Mors Funebris Ch. 2 P 4

 Hex Sex

Mors Funebris Chapter 2 Part 4

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“In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies,                              but the silence of our friends.” 

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It was only the slightest of sounds, but it was enough to disturb Arawn from his sleep. Opening his eyes in the darkness of his designated living unit, the first thing he noted was the absence of his bed mate.

Lifting his head and listening intently, the next thing he became aware of was the breeze that whistled softly outside his unit’s sole double-paned window. Filtering out that ambient noise, he then became aware of the sound of breathing. His, and someone else’s.

“Orono?” he whispered, as he leaned forward to sit up. When he did, the warm blanket that had covered him, fell from his shoulders. In that moment, he felt the chill of the early morning air caress his exposed skin, causing a wave of goosebumps to cross his chest.  

As he stared out across the room that was dimly lit by the light of that world’s double-moons; Arawn could just barely make out the sight of a female form standing on the far side of the room near the closet. It was Orono, Arawn had caught her in the act of donning the Annwyfn standard uniform: a black full body suit.

“Lights, one-quarter.” He commanded quietly. Immediately the room’s overhead lighting control obeyed, switching themselves on and raising the ambient light level up so as to allow him to see, but preventing the usual momentary blindness from a higher setting.

Dispassionately, Arawn viewed the near-nakedness of his assign-mate who was standing just a scant two meters away. Orono remained in place, choosing to remain unmoving and partially dressed. He observed that one of her legs was half pushed through the pants section of her uniform, while her other leg remained bare.

Even then, she refused to turn and acknowledge him. Instead her attention was cast guiltily upon the floor in front of her. Arawn noticed that she stood in a way, that allowed her trimmed chestnut brown hair to hang down and cover her face. To him, it was almost as if she were ashamed at being caught in the act of dressing. But why?

With just a slight rustle of cloth, Arawn threw back his bed-covers and stood himself up naked in the chilled room. As he did so, his finely sculpted Annwyfn body flexed strongly as he moved over to stand next to, but not quite touching her.

“Orono.” He whispered again in concern. “What is wrong? Why are you acting so stealthy?” He asked, forcing himself to not reach out for her. Even if she were his Assign-mate, he still refused to touch her without her permission. Such a violation of personal-privacy was one that was considered to be nigh-on a sin for every Annwyfn in existence. Quietly, he waited patiently for her to answer.

Her first response was to take in a trembling sigh. Hesitantly at first, she began to move herself out of position, pulling her leg slowly back out of her uniform’s cloth-leg to settle her foot back upon the floor. But, he noted, she had not yet released the bundled up body-suit from her grasp. Only once she was standing on both of her feet, did she turn and face him. Arawn patiently waited for her to speak, finally she did.

“My apologies my Assign-Husband.” He barely heard her whisper, while she continued to not look at him.
“It was not my intention to disturb you from your rest period.” She attempted to explain. Her response confused him, he expressed that confusion by raising an eyebrow and tilting his head, otherwise he remained where he was. After several more seconds, Orono spoke again.

“I got up early to scan myself.” She began to explain in as an even tone as she could manage.

“And?” Arawn replied as his eyes widened, eager to hear of her discovery.

“Despite both our due diligence, I have failed to conceive.” She breathed, “Again.” Orono finished with a catch in her voice. Arawn felt himself gasp with his own disappointment at the news. Then he swallowed, ashamed at failing to suppress his reaction.

“I apologize for my failure to you, my Mate.” Orono replied, finally turning her pain filled brown-eyes upwards to meet his. Through their psychic pair-bond he felt the agony that admission had cost her, stabbing through the core of his being.

“I do not understand Orono,” Arawn asked, attempting to divert her from her grief, “why is your perceived failure to become pregnant, causing you to remove yourself from our habitation unit?”

“I was desirous of removing myself from your presence.”

“Why do that?” Arawn asked, still puzzled.

“Because I am unworthy of you.” She replied, “I alone, out of so many other Annwyfn, continue to fail to bear a child.” She replied, dropping her eyes to stare at the floor before her once more.

In response, Arawn then dared to violate Annwyfn social mores by reaching out and touching her on her shoulder. Instantly, she tensed up at his brazenness, but soon relaxed when he made his intention plain. Once he was reassured that she would not become irate with him, he began drawing her now nude body to his.

Slowly, yet steadily, he pressed her to himself. Insistently, he drew her ample yet firm breasts to his chest, as he gently guided her head to lie upon his shoulder. Once he was assured that she wouldn’t pull away, he then carefully encircled her with his arms. It was only then that she dropped her body-suit to the floor, as she relaxed her arms and lay them at her sides in abject dejection. Silently, they both stood there for what seemed the longest time, but was only a couple of minutes.

“You are not unworthy.” He stated finally. Which caused Orono to lift her head from his shoulder and to stare back at him open mouthed, incredulous at his madness.

“How can you say such, Arawn?” she began with a desperate longing in her voice, as she reached up and finally returned his embrace.

“I do not assign blame on you for your inability to conceive, my Assign-Mate.” Arawn began.
“It is equally likely that I myself, am unable to sire a child. Perhaps you would be better served, if you applied for another Annwyfn-male to impregnate you.” He offered, hating himself for even contemplating such a vile idea. His words caused Orono to finally break her calm.

“NO!” she cried, looking up at him with her eyes wetted with the beginnings of tears. “NO!” she cried again shuddering, clutching at him fiercely, while she pressed her head down into the crook of his neck.
“I do not wish to endure the touch of another! It is only with you, that I wish to bear a child! Do not make such an evil suggestion to me again!” she ordered, barely holding onto her outrage.

After a moment, Arawn nodded his acquiescence, and only then did Orono relax, but she continued to breathe heavily into his ear, quietly sobbing her misery at her self-perceived failure.

After a few moments, Arawn noted that between the coldness of the room combined with the warmth that his Assign-Wife exuded into him, he became aware of his manhood beginning to bestir itself. Simultaneously, he noticed that Orono’s breathing had changed. His heart leapt with joy when he could feel a smile begin to form on her face.

“It occurs to me, my Assign-Husband,” she began, as Arawn felt a smile form in response to hers, “that we still have approximately ninety minutes left before our procreation window ends. Perhaps we could recommence another attempt?” she suggested hopefully while holding herself still, half-afraid of being rejected. Her words had the effect of causing Arawn’s manhood to become fully engorged, giving her, her desired answer.

“I cannot find any flaw in your logic, my mate.” Arawn replied, as he reached up to cup her face in his hands.

 “Do we have sufficient time to engage in an appropriate amount of foreplay?” he joked. Her response was to shift her stance, crouch down, then bodily flip Arawn over her shoulder onto their shared bed.

An audible ‘KA-WOOMF!” resounded from their mattress when he impacted. Momentarily disoriented, Arawn soon found that both his senses and his body was further assaulted by Orono when she pounced upon him. She then began passionately kissing him about his head and neck, and finally his lips. At first, he attempted to rise from his prone position. 

“Lie back!” she ordered then. After he espied her enthusiastic leer he complied with her command, he then began settling down atop the crumpled blanket. Once he was comfortable, he spread-eagled himself.

