wasn’t much help when a ravening horde of orkish barbarians came out of the forest. It wasn’t a good afternoon.

 

   They all simply charged the entrance. It would’ve been lousy tactics if there’d been something to block it with other then a pile of brush. It kept out the occasional desert predator – but wasn’t good for much more.

   Bones promptly raced down to try to hold the gate, while Iuri started blasting away with stunning blasts of force. Unfortunately there were no other effective defenders; villagers in loincloths with clubs and the occasional flint spear were no match for ork warriors with metal swords and armor, however crude. Even worse, there were at least sixty of them, led by a sorcerer- adept of considerable power and fantastic durability.

   At the battles end Bones was gravely wounded – and Iuri was nearly unconscious from drain and was hovering on the verge of deep shock from firebolt burns.

   Fortunately Valandur came up with something useful at last; he didn’t have any serious combat magic, but he did have a healing spell. They managed to save a few – 6 – of the 25 village men and adolescent boys who had tried to resist. The chief was not among them. 15 of the orks survived – although most of the villagers thought they should be tortured to death. Iuri vetoed that. The villagers hadn’t invented slavery yet, but they’d need workers with most of the men gone. He had to talk fairly fast – but the survivors settled for a few mutilations that wouldn’t impede the orks ability to work. Iuri bound them that night, and presented them to the village in the morning. They salvaged quite a lot of metal armor and weapons, as well as a few coins, from the bodies.

   Iuri kept an eye on the chieftain’s young daughter. She was about his age – and was very cute. He spent a little time comforting her for her loss, and ensuring that she got a full dose of his enhanced pheromones.

 

   The five men who had been out hunting still hadn’t come back that evening. Iuri sent watchers and a forest spirit out to search for them.

   Something ate most of his spirits.

 

   This was not a good sign.

 

   Iuri had quite an argument with Bones. He felt that they should at least go and look. Bones felt that any child which HE’D been entrusted with guarding was not going NEAR anything that ate spirits – especially when they had no idea what it was!

   They eventually made a deal; They’d stay well back from whatever-it-was – binocular range would do – and use more watchers to define it’s range, and to try to locate the missing hunters. Some Ork slaves could be sent in to get them if they found them.

   They found the thing (entity? Phenomena?) that was eating spirits first. It was a cloud of darkness like a wandering black hole. It seemed to be traveling in a straight line – sucking up some things, and leaving others. It seemed to drain the essence of animals and the force of spirits, and it was traveling at a steady six miles per hour.

   They tried a few random experiments, but it didn’t look like there was much that they could do about it. It got bigger when fed – so Iuri sent a spirit out to clear things out of it’s path.

   Sending watchers out along it’s projected path – and it’s backtrail – was a little more constructive. The thing seemed to be headed for a weird castle with the same sort of aura about it a couple of thousand miles away. It’d go through a few cities along the way, but there didn’t seem to be anybody in them.

 

   The backtrail was a bit more productive. The five missing hunters were on it, shortly after it appeared from nowhere.

   Three of them were still alive – if a bit drained. They rescued those. Along the way Iuri called on one of his bound elementals briefly. It came. He was so used to that that it took him some minutes to realize why it bothered him… He’d never heard of elementals being able to travel to other dimensions – so how had it reached him? If they could go back and forth could they carry messages for him? Maybe that was what the multiple levels of astral space meant? One per world to which this place was linked? Sixteen worlds? Cool!

   Iuri spent the next couple of days sending spirits out to look into the linked worlds and tell him about them, discussing the shaman’s techniques, sending out watchers to map the place and look for other powerful (And decent) magi, sending messages home (Nariako and Ukon had a lot to say – but came down to “stay out of trouble, try to find a way home if he could, and they’d be coming to get him”), and chasing the girl he had his eye on. She was surprisingly hard to get.

    Bones noted that the shaman had inadvertently made the village a dimensional crossroads – linking the 16 astral planes made it easy for spirits to wander thru the worlds. Maybe that meant that one of them could get them home. He spent the next few days speaking to any of them who were willing to talk to him.

   Iuri’s search turned up a LOT of powerful magi. It looked like that cosmic kid had been collecting them. The nearest one who seemed decent (and was willing to talk) was on a floating city some thirty miles out to sea. He was having problems with a horde of Merfolk, but sent a boat to pick them up from the shore.

   One of the Merfolk popped up out of the water, and knocked Bones over the side, along the way – although Bones killed him while he was doing it. Iuri had been busy planning and reviewing his databases. Bringing the villager’s culture up to a reasonable level would be quite a job. Still, given the current ratio of men to women there it would have certain rewards – and he really couldn’t stomach leaving all those little kids to die. They weren’t going to make it without help.

   Now what? Bones had gone overboard? He called on a water elemental to push him back aboard and to speed up the boat a bit.

 

 

Chapter Three : In Which There Is Much Horsing About.

 

   The “floating city” resembled a floating junkyard. It’d apparently been “cobbled together” out of a mass of old boats, barrels, logs, and anything else that’d float, and then built up from there. If the owner was a powerful wizard presumably he was either terminally eccentric – or was from a planet where nothing better was available. Iuri decided to keep his flying spell ready to go.

   He would’ve anyway. While his watcher spirits had been told to look for nice mages, they weren’t really all that hard to fool; He could do it himself.

 

   “Magician Humphrey”, a dwarfish-looking man in red robes – and a puffy hat that had apparently been stolen from a museum specializing in the Italian renaissance – met them at the dock with an invitation to lunch.

   The inside was very different. It wasn’t just that it was a lot more impressive (It would’ve been pretty hard to avoid it) – it was that it seemed far larger, heavier, and much more stable then the outside was. The paintings, marble floors, courtyard gardens, statues, drapes, various (Human) servants, and gilding run amuck gave the impression of a Medici palace. It was really quite a decor to find floating about. Humphrey had to be a lot more powerful then he looked.

   His source of servants was revealed over lunch; it seemed that Humphrey normally charged a years service to answer people’s questions. Iuri and Jim felt that that was absurd. Iuri, with roughly equal measures of egotism and justice, felt that he could probably get his own answers (And certainly have more fun looking) in a year – while both He and Jim felt that Nariako and Ukon would have a fit if he committed himself to such a contract. Jim – straightforward as always – bluntly stated that he could not allow it.

   Humphrey was, however, willing to talk about other forms of payment – especially when it came to dealing with other magicians and/or children. He offered Iuri a spell of astral transformation – an effect he could use to physically travel to any of the linked worlds.

   Fortunately for him, Iuri had heard of attempts at that; it was invariably fatal.

   Humphrey looked a bit startled at that and checked more closely. It seemed that in Iuri’s universe it generally was. Unless you were dual-natured to start with, the astral form didn’t store enough information to reconstruct your physical body afterwards. As soon as the spell lapsed you rematerialized as a scrambled puddle of (Deceased) organic goo. Most universes were not as forgiving as Xanth. Magician Humphrey would’ve known that automatically – if his personal divinatory magics had been working as well as usual. Sadly, they weren’t as reliable outside of Xanth either.

   Somewhat nonplused at having just offered the boy a magical cyanide pill, Humphrey gave away a bit more then he usually would have during their negotiations. He offered Iuri free access to his occult library for as long as he needed it, in exchange for Iuri and Jim recovering a magical blade the Merfolk had swiped. He had some diving equipment, and a boat that Jim and Iuri could use for the trip. Iuri got him to throw in a few seeds as well; switching the villagers from basic hunter-gatherers to subsistence farming would require something for them to grow.

   Humphrey seemed to feel that feeding the villagers was a worthy goal, so he threw in quite an assortment of Xanthian seeds – all neatly sorted and with a book of descriptions. It was a deal.

 

   Iuri had his own ideas about how to deal with some merfolk. He took the precaution of calling up a pair of minor elementals to sustain some flight spells for a few hours – just in case they needed a quick escape route – but set out to negotiate. It was usually so much safer then fighting

   On the other hand, the merfolk lived in relatively shallow water. If they didn’t want to talk, he could simply levitate over the sea and electrify the area down to the bottom. It’d be overkill and a waste, but it’d certainly cut down on the mob factor.

   Along the way the Cosmic Kid dropped by to inflict Kell – a destructively-minded witch with a side order of self-enhancement – on them. Apparently they simply weren’t getting into enough trouble yet. Iuri tried to talk to him – but couldn’t hold his attention long enough.

   Kell, a veteran dimensional traveler, wasn’t very happy about being snatched by another miserable minor godling at play. There might not be anything that you could do about it, but he had never been much for the “If you can’t do anything about it, then try to enjoy it” school of thought. He’d stick with the kid and his bodyguard for a bit – there was no point in defying a godling without a reason – but pretending to be happy about it was simply out of the question.

 

   Iuri opened communications by sending some watcher spirits. The Merfolk responded by sending up a really STUPID – and therefore expendable – tribal warrior to start the conversation. Apparently the Merfolk were pretty cold-blooded. Of course, people who subjected their kids to a roughly 50-50 “success or death” rite of passage probably were not very nice to start with.

   They eventually got the local shaman up instead, and negotiated with him. As a “good faith offering” they gave the Merfolk a very important bit of information; they were no longer where they used to live. They had new neighbors, hazards, and terrain, to deal with.

   The shaman was pretty startled to hear it. He took a few minutes off and sent out some spirits to check, since this was seriously important news. The talks continued (On a much more friendly basis) when he got back. It seemed that he was perfectly willing to give up the sword; it was insanely dangerous to have about the place and it was too powerful to attune or control. Keeping it in it’s special case was reasonably safe – but not entirely. Still, they had stolen it fair and square – and so were entitled to something in exchange.

   They eventually settled on couple of grenades (For emergency firepower) – and a copy of “The Art Of War” by Sun Tzu. They also covered some possibilities for trade; the Merfolk could use glass, metals, and various trade goods, while the land-dwellers could always use fish and such.

   Humphrey was pleased to get the sword back. He had no real use for the thing either – but he didn’t want it on the loose.

   His library was pretty impressive. It seemed to be rated 15 in half a dozen magical skills, contained quite a few mystic secrets and spell formula, and a lot of other material. Iuri promptly set a pair of small elementals to paging through the books as fast as his pocket secretary could photograph the pages and store them to disk. Even if a good part of it wasn’t going to work on earth, there’d be no end of new stuff. It would be useful here – and when he got home again the copyrights would be worth a fortune.

 

   Kell didn’t really want so stay on this miserable, unorganized, primitive world for a minute longer then he absolutely HAD to. He wanted Iuri to get to work on researching a gateway spell while he had access to this marvelous occult library. That sort of thing was more in the realm of sorcery then witchcraft; it took far too much focused energy. Too bad that elementals couldn’t help with that – although it’d probably be a good idea to call some up anyway. You never knew when they’d come in useful when you were lost on an new, and unexplored, alien world. Maybe the kid could help him call some up. He seemed to have quite a bit of power.

   Iuri was willing to try to find such a spell. He’d been thinking about it since the cosmic kid had shown him the basic trick. With access to Humphrey’s occult library, and perhaps an elemental to help him out, it shouldn’t take very long. It didn’t – he came up with a preliminary formula in only 1.5 days – but he still wasn’t sure that side effects wouldn’t pull the world apart if he cast it… He called an elemental to take the preliminary spell formula to Ukon; he trusted his father’s physics skills a lot further then his own.

   Humphrey had an improvement to suggest as well. He had a way to make it steerable – at least within some basic limits. Iuri’s preliminary version would have been lucky to hit the right continent somewhere above the ground.

 

   Things hadn’t changed much at the “village” in the two days they’d been away. Iuri had some ideas about that; the villagers really needed some defenses – and it wasn’t too far down to the bedrock. If he expanded the area of effect of his earthshaping spell enough – he had some detailed castle plans – a few updates for convenience and sanitation – he’d always kind of wanted to be lord of the castle anyway. It might not keep out major mages and such, but monsters and barbarians would have a hard time.

   Constructing a castle, fortified fields, a moat, and a channel to the river to bring in water took most of the afternoon (Impressive even with magic). A sizable chunk of the evening went to fabricating and crafting some basic furnishings. Showing the villagers around their new home finished off the day. Along the way, Iuri was pretty much conceded the position of “Chief” – and found that a new chieftain was expected to claim any eligible daughter(s) of the former chieftain along with the position. Evidently a harem was expected. Mirrel was more then ready to give in anyway, so Iuri spent the rest of that evening with his new concubine – despite Kell’s minor magical pranks.

   The next day he had the minotaurs start hauling in lumber to build gates and a drawbridge, while he used his telescopic vision and telekinesis to collect some rabbits. A pair of quickened area-effect transform spells – plus a little neural programming – got him a couple of nicely-domesticated herds – cows and sheep. The village shaman located the necessary bit of karma since he could see how big a benefit this would be.

 

   His “EMail” system brought Ukon’s opinion the next day; it ought to work – but there would be some minor complications. It’d generate quite a background count where it came out – and it’d be a lot easier to steer with a beacon to head for. Yasoda would be building a special facility; it would take about thirty days.

   Iuri could see where that was going. He couldn’t blame anyone. A bit of quarantine and a debriefing was probably in order. Still, he could have a lot of fun – and get a good start on the exploration – with thirty days to work with.

   Kell was wildly impatient again. He didn’t want to wait a month, or go exploring, or ANYTHING like that. He wanted a fully-populated – high-technology – world to play with. With Iuri waiting a month to open any gates, he was about to tear his hair out. He opted to try to use his clairvoyant talents to try to speed up the child’s exploration a bit.

   Iuri had him look for Centaurs. He’d always liked mythology – and Humphrey had mentioned them over lunch, so evidently they really did exist. Kell found some goat-like ones in the mountians – and a thriving bunch of “classical” centaurs on some rolling plains to the NE. Iuri wanted to head out that way IMMEDIATELY, so Kell sighed and borrowed a flying carpet from Humphrey.

