The earthquake really wasn’t that powerful. When Jake went outside, he saw that basically all of the buildings were still intact. But… Some people were just very unlucky. For example, an eighty-five year old woman who was living alone in a house across the village from the Tavern was at the top of the stairs when the ground started shaking… Then she fell and broke her neck. There was nothing that could really be done. Jake didn’t even bother to go help her out, because he could already see what happened to her through the eyes of her Companion Mouse.
Instead, he rushed over to Kotoa’s house. The little boy was trapped underneath a cabinet that fell over. The hardest part was just fitting through the tiny door of the house. Lifting a cabinet didn’t even require Jake’s hands.
“Thanks! Ah, my mother and sister are upstairs. The roof collapsed on them!”
Having telepathy was really convenient. There was no need for anyone to do the search part of the rescue operations. It wasn’t just Jake either, plenty of other men and women in the village were rushing around to help out their neighbors, family members or ‘Guildies’. Torrent and Vora also used the Goats to help move some heavy objects.
“They’re fine. Just a few cuts and bruises.”
Jake spoke as he was carefully making his way upstairs. He didn’t want the whole house to collapse under his weight. However, his concerns were relatively unnecessary. He quickly went over to the bedroom and demolished the door frame without much effort. Then he crouched over and used a combination of tentacles and his giant arms to lift up a big piece of the ceiling/roof, creating large cracks on the floor from the pressure.
“Gracias!” Luma shouted as she carried the crying baby between Jake’s legs and exited the room quickly. Not only that, but she ran down the hallway and stairs, making it to the front door. If it wasn’t a thunderstorm outside, most people would leave their damaged houses, but now that the shaking stopped, the lightning and cold wind were a bigger threat. Especially for those who had newborn babies.
“I have to go help Lizzy now!” Jake put the roof down and carefully made his way downstairs. Even though Lizzy’s parents didn’t really like him, because he forced them to break up with his wife, he still wouldn’t let them get crushed to death under their house. Their situation was a bit more severe, or maybe they were more lucky?
Lizzy’s whole house collapsed, but the three of them were in the basement when the earthquake happened. Of course, the main reason is that the basements were mostly reinforced concrete, while everything else was mostly just wood. The newer houses were actually much more durable than most of the older ones from back when Frost Haven was just a short-term vacation location where people would LARP.
When Jake arrived at the collapsed house, Krispy and some of the other Elf men were already moving big pieces of wood away from the ruins. They didn’t need to say anything to each other, at least not verbally. Tori and Vora used the Goats to go save some of the horses, cows and other animals from a burning barn that was struck by lightning.
It was a pretty chaotic day… Two people died. The old lady, it was amazing she lived this long in the first place. The other person however, was only in her thirties. For an Elf, that was very young. She was sleeping when the earthquake happened and a heavy wall ornament above her bed fell down, landing right on her face. What kind of wall ornament? A sword. Yes, she hung a fancy decorative fantasy sword right above her bed! She wasn’t even stabbed though. The sword was also sheathed. The heavy wooden frame landed right on her temple because she was laying on her side.
“Maybe if she was laying on her back, she would have survived…” Camila sighed dramatically after the short funeral the next day. She was wearing a black dress and had a silver crown on her blonde head. Tessa walked silently behind her, wearing a full-black leather armor that was technically bullet and stab proof.
“Maybe if she didn’t hang a fucking sword above her bed, she would have survived?” Jake rolled his eyes and complained, “This whole village is a little too dangerous. If there’s a forest fire, we’re fucked. And I’m pretty sure fires are only a matter of time. We need to clear more of the woods, we can’t keep the crops too close together. We need more houses, or just safer houses.”
“I know. We all know. We have been working on making the village safer, but this is not something that can be done overnight. During the winter, construction was much more difficult. Now that we do not need so many people to hunt, farm or patrol, I can make the construction group larger.”
Another convenience in terms of telepathy is that the architects, city planners, construction workers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers and everyone else had a close connection with each other. They also had a direct line to Camila, their Queen. Which meant that their efficiency was incredibly powerful. Jake, Vora and Tori also commanded their ‘Drones’ to perform many tasks like hunting, fishing and gathering resources. If necessary, they could also move or carry heavy objects.
“It’s a shame there aren’t any beavers around here. Otherwise we could completely replace the lumberjacks.” Jake sighed, “I’m sorry Camila… I know this is really hard on you… I love you.”
“Yo también te amo.” Camila smiled wryly, “Our Kingdom is only starting out, Jacob. We need time to build and grow. Only then can we expand and achieve our dreams of world domination.”
“World domination is definitely not my dream.” The giant ‘Elf’ man with black tentacle-like hair smirked, “I just want my family to be safe and free. Fuck the rest of the world.”
“Yeah… I know.” Jake sighed again, “I need to take a trip to Rio Grande. Don’t worry, it’s only like thirty miles away. Tori and I will go along the coast. We can make it there and back again within an hour.”
“Yes, yes, we’ll get to have lots of seafood.” Jake snickered and shook his head, looking over at the small graveyard behind a tiny wooden church. He could still hear people crying, both in reality and through the psychic link between everyone. Especially Torrent…
“Tori, Sweetie, did you hear what I said? We’re gonna go on a trip soon. Okay? Don’t be so sad.”
“Father, why do people die so easily?”
‘Weak. Unarmored. Unprepared. Unevolved.’
“Unevolved?” Camila frowned, “My people have already evolved! We are superior to humanity in every way!”
“Alright, all of you calm the fuck down. Tori, people die. It’s just what happens sometimes. There’s nothing you can do about it. Even stars die eventually, so no matter how powerful organisms become, there’s always a limit. And Camila, your Elves might be biologically superior, but they’re really not that much better than humans in a lot of ways. I’m not blaming you… I just think that we need more integration. A Mouse can keep an eye on people and help out in small things, but it can’t stop a person from falling down the stairs or block a heavy piece of wood from falling on someone’s head.”
“I agree.” Camila nodded seriously as she walked forward carefully, holding Jake’s tentacle to maintain her balance and elegant demeanor even though she was struggling in high heels on the muddy dirt road.
“I have already distributed all of the Hounds and Cats. When they have children of their own, everyone in the village will have their own Beast Companions.”
“It didn’t work. Sorry.”
“I’m not sure exactly why, but it probably has something to do with the horse’s immune system or something? I really don’t know. It’s also the first time we’ve ever tried to make a Unicorn, so there might be something on our side as well… Besides, I’m a little worried about what might happen if the unicorn foal has horns as a fetus. It might kill the mother.”
“Jacob, está bien. Relax and enjoy this moment. The sun is shining, the weather is warm, it is a beautiful day.”
“Who said I wasn’t enjoying myself or relaxing?”
Jake snickered and looked over at the ‘small’ armored Orca that was splashing around in the waves. Catarina, Kotoa and Lizzy were building sand castles on the white beach, since the water was so cold that they would literally get hypothermia if they tried to go swimming. Not to mention the fact that there were still all kinds of horrifying monsters lurking in the depths. Most of those smaller sea creatures were just prey for Tori, but the bigger ones wouldn’t go so close to the shore in the first place.
The reason why the beach was relatively safe is because there were thirteen huge wolves and five even bigger tiger-like Cats. There were also dozens of Scouts flying in the sky or waddling around on the beach. Not all of them looked the same though. There were also hundreds of chicks of various sizes and shapes. The penguins were still able to gather in large groups on the beach, but many of the seals were either chased away or hunted and eaten. Even a 6 meter long, nearly 4 metric ton male Southern Elephant Seal was still afraid of so many Cats and Hounds on land.
“Hace tanto calor… Me arde la piel.”
The blue-skinned Elf was complaining while fanning her face with her left hand. She wore a black bikini, a straw had and large dark sunglasses. She was sitting on a beach towel next to Camila. Tessa would always put her Queen in between herself and Jake. That way two directions would be mostly guarded. Then there was another huge tan cat curled up, sleeping on the beach behind them. The front was relatively undefended, but it was a beach… And they could see pretty far away. Obviously there wouldn’t be any snipers beyond the horizon to attack them.
“It does feel kinda toasty.”
Jake lifted a reflective white tentacle up to block the sun from shining in his eyes, but it couldn’t stop his head from getting dried out. His carapace was also as white as paper, but it still felt really hot. If Camila and Tessa weren’t wearing sunglasses, they would probably be blinded by looking over at his body.
“Love, I need your caress~!”
“I can do you both at the same time if you want.”
Jake snickered as his slightly dry white tentacles reached out and started massaging Camila’s naked body. Yes, she was completely naked this entire time. Fortunately, it wasn’t a ‘public beach’. Even so, Tessa would have probably worn her black armor if it wasn’t so hot and sunny outside.
“I need to maintain vigilance.”
“This whole beach is completely under our control. As long as anyone or anything slightly threatening approaches within a kilometer, we’ll know about it and be able to react. So just relax and enjoy yourself. You’re not a ‘Knight’ today, Tessa. You’re just a mom.”
“Meow~!” The big tan kitty behind them rubbed her giant face up against her mother’s muscular back and purred loudly.
“This has been… Such a strange year.” Tessa sighed dramatically and rolled over onto her stomach, “Gracias, Jacob.”
“You’re welcome.” Jake snickered and used his tentacles to press, rub and knead their bodies. Of course, he didn’t make it overly sexual. Their kids weren’t that far away. Though it’s a little difficult to give a non-sexual tentacle massage to a naked woman lying on her back…
“This is actually my dream. Living on an island with some sexy elves. Having a bunch of smart kids. Lots of adorable cats and dogs.”
“Okay, I love you too, Peter.”
Jake sighed as he watched Tori do another backflip while laughing, “I mean, it’s obviously not exactly the same as my fantasies. But it’s close enough. I’d love to stay here forever. If I can.”
“I miss videogames.” Camila sighed as she looked up at the bright blue sky through her tinted glasses, “And my son.”
“I miss my family as well…” Tessa murmured, “Nevermind.”
A few minutes later, Tori shouted as she rode a big wave ashore, “Father~! Come and swim with me~!”
Jake snickered as he finished up the deep-tissue tentacle massage for the two satisfied women. Standing up, his carapace quickly turned from white to dark-blue, with his long tentacles becoming light-purple and his eyes glowing pink. The moment that Vora took control, she sprinted forward at an incredible speed!
Of course, she also didn’t care about kicking a bunch of sand all over the two formerly comfortable elves. They were lucky there weren’t any small stones or shards of glass mixed into the sand.
Vora also sprinted past Sophia and almost stepped on her tail. Not to mention the poor sand castles that the three kids were building. At that point, Jake realized that Vora was probably doing it on purpose, but it was hard to tell.
“Fish!” Then she dove into the crashing waves, ignoring Tori who was still on the beach…
“Wait for me, Mother!”
Torrent pushed her clawed flippers forward, along with a big swing of her tail and quickly made her way back into the foamy ocean. When her vision cleared up, she saw the 2.6 meter tall dark-blue armored ‘man’ shoving his claws into the gills of a huge 6 meter long shark!
It wasn’t necessarily a ‘Great White Shark’ originally, but after mutating and growing quite a bit, this particular shark really did look like a Great White. Except that it had an extra pair of eyes next to the first pair. The nose was also a bit more protruding, with a bunch of sharp white teeth growing out of it like barbs.
Of course, no matter how huge, powerful or intimidating it might have been before. It was helpless in the face of the strange armored monster that appeared suddenly. The right gill was directly penetrated and one of its eyes was already torn off by Vora’s long, fang-like teeth. Along with a big chunk of fresh meat and silvery-white flesh.
The shark thrashed around and struggled to throw the monster off its side, but it was suffocating and losing a lot of blood. Tori darted over and bit down onto the tail that was swinging left to right. The ‘bones’ inside were broken shortly after the flesh was torn apart. It only took a little effort for the whole end of the huge tail to be ripped off by Tori, sending blood diffusing into the water and even some entrails were dangling around between the two pieces of meat.
Those eight tentacles wrapped around the shark’s head and latched on tightly, covering its eyes and even the two large nostrils, avoiding the dangerous jagged ‘teeth’. Vora tore the head and neck apart with her claws, biting and chewing with all three mouths. While Jake was in the background, watching everything like it was a movie.
In fact, he wasn’t the only one. Whether it was Camila, Catarina or Tessa, they could all see through Jake’s eyes when he let them. Lizzy and Kotoa weren’t so lucky though. However, the two of them were also so-called ‘Beast Masters’, in the sense that they could see through the eyes of various animals they’ve bonded with… Only animals that were created or are directly related to Vora.
Sharks are generally solitary animals and rarely interact with each other, but sometimes they form groups or even large schools. Either to hunt or for protection. This close to shore, obviously there wouldn’t be that many huge 7 meter long super-sharks, but this particular shark had a few smaller companions. They were obviously drawn over by the smell of blood. However, they didn’t attack Tori, who was eating their sibling or friend. They didn’t really even notice Vora at all. Instead, they came over and stole some chunks of flesh from their dying partner!
“My meat!” Vora roared angrily as she let go of the dead, twitching, mangled carcass and targeted those new tooth-nosed silver sharks! Stretching out her right foot, the claws slashed down and tore open several eyeballs. Those long tentacles also reached out and plunged into the unlucky bastard’s gills! Injecting venom and just directly tearing apart the only method of breathing that the 5 meter long fish possessed.
Once it was crippled, she quickly swam over to the back of the next 4 meter long shark and started tearing apart its spine with her hands. Repeating the same trick, she used the tentacles to latch on like an actual octopus or squid. The gills were an easy target for most fish. And they didn’t have hands or arms to protect themselves.
However, some of the other sharks noticed the threat. Two of them directly escaped with big chunks of meat in their mouths. But the other three attacked Vora. Darting forward, one of the smaller ones, only 3 meters long, bit down onto a tentacle and ripped it off. Of course, the shark spit it back out immediately, because the taste of venom, poison and acidic blood were all way too strong. Even though they did have some resistance and wouldn’t be paralyzed or killed immediately, at the very least, they understood that Voracity couldn’t be eaten… So they also swam away and escaped with some big chunks of meat from their companions.
Vora obviously wasn’t satisfied with only a few tons of meat, but unfortunately, those sharks already escaped and if she didn’t bring her quarry to shore, it would attract even more fish to come steal food. Fortunately, between Tori and Vora, the two of them were able to drag quite a lot of weight when they were underwater. Each of the seven remaining tentacles were able to pull a whole shark if necessary, so she grabbed the Orca’s fin and was quickly pulled onto the beach.
The three kids shouted excitedly. The Hounds and Cats were even happier to see so much meat. They all rushed over and started dragging the food farther away from the crashing waves… Then they started eating and stealing meat as always.
“Vora, calm down. Our kids need to eat. Besides, there are plenty of fish in the sea. Literally. Look at how much food we got from just a few minutes of effort…”
Jake snickered and shook his head, taking back control over their body in order to cut up and organize what was left of the sharks. Tessa, Catarina and the others also helped. Everyone except Camila, who was still sunbathing naked on her slightly sandy beach towel.
After storing away the meat and organs that were left, Jake went swimming with his daughter. She spun and ‘danced’ around in the water happily, while the black-armored, purple-tentacled monster also tried to follow her around. His ability to swim was far beyond human limitations, but no where near as powerful as a dolphin or orca. It didn’t really matter though.
At the end of the day, Vora managed to catch a few more big fish and hundreds of small ones. Torrent also caught some big prey that had to be sent back to town for storage, because it was impossible for them to eat so much in one day.
“Be careful, My Love. I have a bad feeling lately…”
“So do I.”
Jake lifted Camila up in the air with his huge hands and tentacles, kissing her on the lips gently. She finally put on some clothes once everyone was about to leave.
“That’s one of the main reasons why I need to go check out what the fuck is happening down there. We’re only thirty miles away… Whatever’s wrong, it won’t take long to reach us.”
“I know. Thank you, Jacob, Sister. And Torrent.”
“You’re welcome, hihihihi~!”
He put the sexy Elf Queen down, then lifted up the startled blue girl and started kissing her goodbye as well.
“I love you both. Be careful on your way back.”
He also leaned down and hugged Catarina’s fluffy body, even patting the other two kids on their heads with his tentacles, messing up their hair.
“Be careful, Padre!” The little wolf-girl already hugged and said goodbye to her sister earlier.
Jake and Tori didn’t go back home with everyone else… When night fell, the family of three went on a trip together.
Rio Grande is a city, named after the Rio Grande… Which is a river. In fact, the name is basically ‘Big River’ if translated into English. The river itself is nearly a kilometer at the widest point, but the ‘biggest’ thing about it was just the sheer length. From the east coast of the Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, it’s possible to reach up into the snow-capped mountains near the west coast. Over a hundred kilometers across the entire island, much longer if you consider that the river isn’t a straight line, but extremely wavy and winding.
The city Rio Grande only had a population of less than seventy thousand before the ‘Apocalypse’. However, even as far back as before the winter, when Jake was still in Tolhuin, this town had already been developed for nearly ten kilometers on both sides of the river, along the coast. There were many concrete fortresses, large high-rises and huge factories. Plus a decent-sized nuclear power plant on the southern side. During the winter, around the time that Jake left, he read a census report that the current population was over eight-hundred and thirty-eight thousand!
Of course, many of those numbers were actually just babies. The most prevalent survivors have always been the ‘Breeders’. They aren’t really any better than ordinary humans on average, but their reproductive abilities and faster growth rates made them have a lot of potential as a new ‘Race’ of Humanity. Unfortunately, being able to breed and grow faster, means that their individual quality of life is usually much poorer. Their personal value is far lower than a Pureblood in the eyes of the Endless Hope Organization. Even the Adapters and Mutants were more valuable individually, though they might not be as easily accepted in many places.
“Father… I don’t see any people.”
Tori whispered as the two of them poked their heads out of the water, looking towards the dark shoreline. They could see some factories, fortresses and residential highrises along the coast, but some of them had obviously collapsed. This was still ten kilometers to the north of the ‘port’ though. That was the most populated area.
“I can feel a few Mice. Why don’t we just ask them what happened?”
“That’d be a lot more useful than just guessing.”
Jake snickered and then followed his daughter’s advice. Well, it wasn’t just him. Vora and Tori were also contacting other Mice simultaneously. They couldn’t speak, but it was no problem for the Mice to show them some memories from the past few months. It was a bit chaotic though. Bits and pieces, not necessarily in chronological order either.
“A mouse in that factory hasn’t seen any humans in at least a month. She’s been eating, sleeping and giving birth, so she hasn’t really been paying attention either way.”
“Ah, my mouse was living in the sewers! She said that there was a big flood when the snow melted and when it rained, but she was mostly fighting against giant rats with her sisters!”
‘Danger, predators, death. Mysterious.’
“Oh, I found some that live in that apartment building. Okay, it seems like… Wait, what the fuck?”
“Father, I’m scared… None of the Mice remember what happened… It’s just like… Like everyone just vanished! Maybe they were abducted by aliens?!”
‘Memories, missing. Perception, altered.’
Even though the Mice didn’t remember what happened, it’s not like there was no evidence or records. The Mice were just Mice in the end. They didn’t really give a damn what happened to the humans. They had their own problems to deal with on a daily basis. Especially since they gained the ability to reproduce and lost contact with their parents. The number of Mice skyrocketed from only a few dozen to several thousand, even with attrition.
Jake, Tori and Vora didn’t bother asking the Mice anymore. Instead, they just used their tiny bodies to investigate what happened back then based on the evidence that remained… It didn’t take long for them to notice some suspicious details.
There was no signs of struggle or conflict. If there were, they could have been made before the ‘Rapture’ that suddenly occurred. Inside the apartment buildings and houses, there were a few corpses of people who killed themselves. Their rotten remains had fallen off those nooses and it was hard to see the cuts on their wrists. There were also signs of babies being drowned in bathtubs or people who shot themselves.
However, out of nearly a million people who were struggling to survive in a horrible situation with all kinds of trauma and baggage, suicide was commonplace. Especially when there were voices in their heads due to parasitic infections in their brains. Thinking of that, Jake frowned and finally managed to find something useful.
The nuclear power plant was still up and running. Parts of the city no longer had electricity because they were damaged by the earthquake, but the vast majority was still fine. Jake controlled a mouse to simply turn on a computer, which was in sleep mode.
“The internet is so convenient.”
Tori giggled as she also did the same thing, on a different computer, a few kilometers to the south. The three of them were still pretty far away from the downtown area of the city, but their telepathic control over the Mice could reach at least 20 or 30 kilometers under normal circumstances. They didn’t have to go ashore or even get close to the potentially hazardous city at all.
Jake cursed as he watched some surveillance video of tens of thousands of people walking outside in the ice and snow. Many of them were naked. Men, women, children, even newborn babies struggled on their own to wander out into frozen icy waves… Tori didn’t say anything, because she had already stopped watching. She couldn’t bear to watch. Most of the babies didn’t make it very far either. Same with the crippled or elderly people.
“The Cold Death!” Tori screamed in fear, “This is the Cold Death, right?!”
“I don’t know what the fuck it is… Someone has to know what the fuck is going on. I hope Colas is still okay…”
One of the strangest things was that the city seemed mostly untouched. A lot of places were damaged by the earthquake and the blizzards during the winter, but a lot of grocery stores were still fully stocked. Other places were also left as if no one had been there for over a month. Some animals and other creatures were already starting to take over many places, but no signs of human activity or looting. No boats in the docks either. Some of the marinas and other places had boats being stored on land, some even in warehouses to protect from the elements, but nothing in the water except for some wreckage that looked quite old.
“Jacob?! Is that you?!”
The moment Jake made the video call on a random computer as a black rat, Professor Colas recognized his identity immediately. Those distinctive glowing blue eyes were part of the reason, but more-so because Jake logged into his own account in order to make the call… Well, you can’t expect him to memorize a phone number.
“Of course it’s me. Thank God you’re still alive. Fuck, do you guys know what happened to Rio Grande? Is everyone okay over there in Tolhuin?”
“Jacob, we’re fine here, but I was more worried about you!” The middle-aged man rubbed his wrinkled, aching forehead and asked, “Have you only made it to Rio Grande now? I thought that you would have left the island… Is Catarina alright?”
“Catarina and Tori are both perfectly healthy. And no, we found a place to settle down, but I decided to check out Rio Grande and try to get in touch with you to make sure everything was fine after that earthquake… Seriously though, what the fuck happened here?”
“We don’t know for sure…” Colas hesitated for a while, but he eventually whispered: “The South. Something called them there…”
“Probably some kinda ancient devil sealed beneath Antarctica.”
“That’s so scary!”
“Hmmm… Devil, tasty?”
The three mice in front of the screen had different reactions. They all had black fur, but their eye colors were blue, silver and pink, in that order. Colas sighed and nodded his head, “Although I don’t believe in angels and demons, it is entirely possible that there might be some ancient ‘Queen’ sealed beneath the ice. No, maybe it isn’t sealed there at all. Under the ice, there are entire ecosystems that have managed to survive. My authority isn’t high enough to know that kind of confidential information.”
“Were there any survivors?” Tori asked with a worried expression on her adorable furry mouse face.
“Of course there were.” Colas smiled wryly, “Purebloods were mostly unaffected. There were also many people with special adaptations or mutations that allowed them to escape or avoid being affected. If the Siren Event didn’t happen so quickly and during a blizzard, the casualties wouldn’t have been so terrible. Many of the hypnotized victims were unable to leave their homes for various reasons. In the end, they survived until morning and were evacuated a few days later. Once the blizzard ended.”
“Makes sense.” Jake’s mouse nodded, “But that still doesn’t explain why no one has come here to loot and salvage shit yet. Why is the city still a ghost town?”
Vora asked, “Radiation?”
“No, no, the nuclear power plant is still operational and hasn’t been damaged by the earthquake or the Siren Event. There hasn’t been any looting because people still own those houses, Jacob. They should return in the near future… For now, most people are too frightened. They’re superstitious and believe that Rio Grande has been cursed or targeted by some monsters.”
“That’s good. How’s the war going?”
As Jake spoke, he opened another tab on a web browser and continued looking up news about various things. However, a lot of information about Queens was heavily censored. He couldn’t even search for many things without seeing warning messages pop up, telling him that the EHO had banned some words or phrases and that his actions would be reported to the authorities if he continued.
“Fuck, you guys know that censorship is evil, right?”
“It’s not up to me whether the organization censors things.” Colas sighed and shook his head, “I have no idea how the war is going or whether there even is a war anymore. I’ve only heard rumors… A colleague of mine speculated that Queens have the ability to protect Breeders from being manipulated, however, there hasn’t been any conclusive evidence. Only a few instances in Tasmania, New Zealand and Chile where some towns were completely unaffected by the mass hypnosis.”
“In other words, the EHO is probably regretting that they kicked us out, right?”
“I don’t know. I’ve always regretted their decision, Jacob, but there’s very little I can do about it.”
“Oh well.” Jake shrugged his mousy shoulders and asked, “Are there any people in the city now? I’m gonna go ‘shopping’.”
“I’m afraid you’ll find that there won’t be any stores open, Jacob-Oh, oh, never mind. Haha~!”
In the dead of night, the city really wasn’t that dark. Aside from the moon and stars, the streetlights and the lights in certain houses or shops were still running. People left in a hurry. It’s been a month, but aside from critical places like the nuclear power plant, which needed a small group of people to monitor and maintain, everywhere else was completely deserted. However, Jake and Tori were both very cautious. The two of them turned pitch-black and tried to stay in the shadows.
In particular, Tori just stayed in the water near the marina, where her father broke open the gate. He dragged out a nice, 15 meter long yacht. Obviously he didn’t lift it over his shoulder and carry it like some sort of superhero in a TV Show or Movie. The boats were already covered up to protect them from the wind, rain and snow. They were also placed on big racks and often hung up in the air.
People would normally need cranes or special lifts to take them off the racks, especially for the ones that were way up in the air. The boat that Jake and Tori picked at random was selected because first of all, it was close enough to the ground, so Jake could just put it on a trailer with wheels to drag down a ramp. Then they didn’t even need to turn it on, because first of all, Jake was afraid of breaking it and secondly, he had no idea how to drive a boat in the first place.
Regardless, he still gathered up a bunch of fuel and other supplies. They didn’t really need normal food, because there was always plenty of it everywhere in the village… But some things weren’t so readily available. At least not yet. For example, cheap packaged cookies, cakes, candies and other treats that Vora loved.
Torrent started taking the boat back first, since for her, it really wasn’t a long trip. Even if she was alone, it still wasn’t that dangerous as long as she stayed close to the coastline. Especially if she used ‘stealth’, by basically just turning her carapace black at night. There really wasn’t much else that needed to be done. The white boat was more conspicuous, but for the most part, smaller animals won’t try to attack much larger ones. And a 15 meter long ‘animal’ was terrifying.
‘Father, can you still hear me?’
“Of course I can, Sweetie.”
‘Good, I don’t think we’ve ever been so far apart before!’
At a distance of about 30 miles or 50 kilometers, Tori and Jake still couldn’t feel the weakening of their connection. In fact, not to mention Jake and Tori, even the Hounds, Scouts and Cats could still be contacted.
‘Jacob, I love you so much~! Gracias~! Gracias~!’
“Hehe, I know it’s not a unicorn, but happy birthday anyway.”
‘It is not my birthday yet… You still have time.’
Jake rolled his eyes and complained, “I’m not fucking a horse. But… Don’t worry, I’ll figure it out. Te amo, Cami.”
‘I love you too, Jacob.’
“Honestly, this telepathy shit is really overpowered. But also kinda scary…” Jake rubbed his slightly aching head with his right hand, “Like having a fucking cellphone implanted in your brain.”
‘Hmmm, communication, convenient. Price, bearable… Stop!’
“Huh?” Jake looked around cautiously for a moment, but then he started laughing. They were standing in front of a shop called ‘Artes y Manualidades’. The door was closed, fortunately, so the art supplies inside weren’t damaged. The shudders weren’t closed though and the glass door wasn’t even locked, so he simply went inside and went ‘shopping’ with his wife.
Although there were obviously methods to create paints and they could even paint on shells, stones or wood, it was much easier and simpler to just steal some paints, canvases and other miscellaneous art supplies directly from a store. When he gathered a few shopping carts full of items, he quickly found the next target parked on the side of a random street… It was just a simple bus.
The bus was basically empty and the door had closed automatically after its original owner left abruptly. Many of the cars, vans and other vehicles were driven away by their owners during the evacuation, but the ones left behind were most likely unowned or secondary vehicles. There really weren’t that many buses in the whole city now either.
Jake and Vora went shopping for another hour or so before they finally filled most of the vehicle with random junk…
“Uh… So, do you know how to drive a bus?”
There were actually quite a few roads around the village, but all of them were at least ten kilometers away. The spot that Jake chose to park the bus was obviously in the ruined coastal town, which might become part of Frost Haven in the future. For now though, it was just a small outpost. There weren’t any humans guarding it, but plenty of birds, mice, roaches and wasps. Aside from Steve, who stayed around the village with his harem of hens, the other Scouts mostly stayed in that coastal town with thousands of other birds.
Of course, Jake wouldn’t be satisfied with only one boat and one bus, not to mention the supplies packed inside. However, because he wanted to hide the existence of the ‘Elves’, he was afraid to ask them for help. He also wasn’t sure whether there would be tracking devices on various items or vehicles, so he had to be a lot more careful with what he brought back.
“Jacob~! Please pick me up a nice sports car next time!”
“What sports car do you think I can drive?” Jake rolled his eyes at the beautiful Elf Queen who was hugging his arm tightly, “I could barely fit inside that semi-truck. By the way, make sure there aren’t any bugs, gps or other tracking devices on everything. If there’s anything else you need, let me know now, because I won’t be going back there again in the near future.”
“Just tow the sports car!”
“I don’t know how to do that.”