She then joined him, straddling his body with hers. Hovering her pelvis near his, she reached forward and took ahold of his penis with her right hand, as she lightly stroked her bare vulva with the fingers of her other. For several minutes she gently pumped him, while lightly stroking herself.

Occasionally, she would switch hands. She did so to allow her to spread her arousal-lubricant onto his penis, making it easier for her to masturbate him.

Once or twice, Arawn attempted to reach out to assist her. But every time he did, Orono frowned and slapped his hand away without a word. After the second occurrence he relaxed and allowed her to remain in control. He chose then instead, to revel in the sight of his mate’s athletically toned body flexing and contorting itself before him in the low light of their room, as she manipulated both of their bodies.

Finally, after what seemed like an inordinately long duration to Arawn, Orono deemed that sufficient time of her solo-foreplay had elapsed. Quickly, yet softly, she sat up, and then she lowered herself onto the tip of his penis, allowing him to enter her cavity with but a moment’s delay. She then continued her descent, until the two of them became enjoined together physically, and then psychically.

‘Aaaaah!’ they both went, as their Psychic bond blossomed anew. No words were necessary in that moment. None was needed as they felt their individuality melt and mold together into a unified whole. There were no clumsy attempts at expressing their love for each verbally. Why make such a feeble venture, when both of them could feel the other’s love?

Nor, was there was a need for one to request the other to stroke here, or kiss there upon a particular spot. Instantly after the desire was felt by one, it was fulfilled by the other.

Orono/Arawn gasped as she felt her/his penis enter his/her vagina. Arawn/Orono moaned softly as he felt his/her warm-wet vagina engulf and tighten around her/his penis in its entirety.

 ‘PLEASURE’- they thought together. ‘UNITY’- they experienced in all of its glory. Soon their shared moans surged together, as their paired pleasuring was matched stroke for stroke. Quickly, their ever-increasing pelvic gyrations sped up, then slowed, or moved slightly out of position to increase a pleasure sensation here, or to decrease a cramp there. Soon, they began to rapidly pound at each other in a build up to the inevitable.

She, rode him fiercely while mentally screaming her animalistic-joy. He, forced himself upwards into her quivering silkiness time and again, grunting fiercely with every thrust. Their psychic-bond continued to enhance and augment their pleasure into an ever growing tsunami-like buildup. Soon, their entire existence consisted but of a single sine-wave of Pleasure.

Both of them felt the rising surge of Arawn’s need to release building up beyond his ability to control. As she felt/experienced that, Orono’s Orgasmic-wave matched his, in her own inexorable rise to apex.

Together they screamed out in synchronization as they orgasmed simultaneously. Arawn/Orono felt the last shreds of their individuality dissolve in their transcendently endless waves of pleasure-gasm. Their minds and bodies clutched at each other together then, in their determined effort to attempt to create another of their kind, another Annwyfn.

A seeming Eternity they spent together, him/her spilling her/his seed into her/his eagerly accepting and pulsating womb; which allowed itself to swallow every drop of his semen. Orono/Arawn became aware of a transcendent,…

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Arawn awoke from his dreaming, with his heart beating furiously in his ears. Soon, he was saddened to discover that he was in his bed located in his assigned barrack-apartment at Fort Eequor, and not in the bed, nor the room, that he and Orono had shared on the Annwyfn birth-world, countless Deca-Millenia ago.

Listening carefully over the noise of his rapidly beating heart, he heard the sound of the latest thunderstorm booming furiously overhead somewhere near outside.

While attempting to relax himself from his dream, he idly lay there for several moments in the dark. All the while attempting to snatch back every moment of the memory of his long-forgotten fellow Annwyfn and mate: Orono.

Dimly, he attempted to recall the scant century that the two of them had spent together in obedient bliss to their Masters: The Lords of Law. With an ever mounting frustration, he discovered that he couldn’t.

With an inarticulate cry, he flung back his bedcovers and moved to sit himself up alongside the edge of the bed. There, instead of standing, he chose to remain sitting and to stare off into the darkness for a short while, wallowing in the misery of his nascent wakening.

‘Again!’ he began, ‘Again I dream of the days before my Cursing!’ he panted.

‘This is madness!’ he mused silently. ‘I can still feel the tingle of her breath upon my skin! It feels if she had just touched me a moment ago, instead of eons!’. He thought, as he absentmindedly cupped that spot he last felt Orono’s breath upon him. Slowly, his hands crept up to his face and covered his eyes, as he tried and failed to suppress a single sob that welled up from deep within his being.

Silence befell that room for a time, that was interrupted only by the occasional crack of thunder, and the intermittent drip of rain water that had snuck its way into the kitchen area.

But, try as he might, Arawn found that he couldn’t cry. Instead, he found himself becoming tense, as he heard the half-expected sound of footsteps approaching in the rooms beyond his bedroom area. Lifting his head, he beheld the strange sight of himself walking towards himself.

Tertius.’ He thought, as he looked across the way. Over and towards near the mid-section of the far wall, there lay the Chaos-Shield. It was atop the apex of a stone doorway, the one that appeared incongruously in front of a wooden wall. The way it normally did when it was summoned.

“Tertius?” Arawn asked aloud, perplexed. “Why are you here, instead of at the Monitoring-Position?”

“Primus!” Tertius whispered, holding aloft a glow-lamp in one hand that cast dancing shadows along every wall.
“I felt your turmoil as you dreamed.” Arawn/Tertius replied with a rasp in his voice.
“So, I came out here, to attend to you first hand.” He spoke concernedly, as he shuffled himself closer to the bed, careful to not trip over anything in the dark, particularly that damnable ghost-cat that had been appearing too often of late.

“Why?” Primus asked suddenly, grateful for company then. Even if technically it was himself, “Why do I dream so often now, of the Elder-days? Ever since I first stepped foot into Cynosure, it seems that anymore I am plagued with ancient memories whether I am dreaming or awake.” Primus mused out loud, while thinking of his PTSD reaction a week ago. He then thought of something.

“Where are the others? It is not your turn to Monitor.” Primus spoke quietly then from his spot on the edge of his bed.

“Well Primus,” Tertius began to explain, “Secundus announced that he had made a number of breakthroughs in his spell research. Primarily, that he was successful in his effort to duplicate Makai’s Periapt of Concealment.” Tertius continued as he sat the glow-lamp atop a handy nightstand.

“Really?” Arawn asked, perking up. “That is good news, but that does not explain everyone else’s absence.” He stated as he looked curiously at the Shield/Gateway, Tertius sighed quietly, as he sat himself down onto the bed next to Primus, and then gave him an embarrassed sidelong look.

“The reason for their absence, is because Secundus made his announcement in the midst of your deepest slumber. None of us then wished to disturb your much needed rest. Particularly so, since he made his announcement a half-hour after Jinks’ departure.

“So, in lieu of begging for your permission, we decided instead to proceed out into the city, to give Secundus a chance to test those periapts.” Arawn/Primus’ eyes flared at that news, which caused Tertius to raise his hand in a placating manner.

“Hear me out!” he demanded, after a second Primus made himself relax and motioned for Tertius to continue. “We all have cabin fever.