   Along the way they pulled a meditative mage out of the center of a giant whirlpool (Apparently he’d been holding it open with his mind) and dropped him off in the mountains (The desert full of bones seemed just a bit too unpleasant), simply because the man seemed to be incapable of making a decision, or even a comment, without an hour’s meditation. Kell wanted to simply toss him into a volcano or something – presumably out of frustration – but Iuri vetoed the idea. There was no reason to upset powerful magi without a far better reason then THAT.

   They bypassed an immense horde – perhaps a million or more – of 7′ fly-like insectile creatures, who were gathered around a great tower. They were all thinking “Ka-Anor” (Some sort of name – apparently their god), – and staring at the tower. It looked like that big cloud of darkness would be arriving at the tower in a few days or weeks.

 

   The centaurs were sort of weird. Their technology was just barely pre-firearms, but they rarely used it much – and their social organization was sort of like a bureaucratic roman empire built on small tribes rather then legions. They had an emperor, a high council of advisors, the elite (Including their “mages” – all of whom seemed to be enhancement adepts), the subjects – and the slaves (It was easy to become a slave; if you got into debt, legal trouble, or slipped below middle class, you and your family promptly went on the block). They’d “adjusted” to the transfer pretty quickly, but were out the few permanent buildings (Storehouses for records, stockpiled goods, weapons, bar stock and other items that were too heavy to carry) that they used.

   Iuri promptly offered to erect a few. They only wanted five for records right now (There was no point in extra warehouses until they had surpluses to store again) – but they were willing to pay (Imperial Scrip naturally (Sigh…)) to get them. Actually of course they cheated Iuri outrageously; the “going price” for erecting five massive stone warehouse/vaults would’ve been many times the roughly 500,000 NY that they paid him – but Iuri thought it was good pay for the day it cost him (And a good “in” with the “neighbors”).

   Kell did some fine work on the interiors, and made about 100,000 for himself. He spent it on one of the few really unique items the centaur’s had; a whiplike weapon made of some strange, light, incredibly tough, alien metal (One of a selection of such weapons which they had apparently captured somewhere).

 

   Iuri bought a large number of slaves (30 laborers at 5000 each and 30 servants at 10,000 each), as well as enough minor supplies (Food, bows, iron bar stock, cloth, tools, etc totaling 50,000 worth) to equip his castle pretty throughly. Besides, if he couldn’t find any horses, centaurs could serve the same purposes, and they’d be way more valuable later on. Centaurs were decorative, useful, and legendary. Any horse lover would want a few and the sale price would be fantastic.

   His little brother would love some too.

 

   The centaur slaves were well trained already – the imperium was apparently well practiced at it – but he threw in his own conditioning spell and Kell used his own talents, to make sure. As for all the rest of the stuff, they simply loaded it onto the centaurs.

   They lost one on the way back. Even flying “cover” from a magic carpet didn’t let them see the giant carnivorous wormlike things hiding under the ground.

   It did make a great platform to guide the centaurs and throw lightning bolts at the worm-creatures from. Kell proved very good at steering the centaurs around worm-things after he knew what to probe for as well – but the trip back still required several days.

 

 

Chapter Four: Into The Womb

 

   Back at the castle Iuri set up the basic framework for some centaur housing/stabling and set them to work on that. He organized the fields, got everyone settled in, got the care of the herds organized, and picked out another dozen or so of the cutest girls for his Harem. After all, Mirrel was busy with something female, there were hardly any males left in the tribe to take care of them – and he’d been away for days.

   Introducing metals would be next. The Minotaur mine provided plenty of silver, and they’d had a fair amount of gold, but it was a good thing he’d bought some metal bar stock from the centaurs. At least the power plant was grown enough to tap into; that let him save the waterpower for mechanics.

   Then Mirrel proudly presented him with a son.

   Iuri promptly panicked a bit. Mother was going to KILL him. FOUR DAYS!?! They couldn’t really be THAT different from baseline humans could they? Surely he would’ve noticed if she’d been nearly nine months along when he claimed her? She’d certainly felt like a virgin. The kid looked to be several months old – and it sure looked like his.

   Mirrel seemed kind of dazed and pleased and proud. The rest of them seemed a bit spooked.

   OK, so this wasn’t normal. Yes, it – the boy – was cute and appealing and adhesive, but how… The boy was magically active already. Monkeying with space and time, vast magical powers, interfering with his life… Bloody Monkeyboy again.

   He really needed to do something about Monkeyboy. On the other hand, he doubted that there was enough power on this planet to do anything to him directly.

   He came up with an idea eventually; He tricked the kid into getting fascinated with a mathematical puzzle that would take trillions of years to solve. It should be a month or so before he either cheated his way through or got too bored.

 

   Actually this almost certainly didn’t work – but the Kid probably provided a very good illusion to try and reassure him.

 

   First things first. A magically warded nursery suitable for a six-month old with active reflexive class-a magical powers who was ALREADY a L1-2 initiate. Better add some elemental watchers too. He already had a few on permanent security duty around the castle. After that, he made some vaccination/checkup/childcare spells. At least the Mirrel and the boy seemed to be incredibly healthy.

   Hmm. Also a Detect Disease and Genetic Analysis spell. If he was thinking about going home, he’d better check. Also assign a few servants especially to her and the kid. A couple of the Minotaur steers should do nicely.

   Wait-a-minute… Mirrel seemed to have the ability to suppress the boys powers? How could… Monkeyboy. Still, it was useful. She’d have to spend a lot of time with the boy though. Good thing he had plenty of servants.

   Err… He was going to need a name for the kid. He had a son. Was he ready for a son? He’d have to be. It was a bit late to be asking.

   He sent home some Email. No point in putting it off, and the earlier the notice came through the more time Mother would have to cool off. Besides, the centaurs were really neat and his little brother would love to hear about them.

 

   Wait-a-minute… He’d used a contraceptive tab! Oh by the Kami. Were the rest of the concubines pregnant? (CHECK!) “Only” six of them… showing anyway… and all the kids with elevated magical potentials.

 

   At least Six. More. Kids. Mother. Father. Relatives. Only three more weeks before the gate would be open.

 

   He was DOOMED.

 

   Oh well, might as well relax and enjoy it. The girls were a lot of fun.

 

   About that time a really massive magical link opened up nearby. Some sort of an attack on Monkeyboy? It was never going to work, as powerful as it looked like it was going to be. Iuri’d had a pretty good look at the kid. All this blast would do (when it got here) was annoy him a bit. Better go and warn whoever-it-was about that.

   Who could be doing it though?

 

   A while valley full of dragons. COOL! But why hadn’t they shown up while he was looking for dragons a few days back?

   They hadn’t been here yet. Evidently the kid only got around to stocking the place with dragons recently. Dragons knew all kinds of neat magic though. And they might be grateful if he shared his observations on the kid.

   They were. They even let him look at something called the “Clair Bible”. It answered three questions… It showed him how to do “Shielding” at +8 effective levels of initiation. It granted him a skill in Dimensional Travel equal to his current intelligence – and it implanted the information that it felt he ought to have in his mind to come out later. Huh. Looked like his original idea for targeting the gate would have been pretty hit-or-miss. It should be easy enough now though.

 

   Luckily the Email said that Mother had recovered a bit. The castle was running well, he’d experimented with the centaur-form, and – unfortunately – Monkeyboy had started cheating with time magic. Well, even at his power level that would only help so much.

 

   Time to start looking around again. New races and places were arriving every day, and there might be more stuff he could use.

 

 

Chapter Five: In The Meantime

 

   Off across the continent, Captain Death and her kid sister were blowing their way through a variety of foes. It seemed that the Magical Wild West was on the loose, and there were many screams of agony and much gunfire.

   Unfortunately for Mrs Death, she wound up fairly seriously wounded. Everyone else just wound up dead – and she couldn’t find many more of those special magical bullets. Oh well. They took days each to make, but she’d have to wait weeks to heal anyway.

   Iuri sensed her power-aura from half a world away. More potent than an elder dragon. Nothing like Monkeyboy of course, but still.

   Oh well, he hadn’t been out that way – he still had the flying carpet – and he was looking for other powerful mages.

   If it was time to go and hide it would be nice to know that too. It wouldn’t be easy to hide the castle.

 

   The town with the power-aura seemed to a wild-west stereotype. Cowboys, Indians, Rustlers, Outlaws, the Sheriff with a tin star. Had Monkeyboy gotten tired of reality and raided a box of old movies?

   No, wait, there were a lot of weird magical weapons and… steam-powered cyberware? No way. It had to be magic (it was). Nothing out of place except a few other orientals and some medieval types who were evidently visiting.

   Well, he should be all right, He wasn’t carrying an obvious gun, he wasn’t going to play cards, he was a kid, and it wasn’t high noon OR sunset.

 

   The magic stuff was on sale fairly cheap and they took gold, so Iuri bought up a lot of it.

   He eventually ran across Captain Death and found that she was a pretty Ace death machine from home, was badly wounded, and was looking for her tank.

   She’d already tried magical healing with no luck, so he threw the regeneration spell for her. It was always worth getting in on the good side of someone that powerful. The place was so silly that he suggested just whistling for the tank. This actually worked, courtesy of Monkeyboy. Iuri decided that he’d have to think about that.

   He decided that it was time to get out of there, and the medieval guys were looking for a mage with a lot of information – so they dropped them off at Humphrey’s place and went home. Surely nothing much would have gone wrong in a few hours. The Captain’s sister was flirting with him anyway. They were both obviously pretty dangerous, but if she wanted to make the approach she was pretty cute.

   Nothing had gone wrong – but Mrs Death’s power-aura quickly drew a Dracolich for a big battle. This got messy – but luckily it focused on the Tank and Mrs Death and his shielding ability worked against its draining powers and he’d sent everyone else to hide in the basements.

 

Chapter Six: I.T. Phone Home!

 

   <<It finally occurred to Iuri to use an elemental spotter and a ritual casting of a Datalink spell to set up a semi-permanent link back home… He set it up to Ukon’s office first.>>

 

   “Hi Dad! I got a datalink set up!”

 

   “Ah, hello Iuri!”

   >>I was wondering when he’d come up with a way to set up a link. If he hadn’t been enjoying being unmonitored, he’d have thought of it right off I think – but I can’t blame his subconscious for grabbing the chance to run wild for a bit, especially when there were so many opportunities to get ahead and to try to impress us. He did tell us not to worry pretty promptly – and by now he’ll have a list of problems. He’s been used to getting advice from me since he learned to talk.<<

   “I take it you could use some advice? What’s the first thing on your mind?”

   “Er… Well… There’s actually a list.” (How does he always know?)

   “First off – before I open a gateway and let security get to me – what’s my legal position here? I mean… the place obviously really belongs to the Cosmic Kid – but he, she, or it seems to be intent on letting everyone he dragged here do whatever they please. I’ve become the local ruler on a small scale, but there are lots of other little enclaves scattered about and these people are no more native than I am. It’s a brand new planet. I’ve got UCAS and Yasoda citizenship, but I’m not an employee and I’m underage. Can I claim a domain in my own right, by conquest, or by local acclaim? Am I under my own law, or UCAS law, or Corporate law? What can I expect here, and – well – what can we get out of it?”

   “That’s not an easy one Iuri. You must be growing up… Anyway, the UCAS doesn’t know anything, and is going to be presented with a Fait Accompli if they ever find out – so their position is more or less irrelevant. The board of directors wants to say that – since you’re the underage child of corporate employees – they can claim the place through you. Of course, even under corporate law that’s pretty thin: they don’t take responsibility for much of anything else corporate kids do except the odd bit of programming – and the corporate court would take any excuse to shoot it down if the case ever came up. They’d never let one corporation claim an entire world and cut out the rest. You can probably get away with claiming the chunk of territory you actually control and anything you can personally grab – and the castle is certainly yours. You’ll probably want to be pretty accommodating though: the security department isn’t too happy about your going through us instead of them – I know, I know. You had to send the spirits to someone you knew and they couldn’t get into the top security areas to report there anyway. It’s not rational, but they’re still annoyed. The board of directors just sees the chance to grab a whole world, and wouldn’t think twice about having you put in a lab for vivisection if you try to grab too big a chunk of the action. On the other hand you do have some leverage: you’re there, you’ve made some local connections – and if you can actually target that gateway spell you came up with, you’re the only one who knows how. Even I don’t see how you can do it, but I think it has something to do with your natural sensitivity to the metaplanes. I’ve been promoting that idea – and the idea that it probably can’t be readily ripped out of your head – pretty heavily for you.

   Of course, if you’re wrong about being able to steer it, the point is moot – but at least it looks like you’ll probably be all right, in touch, happy – and able to try again later – if that happens.”

 

   >>In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him quite so fundamentally happy under the superficial worries. He’s always tended to take responsibility for things – and wanting to take responsibility for building a civilization and taming a world should absorb every bit of energy he’s got and then some. It’s one hell of a purpose and should be pretty rewarding. I just hope it’s not becoming a vocation. I’d like there to be some family time in the years to come.

   I suppose the harem helps. It’s not like he hasn’t been maintaining a small one here – but being the local overlord will certainly satisfy every teenage fantasy and dominant-male instinct he’s got. It may be hard on anything else male in the vicinity for a while though.<<

 

   “Your Mother may not like it – but you’ll probably want to work from that side for at least the first few months. It will minimize Management’s ability to pressure you. Besides: you’ve got responsibilities there. You’ve got how many children on the way?”

 

   “Er… Like17HowAboutTheNextQuestionOK? It’s pretty obvious that the first trips thru the portal are going to be one way: Earth to Here – ah, call it Atheria for the moment. After all, they won’t risk bringing back some horrible contagion or menace: so they’ll have to send through a team with some gear and investigate the place first. Even after that, anything coming back is going to spend a month or more in quarantine, right? After all, they’re building a special facility for it.

   So what kind of team will be coming through first, what kind of facilities will they need, would some local servants/investigative subjects be useful – and are they likely to start trying to give me orders? I’ve been doing pretty well so far!”