“Find a tow truck, drive it to the sports car-No, forget it. This is enough. Even if I had a fancy car, where would I drive it? From what you told me, I need to stay in Frost Haven or my people might be led astray at any moment…”
“Yeah… Seriously though, that shit was scary as hell. Reminds me of Baltimore…”
The two of them were silent for a while, before a short, chubby, dark-skinned man with Elf ears walked over and said, “Necesitamos más concreto.”
“Rickardo says we need more concrete.”
Jake rolled his eyes and laughed, “I can understand that much. But yeah, if we wanna build bigger and safer houses, we’re gonna need a lot more concrete and other materials. I’ll go rob a hardware store or a construction site, maybe both.”
“Are you okay to keep driving tonight? Jacob, I know you still get car sick…” The 2 meter tall black-armored knight was standing behind her Queen as a bodyguard, those silver eyes glowed behind the slits in her helmet. She asked softly while looking up at the even bigger ‘armored’ Elf man’s pale face, “Why don’t you let me drive there this time?”
Rather than a physiological reason, Jake’s motion sickness was more psychological at this point. After all, whether it was the smell, the movement, some kind of inner ear issue, whatever might have caused him to get nauseous in the past was basically not a problem anymore. He still felt sick though. And in turn, so did Vora. The two of them have been riding Tori to town and then driving back repeatedly though, so they usually had a long break in between. Not to mention the fact that shopping takes longer than getting there and back.
“I’m surprised you’re willing to leave Cami…”
“My Queen gave me permission.”
“Of course she did.” Jake snickered and shrugged his shoulders, “Okay then. You drive. I’ll ride Tori.”
“Hihihihi~! Let’s race!” Torrent was actually really excited, because she wanted to know whether she was faster than a truck…
“Apologies Princess, but the road conditions are harsh and the night is too dark. It is far too dangerous to ‘race’ under these circumstances.”
“Oh, driving is hard. Be careful, Brave Knight!”
“I will take the utmost care to achieve my mission successfully, without casualties!”
“You’re both so adorable.”
And so, the rest of the night passed pretty slowly. A lot of driving, looting, moving things, not only Jake, Tori, Vora and Tessa were exhausted when morning came. Basically the whole village was tired out. Including the mice, cats, dogs, goats and birds that also helped out to a certain extent.
“I’ll try to keep in touch.” Jake in the form of a black mouse with blue eyes waved goodbye to the yawning middle-aged man on the screen.
“I can’t say for certain, but I’m hopeful that the situation will change in the near future. At that time, I hope you can invite me to your new home.”
“We’ll see what happens. I’ll be on the lookout for deathsquads, missiles and bombers in the meantime.”
After hanging up the video call, the little mouth let out a long, drawn-out sigh. Then squeaked a few times in confusion and started nibbling on the potato chips that were left unopened on the side of the desk. At this rate, once the population explodes a bit more, maybe these little mice will have eaten up all the supplies left in Rio Grande before people started returning!
“Daisy is pregnant!”
“Oh thank God!” Jake laughed after hearing the exciting news from his wife a few days later, “Vora and I were starting to consider just doing it ourselves… No, we weren’t gonna fuck the horse. We were just going to try to make the ‘birth size’ of the Unicorn Drone as small as possible, so that it would be possible to give birth to them ourselves.”
“Thank you Jacob, Sister, both of you… You make me feel like a ‘real’ Queen.”
“I mean, you ‘are’ a real Queen. Whether it’s an Elf or an Alien, you’re still the leader of Frost Haven. Spiritually, physically and politically.”
“I know, I just… Gracias.”
After Camila cried for a few minutes, she finally cheered herself up again, got out of bed, got dressed and went out with Tessa to go help around the village. She obviously wouldn’t do any heavy lifting herself, but in case someone got hurt, she could ‘heal’ them quickly. After all, a lot of people were doing construction, farming and other relatively dangerous jobs.
Just the other day, one of the younger kids pushed his brother down the hill and the poor boy nearly cracked his head open on a sharp rock. Another man chopped off his finger when he was drunk and doing a stupid knife trick to impress his friends. A young woman had a miscarriage and wanted to kill herself, but was stopped by her brother… Who she stabbed by accident. These are just normal things that happen all the time, whether in the post-apocalyptic era or in the not so distant past.
One of the tiger-sized Cats was attacked by a group of much smaller cougars. She won the fight and wasn’t even injured, but that’s only because Vora was paying attention and quickly took control. Otherwise she might have died. The Hounds also had a lot of close calls. There was strength in numbers, but the more people or animals they had, the harder it was to look after everyone and prevent accidents or fix things when troubles arose.
For that matter, not long after Jake and Vora went outside, they saw a metal-armored knight falling off his horse. Jake rushed forward and managed to catch the man before he would have landed on his head and possibly broken his neck. However, the actual problem was just heatstroke. The Frost Elves couldn’t handle the ‘high’ temperatures in the 60’s F, or 15.5 to 21.1 C. Now it was barely even Spring, so Jake had no idea how hot it might get in the Summer.
“Por favor, por favor, Señor Jacob… *Sniffle* Sé que puedes hacer esto por mí. Por favor…”
Jake sighed dramatically when Tori brought the distraught woman to him in the middle of the night. She had dark-brown skin, with glowing golden eyes and long black hair that was usually straightened, but now it was all frizzy and fluffy. She was still wearing a bloody white dress from earlier. The wounds on her arms were covered in bandages, but still bleeding. In her hands was a… ‘Creature’. She was only a month pregnant, but the fetus already looked like it reached the third trimester.
“Father… Delilah, it’s not fair. Please, Father, I know it’s hard, but please help her!”
“Delilah, you know I can’t resurrect your son. Right? This isn’t a real resurrection. What you’re asking me to do…”
“I know! I know, I know! Please, I know the faster you act, the better!”
‘Hmmm, interesting. Experiment. Fun.’
Jake breathed out a long sigh again, then took the tiny fetus into his right hand. He didn’t even bother washing it off or doing any other preparation, because it was pointless. The brain wasn’t fully developed and the only real memories that the child had so far were of being in his mother’s womb. The most important thing was the genes. The two long slender tongues wrapped around the fetus gently and carefully pulled it inside his palm.
Sitting on the living room sofa, the giant monster with the face of a handsome Elf smiled gently at the haggard woman. Then he asked, “Do you have any preferences?”
“I just want my son… I don’t care about anything else. I just want him to be born safely. I want him to reincarnate and live a long, happy life.”
“Okay… So you just want him to be born the way he should have been born in a month. This will take a few days. Take a shower here first… No, maybe you should just stay at my house for the next few days. I’m afraid you might do something stupid again if you’re left alone. Tori…”
“Yes, Father! Thank you~!”
After Tori took the woman to their first-floor bathroom, Camila and Tessa walked into the room in their thin white nightgowns. The Elf Queen was a head shorter than her Knight, but she was actually still nearly 6 feet tall or around 182 cm.
“Gracias, Jacob.” Camila sat down on his right and looked up at his handsome face with tears in her eyes, “You’re so kind.”
“Aren’t you the same?” Jake smirked and then leaned down to kiss her on the lips, “I’m your husband. Everyone in Frost Haven are your family… So they’re mine too.”
“Can you really do it?” Tessa sat down on his left and looked at his right hand in confusion, “Is it really that easy to clone someone?”
“In fact, it’s much easier than that.” He shook his head and casually explained, “As long as I have a decent sized DNA sample, Cloning is actually pretty easy. The more difficult part is safely accelerating the growth, adjusting various features and making sure that the child is born smoothly in a reasonable amount of time.”
“Will there be any negative effects to this accelerated growth?” Camila asked with a worried expression on her pale face.
“During the actual growth process of the child, time is an important factor as far as intelligence and learning are concerned. It’s much easier to learn things when you’re growing and developing, at least for most people. If you’re willing to do experiments, you can actually control the growth of all your ‘children’, right? Hehe~!”
“I won’t do that. Not unless it’s absolutely necessary.” Camila shook her head and waved her hand, “I would never perform such a dangerous and heartless experiment.”
“That just goes to show that your fusion with your parasite was much more thorough than mine. Vora would do experiments on her own children without a second thought.” Jake snickered and shrugged his huge black-armored shoulders, “This is also an experiment of sorts. But I’m not too worried about the outcome. We aren’t really adding or taking anything away. Just trying to clone a person. It’s even easier than creating a new Drone.”
“Jacob… It might be ‘easy’, but we all know the real price you need to bear.”
“Si…” Tessa nodded and then sighed, leaning her head on his hard shoulder.
“Yeah, I know.” Jake smiled wryly, then he looked at the two of them and asked, “What about you? Do you wanna make some babies of our own?”
‘Breed?’ Vora seemed to be excited.
“I… I’m not ready. Not yet.” Tessa hugged his left arm tightly.
Camila chuckled, “You still owe me an heir.”
Two weeks later, Camila still wasn’t pregnant, but Jake’s left shoulder had turned into a big mass of pink flesh. His whole arm lost all its exoskeleton and became a useless noodle again. A short, 150 cm tall woman in a fancy blue robe was by his right side at all times. As if she was his bodyguard. Compared to when she first came to the house a few weeks ago, Delilah had recovered her senses and returned to her ‘usual’ self.
“I can feel his mana shaking the world with every beat of his powerful heart! My son will be born soon…”
“Umm, Archmage Rios, you’ve been saying that for the past week.”
Jake rolled his big blue eyes and stood on the grassy hill, looking out at the thriving wilderness below. Tori was jumping around in the river happily, along with a bunch of other kids from the village. Even some adults were also swimming nearby. Many of the fish, crabs and other creatures that lived near the Lumber Mill were actually Jake and Vora’s offspring now.
“But like I said two weeks ago, it was gonna take about two weeks. You’re actually right this time. Jacob will be born in a couple hours at most. I hope you’re ready.”
“I have been ready for ages!”
The proud self-proclaimed Dark Elf Archmage had several small balls of swirling blue fire behind the back of her tall cape. She also had magical runic simples glowing all over her skin, surging with blue arcane energy… Realistically though, her magical nonsense was as real as Jake’s handsome face or long elf-like ears. It was more like augmented reality though. Because since everyone could see it, even feel the heat radiating from the fireballs or the so-called magical pressure coming from her runes, then Deliliah really was an Archmage in this New Era of mind-altering parasites.
“You sure you don’t wanna go for a swim? You should relax and enjoy yourself, because for the next few years, you’ll have to be a full-time mommy-mage..”
“The winds are changing. A storm is coming and the temperature will drop soon. It will likely rain.”
Those gold eyes stared at the small white clouds in the distant eastern skies. With the bright sun beating down on them and the cool, comfortable breeze, Jake felt like it was already Summer. However, many of his children had also noticed the stormy weather ahead. Especially the Scouts.
“No, not rain… Hail.”
Jake raised an eyebrow as he looked down at the tiny woman who had been sticking to his right side for the past few weeks, “How can you tell it’s gonna hail?”
“The Frost Elements are raging in the atmosphere now. They’re just waiting for the chance to unleash their true power.”
Jake looked up at the sky and smiled wryly, because he really could see some huge icy-blue birds flying around where the clouds would normally be… The sunlight that passed through their huge bodies was refracted into a myriad of colors that dyed the world like a rainbow. At least for a few seconds, before he blinked his eyes and those frosty-phoenixes disappeared.
“Wow! So pretty!” Tori’s high-pitched voice came from the river below and dozens of other people around the village also saw the same hallucination.
“You’re getting ‘stronger’.”
Jake smiled wryly as he looked back down at Delilah’s smooth, sweaty forehead. Well, in direct sunlight, it was actually pretty hot. At least her fancy Archmage Robe had a huge opening in the middle of the chest to reveal a good portion of her bulging breasts.
“Si… Staying so close to Queen Camila and King Jacob, I can feel my power grow with every passing day!”
“Makes sense. Your ‘power’ is deeply connected with us. The closer we are, the more you’ll be able to influence everyone else.”
Jake looked at the huge canvas on the similarly large easel to his left, then continued using his functional left hand to paint the scene in front of him. The hills and forests in the distance, the lake, the river, the lumber mill, the Elves and Orca who were swimming… It seemed a little fantastical, but it was what he actually saw in reality. He even included a rainbow, with some icy phoenixes in the sky.
“I know I can just take a picture… But I’d rather paint this moment onto a canvas. It feels more fulfilling that way, right?”
‘Hmmm, art, fun.’
“My King, your artistic prowess is the greatest in all the land!”
“Yeah, by default maybe… How many artists are still alive? How many of them still have the free time and means to produce art in the world at the moment?”
“There are several artists in Frost Haven. None of them are very talented or skilled. However, I believe that our child will be an excellent painter, just like his father.”
“His father was a painter?” Jake raised an eyebrow and looked over toward the tiny woman again, “It’s been two weeks, but I still have no idea how the biological father was… Is it your brother?”
“¡Por supuesto que no!” The Archmage cleared her throat and pushed her long, straightened black hair out of her face, “Doesn’t Your Majesty remember that fateful night we spent together?”
“You’re saying I’m the father? I mean, yes, technically I’m the father and mother of this child, but the two of us have never had sex.”
“Perhaps not in this material plane…”
“So you’re saying that I knocked you up in a dream?” Jake rolled his eyes and asked, “Did somebody rape you? Did you get drunk one night and forget who you fucked? If someone raped you, let me know and I’ll make sure they never hurt anyone again.”
“Our love was consensual and passionate! Queen Camila, Lady Tessa and Master Voracity were all there!”
Jake stopped painting and tried hard to remember, seeing flashes of a distant dream. Of course, he’s seen all kinds of things the past few months. People are always having sex, masturbating, et cetera. Everyone is connected together telepathically to a certain extent, but they also have the ability to connect with Jake’s ‘offspring’, so he wasn’t the only one who could spy on others. Not that he even wanted to though. A lot of things he’s seen and heard were not ‘sexy’ in any way. For example, one of the old men in the village was sitting on the toilet and struggling, eventually begging God, Camila and Jake for help… In the end, his Queen really did give him help by stimulating the parasites in his bowels to give him explosive diarrhea.
“Wait a second! I do remember that! And that wasn’t a dream! You really got pregnant from that?!”
What he remembered was a time when the lonely and horny Archmage was spying on the three, four of them. Then she created an illusion for herself, as if she was really there and actually had sex with Jake at one point. The only reason he remembered was because she had an orgasm and called out his name really loudly.
To be fair, she wasn’t the only person in town that had sexual fantasies about Jacob or Camila. Lizzy and Kotoa’s parents literally had sex with Camila on a regular basis before Jake came along. And in a community of former hardcore gamers, it wasn’t strange for a giant black-armored monster to have a few admirers. But Jake is pretty possessive and protective. Thankfully no one was stupid enough to cross the line, yet.
The telepathic web in the village wasn’t completely unmoderated or ‘free’. For the most part, people wouldn’t actively reveal their deepest, darkest secrets to everyone, intentionally or unintentionally. Most people went out of their way to block out the noise. There was also an obvious hierarchy, where the Queens, King Jacob and Princess Tori were far above everyone else in terms of authority. The majority of people in the town were actually on the same level of psychic authority as the Scouts, Hounds and Cats.
Authority is one thing though. Talent and skill are another entirely. Catarina could control and command the Hound very easily, but had trouble with the Cats. Tessa was the opposite. Delilah wasn’t very good at communicating or controlling animals, but she was very powerful in terms of creating illusions…
“Why do you find it so strange? Many of your children can reproduce asexually…”
“That also kinda makes sense though.” Jake nodded and then sighed, “Maybe this is part of the reason why Little Jake needed so much ‘work’ done. I originally thought that you fucked your brother or maybe it was just some genetic mutation, but now it’s a lot more understandable. I didn’t wanna say anything before, because I was worried about your mental state… But-Ugh…”
“Is it time?!”
“Not yet, but almost.” He smiled wryly and shook his head, “I need to go inside and get ready though. I’ll have to put the finishing touches on this painting later.”
Jake used his tentacles to carefully pick up the entire easel, along with the heavy canvas that was still covered in wet paint. The giant only walked at a brisk pace, but the tiny Archmage had to run just to try and catch up with him.
He looked up and saw some huge cranes behind the three-story tavern. They were working on the ‘castle’. Among the things stolen from Rio Grande, they also took some construction vehicles. Otherwise, with human or ‘elf’ power alone, it would take ages to actually build anything significant. Either that, or hundreds of people. They only had a few dozen, most of which were children, but even children could operate heavy machinery if they were smart and skilled enough. Especially with the assistance of telepathic instructions.
“Cami, storm’s coming.”
“I know. I heard your conversation earlier.” Camila walked over from the front of the Tavern, “I’ve already told them to start preparing for hail.”
A few of the houses that collapsed during the earthquake were already torn down and replaced by simple-looking concrete buildings. After all, it’s only been about 2 weeks since Jake came back with the materials. The exteriors were basically just made with molds, but the interior work would take a lot longer. Instead, people really wanted to work on the big, fancy, giant castle.
“I still think we’re better off building an underground bunker.” Jake snickered as he took a left turn through a dirt road and quickly reached his big brown barn-like wooden house, “Actually, maybe we should all be nomads and keep moving instead? It won’t take long before those fuckers notice us and a castle won’t stop a cruise missile.”
“Jacob, you know we can’t do that.” Camila sighed, “We are afraid of them, but they too are afraid of us. We might not have nuclear missiles or bombs… However, it is impossible for any city to avoid mice, roaches and flies. They can never truly know whether those creatures are just normal animals or a deadly army waiting to strike.”
“Hah~! Hah~! Don’t walk so fast!” Delilah was panting and sweating as she finally reached the door of Jake’s house a few seconds after Tessa, who was just wearing some thin summer clothes, rather than heavy armor. She did carry a longsword and a revolver on her hips though.
“Yeah, I know. I just can’t help being scared. I didn’t care that much before, but now… I have way too much to lose.”
Jake walked inside and put the easel near the door. The paint did have a certain smell to it and he didn’t want to stink up the house. He quickly found a plastic bucket in the kitchen and ‘vomited’ into it from his right palm. If he dumped it down the drain, it could corrode and damage the pipes. If he spewed into the grass or dirt, it might mutate the plants and animals at most, which wasn’t a big deal. However, the Alchemist in town likes to use his ‘juices’ to try and create ‘magical potions’ or other weird drugs.
“Are you okay?” Delilah watched as he casually put the bucket down and washed off his bulging pink hand with warm water. There was a thin clear membrane covering his muscles and veins, which acted like skin, but it still looked extremely painful from a human perspective. Especially with all the pulsations and swelling.
“It’s fine. The baby is coming soon. Don’t worry.” Jake snickered and patted her on the head with a tentacle, “Everything will be fine. I can feel Jacob’s vital signs. Compared to normal human birth, Vorana is much more efficient and effective.”
“Jacob, once our numbers reach a certain point, we will need to talk about diplomacy.”
“I know. Not just diplomacy. We need some fucking rules and laws too. We’re the King, Queen and other Queen. We can’t deal with everything ourselves in the future. We’ll need to establish a military, police force, judiciary system, it’s honestly stressing me out just thinking about it…”
“Then stop! Don’t be stressed out! Our child is about to be born! Relax!” Delilah started hyperventilating, “I think… I think I’m having a panic attack!”
“That’s not surprising.” Jake sighed and hugged the tiny Archmage onto his lap as he sat down on the giant leather couch, “It’s gonna be okay, Dee. Everything is fine. Are you sure you don’t wanna name the boy something else though?”
“Jacob is a good name. A lucky name. I was going to name him something else before… This time, nothing will go wrong!”
“Get me another bucket-Ugh…” Jake groaned in pain as his bulging right shoulder pulsated violently, “Or a basin! Gotta be clean!”
“Yes!” Tessa shouted as she darted into the kitchen and quickly returned in less than thirty seconds, holding a large plastic basin for cleaning or holding dishes. This one was just washed out the other day and prepared for this very moment. Then she places the basin on the coffee table in front of the giant man.
“Ah!” Delilah wanted to help, but she couldn’t even react before everything was already finished.
“Alright, it’s time.” Jake smirked, his pale Elvish face disappeared and was replaced by his ‘real’, hard obsidian-like carapace. His facial features were somewhat similar, but just a lot rougher and sharper. Obviously he didn’t have any ears either. The small nubs were covered by his long purple tentacles regardless.
Jake’s right arm pulsated and bulged. Lots of amniotic fluid splashed out into the basin first. Then his bicep and tricep engorged, deflating a moment later. Then his elbow, forearm, wrist… Finally the slit on his palm opened wide enough for the 50 cm long pink-skinned baby boy to fit through easily. The little round head was first, with some fuzzy black hair already visible, then those long, slender elvish ears, followed by the chubby body…
The baby came out so quickly that Delilah was still stunned and couldn’t catch him. Of course, there was actually no danger or problems with the child falling straight into the amniotic fluid. The placenta fell down after that, along with the umbilical cord. Those purple tentacles reached down and gently lifted the child up out of the basin, cradling him in front of Jake’s hulking figure.
The baby cried out in pain, confusion and fear, as do most newborn humans. Elves aren’t much different. Everyone there could feel the simple and complex emotions or thoughts that were conveyed telepathically along with that high-pitched voice. Jake’s left hand reached out against his will and Voracity licked the baby’s face to clean him in the most ‘natural’, instinctive way that she understood. Well, the amniotic fluid and everything else had to pass through her other mouth on the way out, so her saliva wouldn’t cause any harm.
“He’s pretty cute.” Jake smiled and then handed the child over to Camila, who cleaned his body off with a warm, wet towel very familiarly. Finally, she handed the infant over to his original mother, who was still ‘stunlocked’.
“I… I’m afraid.” Delilah started crying as she looked down at her precious little angel, “I can’t… I can’t do this. I can’t be a mother. What if I hurt him? What if I drop him? What if something happens to him and I can’t do anything?!”
“Dee, relax. Breathe. You’re already a mother… And you’re not alone. You have us. Everything is gonna be okay.”
“Yeah… Si… Si…” And then she fainted from the stress and anxiety.
Not long after JV Rios was born and his silly fainted mother woke up to take care of him, the rain started falling, then it turned into hail and the wind was howling loudly. All the noises scared the baby and made him start crying again, especially when his bright golden eyes like his mother and Queen Camila.
“Awww~! My little brother is so cute~! Father! Why didn’t you call me sooner?!”
The huge armored Killer Whale was in the living room, dancing around happily in front of the terrified baby. Delilah tried to calm her son down, but she was on the verge of another panic attack already.
“Quiet!” Jake’s eyes turned pink for a moment and a scary roar caused the baby to stop crying immediately. His mother was also stunned and forcefully ‘calmed’. After the giant monster came over to the two of them and looked down at the child, it growled, “Quiet, good. Noise, bad.”
‘Help!’ A very simple telepathic cry for help rang out from JV’s newborn mind, ‘Scary!’
“JV, it’s okay… Mother is scary sometimes, but she still loves you. Are you hungry? Billy and Nani just gave birth recently, so they have lots of milk now…” Although it was Tori who said that, Catarina was the one who came over with a baby-bottle filled with warm Goat Drone milk.
“Did you give him genetic memories?” Camila asked her husband curiously, “I sense that he can understand our words.”
“A little bit. Nothing substantial. At most, he can learn English faster, for Spanish, Dee will have to teach him herself. With the telepathic web, all Elf kids will learn things faster than humans though. I’m just worried…” Jake’s eyes turned blue again and he walked over to sit down on the couch next to the sexy Elf Queen who was wearing pretty pink pajamas, “I’m worried about the kids being over-exposed to all kinds of fucked up shit.”
“Telepathy is worse than the internet in many ways.” Tessa sighed and sat down on the other side, while Delilah was still standing there in a daze, carefully holding her baby in her arms. The infant was a lot calmer once he tasted the delicious milk and had something to preoccupy himself with.
“I can place limitations on my Subjects to prevent the adults from harming the children, but it is more difficult to stop the curiosity of those children… Their telepathic abilities will also be much greater than that of their parents.”
After all, one was converted from an ordinary human into an ‘Elf’, while the other was born that way. The baby that Jake and Vora just created was even more ‘powerful’ than the others that were born more naturally. Little JV was already able to connect with his mother and communicate to a certain extent. Though his mouth was mostly just babbling, their minds were linked.
“Jacob has to pee! What do I do?!” The young Archmage was freaking out again.
“What else? Hold him over the toilet and let him pee. Diapers are expensive, so it’s better not to waste them if you can avoid it.”
“What if I miss?”
“Then you better clean it up, hahaha~!”
Well, Jake was too exhausted to take care of a baby. So he left that to the young mother… Fortunately, Tori was there to help. In terms of authority, she was still able to easily manipulate the baby’s body and ‘teach’ him how to aim a bit. On the other hand, Catarina also helped hold and carry the baby, to make sure that everything was fine. By the way, the newborn infant was obviously much more ‘durable’ than a normal human baby. He already had some functional teeth, his bones and muscles were developed enough to stand or even walk.
Many animals like horses and goats have the ability to run from the time they’re born. This is because they ‘need’ that ability to survive. Their mothers can’t carry them. They have no hands or arms like primates. Their offspring are also too big to carry with their mouths like a dog or cat would.
“I predict that most of the humanoid races in the future will have to develop much more quickly than ordinary humans. I find it miraculous that humanity ever made it through the early stages of civilization with how many major defects there are in their early development. Without medicine or extreme luck, it’s surprising that humans can even reproduce at all. The mortality of mothers and children used to be super high.”
‘Humans, inefficient, ineffective, weak. Evolution, stunted.’
“But baby humans are cute ‘because’ they’re so weak.” Tori crawled over to the side of the big couch that was smaller than her body.
“Nah, babies are a lot less cute when they’re pissing and shitting themselves. And it might be cuter if you can’t understand what they’re saying, just like cats and dogs. But it’s definitely a lot more annoying.”
“Those first few months after having a baby… Are exhausting, unbearable, but once it ends and your child starts growing up, you start to miss those days when they were just a cute, helpless baby.” Camila sighed, “You have never had a ‘normal’ human child, Jacob. You would not understand.”
‘Offspring, useful. Human infants, useless. Understanding, unnecessary.’
“Vora has a point.” Jake snickered and then rubbed his sore, painful right shoulder, “In the wild, human babies would have a hard time surviving. Especially if their parents were sick or injured after taking care of them. From the moment Tori was born, she was able to take care of herself to a certain extent. Otherwise, the three of us might never have left Antarctica…”
“I’m kinda hungry too…”
“Hohohoho~! You are both so cute…”
“Hihihihihi~! Your laugh is so funny, Mama Cami!”
“Hahahah~!” Jake grinned as he looked around at his family, “Who wants pizza?”
“Padre, are you sure you can make a pizza with only one arm?”
“I have nine arms, actually.” The huge man stood up and then sat back down again, “But you’re right. I’m too tired and lazy.”
“You just gave birth. It is understandable, Jacob.” Camila massaged his squishy, pulsating pink flesh with her delicate little hands, “Tessa, Love, Your King wants a pizza.”
“Yes, Your Majesty! By your command!”
Catarina couldn’t help cringing in embarrassment. Of course, her husky-like facial expressions made Jake, Tori, Tessa and even Delilah laugh. JV was too busy drinking milk to pay attention to anything else.
The gigantic dogs and cats around the house started making a lot of noise. Interrupting their laughter. Jake couldn’t help sighing, “I guess the kids were stimulated by their parents, huh?”
On that day, it wasn’t just JV Rios that was born. Billy and Nani gave birth to one child each. Sophia, Tomi and Orina had a total of 13 puppies. Of the five Cats, only two of them gave birth that night, but the other three already had their own litters a few days prior. The total number of Second Generation Cats reached 19!
The skinny blue ass was violently trembling every time it lifted up or slammed down onto the hard black armor. Only a small portion of that long pink ‘tentacle’ was extending out from the slit in the pelvic carapace. Two huge claws reached out and gently caressed her muscular, scarred-up body from behind. Those tiny breasts, her long neck, that beautiful but marred face. The left hand extended two tongues into her mouth, while the other two started pleasuring her from the front.
“Si~! Si~! Mmmn~! Si~!”
On the left side of the black-armored ‘Elf’ man with a pale face, the Elf Queen had her legs spread and was grasping the messy hair of a relatively ‘tiny’ Dark Elf Archmage. Camila sucked and licked the tips of those purple tentacles that started tightly wrapping her body. A few of them also reached down and began fondling Delilah’s similarly plump breasts. Eventually reaching down to her ass and probing her two soaking wet holes.
“Jake, it’s my turn…”
After receiving a creamy white enema, Tessa dismounted with her long blue legs trembling, then was quickly replaced by the eager tiny brown-skinned Elf. Delilah was surprisingly able to take most of that gigantic pink tentacle inside of her much smaller body. Of course, while her height might be nothing compared to Tessa and Camila, her hips and ass were significantly larger. However, her waist was still fairly skinny and she even had some slightly defined abs.
“Come, service your Queen!” Camila wasn’t satisfied yet and pulled her Knight to replace her Archmage, pressing that big blue face against her crotch.
For the past few weeks since Delilah moved into the house, the five of them have been sleeping in the same bed together. Obviously their relationship was more than just friends. Jake realized that Camila’s lust wouldn’t be satiated so easily. As with any relationship, the two of them compromised. The rules of their ‘marriage’ were pretty simple. Anyone she wanted to bring into her ‘harem’ had to be agreed upon by Jake. If they couldn’t all have sex in the same bed, at the same time, then there were clearly too many. Aside from that, Jake was greedy and didn’t want to share his wives with other ‘men’. The definition of the word ‘man’ has become somewhat blurred even before the apocalypse, so it’s even more confusing now.
At the very least, he didn’t want to bring Kotoa and Lizzy’s slutty parents into the mix. It’s not like all the adults in the village were promiscuous though. There were a lot of extremely conservative Elves. Even on this festive night, they just stayed at home and didn’t bother going to the tavern to get drunk or partying.