“But, before our departure we cast lots to see who would remain behind to explain our escapade. I drew the short straw.” Tertius grumbled. Arawn found himself smiling, eager for the distraction.

 “Fair enough,” Arawn nodded, “You mentioned that Secundus had made a ‘number of breakthroughs.’” Arawn remembered suddenly. Tertius nodded.

“Yes. In addition to the Periapt, Secundus wished to test a Rain-Repulsion spell, along with a Multi-Spectrum Illusion Spell. Finally, he expressed a desire to test out a possible way to detect Chocolate dildos from afar.” Tertius finished. Arawn raised his eyebrows in surprise.

“So who all departed?”

“Secundus went to make his tests, Quintus to supervise, and Quartus to stand guard.”

“Hmmmph! It appears that Secundus has been most industrious of late.” Arawn admired.

“Indeed, he has,” Tertius agreed nodding slightly. “considering how closely we came to being involuntarily wedded to Rowena a week ago. He decided it would be best, if he were to redouble his efforts so as to prevent a similar circumstance.”

“Bravo for him!” Arawn smiled, as he thought back to that fateful day that occurred when? ‘Only a week ago? It seems much longer now.’ He thought to himself’.
That fateful day in which Rowena the Dark Mage had nearly succeeded in forcing Arawn to wed with her; as dictated by the strictures of General Scathach’s Hunt. But something that the General had overlooked in her plan, was the sheer level of desperation that her aide-de-camp had all too eagerly resorted to.

Abusing the power of her office, she had chosen to forge one of the General’s seals. She did this so as to order Jinks away from Arawn’s presence. Rowena had guessed, rightly as it turned out, that Jinks would’ve interfered with the Dark Mage’s attempt to forcefully appropriate him.

“It occurs to me that ever since Rowena, Jinks has seldom let me out of her sight.” Arawn realized. “It is almost as if she is afraid of losing access to me.” He grunted. “So much for her stated intention for us to remain simply, ‘friends’.” Arawn grinned momentarily

“Such, could very well explain the sudden difficulty that every other Hunter has experienced in her attempt to acquire you.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, was it not the very next day that the Dildo-holder was a Hob-Goblin? The one who had trouble distinguishing between doors and walls?” Tertius mentioned, Arawn nodded then, remembering.

‘The Anubis Charge of Quarters was, somehow, even more annoyed with me after that fiasco!’ he mused silently. Tertius continued.

“The day after that, it was a Kobold overcome with revulsion at the thought of touching a calorie-heavy edible sex toy. She threw it away immediately after receiving it, thus negating her suit.” Tertius waved his hand around to emphasize his point.

“It is almost as if whatever system those in charge have, of choosing the recipient of the Dildo for the day, is experiencing a random series of malfunctions.” Tertius finished with a grin.

“A gremlin in the works? Hmmm.” Arawn hummed, returning that grin.

“So,” Arawn began, after having contemplated that bit of good luck, “any word on the status of Secundus’ tests?”

“It is mostly positive. The first they reported, was a successful test of their respective periapts; by infiltrating a rookery of Raven-Harpies in their nest-tower.” Tertius smiled. “To wit, they managed to rearrange the Harpy’s nests under their beaks,…err,…noses.”

“Oh, my!” Arawn felt himself cheered. “I take it that they were successful in getting away from there?” Tertius nodded.
“Is there more, or were they satisfied with just that escapade?” Primus asked, amused. Tertius shook his head happily.

“Indeed, there is more- much more. In fact, from there on they have deliberately began interfering with, and escaping from, a number of other Mamono events. They have, and I quote,” Tertius began, “‘mucked up’ a Familiar’s Sabbat. Severely annoyed a coterie of Succubi involved in a Cambion ritual. Loudly interrupted the mating rites of a visiting band of Amazonesses who were, by the way, camped out on the Parade Grounds,…” Tertius mentioned, as he suppressed a giggle.

 As Tertius continued to speak, he ticked off one by one with his fingers, each of the Mamono groups, that that trio of Arawn’s not-Brothers had managed to annoy in the last few hours.

Arawn found his late night bad mood starting to dissipate the more Tertius went on, along with the increasing number of fingers he held aloft, until, finally,….

“Yes?” Arawn asked, when he noticed Tertius hesitate.

“The last report I received from them,” Tertius sighed, looking away from Primus for a moment. “Try to not get upset, please.” Tertius asked.

“No promises.” Arawn replied, suddenly concerned.

“When Quintus last reported in, he mentioned that they had encountered the Hyakki-Yagyo.” Tertius mentioned quietly.

“WHAT!?” Arawn shouted, jumping to his feet in alarm. “Are they out of their minds? They thought to disrupt the Parade of One-Hundred Zipangu Monsters?!” he huffed.

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The Hyakki-Yagyo, was a ceremony that a number of Cynosure’s immigrant Zipangese Monsters (Yokai) sporadically participated in. They, chose to march themselves along the streets of Cynosure and Fort Eequor, on nights randomly chosen.

The purpose of their intermittent night-time parade, was to ostensibly give thanks to various Zipangu Deities for their granting of a husband, upon those who had been ‘lucky’ enough to obtain one.
More often than not of late, the procession was largely made up of unmarried Mamono of both Zipangese extraction and otherwise. All of whom sought to improve their own ‘Matrimonial-luck’ one way or another.

During the last couple of decades, a number of Cynosure’s Orderite human-male gangs, had taken advantage of the ‘untouchable’ status afforded them by the Great Maou’s edicts, and had chosen to engage in a Pamplona-style taunting of the husband-hungry Yokai. The result of which, often ended with either a frustrated outrage on one side, or with an ever-increasing level of multiple reversed-gorings on the other.

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After several seconds of straining effort that caused a number of veins to pop out along his forehead, Arawn managed to get his temper under control.

“Fortune Favors the Bold.” Tertius pointed out to Arawn then, who shot his head around and grimaced at him by way of reply.

“Well?!” he began, barely holding onto his rage, “What is their current status?”

“The last I had heard from them was twenty minutes ago, just before you awoke. They mentioned that they were going in to ‘play a trick,’ by using Secundus’ nascent Illusion Spell.”

“What was their plan of action?”

“To create an image of several naked human males, in an effort to see if they could successfully divert the attention of Mamono, and I quote again, ‘from the real thing’, end quote.”

“An image of who, themselves?” Arawn asked, Tertius shrugged his shoulders to indicate that he didn’t know. Arawn blew his cheeks out as he sighed heavily in exasperation. He then sat himself down and thought silently for several seconds.

“Are they aware of the fact, that of late the local Ninja-clans have lately volunteered to stand security over that procession?” Arawn asked, Tertius’ surprised look gave Arawn his answer. He then covered his face with the palm of one hand.

“Well, the lack of news so far, could be good, I suppose.” Arawn began, but before he could continue, both he and Tertius’ thoughts were interrupted.

‘PRIMUS!’ came the thoughts of Quintus, almost on cue. ‘Primus are you awake!? (5)’ he mentally shouted loudly enough to garner the attention of a sleeping Chaos Lord.