 

   “Well, it looks like the first team is going to consist of robots and remote instruments – although they may send over a few cages with monitored observation subjects in them. They’re being a bit paranoid I think – but it is the security department, as well as the first recorded dimensional expedition, and they feel better safe than sorry.

   As far as giving you orders goes – they’re certainly going to try, and will probably regard it as a discipline problem if you don’t obey them and act like a good kid. They may try to take you into custody, either because they think you’re out of control, because they may not understand that you created the castle instead of simply finding it, because they see you as a kidnap victim to be rescued – or just because you’ll be their only way back, and they won’t be happy unless you’re available, in a secure location, and firmly under control.

   I really don’t see any clear strategy for a clean win in that situation. With any luck they may accept the idea that putting your uncle in charge, or at least high up on the local chain, will be useful as a liaison. They do recognize that you’re a kid. We could try to get you a job – but you’d still be awfully junior. Maybe you could get them to treat you as a first-in scout or simply impress them with your power? A lot depends on who they put in charge and how much I can impress them with what you’ve gotten done and what you do in the next three weeks. Results are always hard to argue with. Part of it may rely on the reactions of whatever security mages they bring along. Of course, they may be in that Initiatory group of yours – and I don’t know what kind of strictures you have. I hope you’ve got one obliging them to be helpful.

   You’ll probably just have to play it by ear. We’ll try to exert some influence for you from over here. Sadly they’re all going to be using air-filtration gear, so your pheromonal enhancements won’t help.

   What, you didn’t think I knew about those? Come on now, of all the enhancements you use, that’s one of the hardest to miss.

   “Well… Damn. Thanks for the heads-up though.”

 

   “How tight is the security on all this? Does Colleen know that I’m all right?”

   “How tight is the security on all this? They’re not even admitting that the subject exists outside of the top-security areas and the boardroom. Security’s unhappy that I know, and I’m doing most of the research on it. They wouldn’t have told your Mother, except that she already knows anyway. We have told your concubines and siblings that you’re all right of course, but they’re only getting a cover story. Security keeps wishing that you’d feed everything through top secret channels. The fact that you don’t know of any, and aren’t an employee, and have no obligation to keep everything secret, is giving them fits. I’d try not to irritate them – but if you want to put in a call to your friends or something, that’s fine. Just don’t tell them anything unless you want them taken in for a little brain-scrubbing. They won’t be able to keep a lid on it forever of course – but even if they can’t learn how to jump dimensions without you, the potential profits are in the trillions. Be careful Iuri. You don’t want to be classified as a security risk when that much money and power is at stake. I doubt that they’d try to use us against you – you’d probably go vengeful, we’ve got our own connections, and it probably wouldn’t work at all, much less work better than asking us to influence you – but they really do mean business. This could make Yasoda one of the biggest corps on Earth.”

 

   “Oh GREAT. Well – can I have a loan? I’d like to get some supplies sent over and I don’t think I have enough in my account.”

   “Well we can afford to send some stuff within reason – I trust you don’t need more than a half a million or so worth of stuff on short notice – but the security department is going to object to shipping over anything except their official stuff, at least to start with.”

 

   “Tell them I’m NOT going for that one. I need some stuff – and they may have built the quarantine facility, but I’m the one providing the gateway! Besides, I only need a few crates and it’s not like it’ll cost THEM anything to chuck them through. They’re just trying to grab an early control edge. Better yet, maybe just tell them that the gate spell is a really big strain, and I’m not going to try it until both my supplies and the expedition are ready.”

 

   “I’m glad you recognize it, but remember not to push things too far. They’ll probably agree to a reasonable quantity of stuff. What do you need?”

 

   “Well, I’d like a few medkits and some vaccines. The basic tools for a shop, a good desktop computer, and a heavy-duty power regulator: I’ve got power, but the voltage is none too steady. A box of “trade goods” for the locals would be nice, but it’s really hard to guess what anyone around here might actually want. Finally a few heavy weapons – assault cannons or missile launchers – would be useful if that Dracolich comes back. It would let everyone else here fight it a bit. Overall it shouldn’t be more than 20 to 30 thousand for the stuff plus whatever the weapons cost – and it should probably all fit in four or five crates. What Dracolich? I’ll send you a video.”

 

   “Hmm. Maybe I should tell security to drag you back home. Of course they’d want to quarantine my grandchildren for a decade… At least it apparently wasn’t after YOU. Who was it in the Tank?”

 

   “Hey, it went all right. Less trouble than the horde or orcs was. Anyway, the people in the Tank were from Earth – I found them up in a weird-wild-west zone – and one – this lady (upload) – is a REALLY powerful Ace.”

 

   “Stay well away from HER Iuri! She’s got one hell of a record and is both insane and insanely dangerous!”

 

   “Err… Sorry. I didn’t want to upset her, and she’s got her Tank parked out by the main gate. I KNOW she’s incredibly dangerous, that’s why I didn’t want to piss her off! Hopefully she’ll remain calm or wander off if I can’t recruit her. It would be more leverage with the security team though. I know that look Dad. I’ll be really careful around her.”

 

   “Could I hire some assistants or something? I’m going to HAVE to have some aides and attendants; it just isn’t going to be POSSIBLE for me to take care of 18 or more children – especially active magical children – without some!”

 

   “It’s really not possible to hire people at the moment due to security restrictions. Would you like to just buy some more slaves instead? There are probably a few incorrigible delinquents available, and we could always go outside the company.”

 

   “Well, that’ll work. I’ll need to get at least a dozen or so pretty quickly though. Lets see…I don’t want them under 12 or so: they wouldn’t be very useful (and I’d start feeling overly guilty) and I don’t really want them older than I am either, at least at first: it’d feel odd.”

 

   “About 12 to 13 years old then?”

 

   “Yes… Looks like we’re talking Human, 12-13 years old, reasonably healthy, nobody really subnormal in anything, in decent physical shape, and technologically (and preferably magically, but I’ll do that myself if it’s too expensive) conditioned. They should have a reasonable education for their age and be familiar with housework and simple child care. Er – surgically neutered -“

 

   “All males then?”

 

   “Yes. I need child care help, not more kids, they’re cheaper, and they’re going to be working in the harem. Besides, I like the sex ratio the way it is. Anyway, they should have their basic dental and medical work done. ID/Record and Tracer/Ownership chip implants and tags. I’d really kind of prefer kids that either signed up voluntarily or who are up for sale due to serious delinquency or something, rather than ones who were snatched or sold by their guardians (that stinks). They don’t need to have any special talents or abilities though. I think that’s all the first batch will really need.”

 

   “That looks like about 1500 each for the medical work and neutering – that’s a really common mod and male delinquents will probably be chemically castrated already anyway – another 1000 on conditioning, and a base price – for an ordinary, basically unskilled boy with ownership chips and tags – of about 1000 (girls are about 12,000). Cause of sale really doesn’t make much difference on pricing of course. Delivery fee will be about 500 each. That should be cheap enough and pretty fast – but we may have to board them for a few weeks if this spirit of yours doesn’t transport them to you – unless we just put in an advance order.”

 

   >>Ah good. That should be easily manageable. <<

 

   “Are you going to want anything in the way of a uniform, equipment, or other body mods?”

 

   “Er… Well, it is pretty warm in the castle and they are going to be house servants. It might get cold later though: give them crewcuts, collars, and shoulder bags with a shirt, pair of pants, sneakers, and a hygiene kit each. Shouldn’t be more than 100 NY or so apiece.”

 

   “All right, let’s see what’s available in-company. That’ll have a 1500 NY base cost, but the basic medical and neutering will be free since it’s mostly already done… about 21,000 dependents under 16 in North America. 2.2% are ruled incorrigible or act seriously against the company before adulthood – a good ratio these days – and 75% of those are males 10-16. 30%, (about 70 a year), are males from 11.5-13.5. Keep that in mind Iuri: we’d always save you if we could – but you are in the middle of the most vulnerable age group and you’ve come to the attention of very powerful people.

   Of the 141 from this year and last the parents paid the fines and shipped out 42 (about 30%) and 82 (about 58%) have already been sold or sent to the labs. That leaves 17 available. Hmm… by the way, the security department just took a dozen of the 15-16-year-olds to send through to your side as test subjects later. None of their records show anything much below normal except obedience and company loyalty – the genetic and prenatal screening and infant medical treatment pretty much ensure a normal baseline anyway – and the conditioning will take care of those issues. I’ll put in the order for them and fill it out to 20 with the three voluntaries who fit your profile. You can check them over in detail after they get there. How many more will you eventually want? This batch will only be about 65,000 NY – but remember, you’ve got to feed them.”

 

   “I’ll need at least four per child eventually, probably with some better skills and a slightly wider age range – 10-15 at a maximum – but that’s not quite so urgent. Hopefully the Cosmic Kid will bring them over for me. There should be plenty of money for slaves as soon as the spell formulas I copyrighted get on the market.”

 

   “So how many children is that likely to be? You’re already headed for 20 or so since a few sets of twins seem pretty likely – and your concubines aren’t likely to stop at one pregnancy each you know.”

 

   >>Iuri went rather blank for a few moments.<<

 

   >>Well – He’s being more responsible and he looks a lot better exercised. He’s still oversexed, jealous and possessive – but it seems like being able to run around unsupervised for a bit and having a full-scale harem is letting him calm down though. Good. I really didn’t want to have to resort to having some of his enhancements dispelled. That would have been pretty psychologically scarring at this point. I’ll just check:<<

 

   “Are you going to personally infibulate them as well? It’s really sort of pointless after they’ve been neutered: even the ones who can still achieve an erection and have a bit of pleasure can’t really accomplish anything.”

 

   “DAD! Er… well… probably. Throw in a case or two of rings would you? It’s the principle of the thing.”

 

   >>Good. He hadn’t really thought about it. He was calming down.<<

 

   “All right. There’s an endless supply of slaves on the outside market, so we can up the number at any time. I’ll put in a standing order for new Yasoda delinquents who fit the profile too. Better over there than the labs.”

 

   “Well that’s the last of the list really. I was kind of hoping that I could get a non-Yasoda security rigger in to help protect the castle, but that’s impractical until the security lid comes off a bit. Say… I hadn’t really thought about it the past few days, but that Ork Bodyguard you and Mother hired – he had orders to nursemaid me and track me didn’t he?

 

   “Yes, Your mother had noticed that you were sneaking out.”

 

   “You know… He spent the first week objecting to all kinds of things – especially to sex, he seemed to be awfully prudish – but then he got very quiet and I haven’t heard a thing out of him for the last week. I’d better check on him later.

   Anyway, before we get Mother on the line, do you have any suggestions for diverting her a bit? How’s she going to react to the concubines?”

 

   “Well, some shots of her new grandson should divert her for a few minutes. As for the concubines… Iuri, be honest. I’m sure they’re cute, and that you’re protective, kind, reasonably affectionate, and are taking care of them – but I doubt that you really love any of them. Do you get their input into your plans? Do their opinions really matter to you? Or are they simply your prizes, sex-toys, and brood mares? Do you even have them wearing anything? You’re keeping them in a harem Iuri. They’re almost certainly very happy there – I’ve seen the effect you have on other boys, much less on girls – but they’re just property aren’t they?

   The look on your face is confirmation enough Iuri. That’s one reason why I was encouraging your liaisons with Colleen: you’ve actually been taking an interest in her personality and opinions, as well as in bedding her.

   Regardless, your mother knows it as well. She’s taken an interest in Colleen – but all she’s ever done with any of the others is check their records and make sure that they’re suitable playthings for you. If they’re going to bear your children she’ll want to ensure that they’re young, healthy and free of serious genetic flaws, that they don’t come with difficult entanglements, and that they’re exclusively yours and satisfactorily docile.

   Even before looking at pictures, I’m pretty sure that you took healthy, cute, young girls, probably mostly or all virgins in a primitive culture, and that no other intact male has been, or will be, allowed to get near them since you took them. After all, you just ordered twenty eunuchs Iuri. They’re from a primitive tribe, and so they’re unlikely to have any serious defects or they’d be dead. You’re the ruler, so there are no entanglements.

   That leaves minor genetic flaws and “satisfactorily” docile. Since she probably can’t have a genetic assay until she sends over an analyzer – expect one with your supplies by the way – all she’ll really be interested in is a list and a set of pictures showing their docility, willingness, and physical features. I’m sure you’ve got some shots like that just to brag to your friends with.

   If you can give her some more bargaining points here – or a way to try and exploit the place for her own business purposes before anyone else can – or even just some advance information – that will probably help distract her. Letting her handle your spell formula merchandising, copyrights, and any magical secrets you find will give her something helpful to you to do so she can feel like she’s doing something beyond just supporting your rights.

   Regardless, no matter how irrational it is, she’s going to be annoyed at the entity that grabbed you and frightened for you – and in lieu of being able to get at the “Cosmic Kid”, or of being able to get you back to safety, she’s going to take it out on you. You haven’t been the most cautious or well-behaved of kids while you’ve been over there, so you can expect a critical review of every dangerous or irresponsible thing you’ve done.

   Especially all those grandchildren.

   She wasn’t really ready for grandchildren yet either, much less a swarm of them, so you’re going to catch it for that – AND for her not being able to see them in person – AND for them being out in a dangerous wilderness where she can’t send a security detachment.

   She’s your Mother, and she wants to protect you, and – at the moment – she can’t. She hates to know you’re at risk. She hates it more when there’s nothing she can do about it. She’s worried and she wants you home.

   If it’s any comfort at the moment, the more she rants at you, the more you’ll know she cares.

 

   For that matter I’m worried too. Please take care Iuri. Don’t get reckless, no matter how tempting a prize you may find. Think about what will happen to your children if you’re not there to care for them. It’s not like we could reach them to help them. I’m not going to try to drag you home: I can see how much you’re enjoying this adventure – and how large an opportunity it is for you – and I’m pretty sure you can handle it – but your mother may not be so sanguine. I’m going to put her on now.”