“Happy Birthday, Cami.”
“Gracias, Jacob.” Camila cuddled up in those purple tentacles with a satisfied smile on her beautiful face. Then she spoke telepathically, “Thank you for your gifts. All of you.”
Around the village, everyone that was still awake was able to hear the voice of their Queen, so they also responded in kind. The telepathic web connecting everyone was chaotic and noisy for a while, before falling back into silence. It was kind of like having a group call or posting an announcement on social media. Although it’s slightly addicting and fun at first, eventually it becomes exhausting and annoying. Most of the Elves intentionally closed themselves off most of the time.
The reason why Jake and Camila were alone on the bed at this time is because Tessa was in the bathroom dealing with the aftermath of that ‘enema’ earlier, while Delilah had to go take care of her son. At first, the Archmage had to use Goat milk to feed her baby, but then she started lactating. Camila does have the ability to alter the Elves in various ways, so it’s not that strange to make a new mother produce breast milk. Especially when not that long ago, she was actually pregnant.
“The weather is a little chilly compared to before, but this is probably more normal for spring around here. The animals and plants are reproducing so rapidly… And growing faster.”
Jake sighed as he hugged the relatively tiny woman against his huge left arm, “I’m scared. I’m always afraid that a nuke will drop on our heads at any moment. I’m not that worried about animals or nature. But humans…”
“Other Queens will also have similar abilities to ours.” Camila’s expression also became serious as she stared up at the ceiling with her glowing golden eyes, “The EHO might be run by artificial intelligence, but most governments and human organizations around the world are not. A war between those Queens and ‘Humanity’ would be…”
“A nuclear war.” Jake smiled wryly, “In fact, we already had a nuclear war. So many cities were nuked, so many power plants melted down, billions of humans died, not to mention the animals and plants. But everything didn’t end. This is only just the beginning… I’m still worried about the two of us staying in the same place though. It makes us a bigger target.”
“Are you leaving?”
Their vision reached out and spread across the whole village that was filled with laughter, revelry and music. There were quite a few babies, but they didn’t cry very often. They didn’t need to cry, because their parents could understand them and their ability to learn languages was much more powerful than ordinary infants.
“It’s almost like Astral Projection.”
“This reminds me of LSD.”
Jacob was floating in the sky, without any armor on his naked body. Just looking like a pale-white ghostly Elf with black hair and glowing blue eyes. Camila was floating next to him in a similar state, except that her appearance remained the same as usual. However, behind the two of them, there was a huge, hulking figure. It had glowing pink irises, long purple tentacles for hair, thick black carapace covering a muscular body… But ‘she’ had more feminine curves. In other words, breasts. The face was also significantly different from Jake.
“Vora, you’re so sexy like this.” Jake smirked and reached out to touch her pretty face, “This is all just an illusion, so size… Changes on a whim.”
Just like he said, when he caressed her face, his hand was much bigger than before. Their two bodies were also about the same size. Camila on the side floated closer and she was three times larger than the two of them…
“I’m starting to get turned on again, hahahah~!”
“Jacob, what is this?” Camila shrunk down to her normal size, looking particularly small compared to Vora, but she was almost head taller than the spiritual Jake who also returned to his ‘normal’ size.
“This is Astral Projection. Like I said before. Or at least, my half-assed imagination of Astral Projection.” Jake pointed down to Frost Haven below, “What you see with your eyes is not necessarily what your eyes are actually seeing. Your brain needs to sort out the information and then what you view is more like an image that’s been processed a few times. Maybe even edited because of various factors… This Astral Projection technique is similar in a lot of ways.”
He reached out and grabbed her hand, then pulled her ghostly ethereal body down towards the ground. Vora also followed closely behind them like a spiritual bodyguard.
“Many eyes, many ears, borrowed. Combined.”
“Pretty much.” The naked man shrugged, “What we’re seeing, hearing, even feeling and smelling are all sensations borrowed from countless eyes, ears, noses and other sensory organs around the village. Not just the village, our territory is getting larger by the day. It’s not just about people either. Every mouse, every fly, every gnat, cockroach, fish, dog, cat, all the life we’ve spawned has formed a huge telepathic web that grows stronger every day.”
Camila floated through the air freely, dancing around like a real magical Elf. The three of them soared through the sky and landed on the ground, noticing that they were basically invisible. At least, to most people and animals. However, the giant Cats looked up at them curiously, meowing loudly. The Hounds also barked or howled.
“The more incredible, the more terrifying.” Jake sighed dramatically as he looked up at the full moon in the starry sky, “If we can do this, then so can others. At a certain point…”
“Imagination, dangerous.” Vora growled in her deep, raspy voice.
“I see.” Camila nodded with a frown, looking down toward the south, “The Devil.”
“Not just one Devil. Gods, Devils, whatever you wanna call them, if they can infect your mind and influence your thoughts…” The short man looked toward the north instead, seemingly peering through the entire planet and reaching that big nuclear crater where he spent nearly half his life.
“Are you looking for me, Jacob?” A familiar voice rang out from behind his back.
“Ah!” Jake sat up from the bed and felt his heart racing. Poor Camila was almost thrown across the room, but thankfully, his tentacles were able to hold her tightly enough.
“Jacob?! What is wrong?! What did you see?!”
“Be more specific!” Camila complained, “What were you looking at?”
“Baltimore City. Or the crater formerly known as Baltimore City…” Jake reached out with one of his tentacles and grabbed a big jug of water, starting to guzzle it down quickly. Putting the plastic jug back down, he breathed out a long sigh and shook his head.
“In the ruins, there was a townhouse that still looked completely intact. Even the yard was filled with potted plants… Roses and other flowers mostly, also some garlic and basil-”
“Uh, yeah, so anyway, that little old woman turned and looked up at me. Then her eyes glowed yellow and I looked up at the sky… In the dark sky, I could see those same yellow eyes staring down at me.”
“Yeah, it looked like a giant fucking space centipede! Shit, do you think it’s actually some kinda celestial beast? Or maybe an alien spaceship?! Fuck! She knows where I am! She saw me!”
“Yeah, us, sorry Vora, you know what I mean! Fuck!”
“Jacob, calm down. If she is truly as powerful and dangerous as you believe, then this woman… This Devil has likely known our position a long time ago. What you see is likely only an illusion. What does this woman look like?”
“Uh… Her name, at least, when I knew the ‘real’ person was Maria… Hmmm, I don’t remember her last name. Maybe… Bianchi?”
“Maria Bianchi?! No, that is impossible!” Camila screamed and quickly got out of Jake’s tentacles, walking over to the window and peeking out from the side of the curtain. Those golden eyes peered through the darkness easily and saw a small red-brick house a few hundred meters away. Surrounded by corn and wheat fields.
“Jacob… When I purchased this property for my guild nearly ten years ago, the original owner was an elderly couple named-”
“Maria and Bo Bianchi?” Jake frowned and stood up from the bed, crouching down and peeking out the window above her tiny head. He whispered, “Please tell me they aren’t still here.”
“Of course they left a long time ago…” Camila shivered and leaned up against his chest/waist to feel a little sense of security, “Jacob, they were both nearly a hundred years old back then. They lived in Argentina their entire lives. I remember when I was a child, my grandmother used to live near them in Buenos Aires… They said they were Gypsies. I used to think they were witches or vampires when I was growing up, because they never seemed to get any older.”
“I mean, they were already old as shit. So if they ‘looked’ any older than that… Well, it was amazing enough that they could still walk around. But how the fuck could they live in Buenos Aires? When my father was growing up like sixty or seventy years ago, those two old Italians were still living in Baltimore. Are there a bunch of clones of them across the world?”
“But if it’s an illusion, then how… How long have we been ‘infected’? Has the whole world been infected this entire time? If that’s the case, then what changed?”
As Jake was talking, a light lit up on the second floor of that creepy old house and a shadowy figure appeared behind the curtain!
Compared to Jake and Camila who was startled or scared, Vora was much calmer. She growled in their minds, ‘Lola.’
“Uh… Yeah, I forgot that Lola Gonzales lives there.”
Jake smiled wryly because he took a ‘peek’ inside the room through the eyes of a Mouse. The short and skinny Elf woman was walking around the bedroom naked. While on her bed was the ‘Innkeeper’, with his arms and legs tied up on the bed. He also had a ball-gag in his mouth. Then the naked woman picked up a big black strap-on from her closet…
“So anyway, the moral of the story is that just like Maria, there are probably a lot of ancient monsters around the world. I’m still a lot more worried about human weapons though. At least with this psychic bullshit, I think I can still fight back to a certain extent. But I can’t stop a nuke or even just a normal missile.”
“Where will you go?” Camila turned around and placed her hands on his hard cheeks, looking into his big blue eyes. He reached down and hugged her into his giant arms. Easily lifting her off the ground and carrying the tiny woman over to the massive bed.
“Not far. This island is huge, but it’s all relative.” Jake sat down on the edge of the bed and placed her on his lap, “There are a lot of decent-sized lakes to the south, but whether they’re safe or not is debatable. Inutil Bay to the West is a good choice. At least, it’s probably a lot safer than the ocean. But… Well, when Tori and I enter the ocean, we can practically circle around this island without much effort or time.”
“As long as Torrent leaves the land, her speed is truly remarkable.”
“Of course. Anyway, the main point is that whether it’s the EHO or any other human organization, they have to understand that we’re a threat. That they can’t just fuck with us and get away with it. They should be afraid and know that if they hurt you, any of you, I will make them pay the price.”
“I am so turned on right now!”
When the haggard Frost Elf opened the bathroom door, she trembled and quietly closed it again.
“Tessa, Love~! Come out and join us! Your Queen needs you~!”
“Yes… My Queen.” She breathed out a long sigh and had a serious expression on her face as she marched into battle!
Jake snickered, “Don’t worry, Tes, we’ll leave your ass alone.”
“Gracias… ¡No!” Halfway to the bed, Tessa’s expression changed and she quickly rushed back into the bathroom: “Sorry Cami!”
“Hahahah~! She’s so cute when she breaks character!”
“¿Qué hay de mí?”
“You’re adorable too. I love you so much~! Happy Birthday again~!”
“¡Yo también te amo! Muah~!”
Frost Haven sits very close to the border between Argentina and Chile. Of course, on this island, the border wasn’t particularly visible most of the time. Even before the world ended. However, this little plot of land was obviously part of Argentina, or it wouldn’t have been so easy for Camila to purchase it back then.
Now that both Argentina and Chile have trouble just maintaining a few small cities under their control, obviously borders didn’t matter much. At least not now. In the future, that was a different story. Borders do change over time. Land only belongs to the people or even plants and animals that have the power to defend their claim to it.
The small town with only a couple dozen wooden houses was growing every day. New population was being added constantly, but it would take at least ten years for those babies to grow large enough to be useful for manual labor. They needed an alternative. Animals could replace humans or ‘Elves’ in many things, while machines could also do the same. Yet, there were still many cases where humans were simply more efficient. Especially in a low-tech or minimal tech environment. They didn’t even have power lines that could reach Frost Haven, so there was no way to make use of the power plant in Rio Grande, even if they were willing to reveal themselves.
“I feel like we’re crossing another line here.”
Jake looked down at the cute dark-green skinned babies that were giggling and babbling, rolling around in the mud nearby. They had shorter elf-like ears, usually with dark brown or black hair, though some were just naturally bald. Their facial features weren’t very different from the other Elf babies.
“I don’t know why I let you two convince me to do this.”
A few of the slightly ‘older’ toddlers already started to show their differences though. First of all, their eyes generally didn’t glow. They basically had brown, black or hazel irises. Their eyes were a little smaller, closer to normal humans. Their canines were longer than most Elves, even protruding from their mouths like tusks sometimes. Not all of them had tusks though. But all of them had sharper teeth, some didn’t even have incisors, just more fangs.
“A necessary sacrifice.”
Camila held a few particularly small green-skinned newborns against her voluptuous chest and smiled, up at the towering monster she called a husband/sister. The two of them were standing in front of their giant wooden barn-like house and watching the newborn ‘puppies’ play together. Yes, all of these kids weren’t born to humans, but to Hounds in litters. First the genes were processed and modified by Voracity, with the help of Jacob and Camila. Thus creating the first two iterations of the ‘Worker Drones’.
“It just feels wrong, no matter how you say it.”
“What is wrong with this? We will not treat our children badly, no matter what they look like or what their purpose might be…”
“No matter what, if I find out that people are abusing the ‘Orcs’ and ‘Goblins’ or treating them like slaves…”
“If that happens, I will be the first to punish them!”
“I will be the second!” Tessa, who came out of the building in a pretty white dress, also shouted angrily. Then she handed over some sippy cups and sandwiches to her Queen. The 3 newborn Goblin babies she carried were very active and excited. Quickly fighting each other while still bouncing around on her breasts. They were less than 10 centimeters long and even smaller when they were first born. Even smaller than the normal cubs.
“Should we make them male or female?” Jake smiled wryly, “No matter which one we choose, it’s gonna lead to a lot of issues further down the line.”
“Why not let them choose on their own?” Tessa asked curiously while picking up one of the naked giggling toddlers. They didn’t have any visible genitals. Even their urethras and anuses were covered up by a black carapace. They also had no nipples. Completely ‘genderless’, physically at least. Psychologically? It was difficult to tell.
“They might ‘look’ like Orcs or Goblins, but they’re essentially just Hounds with some Elf genes mixed in to make them more humanoid. In the winter when it gets colder, they should grow nice fur coats.”
“Are they Werewolves?” Catarina walked over holding Kotoa’s hand, with Lizzy walking behind them while pouting. Without Tori around, she felt like a third-wheel.
“They shouldn’t suddenly transform into wolves… But I can’t rule out that possibility.” Jake shrugged, “After all, their parents look like giant Maned Wolves.”
“Why did you decide to make them look like Orcs or Goblins instead of just turning them into Werewolves like me?”
“Because in the future, you’ll have little wolf cubs of your own. Besides, there are lots of werewolves and other ‘furry’ races out there already. I don’t need to go out of my way to create them. That’s also why I didn’t make cat-girls or rat-men, because they already exist.”
Jake snickered, “Yes, yes, I know that Orcs and Goblins aren’t original either. But they definitely fit the ‘theme’ of Frost Haven pretty well. Cami also had a hand in their creation. If it was up to Vora, they’d probably be giant armored monsters with tentacles growing out of their heads.”
“Stop~! You’re so dirty!”
Three of the five Orcish toddlers who were covered in mud were chasing Lizzy around. The other two were still wrestling with each other on the ground, even using their sharp teeth to ‘play bite’. They didn’t leave any wounds, but it did hurt a little bit. Their tiny bodies already had some fairly defined muscles.
“Anyway, I’ll just keep them neutral for now. If necessary, they can grow genitals and have other secondary sexual characteristics later on…”
“I can help out with that as well.” Camila smiled at the adorable green babies and toddlers of various sizes, “In a few weeks, these children will be adults. The Orcs can become warriors or deal with heavy labor around town. The Goblins will be able to handle tasks that require smaller bodies and more nimble hands.”
“How big will they get?” The blonde-haired, blue-eyed Elf boy asked while casting an envious gaze at those muscular Orcish toddlers.
“Theoretically, the Orcs will grow to somewhere between six and seven feet? Two meters on average though. I could have gone bigger, but any bigger and they might as well be called Ogres. For the Goblins, they should be about half as tall and much lighter.”
“Only two meters?” Kotoa frowned, “Shouldn’t they be at least as tall and strong as you?”
The two little kids stopped holding hands. Catarina went over to help pull the dirty Orc toddlers off her silly friend, who was laying in the wet grass and mud. Then a bunch of huge wolves appeared and pounced on their ‘Big Sister’.
“Like I said before, Ogres.”
Jake shrugged, hugging a gigantic black ‘Cat’ in his arms and tentacles. He originally considered choosing the Cats instead of the Hounds as parents, but they decided that the dogs would be much more productive. If they accidentally made a bunch of lazy cat-girls and cat-boys, then the whole purpose of the Worker Drones would be negated.
“Besides, bigger isn’t necessarily better. At least six to seven feet is within the range of normal human height. Their fingers will also be small enough to use normal-sized tools and weapons. The Goblins are really small, but they should also be big enough to do the same. You always wanted to be an Orc, right? Well, now’s your chance. As long as you can bond with one…”
“Really?! Isn’t that… Kind of wrong, though?”
“Why would it be wrong? If you’re close enough to borrow their body, then they’re close enough to borrow yours. It’s a mutual relationship between partners. Not some master-slave bullshit. If I find out that you abused them…”
“Kotoa wouldn’t do that!” Catarina glared at her father and retorted, “I wouldn’t let him!”
The sun was shining down on the white sandy beach near the ruins of that small coastal town that used to be a Border Control checkpoint a year ago. Most of the wooden buildings, whether they were intact or not before, had already been devoured by termites and other similar creatures. The concrete was cracked and crumbling, with large trees, vines, bushes, grasses and other plants growing wildly. Even the beach had a lot of wild grasses growing out from the dry sand that was mixed with a little soil. The wet sand was mostly covered by thick green, brown and red seaweed. The waves crashed onto the shore and brought with it a seemingly endless supply.
As far as the eyes could see, the whole ocean was littered with countless patches of green, red and brown. The seals and penguins had mostly gone south already. It was a very warm December for Southern Patagonia. Summer was about to begin in a few days.
However, even though most of the seals and penguins left, there were still plenty of creatures living and thriving on the beaches. Including thousands of birds. Most of which were omnivorous and could eat practically anything. Those different types of seaweed weren’t even dangerous for the most part. And the ones that were, still couldn’t hurt their powerful stomachs.
These Scout hybrids had completely taken over the entire area. They were effectively the apex predators, but also ate various fruits, berries and other plants. Not only did they eat them directly, sometimes they would just gather up a bunch of food in a special place, which would then be picked up by a big wolf. Then carried back to the village 10 kilometers to the southwest.
Cars, even off-road vehicles, have become totally useless now. Most horses couldn’t even travel through those thick forests safely. Countless insects and small creatures lived in the forests. Most of them were just food for some particularly dangerous insects and rodents. However, the war between small creatures has always continued and only became more violent over time. If those predators stopped eating the weaker creatures, then there would be a major overpopulation situation and things wouldn’t be good for anyone.
As for the larger creatures like different types of deer, camelids, even wild cows and giant chickens, they were all preyed upon by the big wolves and cats in the area. The Hounds and Cats were expanding their territory rapidly, but they were still greatly outnumbered by foreign predators that intruded on their territory daily. Although there haven’t been any losses yet, many serious injuries have occurred, which led Jake and Camila to expand their ‘roster’ to include some humanoids that could use weapons or tools. It has only been a few days since they were born though. It would take at least a week for the Goblins to reach maturity and the Orcs might take two weeks.
Compared to the land, the ocean was far more dangerous and terrifying. Below the surface that was partially covered by huge layers of thick seaweed, the chilly waters were filled with countless creatures swimming, floating, killing and being killed. Their sizes varied from microscopic organisms and tiny krill, to the largest creatures on the planet like Blue Whales. Of course, the Blue Whales also had more food now and mutated or adapted.
“Hi! I’m Tori! It’s nice to meet you! Hihihihi~!”
A few kilometers from the coast, the 5 meter long armored Orca looked incredibly tiny in front of the 50 meter long leviathan! Its eyes were huge, but almost indistinguishable on such a massive frame. There were many long white lines from the bottom lip to the ‘neck’, with countless white barnacles growing all over its chin. There were also some deep scars on this lone Blue Whale’s back and underbelly. The scariest ones were the three long ‘scratches’, as if it was attacked by a massive claw that must have been ten meters wide! The two of them were floating at the surface and ‘chatting’ with each other casually.
“I’m sorry to hear that… But the world has changed a lot now! I’m sure there are lots of people like you out there! When I was in Antarctica before, I met lots of Blue Whales…”
“Yeah, I know! It’s super scary! Hihihihi~!”
The big, long and sharp white flippers on the sides of the gigantic whale flopped on the water a bit, creating some huge splashes. Mentioning Antarctica in Tori’s half-assed Blue Whale language clearly caused the gigantic creature to become very upset.
“Ow! My ears! You’re too loud!”
The sounds coming from the massive head were incredibly deafening. Occasionally, two huge jets of hot air would also spray up into the sky, along with lots of water and vapor. The song of a normal Blue Whale can reach hundreds of kilometers. No matter how much the ‘old lady’ said, it was impossible for Tori to hear anything at that point.
“Wait! Stop! Don’t go!”
Tori easily caught up with the whale that was swimming away, since it really wasn’t traveling very fast. At least, not fast for an Orca. For a Blue Whale, it was definitely ‘sprinting’. The massive creature likely weighed half a million kilos, so the amount of energy and force it took her to reach 30 kilometers per hour was equally astonishing.
“Don’t go that way! That’s the shore! You’ll die!”
“Stop! Please! I don’t want you to die! We’re friends, right?!”
After a couple minutes, the suicidal old woman stopped accelerating and slowed down. They were so close to the shore that the seaweed was making it a little difficult to move forward anyway. Raising her head high enough out of the water, that gigantic left eye was able to see the endless green forests and the thousands of birds flying in the sky.
“Yeah. I like the land too… But Bahni, you really can’t go ashore. You’re too big. I’m sorry. You just can’t.”
“Hihihihi~! I know you can do it ‘once’, but not yet. You can still live for a long time.”
‘Bahni’ was over 90 years old. However, with her mutation, she actually felt like she got a lot younger. Probably why she was able to have a second growth spurt. Not only that, but she even felt like she could have children again. If only she could find a partner capable of mating. It’s not just about reproduction though. She’s been alone for so long. At least she hasn’t met another of her kind in a long time. She has talked with some other whales, but it’s just not the same. Especially after the ocean became even scarier than before. The absurdly large Orca pods she saw were just too scary. Many of them were cannibals, not to mention how they treated other cetaceans.
“Sharks? Oh, hihihihi~! Don’t worry about them! Those are my cute little sisters!”
When the two of them started swimming back out to sea, Bahni warned her tiny friend of the danger. After all, there were dozens of 3 to 6 meter long sharks swimming around in the waters nearby! Oddly enough though, they had the same black and white coloring as an Orca. Their underbellies were white, while their vertical tail fins were completely black. Their beady eyes blended in with their pointy noses, which had a hard bony shell growing over it. Their dorsal fins were also very hard and sharp. However, unlike their big sister Tori, their bodies weren’t completely covered in armor. Allowing them to have more flexibility and maneuverability.
There were actually many more sharks swimming around, but the smallest newborns were only 10 centimeters long, so the Blue Whale couldn’t even notice them. The whole time, they’ve been completely surrounded by a protective net of sharks!
Shortly after the looting of Rio Grande, Vora and Jake decided to use the shark genes they acquired to create the Hunting Drone, Type-3: Shark. Yes, the name was very creative and distinctive. Regardless, these sharks were able to be conceived and birthed within a matter of hours if necessary. They were also only less than 10 centimeters long when born, so even in batches of 3 to 5, Vora’s carapace wouldn’t crack.
After those first few Sharks were born, Jake handed them over to Tori to nurture and protect, until about a month later, when that first batch was completely mature. Sharks can keep growing forever, but at around 6 meters, their speed of growth will slow down dramatically. Just to continue living at around 6 meters long, they already need to consume a lot of meat every day. However, considering the massive amount of seaweed in the ocean lately, Jake also made their digestive systems a little more complex. Although they preferred meat, they could still eat most aquatic plants as well.
There were no reproductive restrictions placed on the Sharks… Because the ocean was different from the land. Not only was there more food, it was also far more dangerous. They weren’t going to try and ‘take over’ too much territory either. If it got as cold as last year, then they’d actually need to migrate further away from the shore during winter.
Those original dozen or so Sharks grew up and started making babies every few days. However, not all of those children managed to survive for a whole month to reach full maturity. Otherwise their numbers would be astounding by now. The most dangerous time was when they were just born, because within a week, they would be at least 2 meters long. Their speed can reach up to 60 kilometers per hour, which increases until stabilizing around 70 kilometers per hour when fully grown. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to keep up with their leader, Tori.
Their scales might not be particularly amazing, but they do have some protective armor in certain places, like their genitals. Otherwise, there would be small fish, parasites and other creatures that could try to crawl up inside any orifices to make that place their new home. Bahni and a lot of other larger sea creatures actually suffer from similar problems. They have no arms or hands and their mouths were unable to ‘clean out’ their genitals, so this was actually a very serious issue.
Although it was possible to develop antibodies or defense mechanisms against infection. It was still very dangerous to have a bunch of eels, fish and other creatures treating your orifices like a secret base or an all you can eat buffet. Fortunately for Bahni, she met a kind-hearted little girl like Tori.
“I’m sorry, you want me to do what?”
“Father, I just need to borrow your body. Don’t worry, I’ll do everything myself.”
“Sweetie… I do not want my daughter crawling around inside a whale’s ass and/or pussy. So no.”
“Please! Father! Bahni is in so much pain! There are crabs-”
“Urp, ugh, stop! Stop, please. Don’t talk about it.”
“Not just crabs! There are lobsters, fish, and eels! I think she even has coral growing inside of her body!”
Jake floated in the dark ocean and looked at the gigantic 50 meter long whale that was covered in scars, barnacles, coral, muscles and other creatures. Then he sighed, breathing out a few bubbles and complained, “Even if I let Vora go on a feeding frenzy, she can’t handle everything on her own. This… The sharks aren’t going to cut it either. This isn’t something that can be solved by just crawling inside her body and removing shit, ugh, er, not like… No, maybe even literal… No, okay, stop. I don’t even wanna think about it.”
‘Need, time, design… Tools. Cleaning, tools.’
“Yeah, you can start by having the sharks deal with the shit on the outside of her body. We’ll make some crabs or shrimp that can survive inside…”
“Thank you, Father! I love you! Bahni will love you too!”
“Woooooouuuuuouuuuu~!” Tori started conveying their plan to her giant friend, who responded with some happy whale noises.
There were actually already some other fish, shrimp and crabs in the river near the village, but they were primarily meant for the freshwater of the river. Plus, this was a specific task like entering inside of a giant creature and being powerful enough to deal with all the small to medium sized ‘enemies’ they would eventually encounter. It wouldn’t be a one and done deal either. The most effective method was actually to first kill all the invasive creatures that were infecting the poor Blue Whale, then replace them. Becoming a line of defense for her intestines, reproductive organs and even her skin. Those barnacles and coral would be difficult to remove painlessly or safely. There was also a decent amount of seaweed growing on Bahni’s body that needed to be dealt with regularly.
Of course, as a Blue Whale, even if she adapted to be able to expand her ‘menu’ a bit, Bahni needed to eat a few tons of krill each day. Compared to before 2023, she actually needed to eat a lot less now. Some of those creatures living inside of her body were actually forming a symbiotic relationship, allowing her to digest some things that she normally wouldn’t. Even though many of those creatures were beneficial, the vast majority were still an uncontrollable menace and needed to be removed.
“We can deal with that shit later. Right now I’m more curious about what kinda monster left that scar on your buddy?”
“Ah! Yeah, I was wondering about that too! Unfortunately, Bahni doesn’t really know…” Tori looked at those three huge claw marks with her glowing silver eyes, “She didn’t see what attacked her because she was hundreds of meters below the surface! Oh, but she was a lot smaller back then! So the monster probably wasn’t that big.”
“Even if she was the size of a normal Blue Whale, that claw must have been like five or six meters wide, right? What the fuck kinda deep-sea monster was that? Some Kaiju lizard?”
“It’s scary…” Tori giggled, “But something that big probably wouldn’t be interested in tiny people like us though, hihihihi~!”
“Unless it has smaller relatives.” Jake shook his head and sighed, “But we can see from Bahni’s situation that giant monsters also have some pretty glaring weaknesses.”
Vora growled, ‘Bigger holes, bigger goals.’
Jake rolled his glowing blue eyes and floated up to the surface. Taking a few breaths of the cool, salty sea breeze, he noticed some lights in the distance… The waves lifted him up and down as his tentacles turned pitch-black, allowing him to blend into the darkness completely.
‘Boat?! Wow! I wanna see!’
First Tori emerged from the water, shooting a small spray of water into the air, before taking a quick breath. However, a moment later, a massive head emerged from the waves and launched two gigantic jets into the sky. Bringing along high-pitched ‘song’.
“Shhhh~!” Jake shushed the Blue Whale and then realized that it was totally meaningless. Even if it was a normal person, they wouldn’t be able to hear a ‘shush’ over the sound of crashing waves, birds cawing, whales singing and Orcas giggling.
A boat horn came from several kilometers away. A few seconds later, the horn rang out again. Then it rang out three more times in quick succession!
Tori screamed and her mother was just confused. Jake frowned as he looked over at the huge figure that was approaching in their direction at a decent speed, “Five honks means danger. Well, technically it’s five or more, but you get the point. It could also be a disagreement or some such bullshit? I’m really not sure. I-”
“Wooooouuuuuoouuuu~!” Bahni also screamed in horror and fear, because even though she couldn’t really see that well, she could still ‘hear’ and ‘feel’ the danger that was approaching. She had flashbacks to what she experienced in the past, turned around and started fleeing in the opposite direction!
“Fuck! What the fuck is that shit?!”
‘Danger! Run! Swim! Escape!’
“Aaaah!” Tori quickly swam over and let her father grab her dorsal fin with his tentacles, then she quickly caught up with the frightened whale who was diving deep under the sea. They weren’t that far from shore, but the depth here was at least a hundred meters.
“Wait, wait! Stop! Why are we running?!”
“No, but like… What the fuck was the danger?”
“Father! I’m scared!”
“Both of you calm the fuck down! Shit!”
Jake couldn’t remember what he ‘saw’ no matter how hard he tried, which was actually even more terrifying in a lot of ways. Even so, his rational mind quickly allowed Vora and Tori to calm down a bit as well. Unfortunately, they didn’t have time to worry about whatever the hell was out there, because they had to try and stop a scared 50 meter long Blue Whale who was just fleeing aimlessly.