‘Yes Quintus, I am awake, now!’ Arawn/Primus thought-ordered. ‘Tertius has just appraised me of your intention to disrupt the Hyakki-Yagyo; how is that proceeding? (1)’

‘We were most successful in our intentions to rain on their parade. I am happy to report, that our group illusionary spell has yielded a positive outcome. Several bands of them are currently working hard on ‘cornering’ those Illusionary bands of bachelors in several spots, down in the garment district. (5)’

‘So, what is the source of the urgency I currently hear in your thought-speech? (1)’ Arawn/Primus mentioned in that moment.

‘Aaaaahh, I was about to get to that!’ Quintus began. ‘It seems that we were so successful in gaining the attention of the parade Monsters, that they sent out a call for backups! (5)’

‘Backups? What kind? (1)’

‘Uhhhh, security backups. They appear to consist of several whispers of Kunoichi to be precise! And unfortunately, they have chosen to follow us. (5)’ Arawn groaned audibly then.

‘We have, so far managed to successfully elude the bulk of them. But, they are proving to be most determined in their pursuit. In fact, just before I contacted you, I was nearly captured by a particularly persistent one. Would you mind please, Recalling us to your location? (5)’ Quintus asked, with desperation dripping from his every word.

‘Are you sure that is wise course of action? (1)’ Arawn asked, needling Quintus deliberately.

‘Not unless you wish for me, that is to say, YOU to suddenly become her mate. She has called out a number of times, attempting to trick one of us into giving away our positions, by informing us of her matrimonial superiority. (5)’

‘Still,…(1)’ Primus stated, deliberately stalling.

‘Primus please!’ Quintus begged. ‘She appears to be making good on her threats of bodily harm! (5)’ Primus relented.

‘Cofio!’ Arawn mentally called out in an invocation. Immediately three flashes sprung forth in front of him, blinding him momentarily. Concurrently several things happened around the room as well.

Chaos erupted, as the trio of Arawn’s not-brothers landed simultaneously upon the floor of the apartment, with a loud ‘ka-thud’ from each. This was due namely to the fact that they apparently were teleported/recalled mid-leap, from somewhere high up to someplace else not quite so high.

 When they each impacted the floor, they were all still in motion from their leap, and as a result they all impacted into something stationary. Quintus collided with a wooden wall, Quartus the same with a wardrobe- knocking it over, and Secundus rolled himself as he contacted the floor. But in the end, he too also banged himself into a stop, when he impacted the Chaos Shield door-frame. Almost simultaneously, several other objects impacted against the wall alongside Quintus.

“Great Maker! What were you thinking, interfering with the Hyakki-Yagyo!?” Arawn/Primus shouted then, jumping to his feet as he rushed to help his not-brothers. Alongside him, Tertius got to his feet much more slowly, and then went in search of water to magically chill into ice. As he/Tertius observed that the escaping trio of Annwyfn would be in dire need of same, soon.

After a short interval of First Aid application to the slightly nauseated and madly giggling Trio, Secundus was the first to declare,..

“Success!” he crowed, then winced, when he felt the bruising his sudden impact had elicited in his side. Gently, he pressed the ice packet that Tertius had thoughtfully provided against his ribs.
“Success,” he began again, much more mildly this time. “My duplicated Periapts of Concealment have proven to be quite efficacious!” he smiled madly.

“I would recommend that you curb your enthusiasm, Secundus.” Arawn/Primus stated dryly then.

“Why be such a stick in the mud, Primus?” Quartus piped up. “Our testing of the Periapt duplicates was wondrous! Now, we others can come and go from your apartment, as we please!” Quartus chortled, raising his hands.

“The entirety of the city of Cynosure is now at our fingertips!” he continued, smiling gleefully, “I look forwards to returning to the freedom that we had enjoyed, during our Sojourn in the world of the Authority!” he then sighed with evident relief, despite the bruising he had just enjoyed.

“Fair enough.” Primus replied, not entirely dismissive. “But how long does the Periapt hold its charge? How often will it need to be recharged with mana?” Arawn pointed out, which caused his not-brothers to stop short their laughter, and then turn their head to stare at Secundus questioningly. After a moment of thoughtful silence Secundus spoke.

“As near as I can tell, a days-worth of concealment can be obtained with only a minimal application.” He smiled, clicking his tongue.

“What of the rain repelling spell?” Arawn began again, looking pointedly at Secundus’ sodden clothing.
 “Oh this?” Secundus asked, pointing his hand at his togs, while grasping at them and squeezing out a small stream.
“Such is the result of my falling into an aqueduct, while I was eluding one of our Kunoichi pursuers.” He explained while getting to his feet. As he did, water continued to drip from his robes onto the wooden floor and a nearby carpet.

“Fine.” Arawn replied with a frown looking at the water staining his carpet as he stepped forward and faced Secundus.

“What of the Chocolate-Dildo detection spell?” he asked suddenly. This question caused Secundus to falter, and to looked around himself abashedly.

“Uhhmmmm, such will still be needing some refinement.” Secundus grumped. “I have so far been unable to pinpoint the location of the Chocolate-Dildo’s holding area. It would have helped, if Jinks had not devoured our one last remaining Chocolate-Dildo available.” Arawn frowned at the memory of such. She’d been most apologetic after he’d explained the necessity of keeping it intact. The problem being, that the only other one available had been confiscated as evidence to be utilized in Rowena’s impending court-martial. Jinks’ last reply had left him puzzled, stating that ‘it smelled so delicious, that she couldn’t help herself!’ “. Arawn nodded back to Secundus, acknowledging his complaint.

“I shall endeavor to be much more forceful in the future, keeping such from her or any other Mamono.” Arawn promised, attempting to project a good mood, and failing.

“Oh, come now Primus!” Quintus interjected then with his eyebrows scrunched together in consternation. “I would have thought that you would be nigh on overjoyed. Instead of being so gloomy like your usual self. Why are you so determined to look on the dark side of things?” Quintus asked with his arms crossed casually.

“Yes, I can see your point Quintus.” Arawn admitted, closing his eyes patiently.
“The Periapt’s duplication will indeed prove to be a boon I am sure, in more ways than one.” He sighed, as he opened an eye and looked towards Quintus’ impact wall.
“As will the Rain Repulsion spell. I look forward to testing it out on my own. As also the refinement of the Chocolate Dildo detection spell. Forewarned is forearmed!” Primus replied with a broad smile, as he opened his arms to all before him. Then he turned to Quartus and asked.

“You three made the point of determinedly interfering with the Hyakki-Yagyo, correct?” Arawn asked, smiling stiffly. All of his not-brothers nodded back at him with a hesitant look.

“Tell me, what image did you use in your harassment of them?” he asked sweetly then. As one, each of his not-brother’s faces froze in realization of their error, then their faces drained of color as they remembered the circumstances.

“Uhhhh, we used our own Images, Primus.” Secundus admitted finally, not looking at him. Arawn frowned.

“So, let me see if I have this correct?” he began quietly, while frowning mightily. “You chose to use an Image-duplicate of me, to allow the three of you, the opportunity to attempt an escape, after doing everything in your power to gain the attention of the procession of the nearly one-hundred Zipangu Monsters?” Arawn emphasized, Secundus, Quartus, and Quintus’ eyes widened then, and they all nodded in unison while not looking at their Primary.