 

 

Talking Points with Mother:

 

   – Try to assure her that he’s not taking any serious risks that he can possibly avoid.

   – Entrust the copyright for any spell, occult theorem, alien occult art or technique, or scan from Humphrey’s library that he feels is safe to release, doesn’t give away anything about other dimensions, and isn’t a really great secret advantage for him to her management.

   – Upload the data from a Genescan spell on the concubines to her and satisfy her as to their genetics.. Apparently being his concubine or offspring guarantees remarkably good health anyway, at lest on Aeither.

   – Ask her to patent the Centaur and Minotaur genetic codes for him. That way they’ll be bioproducts – and she can start setting up for introducing the Centaurs.

   – Ask for her advice on managing the security guys. Management is her field after all, and it seems like they’re going to be a problem.

   – If she wants to we can try the “sign-up-as-game-testers-for-a-free-copy-and-reward” trick on any kids (preferably age 10-16 but it’s up to her, male or female, no vastly powerful mages please, minor ones OK if he’s warned) who’s disappearance would most seriously (and profitably) distract higher-ups and decision makers in rival families and corporations – or whom she’d simply like to see belonging to Iuri (she may have her own ideas about suitable mothers for some grandchildren).

   This will require 1) a cover address registered to a start-up game company front, 2) a letter accurately – and hence totally unbelievably except as a computer RPG – inviting the kids to take up service with “Lord Iuri” – and 3) being able to cover the true origins of the Email and get it past the spam filters (this shouldn’t be too hard – and you can just keep trying against the filters).

   – Ask her to handle the supply list with Dad, and to make any modifications they feel are important. (She’ll probably want to add a decent medic, whether one with real skills or wires, and some obstetrical gear).

   – If the Cosmic Kid doesn’t transport the slaves, they’ll have to come through the portal, and this will need to be arranged with security. She should also be in charge of getting them a quick course in basic babysitting.

   – Information that she might be able to use includes the increasing number of worlds hooked to this one (and a brief description of them from his spirits), the Xanth plant catalog as a starting point for what research projects might be good – or pre-empted – shortly, and the data on the exotic metals and magical weapons he’s been able to buy.

   – If there are any special things she wants to send, or slaves with special skills, please let him know. He’d like to get them all signed up before he calls for them: the Cosmic Kid might not listen to this sort of thing more than once per person – if he does it at all.

   – Is there anything else he can do or find out which might be useful to her?

 

 

   >>Most of the conversation with his mother was not played out: She apparently was only mildly interested in the concubines, and did accept all the uploads, but she spent most of the call ranting at him. She also found the suggestion about the sign-up trick absolutely appalling – as well as feeling that it indicated impossible arrogance. Fortunately, Iuri had never really meant that one…<<

 

 

Chapter Seven: A Parental Interlude

 

>>Nariako and Ukon, after Iuri’s call home.<<

 

   Well dear? What do you think?

 

   Overall? Not too bad.

 

   Not too bad?! He just asked us to castrate and slave-condition 20 children, to put our grandchildren in the care of delinquent 12-year-olds, asked for advice on how best to defy security, and refused to stay inside and stop risking his life!

 

   Yes he did. It’s partly my own fault too. I gambled on getting through to him with that bit of shock-sarcasm about buying more slaves – you know how ambivalent he’s been about Jason, and he’s voluntary and was a submissive to start with – but he jumped irrationally at the opportunity to try and hang onto the elder-authority and dominant-male roles. In a way I can’t blame him: you know how much he has his Charisma pumped up. Have you really thought about the fact that he has every attribute he’s got pumped up at least that much? For the last two years he’s been living in a world full of people who are slow, stupid, clumsy, boring, weak, and easily manipulated and led compared to him – and many of them are entitled to give him orders, supervise him, and judge his activities. Yes, he’s a bit impulsive and still has things to learn – but it’s bad enough with just my intellect enhanced. It’s got to be miserable for him. Look at what he’s managed to accomplish in two weeks on his own. Are you really surprised that he reacted badly to the prospect of having it all taken away and being put back in what he’s bound to see as a cage? The “younger than he is” limit is a dead giveaway all by itself: he doesn’t want any challenge to his authority over there.

 

   We should have gotten someone in and gotten rid of some of those enhancements years ago! Especially the sexual one!

 

   Maybe – but he’s so adjusted to it that you might as well just castrate him and have done. The psychological effects wouldn’t be much different. Do you really think it’s come to that yet?

 

   No, I suppose not – but using conditioned 12-year-old slaves to watch our grandchildren!?

 

   Well, I had to admit that there was no way he was going to be able to hire outsiders at the moment, the nonhumans probably won’t do, the local tribals have no idea of how to keep most of their own children alive, and we CAN load the slaves up with some appropriate skills before they go over. I was going to suggest trying to get that “Cosmic Kid” of his to take some people over, but Iuri seems to have the idea that it will only transport things that actually belong to him – if that. It seems unlikely, but I don’t have any real data to work with on it. You’re right though: even if it HAS to be “slaves”, they could at least be skilled adults on limited contracts. It’s that “doesn’t want any adults around” bit again – plus he doesn’t want any Yasoda employees. He wants to establish his domain as an independent operation to get a negotiating edge.

 

   I downloaded and reviewed the medical monitor records while he was sending over his video shots by the way. They’re good and bad. On the good side, he hasn’t been this healthy and happy in years, his stress levels are actually way down, his muscle tone is much better, his brain chemistry seems to be close to being in balance for the first time since he started enhancing himself – and, according to these readings, something went into effect about five days ago that’s vastly accelerated his body’s healing functions, has drastically reduced his aging rate, and is protecting him from poisons and diseases. It may well be something he did: he’s shown flashes of it before – but now it seems to be a permanent enhancement. It’s a pretty impressive trick anyway. He’s still only sleeping about two hours a night thanks to that biocontrol program – but he’s still handling it well. He is spending at least eight hours a night on sex. That’s fairly impressive, and may help explain the reduced stress levels. With drives that powerful he must have been seriously frustrated the last few years. His blood chemistry shows that he took a standard contraceptive tab most of a day before the first time: that should have been good for at least 20 days and iffy for another 10 – but something cancelled it out within hours. Most likely this “Cosmic Kid” of his. It looks like that bit about a “magical breeding program” is accurate, no matter how convenient for him and unlikely it sounded. I suppose we couldn’t really expect him to put up much resistance to a program like that at 14. It also confirms that the timerates match and the four-day gestation. If we really needed any additional proof of major outside magical tampering that would suffice: doing that without aging the mother is almost unimaginable.

   On the downside – he’s been evasive about whether or not he was hurt over there, and I can see why. It looks like he took some serious hits on the second day. That would correspond to his fight with the Minotaurs. He healed that up quickly, but two days later – probably while defending that village he adopted from the orcs – we’ve got massive shock, what looks like severe burn-trauma, and one hell of a stress peak. The recovery took a good deal longer too: he was probably too hurt to use much healing magic at first.

   Immediately after that he built a massive fortification to stay in, surrounded himself with minions, and started to rely on negotiations as much as possible. It must have been one hell of a shock treatment. He actually seems to be being sensibly cautious.

 

   HOW badly hurt!?

 

   He wasn’t critical – but obviously the fight could very easily have gone the other way. I think he realizes that: it’s why he’s been careful since. I’d really like to get a personal security team over there – but at the moment he’s not going to accept anyone that’s older than he is, is an intact male, or will infringe on his chance to prove himself and give the orders. We’re not going to have much luck finding a security team for him that can fill those conditions unless there’s some truth to those rumors about Ares developing teams of slave-children imbued with animal spirits.

 

   All right. I’ll look into Ares. Also some better armor for him: the jumpsuits aren’t bad, but they really aren’t designed for anything more than sportswear. As for a security team – well, if he’s right about this “Cosmic Jackass” bringing over anything that belongs to him, we may be able to do something about that. You tend to be a bit ivory tower dear: there aren’t many young punks with the necessary skills and enhancements or magic out there – but there are a few, and when they get caught on the streets the future they’re looking at is bad enough to make being a conditioned guard-slave look pretty good, even if it’s just by having an individual owner you can relate to and try to finagle concessions out of.

   I’ll just make the offer through some legal reps, conditional on Iuri actually being able to obtain physical possession of them. He shouldn’t have any trouble with the ones in custody: they’re heavily restrained – and if he needs to condition them it will keep him out of trouble for a bit.

   Now, do you really think that he’s in that much danger from our own corporation? You mentioned it several times. After all, he is a kid, he’s never been particularly disloyal, he’s a valuable asset, and any sane businessman would be willing to share enough profits and rights to keep him happy rather than risk losing out on trillions…

   Ah. You’re just out to scare hell out of him so that he won’t irritate the security guys too much, will let them give him some protection, and won’t overreach himself trying to grab too much. Do you think it will be enough to let the security team manage him?

 

   Well – they do have access to his psych profiles and behavior patterns all the way back to infancy and they’ve got our evaluations and advice. He is being exposed to some pretty unpredictable influences though. Hopefully they’ll put someone who’s reasonably sensitive in charge. I expect that they’ll respect his power level regardless of his age. Security tends to be fairly pragmatic about things like that.

 

   I don’t know: he actually suggested tricking a small horde of children into slavery! I mean, not only is that wrong – even where their parents are monsters, they generally aren’t – but it would make an incredible number of intelligent, ruthless, and powerful enemies! How arrogant is he getting?!

   On the other hand, he just floated the suggestion… A negotiating gambit. The little devil’s just trying to divert me, isn’t he?

 

   I’d say so. There’s probably a touch of power-sex fantasy in there – as well as a desire for someone from earth to talk to – but I doubt he was serious. After all, he has no idea if it would even work.

 

   You know… Some do deserve it. There are some that are such psychotic little monsters, or are from such backstabbing families, that not even their relatives would miss them or bother looking. A few are even hiring runners to eliminate each other. Most of those are such paranoid freaks that it probably wouldn’t work though – and I wouldn’t want them near any of my children even as conditioned slaves anyway.

    Still, there are charity cases. For example, half the middle east requires whoever gains the throne to execute all the other likely claimants to prevent civil wars – and there are Sultans out there with 40 sons. The younger ones are doomed, and know it. Even the girls won’t have much of a future. They’re just going to be handed out as bribes.

   There are plenty of similar situations out there too – but a lot of them have Email, even if they’ve got nothing else.

   If he wants some more youthful staff, is there any reason not to offer some youngsters in situations like that a simple ownership contract contingent on a successful pullout? If it works, they get to live. If not, they won’t have lost anything.

 

   A lot of them would be younger than he asked for – and you know what he’ll do with the older boys..

 

   He left that up to me. As for what he’ll do – are you really sure about that? He’s always been a seducer, not a rapist or abuser. Remember, he asked to have someone else do it before he ever saw them. It’s easy to ask to have something nasty done to a nameless, abstract subject. Will he really be able to look them in the face and do that to them? And even if he does, they’ll live. Kids in situations like that know the likely costs of being a personal slave already, he’ll probably undo it and let them go after he settles down – and he has a whole world to populate. More opportunities – and more life – than they’ll have here on Earth. He won’t hurt the little kids. After all, he just voluntarily took responsibility for an entire tribe’s worth. Another batch shouldn’t upset him much. As for the older, cuter, girls – well, it looks like we’re going to have a horde of grandchildren anyway and there’s apparently no shortage of girls over there now.

 

   We’ll have to send over extra supplies and a few conditioning rigs – but he did leave it up to you. I think it will be quite a shock to him if a batch of kids actually do show up there though – but having him think you’re that ruthless is probably a good thing at this point.

 

   Still – what about him leaving our grandchildren in the hands of juvenile delinquents? Admittedly, they should be quite capable of changing diapers, bathing them, and similar babysitting – and that’s most of what will be needed for the next year or two – but what kind of kids are they? Remember the one who set up a firebomb in his little sister’s schoolroom and burned six first-graders alive? The one who poisoned –

 

   Yes: but you know the company isn’t entirely unjust. It tries to match the jobs to the offenses. Both of those died as laboratory test animals. But most of them simply did stupid things, were overly rebellious, stole things, or otherwise caused monetary damage. At the moment, quite a few of them are crawling through pipes doing some rather messy cleanup work. They’re slaves, their working conditions are lousy, and they’re chemically castrated until they get the restoration shot, but they are getting listed for hazard pay since they could hit a toxin pocket. Almost all of them should survive until their pay-credits cover their costs and fines and they get turned loose. If they stay on after that they may even collect enough credits to get their company citizenship restored.

   All of the ones he’s getting were in for soft offenses. They’re property until their owner lets them go since house slave duty isn’t hazardous and doesn’t pay worth a damn. It’s not too uncomfortable though – and a lot of the ones who are offered the option take it. Buying them at cost is an executive privilege. I didn’t tell Iuri, but I left out the psychopaths. Monsters can take their chances without getting involved with our family.

 

   Let me see those listings a minute… OK, most of it’s just idiocy. Why do they do such stupid things anyway? Most of them don’t seem to actually be stupid. Hell, most of them are well above average intelligence!

 

   Well, they’re pretty inexperienced, they’re impulsive and impatient, they’re driven by an instinctive urge to try and stand out and impress the opposite sex, they’re trying to establish their own territories and an identity apart from their parents and – unfortunately – the brighter they are the more likely they are to realize that the standard teenage rebellion outlets the company has set up for them are actually pretty meaningless.

 

   That sounds awfully familiar… That’s what that “legal services” account is about isn’t it? You have a chunk of money set aside to pay fines on Iuri don’t you?

 

   Well of course – and for the rest of the children as well: it’s set up as a trust, so that if anything happened to us it would bail them out regardless of what their new guardian thought. After all: given his power level, if Iuri ever did wind up being declared delinquent they’d either use draconian control measures or just kill him. I’m just glad he settled on sneaking out and running the streets for a bit rather than on finding a way to get into real trouble. If he gets to 25 without having to draw on the account for legal costs his share will revert to him. It’ll be worth a fair amount by then too.