Realistically, there wasn’t much they could do… Bahni wasn’t a part of their ‘family’, so they couldn’t forcefully calm her down or take control over her body. A few hours later and lots of consoling, the PTSD whale finally slowed down, though she never really stopped. After all, she still had to eat an absurd amount of krill or other small creatures every day. The amount of calories she burnt swimming so fast for so long, obviously needed to be replenished immediately.
Jake and Tori surfaced at the same time as the big Blue Whale. Looking over at the shore in the distance. There were lots of lights on, ships generally wouldn’t travel at night if they had the choice. Especially not now. But there were still people loading or unloading things from some huge cargo vessels.
Rio Grande has recovered a lot since the Siren Event. They lost hundreds of thousands of people that night, but the ones who remained were stronger willed and wouldn’t give up so easily. Besides, at the rate that Breeders reproduce nowadays, those numbers would fill up soon. Though it was mostly babies, those children would hopefully grow into adults within a few years. Many Breeders don’t grow as slowly as regular humans. At least not anymore.
Even though the two of them seemed like they were just watching from a distance, they could see things up close and personal whenever they wanted. Although there weren’t any big Cats or Hounds, there were plenty of seagulls, pigeons, mice, rats, roaches, flies and other ‘pests’ in Rio Grande that could be their eyes, ears or… Claws and teeth. If necessary.
However, the people of Rio Grande were facing a serious crisis. One which was even more serious in Frost Haven. At least they still had ways to purify water and more advanced sewage facilities in this city. In Frost Haven, all the water sources were contaminated. They were always contaminated, but as the temperature rose, the various microorganisms and other creatures started growing more rapidly. Just drinking some tap or well water, it was like eating an algae smoothie sometimes. If not algae, then some other less visible creatures. However… That’s what the immune system was for… In the past few months, most of the remaining ‘elderly’ Elves died. The ones that survived were already very strong and barely considered ‘old’ anymore.
Of course, the situation for the Breeders or weaker humans in Rio Grande and Tolhuin wasn’t that bad. They had medicines, doctors, methods to treat the water to kill off bacteria and other things. Simply boiling water wasn’t good enough. They were just generally much more cautious and serious when it came to hygiene, et cetera. Ironically, the Elves were a lot more natural and less worried about things they couldn’t control.
The Purebloods also had very powerful immune systems, but compared to the number of Breeders and Adaptors, they were always a small minority. Plus, the strongest Purebloods, people who have literally never been sick a day in their lives, are pretty rare. Most of them, from all across the entire Earth, were gathered together into various sanctuaries of the EHO. Or kept by certain Governments. As lab rats or breeding stock. This wasn’t just Jake’s paranoia, but what he actually heard from Professor Colas when they chatted recently.
“Father, do you think Frost Haven will be as big as Rio Grande in the future?”
Tori suddenly asked as she looked out toward the bright lights from her left eye. She was a whale after all. Bahni was the same. She could only see the distant city from one eye, but her vision was far worse than that of Jake and Tori.
“Highrises and factories? Ugh… What’s the point?” Jake shook his head, floating up and down along with the small waves.
“Besides, their situation ain’t much better than ours. Look at those buildings… They’re covered in moss and vines. It’s not a big deal now, but what about the actual Summer?”
“Umm, Father, I was just wondering if we’d ever have a port city…”
“Oh, hahaha~! Yeah, probably.” Jake rubbed his daughter’s head, “But that’s something for the far-off future. Right now it’s way too dangerous.”
“Then why do these people always live on the water?” Tori asked curiously.
Jake sighed and pointed towards the big boats in the harbor with one of his black tentacles, “The world has never been safe. In fact, compared to a few hundred years ago when the Americas were discovered and conquered, it’s actually a lot safer now in many ways. People barely had any medicines or medical techniques. They didn’t have to face real monsters, probably, but the people themselves were the monsters. Slavery, murder, rape, theft, every horrible thing that could be done, was done in the name of their gods, kings, countries or just because they could. Plagues were common and nearly unstoppable. The more I think about it, the more I realize that the world hasn’t really changed that much. And neither have I…”
“Hihihihi~! Neither has Mother!”
Unlike Tori, most non-mutated whales and dolphins are voluntary breathers. They are always conscious and always have to keep moving. Even when they rest or sleep, only half of their brain can actually sleep. Because the other half needs to keep them alive. In some ways, Tori is also a voluntary breather, at least when she stays in or under the water. Same with Jake. That’s why they can live and sleep in the ocean. They also have gills though, so they can still ‘breathe’ even if they aren’t conscious.
Bahni kept going southeast along the coast for a few days. Eventually reaching Isla de los Estados, which had changed a lot since their last visit… Compared to before, it was covered by even thicker and lusher forests! Any signs of human activity were completely gone. Even the shipwrecks near the coast were covered by coral, seaweed, algae and barnacles to the extent that they were almost indistinguishable from the surrounding rocks.
“I don’t know whether anyone survived.”
Jake sighed, sitting on Tori’s back and holding her dorsal fin with his right hand. Most of his body was out of the water and his waist was getting slapped by waves constantly as his daughter swam forward. Bahni was only traveling at about 10 kilometers per hour, sometimes less. Speeding up if she got scared or slowing down when she got hungry.
The gigantic Blue Whale emerged from the surface and let out a happy noise. Compared to before, she looked a lot ‘younger’. At the very least, she wasn’t covered in barnacles, coral and seaweed anymore. Whether it was inside or outside, everything had been cleaned for the most part. She still had a lot of small creatures living inside of her body, but the difference is that these new ones were more like a part of her body. They never tried to dig into the lining of her bowels and none of them had sharp, pointy legs like crabs. Instead, most of them were more like eels or worms.
There were also some crustaceans like crabs, lobsters and shrimp, but all of them were on the outside of her body. They would eat any barnacles or mussels that latched onto her skin. Of course, they also fell prey to fish and other creatures from time to time, but the big sharks were also gathered around like bodyguards. In other words, a single Blue Whale was the center of a huge swarm of Voracity’s creations.
“Father, are we going back to our first home?”
“Fuck no!” Jake shook his head and laughed, “You wanna go back to those frigid islands? Even now, it’s probably cold as hell there! Not to mention the mysterious ‘Devils’ in Antarctica.”
“No! I mean, umm, our home in Isla de los Estados! Didn’t we leave a lot of shiny gold behind? And I wanna see if our neighbors are still there…”
“We’re already here, so we might as well. I’m just not sure how we’re gonna carry all that gold?”
“Hihihihi~! Mother, that’s not nice!”
‘Useful, tool. Big enough.’
“Uh…” Jake smiled wryly and looked over at the giant behemoth, “Well… I mean… Only if Bahni doesn’t mind.”
“I’ll ask! Hihihihi~! Woooouuuuouuuu~!”
“She says yes…” Tori hesitated and eventually told her parents, “She said… The bigger the better? Hihihi, Bahni is so naughty!”
Jake rolled his eyes and complained, “It’s a bunch of bricks of gold. I ain’t gonna melt it into a giant whale dildo.”
The island was about 55 kilometers across, so it would actually take quite a while for them to reach their old home.
“We should claim this island as part of our dominion!” A voluptuous naked woman with pale-skin, glowing golden eyes and long blonde hair suddenly appeared next to Jake’s right side.
“Ah! Wow! You scared me! Hihihihi~!”
“Yeah, don’t just pop up like that, Cami. I almost broke off the connection…”
Jake shook his head and his eyes started glowing bright pink, “Yes! Island, ours!”
“But Mother, I’m afraid that something might happen… This island is a lot farther south. And we won’t be here to protect our family.”
“That’s what I wanted to say.”
Jake snickered as his eyes turned blue again, but he still raised his palms towards the rocky shore in the distance. After vomiting out some acidic juices, huge swarms of gnats and flies emerged from his hands! There were thousands of gnats and flies, which were both about the same size, but the flies would be able to grow much larger in the future. Their life-cycle was similar to normal flies and gnats, except that their ultimate lifespan was much longer. Those original ‘immortal flies’ only lasted a few months, but that was still a huge improvement!
“When that shit happened last time, we didn’t even know about it. And none of the Mice or Roaches were affected. I’m not sure if our Hounds and Cats would be influenced, so we can just put some Spies and Assassins around first. Hmmm, maybe some fish too? Like in the lakes. Actually, Scouts might be fine?”
“Although the weather in Isla de los Estados is rather poor, the location is remote and undeveloped. If something happens and we need to escape Isla Grande…” The ghostly naked Elf Queen gazed over at the foggy mountains in the distance and frowned, “This might be our new home.”
“Maybe… But this island has always given me a weird feeling.” Jake narrowed his eyes and looked toward the coast as they passed by… There were plenty of penguins and seals, as always. But there were also some other creatures lurking deeper in the woods that he couldn’t see, yet. At least not until his little Spy Drones were able to fully infiltrate it.
“Another Queen?” Camila also looked over into the distance, especially at those gray and brown peaks. They weren’t snowy, because the temperature was actually pretty high and the height of those mountains wasn’t that great. A bunch of black dots could be seen flying around, but with the vision of her Astral Projection, she couldn’t see much. After all, it was based on Tori and Jake for the most part. Neither of them had better vision than the Elf Queen.
“No clue. It could be something else.” Jake shook his head, “Either way, I’m not planning on sticking around in person for too long. I’m afraid to leave you alone. Especially taking care of so many kids.”
“I thought you wanted to run away and hide in the ocean? When did you change your mind?”
“You know I didn’t mean it like that.” He looked over at the pouting woman and smiled wryly, “Besides… The ocean is fucking terrifying.”
There was a small greenish-brown lake in the middle of the forest, surrounded by mountains on three sides. The lake wasn’t filled with sewage, but completely taken over by seaweed or seagrass. There were also many large roots from the trees nearby, moss, silt, algae, plus plenty of small fish. In the dark depths, the silhouettes of a few large monsters could be seen from time to time.
A few dozen concrete houses were somewhat visible through the overgrowth, but most of them were completely demolished. Some seemed to have been blasted apart by explosives, while others were simply broken down by a ‘wrecking ball’ or bulldozer. Of course, quite a few were simply destroyed by trees. Either from trees falling on them, or just growing out of them.
However, there was a single 2-story house that remained relatively intact. Though it was still covered in vines, moss and looked like it had been left alone for several years. Some smoke was actually rising from the chimney, carrying the scent of burnt wood and roasting meat, along with various spices and seasonings.
There were some chickens, pigs, cows and goats wandering around nearby. However, even though there was no fence keeping them from leaving, they still stayed within a certain range of the house. Some dogs and wolves were lurking in the forest, along with bears, big cats and other scary predators. Those dangerous animals wouldn’t get close to this place for some strange reason. So a lot of herbivores like deer would stay in the vicinity to rest.
Even though it felt like Summer in Frost Haven, this little island at the end of the world was still pretty chilly, cloudy and rainy most of the time. Fortunately, it was still nice and toasty inside the small concrete house with the fireplace running. A big pot of soup was being cooked over the fire by a haggard middle-aged woman wearing a slightly dirty apron. She had somewhat dark and wrinkled skin like her husband.
The two of them still had a decent amount of fat on their bodies, because even in the winter, they never had any problems finding food. They were just a little exhausted. Mentally and physically. On the other hand, the rest of the family was actually fairly lively.
Two young kids with curly brown fur all over their bodies were bickering with each other, while playing cards with their elder sister. Unlike her two younger siblings, the teenage girl had slightly tanned skin, long black hair and hazel eyes. The eyes of those two little kids… Looked like they belonged to a cat. With yellow irises and vertically slit pupils.
Suddenly the door opened with a loud noise, startling everyone in the room. However, when they saw the nearly 2-meter tall, burly muscular man in a thin flannel shirt, everyone relaxed. This was another member of their family. The huge man had a wry smile on his face as he put the shotgun in his hands onto the rack by the door. It was high enough that the youngest kids couldn’t reach it easily. Of course, it’s not that the children were stupid enough to hurt themselves. The real concern was whether they would be mind-controlled again…
“Lo siento, llego tarde.(Sorry, I’m late.)”
“Ojalá no corrieras tantos riesgos.(I just wish you wouldn’t take so many risks.)”
“¡Sí, tío Castillo! ¡Siempre estamos preocupados por ti!(Yeah, Uncle Castillo! We’re always worried about you!)”
The old man and the teenage girl spoke one after the other. Then the middle-aged woman chuckled, “¡Si Castillo no fuera a cazar tan a menudo, no podríamos engordar tanto!(If Castillo didn’t go hunting so often, we wouldn’t be able to get so fat!)”
“¡No estoy gorda!(I’m not fat!)”
“¡Yo tampoco estoy gorda!(I’m not fat either!)”
The two little girls immediately retorted.
“Lilian, Diego…” Castillo sighed and shook his head, “Todavía no he encontrado a nadie.(I still haven’t found anyone.)”
“Tal vez eso sea lo mejor.(Maybe that’s for the best.)” Diego looked at his angry wife and brother, “¿Qué? Después de todo este tiempo, si todavía estuvieran vivos, ya habríamos visto algo. Se han ido ahora. Arrebatado…(What? After all this time, if they were still alive, we would have seen something by now. They’re gone now. Raptured…)”
“¡Ese no fue el jodido Rapture! ¡Ese era el maldito Diablo!(That wasn’t the fucking Rapture! That was the fucking Devil!)”
“Castillo Rodriguez Antonio Gonzales!” Lilian shouted in a shrill voice!
“¡Lo siento! ¡Lo siento! ¡Maldita sea, hermana, nos vas a ensordecer a todos algún día!(Sorry! Sorry! Damn, Sis, you’re going to deafen us all one day!)”
The beefy man held his ears in pain, along with everyone else in the house. Though the rest of them were one step ahead of him. Then the kids started laughing and the adults also chuckled or smiled a little. They were lucky to be alive. Not just alive, but in one piece. In one family. When that ‘Rapture’ happened during the winter, they escaped because most of them were Purebloods who weren’t really affected at all. Only the two youngest kids were manipulated, but they were quickly kept under control. Even before that though, they were very fortunate to survive the chaotic nightmare when a bunch of monsters and slaves escaped from those ‘traders’. Then there was that horribly harsh winter, where they almost froze to death, yet managed to avoid anyone getting frostbite.
“¡Gracias, Dios por tu gracia y protección! ¡Gracias por esta abundante comida! ¡Gracias por mantener a nuestra familia unida en estos tiempos difíciles! ¡Prometemos seguir avanzando y nunca rendirnos! ¡Amén!(Thank you, God for your grace and protection! Thank you for this bountiful meal! Thank you for keeping our family together through these hard times! We promise to keep moving forward and never give up! Amen!)”
At the dinner table, Lilian said their own version of ‘Grace’ while praying with her eyes closed and holding the hands of her two youngest children. Lila, the cute teenage girl was holding her father and her uncle’s hands. It was a circular table, so the two men were also able to hold onto those tiny furry hands as well.
There was a wooden crucifix on the wall nearby, along with a bunch of other crosses. Some were wooden, while others were golden or silver. Though they weren’t necessarily made out of any precious metals. There was also a somewhat ominous-looking half-meter tall white statue of an angel near the door to the kitchen. The angel was covered in a robe, with big feathery wings hanging down behind the back. The face wasn’t visible under the hood. Except for the slightly smirking lips…
When the family of six were finishing their dinner and about to clean up the dishes, the animals outside the house started rioting! They could also hear a bunch of birds flying into the sky. The flapping of thousands of wings was fairly loud. However, the roars of what seemed like bears or maybe tigers, was even louder. It was a bit too chaotic though to hear more clearly than that.
“¡Permanecer en el interior! ¡Castillo! ¡No salgas por ahí!(Stay inside! Castillo! Don’t go out there!)”
Diego grabbed his brother’s huge, muscular forearm that was revealed because he rolled up his sleeves to wash the dishes. However, Castillo had a serious expression on his big, bearded face. He looked down at his tiny brother and patted him on the shoulder, “No estoy loco.(I’m not crazy.)”
After all, they had no idea what was happening outside. And it’s not like they didn’t have windows. Just that a lot of the windows had to be boarded up or completely sealed with cement or concrete.
The glasses and dishes in the kitchen suddenly made loud clanking noises after the wall outside was clearly ‘hit’ by something big and heavy! However, the people in the house were all seasoned veterans and survivalists by now. They didn’t scream or panic. Instead, Lilian quickly led the three children into the basement, while the two men took up arms and prepared for the worst.
Castillo loaded some heavy slugs into his shotgun, while Diego pulled the bolt back on his hunting rifle. Even Lilian in the basement had a big .357 magnum revolver and was ready to deal with anyone or anything that might be coming downstairs into the basement.
“Roooaaaah~!” The familiar roar of a bear rang out and then there was another loud *Thump!*, a few whimpers and cries later, the outside became eerily silent. A few dishes were shattered in the sink, but aside from that, there wasn’t any obvious damage. At least not on the inside of the house…
A few hours later, the two of them carefully checked outside and noticed that a lot of the ‘livestock’ were missing. Most of them were still there though. So the situation must not have been that bad. They carefully walked over to the left side of the house, where the kitchen was located. Thousands of flies, gnats, ants and other bugs were gathered around a few big puddles of blood, fur and small pieces of meat. More importantly, the side of a bear’s face was smashed into the gray concrete wall! Not only was there a lot of blood and fur in that spot, but the concrete was indented.
“¿Quizás lo embistió un toro?(Maybe it got rammed by a bull?)”
“Ninguna pista.(No clue.)”
Any tracks that might have been there, were covered up by footprints of a bunch of other animals. It was already dark, so the two of them didn’t want to stay outside for long if they had the choice. However, when Diego was closing the door, he looked at the lake and noticed a big glowing silver eye staring at him! He quickly got inside and started breathing heavily.
“¿Qué pasó?(What happened?)”
“¡Algo en el agua!(Something in the water!)”
“¿Cuan grande?(How big?)”
“¡Demasiado grande!(Too big!)”
“¿Es un sello?(Is it a seal?)”
“Probablemente no.(Probably not.)”
*Knock, knock… Knock.*
The sturdy reinforced wooden door shook a few times from the force of the ‘monster’ on the other side that was ‘knocking’. Terrifying the two men who were aiming their guns in response! Diego in particular, almost pulled the trigger from nervousness.
“Eh-hem… Uh, hello? ¿Qué habla Inglés?”
After hearing that deep and raspy voice, the two of them were even more frightened! Mainly because there are actually quite a few animals or ‘demons’ on the island that can speak and have intelligence on the same level as humans… But do they have the same emotions and psychology as humans? Even if they did, why would they treat themselves like anything but food or ‘toys’?
“Who are you? What do you want?” Castillo finally spoke in his own deep voice, though he intentionally tried to sound a little more intimidating.
“I’m Jake Cinagra… We used to be neighbors? Well, I used to live here with my daughter before you guys came along and started ‘renovating’ the place…”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” The tall man looked down at his short, older brother and whispered, “¿De qué mierda está hablando?(What the fuck is he talking about?)”
“You’re Castillo, right? Can you open the door? This is kinda awkward.” Jake snickered, “And stop pointing your guns at me. Even if you shoot a bunch of holes in your door, I ain’t gonna help you fix it.”
“Are you… The Black Knight?” Diego suddenly asked, “You had some talking birds.”
“Que?” Castillo looked over at his brother in confusion for a moment, “Are you the one who saved Lila back then?”
“Steve and Joey saved Diego from falling off a cliff. My daughter Tori saved Lila when she decided to go ‘skinny dipping’ with her stupid friends in our lake. Sarina and William are the two furry brats, right? They used to get picked on by the other kids back then.”
Diego hesitated for nearly a minute after that, but eventually reached out with his left hand and unlocked, then opened the door inward. The two of them were startled by the huge, pitch-black, ‘armored’ face that appeared above their heads. Especially those glowing blue eyes with particularly large pupils and no sclera. There were also eight long purple tentacles that radiated a decent amount of light in the darkness. Jake smirked, crouching down to try and get to eye-level with them, but the two people were also pretty different in height, so it didn’t work out.
“I can’t go in your house or I’ll probably fall through the floor into the basement. Don’t worry, you can come out and talk. It’s relatively ‘safe’…”
“Why do you need us to come outside?” Castillo frowned as he looked up at the giant armored monster. Looking at his appearance, it wouldn’t be surprising if Jake could tear down the concrete wall to get inside if he really wanted. So he wasn’t too afraid of being ‘tricked’, just curious.
“It’s a little cold out. And there are lots of mosquitos…” Diego shivered a bit when he felt the wind coming into the house, but the bugs surprisingly just hovered around outside and didn’t enter the open door where it was warmer.
“Well, you can stay inside if you want. Whatever.” Jake shrugged, “It’s just a little awkward to talk to you guys like this.”
“Where did you go?” Diego closed the door behind him and hugged the rifle in his arms, shivering from the chilly wind that blew past.
“Do you remember your neighbors? The Martinez family…”
“Si.” Castillo nodded seriously, “Are they still alive?”
Jake smiled wryly, “We took Catarina away from the island in the chaos. Headed northwest. Eventually we made our way to Tolhuin. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but they’ve turned the place into a real ‘city’ a while back. Cat’s brothers are still living and working there now. For the EHO. Eventually though, we had to leave and headed further north. Settled down in a town of our own.”
“Thank God.” Diego breathed a sigh of relief and smiled on his gray-bearded face, “Thank you, Jake. You and your daughter really are angels.”
“Hihihihi~! Gracias!” The 5 meter long Orca crawled up onto the sandy white beach and was already right next to her father, “I’m glad you’re okay. I was really scared when I saw the ruins. I thought that everyone was… Gone.”
“A talking Orca!” Castillo shouted in surprise.
“Talking is fine, but what about walking on land?” Diego frowned, “Have you seen other Orcas that can walk?”
“Not yet.” Jake shrugged, “But… I wouldn’t be surprised. I’ve seen some weird shit over the past year. Tori is actually pretty normal.”
“Hihihihi~! Lots of whales and dolphins can talk. Humans just can’t understand them.”
“Hahaha~!” Castillo laughed awkwardly and Diego also smiled nervously. Eventually the tall man asked, “¿Acabas de venir a ver cómo estamos?(Did you just come by to check up on us?)”
“Uh, well, not exactly.” Jake snickered and his long tentacles twitched a bit, “There aren’t many people left on the island. We don’t really know anyone else, so… Here’s the thing. Isla de los Estados belongs to ‘us’ now.”
“¿Qué quieres decir?(What do you mean?)” Diego frowned, “This island belongs to Argentina.”
“Does Argentina even exist anymore?” Jake rolled his eyes and shook his head, “The Endless Hope Organization ‘owns’ a few cities now. The original Argentinian Government might still have a few cities and some forces left, but… They can’t control shit. Most of the world is in a state of being ‘unowned’ now. Maybe in the future there might be some legal bullshit or wars, but right now? Heh~!”
“So what do you want from us? Protection money?” Castillo chuckled, “I might still have a few Pesos left, hahahaha~!”
“Nah. But… Uh, well…” Jake reached up and took a few tiny, fluffy balls of fur off his slimy head and showed them to the two men. Who tried to move back a few steps to avoid being impaled by those scary claws.
“¿Cachorros y gatitos?(Puppies and kittens?)” Castillo reached out and took the two tiny puppies, while Diego was still hugging his rifle in his arms. Afraid to touch the adorable, yet scary little furballs. Both the dogs and cats were black, with brown eyes.
“These are my children.” Jake snickered when he saw the shocked and confused faces of the two bearded men, “Literally. Just like Torrent… I gave birth to them. Anyway, I call these ‘Hounds’. When they grow up, they’ll become huge Maned Wolves. They’re omnivorous, so they can eat fruits and veggies, aside from just meat. They’ve also been ‘programmed’ to understand English and Spanish to a certain extent. But they’re still babies, so you need to take care of them until they grow into adults in a week or two. These are called ‘Cats’. They might look like kittens now, but they’ll grow bigger than a bengal tiger in the future. Same thing as the dogs, just take care of them. Form an emotional bond. They’ll protect and take care of you in the future.”
He spoke a little too quickly and only in English, so the two of them barely understood half of what he said.
“Why?” Diego hung the rifle strap on his shoulder and took the two adorable kittens into his cold hands, “What do you get out of this?”
“I’m not gonna stay here for long.” Jake smiled wryly, using some tentacles to gently pet the furry heads of his four newborn daughters.
“Yeah, we’re going back home soon. We can’t stay here until my little sisters can grow up and have babies of their own.” Tori spoke in her usual childish, high-pitched voice, “It’s a long swim from here to Frost Haven.”
“Did you say… A week or two? They can grow that fast?” Castillo held up the two cute puppies in his hands that were licking his fingers and acting like normal dogs.
“The more food you give them, the faster they can grow.” The giant man explained casually, “If you can’t feed them enough, they won’t grow as fast. But it still won’t take too long. Especially since they’ll be big enough to hunt on their own within a few days. They can also eat plants, so it’s never even about hunting.”
Although Purebloods weren’t that different from ordinary humans in most respects, they actually had a pretty extreme advantage: Their Immune System. Whether it was poison, toxins, radiation or various pathogens, their bodies were much more resistant. So Jake wasn’t too worried about the dogs and cats making their family sick. The two children who were Adaptors also had very powerful immune systems. Their whole family had a pretty strong ‘bloodline’ in that sense.
“Gracias, Jake.” Diego smiled and hugged the two fluffy kittens against his chubby chest, “We will take good care of your… Children. We will treat them as our own.”
“Si, although it’s nice not having to pay taxes anymore, it’s still really lonely and dangerous living alone on this island. I’m sure the kids will love their new pets, uh, not pets, sorry, definitely not pets.”
“Don’t worry about it. They’re basically pets. They won’t care. Just treat them well and take care of them to the best of your ability. When they grow up, they’ll return the favor. If you treat them badly…” Jake snickered and shook his head, “Well, I know you guys are good people. Otherwise I wouldn’t trust you so much. We were neighbors for a few months after all. I think I’m a pretty good judge of character.”
The door suddenly opened behind the two men and three kids rushed out. They ignored the giant monster with tentacles dangling from his head and started hugging the giant armored Orca.
“¡Ay dios mío! Tori! ¡Estás de vuelta!(Oh my God! Tori! You’re back!)”
Of course, shortly after that, they noticed the adorable puppies and kittens, getting even more excited. Lilian watched everything with a gentle smile on her haggard face. The four adults talked about the state of the world, Argentina, the Endless Hope Organization and other random things. While the four kids chattered about all the exciting adventures that Torrent experienced. The Orca also talked a lot about the fairytale-like Frost Haven, which was full of Elves and their Beast Companions.
“Papa, I want to go to Frost Haven!”
The two youngest children didn’t understand the dangers, but Lila was a lot calmer and less excited. She understood how miraculous their survival was until this point. Besides that, Frost Haven wasn’t necessarily safe.
“Maybe someday in the future, but for now, that’s not really an option.” Jake sighed and explained to everyone, “Besides… If something happens and we need to escape the big island, this little island will likely become the new Frost Haven. Or maybe we’ll just name it something else. Things will get better in the future though. Hopefully.”
Eventually Jake and Tori had to go, while the Gonzales family had to go back inside. Lila ended up taking care of the two kittens, while Sarina and William each got a puppy to play with. Needless to say, they wouldn’t be getting much sleep tonight.
“Oye, Diego… ¿No teníamos una estatua por allá?(Hey, Diego… Didn’t we have a statue over there?)”
“¿De qué estás hablando?(What are you talking about?)”
“Una estatua. Creo que era como… ¿Un pájaro?(A statue. I think it was like… A bird?)”
“¿Por qué tendríamos una estatua de un pájaro?(Why would we have a statue of a bird?)”
“No sé. Pensé que tal vez hiciste uno después de que esos pájaros te salvaran en ese entonces.(I don’t know. I thought that maybe you made one after you were saved by those birds back then.)”
“¿Alguna vez me has visto esculpir antes?(Have you ever seen me sculpting before?)”
Listening to the two men talking about a statue, Lilian looked over to the wall in a daze and noticed that there was a square spot on the floor surrounded by dust. Then she frowned and started cleaning up the mess.
“Father, look! There’s a bear face on that wall! Hihihihi~!”
“Yeah. That blood looks pretty fresh too…” Jake frowned and then looked around cautiously, “That bear looks like it might be bigger than me. We should be careful.”
As they walked/crawled through the overgrown ruins, they quickly made it to the actual forest. Their bodies were pitch black and they didn’t have any extra baggage at the moment. So it was pretty easy to blend into the darkness. At most, their scent and sounds might give away their position… But they were basically two powerful ‘tanks’. The creatures that could hear or smell them, decided to escape or avoid them, rather than attack.
It didn’t take long for them to reach that familiar lake. It was also filled with various colors of seaweed and algae. Mostly brown and green, but it was hard to tell in the darkness. The moon and stars were obscured by the thick clouds. It seemed like it was going to rain again soon. The wind was also picking up.
“Do you think you can find the spot?”
“Well, be careful Sweetie.”
Jake stood on the shore and watched the ‘little’ 5 meter long Orca diving into the small waves… Not noticing the gigantic figure that was standing behind his back!
‘Danger!’ Vora screamed in his mind as she tried to move his body, but it was too late. His whole body was smacked through the air like a tiny toy and skipped across the surface of the lake a few times before he literally shattered his left hip open on a big rock! His left forearm was just gone and the shoulder, which contained one of his three main brains, was turned into mulch. Obviously both Jake and Vora were stunned by the sudden loss. Even Tori wailed in pain because of her connection.