“Afterwards, you also mentioned that a clan of Kunoichi were in pursuit of you, correct?” Arawn asked as he stepped over to the wall that Quintus had impacted. He then reached up to one of the items that had impacted it when Quintus had arrived; and continued to stick out of the wall’s surface. 

Focusing his attention on that one item, he carefully took ahold of it with a pair of fingers, and attempted to pull it out. Yet, it refused to allow itself to be easily removed. All of his not-brothers watched him nervously in his endeavor, but not one of them chose to ask what he was doing.

“Correct?” Arawn prompted again, looking over his shoulder as he took a much firmer grip of the ‘sudden’ wall projection item, and started to wiggle it out of its place.

“Uhhmmm, yes.” Quintus replied at the last, just as Arawn managed to yank that one mystery item out of the wall. Holding it carefully up to his face, Arawn gave it an intent inspection.

“Oh Great Maker.” He stated after several seconds, he then handed it to Quintus, who blanched when he saw what it was, and then he handed it to his next not-brother, and so on and so forth until they had all done their inspection of the item, and returned it to Arawn. Who then sighed as he held it up for all to see.

“So, not only does the Hyakki-Yagyo group, know now whom to look for in terms of their eye-witness accounts. The Kunoichi guard who were pursuing you, who became so annoyed in their pursuit,” Arawn drew in a deep breath to calm himself, “of you, to throw some of their, what do you call them again?” Arawn asked.

“Throwing-Stars.” Quintus mentioned. “Shuriken, I believe that they are called in the Zipangese tongue.”

“Shuriken, Yes.” Arawn echoed, not looking at any of them. “As I recall from Corporal Tia’s lectures, the Kunoichi are in the habit of enchanting every one of their weapons. This one, is obviously made out of Demon-Silver.” Arawn spoke, as he dangled it before all his eyes.

“So tell me Secundus, when you craft a magical device; what do you do so as to prevent it from getting lost?” Arawn asked innocently, Secundus answered instantly, smiling at first.

“Oh that is easy! I simply infuse a tracer spe,…” Secundus stopped, his face freezing as he realized what he was saying. Secundus’ eyes instantly focused on the errant Shuriken, Arawn was holding out before him, and swallowed nervously.

“Which probably means of course,” Arawn continued, “that the one who crafted this ‘Shuriken’, left behind a tracing spell of one sort or another upon it. Correct?” Arawn asked, directing his gaze towards Secundus and then to each of his not-brothers in turn.
“Which also means, that that group of Kunoichi are undoubtedly on their way over to us right now.” He growled.

“Assuming of course, that they have not already arrived.” Arawn spoke quietly. “Gentleman, need I say it?” Arawn paused looking around. When none of his not-brothers reacted, he growled first then replied.
“Battlestations!” he hissed fiercely.

All of his not-brothers went into high-alert, fearful of their own lapse of judgment.

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Barely had the sound of Arawn’s not-brothers exiting through the Shield-portal had ceased, that Arawn heard the sound of someone timidly knocking three times upon his apartment door.

“Faex!” he cursed aloud, as he rapidly searched for and located his threadbare bathrobe, which he then wrapped around himself.

Pausing momentarily, he called out, “Just a second! I will be there shortly! Patience please!” he finished, with a shout. Quickly, he reached up to the Impact-wall and forcefully removed the pair of Shuriken that remained.

Resolutely, he marched himself over to the door, and undid the wards. Setting his hand upon it, he then quickly snatched the door open to find standing before himself,…

Nothing.

There was absolutely nothing, or no one standing upon his doorstep, or out in the hallway. Not even that annoying ghost-cat that had been knocking things over in his apartment.

To Arawn’s eyes, the hallway was completely empty. Leaning over outside his door frame, he turned his head both left and right, then mentally concentrated to extend out his Psi-Tendrils, so as to double-check for anyone who might be concealed out there.

‘Still no one.’ He concluded, perplexed by the knocker’s sudden absence, he retracted his Psi-tendrils as he prepared to close his door.
Heaving an annoyed sigh, he then stepped back and turned to finish closing, and that was when he felt, more than heard, a zephyr brush past him nearly overhead into his rooms.

‘Oh that did not bode well.’ He sighed, ‘What was that?!’ he demanded with his hand still touching the door.

‘No idea.’ Quintus answered mentally. ‘Try extending your Psi-senses again. (5)’ he suggested.

Instantly, Arawn/Primus cast out his Psi-tendrils, and as before, he detected no sign of any hidden individuals anywhere immediately around him. Still suspicious, he carefully closed the door to his room and remained standing. He then cast his enhanced senses all about him, to detect the presence of someone, anyone.

Arawn remained where he was for several seconds, staring at nothing through half-lidded eyes. Coming to a silent decision, he then stepped forward three steps into his apartment, then stopped. Keeping his face calm, he slowly turned himself around and faced his entranceway. 

As he expected, there was now a stranger standing there, quietly unmoving. To his eye, this stranger was dressed all in black and purple clothing, but such couldn’t hide the tell-tales of who she really was.

“Well, well, well.” Arawn began talking softly, interlocking the fingers of his hands together, his thumbs tapping at each other. All the while he stared at his unexpected guest, who silently stared back at him through one of the parts of her that wasn’t covered by an ornate black/purple cloth, her sloe-eyes.

“Allow me to welcome you into my humble abode.” Arawn began, only mildly sarcastic. He then lifted both his hands into a prayer position and bowed, as close to the proper angle that his Mentor, Corporal Tia, had taught him.

When he returned to being fully upright, he took in the sight of his guest as quickly as he could.
She, and it was most definitely a she- due to the size of her breasts, stood just over a meter and a half in height. Once again as before, he noticed that she was dressed in a near form fitting purple two-piece outfit, that covered her almost entirely. The exceptions being her shock of dark black hair that didn’t quite hide the bare spot across her face at eye level; along with the pair of angular head horns that jutted straight up from the crown of her head, along with her long pointed ears that sprung out from her hair. 
Arawn’s eyes was eventually drawn back to the pair of black-colored eyes tinged with a slight shade of purple, that peered back at him amusedly. Those eyes of hers then proceeded to give him the onceover. Well several actually, in rapid succession.

Returning her perusals, he once again noticed that she sported a pair of surprisingly large breasts, of a size differential incongruous with her otherwise slim form. The rest of her arms and legs, were either composed of either exposed skin that was spotted with arcane tattoo-runes, or they were covered with black and purple leather armor. 

Arawn tried his best to keep his emotions in check, as he allowed his eyes to rove across her form’s outline. But, he found it difficult to maintain an eye lock on her, for some unknowable reason.
Even without the use of his magic, he got the impression that she had a number of weapons secreted somewhere about her person. But such thoughts as he had then, were diverted when she allowed her sharp-spade ended tail to make a momentary appearance along her left leg.

“Judging by your outfit,” he began, after licking his lips, “and your lack of wings, I would hazard the guess that you are a Kunoichi.” He stated as a fact, not a question. She merely stared emotionlessly back at him without replying.