 

   I don’t know about that. The streets are dangerous, especially if anyone found out who he is.

 

   True enough – but he’s tougher and more powerful than a baseline dragon. He was probably safe enough.

 

   WHAT? That’s IMPOSSIBLE! I know he’s enhanced himself – but that kind of power would radiate like the sun! I’ve had his aura checked regularly!

 

   He’s been masking it. I didn’t want to worry you – and it was his secret. After all, If I admitted to everything I deduced the boy would have no privacy at all.

   But he’s faster, tougher, and almost as strong as the bodyguard we hired. He’s virtually immune to most street weaponry and he’s a master sorcerer with at least forty spells and both elementals and nature spirits to call on.

 

   Ah… All right. It would still be pretty embarrassing if he got into trouble with the police, but that could’ve been handled as long as he was just defending himself or others… Why didn’t you tell me?

 

   Would it have made you worry any less?

 

   I suppose not. I’m going to add that better armor to his shopping list anyway. We’ll be appending that list quite a bit I think. He relies far too much on magic.

   Why does he want the slave-boys neutered though? Apparently the biochemical shots are even better than surgery at ensuring disinterest and impotence. What’s the point? – and why do they do that when they’re declared incorrigible anyway?

 

    I doubt that Iuri himself is really clear on why he wants it. It’s pretty clear that he unconsciously sees other boys from Earth near his age as potential rivals at the moment, and he wants it obvious to everyone – including himself – that they’re just property. It’s mostly symbolic, but it does display his dominance, it’s easily seen under primitive conditions – and it’s asserting his independence, since he knows that neither of us would approve. I didn’t argue since – compared to a lot of the things he could do to show his independence right now – it’s fairly harmless.

   As for why they chemically castrate male delinquents – it’s because it’s easy, it’s convenient, it’s a punishment – and it often works: 75% of the delinquents are males, almost all of them past puberty. Ergo: hormone-linked. There’s a nearly 2/3’rds chance that it will bring their behavior back under control, it almost always makes them easier to manage – and they’re not going to have a normal sex life until they’re set free again anyway.

   They’re still planning on at least a month of total embargo on anything incoming and at least another year with a 2-3 month quarantine after that aren’t they?

 

   I’m afraid so. The best we’ll be able to do for quite a while will be telepresence. I was going to add the gear for it to the supplies – and possibly we can get someone with a remote body-link system over there – but meeting the grandchildren in person will have to wait for a bit. Telling him to work from over there for the first few months was just to divert him from thinking about the fact that he can’t come back for at least three anyway wasn’t it?

 

   Yes. I didn’t want him to feel trapped when he’s got a dimensional travel spell to experiment with.

 

   I guess you’re right: compared to the possibilities that come to mind, he’s been doing pretty well. And he has accomplished a lot in very little time. The patents and copyrights on this upload alone should make him rich. You review them for anything we don’t want to release, and I’ll put them out slowly to avoid attracting attention.

   I want Iuri back with me Ukon. He’s too young to be out on his own, no matter how much he’s enhanced himself, how many concubines he takes – or how many children he fathers. Besides: I don’t like lying to Colleen. She’s a nice girl and seems pretty devoted to him.

 

   Yes: Ukon, and to some extent Nariako, understand Iuri a lot better then he understands himself. Colleen’s also wrong: they’d “never” approve of her as more then a concubine – until Iuri and she are both adults.

 

 

Chapter Seven: Power Struggles

 

   Back on Earth, the ongoing internal executive spying in Yasoda had started to heat up. The word was getting around – albeit in several different versions – that unprecedented wealth and power was going up for grabs. In an era of computer espionage, smart assistant programs, and lightning takeovers, the strikes and counterstrikes were being carried out in seconds, minutes, and – occasionally – hours, rather than in days and weeks.

 

   Executive power struggles are worse in 2050 than they used to be. All too many executives know far too many company secrets to simply fire – and shunting them into lesser positions risks both potentially lethal retaliation and them skipping to another company. The cost of security is so high that their services are no longer profitable to retain. Admittedly it isn’t always that bad – but quite a lot of executive power struggles are literally to the death after security turns up to take the losers away.

   Unfortunately, when an upper-level executive goes down, his or her older kids have the same kind of problem. Any company loyalty they had has probably just gone down the tubes – and who knows what they may know about? They’ve had high-level access and parents do talk. A well-trained interviewer would find them a gold mine of clues and procedures. They won’t be content – or produce enough to pay the security expenses – in low-level jobs and nobody’s going to trust them in high-level ones. They’ve just gone from assets-in-training to liabilities, and all the money invested in their education has just gone into the “loss” column. Even in 2050 contracts signed under duress aren’t valid – so ownership contracts are usually out.

   If they’re past the easy ages for adoption-and-forgetfulness – three to five at most – they usually wind up as chattel slaves (restricted to in-company transfers) with monitoring chips implanted if they’re allowed to live at all. That way their sale prices will mitigate the losses a bit. There may be some more benign pretense if there’s any risk of publicity – and most employee handbooks restrict the treatment of slaves (even chattel slaves) for the same reason – but no one really pays much attention once they’re slave-conditioned. They tend to deny being mistreated after that anyway.

 

   Nariako had anticipated the power struggle – although not its full extent. After all, she had prior information and – in part thanks to her unassailable position as a vital component of the prize – little need for defensive maneuvering. The adults involved could look after themselves, and the adoptees would be all right – as well as being useless to her – but Iuri needed some staff and the youngsters (and even the adolescents) would certainly be better off being owned by him than by any of the other likely buyers. Some of them would even be management-trained or have other useful skills – and she could copy over the employee handbook restrictions on slave-treatment in the bills of sale. They wouldn’t have any real legal force under the circumstances, but they’d serve as a reminder. She’d had an advance order in for almost a week already when the blitz started – and security started escorting upper echelon youngsters to holding cells. The mess would probably delay the completion of the quarantine facility by a few weeks, but that had been likely from the beginning. Even for a rush job, “a month” was a fabulously optimistic estimate for building and testing a facility with full biosecurity.

 

   Ukon had his own orders in. Twenty in the initial rush order, another thirty available in North America with the expanded age limits for followup purchases, and nearly twice that many additional slaves available from Europe and Asia. All from the lower echelons of course. Iuri hadn’t wanted any exotic mods (even he wasn’t sure how he would have reacted if Iuri had taken him up on wanting them all made to look alike or have fur and tails or some such), and even giving them a few karma worth of skills wouldn’t take more than ten minutes each. They couldn’t accept that kind of spell more than once a month or so without a cerebral hemorrhage of course, but they wouldn’t need to. All of the ones who’d been sentenced more than a week ago already had basic slave-conditioning, and neutering males didn’t take long (male slaves from the asian branch were done automatically anyway). They should be ready long before Iuri opened the gate – or even if the “Cosmic Kid” did opt to take them over tomorrow.

 

   Meanwhile, Iuri was having the centaurs start teaching basic classes in civilization, sanitation, and medieval technology for the kids and adults while he provided medical magic. Might as well have everyone healthy. Expanding the spells to area effect made them a lot more tiring, but took up a lot less time. Fortunately he’d set up the outer wall as a hermetic circle anyway. He’d wanted a powerful magical defense in case that Dracolich – or something even worse – came by. Luckily, engraving one in masses of solid stone made it pretty durable. It was only active when he powered it up, but it was a lot better than nothing and at least it wouldn’t be a magical beacon while he wasn’t there.

   Kell pitched another fit. He wanted OUT OF HERE NOW – and if Iuri wasn’t willing to oblige, he’d leave on his own.

 

   Iuri wasn’t, and Kell proved a man of his word – at least about leaving. Iuri didn’t miss him much. The unrelenting hostility towards the universe at large got wearing very very fast.

   With the witch doctor setting up his medicine lodge in the depths of the castle (and hopefully making the area a magically-secure refuge as well as a pretty good physical one) and Mrs Death doing minor repairs and recalibration on her tank outside the gates it looked like the area would be secure for a day or two.

   That had suddenly become much more important to Iuri now that his children would be living there. Failing the villagers would have been regrettable, but they were basically just charity. Failing a concubine would have been quite a guilt trip: it would be defaulting on the obligations he’d assumed when he took them as his own. Failing one of his children would be unthinkable: they were his responsibilities even if he hadn’t cared about them.

 

   And he’d have had to use his engram-manipulating spell on himself to avoid it.

 

   It was time to return to the harem for the night. It was weird. Several of the concubines looked about ready to deliver – in less than a week – while some of the others were hardly showing. The variations seemed to be almost random… Iuri hoped not. They’d all ovulated, and become pregnant, after the first time he took them – and they all seemed to be in excellent health and headed for easy deliveries.

   Oh hell. Maybe it was just how much interest the Cosmic Kid took in each one? There had to be some way to limit it to one kid every so often, at least long enough to let them get weaned! If it was a kid every time he had sex with a girl who wasn’t currently pregnant – and they delivered in a week – it was going to be impossible. He’d have to virtually give up sex or the children would starve from lack of milk!

 

   His son seemed to simply have inherited a selection of his own spells and initiate powers, operating on the instinctive level rather than as learned abilities. Well, as long as Mirrel could simply suppress them that should be manageable.

 

   Analyzing the effects on himself and the concubines was harder. It looked like all that was on him was an effect that negated any contraceptive effects applied to him. It was possible that everything else was due to the Cosmic Kids active intervention – but it was at least as likely that he simply couldn’t make out the spellwork while having sex to trigger it. Whatever-it-was that stimulated ovulation, the enhanced health, and the easy delivery looked to be more-or-less “standard”, so it was probably a part of the spells on him – but the variation in the gestation and maturation-rate enhancement, the power-enhancement, and the mother’s power-suppression abilities likely indicated an externally-applied effect.

   He couldn’t imagine an enchantment that could modify something that complex automatically.

 

   At least Mirrel hadn’t automatically conceived again. There must be some form of limitation – even if it was just “not while the last kid is still nursing”. Maybe it was just the first child that interested the Cosmic Kid?

 

   Not enough information damn it. Still, it looked like a contraceptive spell on them would work.

 

   Mrs Death was done with her tank repairs the next day. Whether fortunately or unfortunately, Meg had noticed the harem and concluded that – as cute as Iuri was – a career as a semi-permanently pregnant sex slave just wasn’t for her. Well, Iuri wasn’t going to push it. Jo was just too dangerous to risk offending just to have another girl, no matter how cute she was. Still, Jo was willing to work for Iuri – the enhancement spells, a home base, medical care, supplies, a possible ticket home eventually, and some money were just too good a deal to pass up when stranded in an alien universe.

 

   Iuri decided that the next best move would be to survey the area while Jo and her tank stood guard. He wanted to hit some of the uninhabited cities – but he couldn’t leave his kids alone that long without checking out the local menaces. There were a full set (geological, biological, and magical) of survey spells in his spell library and they’d cover about a thousand-meter radius if he ran them at full power. He could map and record results on his internal systems. If he used an air elemental to speed up the carpet he should be able to sweep out to about a forty-mile radius by the end of the day.

   Hmmm… A pretty good abundance of metal deposits, plenty of clay and sand, and some modest seams of coal. Not much in the way of oil though. Either it was just the wrong area, it was too deep for him to detect, or the liquid tended to ooze into the surrounding rocks once it was transplanted. He’d just have to make some. A lot of interesting and useful plant life – and a rather chaotic set of magical fields. It looked like they were barely beginning to organize themselves.

   Hmm… He’d only learned the basics of geomancy from the witch doctor, but it should be a lot easier to establish a pattern than to change one that was already established. Maybe he could tie it into a roman-style roadway network. That would be easy enough to pull up out of the bedrock.

   Anyway, he could reshape the rock to set up some outposts (he’d leave them sealed until he had enough staff to take possession) and mining facilities pretty easily. He’d do that tomorrow and start calling for his initial slave-shipment in the evening. The rush-order batch should be ready by then, and maybe even some more than that. If the Cosmic Kid had been willing to bring over a tank for Jo on cue, hopefully he’d be willing to bring over a load or two of slaves and general supplies.

   Still no sign of any easily-accessible artifacts or dragons though. Oh well: he might find an artifact in one of those abandoned cities, but he had to admit that owning a dragon was more or less an old RPG fantasy. They were just so neat though…

 

   Iuri’s construction projects took up most of the next day – but it pretty well defined his current territory. There was still quite a margin between him and his nearest neighbors (the centaurs and dragons, unless you counted Humphrey and the mermen), but it wasn’t bad as an initial base. Now he just needed the people to start operating the place. He sent out some more watcher spirits to run another check.

 

   Phooey. Groups from almost a hundred other worlds scattered around – and better than a hundred worlds linked to this one – and virtually none of them with a technological level must past the middle ages. At least half of them were just primitive tribesmen. Admittedly, any kind of warm bodies would do to help populate the area right away, but he would have preferred ones who wouldn’t need an education in EVERYTHING.

   Oh well. Centaurs were traditionally teachers and they were large and imposing enough that everyone would pay attention in class.

 

   Four more of Iuri’s children were born that night. It kept things busy.

 

 

Chapter Eight: Have They All Gone Mad?

 

   Iuri tried seriously calling for his new slaves the next day. He was going to need them. It looked like several more of the concubines would be delivering at any moment and it was going to be pandemonium. He got some of the minotaurs and centaurs to stand around and look imposing while he tried from one of the really large rooms. You never knew, there might be side effects or something.

 

   Whether it was just tapping into the kid’s power over the dreamquesting link or the cosmic kid decided to be obliging, they showed up.

 

   Lots of them.

 

   What in HELL! There’ve gotta be a couple of hundred! With little kids! And girls! I didn’t order any little kids or girls! (Even if some of them are pretty cute… Hey, don’t I know some of these people?). Oh, NO. Mother didn’t really… did she… Oh BY THE KAMI.