When Jake regained his senses, he saw a truly horrifying monstrosity just standing there on the beach. It was over 4 meters tall, with long, skinny arms and legs. The skin was so pale that it was actually visible, even in the darkness. The face had sunken eyes, a long and drooping nose, similarly droopy giant ears, a little bit of sparse hair on the mostly bald, wart-covered head, a thick unibrow… There was even a mustache without any other facial hair, but the chin and cheeks were covered in boils. The brown teeth were jagged and messy, with a big chunk of flesh missing from the lower lip. Although the torso was scrawny looking, the belly was slightly bulging and there were two, long, sagging breasts with particularly pointy cone-shaped pink nipples. The groin was covered in thick black pubic hair, which reached up to the outie belly-button.
Of course, even though ‘she’ slapped Jake so hard that he went flying and did all that damage. Her own left hand and wrist were both broken in the process. Even her whole arm seemed to be severely damaged. There was no sign of pain on that strange ‘human’ face though.
Jake and Vora controlled the gnats, mosquitoes and other tiny insects to try to poison the giant monster, but there wasn’t much of an effect. It just started walking out into the water with those long legs. It was basically twice as tall as Jake, but most of that height was just legs! The torso was relatively short and the head was also pretty small. That bony back was also hunched.
Those beady eyes were glowing yellow in the darkness as she asked, “Are you afraid of me, Jacob?”
“You can’t escape from Fear, Dear.” A raspy voice whispered into his left ear as tiny fingers passed through his tentacles and dug into the open gills on his neck! That huge, lanky monster was also grinning at him as it trudged through the murky water towards his position.
“Fear is everywhere. In every breath you take. Every time you close your eyes. Lurking in every corner of every room.”
Jake’s tentacles whipped around and his remaining elbow tried to hit something, but nothing was there. Those icy cold fingers just dug deeper into his throat, cutting off his voice, his breathing and even the blood circulation to his brain!
“We wait in the sea, in the earth, in the skies… There is no God in heaven to protect you. There is only endless, Terror.”
‘Fuck you!’ Jake’s blue eyes glowed blood red as he avoided the giant claw reaching down from above, the skies seemed to transform into countless gigantic black centipedes with glowing yellow eyes. Just like the creepy giantess that was attacking him with its long arms. Even that broken hand and wrist were used, as if she felt no pain.
“Anger is useless, Child. Rage can’t save you. It can’t save your daughter. It can’t protect your wife. When was the last time you spoke with Camila?”
Jake tried to swim but felt his legs being tangled up in seaweed. Then he reached up with his tentacles and latched onto that broken hand that swiped down. The weakened wrist was easily torn asunder, with crimson blood spraying all over his face and dying the water. His left shoulder was also still bleeding profusely. The blood and noise obviously drew the attention of the various hungry fish in the lake. He could feel hundreds of tiny impacts on his back, legs, even his arm and neck. One fish with sharp teeth even bit into a tentacle that was dangling down behind his back!
“Are you more afraid of her dying or cheating on you? You know it’s inevitable. That child is just like little Vora. Sooner or later, you’ll become unnecessary for them. It’s not their fault. It’s your fault for being so useless. They’re meant to be Gods. You’ll only ever be an insignificant… Mortal.”
“Maybe you’re right.” Jake took a breath and closed his red eyes. When he opened them again, they were pitch-black. His tentacles, his armor, everything just looked like a silhouette in the dark, bloody water and foggy night. Those centipedes in the sky seemed to vanish, while the fish were actually scared away!
“I don’t know what the fuck you are. I don’t really give a shit anymore. I never said I was a God. I don’t want to or need to be a fucking God. But… You’re wrong about Voracity. Because we are one.”
“We are one!” Tori’s voice came from the air as she chomped down onto the entire head of that ugly monster! There was no resistance at all. It was decapitated cleanly and the whole lanky body was pressed into the water by the weight of the little Orca! After all, even a ‘small’ Orca was still bigger than that strange humanoid creature.
“We… Are… One!” Tens of thousands of high-pitched, screeching voices echoed in the night sky from across the entire forest. Even beyond the forest, across the entire island! As if a bunch of ‘cicadas’ were singing actual words!
“Weeeooouuuuroooooooneeee~!” A deafening high-pitched cry came from a few kilometers away, on the surface of the sea!
“We are one!” Over in Frost Haven, the Elf Queen was glaring at the sky with her glowing golden eyes. There were only a few dozen men, women and children, even some babies being carried in the arms of their parents. However, there were thousands… No, millions of voices in the forests around them!
“This is our home! Devil! Be gone!” The beautiful woman shouted so loudly that her voice became hoarse!
Jake appeared in the sky, missing his left arm and a few tentacles. Behind his back was a massive swarm of glowing pink insects! They formed a shape somewhat similar to his own body, but much more feminine… There were also a bunch of black and white birds flying around, as if they became a ‘formation’ similar to the shape of a gigantic Orca!
“Unity, how… Adorable.” The centipedes transformed into the face of a wrinkled old woman, staring down at the tiny creatures on the ground with a gentle smile on her thin lips.
“But unity can only temporarily alay fear… You never know when It will return. Or whether it has ever really left… Hehehe~! Struggle more, survive longer, so that you can experience true terror!”
As the face in the sky disappeared, the bugs and birds also scattered. Jake floated there for a while longer, before looking down at Frost Haven. Especially those three beautiful women, and a certain cute blue-eyed wolf-girl. Then he saw the dozens of huge Hounds and Cats, the four giant Goats, those elegant Unicorns, the adorable Orcs and Goblins that were still toddlers at most… This was his home. His family.
“We can’t run. Not anymore. But… Why should we run? Why should ‘we’ be afraid?! ‘They’ should be afraid of us! We are one! We are Voracity! We… We gotta go! I think we’re bleeding to death!”
“Silence!” Camila, dressed in some pink pajamas, looked around at the rest of the villagers, some of which were actually completely naked or in their underwear. Then she shouted angrily, “Your King will be fine! Now everyone, go back to bed! That Devil wants us to fear or worry?! Hmph! We are Elves! We are the true rulers of Patagonia!”
After dispersing the crowd, she returned home to Jake’s giant bed with her Knight and Archmage. Those cute Goblin and Orcish kids had their own rooms in the huge barn-like house, though some of them preferred to stay outside in the wild with their biological mothers. The Hounds and Cats had their own dens now days.
“Cami, are you sure that Padre is okay?” The wolf-girl entered the bedroom with the three women, “Can you go check on them?”
“Of course. Now go back to bed.”
“I… Can I sleep with you tonight?” The little wolf-girl was embarrassed, but in the end, she was still just an 11 year old child. No, even a fully-grown adult would be terrified by the crazy nonsense they just experienced!
“Si, Catarina, come. Madre will protect you.” Camila smirked and then pulled the cute husk-like face into her massive cleavage. Nearly suffocating the poor girl. The four of them had plenty of room to sleep on the massive Jake-sized bed.
“Father! Are you okay?!” Meanwhile, Tori was crying as she watched Jake drifting in and out of consciousness on the rocky shore. It wasn’t just his arm and a few tentacles that were injured. His back was cracked open, his hip was busted, there was so much blood. His hard shell pierced into his relatively soft meat and severed some veins, arteries and plenty of capillaries.
“Tori… Bugs… Stop… Bleeding… Love, you.” The voice was so raspy and deep that she couldn’t tell whether it was her mother or father talking, maybe both. Either way, she understood what she needed to do!
With her giant Orca flippers, obviously she couldn’t perform first aid or surgery. Instead, she used the tiny little feet of thousands of insects to individually close up all the veins and arteries that were injured. Fortunately, Jake already created a bunch of Mice ahead of time and they were able to remove all the broken pieces of carapace with their dexterous hands.
“Survive! Live! Recover! Heal! Grow! Eat!”
“We won’t die.” Jake opened his eyes and looked around at the beautiful sandy white beach. The temperature was so warm that it felt like a tropical island. He stood up and looked down at his pale, muscular ‘human’ body with a wry smile.
“We’re asleep? Or in a coma.”
“Hmmm…” Those huge, hard forearms wrapped around his chest and the similarly hard lumps were pressing against his back. Eight long pink tentacles dangled down in front of his body, while a few long pink tongues slithered across his neck, bearded cheeks and even poked him in the eyes occasionally.
“Too weak. Too small.”
Jake grew a meter taller and a lot beefier in a blink of an eye, then turned around and stared into those glowing pink eyes. He reached out and dug his fingers into the hard carapace on her chest, cracking it open and tearing it apart with ease! Revealing the nearly transparent skin underneath. Those large breasts were filled with yellow fat and pink muscle, there were plenty of blue veins and red arteries all over her seemingly skinless body.
He peeled off her hard, armored face and revealed the beautiful flesh underneath. Those tentacles on her head turned black, but they didn’t turn into dreadlocks. Just reached out and started molesting his body. She reached out and squeezed his ass, the same way he tightly gripped hers, then Jake thrust inside of her tight, slimy slit with his long, tan, circumcised cock. Not the usual pink tentacle-dick in reality.
“We’ll get stronger. So strong that they can’t hurt us anymore… I’ll always protect you, Vora.”
“Jacob, love.” She kissed him with her relatively plump lips, sliding those four or five long tongues into his mouth. Jake moved his hips in the dream, trying to ignore the horrible, agonizing pain in reality. Of course, he wasn’t the only one in pain. But he endured most of it, so that Vora would be spared.
After he ejaculated inside of her, the transparent flesh was quickly covered up by hard, pitch-black carapace again. His body also became much smaller in comparison to the obsidian giantess. She pressed his tiny ass down onto the sand and started riding on top. Those big armored claws had gaping slits on the palms, where long tongues stretched out to lick his chest and face.
“Aren’t we doing that right now?”
“Breed, more! Breed!”
“Uh, sure?” Jake snickered and his tiny body split off into four. One was being ridden, two grabbed those wrists and started penetrating the palms. Then the last one rammed that literally hard ass from behind.
“More!” Of course, Voracity would never be satisfied. So he had to create another version of himself. The ‘real’ Jake, who was just as big as Vora and covered in hard armor. Standing up, he shoved his giant pink tentacle down her throat, while those purple and pink octopus limbs started wrestling with each other.
Unfortunately, no matter how much he ejaculated into her many holes, it was never able to fill the void that had to be replaced by actual food. After what only seemed like a few minutes, the two of them woke up in a groggy state.
Jake looked around and found that he was actually floating in the lake. His left shoulder hurt, a lot, but surprisingly, it was mostly healed. At least halfway down the upper-arm was a nub. Which was a drastic improvement over back when it was just a bunch of mush. The carapace was missing, so it was just soft pinkish red meat. The lower back was also missing a lot of carapace, like his hips. However, the actual wounds were mostly healed. There was something weird about his tailbone though…
“What the fuck?”
There was a bulging lump of flesh above his ass. It was extremely sensitive, painful and itchy. Reminding him of way back when he started growing ‘hair’. With a long drawn out sigh, he surfaced and struggled to swim towards the shore with only his right arm available. His legs were fine, but because of his waist, he couldn’t really use them that well. So even though he made it to the shore, he could only lay there facedown on the cold white sand.
He turned his face to the side and saw a bunch of giant bones piled up. Except for the skull, everything else was there. Then he saw Tori crawl out of the water and look down at him with a big, worried silver eye.
“Father, are you feeling any better now? I was so afraid…”
“I’m fine, Sweetie. And don’t be afraid. That’s what that bitch wants!”
“How long have we been asleep?”
“It’s been a whole day already.”
“That’s not so bad.”
Jake breathed a sigh of relief, pushing himself onto his right side, then stopped because his hip was so painful. Laying on his face again. Eventually he slunk back into the water, where he could just float carelessly.
“Have you talked with Camila yet?”
“Yeah, they were all super worried about us too.”
“That’s good. It means that even if something happens to me and Vora… Your connection with Cami and the others will still be there.”
“I know, I know. Don’t worry. We’re not going anywhere. I don’t plan on dying. Ever.”
“Hihihihi~! Then we’ll always be together! Forever! Hihihihi~!”
After the two of them were silent for a while, Jake’s eyes turned pink and he looked over at the pile of bones on the shore with a sad expression.
“Umm, sorry Mother. I fed you as much as I could, but you were asleep and probably can’t remember.”
“Don’t worry, Mother. It didn’t taste very good anyway. It was really stringy and bitter.”
“Needs, spices, heat. Cooked. Tasty.”
“Yeah, but I… I’m not good at cooking. Hihihi~!”
Vora nodded in agreement and then started using those long pink tentacles to reach out, grabbing random fish and seaweed. There were also some clams, mussels and crabs. The shells were removed as much as possible, then the meat and organs were tossed into her mouths. There were only two at the moment, but that was still plenty. Fortunately all her internal organs were intact.
Healing and growth generally required two things: Food and rest. There really wasn’t much else involved. After spending the night in the lake, Jake was able to walk over to the bay, where he wrapped his tentacles around Tori’s dorsal fin and was carried on the ‘road’ back home.
“What about the gold?” Camila asked as she appeared next to Jake, floating above the turbulent waves.
“Leave it there for now.” Jake sighed dramatically, “We buried it and it’s even more well-hidden now. Besides… Like you said before, that island is our escape route. If something happens and we have to run away, we can’t bother with a bunch of gold. Not like we can really do much with it right now anyway.”
“I am not blaming you, Jacob. I am just relieved that you are safe and sound. Please, come home safely.”
“I will. We will.” Jake smirked and kissed the ethereal woman on the lips as she vanished. In his current state, maintaining the connection from such a long distance was pretty difficult. It was actually much easier to just ‘talk’, but they liked to show off with this 3D holographic nonsense since they figured out how to do it a few months ago.
“Ugh, my ass…”
“Sorry, Father. I’m trying to be as gentle as I can…”
“It’s not your fault. I’m the one that was dumb enough to try riding you in my condition.”
“What’s so funny, Mother?”
Jake snickered and dismounted the cute orca, going back to just holding onto her fin with his tentacles and right hand. If they were traveling at full speed, it would be harder to hold on, but the trip would also be much shorter. The problem is that Bahni really isn’t that fast. Usually she just meandered along, especially when she was feeding… Which was quite often.
“Why don’t we just go on ahead? Bahni has a giant escort of Sharks to protect her now. The two of us probably won’t make much of a difference. Especially in my current state.”
“Ummm… I’ll ask Bahni.”
“She says she doesn’t want to be rushed, so we should go ahead.”
Meanwhile on Isla de los Estados. An obsidian arm was reflecting the dim sunlight. It was just laying there on the beach, with the small waves splashing water on the bloody, broken upper arm. Suddenly it twitched… Then it spasmed and squirmed. Finally, the shell started cracking and a meter long centipede scurried out. It had two big yellow eyes, which looked around as the antennae on its head started sensing for prey.
It didn’t take long to find an unsuspecting baby deer that was separated from its family. Those two forelimbs shot out and disemboweled the terrified little fawn! The horrific venom was injected into the struggling body, then those huge fangs began slowly devouring the poor creature alive. For some reason, the fawn couldn’t even lose consciousness!
After only eating part of the intestines, the poor baby was left there to die, slowly and painfully. No matter how hard it struggled and cried, all that responded was silence. Eventually though, the fawn stood up again and started walking slowly. The guts were still hanging out and parts of the flesh were obviously rotting, yet the body was still able to move. Just like a generic zombie!
The scary centipede searched for more prey for a while, but eventually made its way back to the shore of that lake. But then it stopped, because there was a meter tall angel statue casually placed there!
The centipede hesitated for a while, then turned around and left. The white angel statue never moved. Just stayed there, its eyes were covered by its hood, but the lips and chin were still revealed. It was frowning.
An hour or so passed by, before a seemingly zombified brown fawn walked over unsteadily. Looking for some water to quench her thirst. Although, with her broken bowels hanging out, it was debatable whether she could even eat or drink anymore.
There was a strange square indentation in the sand, where a little bit of water had accumulated. The fawn limped over and sniffed it curiously. Then she licked a few times. Nothing happened, so she started drinking the rest… Then she collapsed onto her side and passed out.
In the middle of the night, the deer opened her big, shiny-black eyes and wiggled her huge ears. Then she stood up and looked down at her belly. All those wounds were gone! She was completely healed! Not only that, but her brown fur turned pure white for some strange reason.
Then she walked over to the side of the lake and sniffed the water. It was somewhat brackish, so she shook her head and turned away. Looking for some nice juicy leaves to eat. Maybe some berries…
“The problem with shells is that once they break, there’s not much holding everything together anymore… That being the case, it takes a lot of fucking force to rip one of my arms off. Not to mention knocking me across the water like that… Why was that thing so strong?”
“The muscles were really tough and stringy. And it was super tall! It looked really skinny, but it was still really heavy.”
“Perhaps you jumped?” Camila wore a sexy black bikini, sitting on a comfortable beach chair near the river where Jake and Tori were floating.
“You mean, Vora reacted subconsciously to avoid damage? Or… I was manipulated into jumping, to make it seem like I was attacked with a lot more power than physically possible?”
“Si.” The Elf Queen nodded and smiled, looking over at the tall, muscular blue-skinned girl that was playing in the water with a bunch of green-skinned children. The Orcs and Goblins were all still genderless/sexless. But they were growing up very quickly.
“Does your tail still hurt?” Delilah was casually breastfeeding her son, while sitting on a beach chair next to Camila. She was wearing a golden bikini that matched her eye-color. With her dark skin-tone though, it was almost transparent when wet.
Of course, this particular stretch of the river was far away from the Lumber Mill. The ‘safe’ Territory of Frost Haven has expanded pretty far by now. There were many lakes and more than one river. One of the lakes was two kilometers wide!
“It’s just growing pains. I’m used to it by now. My arm should be completely regenerated in a few days.”
Jake looked down at his left stump, which was only to the elbow. However, the internal organs were much more complicated than an ordinary limb. The brain in his shoulder had already grown back, along with the heart, uterus and ovaries. The stomach was mostly in the forearm, which was still absent. As for his tail… It was basically just a thick lump of pinkish red flesh that wiggled around like a tentacle for the time being. The carapace around his hips was already regenerated though.
“I think there might be a brain in my ass. Or at least, a brain in my tail. It feels like I have a headache in my ass.”
“Hihihihi~! Asses are funny! I wish I had an ass too…” Tori flapped her tail and splashed a bunch of water on the Hounds that were swimming with their Orcish children. A few Scout Ducks were also flipped over and upset.
“Hahahaha~! Tori, Sweetie, be careful what you wish for…” Jake shook his head, standing lighting on the bottom of the river. He wasn’t actually swimming. With his current height, even the deepest part of this small river would only reach his shoulders. The speed of the river was also fairly slow and gentle at the moment.
“Me gustaría tener un culo también.(I wish I had an ass too.)”
“¿De qué estás hablando, bebé? ¡Tu culo es perfecto!(What are you talking about, Baby? Your ass is perfect!)”
“Yes, my Knight. Your derriere is exquisite!”
After hearing Tessa grumbling, Delilah and Camila responded immediately. Then Jake snickered and reached out with a tentacle to squeeze that muscular buttocks. Causing the blue woman to yelp and then glare at her ‘King’.
“It feels fine to me.” He shrugged and then reached out to pick up some of those silly Goblins that were pulling on her long black hair with his tentacles. It used to be super short, but that was months ago. Hair overgrowth was actually a somewhat serious problem among most Elves. They didn’t have as many issues with body, pubic or facial hair, but the hair on their heads would grow very quickly.
“You two… Uh, Tori?”
“Father, they’re called Zene and Fi!”
“Well, Zene, Fi, do you wanna go for a ride?”
Jake snickered and lifted them up in the air, as they screamed and cheered in excitement! Then a few of the other Goblin kids swam over and started groping his tentacles, so he had to lift them up in the air as well. Either tentacles for eight children, but then the Orcs got jealous and started crawling on his shoulders. Trying to use their weight to push him down into the water… But failed miserably. After all, even if they were already about 1.3 meters tall and relatively heavy, Jake was a literal giant. And he wasn’t even floating in the first place.
They fooled around in the river for a few hours, before the kids got tired and everyone went home or back to their dens. Tori didn’t go back to the house though. Instead, she followed the river and went back to her small lake, which was her current domain. All the larger animals inside that lake were her ‘relatives’, though they weren’t very smart. Just some catfish, trout and eels. The important thing was that she wasn’t really alone. As an Orca, she would never be as comfortable on land as she would be in the water.
“The castle should be finished soon.”
As they were walking back to their house, Jake looked up at the huge ‘stone’ structure in the distance. It was actually made out of reinforced concrete, but on the outside, a lot of the Elves wanted to go the extra mile and make it look like it was constructed out of large stones. Essentially, it was just a big keep, not an entire castle. Maybe one day in the future, they could wall off the whole town of Frost Haven and turn it into a real castle… For now, it was totally unreasonable and unnecessary.
“Did the crane break down again?”
“Si.” Delilah held her sleeping child in her arms and walked by Jake’s right side. Camila also had a Goblin toddler in her arms, while a few of the others were hanging on Jake like he was their mount. On the other hand, the Orcs were riding on top of the fluffy Hounds. Maybe it wouldn’t be possible in the future, but for now, they were small enough that the big, long-legged fox-like dogs were able to walk around easily.
“Thankfully Crispy was a mechanic before. He was able to get it running… But we don’t know how long that will last.”
“It matters not.” Camila grinned, “The crane has served its purpose. Soon Frost Haven Keep will be complete. Then we can move into our new home.”
*Bang~! Bang~! Bang~!*
“I’ll just be happy when this fucking construction is finished.” Jake grumbled, “Never thought I’d leave the city and go out into the middle of nowhere, but I still gotta listen to this shit all day, every day.”
Most of those noises were coming from the various concrete, brick and stone houses around the town. The progress was… Not so great. There weren’t enough people who could help. Even with the teenagers and some of the children doing odd-jobs, most of the houses were just shells. The outside was done, but the insides were hollow and empty.
“When these children grow up, the construction should be completed much sooner.”
The tall blue muscle-girl in a purple bikini was holding the hands of two cute Orcish kids as she walked down the concrete plaza in the middle of town. Even though it was only a couple months old, the concrete already had a lot of cracks with plants growing out of them.
“Maybe. Or maybe they’ll have to build even more houses by then?” Jake sighed, “We’re almost out of concrete and other materials. Either we need to stop building, or…”
“Jacob…” Camila looked over at her husband’s handsome, pale, Elvish face and smirked, “You should be more confident. We need to establish diplomatic relations with humanity now, while they are at their weakest.”
“We’re also at our weakest though.” Jake rolled his eyes, “It’s too dangerous to let them know about Frost Haven yet. If we wait another year… Then that will probably be their ‘weakest’ and we’ll be strong enough to protect ourselves by then.”
A black snake with glowing pink eyes was slithering around on the dinner table. It flicked out a long forked tongue, then opened its mouth wide and swallowed a big chunk of the chocolate cake whole.
“Happy Birthday Vora~!”
“Happy Birthday Voracity~!”
“¡Feliz cumpleaños, Madre!”
“Happy Birthday, Mother!”
It was the first of January. Although Jake wasn’t sure exactly when he was ‘infected’ by Vora or when she gained sentience, it was definitely around the beginning of January when he left his home in Baltimore. He wasn’t really in the best state of mind back then though, so he actually can’t remember exact dates. Neither can Voracity.
Of course, the hungry serpent ignored the noisy Elves that were celebrating her birthday and the New Year. She just slithered across the table and continued gobbling up random dishes. Two black claws reached out from time to time and also devoured large swaths of food. Aside from some cakes, muffins and pies, there were also pizza or ‘pisa’, empanadas, burritos, tacos, asados, milanesas, various types of burgers, even sushi, sashimi and raw, bloody meat.
Obviously the raw meat wasn’t for the dozens of Elves…
“Wooo~!” There were huge Hounds.
“Meow~!” Even bigger Cats.
Those little Orcs were already 2 meters tall, with bulging muscles all over their bodies and long tusks jutting out from their lower lips. Most of them still refused to wear clothes though. It’s not like they even had any genitals visible though. At most, they looked like shirtless green men with black armor over their groins that didn’t have any bulges.
The Goblins were still small, only reaching about 1 meter tall. They actually grew to adulthood much faster than the Orcs. Basically only a week or two. Their skinny bodies did have a decent amount of lithe muscle, but they looked more feminine on average. They were all sexless as well, but they usually wore clothes. A normal sized t-shirt could be used like a long dress on the tiny Goblins.
The Goats and Unicorns were also invited. After all, it was a huge party in the middle of the town square at the center of the village. Basically everyone came over. The sun just fell and the temperature was perfect. Not too hot and not too cold.
“Hihihihihi~!” Tori looked around at her big, happy family and grinned all the way to her eyes… Okay, she was an Orca, so that was just how she normally looked.
*Snifle!* Catarina’s blue eyes were filled with tears as she was consoled by her boyfriend Kotoa. She wasn’t the only one crying either. Aside from the noisy babies, there were quite a few people, even adults that couldn’t help crying. Everyone who has survived this past year, has lost a lot. Even Tori lost a lot of friends and family members, but instead of dwelling on the bad things, she looked forward to the future even more.
“There’s no need to gorge yourself, Vora. It’s not a competition. If we run out of food, we’ll just make more.” Jake took back control of his hands and started gently caressing the big, smooth, scaly black snake’s head.
“Stomach, not full!”
“You’re not a real snake for fuck’s sake. You don’t need to be so anxious.”
The head was a little bigger than the neck, but then the ‘body’ got fatter and fatter until it eventually started getting skinnier. However, the tip of the snake’s tail was actually connected to Jake’s tailbone. Fortunately, it didn’t affect his ability to sit on his heavy-duty giant wooden chair.
“I used to be afraid of snakes.” Camila chuckled as she reached out and caressed her Sister’s smooth scaly head, “I used to be afraid of many things.”
“Same.” Jake sighed and nodded, “Anyway, I thought that my tail would make it easier for me to swim. But it turns out that it’s just another mouth to feed.”
“Tail, useful. Eat, more. Reproduce, faster.”
The snake didn’t actually have a cloaca. Instead, there were two carapace-covered slits. One was an anus, connected to the digestive system, while the other was essentially a vagina. Compared to his arms, the snake’s reproductive system was fortunately not connected directly to the stomach. So it really was much more efficient. In particular, the anus was actually in front of the vagina, which was somewhat counterintuitive compared to many animals. However, it allowed the digestive system and the reproductive system to have plenty of room.
“Mama, hug~!” One of the cute Goblins came over and wanted to dive into Camila’s cleavage, but a purple tentacle reached out. The little green ‘kid’ had big golden eyes like their mother, soft, feminine features, long blonde hair and if their chest wasn’t flat, they would look like a little green Elf girl.
“Your face is covered in chocolate. Don’t ruin your mother’s dress.” Jake snickered and sent the little brat flying over onto the back of their ‘actual’ mother. One of the many Hounds. Unlike the full-grown Orcs, the Goblins could still ride on the backs of their mothers very easily. This allowed them to form a half-assed ‘Wolf Cavalry’.
Two of the other Goblins nearby complained about their father. They could speak, but their language skills weren’t much better than Voracity. Considering that they were only a month or so old, it was actually pretty impressive that they could speak at all though.
Camila sighed as she watched the chattering ‘children’, “Perhaps in a few years, they will all be as intelligent as humans.”
“It’s not a matter of intelligence.” Jake shook his head, “They aren’t getting smarter. They’re just learning. Gaining wisdom. Gaining knowledge. I honestly wonder sometimes whether we made them ‘too smart’. The Orcs and the Goblins, or even the Hounds and Cats, they’re really intelligent. Maybe on the same level as a human. It’s just that they’re all incredibly young.”
“Intelligence, useful. Dangerous… But, useful. Smart tools, complete tasks, protect, grow, expand, conquer, understand. Stupid tools, inefficient. Useless. Garbage.”
“Okay, Sweetie, you know they can hear you, right?” Jake glared at the cute pink eyes of the black snake, then he looked over and noticed that his ‘kids’ didn’t seem to care or mind. They were more focused on fighting each other over food, wrestling or…
“You, pretty. Hug?” One of the particularly large and muscular Orcs with a big, shiny bald head, was hitting on a tiny young Elf woman with light-green skin, red hair and orange eyes. She was only a teenager, but she was basically done growing. Unless she mutated or had a second growth spurt, she was basically going to be 1.5 meters tall for the rest of her very long Elven life.
“Umm, hi!” The little girl blushed and reached out, allowing the giant ‘man’ to pick her up and hug her tightly in his huge, muscular arms.
“We, friends now?”
“Si!” She giggled and kissed the giant on the hairless right cheek. Then the Orc licked her face in response.
“Hahahaha~!” Instead of getting mad, she just laughed and kept hugging ‘him’.
“When are you going to let them become men or women?” Camila asked her husband, “They’re already adults.”
“They’re not adults.” Jake shook his head, “They’re only kids. They just look like adults.”
“Jacob, you know that’s not fair.”
“Life isn’t fair.” He looked over at the Hounds, Cats, Unicorns, Goats, Scouts and Mice. Except the Scouts that were all created male, the others were all asexual females. They could mate if they wanted, but usually they just reproduce asexually, because it’s more efficient and effective.
“Even the Hounds, Cats and Goats are too immature for that kinda shit. The Mice and Scouts aren’t as smart, so they don’t need to think so much. They don’t really understand sex, they only know it feels good. When they get older, they’ll understand. But I don’t want them to make stupid decisions now, then regret them later.”
“Jacob, it’s just sex.” Camila rolled her big golden eyes, “They don’t need to hold themselves back for thirty years.”
“I think Jake is right. Sorry, Cami, but sex is more than just sex. Especially now.” Delilah was sitting on her King’s giant lap, though there were a few soft, squishy tentacles acting as a cushion for her legs and ass. She took a sip of red wine and sighed, “Sex will form a powerful bond. Having sex with the wrong person might make both people miserable in the future.”