“Am I correct in my assumption?” Arawn asked, after several seconds of her continued silence. As before she didn’t tender a reply, nor make any attempt to communicate. Instead she just allowed her eyes to continue in their examination of his body, with the occasional lingering at various parts of his anatomy. Arawn got the distinct impression then, that he was being judged in a manner that was usually relegated to cattle.

Growing irritated with her continued silence, he shifted his weight and cast his Psi-tendrils out to her in an attempt to ‘read’ her. Finally, as he became more fully aware of her, he decided that it was almost as if she had become more real to him. If she noticed his psychic perusal of her, she gave no obvious sign.

“To what do I owe the pleasure of your,…” he halted, when on intuition he then cast out his Psi-tendrils out still further about his apartment. What he found then, left him stunned. He began to speak once more.

“Ahem!” he coughed. “Excuse me,” he began again, “To what do I owe the pleasure of you, and the company of,” he looked over his shoulder to the spots he had detected them, yet still he observed nothing out of the ordinary, “all four of your fellow Ninjas?” he finished, finally. What he said then, finally seemed to make an impression on his one sole visible guest.

She tilted her head and raised an eyebrow as she began looking at him with a modicum of respect. Then, moving without seeming to do so, she raised up a hand to shoulder height, fingers out, palm up. Arawn was confused by her gesture, until finally he caught her drift.

With a heavy sigh, he reached into one of his bathrobe’s pockets and pulled out the trio of Shuriken that he had pulled out of his wall. Carefully, so as to avoid cutting himself, he placed them one by one onto her outstretched palm. There was no sense in claiming he was unaware of them now.

Once he was done, she lightly closed her fingers upon them and dropped her arm. Arawn noted that by the time her hand had reached its nadir, the throwing stars had already disappeared.

It was then his sole visible guest did something completely unexpected to him: she pulled down her face mask. When she had completed it, she smiled sweetly at him with a smile that reached her eyes.

 He noticed she had a roundish face, framed by a shock of dark black hair that peeked out alongside her head covering, along with a perfect set of pearly white teeth.

“Greetings Majin Arawn.” She spoke then in a voice that sounded like bells tinkling, as she bowed slightly.

“Greetings, uhhhh,…”Arawn hesitated as he bowed in turn. The She-ninja lost her smile momentarily, and then replied.

“You may refer to me as, Madam Breeze.” She smiled coquettishly.

“Very well then, Madam Breeze,” Arawn began, looking at her full on, while keeping his Psi-tendrils on full alert. She nodded.
“To what do I owe the august pleasure of you and your fellow ninjas company this darkened morning?”

“You are a most singular individual, Majin Arawn.” She began in a neutral tone, carefully evading an answer. Noticing such, Arawn chose to keep himself silent. When she noted that he wasn’t going to protest, she continued.

“Not too long ago, the one sole unmarried member of my clan-family requested that she be allowed to participate in the Hunt.” Madam Breeze smiled up at him. “And as such, to attempt to make you her husband. I asked her why she was desirous of that, and she stated that she found you,… cute.” Madam Breeze made a slight frown of distaste then.

“I refused her request. As Sempai,… the eldest,” she explained, “it is my duty to look out for my clan’s best interests. It was my estimation at that time, that you were an otherwise unremarkable human male, with only a few magical tricks up your sleeve. Hardly someone worthy of being allowed to mingle his blood with our own.” For some reason, Arawn felt himself becoming annoyed at Madam Breeze’s implied insult, and began to form a protestation.

‘Ahem! (5)’ Quintus interjected helpfully. Catching himself, Arawn wisely chose instead to settle himself down. Madam Breeze hesitated when she observed Arawn’s eyes widen, but then she continued after patiently waiting for him to relax.

“It appears now, that my earlier estimation of you was in error.” She stated with a shake of her head, her pony tail swinging momentarily in response.

“Appearances can be deceiving,,..” Arawn began, but he was interrupted when Madam Breeze appeared instantly in front of him, and then laid a single finger upon his lips.

“Ssssshhhh.” She hushed, pursing her lips. “It is considered impolite amongst my people for a male to speak out of turn.” She instructed in a tone that would brook no denial.
Arawn stopped and then swallowed the rest of his sentence. Dropping her finger, but not pulling herself away from him, Madam Breeze continued once more.

“I do not know what your motivations were, for your interruption of the Hiyakki-Yagyo; nor do I much care,… now. But understand this, Majin Arawn. We, who are the Ninja Clans whose duty it is to protect the Yokai and other Mamono of Cynosure, are now aware of you.” She stated softly. Arawn opened his mouth to speak, but then he thought about it for a second and looked to Madam Breeze. Catching his eye, she shook her head. He closed his mouth.

“You have crafted quite a number of believable phantasms. Ones that managed to fool quite a number of my fellow Yokai. They all thought that they had managed to corner you, only to discover that you disappeared from within their grasp, every single time. Well done!” she laughed for a second while she clapped her hands together quietly, then she stopped as she turned somber.

“Somehow, you created three more solid-images of you that led my group along a merry chase, to nearly within a kilometer of your home. Just when we thought we had them then, they somehow managed to elude both us and my Shuriken. But then a mistake occurred.” She paused, raising one of her Shuriken in front of her.

“They chose to take my Shuriken along with them as a trophy. Which I then followed to your door. Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was you, the erstwhile unremarkable-Majin who had ahold of them.” She paused as she looked at something over his shoulder, and then laughed softly. “Foolishness.”

“So, what now?” Arawn asked with his eyes momentarily shut in consternation, “Are you here to levy a fine, or exact a punishment for my tomfoolery? I am willing to pay the price.” He stated in a disquieted tone aloud, while he shouted at Quintus silently.

‘QUINTUS! I expected better of you! (1)’ he thought. The next action of Madam Breeze caught Arawn off-guard enough to forestall Quintus’ reply.

“No, none of that.” She replied softly, “Instead, I am here to inform you that I have reconsidered my previous estimation of you, to one much more positive. I have decided that I will allow my Kohai,…. the youngest, to apply for a chance to participate in the Hunt. I imagine that she will be most pleased upon her hearing of my decision.” Madam Breeze then stepped forward and looked at Arawn steadily in his eyes. Close enough for him to see the veins in her eye sclera.

“I confess that I find myself more than a little curious, to discover how you did manage to elude us,… no, no, no!” she cried lifting a finger to forestall him again as he attempted to speak again. “You will have plenty of opportunity to answer my questions, after your wedding ceremony!” she replied gleefully then. Arawn managed a puzzled expression, as she took several steps back from him.

“That Wedding will take place after we have managed to subdue you.” She smiled widely, when he jerked in surprise. “Yes, I see that look on your face, here I shall explain.

“When a Kunoichi has decided upon a particular male for a husband, she does not abscond with him alone, no. She goes out with the help of her most trusted sisters. This, is what I am informing you now, Majin Arawn. Tomorrow the Hunt will begin again, and when it does, I imagine that you will be able to elude any one of the numbers of other equally husband hungry Mamono.” Madam Breeze bowed her head apologetically then.