 

   Hopefully I can get this sorted out while they’re still disoriented from the trip… RIGHT THEN.

 

   QUIET! I’m Iuri Tadahiro, and I’m your new owner! (Hmm. A bit of sobbing but no immediate howls of protest. Must really be slaves then. At least they all seem to be human… Er. Little kids. Crap. Little kids can go in the nursery with the tribal kids). Now then: Everybody ten and up, over to my left. The centaurs will escort the younger ones into the next room to play for a bit. (They do all seem to have crewcuts and collars. Well, short hair looks good on girls too).

 

   Sorting things out took some time. He had the remaining group strip (that took a quick demonstration of power), checked them over, and did some mass conditioning (basic loyalty-obedience-acceptance and escape prohibition). Three groups: 143 lower-echelon boys purchased by Ukon (10-16 years old, all but 22 of them already technologically conditioned and surgically neutered as ordered). 53 (29 boys and 24 girls) unconditioned upper-echelon slaves ages 10-18 purchased by Nariako with all kinds of treatment-restrictions copied into their sales data from the employee handbook. Most of those were things that he’d had no intention of doing anyway – but she’d inserted one against surgically neutering the boys (nothing about taking the girls though). It wasn’t legally binding here, but it was certainly notice that she disapproved. They hadn’t been conditioned either. The 43 little kids – 4-10 years old – were unprocessed, also upper echelon, and she’d put in even MORE restrictions about things he wasn’t to do, as well as a lot of care instructions. All under indefinite contracts though.

 

   The prohibition list was nauseating. Blinding. Torture. Roasting alive and eating (!?!). Lobotomizing and turning into pet animals. Neutering and/or raping children under six. Did they actually need to prohibit most of this stuff? He knew that some of this sort of thing went on in the streets – some people were just SICK (which was why he’d taken steps in a few cases while HE was leading a street gang), but did it go on in-company too?

   More importantly, does mother really believe that I need to be told not to do this sort of thing? Just because I had some older slave-boys eunuched for the moment? It wasn’t like that was anything that I can’t easily regenerate later, it was just a bit more obvious than the chemical version and couldn’t be fixed by running off and waiting.

 

   She thought I’d do things like that?

 

   That was an really unpalatable thought – but after a while the sheer numbers started to sink in. Even for the lower echelon types Iuri hadn’t really thought about the numbers involved in a company-wide purchase order – and the numbers from upper management were appalling. 91 upper-management kids? That had to be close to a third or half of them! Management must be going completely INSANE over there!

 

   He suddenly had a lot of doubts about his own company.

 

   He’d have to check the records on the lower-echelon boys. He’d always known that being at risk was the price of wealth and privilege, but he’d been assuming that the legal procedures for the lower-echelon kids were more or less fair – and he wasn’t so sure about that any more. How many of them had gotten screwed over simply because they’d inadvertently annoyed someone?

   Hmm… Eleven who’d been blatantly screwed, a few borderline. Four of those still intact (it looked like those were last minute sentences during the management shakeup, and they simply hadn’t been processed yet).

 

   Maybe he should start looking into alternatives to Yasoda? Or at least make sure that they had some competition?

 

   Well – he’d have to offer them some alternatives, but a basic briefing first. He explained that the place was dangerous (with some audiovisual examples) and that there was no immediate way back to Earth (yes, this really wasn’t Earth). Everyone was going to be getting permanent rapid-healing, body-enhancement, and armoring spells. Incidently, that would also quadruple their lifespans and provide a good deal of protection against poisons and disease. He’d be providing medical care and such as well. They were contract-slaves, but he’d be offering other deals – and possibly regeneration for the eunuchs – in a year or two. (Come to think of it, they were getting a much better deal than most mid-level Yasoda employees did. That made him feel better about the numbers).

   Anyone who insisted on leaving would be given basic supplies, weapons, maps, and a compulsion to go a long ways away unless they changed their minds about accepting being slaves. They’d almost certainly die horribly though, and – since he wouldn’t know – he wouldn’t be coming to the rescue. (Iuri stressed that pretty heavily: right or wrong, HE thought that they’d die for sure – and he really didn’t want that on his conscience).

   Vassals would be setting up outposts. He’d set up some safeholds, fortifications, and wards, provide some supplies and weapons, give them some help – probably a centaur or two – and leave any intact males intact, but they’d be expected to be productive, would have to manage most things on their own, and would probably be on their own in an emergency. It wasn’t likely that he’d know about one in time to actually help until he got some communications gear. Even then, they’d be a fair distance away.

   House servants would be working around the castle. That was the safest place around that he knew of – that was why he’d created it – and he was usually there to defend it. Modern equipment and conveniences were coming there first, the conditions were pretty good, and he’d be there to make sure that they got healed, cured of diseases, and got additional training.

 

   Only three of them – a trio of the intact lower-echelon types who’d been unfairly sentenced – opted to leave: Iuri could be very, very, persuasive… He wound up selling them to Jo as tank crew and apprentices: they were all happy with that, they might get powers, they got to play with a tank, and it got them near Meg. He bet Jo that Meg would chemically castrate them within a day (she didn’t) and – as a secondary bet – that she’d do it eventually. They were still slaves and the constant clumsy passes, pickup lines, drooling, and panting was bound to irritate her eventually.

   Twenty-two of them – 11 of the upper-echelon boys, 7 of the intact lower-echelon boys, and 4 of the ones who’d been unfairly sentenced (Iuri had stressed the alternative to that group, and used the ones who opted to be vassals as a demonstration of his ability to undo emasculations on a few minutes notice) – went for the vassal positions.

   That left him with the 43 kids (those under eight he just adopted into the tribe, those of 8-10 he apprenticed around the castle to make their decisions when they turned 10), 147 house servants – 33 in need of neutering (there was no point in putting it off: he put them out, used a spell, and healed the internal damage before they woke up. Mother wouldn’t like it – but, dammit, they were his, he wanted it done, he’d offered them an out, and she hadn’t prohibited doing it magically) – and the 24 older girls. Should he make them concubines? They were all upper-echelon, which meant that healthy and lovely were pretty much automatic, but unwilling concubines would make a bad environment for the kids.

   Well, he’d check them over first and maybe extend the offer.

 

   The girls all offered themselves as soon as he wanted to inspect them. He was used to easy conquests, but that was a bit much. He’d imprinted a bit of loyalty-obedience-acceptance, but not a command to spread their legs! What was… Oh. They’d been enslaved, bought by a teenaged boy, stripped, surrounded by eunuchs, and were being inspected. What else would they assume? They were probably just happy that he wasn’t fat, smelly, ugly, and middle-aged. (His effective 22 charisma didn’t hurt either).

 

   Should he? He had a bunch of concubines already. Still, they were awfully cute – and they had been more-or-less socially off limits before. Most of them were even still virgins thanks to the good old double standard – and they did expect it.

   The one he was inspecting trembled enticingly and gasped as his hand brushed across the soft mound of her sex. He slipped a couple of fingers into her and found her virgin, wet, and ready for his pleasure.

 

   Well, his balls were voting YES! YES! YES! – and there wasn’t any real reason not to.

 

   The ensuing proceedings were pleasurable enough all around that the girls soon forgot any reservations they might have had. Still, taking them all killed the rest of the day pretty throughly.

 

  • The Current Population:

  • The Villagers: Currently 6 adult men (3 in long-term convalescence from contact with Ka-Anor), 3 adolescent boys, 21 adult women, 11 adolescent girls, 40 small children, Mirrel, and Valadur the elderly Shaman. (Mirrel, 8 of the girls and 6 of the younger women are in Iuri’s harem. 4 have just delivered, 11 are pregnant).

  • 10 minotaur steers

  • 59 Centaurs: 30 laborers (mostly male) and 29 house servants (mostly female). They’re currently paired off.

  • 15 (non-metahuman) orcs (per old notes, apparently retconned out of existence. Ah well)

  • 2 merman slaves (a young male and female whom the shaman judged unlikely to survive their rite of passage – and so was willing to sell, purchased as specimens for the science team)

  • 147 eunuch servants, most with minor skill-programming (per Ukon’s choices)

  • 3 tank crew

  • 22 vassals

  • 32 small children from earth (now adopted into the tribe)

  • 11 8-10 year-olds from earth, now apprenticed around the castle until they turn 10

  • 24 adolescent-thru-teenage girls from earth, impregnated and added to Iuri’s harem (making 39 concubines).

  • Jo, Meg, Iuri, and – presumably – Jim Jones (Iuri’s Bodyguard).

 

   Oddly enough, the slaves didn’t seem to resent him much even after being gelded or taken. He was just the buyer (and the current authority figure and “parent”). They were mostly upset with the people who’d had them sold in the first place…

   Well, that might just be his charisma at work, but it wasn’t entirely unreasonable. At least he’d only have to deal with ordinary misbehavior. They weren’t dealing well with electronic deprivation though. He’d better get out that technical synthesis spell and see about setting up an arcade or something. There were enough of them for them to have plenty of leisure time at the moment.

   That wasn’t hard at all. It looked like he could just download designs and create quite a lot of equipment – up through the simpler electronics and personal computer systems – thanks to his enhanced intelligence, matrix connection, and datasoft link.

   He committed that spell to memory permanently: it was just going to be too vital to have to keep re-implementing it.

 

   That was going to be quite a list… Some basic weapons and alarm systems first, a pinball arcade and some basic personal computers, canning equipment, communications gear, better armor, refrigeration equipment, medical gear, some vehicles… Hell, they’d put the first satellites up more than a century ago, surely he could get a survey package into low orbit? A planetary map would be pretty helpful – or at least interesting. That’d probably be a long-term project though.

   Better lighting systems would be good too. And a good power regulator. The Xanthian “Power Plant” had plenty of voltage available, but it fluctuated too much for anything sophisticated. Maybe some lathes and other tools. The “tools to make the tools” thing had a certain reality to it.

 

   He put in the arcade first. It would be a good distraction for the slaves, since quite a lot of the work in the next month or two would be harvesting food, building furnishings, and similar basic stuff.

   He also called Ukon back for a bit…

 

   Ukon was pleased that Iuri had been shocked out of his faith in the general benevolence of Yasoda – that had been part of the point of sending all the slaves after all (plus that they’d have a good second chance there and would probably be safer than they were on Earth). Still, he had to tell him that Yasoda would almost certainly eventually find a way through now that they knew the place existed – although it might be quite a while without Iuri’s help (he could probably stall for a week or two safely enough even after they were really ready). Worse, the security department was feeling pretty insecure since Iuri or the Cosmic Kid had pulled the slaves out of secure holding facilities across three continents. A couple of penetrations by a godlike spirit was one thing. A whole new set of fronts to get defenses set up on was something else altogether.

   Regardless, upper management wouldn’t accept Iuri getting in the way too much. There was just too money and power at stake. They might be persuaded to accept his claim to a substantial area as an independent operation, but it wouldn’t be easy.

    >>Why is he so determined to claim so much territory? Business greed alone isn’t enough to… Oh. Genetic greed. He wants to ensure that all his children have plenty of land to inherit. Must be the shock of being a new father – and of being unable to control his own fertility. I wasn’t really expecting that kind of motive to kick in yet… The older girls Nariako sent over are probably all pregnant by him; they were among the few he couldn’t just have over here.<<

 

   Iuri had a few ideas on that. It would make it a lot easier for Yasoda to accept his realm if was part of a coalition… Maybe the dragons, centaurs, mermen, and other groups would like to form one?

   There weren’t many objections. They didn’t want to be overrun either. The dragons and centaurs would even both send a representative to meet the security team when they came through.

   Well, that should take some of the pressure – and attention – off of him. All the Megacorporations were more or less used to negotiating with dragons and their representatives as equals.

 

   Jo hadn’t found any major border problems, so it looked like there might be time for an expedition to some of those weird cities.

 

  • Generic Ownership Contracts:

  • Contractees are guaranteed food, water, shelter, basic medical care, sufficient rest (and a reasonably comfortable place to do it in), appropriate gear for the environments they’re exposed to, and a sustainable (if heavy) work schedule. Youngsters are normally entitled to a few hours a day of relative peace and matrix access to get a basic education

  • Contractees retain their basic rights to life, to own property, and to handle any money they get. You cannot simply kill them, use them for experiments, drain their karma or essence, inflict brain damage, torture them, inflict harmful diseases, use them to culture bioware, remove limbs, damage them genetically, use deep conditioning techniques, or inflict any other damage that’s overly expensive or impossible to undo. Blinding and Deafening are prohibited in most contracts even if they are relatively easy to fix. Prepubescent children cannot be used as sex toys.

  • Contractees are subject to orders and fairly strict disciplinary methods if they fail to act as obedient property. They may be bodysculpted, dressed, displayed, and trained as desired, may be given both control and enhancement implants, may be subjected to low-level conditioning, skill implanting, and – if pubescent, adolescent, or adult – may be sexually used, neutered (usually chemically, physically if the contract allows it or if some provision is made for restoration on release), or enhanced to suit their owners. They do not need to be paid, but usually do get some tips.

  • In any case, contractees are normally given ID/Record/Tracking chips if they don’t already have them.

  • The contract-holders may strike secondary bargains. For example, you may purchase Karma from a contractee, you just can’t punish them if they don’t want to sell or change their contract terms.

  • You generally need to be at least eight (or equivalent for nonhumans) to sign a contract, although a parent or guardian may do so for you. They may be either fixed-term or open-ended. As usual, contracts signed under duress are not valid.

  • Ownership contracts are generally legal.

 

  • Chattel Slavery:

  • This is outright ownership: the victim has the same legal status as any other piece of livestock. Any restrictions on treatment must be placed in the sales agreement – if any – since the victim has no legal rights of any kind.