“It could even change or shape their personalities.” Jake nodded seriously, “I mean, it was also kinda like that even before this bullshit started. But now it’s even more dramatic. Everyone is carrying a bunch of super-STDs. You don’t even need to have sex. Look at me! You think I fucked an octopus or a snake to get this way?”
“Emotionally… Sex is important. My Queen, you might not understand. Or perhaps… You do not wish to understand.” The heavily armored black knight was standing behind Camila’s luxurious chair, holding a long halberd in her right hand, while her left hand was always on the holster on her waist. As if some assassins or monsters would suddenly attack them at any moment.
“I understand better than you three virgins.” Camila smirked, “I’m forty-two years old. I got married when I was only sixteen. I wasted the first half of my life in a relationship with an abusive bastardo. Si no fuera un tonto tan ingenuo, nunca me habría quedado con él por tanto tiempo…(If I wasn’t such a naive fool, I would have never stayed with him for so long…)”
“What was his name? Is he still alive? If I see him…”
“I will slay him for your honor!” Before Jake could finish speaking, he was cut off by the overzealous Knight.
“That doesn’t matter. I can’t remember anymore.”
“Sorry.” Jake sighed and reached out with his wet, sticky left hand, holding both of Camila’s hands on the table.
“I apologize, My Queen.”
“Don’t kneel down all the time. It’s bad for your knees. Especially in armor like that.” Jake reached out with some tentacles and lifted Tessa back to her feet.
“I don’t care about that man. I only wish I could still remember my son’s face.” Camila frowned as she looked up at the bright moon in the sky, “I don’t even know his name. It’s so hard to remember anything from before…”
“I never really had an amazing memory in the first place. Now my memory is way better than before.”
“My current memory is also excellent… I only wonder sometimes, whether I am really still Camila Garcia? Or am I only the Elf Queen, who replaced the previous owner of this body?”
“Mama Cami, it doesn’t matter what happened in the past.” Tori lifted her giant head up with her long clawed fins, she didn’t speak out of her mouth, but out of her blowhole, so she didn’t actually open her mouth while talking. That big silver eye looked down at the woman on her right, “We’re your family now. We’ll always be your family. And we’ll always protect you. And love you. Hihihihi~! Right?!”
“Hell yeah!” Jake snickered, he was the first one to speak. But then practically everyone started clamoring and making a lot of noise.
“All Hail Queen Camila! All Hail the Elf Queen!”
“Hmmm, noisy.” Of course, Vora didn’t care about the commotion. Just regretted that even though she was a snake, she still had extremely sensitive internal ears. Then she continued gorging herself with some tacos and burritos.
After everyone calmed down a bit, Camila turned to Jake and said, “Even if you don’t give them the tools, they will still find a way.”
“I know.” Jake shrugged, “But at least they won’t feel as much pressure to make a choice. That’s the main thing though. They need to be able to understand and make a choice for themselves. I don’t want them to hate me later because I turned them into a boy or girl too soon.”
“Why can’t you just give them both?”
“Turn them into futas? Or monsters like me?” Jake rolled his eyes, “If they wanna make that choice, they can make it themselves. Maybe by then, we’ll have a better understanding of our abilities and actually be able to help them change back, if necessary.”
“If they’re mature enough to fight, hunt and kill, then they’re old enough to have sex.” This time it wasn’t Camila, but Delilah who spoke. She smiled wryly and looked over at her precious baby boy, who was sitting on the table and eating chocolate cake.
“Life is precious and precarious. We never know when it might come to an abrupt and tragic end… I don’t want them to feel like they missed out on something important.”
“Like I said, they can make up their minds on their own. I don’t wanna make that decision for them.” Jake snickered and hugged the tiny woman on his lap, “If Kayla and Kel really wanna take their relationship to the next level, they’ll do it whether Kel has a dick or not. So I ain’t gonna worry about it anymore.”
The whole town was pretty noisy at the moment. Aside from the random animal noises, the talking, laughing and crying, there were also quite a few musicians. With music, some people were dancing. When it came to dancing, most people were just flailing around and didn’t seem to know what they were doing. Maybe they were already drunk or even high.
Although Jake had a rule against smoking, the main reason was because he hated the smell. Fortunately, when people were drunk or high, their telepathic connection with everyone else was actually greatly weakened instead of strengthened. Likely because they were poisoning themselves and hurting the weird parasites that were responsible for the connection. Either that, or it was just good old fashioned brain damage.
Anyway, there was a drummer, a bassist, a few guitarists, some people playing lutes, saxophones and someone even had a suona… Well, Jake did rob a music store on his trip to Rio Grande back then. So the number of instruments in the town was much larger than the actual number of people. He even stole a grand piano! Unfortunately, nobody knew how to tune it. Even if they did, he didn’t steal the tuning tools in the first place.
“Happy New Year!” Jake raised a glass of Goat milk high and shouted loudly over all the noise.
“¡Feliz Año Nuevo!” When Queen Camila did the same, there were suddenly dozens of shouts and cheers simultaneously! The dogs howled and the cats meowed, the birds cried out and the other animals also made some noise.
“¡Por otros mil años!”
As a small village of about 50 Elves, birthday parties were actually pretty common. There were also parties for holidays, engagements, weddings, sometimes people just had a party because they had nothing better to do… Especially now that the second generation of Orcs and Goblins were raised to adulthood. Their parents were also Hounds, but the number of babies that could be birthed was astounding.
Now there were about 120 Orcs and 250 Goblins! There were also hundreds of Hounds and Cats, while the Goats and Unicorns were much slower to reproduce. Mainly because their offspring were much larger and usually only born one or two at a time.
With hundreds of Orcs and Goblins, a housing crisis would theoretically occur. However, unlike the Elves, the Orcs and Goblins weren’t nearly as fragile or picky. The Goblins also didn’t take up that much space compared to normal-sized Elves. Whether it was a thatched hut or a hole in the ground, even just laying on the grass or on a large tree-branch, they slept anywhere and everywhere.
Of course, that didn’t last very long, because with the influx of hundreds of ‘Worker Drones’, the construction around town was greatly accelerated. They ran out of concrete after finishing a couple dozen 2 story houses and renovating the tavern. But they had a lot more hands and a lot more options now.
They dug up clay from the rivers and lakes nearby, put it into brick molds, dried it out, then put them into simple kilns. The process was tedious and laborious, but it was also kind of fun. Whether it was the Orcs, Goblins or even the Elves, they all tried it out every now and then. Only a few of them stuck with it as a more permanent ‘job’. At least for the near future.
It’s actually possible to build houses entirely out of bricks. It’s also completely unnecessary. They just wanted to avoid the dangers of forest or house fires. If the whole forest around them burned down, they’d probably get cooked or smoked if they decided to try ‘hiding’ inside their non-flammable concrete or entirely brick house. Maybe the giant concrete Frost Haven Keep would fare much better, but it was still a safer bet to simply escape and come back later to rebuild or refurbish whatever was left.
Thus, log cabins and wooden houses were still very common. The amount of lumber available was literally endless. If they didn’t cut down the trees, their town would be overgrown in a couple months. There was always something to build or make with the wood though, so it wasn’t a bad thing.
One of the favorite Jobs for the Orcs was actually cutting down trees. The Goats, Unicorns and even the Hounds would help with moving the logs around. Hunting and Fishing could be done by the Hounds, Cats and Scouts much more effectively, so people mainly just treated them as hobbies, rather than jobs. Farming was much more important.
Originally, they used to keep some livestock like chickens, pigs and cows to eat. During the harsh winter, most of those domesticated animals died off, escaped or were eaten. They still had some chickens, sheep, goats, dairy cows and other animals, but they were mainly producers, rather than being used as food.
“Hunting is fine, but it’s fucking disgusting to kill an animal that you raised yourself. Maybe it was necessary in the world before… Now, you’re lucky if we don’t get overrun by wild animals! So I decree, as your ‘King’ , that raising livestock to eat is against the Druidic Way and illegal. At least for the time being.”
Jake made this announcement about the same time as his ‘No Smoking’ speech. Aside from causing various types of cancer and smelling bad, cigarettes have also been known to start house and forest fires. There were also some rules against campfires and bonfires, because it really was dangerous. People still had stoves and fireplaces, kilns and forges, so it’s not like starting fires was completely banned.
Carpentry, weaving, leatherworking, smithing, there were plenty of jobs that needed to be done. With more people, there would also be more demand for furniture, clothes, tools and weapons. It was an endless cycle. There would never come a time where those jobs weren’t needed anymore, even if everyone already had everything, because everything wears out eventually. Maintaining everything was also a job that needed to be done.
The overgrown plants around the town needed to be dealt with, but rather than ‘people’, the bugs, Mice, Unicorns, Goats and other similar Drones would handle it. Jake and Vora created termites, ants and all sorts of other tiny insects that were particularly skilled in dealing with the tree roots underground. Squirrels, voles and rabbits also eat tree roots, but they aren’t quite as thorough.
It might seem like this would be an easy job, but there were always a lot of casualties. No matter how resistant to poison, toxins and infection the Drones might be, the plants, fungi and animals they faced were also adapting, mutating and evolving. There was more than one occasion where some of the Drones, even Hounds and Cats, would be mind-controlled if they got too far away from home. Usually it ended with Jake having to go out in person to save them, but on one occasion he was too late… A Hound was infected with a fungus that tricked her into swimming to the bottom of a lake. By the time Jake arrived, he had to deal with hundreds of fish and crabs that were covered in bright yellow mold. His granddaughter was already dead.
Through trial and error, Frost Haven expanded their territory from only about a kilometer radius when Jake arrived, to nearly 50 kilometers in every direction. To the southwest, it was even up to 100 kilometers. Over in that direction was a lake called Lago Blanco, which was 20 kilometers long from north to south and fairly deep. Aside from Lago Fagnano, which was about three times longer and more like a bay, Blanco was the largest lake on the whole island. Also incredibly dangerous. There were all kinds of strange and terrifying monsters lurking over there.
In fact, much of their territory was like that. Voracity’s Drones basically had full surveillance, due to all the bugs, birds and other small Spies/Assassins. However, there were nowhere near enough Cats, Hounds and other large predators to enforce Frost Haven’s border that far away. There really wasn’t a reason to do that either.
In the southwest, about 30-50 kilometers away from the actual town, that’s where Rio Grande was located. The city and also the mouth of that huge river that cut through most of the island. Their method of dealing with problems was much more… Unnatural.
They would regularly do controlled burns of the woods near their city, which was a pretty serious danger and hazard for Frost Haven. They also used pesticides on their crops, chemicals to burn the trees, plants and animals, polluted the air and water with their factories, they even used spent nuclear fuel rods as a fence! The radiation would scare away most living creatures or directly kill them. Not just animals, plants and fungi, but also people. In other words, the humans were actually trapping themselves in a cage of radioactive waste, chemicals and literal fire.
Far to the northwest, there was also a rather large Chilean City called Porvenir. Obviously it was just a tiny town before the apocalypse, but now it was just as large as Rio Grande and Tolhuin. There used to be a few other cities around the big island, but now they were all in ruins and completely overtaken by nature. So aside from Ushuaia, which was behind a bunch of mountains far to the south and not really even ‘on’ the big island, only those three cities were left.
“I don’t wanna sound like a crazy environmentalist. I mean, we do our own fair share of tree murdering and animal hunting, but they’re fucking up our island. Like actually fucking it up. We can’t let them keep doing that shit. Either they need to stop, or we gotta make them stop.”
“Kill! Exterminate! Destroy!”
Jake looked at the angry snake growling on his right shoulder and rolled his big blue eyes, “I don’t wanna push them over the edge. If we destroy them, then they have nothing left to lose. Right now, there are nearly a million people in Rio Grande, even more in the other two cities. In other words, we have about five million hostages… Why the fuck am I talking to you about this?”
“Maybe… And I love you too, Vora.” He kissed her smooth snake head that was nearly as big as his actual head. Then looked out toward the burning forest in the distance. Plumes of grayish-black smoke reached up into the dark clouds.
Jake was standing on the top of a large hill, with his long tail wrapped around his waist and all the way up to his shoulder. Even though she was long enough to slither on the ground while he was walking, it was much more efficient to just keep her wrapped around his body. At full speed, he could reach 40 or 50 kilometers per hour on flat ground. Not sprinting, but running long distances. Even if he was moving through the hilly woods, he was still able to make it from Frost Haven to the outskirts of Rio Grande’s territory in a little over an hour.
There were several big lakes and lagoons between where he was now and the burning forests on the other side. Well, the largest was only a little over 2 kilometers wide, but from his position it looked huge. Between Jake and those bodies of water was a reinforced concrete barrier with some metal bars on the outside. They didn’t look like much, but Jake and Vora could feel the dangerous radiation even from over a kilometer away.
Jake looked up at the big black helicopter that was rapidly approaching from the distance and smirked. Then he glanced over at the small drones that were hovering nearby and shook his head.
“Don’t say anything too crazy, Vora. We’re not here to start a war.”
“Don’t move! Put your hands on your head and get on the ground!”
Before the helicopter arrived, a group of heavily armed soldiers in black body-armor came out of the woods nearby. All of them were pointing their rifles at the giant, armored ‘monster’ who was standing out in the open on the top of a small hill. Jake looked to the left and Vora looked toward the right.
“Get down, now!”
“¡Tírate al suelo, monstruo!”
“¡Ponte en el suelo!”
“Get on the fucking ground!”
“We will shoot your ass!”
Jake frowned, “I’ll give you three seconds lower your fucking guns and shut your goddamn mouths.”
“Get on the ground!”
“Hands up! Hands up!”
It was mostly men, but there were also a few female voices. All their faces were covered by helmets or masks though, while their bodies were completely covered in so much body-armor that they all looked about the same. Just a matter of different heights.
*Bang!* A rifle round went through one of Jake’s left tentacles and kept going. Leaving a big, gaping hole. Then dozens of other loud gunshots rang out!
However, aside from the few bullets that hit Jake’s armor and left some cracked, bloody marks, most of those rounds either missed or were intentionally aimed at the ground and air. They were there to capture him alive after all. Plus, he was standing on a hill and they were at the bottom of the hill. It was a little awkward.
One of the slugs grazed Vora’s head and ripped off a few scales, “Jacob! Revenge!”
Jake breathed out a long sigh, “Even if you’re following orders, you’re still the ones pulling the trigger.”
He kicked off the ground and flew backwards a dozen meters, then his right clawed foot landed on a combat helmet… The person couldn’t react fast enough. About 500 kilograms on an empty stomach, closer to 550 on a relatively food stomach. That’s more than a grizzly bear. That’s even heavier than a polar bear! It’s more like the weight of a bull. Pressed down on the head of one extremely unlucky man.
The spine snapped very quickly, the helmet was somewhat dented and crushed, some blood and other juices spurted out of the cracks. Jake only ‘landed’ for a moment though. As soon as the torso was smashed into the ground, he kicked off and darted over to a person shooting shotgun slugs at his face. Unfortunately, they couldn’t aim very well. Because there were dozens of tiny gnats, ants and other bugs crawling all over their face! Digging into their eyes, ears, nostrils, biting and poisoning their flesh, some people were even getting stung by swarms of bees that crawled inside of their body armor!
“I gave you a fucking chance!” Jake punched down with his right fist and the poor bastard’s head was literally ripped off, flying into the woods!
Instead of grabbing the gun, he just rushed over to the next soldier who was screaming in agony on the ground, stomping onto his chest! Not only did blood and guts squirt out of his mouth, they also sprayed out of his ass. Fortunately, with his heart and lungs crushed instantly, he didn’t have to endure that pain for very long.
The next time he grabbed someone with two tentacles and tried to rip them in half mid-air, but it was way more difficult than he expected. So Jake just reached out with both hands, ripped off the body-armor on their torso, then reached inside the woman’s exposed muscular belly and ripped out a big chunk of her spine. With a little more effort, she was torn asunder and intestines were sent flying everywhere.
“Okay, are you fucking happy? Ew!”
Vora licked the blood and gore with her forked tongue. The tongues in Jake’s palms were also ‘cleaning’ his hands. He cringed a bit, but still charged toward the next man or woman, who screamed in horror and tried to run away. Jake grabbed their entire head and tossed them through the air like a rag-doll. Needless to say, that much pressure on the neck and spine…
Because of the hill, the moment Jake came down, most of them actually lost line of sight immediately. At most, there were only two people at a time, but most of them were already unconscious or dead before Jake even did anything personally. Those bugs that crawled inside their armor were extremely venomous, poisonous and toxic. No matter how resistant those people were, having a bunch of bugs eating their eyeballs would still make them incapacitated and unable to shoot at the monster that was rampaging around.
“Jacob! Stop! Please! Stop!”
Jake’s foot was about to crush the head of another soldier when a familiar voice came from a loud-speakeri in the sky. It was that big black helicopter. The helicopter was turned to the side and there was a soldier aiming a ‘minigun’ down at him. However, that man started screaming in agony and then took off his mask, vomiting out dozens of spiders with hundreds of others crawling around on his face, neck, and out of his ears…
“Doctor Aliya! Hahaha~! You’re still alive! Are you in charge of Rio Grande now?!” Jake ignored the unconscious soldier on the ground, because even if he didn’t stomp down, they were already dead in a few minutes.
“How have you been?! Did you send these idiots to die or was it somebody else?!”
“Jacob, if I had been notified sooner, this never would have happened. Why are you here? Don’t you usually make contact ‘secretly’ with Colas?”
The helicopter shook a few times, then stabilized and started lowering near an area of flat ground close to the big lake at the bottom of the hill. Meanwhile, a small drone flew over and hovered in front of Jake’s bloody face. There were actually quite a few cracks and wounds. Vora’s serpentine body was also missing a lot of scales and had some large gashes. Although the injuries looked scary, they were only minor flesh wounds. Most of that blood didn’t belong to them.
“I’m here because I wanted to show sincerity and have a serious negotiation with you fuckers. I guess I underestimated your arrogance and stupidity.”
“Incompetent, humans. Not tasty.” Vora complained on the side, using her tongues to clean up the blood at first, but then stopped because even she was disgusted. Then she realized, “Humans, irradiated?”
“Of course they’re irradiated. We’re all being irradiated right now! Why kinda fucking lunatics use spent fuel rods as a goddamn fence?!”
“Your mutation has advanced… What have you experienced to cause this change?” Rather than talking about the so-called ‘negotiations’ or demanding compensation for the loss of a few soldiers, Aliya was actually much more interested in Jake’s physical and mental changes.
“Maria Bianche.” Jake narrowed his eyes and looked into the small camera at the front of the hovering black drone, “You already knew who she was when I first mentioned the old lady back then, right?”
“No. My authority was much lower back then.”
“You know I don’t believe anyone, unless I can read their mind. Even then, I’ll still doubt my own memories and perceptions.”
A swarm of cockroaches, flying ants, flies and gnats flew up out of the tall grass. They covered his entire body for less than a minute. Then they all fluttered away. All the blood, gore and broken pieces of carapace were completely removed. Even the holes in his armor were filled in by the bugs. Stopping the bleeding and making it look like all his injuries were completely healed. Even Vora’s scales and the holes in his tentacles were replaced by tiny bugs.
“Yes, Jacob. I know that you suffer from severe paranoia, persecution delusions and intermittent schizophrenic episodes. Among many, many other things. Now, please board the helicopter. We should speak… In person.”
“Don’t think about crashing or blowing up this fucking helicopter to kill me.”
When they were hundreds of meters in the air, Jake’s tentacles clung to the metal ceiling and his hands were holding onto a few seats. He couldn’t sit down, because he was too big. If he didn’t stay in the very center of the helicopter and suddenly moved over to the sides, the whole vehicle would wobble or shake violently. He was as heavy as five to seven humans.
“I’m not that easy to kill.”
“I’m not suicidal!” The pilot and co-pilot, the only people left alive in the helicopter, were both terrified and trembling. Although they’ve seen a lot of horrible shit since the apocalypse started, what they witnessed today was still scary as hell.
“It’s only a few minutes! Just a few minutes and we can land! Just calm down! Don’t do anything crazy!”
“¡Mierda! ¡Nos vamos a morir!” The co-pilot screamed in a high-pitched voice, then started praying in Spanish.
“Shut the fuck up! Don’t irritate him!”
“You guys are really good actors. I almost believed your bullshit.” Jake snickered and shook his head, “Is there a nuke in this helicopter? Are you gonna fly me out to the ocean and nuke my ass point-blank?!”
“We’re not acting! We’re not actors! Fuck, fuck, fuck!”
“Jacob, please calm down.” Aliya’s calm and relaxing voice came from the loud speakers on the ceiling, close to his head.
“If you frighten them too much, they really will crash. I know you have a fear of heights. This is fairly normal. You don’t need to feel ashamed.”
“I’m not afraid of heights. I’m afraid of falling to my death or crashing in a fucking helicopter. I’m also afraid of nukes, or even just regular bombs… Also lightning!”
The helicopter shook violently as a bolt of lightning nearly hit them! The sound was deafening and scared the hell out of everyone on board… Fortunately, the pilot and co-pilot were very experienced and managed to avoid crashing. They did fly a bit lower though, in order to avoid getting hit by lightning. It really was a short trip though. In only a few minutes, the storm that was on the horizon, had started pummeling the coastline. It also put out the burning forest.
“Phew~! We survived! Hahaha~!” Jake quickly got off the helicopter and saw lightning striking a skyscraper in the foggy distance, so he quickly ran over to the big metal door of the bunker nearby.
The nuclear power plant was only a few hundreds meters away. This fallout shelter was the main base of the EHO in the city. It also had a bunch of secret and dangerous labs inside. Although their security was pretty strict, it was pretty much impossible to stop every single bug from entering. Some places were even infested with mice, which weren’t all related to Vora, but there were still enough of them to carry out reconnaissance.
“Before you have any crazy ideas, keep in mind that if anything happens to me, Tori will become the next Queen. And she will definitely get revenge for-”
“Jacob, you came here to negotiate. What exactly did you want to negotiate? All you’ve done so far is murder some innocent soldiers and proved to me that you really should have been locked in a cage.”
The moment he entered the huge metal sliding doors that opened sideways, the tiny woman in a white lab coat was already standing there. Looking up at him with a tablet in her hands. Behind Aliya, there were only a handful of men and women in black body-armor. On their shoulders, helmets and backs was the “EHO” Logo: A rainbow unicorn. Of course, there were also the letters EHO in white. Inside the building, there were also some similar logos, pictures and writing on the walls.
“Murder? How was that murder? That was clearly self-defense. Normally I would kill them as soon as they aimed their weapons at me. I even gave them the chance to survive, but they refused. It was just self-defense.”
“Do you think their friends and family will see it that way?” As she retorted, the guards around her were extremely nervous. After all, they also watched the video with the Doctor. They saw what this ‘monster’ was capable of… This ‘Queen’. Fortunately, they were smart enough to not point their guns at him or say anything stupid.
“Let’s put it another way. I’m the King of Frost Haven. Vora is also a Queen. Imagine if I sent some assholes to go try to assassinate the leader of your Endless Hope Organization, hahaha~! I don’t know, maybe I’d give her a virus or something? Ain’t she like an AI?”
“Our leader isn’t an AI. And we don’t have a single leader, but a Board of Directors…” Aliya sighed and turned around, walking at a fairly quick pace for someone that was only 1.3 meters tall. Then again, the Goblins were only 1 meter tall and they were just as fast as their Orcish siblings.
“Whatever you wanna believe. Or do you really believe that in the first place? All those fuckers are probably AI by now. It won’t be long before they replace you with an AI too.”
“By that time, I will have died of old age anyway.” The tiny woman chuckled as they walked down the noisy hallway, over to an elevator that led down deeper into the base. This elevator was massive. Just like the hallway itself. It had to be pretty big, or they wouldn’t be able to carry down the t-rex sized chickens and other weird animals they used for experiments.
“Who knows?” Jake shrugged, lifting Vora’s head up in the process, causing her to glare at him with those pretty pink eyes.
“Anyway, you guys probably already know about Frost Haven, right?”
“We’ve always known about Frost Haven. It was never a secret, Jacob. You can see it on any satellite map.” She turned around and looked up at him, having to crane her neck quite a bit: “It used to be a plot of land owned by Maria Bianche. Then it was purchased at a fairly cheap price by Camila Garcia, who turned it into a Live-Action Role-Play vacation spot. Recently however, we’ve noticed that they’ve been building a castle and quite a few other structures. We wanted to get a closer look several times, but unfortunately, some swarms of insects and flocks of birds always attacked our drones.”
“Yes, very unfortunate.” Jake snickered, “Obviously I did that.”
“Truly a shocking turn of events.” Aliya rolled her eyes, then she brought up some live videos on her tablet. Showing them to the giant man, who squinted and smirked. A beautiful blonde-haired, golden eyed woman was standing at the top of the keep, looking down at her territory from the stone railing. A tall knight in black armor was standing behind her, holding a spear, with a large sniper rifle on her back. In some of the other videos, there were young Elf children playing together around town. Some Orcs cutting down trees, Cats laying around lazily and teasing their kittens, Hounds hunting for prey…
“You’re threatening me?”
“You can spy on us. We can also spy on you. Isn’t that ‘fair’?”
“True.” Jake sighed, “That’s mainly why I’m here to negotiate. Because I know that with your advantage in technology, you can send a fucking missile or bomb down on us at any time. I wanna make sure you understand that we might not have bombs, but we also have weapons of mass destruction that are just as hard to defend against.”
The doors opened and they reached a few floors down already. Jake followed Aliya and her entourage down another long hallway. Eventually reaching a metal door, which opened automatically. Inside was a simple office room. She walked over to the chair and sat down. Then she took out a cigarette, about to light it, when a tentacle slapped it out of her tiny hand.
“Your room smells like a fucking asstray already. Unless you want me to projectile vomit my deadly stomach acid all over the place, don’t you dare start smoking.”
“Leave.” Aliya waved her hand at the anxious soldiers that seemed like they wanted to aim their guns at the strange monster, but were hesitating. Once they received the order, they all left quickly.
“Very ‘loyal’. Hehehe~!”
“They’re loyal to EHO. Not me. If I die, maybe one of them will be promoted.” She coughed a few times, then looked up at him with those hazel eyes and asked, “What do you want, Jacob? No, what does your wife want from us?”
“No. Vora, shush.” Jake glared at the cute snake head on his shoulder and smiled wryly at the smirking woman, “As I’m sure you’ve already figured out, Camila the Elf Queen can literally turn humans into ‘Elves’. Ideally this grants them longer lifespans, stronger immune systems, younger appearances, heightened senses, even a telepathic connection to each other…”
“With the caveat of being that they will become Subjects of Her Majesty the Queen. Correct?”
“Basically… But that’s not much of a price to pay for most people. Even in ‘your’ city, there are hundreds of thousands of people who are just barely hanging on. As the Breeders breed, the situation will get worse and worse as time goes by.”
“You want permission to recruit people into your cult? Fine. Is that all?” Although she wasn’t the Mayor and didn’t have complete control over Rio Grande, she was the leader of the EHO Branch here. At least on the surface.
“Well, we don’t need general laborers. We need specific professions. People with valuable skills, like doctors, architects, city planners, teachers-”
“Jacob, please get to the point. I don’t have time to listen to you list out every single profession you can remember off the top of your head. I already agreed to this request. What else?”
“Uh… Well… Oh yeah, more important than the recruitment thing is actually just… Stop fucking burning the goddamn forest down! Let’s not talk about whether you eventually have an accident and create a forest fire that reaches us. Just the smoke from Rio Grande and Porvenir has been completely destroying the air quality of the whole damn island!”
“Jacob, you don’t need to be concerned about a forest fire. Unlike your tiny village in the woods, we have actual firefighters and equipment to deal with emergencies. There are many dangerous plants and fungi in the woods. We don’t even have enough time to cut down the trees first. Don’t worry, it will all be over soon.”
“Well… I guess that makes sense.”
He originally planned to offer to copy what they were doing around their own base, but decided against it. After all, putting aside whether they would accept his help, they already started burning everything. The rain might douse the fires, but the job was halfway done. More importantly, he really didn’t feel like it. He also wasn’t sure whether the plants and fungi here were more dangerous than the ones around Frost Haven. There were some danger zones that they had to stay away from.
“Well, whatever. Just don’t slash or burn too far into the woods. Sooner or later, this whole island will be our territory. Except for your tiny cities. After all, if you guys aren’t here, you wouldn’t have anything holding you back from nuking us, right? Maybe you would nuke the whole island…”
“How many nuclear weapons do you think we have?” Aliya chuckled, “Every nuclear warhead is extremely precious. Especially now…”
“What happened?” Jake raised an armored eyebrow, “Did we get invaded by aliens for real?”
“It’s not a secret. Anyone with access to the internet would have heard about this already.” She sighed and wanted to smoke a cigarette, but had it smacked out of her hand again…
“Why did you start smoking? Stress? Or maybe you’re suicidal, but you just wanna kill yourself in the slowest, most painful way?”
“Why do you care whether I smoke or not?” Since she couldn’t smoke, Aliya opened up a disgusting-smelling plastic container filled with what looked like gummy-vitamins. Then she started chewing two of them slowly.
“Of course it is.” Jake rolled his eyes and complained, “I never understood people that get high. Life is fucked up enough. Especially now. Putting yourself in an altered state is-”
“Jacob, please, stop talking.” She glared at him with slightly bloodshot eyes and then leaned back on her comfy chair, closing her eyes to rest for a couple minutes. While Jake basically had to sit on the cold, hard, tile floor in front of her desk. After Aliya was a bit more relaxed, she opened eyes and explained: “We… Humanity, lost.”
“What do you mean you lost? Lost what? Did we really fight against aliens?”
“Kelsey Cage, Tina Nottingham, Caitlin Strausky, Joseph Write, Amelia Ortega, Li Wen, Mai Thigh, Baby the Clown, Orangejuice Surprise-”
“Pft~! Wait, what? Like what the fuck are you even talking about at this point?”