“But, so far you have encountered Mamono who work alone. That will soon change. Soon, you will be hard pressed to elude an entire clan of Kunoichi, all of whom will have decided, that binding you as a husband to their clan to be a worthwhile endeavor.” Madam Breeze stopped, and then bowed to Arawn politely, who reluctantly returned it. As she started to move off, she stopped and stood in front of his door. After a couple of seconds, she then looked over at him expectantly.

“Is it not customary in the lands of the West, to hold a door open for a lady?” Madam Breeze asked cheekily. Arawn grumpily sighed, then stepped forward to open the door for her. She moved to go, but then she hesitated before leaving.
“Oh, and by the way, I wish you a good night’s rest.” She nodded, but just before she exited, she pointed over Arawn’s shoulder and asked him one last question.

“What is that?” she asked him curiously, pointing at something over his shoulder. Arawn turned to look, but just as he did, he felt several ‘whooshes’ of air pass behind him.

Stopping himself with a wry look on his face, he didn’t bother to try to detect Madam Breeze or any of her sisters with his Psi-tendrils. As he knew that he’d probably not detect them now anyways. Silently, he closed his door and reactivated his apartment’s wards.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 

Arawn stood there for several long moments, lost in private thought as he contemplated the news that Madam Breeze had thoughtfully given him.  

‘Primus I wish to apologize! (5)’ Quintus began, as did every other one of his not-brothers.

‘As do I! (2)’

‘And I! (3)’

‘Ditto! (4)’ Quartus injected, as they all began to babble at the realization of their collective newfound predicament.

“ENOUGH!” Arawn/Primus barked suddenly, raising a hand to forestall the mental shouts of his mind-kin.

“What is done, is done.” He sighed. “Recriminations now, will not change the outcome, nor change the past. It seems that I as the Primary have been remiss. I should have been more proactive in finding ways for the rest of you/me to channel your creative energies.” Arawn lowered his hand, and began to pace himself around his apartment.

“The thing to do now, is prepare ourselves!” Arawn stated as he stomped through the kitchen. “If anything else, Madam Breeze was most kind in letting me know ahead of time her intentions.”

‘It is almost as if she wishes us to be prepared enough to defeat her clan. (3)’

‘Perhaps!’ Quintus countered, ‘Or equally as likely, she warned us in an attempt to relax our guard! (5)’

‘Possibly, possibly! (1)’ Arawn/Primus answered, meandering his way through the bedroom section.

‘If I may point out, she mentioned that: ‘soon’ she and her clan would be coming to pay us a visit. I noticed that she did not mention an exact time, nor how many precisely would be involved. (4)’ Quartus’ statement caused Arawn to stop short and stand up in realization.

‘Faex!’ he uttered mentally, ‘That is a very good point, Quartus. Thank you! Quintus? Search the memory archives, are the Zipangu in the habit of giving an opponent adequate time to prepare themselves? Additionally, how many Ninjas are there in Madam Breeze’s clan? (5)’

After several seconds, Quintus replied.

‘Negative, to the first question. Unless they have previously agreed upon a time for a duel, almost to an individual every Zipangu citizen is in the habit of ‘attacking at first opportunity’, after stating their intentions to do same. Therefore, I can logically predict that we can expect Madame Breeze’s clan to either come pay us a visit tomorrow morning at the earliest. If not then, then the day or two after, at the latest.
As to your second question, I have no idea. They are not known for letting anyone know much about them. I dare say that we will find out, when they show up. (5)’

‘Faex! (1)’ Arawn/Primus groused.

‘Orders? (5)’

‘I find myself of two minds, pardon the pun. (1)’ Arawn/Primus replied, then he continued.

‘On one hand, I am of the mind to discover as much I can, concerning Zipangu mindsets, combat ability, and culture in the next few hours. Yet, I am also fearing that I will be given more than an adequate opportunity for same, in the years ahead. Long after Madam Breeze’s clan shows up in front of me with a Chocolate Dildo in the hand of one of theirs. (1)’ he sighed tiredly.

‘No small irony. (3)’.

‘Indeed. (1)’.

‘Orders? (5)’ Quintus asked again, forestalling the inevitable mental banter.

‘Quartus!’ Arawn began, as he resumed his march through his apartment. ‘I want you to study and practice as many Zipangu Martial Arts as you can in the hours remaining, work with Quintus as much as you can manage.’

‘Tertius! Prepare your Psi-abilities and research as much as possible, any variations to non-standard methods of detection.

‘Secundus! Refine your spell work as best you may. Try to concentrate on any methods that can penetrate illusions, or allow one to prevent misdirection! (1)’ he stated as he came to a stop and peered out through the kitchen window shutters. Looking up, he noticed that there was a light streaming out from the apartment that belonged to his Mentor, Corporal Helvetia.

‘Additionally! Quintus, is Helvetia awake now? (1)’ he asked, after several seconds of scanning, Quintus replied.

‘Negative. There is no sign of her anywhere in her apartment. (5)’

‘Faex!’ Arawn sighed, ‘I had hoped to inform her of this development, fairly quicklyt. Now it seems it will have to wait. Well anyways, perhaps she has gotten lucky and has managed to ensnare herself a male friend somewhere. I feel that she needs the release that only sexual activity can provide. As such, she will hopefully be in a good mood, afterwards. (1)’ Arawn replied with a thoughtful look on his face, hoping beyond hope that she was indeed doing so.

“Well, there is nothing for it then!” Arawn spoke aloud. “I am not now going to manage anymore sleep this night.” He sighed with a fierce expulsion. “I may as well get dressed and head over to Research and Recovery. If anything else, the distraction of reassembling that Automaton unit that Jinks is so fixated upon, will distract me from my worries.”

And so, Arawn made his preparation for doing same. Quickly, he bathed himself alone in the Barrack’s building as was his wont. Luckily, this time around, there were not any ‘sudden’ extra Mamono bathers, as Arawn had noted were in the habit of ‘coincidentally’ showing up, whenever he was there.

Soon, he found that Secundus’ Rain-Repulsion spell to be a most efficacious addition indeed to his cloak, in blocking or repelling the vast majority of the latest storm’s raindrops that were thrown at him. Along the way to Jinks’ department-rooms, Arawn had plenty of time to muse of his and Lieutenant Jinks’ reassembly progress.

‘Strange thing that.’ Arawn began to think, as he walked carefully along the streets towards the R & R’s building, keeping an eye out for any other Ninja.

‘What is strange? (5)’

‘The fact that not only was Jinks able to receive permission to rebuild an Automaton here at Fort Eequor, but also how quickly she has been able to repair most of the parts of the Jenny Unit. (1)’

‘I concur. It is almost as if the Jenny Unit is repairing itself, when we are not present. (5)’ Quintus joked.

‘Hmmm, the way you say it, almost makes it sound as if she is in fact doing so. (1)’

What makes you say that? Every time that we leave the work for the day, I have insured that all of the parts are drained of their Mana. There is no adequate way for them to recharge themselves during our absence! (5)’

‘None the less, I am recalling that our repair efforts are proceeding faster every day. (1)’

‘Or perhaps Jinks is adapting readily to Automaton-Mechanics faster than you expected. She is a Gremlin after all, and her kind do have an affinity for such. (5)’

‘Indeed, indeed!’ Arawn agreed. ‘But still there is something unusual that I cannot put my finger on exactly! (1)’ Arawn exclaimed, then stopped.