  • Chattel slavery is only legal when applied to “nonpersons”. It is widely applicable to shapechangers and other animalistic creatures, humans and metahumans are only subject to chattel slavery in most jurisdictions if they’ve forfeited their legal rights for some reason – usually for truly major crimes (for governments) or for loss of corporate citizenship (for megacorporations). Where publicity is a factor, Chattel Slaves are treated more like those under Ownership Contracts.

 

   Oh boy… So much for that notion. I need way more time. It’s no wonder that Monkeyboy seems to specialize in time magic. Thirty-nine girls would keep things busy even if they weren’t so attractive, so distracting, and so eager to be mine. I had to give some special lectures, and do some special conditioning, to get the girls used to the idea that some of them might be mothers inside of a week; it would have been really emotionally messy to let that be a surprise – although I suppose I probably should have mentioned it before I impregnated most of `em (even if the amount of the speed-up does seem to be distributed semi-randomly). Still, it wouldn’t have changed anything.

 

   More extensive slave-conditioning took more time, as did creating equipment and supplies and simply arranging food, quarters, and so on for everyone. Besides, he still had the transfer effect to experiment with, his new geomantic focus to fine-tune, and perform all the enchantments he’d promised everyone. That alone took up at least a day.

    More extensive conditioning also brought out some odd behavior in the boys. He knew that they badly wanted to please him – and that his charisma was grossly enhanced – but he hadn’t expected any volunteers for emasculation after he’d clearly given permission for them to remain intact (even if it was fairly obvious that he’d prefer them that way). Time to turn it down a bit and try for some more reasonable conversations. Abject obedience, a total lack of protest no matter what he proposed, and mindless worship was boring, disturbing, and ridiculously unfair. He wouldn’t have bothered with half the enhancements he’d used on himself if he’d known that they were going to have effects like THAT on people. He’d just never really tried exerting them all before: at home there’d always been a lot of reasons to restrain himself.

 

The Geomantic Focus and the Transfer Spell:

 

The Geomantic Focus has a couple of basic effects while he’s in the castle. It allows him to use magic as if he was using a ritual without actually having to perform one and it acts like a rating-6 power focus. Unfortunately, the more of the dice that it provides that he uses, whether they’re rolled or used to manipulate the effect, the more uncertainty slips into the spell.

Theoretically there should be a lot more power than that available from a channeling layout almost a hundred miles across – but his setup is terribly inefficient (he’s not really all that good at Geomancy yet) and he doesn’t even really know how to tap into the full power of the array that he’s got. Fortunately, it’s still enough for what he really wanted.

 

The Dimensional Transfer Spell is a variation on what the Cosmic Kid, a.k.a “Monkeyboy”, does when he transfers things through astral space without a full-scale gate: It has a (Force/2 +2)D drain, must be cast at a minimum of force 8, requires a ritual link to the place, creature, or creatures to be transferred, only works between dimensions, and can transfer up to 10 pounds of non-living matter or 1 Body worth of living matter per success. It has a target number equal to the Target’s Willpower (or resistance rating for non-living targets). Fortunately, targets can voluntarily lower their resistance by a point or two. It appears to be relatively safe – at least as long as the caster remains anchored in one dimension.

 

   Well, it works all right on rats and dogs and such – but something could still go wrong trying to use it on people. I’ll need a few test subjects… Preferably ones who are either willing to gamble on a pullout or who have deservedly been sentenced to “disposable lab animal” status.

   Both were available pretty easily. Sending a couple of little elementals over to look for fires – and trapped little kids – out in the barrens turned up a few within hours. They came through all right. That was a relief – although even if it’d killed them, it would’ve probably have been much easier way to go that burning to death. They went in with the rest of the adoptees.

 

   Still, even if he’d been entirely willing to gamble, he couldn’t just use the transfer spell to go home. Risking himself was one thing, but he couldn’t risk the possibility that he might carry some sort of plague or something back with him. Still, if he could bring people over on his own… He’d tried looking around Atheria: lots of primitive tribesmen (heavy on women, they’d apparently had a lot of casualties among the warriors). He could probably get another hundred or so centaur slaves, but trading agreements with everyone were still in the “trying to determine what everyone wants” stage and even they weren’t exactly technologically sophisticated. The Dragons were even more powerful than the ones on Earth (and there were very few young ones, oh well), and he’d spotted quite a few more male minotaurs, but not a single female. (Hmm… Come over here: ARE there any female Minotaurs? No? How do you have children? You don’t? But where do… Oh. YOU don’t since I cut your balls off. OK, if you HAD your freedom and your sex organs? You’d mate with human women and your sons would be Minotaurs? Huh. Well, that means I can only patent the genetic modification, not Minotaurs, but that’s just a detail. Do the women live? Usually? Well, maybe later. Go back to work).

   Well, ANYway, that meant recruiting. And some kind of contract. And advertising. And locating people who were willing to obey him and who were in enough danger that he wouldn’t feel guilty about bringing them over into a world full of unknown dangers.

 

   This was going to be more complicated, and take up more time than he’d thought it would, yet again.

   So, what would he be offering? An escape from whatever trouble they might be in of course, as well as a chance to get in on the early colonization of a brand new world and all the opportunities thereof. Of course they might not believe in that – but if they didn’t, or weren’t willing to gamble on the possibility, they wouldn’t believe in the entire thing anyway. Come to think of it, they really didn’t have to believe: they just had to be willing to fill out the application on a “who knows?” basis.

   OK, on the more immediate and tangible side – the enhancements of course. They’d be permanent and theirs to keep. He’d even renew them later if they go removed somehow. That’d be the hardened-security-armor level toughness (+6 hardened armor), the protection from temperature extremes (part of the armor), the +6 body to enhance their health and resistance to injury, the rapid-healing effect, including the x4-6 lifespan extension and the protection against poisons and diseases, additional magical medical care including regeneration of lost or damaged limbs, room and board, job training, necessary equipment, and occasional additional magical offers, goodies, holidays, and recreational supplies.

   In exchange, they’d be signing up for a twenty-years-of-service ownership contract – probably with reduced owners-sexual-privilege provisions unless they volunteered to accept them (he had enough concubines and eunuchs now) and more treatment guarantees – with the option to buy off up to ten years of service at one karma per year.

   Huh. When you added it up, that really was a pretty good deal. The twenty years up front sounded a bit stiff, but with he life extension provision it really wasn’t much; they’d be making at least a 10-for-one profit on their lifespans.

   So who would he be trying to recruit? He’d have write up an advertisement – and hire an background-search place to check the applicants – but hosting was easy… Who should get priority? OK…

   Target recruits: Youngsters, ages 10-16, with a provision made for ones who were really desperate (8 to 18) or who were signed up by their guardians. After all, whether their guardians judged it to be in their best interests or simply wanted to get rid of them, either way they’d probably be better off somewhere else. The background-search people should be able to filter out any already under valid contracts and most young crooks and psychopaths. Any that got through could be put to use as needed. After all, lying on the application was already a breach of contract.

   Mostly youngsters who were in serious trouble – unwanted heirs, facing starvation, on the streets and desperate, facing drastic “correctional” action for petty offenses, wanting to escape a bad corporate situation (possibly more enslaved-upper echelon or street kids from that), and so on, preferably through no major fault of their own. They’d have to have network access to stumble across the recruiting pages of course – but all kinds of people had net access, even if only through cafes, libraries, schools, prison educational facilities, and other public terminals, and he could tailor the pages to get the search engines to lead people making appropriate searches to them.

   So, a bit on “why you really wanted to get out of your current situation” and a warning that there would be some risk in colonizing a new planet – although the enhancements should help a lot. Extra credit for the really imperilled or desperate.

   A section on preferred job categories and why they thought they qualified for them – hunter, agricultural worker, craftsman, builder, guard, servant, nurse, babysitter, etcetera, etcetera. Er… well, why not. Add “concubine” and “harem attendant” to the list as well. . That was worth just as much as any other skill set.

   A medical section too. There was no use recruiting someone on full life support and he didn’t need anyone who was carrying some horrible plague or some such. Sexual status here as well; the forms wouldn’t mention it, but checking “virgin” under female – or “neutered” under male – would be a small plus.

   Finally a section on what additional magical enhancements or transformations of payment they’d be most interested in.

   He’d never really considered trickery anyway, so the pitch was straightforward and honest.

 

   He did one hell of a job writing up the sales pitch if he did say so himself – and hiring an applicant-background-search place was also cheap enough. Virtually all of that was automated these days anyway.

 

   Meanwhile, on Atheria, the interdimensional city left with those Magi that Jo had been escorting, Ka-Anor (?) made it to the tower, and Iuri completed some more technique research and gathered a bit of Karma. After all, his projects – and dealing with the harem – had already taken several days.

 

   Finally a few minutes to think… Wait a minute… If it was just his charisma enhancements, how had Mirrel held out for half a week? She didn’t seem to have THAT strong a will… The new slaves MUST have had at least a little conditioning before they came through – unless the Cosmic Kid took care of it.

   I’m going to take a better look at the records on their ownership chips.

   Ah. A separate subfile, and fairly well buried. No wonder I missed it on a quick scan-through… Huh. All the boys were chemically castrated already. No wonder there wasn’t much protest about being surgically neutered; it didn’t really change anything. The ones who opted for vassal status must have simply wanted more excitement than being a house servant offered. As for the girls… HORMONE SHOTS?!? SEXUAL SKILL ENHANCEMENTS!?! Removed their contraceptive implants??? But I thought she – that they were – that – that – that… Why would… She wanted me kept busy – and knew that even if I found out I really couldn’t argue about this gambit much. How could I protest being given a bunch of beautiful young concubines, all sexually skilled, mostly virgin, eager to please, and ready to bear my children?

 

 

Interlude: Nariako (Iuri’s mother) and her younger brother and local chief of security, Sukune.

 

   Nariako?

 

   Yes Sukune?

 

   I was wondering… Why did you have the girls given sexual hormone-enhancement shots after you inspected them? I thought that you disapproved. Besides – you treated them like pieces of meat. I mean, you know half of them. You’ve watched quite a few of them grow up and you’ve asked them to parties and given them presents! Yet you still had them stripped, queued them up, put them through their paces, and checked them over like they were dogs you were planning to breed. How could you humiliate them that way? Why would you want to?

 

   Well, Sukune… Partly its that they are property now, and its best that they get to understand and accept that fact as quickly as possible. For that matter, they are sex-toys and breeding stock: even if I’m going to have plenty of grandchildren anyway, I’d like as many as possible to start off with throughly healthy young mothers with good genes.

    More importantly, I don’t think that belonging to my son, being mounted by him, or bearing his children, is an especially terrible fate! Half of them would have been in his bed long ago if I hadn’t told him not to try for them.

   Most importantly, I want Iuri kept busy and diverted from doing anything too risky for as long as possible. There isn’t much trouble to be found between a slave-girls legs – and since these were forbidden before he should find them especially attractive. Two dozen cute, willing, and mostly-virgin young slave girls should keep him out of any major trouble for at least a couple of weeks no matter how much he’s enhanced his potency and endurance. With few implanted instructions, and a little subtle sexual and seductive skill imprinting, it may be a good deal longer than that. I WANT them blushing, humiliated, and knowing that their bodies are for Iuri to use and for bearing his children.

 

   Oh stop blushing Sukane. I’ve been married for decades and I’m a mother. I’ve carried three children in my womb for nine months each and I’ve raised two boys. I was young once too. Iuri isn’t up to anything I’m not familiar with and he hasn’t got any parts that I haven’t seen a hundred times.

 

   The same thing applies to the males really. I’ve made damn sure that every male purchase older than seven has been chemically castrated; they aren’t going to be competing for his slave-girls attentions or infringing on his rights. I want the slave-girls focused on keeping him busy, not on other boys. I’ve also made sure that they’ve had some conditioning – but all of the ones that he’d actually be likely to see as potential rivals, as well as a few of the others, are being delivered physically intact, instead of having already been surgically neutered as he wanted. Just as importantly, I’ve buried the information that they’ve had some conditioning and the biochemical shots in a separate section of their files.

   I know my son. He made the decision, they were supposed to have been gelded before delivery, and he’ll damn well want it done – but when he looks them in the face, he’ll dither. He’ll explain and make offers and negotiate with pieces of property that he has every right to simply have spread and cut on the spot. He’ll adopt and fuss over the smaller children. He’ll worry about what I’ll think – and I’ve had a pile of instructions slapped into their records to encourage that. He’ll sort them into neat categories – and then some of them will volunteer for castration and mess up those categories “since they want whatever pleases him”, and he’ll turn down his charisma enhancements to see if he was compelling his property “unfairly”, and then some of the eight- to ten-year-olds will ask him to have it done –

 

   Nariako!

 

   What? Remember the benefits he was offering? It’s a better deal than most people ever get – and as much as he’s slowing their aging, if he does take the younger boys up on it he’ll almost certainly restore them before they hit puberty anyway. Regardless, he’ll come up with some sort of justification for what he wants eventually – or he’ll agonize over it until he changes his mind – but that little three-ring-circus should keep him busy for another week or two. With any luck – and maybe another slave-shipment if I can arrange it – I can keep him busy with sex and dominance games until I can get a security team through to keep an eye on him, rather than letting him run around taking ludicrous risks!

   If there was time, I’d have some of them given exotic body-sculpts, just to add more interest and variety to the harem.

 

   Gaping again? Close your mouth Sukane. You look like a dolt with it hanging open like that. I want my son safe – and if all it takes to keep him that way after he’s been kidnaped to an alien dimension is putting up with a bit of tomcatting around, plenty of grandchildren, and temporarily humiliating some other kids in exchange for their escape from a bad situation and an excellent payment plan, than its going pretty well.

 

Back on Atheria…

   Iuri was still going through the subfiles; where had they all come from?