“Queens. I’m listing the names of Queens around the world that are still alive. All the Queens that have committed genocide on the scale of millions to hundreds of millions of humans. Several of them have access to more nuclear weapons than the entire EHO.”
“Makes sense.” Jake wasn’t too surprised at all, “I mean… With my abilities, I could do the same shit. I’m just not an evil piece of shit.”
“Weak. Indecisive. Humans, threat.”
“See. Are you glad it’s me and not another crazy asshole like Kelsey Cage who got chosen for Voracity?”
“Chosen?” Aliya frowned and looked at him seriously, “Why do you say ‘chosen’?”
“I don’t know. Ain’t it obvious that we were picked? I’m not totally sure why anyone would pick ‘me’ in particular. My greatest achievement is making it to 30 years old without having sex. But considering that both Camila and I had intersections with that ‘thing’ since we were kids… It’s really not that strange.”
“Maria Bianche? You think she chose you? All of the Queens…”
“I didn’t say all of us.” Jake shook his head, “But since she goes out of her way to haunt my ass, she’s probably related to Vora pretty closely. It could even be a mother-daughter relationship. Similar to our relationship with Tori. Except way more estranged and deranged.”
“Wait, did you say that the fucking Queens have a bunch of nukes?! Shit! Are they gonna nuke us?!”
“Danger?!” Vora was also really scared. Not many people in the world have survived a nuclear explosion. So it’s a pretty reasonable ‘phobia’.
However, this time Aliya didn’t refute or retort. She just sighed dramatically and closed her eyes again. It didn’t take long until she was snoring loudly.
The situation wasn’t as bad as Jake and Vora originally thought. Many of the nuclear missiles on land were already used up. The smarter and more rational monsters like Kelsey Cage would save them as a deterrent against their enemies. While the crazier, more irrational lunatics would just blow their loads as soon as possible. Hence why even more cities across the world were turned into radioactive craters.
Of course, that’s just a metaphor. Most nuclear weapons are detonated in the air, so the actual crater isn’t that significant. The buildings, people and other life forms within the vicinity were mostly destroyed though. The amount of radiation left behind depended more so on the amount of nuclear material, rather than the actual yield of the warhead.
“There is still a very real threat that we could all be targeted by nuclear ICBMs at any time. However, hasn’t it been this way for our entire lives?”
After waking up from her cannabis-induced 5 hour long ‘nap’, Aliya had dinner in the cafeteria with the two ‘foreign dignitaries’. Then she had them do some basic check-ups and a lot of extra tests in more than one lab. Not only was she a scientist herself, she also had a lot of people under her command that were dying to do some research on a real ‘Queen’ in person. Anyway, Jake was used to it by now, so he didn’t care.
“I know, I know, but… It’s different. Back then, I didn’t give a fuck, because I was only human and I really didn’t have that much to lose. Also, there wasn’t much I could do about it either way. Now? Now I have a soul-mate, a beautiful wife, two concubines… I don’t even know how many kids at this point. But I don’t want any of them to get turned into ash by nuclear fire, okay?”
“Fear, danger, threat… Eliminate.” Vora took a break from gorging herself on french fries to say that.
“Although ICBMs don’t need satellites, without access to them, it’s very unlikely that the Queens will be able to send missiles halfway across the world to hit us down in Patagonia.” Aliya dipped a tortilla chip in thick white cheese and then ate it with that same deadpan expression as always, “South American Governments lacked nuclear weapons. Buenos Aires and other major infection zones were bombed by submarines belonging to other governments or the EHO. Now, many of those submarines are either hiding, missing or destroyed. The ocean… Especially the depths of the ocean, are extremely dangerous now.”
“I’ve noticed.” Jake snickered and started chewing a slice of stuffed crust pizza slowly. A few minutes later, he asked, “Are they gonna be a problem? I get why people would hate me, but why does it seem like there are more people in here glaring or talking shit about you?”
“I’m their boss. Whenever something bad happens, they blame me. Whenever something good happens, they think it has nothing to do with me. I’m a foreigner who was brought in to replace the old Branch Manager after the Siren Event. If the automated defenses in the base weren’t under my control, they would have tried to assassinate or depose me more overtly by now. At least half of them are ‘secretly’ working for the Mayor or other forces.”
The obsidian giant snickered, “Have you thought about becoming an Elf?”
“Unfortunately, I’m a ‘Pureblood’. And I’m not interested in changing my ‘Race’ at the moment.”
“That’s a shame. Well, whatever, I’d rather have you in charge here than some irrational idiot. Want me to help you kill the Mayor? I can also clean up those traitors for you, hehe~!”
Jake didn’t whisper or even try to speak quietly at all, so plenty of people were able to hear his voice clearly. There was an awkward silence for almost a minute before Aliya chuckled, “Maybe. We’ll have to see what happens. Is there anything else?”
“Originally, I wanted to ask for free electricity and internet access, but…” Jake sighed and shook his head, “Aside from the fact that it’d be a massive pain in the ass. I think things are fine now. The internet is too dangerous.”
“Let me guess. You’re afraid of some memetic disaster now? Maybe the AIs will find a way to brainwash everyone?”
“True. But not just that.” He nodded seriously and Aliya couldn’t help laughing out loud, “You think it’s funny now. But it’s only a matter of time before some shit like that happens. Rather than the brainwashing of your EHO or anyone else really, I’m more concerned that my stupid kids will be addicted to the internet like I was… They’re so fucking happy now. I love it. Every day, whether they’re chopping wood, making bricks, building houses, whatever, they’re always active and happy. They have friends they can see and touch. Even the Elves that have experienced life before and after the internet understand that things are better this way.”
“Efficient. Focused. Primal. Natural. Simple.”
“It’s not like we’re totally against technology though. I’m even fine with electricity, assuming we can have ways to produce it and use it in Frost Haven, rather than having to rely on you guys.”
Jake raised his left hand and looked at the tiny little green Eastern Dragon that appeared. It slithered around in the air and breathed out fire. Both he and Vora could feel the heat… But Aliya just looked at his hand in confusion. There was nothing.
“You can’t see it. Even they can’t see it. In Frost Haven, we’re all connected together telepathically. So… If your imagination and will are strong enough, you can ‘augment’ reality easily. Create all kinds of beautiful art to share with everyone. In a way, it really is a ‘meme’, hahaha~!”
“A similar effect can be created through technology. Whether through glasses or special contact lenses. I’ve heard they also have implants with even stronger effects.” Aliya sighed after she ate another few cheesy tortilla chips, “Even if you live a ‘simple life’ in the woods, your biology is still changing in the same direction…”
“Unity? Unification? Connection?” Jake shrugged, “It’s not just humans that are changing. The whole world is changing. Evolving… It’s scary, but also exciting. It’s still nice to be a little more grounded though. How about a trade agreement?”
“Food!” Vora immediately made her own demands, “Chips! Candy! Cans! Meat!”
“No, no.” Jake immediately retorted, “We don’t need any of that shit. We can make our own potato chips, candy and we have endless amounts of ‘meat’.”
“Never enough meat!” After shouting in a deep, raspy voice, the big snake head slithered over and gobbled down a big chunk of barbequed chicken.
“What about you guys? How are you doing when it comes to food? What exactly do you want or need? We mainly need things like solar panels, batteries, guns, ammo, maybe a wind turbine or two? We don’t need that much electricity, but it’s definitely nice to have something. Will they be okay in the winter though? Like at super low temperatures or in nasty weather, will solar panels and wind turbines get damaged?”
“When the winds are harsh enough, the blades will feather or turn toward the wind to reduce the surface area. If it’s really bad, they can be locked down. In icy conditions, the turbines can be shut down until the ice melts…” Aliya sighed, “Firearms and other military equipment are strictly controlled now. Even with my authority, I can’t sell you weapons or ammunition. Batteries are in short supply lately. For that matter, everything is in short supply.”
“Not just China. Our connections everywhere are cut off. Many bases are just… Gone. Human civilization only has a few embers left.”
“Uh huh…” Jake smiled wryly, “So… What ‘can’ you sell us? And what do you want to buy from us?”
“What we really need are roads.” Aliya drank a sip of coffee and asked, “Do you think you can help with that?”
“Maybe we can’t ‘build’ roads, but if it’s just about clearing up the roads and making sure that they don’t get blocked, it’s not impossible. Just don’t put down a bunch of nuclear fuel rods to irradiate the place.”
“We don’t have enough spent fuel rods for that. We used most of them on the wall. Route 3 from Rio Grande to Porvenir is over two-hundred kilometers. Are you sure you can do it?”
“Not yet. Obviously. But soon.” Jake shrugged, “By soon, I mean… Maybe in a couple years.”
“Hah~!” Aliya finally smiled, “Well… If we’re still alive in a couple years, we can talk about this ‘Trade Agreement’ again.”
Jake spent the stormy night in the underground base. It wasn’t boring though, because he had access to the internet the whole time. Not just internet, but also video games, porn, junk food, the essentials of life. Unfortunately, the EHO internet was censored to hell. He also couldn’t get into contact with his parents. The Infinite Hope was supposedly still fine, but it was impossible for anyone to contact them.
“This is the Goddess of Rizz herself, the undeniable, unstoppable, Kelsey Cage! Kelsey, Baby, how have you been lately? How does it feel to be Queen of America?”
“Ricky, I ain’t the Queen of America yet. North America is huge and I still got a lotta competitors left. It does feel great though. No more poverty, no more inequality, all humans are much happier and safer now under my rule.”
“Yas, Queen~! Hahahah-”
“Fuck!” Jake cursed because the live interview was suddenly cut off, “Fucking bullshit censorship!”
“They’re blocking anything related to Queens. Hell, you can’t even search the word ‘Queen’ now.”
“Father, what does Rizz mean?” A tiny Orca suddenly appeared in the room, floating next to Jake’s left shoulder, while Vora’s cute snake head was resting on his right.
“Rizz? I thought he said Jizz?”
“Jacob… Rizz is not ‘new’. It was a popular slang for seduction for at least a year before… I last went online.” Camila appeared to Jake’s right, completely naked as always, but seemingly sitting on the ‘tiny’ bed next to him. Fortunately the bed was durable enough to somehow withstand his ridiculous weight.
“It says that Rizz means, uh, yeah, you’re right. Charming and seducing… I don’t know, it sounds kinda dumb to me. Why do people keep making new words? Isn’t it hard enough to remember so many words already?”
“Bebé, see if you can log into my account on Sidhe Gates. I want to make sure everything is fine…”
“Hehehe~! You can barely remember your past, but you still remember your account name and password?”
“That reminds me. Jacob! Search me! You should be able to find my name and past easily!”
Jake sighed and shook his head. He still used the tips of his giant claws to carefully type on the keyboard of the laptop, but he wasn’t surprised when he received the good old: [Warning! The information you are attempting to access is illegal! Stay where you are and do not resist arrest! As long as you are proven innocent, you will not face any charges or be fined! If you attempt to flee or hide, your safety will not be guaranteed!]
“Do they actually arrest everyone who searches for censored content?”
“No way. At least not in Tolhuin or Rio Grande. I don’t know about other places.”
He went through and searched for the Knights of Patagonia Guild, receiving a similar message. Then he went on the Sidhe Gates website and logged into his own account. Of course, he had to go over and long into his email first to verify it was him. Fortunately everything was still there. Then he logged out and into Camila’s account. Needing to go into her email too. The account was fine, but the email… It was obviously filled with plenty of advertisements, notifications of social media nonsense and all kinds of other things going back more than a year. However, there was something much more recent.
[From DG2001: Mamá, no sé si todavía estás viva por ahí en algún lado, pero espero que estés bien. Sé que estabas muy enojado la última vez que hablamos, pero… Realmente solo quiero decirte cuánto te amo y aprecio. Tal vez para cuando leas esto, ya esté muerto. Tal vez ya estés en el Cielo esperándome. Realmente quiero vivir. Realmente lo hago. Simplemente no sé si puedo seguir adelante. No quiero que pienses que me rendí. Me estoy esforzando tanto… Simplemente no creo que pueda pelear más. Estoy tan cansado.]
Jake quickly translated everything into English after both Tori and Camila started crying.
[From DG2001: Mom, I don’t know if you’re still alive out there somewhere, but I hope you’re doing well. I know you were really angry the last time we spoke, but… I really just want to tell you how much I love and appreciate you. Maybe by the time you read this, I’m already dead. Maybe you’re already in Heaven waiting for me. I really want to live. I really do. I just don’t know if I can keep going. I don’t want you to think I gave up. I’m trying so hard… I just don’t think I can fight anymore. I’m so tired.]
“Shit. This was… A few months ago.” He looked over on the side and noticed that it said the last time DG2001 was online was about the same time. In other words, this was probably the last thing he did on his email.”
“Please, Jacob, the others… I want to read the other emails.”
“Okay…” Jake went backwards from the newest ones to the oldest. Mainly focusing on DG2001 and a few other relatives. The most recent ones were from May. Some were very cryptic, others were just simply asking for help or asking whether she was okay. Only a single message and then nothing else. All the contacts were offline, which wasn’t too surprising. Almost everyone she knew was either dead, in Frost Haven or didn’t have the internet anymore.
“My son’s name is Douglas Garcia… He has my last name.”
She still remembered her maiden name being Garcia. Most of the things she still remembers about her past self were actually taken from the memories of her Subjects. Most of them were pretty close to her or at least knew a lot about their famous GM/Boss.
The censorship was mainly in using the search engine. So from the email, Jake was able to go to DG2001’s account and see some pictures of him. There weren’t many though. He was a relatively handsome man, but he had long brown hair that was slightly receding. In the picture he was probably only 20… His eyes were blue. Similar to the tall, blonde-haired, blue-eyed father who looked like a body-builder. In a picture from when he was younger, his mother was also there…
“¡No mires eso!” Camila quickly covered up her picture with her hands and glared at her husband, “Go to another page!”
“What’s the big deal? You’ve seen me before, right?” Jake rolled his eyes, “So what if you were short?”
“Fat. Weak. Udders, small.”
“Mother, don’t be mean! And what’s wrong with fat?! Fat will keep you warm in the winter!”
“True… Fat, useful.”
“She’s not fat. Maybe a little chubby, but that’s just a normal human appearance for fuck’s sake.” Jake snickered and shook his head, “Besides, big tits are unnecessary. And even back then, Cami was still really pretty.”
The woman in the picture was wearing a black bikini, on a beach with her husband and son, who both looked really tall and muscular. So in comparison, she looked even shorter. She had brown hair and eyes, small breasts and a slightly chubby belly. The date when the picture was uploaded was 2016, so her son was 15 and she was 35.
“That woman isn’t me! I am the Elf Queen! The most beautiful woman on Earth! I refuse to believe that I could ever look so… Plain!”
“You looked fine. Calm down.” Jake pushed her out of the way and then kept investigating information on Douge’s profile, “Okay, so he should be 23 now. He lived in Alaska? He was married, might have had kids by now. Hmmm, looks like he was a professional snowboarder? Is that a real profession? I know there are Olympic Athletes and some celebrities that do it, but it seems more like a hobby.”
“Snowboarding is a sport. A very dangerous sport…” Camila frowned, “Maybe… Maybe that’s one of the reasons we fought? I didn’t want him to do something so dangerous?”
“Mama, don’t be sad. I’m sure Dougie is fine!”
“I hope… Even though I only vaguely remember my son, I still feel it. That connection. Like he’s out there somewhere, missing me too.”
Jake sighed, “Considering that we’re all infected with brain parasites that give us telepathic powers, I’d say that feeling isn’t just an illusion, but probably something real.”
“Jacob! This way! What are you doing?!”
“I don’t fucking know?! I always get lost in this shithole!”
“If your DPS wasn’t so trashy, I would have been the Tank!”
“Fuck off! I’m sorry I don’t have the best goddamn gear in the game!”
“My gear was Omega Raid Tier from a year ago! Look, I can still out-DPS these brats with a much higher power level! Gear isn’t an excuse for being bad!”
“You’re so fucking toxic!”
“¡Eres tan jodidamente basura!”
The elegant Elf Queen was borrowing the body of a particularly large white rat with glowing golden eyes, while Jake picked a black one with blue eyes. They were doing a Hardcore 6-Player DD or Doom Dungeon. Essentially, one of the most challenging small-group endgame content in Sidhe Gates. Of course, the actual number of players was scalable from 3 to 10, but usually people played with 4 to 6, for optimal results. A Tank, a Healer, an Assist and 3 DPS was the most optimal group composition.
“Noisy.” Vora was trying to sleep, since it was literally the middle of the night. She mainly only controlled the snake lately, but at the moment, she was both the snake and the main body. Since Jake’s consciousness was controlling a rat that was playing on a laptop on the small round table.
“I wanna play next.” A black and white rat with silver eyes was watching the two laptop screens, with lots of flashing colors and special effects from spells or abilities, “I haven’t played Sidhe Gates in a long time.”
“Don’t worry, Sweetie, your Mama can carry you through the next dungeon. I’m basically done with this bullshit.”
“Hahaha~!” Jake didn’t get angry as the long and difficult dungeon was finally completed. Instead, he just hugged the cute white rat from behind with his little furry arms, then kissed her on the cheek with his whisker-covered lips.
“Stop it~! Stop~! Hehehe~!” She couldn’t help laughing as her big round ears were tickled by those long whiskers, “I’ll go on my Frost Orc Knight to tank the next dungeon.”.
“Hihihihi~!” Tori looked over at her ‘parents’ with a smile on her slightly humanized black and white rat face, “I’ll use my Fomorian Priestess to Heal!”
Fomorians are basically demonic giants or ogres from Irish and Celtic Mythology. In the game, they generally had hunched backs, one arm larger than the other, a single cycloptic eye or maybe one eye that’s bulging out, with the other being normal. The overall appearance varied greatly depending on their ancestry and early-game choices. Though everything could be changed again later, for a price of course. Not just in-game currency, but real money as well.
The rats were actually the size of cats, but even then, their hands were nowhere near big enough to use the mouse or keyboard easily. Plus the internet connection wasn’t very good. After a loud thunder, they disconnected half-way through a particularly easy dungeon.
“Sleep!” Vora roared angrily and then also cut off the connection between the three rats and their ‘controllers’. Forcing Jake’s mind back into his own head. After a few seconds, he opened his eyes and then closed them, falling into a deep sleep along with his angry wife.
Tori opened her big silver eyes and looked around the dark, noisy, turbulent ocean. She was a few dozen meters beneath the surface and surrounded by hundreds of huge 6 to 7 meter long black sharks. Bahni the Blue Whale was also floating nearby, though she was clearly sleeping soundly. She was almost vertical, at an angle, with her tail basically touching the sandy ocean floor, while her head was almost at the surface.
The darkness was lit up by flashes of white light from the sky and the booming thunder was terrifying underwater. The sound of countless raindrops landing on the surface was also very noisy and nerve wracking, but Tori wasn’t too perturbed. She knew that she was far enough below the surface to avoid danger. At least from the lightning.
Storm-runoff from the city made the water pretty disgusting closer to the shore, but they were far enough to the southeast of Rio Grande that it didn’t matter as much. Some of the Sharks were sleeping, but many of them were still awake. The 5 meter long Orca looked small compared to her little sisters that were swimming around nearby.
“This seaweed is pretty bitter.”
“I think it’s pretty good.”
“The balls taste better than the leaves.”
“I like the strings.”
“Why don’t you just eat fish like us?”
“Too much work.”
“Fish are fast. Seaweed is slow.”
Tori listened to the Sharks chattering telepathically and giggled. A few of the big Sharks swam over and started rubbing up against her armored body with their smooth scales. Some of them were black at first, but turned white or changed their color scheme to an Orca-like pattern to match their sister.
“Tori, you’re back!”
“Tori, tell me a story~!”
“Tori, your armor feels so hard!”
“Tori, you smell good.”
Some of them nibbled or stuck out their pink tongues to lick her thick carapace. Obviously normal sharks wouldn’t have tongues in the conventional sense. At least not extendible ones like mammals. However, these were creatures designed by Vora and Jake. A lot of their features were beyond the normal specification of their original species.
“Hihihihihi~! That tickles~!” Tori used her flippers to gently push some of the naughtier sisters away, “Has anything interesting happened since I was away?”
“I ate some seaweed. I like seaweed. Seaweed is yummy.”
“I had some babies. It felt good. I broke a tooth on a rock. It felt bad.”
“I ate a fish. Tasty. Juicy.”
“I ate seagrass. Really stringy.”
“I ate a crab. It was crunchy.”
“I ate some shit. It tasted bad.”
“I bit Wuwu. She cried. Hah-hah-hah~!”
“Tutu bit me. She’s mean.”
“Hihihihi~! You’re all so cute.”
Tori didn’t care about whether her younger siblings were considered ‘lower’ on the psychic hierarchy. Whether it was the Sharks, Hounds, Scouts, Cats or even the Mice, she was always talking with them. Their actions and thoughts were often very simple, but that just made them seem more innocent. Even something like having a baby was just a casual event that happened all the time. Fortunately, since there were so many Sharks over 5 meters long now, the safety of the babies was basically ensured.
“I found a thing!”
“A thing? What kind of thing?”
When Tori looked over at the excited ‘little’ Shark, she was terrified!
“A rusty chain!”
“It’s an anchor! From a boat!”
“No, look! It’s an anchor that floats!”
“I’ve never seen one so round!”
“Tori, look! Do you like it?” The silly little girl dragged over the floating spiked metal ball by its rusty chain, wanting to give it to her favorite big sister as a present.
“Stop! Everyone get away! Don’t touch it! Muni! Let it go and get away! Quick!”
The stupid sharks that were biting or nibbling on the rusty metal nubs immediately stopped. Then they all darted away at incredible speeds! Muni was also very obedient and let go of the chain. Even though a few of her teeth got stuck, she ignored the pain and still swam away rapidly.
“Everyone, wake up! Wake up and escape! Come on!”
Fortunately none of them were heavy sleepers. Bahni was basically half-awake at all times, like most whales and dolphins. So it only took a few seconds for her to come to her senses and start swimming away unconsciously. The big tail moved the water so much that the metal balloon was sent flying away from everyone else. Though they were all swimming away rapidly as well.
“That’s not an anchor!” Once they were far enough away, Tori turned to everyone and explained, “If you ever see those things in the future, stay away from them! They’re super dangerous! They’re called-”
*Boooom~!* A flash of lightning hit the surface a few hundred meters away from them. The current sprayed out across the surface for about a dozen meters and reached down only a few meters into the depths.
“Aaaah~!” Tori screamed in shock and so did Bahni. The Sharks couldn’t make any noise, but telepathically, they were also startled.
“Umm, oh, as I was saying before! That’s not an anchor, it’s a Naval Mine!”
*Boom~!* This time the mine seemed to hit something hard enough with those metal nubs to detonate it! Maybe it was a sunken ship or just a coral reef. Either way, the underwater explosion was huge and deafening! Just as loud as the thunder!
“See! See! It explodes! Naval Mines are super dangerous! Stay away from them!”
“I shit myself, oouuouuuuouu~!”
After that bit of excitement and Bahni being incontinent, the Sharks started chattering again. As if they didn’t just escape death.
The Shark Drones are not only warm-blooded, but they also produce milk like whales and dolphins. Mackerel Sharks are also warm-blooded, so it isn’t really that strange. Although being warm-blooded has a lot of advantages, it also requires much more energy to maintain body-temperature. Their nipples are covered by a protective carapace above and to the sides of their vaginal slit, the anus is slightly below that. In fact, their genitals are very similar to that of an Orca.
“I need to breathe!”
“Then go breathe!”
“I can’t! I’m scared!”
“Bahni, please, if you suffocate, I can’t push you to the surface to get air!”
“Can you do it for me?”
“Bahni…” Tori sighed dramatically, telepathically at least, then she took control over her friend’s body and quickly made her way to the surface. After breathing out two long streams of hot air and water, she breathed in again and submerged quickly. She was afraid of thunder and lightning too, but she also understood that the odds of getting struck were really low. In fact, lighting very rarely strikes the ocean in the first place. Even if it does, there’s such a huge amount of surface area, so why would it strike near them a second time, so soon?
“There, are you happy?”
“Yes! Thank you Tori~!”
“Alright, everyone, let’s go! I’m afraid there might be more Naval Mines around here! If you see them, stay away and let the rest of us know!”
“I found one!” One of the Sharks shouted immediately.
“That’s an anchor!” Another retorted, “I found a squid!”
“Oh, I found an octopus!”
“I found a crab!”
“I found some shiny rocks!”
Tori couldn’t help laughing at their silly antics. They were so cute. Of course, to the fish and other creatures that they devoured, they were a huge swarm of gigantic toothy monsters! The black Sharks were practically invisible in the darkness. Some of them preferred seaweed, coral and other prey that wouldn’t move. Others would rather dart over and bite down on a nice juicy fish!
They went northwest, a few kilometers off the coast. It didn’t take long before they reached the more polluted and disgusting waters near Rio Grande, so they swam farther away from the shore. Although that pollution was dangerous for most creatures, there were actually quite a few types of plants and animals that have adapted to it. They actually prefer the polluted waters, which protect them from a lot of predators.
Even things like plastics could be broken down and consumed by certain insects before the apocalypse, through bacteria in their guts. Now? Now the number of plants and animals that could eat plastic has increased dramatically. It might sound like a good though at first. After all, less pollution, right? But the problem was that they didn’t just eat the plastic trash.
“Ew! These fish are gross!” One of the smaller sharks spat out a tiny transparent fish from her mouth.
“Ah, these fish are made of plastic?!” Tori swam over and observed at close range. The Sharks didn’t really understand, but they also came over to observe and join in on the fun. There was a small group of fifty or sixty tiny transparent fish. Their scales and bones seemed to be made out of hard plastic from water bottles or jugs. They also had some pieces of reflective metal in their mouths, like teeth!
“It’s so tough and chewy!” Out of curiosity, Tori bit down on a larger fish and her sharp teeth could barely break the skin. The juices and organs inside tasted normal, but she still spat it out. If she had a choice, she would frown, because she understood what these creatures represented.
“Let’s go back home! We can’t stay here, it’s too dangerous!”
[Have you ever wanted to just run away and escape from the big city? Have gone through decades of schooling for a job that doesn’t really exist anymore? Have you ever felt like being human is just too hard? Are you afraid that some weird new virus will suddenly turn you into a zombie? Well we have the solution! The Knights of Patagonia are recruiting now!]
“¿Qué mierda es esta mierda? ¿Algunos anuncios de videojuegos?(What the fuck is this shit? Some video game advertisements?)”
A haggard black-haired woman coughed a few times and blinked her tired brown eyes as she drank a little more coffee. It was unsweetened and tasted terrible. However, she just ran out of sugar and couldn’t afford more.
The whole apartment building shook violently as lightning crackled in the dark sky. It was almost noon, but the storm from last night was still raging pretty hard. She coughed again and heard some annoying babies crying next door, getting an even worse headache. She scrolled down a bit on her phone and saw the rest of the message.
[You have been cordially invited by Queen Camila Garcia to Frost Haven! A growing town filled with magical creatures and wonderful people! Shed your weak human form, become a powerful and majestic Elf! Welcome to Frost Haven! Welcome to the Knights of Patagonia!]
“¿Qué demonios?(What the hell?)”
The woman noticed that there were some pictures attached. They looked a lot like drone footage of a castle, or keep, a small village which was very poorly planned, even the houses were a bit… Painful for her to look at closely. It was particularly easy to see from the sky that whoever designed this town had no idea what they were doing.
The other pictures weren’t that bad though. The whole place looked like some kind of cosplay resort. With handsome and beautiful Elves. Cute Goblins riding giant maned wolves and big cats. There were also muscular and still somewhat handsome green-skinned Orcs working hard in various jobs. Knights in armor. A woman dressed like a Mage. There were even pictures of a bunch of kids playing in the river or people having fun on the white, sandy beach. Of course, there was a ruined, overgrown town in the background of the beach, but that wasn’t a big deal.
“¿Es este un mensaje de reclutamiento real? Esto parece…(Is this a real recruitment message? This looks like…)”
As she murmured to herself, she brought up a satellite map of the area and immediately found a few places that looked similar. All of them weren’t very far away from Rio Grande, to the northwest. Then she put her phone on the table and sighed. She smiled wryly and shook her head, then reached out and picked up a half-burn cigarette from the ash tray and tried to light it. Unfortunately, her lighter was out of fluid. She also didn’t have any matches.
She cursed in English and then sighed dramatically, leaning back in her uncomfortable wooden chair, making a loud creaking noise. Though it wasn’t as loud as the sound of the bed moving up and down upstairs. There were also loud moaning and grunting. To the left, she could still hear that damn baby crying. There were also people fighting and shouting downstairs, occasionally throwing things around. Someone to the right was hammering. Unfortunately, she didn’t even have a window, so she would go days sometimes without even seeing outside.
“Alissa…” A deep voice whispered in her left ear. The woman shivered and covered her ears, closing her eyes. However, she couldn’t ignore the sound of nails scratching on a chalkboard in the back of her mind.
“Alissa~! Hehehe~! Don’t you miss me, Baby?”
She started crying as the back of the wooden chair started cracking. It felt like a big hand grabbed her small left breast and squeezed it tightly! However, she just bit her lip and tried not to make any sound. Even as another hand gripped the fat on her belly tightly and seemed like it was going to tear off a big piece of flesh! Then another hand reached down between her thighs… No matter how hard she tried, her pale legs were still forced apart and it felt like something was ripping out her long black pubic hairs, one at a time.
“You aren’t real!” Finally she snapped and screamed, opening her eyes and looking at the tiny white mouse that was tilting its head in confusion. The white mouse looked behind her and pointed its little black paw. She looked back and saw blood pouring down her white wall from the soggy ceiling tiles!
“No! This isn’t real!”