“Wait!” he said aloud, looking up into the distance ahead, as he approached the R&R building in the dead of night. “This is most unusual! There are lights on inside, close to or at the R&R’s area.” Arawn sighed. “Perhaps Jinks, has been feeling insomniac as well.”

‘If she is, I would imagine that she will be desirous of having us use our own extra energy, to assist her in becoming drowsy again soon. (5)’ Quintus joked.

‘You could very well be correct. Nevertheless, I am desirous of working on that Jenny unit, more. (1)’

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 

As Arawn entered the R&R’s building, he found himself becoming uneasy. Stopping in his tracks, he felt an overwhelming sense of foreboding rising up in the aether around him.

Automatically, he extended his Psi-tendrils out, and detected that he was nearly alone. The only other occupants there in the building alongside him, appeared to be a Gremlin and an Arachne. Checking carefully, he triangulated and determined that the two he had detected were in Jinks’ laboratory rooms. He found himself cheered despite that previous sense of foreboding, he then swiftly entered the Laboratory and called out.

“Lieutenant Jinks! Corporal Helvetia!” he announced loudly as he closed the entrance door behind himself.
“It appears that I am not alone with a bout of insomnia. So I have come to help,…Hello?” he asked, after not getting any immediate replies to his first announcement. Screwing his face up in thought, he then found himself walking quietly over to the second inner door and opening it. It, still being new, it had not been properly repaired enough to allow itself to be opened quietly. As a result, it opened with a massive amount of ear-wracking squealing.

Stepping inside slightly, Arawn looked around and noted that there were significantly less numbers of disorganized Automaton parts stacked upon the tables, and more than a couple Automaton units in various stages of reassembly.

Stepping further inside, he came upon a most unusual sight, it was Jinks. She was lying on one of the tables in a disheveled state, seemingly unconscious.

“JINKS!” Arawn shouted in alarm, as he rushed to her side and began examining her for damage. What he found, shocked him. She had several scorch marks all about her person and clothing. But not burn scorches from a soldering iron or anything mundane like that. They appeared instead to be something uncommon. Off somewhere behind him, Arawn heard but ignored, the sound of an electrical discharge, *bzzt*.

Quintus, Scan!’ he ordered. ‘Is she all right? (1)’ he asked, desperate at the sight of her unmoving form.

‘She is alive!’ Quintus answered. ‘But this is odd! (5)’ he replied

‘Odd? How? (1)’

‘She appears to be suffering the effects of a heavy stun. But that is impossible. The rules for this world does not allow for the operation of such High-tech weapons! (5)’ Arawn/Primus was about to say something in reply to that, but he was interrupted.

“Halt!” came a voice from behind him then. A voice that sounded both distinctly feminine, yet also carried with it a tone of something electronic in nature. As soon as he heard that voice, he felt something poke him momentarily in the small of his back. Arawn froze.

“Do not make any sudden moves.” The voice called out again, this time ending with the sound of that electrical discharge: *bzzt*. Arawn breathed in automatically, and noted a familiar scent. One that smelled recent, and yet somehow ancient as well.

“Raise your hands above your head. Do not attempt any invocations. *bzzt*” The voice called out again in a different inflection. Silently, Arawn complied, daring to not so much as swallow.

“Now stand up fully, and slowly turn yourself around.” That annoyingly familiar voice ordered him. Hesitating only for a moment, Arawn did as he was bid.

When he had finished, he was most surprised at what he beheld before him. It was one of the Automatons, even though she was upright and functional, there were a number of gaps in and amongst her balled arms and legs, due to a number of missing components.

At his first examination, she resembled a youngish-human female with a strikingly slim form. That youthful countenance of hers was marred by the appearance of a number of power and comm-cables hanging in various spots all about her person. After a more detailed look, he noticed that she had a number of ill-fitting and mismatched body components making up the bulk of her torso. It gave her mien an eerie half-finished look.

The most alien seeming part of her was her grayish skin/bio-mimetic carapace armor. Peering at her face, he noted that her eyes were of a striking blue that were tinged with a slight red due to her eye-lasers. Atop her head, she held a crown of platinum-blonde hair cut into a bob and bangs. Other than that, she wore no clothing to cover herself. A form that wobbled slightly as she held herself up in front of him.

After a quick glance downwards, Arawn noted that her wobbling was due to her not having any feet. He guessed correctly then, that she had chosen to not activate her anti-gravity module due to its heavy power consumption.

“Remain still while I scan you.” The Automaton ordered him softly, as she began to do just that. Arawn could make out a slightly visible laser light, that dazzled his eyes momentarily when it passed over his face.

‘It is the Jenny Unit!’ Quintus exclaimed. ‘She must have indeed been repairing herself all this time, under our very nose! (5)’ Quintus giggled joyfully.

‘Curb your enthusiasm Quintus, what is it that she is pointing at us? (1)’ Arawn demanded then, looking at an object that jutted out from between her pseudo-breasts.

‘Oh my! Those breasts of hers look rather delicious! (5)’ Quintus exclaimed, smitten.

‘Quintus!’ Primus exclaimed, trying to get his not-brother to pay attention to something more relevant, such as their continued good health.

‘Sorry!’ Quintus yelped. ‘It appears to be an archaic Photonic-Cannon of one sort or another. (5)’

‘Impossible!’ Arawn/Primus exclaimed. ‘Jenny-units were never intended to be warriors, only caretakers. What is going on? (1)’

‘The evidence speaks for itself, she is now an amalgamation of various Automaton parts. Even so, I estimate that the Cannon is currently charged well enough to cause us no small amount of damage, if expelled in our direction! (5)’

All the while the interchange between Quintus and Primus took place, the Jenny-Unit continued to scan him with her own sensors.

“Scanning is now complete.” She announced. “I have determined that you are not human. *bzzt*”- she uttered, her face momentarily blanking out simultaneously with that curious electrical discharge.

‘She may be functionally incomplete, due to the range of her normally incompatible parts!’ Quintus observed, ‘Therefore she may just be barely operational, programming wise! (5)’

 “Since you are not a human, therefore that makes you a danger to humans and animals, *bzzt*, of whom I am programmed to protect!” she replied in an almost mechanical tone, not looking at him.

“What are you going to do then?” Arawn demanded testily of her. The Jenny-unit lifted her head and looked at him neutrally.

“As per my programming, any non-human threats will be exterminated, *bzzt*.” She intoned, then paused as if in thought.

“Please remain still while I commence your extermination, *bzzzt*.”

“Do not attempt to resist, as resistance is useless.” She ordered Arawn in a deferential tone.

 “Your compliance will be rewarded. *bzzzzt*” The Jenny-Unit warned dispassionately, as her chest’s Photonic-Cannon began to glow white hot in preparation to discharge itself.

As Arawn stared back at the murderous Jenny-unit, he felt his own battle-rage begin to surge into overload.

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