   Hmm… 41 of them were half-brothers and half-sisters from Arabia. It looked like Isa al Farouk – one of the board of directors – had three sons by his first wife. When she died about 17 years ago he had a midlife crisis and filled a harem with slave-concubines. He was killed unexpectedly about two weeks ago and Malik al Isa, 32 and the last surviving son of his first marriage, inherited – and promptly ordered his father’s harem, and his young half-brothers and half-sisters, sold. (By the Kami… I understand rivalry (a glance at the errand boy standing by at the moment – once the son of an upper-level executive and thus a competitor, now an eunuch slave – demonstrated that), but I don’t extend it to my family. Younger siblings are for playing with and teasing and giving presents to, not for selling as concubines and gelded slave boys! Still… It’s a bit like looking into a distorting mirror. I get that same unpleasant sense of half-recognition. How far overboard am I going with no one around to restrain me? At least I’m only buying youngsters who are already slaves, and I’m giving them plenty of benefits and putting them on limited contracts. I’m probably not crazy yet.

   Another 16 were half-brothers and half-sisters from Malik’s harem. Malik had apparently tried to extend his power-grab to the board of directors and had been quietly eliminated and – in standard procedure for eliminated executives and rather rough justice – his own children had been put up for sale. In both cases the lower-level functionaries followed the rules and put the really little kids up for adoption instead. I suppose that’s something.

   Well, at least all of THEM were throughly acquainted with what was expected of (and would be taken from) concubines and harem attendants. No wonder none of them had protested. Note to Self: NEVER take up residence in Arabia. Also… make DAMNED sure MY kids are never sold. Lets see now; counting the kids from harems – even if only three (now two) of the upper-level executives were keeping one – ups my estimated number of upper-level executives kids by a hundred or so and drastically reduces my first guess at how insane the upper executives have gone. Apparently only one of them really went over the edge… All together, that accounts for 57 of the slaves in one fell swoop. Where did the other 39 come from?

   It looked like two of the twenty-two other company directors had allied with Malik and his power-grab. They’d started with (acceptable) corporate maneuvering, but somebody – probably Malik judging from how ruthless he’d been – he might well have eliminated his brothers and father – had escalated to violence (well, virtually unlimited wealth and power was certainly a temptation). Anyway, they’d lost, and had been eliminated along with five of their upper-level executive supporters and a couple of security managers. Their kids accounted for another 18 of the slaves – after all, their parents had just betrayed the company – even if most of them were middle-management rather than upper-echelon. Two other executives had been killed in the attacks, and three had been wounded – but their kids were just fine: they’d become wards of their relatives and/or the corporation, and were still pretty much on track for corporate success. That left 21.

   Lets see now – I’ve got one boy who’d managed to mess up a major business deal, four who were apparently dumped by step-parents (mostly after runaway attempts) when the opportunity came up. Bastards. All of them had plenty of money. They could’ve just put them into boarding school or fostered them out. Why so many step-parents anyway? Oh; if one guardian left the company, the one who was remaining got custody pretty much automatically – blood relative or not. Anyway, three who’d managed to annoy or embarrass a parent enough to be contracted out (erg… well, you didn’t get to be an upper executive if you weren’t authoritarian, arrogant, driven, demanding, unwilling to accept poor performance or defiance, and willing to make harsh decisions about anyone that disappointed you. Evidently some of them just didn’t leave it at work). At least that was no more than one or two percent… The last 13 were wards of the company who’d gotten into the usual adolescent nonsense but who didn’t have anyone who cared about them enough to pay the fines. Most of them weren’t originally upper-echelon, they’d just been available.

   Wait a second. Was that just within the last month or two? That’d imply a horrendous rate of dumping. Stresses were high at the moment but… No. Nariako had paid a premium for some of them to get them from their current owners or out of work-programs. At least there weren’t any that were more than passing acquaintances. I still have no idea what I’d do in if somebody – well, somebody male – I knew reasonably well turned up.

   I wonder – is being sold to me really good luck for most of these kids? A lot of them seem to be better off here than they were there. Maybe I should up the payment a bit though. I could throw in another permanent enhancement or two easily enough. Secondarily, I need to make a will and make provisions for my kids and property. I need to make as sure as possible that my kids never go up for sale, no matter what happens to me or who their next guardian might be. I don’t think Dad would ever do something like that – but Mom can be pretty cold and ruthless sometimes. Besides – I promised to regenerate the eunuchs and let everyone go in twenty years – and I need to make sure that my heirs honor those promises, at least as much as they reasonably can.

   I don’t want or expect to die – but I’ve got to admit that it could happen, and I’d better take some precautions just in case.

Competence, Adulthood, and Age in Shadowrun: For good or ill, the wide variety of subspecies, variants, and magic make the simple age-of-majority rule unworkable in 2050. The novels and sourcebooks don’t agree at all of course, but there are some vague indications that legal guardians may sign almost anything on a kids behalf. Kids below 8 (human equivalent) are normally considered legally incompetent; a guardian or other authority must sign for them. Those of 8-14 years may sign minor contracts, such as for game testing, on their own and may sign almost anything with the consent and signatures of their guardians. Those of 14-16 may sign almost anything personal or anything with the consent of their guardians – and those past 16 are commonly treated as adults for contract purposes. The corporations are big on contracts. Still, there are at least seven possibilities here:

1) De Facto. A child with no guardian, or at least no guardian who cares to take responsibility, and no SIN, is independent. Those with SINs usually become wards of the SIN-issuing organization; this may also amount to De Facto independence if the issuing organization doesn’t take much responsibility or opts to pretty much rubber-stamp decisions which don’t negatively impact the organization – or which get the ward off the books. Note that, as citizens of a corporation or government, in many jurisdictions children can request to remain in the custody of that organization if their parents depart it.

2) De Jure. In some jurisdictions a child who goes before the local authorities and demonstrates adult (not necessarily bright or sensible) mental capabilities and requests independence may be granted independent status.

3) Automatically due to Age. Depending on the local laws, Orcs are generally presumed adult at 8-12, humans at 14-24, and so on.

4) Demonstrated by adult responsibilities or activities. A child who moves out, is more or less self-supporting or has a reasonable job, and establishes his or her own living arrangements, or marries, is independent. (Actually, this is old common law, and still has some force in quite a number of states).

5) Granted. Parents may grant a child’s independence just as the local authorities may – even if they continue to support him or her (this is rare, as this is usually just a tact consent to “I’m Leaving!”). In practice, this is simply a pre-issued consent to the child making his or her own decisions. Occasionally its simple disowning.

6) Convicted: Children who are convicted of major offenses are often considered effectively adult from that point onwards. This isn’t a good thing.

7) Escape: A child who successfully runs away to a jurisdiction where they’re considered independent or adult is effectively independent or adult, at least while they’re there. This has some interesting ramifications in Shadowrun, where you’re considered to be – legally – wherever your matrix icon is. All you have to do is link up to a server in the right location, and presto! You’re considered an adult while you’re online – and contracts are administered under the laws of the location where they’re agreed to.

   I’ll have to consult with mother about the advertising scheme. She’s certainly gotten me to tie myself down pretty readily. Two dozen girls – mostly virgin, all cute, all previously off-limits, all freshly enslaved, all upper-echelon, all with their fertility restored, all in induced heat, all trained in seduction, and all assigned to me. Ready and eager to be taken. She made sure that there wasn’t another functional male anywhere around – and she knew about the accelerated gestation too. She knew that finally being able to claim beautiful, blushing, girls that I’d had to pass up for years would be irresistible – and that a harem that large, and a couple of dozen more children to be responsible for, would keep me pretty well anchored. I can’t even say that I’m really unhappy with the deal, or that I’m not enjoying myself one hell of a lot.

   I hate to admit it – but it looks like experience wins. They’re mine now, and I couldn’t live with myself if I got rid of them after claiming them – even if I wanted to – and the children are on the way. Between the girls and the kids, I’m going to be way short of time. Damn. I kind of expect Dad to outsmart me, but I didn’t think that Mother would outmaneuver me quite so casually. No wonder she’s a terror in business: she makes her deals so irresistible that you don’t want to get out of them even after you know you’re stuck.

   Nariako only saw a couple of problems with his basic scheme: it would attract attention and it would send security through the roof. Still, so long as he was careful about taking kids who were under contract – whether valid or not by his standards – substituted “unexplored territories” and similar anonymous phrases for “new world” and other giveaways (that way it’d pretty much be assumed that he meant Amazonia and such), and used a blind matrix contact instead of his name, it ought to pass for a while. Even after that he might be able to give investigators the impression that he was an eccentric dragon or something. Between intrigue, runaways, supernatural predators, and other menaces lots of people, and not a few kids, disappeared every day.

   Secondarily, he might want to simply stick with standard ownership contracts: that way anyone with any questions could just look up the answers online – and he didn’t have to exercise the sexual options, but if he did want to, they’d be there. After all, he’d certainly get a few orcs applying, even if the metahumans were fairly rare compared to humans, and – given their generation time and breeding rate – if he didn’t want them overrunning the place he’d better keep the spay/neuter option open if he was willing to take them at all.

   Iuri hadn’t really thought about that. Elves and such were OK – if only because they bred slower than humans – but orcs could push everyone else out in a bit. On the other hand… well… they were people, and he didn’t want to leave even orc children in really bad situations either.

   “Well – standard ownership contracts for the moment then.”

   At least there were things he could simplify. There were 22 neutered-by-injection but physically intact slave boys left – 16 of the vassals and the 6 eight-to-ten-year-olds he’d classified as apprentices. He scheduled a meeting with them next:

   “It seems you were all neutered by injection before you got here, so my offer to let you stay male is moot; none of you have any virility to keep. You can vote on another enhancement from the list on the board instead. Who wants what?”…

   “Most of you like the avian shapeshifting and enhancements? Done. I’m going to sleep-spell you now; when you wake up, you’ll have that enchantment and be physically gelded. That’s actually easier for me to fix later, it’ll make it obvious to anyone who captures you that you’re property to be stolen rather than opponents to be killed – and I prefer it. No questions? No serious protests? (Huh. I guess they knew this was coming – and that it doesn’t really change anything). Sleep then”.

   Well that’s settled. There isn’t much left I can do in the castle though. I can re-arrange elements, but I can’t transmute them – so I can’t build up the technology level much more without some raw materials. I used most of them on the urgent needs, computer/communications systems, and weaponry. About all that’s left is to check to see if anyone from Yasoda has sent me any special offers by private email. They almost certainly have by now. They might offer stock, money, information, useful positions, or – as ruthless some of them are – they may have persuaded themselves that contracting their children out to me is in the kids best interests. Who knows? The more information I get on their business practices, the more I’m beginning to think that might even be true.

   I’ve got to get some of the mining and resource-exploitation outposts up and running. I could probably push it a little further on my own – but I can’t leave everything dependent on my powers: I’ve got to get my little colony started on being self-sustaining beyond subsistence farming.

   All the mess with the Harem has held up a lot of other projects too. What was on my list?

Iuri’s Current Project List:

  • 0) (Underway): Getting his recruitment project up and running. He REALLY wants to get an industrial base set up.
  • 1) Opening up some of the mining outposts. Since the out-of-the-castle workers are also currently getting the avian shape-shift ability, he’ll be adding a couple of back-door exits suitable for birds as an extra safety factor. Initial mining will be open-pit if possible, since that’s the safest system available.
  • 2) Trips to the abandoned cities. With any luck there will be stocks of food, metals, and other useful or valuable items. With a lot more luck there may be new magical information, new technology, or usable machinery. If there are any near enough, he’ll try to add them to his domain if they look usable.
  • 3) Locating or making some oil. At least enough for lamps, explosives, and the occasional small engine.
  • 4) Making contact with the other races that were scattered around. He’d like to make friendly contact, set up some trade, find out what he can about them (and any magical or technological secrets they may have), and – if they keep and sell slaves of their own species – obtain some specimens.
  • 5) Complete his catalog of the other worlds Atheria is linked to. He was sending spirits to check, but the project is incomplete.
  • 6) Analyzing the magical weaponry and gear from the “Wild West” area.
  • 7) Getting any unusual tribal customs sorted out. He’s chief, but eventually there are going to be disputes that he has to resolve, justice to administer, and so on. He wants the locals to accept him as a ruler. On a minor side-note, he wants to know if there are any expected gifts to the girls he’s collected or to their families, if there are any customary adornments or dress codes, and if there are any special responsibilities involved inbeing chief – such as officiating at ceremonies or taking care of the various orphans.
  • 8) Obtaining more general “treasure”. Gems and gold are OK, Art, exotic Plants, Animals, Creatures, Compounds, and Foci are better, Megacorp Stock is very good, and exotic Spell Formulas, Magical Theorems, and such are best of all.
  • 9) Locating some friendly free spirits (Even if most of them around here are pretty standoffish).
  • 10) Locating or researching a spell which allows you to temporarily activate a weapon focus without having to attune it.
  • 11) Coming up with a practical method for putting his relationship with Yasoda on a more-or-less equal basis, or at least to getting them used to dealing with him as an independent adult rather than as a child in need of discipline.
  • 12) Getting any other knowledge from Clair Bible – or a clue as to what the third item or set of items it put in his head is.
  • 13) Obtaining an artifact (a free allied spirit in a spirit focus), preferably of force 4-6 and with a decent personality. This isn’t really likely, but it could be awfully handy if he could locate one.
  • 14) Improving security around the castle. Ideally, he’d like a security rigger and a selection of drones, additional spirits and astral defenses, and a small security company, all strictly under his authority. Sadly, he’s well aware that he’s not too likely to get it. Still, he’ll be trying to come up with something.
  • 15) Finding out how he can best assist his Mother’s business dealings. What kind of information or services would be most useful to her?
  • 16) Acquiring a dragon (OK, so this is a video-game fantasy. He liked the “Dragonrider” series of simsense fantasy games). Ideally a willingly and permanently obedient adult. Failing such a blatant miracle, a manageable young one which has been captured and bound by another dragon which is willing to sell or trade for him, her, or it. Failing that, a spell which let you take the form of a dragon would also be really neat. Failing that, well it was only a fantasy anyway.

 

 

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