“Aaaaaah~!” A horrible scream came from next door, followed by a few ‘thumps’ and then there was silence. The baby also stopped crying in another direction. The fighting downstairs became even more violent and loud, followed by a *Pah!* which sounded like a gunshot!
“Rooooaaaaah~!* A deafening roar came from upstairs, along with a lot of scratching in the walls. The thunder kept shaking the building, drowning out a lot of the horrible noises, but making the situation even more terrifying.
“Stop freaking out and get up! Now!” The white mouse hopped onto her left shoulder and slapped her chubby cheek, “Wake up!”
“I’m awake! Fuck! I’m hallucinating!”
“You’re not hallucinating!” As soon as the mouse shouted in her ear, the door of her one-room, tiny apartment had its handle jiggled loudly. Then there was a loud *Bang!* to her left again. Followed by a series of loud hammering on the thin wall. It didn’t take long before a sledge hammer head broke through and sent a bunch of white powder everywhere!
“Shit!” Alissa cursed as she rushed over to the side of her bed nearby. She quickly took off the quilt and sheet on her mattress. Then found a zipper with her trembling hands. By the time she unzipped it a little, the wall practically collapsed and the ceiling was also pouring down an insane amount of bloody red water. The door handle was also broken off and something was ramming into the wood, nearly breaking the hinges in a few thumps…
*Click~!* She pulled out a tiny snub-nosed .38 revolver from her mattress. Then fumbled around with some bullets that fell onto the ground. Fortunately a few mice appeared and picked them up. The one on her shoulder even helped her put the rounds into the cylinder and closed it.
“Gracias… *Cough-cough* Ahhh-chuuu~!”
When she sneezed a bunch of bloody red snot splattered all over the white mattress! She looked at it and then at the previous white walls… Everything was turning red at a visible pace! It wasn’t just pouring down from the ceiling. It looked like some fuzzy red substance was spreading everywhere.
“It’s mold! This whole building is being devoured by mold! You need to get out, now!” The mouse slapped her left cheek and another climbed up onto her right shoulder. Pretty soon, she was completely covered in dozens of Mice!
“Go! Run! What are you waiting for?!”
“Run where?!” Alissa saw a crazy man covered in red mucus bursting through the wall with a sledgehammer in his hands. There was also a huge, blubbery naked woman who broke down the door and was basically blocking the only exit.
“Here!” The wall behind her bed was suddenly broken through by a giant black claw! She raised her gun and pulled the trigger, but she forgot to turn off the safety. A moment later, a raving slimy red lunatic charged toward her with a hammer and swung down toward her head!
A long purple tentacle whipped out and smacked the hammer out of the man’s hand. Then that big black claw reached down and eviscerated the muscular maniac. That red slime couldn’t protect his organs and actual blood from splattering everywhere. Then those long tentacles reached down and wrapped around the tiny woman’s chubby body as she screamed.
Then a deep, raspy voice echoed in the room: “Daddy’s here. Don’t worry. I won’t let them hurt you.”
“Daddy?” Alissa sat on the giant man’s left shoulder, holding on tightly to the long purple tentacles that were wrapped around her waist, chest and legs.
“I wasn’t talking to you.” Jake rolled his big blue eyes, “I was talking about my poor little babies that got trapped in this hellhole.”
“They’re mice.” Jake snickered, “But there are a few rats on another floor. We need to hurry though. It won’t be long before this place gets cleaned up.”
He basically had to crouch and duck through the woman’s filthy room. He made his way over to the sledgehammer guy’s broken wall and tore it apart even farther. Revealing a whole room filled with dark-red slime and black mushrooms growing everywhere. Jake frowned and coughed a few times, but he still trudged through the goop and made his way to the even more disgusting bathroom.
“Come on, Sweetie. It’s okay. Daddy’s here.”
Three high-pitched voices came from the crusty metal vent near the floor. After he tore off the vent cover, three cute black rats crawled up his arm and onto his right shoulder. Next to the giant snake head that was glancing around with glowing pink eyes.
“Don’t taste the nasty red mucus!” Jake glared at the silly snake and then looked at his cute ‘daughters’. Though they were actually more like great-granddaughters. He had a hard time keeping track, so he didn’t bother trying.
“Parents, gone! Waah~!”
“I’m sorry… I should have never left you kids here in the first place.”
Alissa watched as the armored monster comforted the talking mice and tried to sigh, but just ended up coughing up red goop all over those purple tentacles. Fortunately, the mucus on the tentacles seemed to resist the slime mold pretty well. The mice were also relatively unaffected.
“I think I must be really high right now.”
“You’re not high. You’re sick.”
Jake broke down another wall and saw five humans fused into a single weird-looking ‘creature’ covered in mold. Fortunately, fusing together didn’t make it stronger or faster at all. He just ran around its flailing body and punched a hole in the ceiling, where dozens of tiny Mice fell down onto his tentacles. The smallest ones were only a few millimeters long and clearly newborns, but their mothers took care of them very carefully. The largest one was a rat the size of a cat.
As he entered the hallway, Jake encountered a man who was using a baseball bat to fight back against a few crazy slime-zombies. So he rushed over to help. Those giant talons on his feet tore apart the humanoid creatures and crushed them down into meat paste, though they still kept writhing, groaning and even severed limbs were still able to move as long as they were in contact with the slime.
“Gracias!” The man coughed a few times and then looked up at the familiar face with blurry red vision, “Alissa, you grew a lot taller!”
“Carlos, you’re still alive!” The ‘tall’ woman responded, with her head almost touching the ceiling.
“Okay, you two can catch up later!” Jake interrupted the two of them and then kicked down the door to another room. There was a baby crying on the floor, covered in red slime but unable to move. He hesitated for a moment, then sighed and reached down. The child wasn’t dead. Just infected. Holding the baby up in his tentacles, the mice worked together very familiarly and removed all the slime from the child’s pale-brown body.
“Father, it died.”
“Yeah…” Jake sighed as the mice tossed the half-red infant corpse off into the puddle of slime. Once it was back in the goop, it started crying again, but… Well, they had to keep moving.
“You okay back there?”
*Cough~!* Well, whether it was Carlos or Alissa, neither of them could speak anymore. However, the man with the bad kept chasing after the giant tentacle monster his neighbor was sitting on. He could barely see anything anymore, but at least Jake was still like a guiding beacon leading him out of this nightmare.
After saving a few dozen more rats, mice and even a few gerbil-like mouse hybrids, Jake went up to the next floor. The bottom floors were actually the least damaged, so the people and mice down there were able to escape on their own. However, these top three floors were being taken over so rapidly that most of the mice got trapped, not to mention the humans.
“Help! Please! Help! Somebody! *Cough-cough~!* Help me~!”
Jake kicked another zombie into meat sauce and easily broke down a red door. Inside, he saw a whole room that was overtaken by slime. Yet there was a single island in the center of the apartment where a bunch of bleach and other chemicals were poured around in a circle! At the center, there were dozens of big rats and hundreds of mice. Along with a pregnant little girl. Yes, a pregnant child, who was only about nine or ten years old.
“Aaah!” Of course, when the tiny blonde-haired, green-eyed child saw the giant monster with three heads and lots of tentacles, she was horrified.
Hearing the happy voices of her little friends, Julietta coughed a few times and then realized that the giant monster was actually covered in mice! Before she could react, a long tentacle picked her up and some other tentacles allowed the rest of the mice to crawl up onto the gigantic pile. Now there were nearly a thousand mice of various sizes on Jake’s body, along with a slightly heavy woman and a pregnant little girl. Carlos also fainted, but before he could collapse onto the slimy floor, Jake reached out and picked him up with his right hand. Carrying him under his hard armored arm like a limp corpse.
“Dead.” Vora spoke in a deep and desolate tone, “Escape. Others… Too late.”
“Fuck!” Jake cursed, but he didn’t argue with Vora’s decision either. Because he understood that it was really too late now!
There was no crazy escape plan like going up to the roof during a lightning storm and climbing down the building with his tentacles. Even if he could potentially do that, Jake’s tentacles were all being used to hold people and a thousand mice. Instead, he just raced down the staircase and made it to the bottom floor in a few minutes. Thankfully, the mold actually wasn’t all that fast.
Also, the way to kill it was pretty boring. The EHO just got a bunch of bleach and literally cleaned the building while wearing hazmat suits. Even those ‘monsters’ were barely able to move after a few minutes, so they weren’t much of a threat. Once they were covered in bleach, they would die pretty quickly. Other chemicals also worked pretty well. Everything from window-cleaner to toilet cleaner was fine. Unfortunately, the whole place was basically condemned after being eroded by so much mold.
Alcohol also killed the mold pretty easily. So did peroxide and some other normal chemicals that weren’t very harmful to humans in small doses. The bigger issue was the chronic health problems that came up later due to being infected. Many people had psychological disorders already with all the horrible shit they experienced. Now this Red Plague event was yet another nightmare eroding their already brittle sanity.
Most people from the lower floors only needed to simply be cleaned off in some anti-fungal soap and sent away to a new apartment building. There were actually more houses than people since the Siren Event, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. On the other hand, Alissa Silva, Carlos Garcia, who was unrelated to Camila, and Julietta Lopez were in pretty serious condition. In particular, the little girl lost her child while she was in a coma.
“I’m taking them to Frost Haven.”
“All of them?” Aliya looked over at the three unconscious humans, then the thousand mice or rats that were also gathered in the large white laboratory.
“Only the ones that wanna leave.” Jake sighed and shook his head, “I tried to convince them, but they’re stubborn little brats.”
“You’re talking about rats, right?”
“They’re not just rats. They were original simple Mouse-like Drones. But then… They bred with other rats, mice, gerbils, hamsters, even rabbits. Some of them are just as stupid as before, but others have become a little too smart.”
Aliya watched the chattering mice and rats with a raised eyebrow. Even though they were speaking, most of the time they only said one or two words. Some of them were smarter and could speak entire sentences at a time, though the content of those sentences was still relatively simple. At the very least, it was a lot harder for her to consider them just ‘mice’ when they could communicate.
“You should take them all away. While you still have the chance.”
“You’re going to exterminate them otherwise?”
“It’s not up to me.” She smiled wryly and pulled out a cigarette, before putting it back in her pocket. Then she took out a bottle of some kind of painkiller and took a few pills at random.
“Seriously, you have a problem.”
“And you don’t?” Aliya rolled her brown eyes and adjusted her glasses, then started reading though the information on the screen of her desktop. She was sitting on a tall stool, but still looked incredibly tiny next to Jake.
“I’ve got too many problems to keep track of anymore.” He shrugged, “Fine. I’ll force the mice to leave. But I need more than just three coma patients. I sent out applications and over a hundred people responded. I’m gonna take ‘em all with me.”
“You want to borrow some helicopters?”
“No way. Helicopters are too dangerous. Fuck that shit.”
It was impossible to travel by land. The roads were covered in trees and debris. More importantly, the walls were radioactive. It was dangerous to get anywhere near them. Even though all the fuel rods were on the side facing away from the city, even the inside was still pretty risky to approach.
“I need a boat. A ferry preferably. We only need to go to San Sabastian.”
It was still dark and gloomy out, but at least the storm had mostly passed. The seas were still a bit choppy, with some bigger waves crashing into the sand and rocks. Jake didn’t take all his daughters with him on the big passenger ship, only about a hundred nervous and excited little humans.
Actually, there was one pale-skinned, blue-eyed, bald-headed man that was nearly 3 meters tall, but he was very lanky and needed a wheelchair to move around. Stanley Dennis was a relatively famous internet scientist before the apocalypse, the kind that didn’t actually have any college degrees, yet still knew how to turn a microwave into a deathray.
Another woman was also about the same height as Jake, 2.5 meters and extremely skinny, but at least she could walk around normally. Aubry Downey was a professional basketball player, a job which meant absolutely nothing in Rio Grande now. If she didn’t have a bunch of savings, she might have ended up becoming a prostitute to pay her bills. However, she lost a lot in the Siren Event… Almost everything. At least her younger brother Philip was still alive, so she brought him with her on this crazy adventure.
“It’s not just one virus that enhances fertility. That’s the most bizarre and amazing thing. There are actually thousands of different viruses that have very similar effects on all sorts of animals, plants, even fungi! There must be something, a special type of radiation that we haven’t discovered yet, something must be feeding them-”
“Exactly! I said that a long-ass time ago! Hahah~! But nobody really knows what the fuck is going on. And if they do, then they ain’t telling us shit. Well, the EHO already censors everything to hell. So it’s not too surprising. But I’ve spied on them, a lot, and have some close contacts with the scientists in Tolhuin. Still, nobody seems to know anything concretely yet. But they’ve speculated that it might be related to Dark Matter and Dark Energy. Some kinda bullshit we can’t really ‘perceive’ but is all around us.”
“When you consider that our perceptions can be altered and manipulated so easily, perhaps our inability to find Dark Matter and Dark Energy is actually because we’re being ‘blocked’ by something…”
“Maybe. I’m also skeptical about the so-called Purebloods. After all, they’re not really ‘pure’ in the sense that they’re completely unaffected or uninfected. Everyone, no matter how much of a pureblood they might be, is still covered in microorganisms, viruses, et cetera. Maybe-”
“They’re actually being ‘protected’ by some more powerful force? Some kind of ‘God’ or ‘Devil’?”
“Yep. At least, that’s my theory. One of my theories. I have a lot of theories. But I was just a fucking artist before the apocalypse. Not a scientist.”
“Hahaha~! I’m a self-proclaimed scientist, but my area of expertise is more along the lines of tesla coils, microwave lasers and trebuchets!”
Jake looked down at the giant, lanky man in the equally massive wheelchair. In fact, Stanly had to make the wheelchair himself. Even with his current disabilities and under the extremely limited conditions, he was still able to continue making crazy science videos online… But no matter how much virtual money he made, it wouldn’t be able to buy him a magical medical treatment for his rapidly deteriorating health. Although he wasn’t very attractive, even before his mutation started, now his situation was even worse. His vision was almost gone, his bones were incredibly brittle, his teeth started falling out, one ear was much larger than the other… Well, not just his ear, it looked like he might have had a stroke or something similar. Because half of his body seemed to be drooping, while the other half was a little puffy.
“I can’t make any promises, Stan. And you too Aubry. I know you’re also going through a similar situation.” Jake looked over at the dark-skinned woman standing nearby, who had shoulder-length extremely curly brown hair. She didn’t have that great of an appearance now, but at least it seemed a lot more ‘normal’, though that might have been with the help of cosmetics.
“But theoretically, you should both be able to be ‘treated’ by my wife. As long as you become ‘Elves’, she can literally alter your genes. I mean, that’s how you become an Elf in the first place.”
“Ah, oh, si! Gracias! Thanks!” Aubry smiled wryly, “Even if I can’t become an Elf, I’ll be happy as long as I can get out of that damn city.”
A bunch of people who were sitting or standing around the inside of the Ferry started shouting spontaneously in response. After all, they were all under a lot of stress and experienced all sorts of hardships. Jake only sent out about 100 invitations and less than half of the people actually showed up. But the ones that did, usually had 1 or 2 family members to bring with them. Some of them had families of 5 to 10, or even brought their friends along. In the end, there were about 150 people total. Plus Alissa, Carlos and Julietta, who were all still unconscious.
For the Mice and Rats though, Jake didn’t bring them on the ship directly. It was unnecessary. Tens of thousands of ‘Scouts’ acted as tiny passenger planes for the mice and rats in Rio Grande. There weren’t that many at once, so nobody really noticed except Aliya, who was told beforehand and helped cover up the mass mouse exodus. Nearly a million ‘Mice’ would take quite a while though, so this wasn’t something that could be done overnight. Even if it took a few weeks, it wasn’t a big deal either way.
As for the Roaches and countless other bugs… Jake didn’t bother worrying about them. It was impossible for Rio Grande to be completely free of pests. At least not with their current technology and means. Even if they try to exterminate the roaches, flies and other creatures, the Drones would probably be relatively safe. If something happened to them, then Jake might be a little upset, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. They really were just ‘bugs’ for the most part.
Unless they also developed more advanced intelligence and emotions…
“Can I pet your snake?” The little boy, Philip, was nowhere near as tall as his mutated sister. But considering how young he looked, his height was still impressive at 1.5 meters. He had a fluffy afro and bright gray eyes.
“No.” Vora glared down at him from Jake’s right shoulder and caused the child to scream in shock.
“Phil! Don’t be rude!” The giant sister pulled her stupid little brother out from behind her waist, “Apologize!”
“There’s nothing to apologize about.” Jake shook his head and waved his right hand casually, “But you two are really tall. I’ve only seen a few humanoids that were as big as you… Usually they’re more monstrous though. Like this one thing. Uh, I guess it was a woman? It was like twice my height and really scary looking.”
“Twice your height?!” Stan looked up at the armored, tentacle-headed giant in shock, “Was it able to walk around at that size?!”
“Why not?” Jake shrugged, “Not only could it walk around. It was freakishly strong. I have no idea what kinda crazy muscle structure it must’ve had… My daughter said it tasted really stringy though.”
“Your daughter? Like those talking rats?”
This time it was Aubry that spoke. It’s not that other people didn’t wanna join the conversation, but… It’s a little scary when you’re a normal-sized human next to three giants. They were basically over by one of the doors leading to the deck where the ceiling was a little higher. Everyone else had their own seats. It was a ferry, meant to transport passengers. The inside looked somewhat similar to a bus with a bunch of extra rows of seating.
“Phil used to keep a few talking mice as pets. But one day, they killed the neighbor’s cat and we had to let them go… I’m sorry.”
“Although it’s true that the mice are my descendants, it’s a little more complicated than that. I created the first generation and since then, there have already been many generations, so… Anyway, my daughter Tori is over there.”
Jake pointed toward dark waves out the foggy window. Suddenly a ‘small’ Orca jumped up out of the water and did a flip in the air. Its whole underbelly was glowing bright white like a fluorescent lightbulb! Then there were hundreds of huge white sharks that were glowing a lot more dimly, but still looked radiant in the darkness.
“Oh my God!” Stan shouted first.
“¡Ay dios mío!” Then it was Aubry.
“Cool!” Finally Phil and a bunch of other little kids started cheering excitedly.
Then a lot of the adults and teenagers started reacting in various ways. Either fear or excitement, but no one was indifferent. Because many of them understood that this was actually a demonstration of power! Especially when they saw the tens of thousands of big white birds flying around in the sky!
“Woooouuuuuouuuuuuuuouuuuuu~!” Then a deafening voice shook the whole ship and caused many people to quickly cover their ears! Many people immediately recognized what that sound meant though. Even if they didn’t, it was immediately revealed!
Bahni’s light-blue body was 50 meters long. But she didn’t jump all the way out of the water. Even so, seeing such a colossal living creature so close to them caused nearly a hundred loud exclamations of shock, wonder and some people were also afraid. The whole boat shook from the waves that the Blue Whale produced, but it didn’t stay near the surface for long before sinking down into the darkness.
“That whale is bigger than this boat!” Someone shouted in shock, causing Jake to laugh. It was true though. The Ferry was a pretty large ocean-going vessel, but it was only meant to carry passengers, not vehicles. The length was only about 20 meters. The inside was a little cramped with 150 passengers inside.
“Frost Haven isn’t exclusive to humans. Is it Frost Haven, or Knights of Patagonia? Uh, well, it doesn’t really matter. The point is that the Elves, Orcs, Goblins and even my offspring are all equal. So if you treat the ‘animals’ badly, don’t expect to be treated any better.”
“Are you all vegans?” Stan asked, “If all the animals are your children, then-”
“No.” Vora retorted, “Meat, tasty.”
“What she means is that no, we aren’t all vegans. It’s fine if you wanna try to be vegan in this crazy world where the plants are just as dangerous as the animals. But no, you’ll understand once you’ve become an Elf. You’ll be able to ‘feel’ the difference between the animals that are related or not… I didn’t choose you guys to be hunters or fishermen though, so it’s really not something you should be worried about. Just don’t kill any animals. Not even insects or spiders.”
Aubry asked, “What if we accidentally step on an ant or slap a mosquito?”
“Accidents happen, but ‘my’ ants aren’t gonna walk around where you can step on them and ‘my’ mosquitos won’t bite people randomly. The bugs are constantly at war with other bugs, plants and fungi so that you can all be safe. So treat them with the respect they deserve and everything will be fine.”
“What if we’re really afraid of spiders?” Philip raised his hand like he was in school and asked a question that a lot of other people clearly seemed concerned about.
“The spiders can be commanded and controlled. They also understand English to a certain extent. If you’re arachnophobic, then tell the spiders to leave and they will. The same goes for flies, mice and basically any other animal in the village. Of course, the smarter animals might not listen to your bullshit and… Well, like I said, treat them with respect and they should do the same to you. Once you become Elves and join the psychic web, you’ll all be connected more intimately and understand each other better.”
“Although I find the concept of being telepathic fascinating, is there another option?” Stan smiled wryly, “I’d rather not be forced into a constant social media bombardment if I have a choice.”
“You need to learn how to block out the thoughts of others. And also how to avoid accidentally thinking too loudly. But…” Jake shook his head, “You should all realize this by now. Especially after that Siren Event. You’re already psychically linked. The difference is whether you have any control over it or not.”
Some people actually did hear voices, see visions and have other problems already. It’s just that there isn’t much difference from their situation as a full-blown mental illness. Especially when you consider that there are monsters who might be able to brainwash or mind-control them at any time! This was one of the reasons why so many people were willing to leave their ‘homes’ in Rio Grande and go to the middle of nowhere to live in a small village in the woods.
“Are there any other rules or laws we need to be aware of?” Some random bearded man nearby suddenly asked while also raising his right hand.
“Umm, don’t steal shit, don’t rape and/or murder anyone, the usual, I guess. The Orcs might look like adults, but they’re only a few months old and don’t even have ‘genders’ yet. Don’t try to trick them into doing anything you know you shouldn’t be doing with them. Don’t do anything to the dogs or horses either.”
“Hahaha~!” Stan and a few other people started laughing at that last part, while a lot of the others didn’t even speak English or simply couldn’t hear what he was saying.
Hearing those familiar sounds and immediately smelling the disgusting stench that made him, along with quite a few other people uncomfortable, Jake glared at someone in the back of the Ferry. Then he shouted, “No smoking!”
“Huh?” The young woman at the back who was holding a cigarette in her mouth, looked over in confusion. She was blonde, with tan skin and brown eyes. Compared to a lot of the other people, she was actually extremely beautiful, at least by normal human standards.
“We’re really not allowed to smoke?” Aubry frowned, “What happens if we can’t quit?”
“You can.” Jake shook his head as a big rat jumped up on the screaming woman’s shoulder, taking the lit cigarette out of her mouth and scampering away.
“Once you become Elves, your entire biology will change dramatically. At least on a physical level, you don’t need to smoke. You won’t be addicted to nicotine either. But on a psychological level… You can also use other methods to get over it. You’d be amazed at the kinda shit you can do with a little imagination and willpower.”
The giant armored man’s body started changing colors and glowing brightly. His whole body turned into a canvas, where thousands of different moving pictures appeared. For example, even the whole scenery in front of him was reflected on his body. Then he disappeared from the perspective of some people directly in front of him, because he ‘painted’ the scenery from behind his back, making himself blend in like camouflage.
“Wow! Can I do that too when I’m an Elf?!” Philip shouted excitedly.
“Maybe not ‘physically’ like I can…” Jake snickered, “But when everyone is mentally connected, if you wanna make yourself look different, it’s actually not that difficult. Our ‘Archmage’ can make everyone in the village see giant fireballs raining down from the sky. Seriously scared the shit outta me the first time I saw some of those ‘Spells’.”
“That’s badass! Hahaha~!” Stan grinned, though his teeth were mostly missing, so he quickly closed his mouth in embarrassment.
Although San Sabastian had a pier, it was only big enough for small yachts and boats to moor. If the Ferry got that close, it would get stuck in the sand. The process of transferring people back and forth took another hour. Then the Ferry left and everyone was faced with a long trek through the woods. In the middle of the night.
Fortunately, most people were much smaller than Orcs, so they were able to experience the feeling of riding a gigantic maned wolf! The Cats also showed up, but they only let some small kids ride on their backs. For giants like Aubry, she was a bit too big for a Unicorn, but those huge Goats were just right.
Stanly was huge, but extremely fragile. Jake ended up pushing his wheelchair through the woods himself. Alissa, Carlos and Julietta, who were all still unconscious, were put on stretchers and carried by Orcs on foot. Fortunately, whether it was Jake or the Orcs, they were all extremely fast. Ten kilometers only took half an hour and that was going relatively slowly. The rest of the people made it to Frost Haven on their ‘mounts’ in only a few minutes.
“That was amazing!” Aubry got down from the giant Goat with a lot of sweat on her face, even though it was pretty chilly at night.
“I wanna go again!” Phil shouted excitedly while still riding on the back of the giant wolf, but his sister quickly pulled him away before he could bother the poor puppy any farther.
“Welcome! My Subjects! Welcome to Frost Haven!” Camila was wearing an elegant white dress, with a golden crown on her head. The 2 meter tall black-armored knight, Tessa, was guarding behind her back.
Then the 1.5 meter tall Archmage was holding a fancy ‘magical’ staff with a glowing white crystal ball in her right hand. The blue hooded robe she wore was revealing an obscene amount of cleavage. At least she was wearing clothes though. There were hundreds of muscular dark-green skinned Orcs and at least half of them couldn’t be bothered to wear anything.
“All Hail Her Highness! All Hail Queen Camila!”
Some of the beautiful and handsome Elves started putting on a show for the newcomers. Kneeling down and chanting. Quite a few Knights were wearing metal armor. There were also lords and ladies in fancy clothes. The Orcs and Goblins also played along, though most of them didn’t understand what was happening at all.
“Ah, uh, yes!” Aubry quickly knelt down, but then her knees hurt really bad on the wet concrete… Fortunately one of the big beefy Orcs easily lifted her up off the ground.
“To celebrate the joining of our new friends, let us hold a great feast!”
Obviously hearing the word feast got all the Orcs, Goblins and Hounds excited! The tables and chairs were actually already in place. They also knew exactly how many people were coming, so they prepared enough food. In fact, compared to the newcomers, half of which were seasick or exhausted, the real big eaters were Jake and Vora’s offspring. Elves generally didn’t need that much food. They did prepare a lot of wine and fancy beverages though.
Unfortunately, Queen Camila couldn’t join the festivities, because Jake arrived with three patients that needed her urgent treatment. When Camila saw the little girl in the thin blue hospital gown, she felt particularly upset. All three of them had recovered to a certain extent, but their skin was dyed red like blood. When she opened the child’s eyes, everything was pitch black. Not that different from Jake, when he first transformed.
“They are already adapting… Or mutating.” Camila sighed, “Especially this child. She must have had extensive contact with your offspring.”
“Well, she was covered in mice when I arrived. And they said they were her friends for a long time.” Jake snickered, “But that’s not a big deal. Even if she turns into a mouse, it’s better than death, right?”
Compared to the two adults who just looked like demons, Julietta’s hands and feet already started turning into carapace-covered claws. Whiskers were growing on her cute little face. She had a small nub where a tail seemed to start sprouting. Her baby teeth had fallen out and new, longer front teeth were starting to grow. It wasn’t a particularly fast process though. Also, her skin wasn’t as red as the two adults. More pinkish.
“I’ll do what I can.”
Camila sighed and started the ‘Conversion Ritual’. Which actually just involved kneeling down on a yoga mat and meditating, while some tiny mosquitos drew blood from her body, sending it into the three people. Saliva was also an important method of transferring her ‘essence’ to the new Elves. In other words, she used to just make out with people, or just directly have sex with them in order to convert them into Elves. She didn’t have sex with everyone, obviously, but Delilah and Tessa were definitely on the list of most thoroughly transformed Elves. They were also some of the first, along with Lizzy and Kotoa’s parents.
Later on, they figured out that sex was completely unnecessary. Just being in daily physical contact or being close to Camila was enough to slowly transform people into Elves. Breathing the same air, getting sprayed by spittle, drinking her urine…
“Ew…” Jake gagged when he saw Andrea putting the turkey baster in the urine sample and using it like eyedrops for the three unconscious people. Then he saw a big snake head slithering over and licking some mess that spilled on the yoga mat…
“Yes.” Of course, Vora didn’t stop there. She slithered over and started licking the source. Andrea didn’t seem to mind. No, of course she didn’t mind. Jake saw her take a sip from that urine sample after she finished administering the ‘medicine’ to her patients.
“Jacob. You are still such a prude.”
“Not everyone is into water-sports, okay?” Jake reached down and picked up the tiny woman with his left arm. Then he carried her down the hallway and into their old bedroom. They basically moved into the castle now, but they still use this giant house from time to time.
Archmage Delilah and the heavily armored Tessa both followed him inside the room. After all, the four of them, five if you count Vora, were basically in a polyamorous relationship. Although Jake would like to claim that they were ‘his’ harem, he was usually the bottom. To be fair though, they would probably get crushed to death if he was on top.
That night, Jake had a strange dream. He was walking slowly through an endless desert. There were countless dried bones jutting out of the orange sands. He trudged slowly, feeling invigorated by the sunlight on his pitch-black carapace and scales, but extremely dehydrated.
“Need, water… Food. Nothing, left.”
“Yeah… There’s nothing left anymore. Only us…” Then he saw a familiar figure, with white on the bottom and black on the top. The huge husk was lying in the desert, no eyes, just an ancient shell.
“Tori… I miss you.”
“Tori… With us, forever. We survive!”
“Yeah… We’ll survive. No matter what. Forever.” Jake sighed and turned toward a huge white pillar that reached up into the blue sky. Because of the heat, it was very blurry. But he could still see some ‘branches’ reaching out into the horizon on both sides. However, those branches were completely bare.
The huge black serpent on his right shoulder hissed, “Live!”