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Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Revolution of Running Away

The Revolution of Running Away

By
Alexander Gordon Jahans


I want to run away.

I want to grab my laptop and a bottle of lemonade and just walk off into the night never to be seen again.

I want to learn to drive and take off in a campervan into the wide blue yonder.

I want to buy a narrow boat and take to the canals.

I want to hitch a lift in the tardis to pastures new, even crochety old Capaldi would be batter than this shit.

I would even say yes to a Logicio or a Farsh-nuke so long as they got me the fuck out of here.

Where would I go?

I want to go where there is no corruption.

I want to go where governments are elected via proportional representation.

I want to go where free health care for all is an unthreatened right.

I want to go where the welfare system is protected, extensive and all inclusive.

I want to go where companies are properly regulated and pay their staff fairly.

I want to go where the rich are humble, charitable and pay their taxes without a fuss.

I want to go where diplomacy is put before military action but where action is taken to safeguard the vulnerable.

I want to go where the people take to the streets to fight for their rights if the government come to take them away.

I want to go where the unions are strong.

I want to go where politicians are honest and wouldn't be anything else.

I want to go where the media reflects the truth and the will of the people, not whoever is paying them more money or threatening them more severely.

I want to go where the people are smart enough to combat climate change effectively.

I want to go where the white man's word doesn't still carry the most weight.

I want to go where equality is a fact of life, not an aspiration to be fought for.

I want to go somewhere that doesn't make me feel so horrible.

Status Report 27th October 2015

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Bioshock 1 and 2 review and analysis

Transgender women are women

Transgender Women Are Women

By
Alexander Gordon Jahans


I am not as progressive as I would like to be and be it just a factor of my self loathing or a legitimate issue, I genuinely worry that I am not as feminist and egalitarian as I should be, especially when it comes to my writing and I am not claiming by any stretch of the imagination to be some kind of feminist authority. 

I am however a man who has experience of not quite matching up as biologically as I should. Being biologically male and requiring testosterone for the rest of my life because my genetics don't quite adhere to the binary standard gives me something of an insight into life outside the binary whilst still fitting comfortably within it and there is one thing I am certain of: Transgender women are women and equally transgender men are men and there again those who exist outside the gender binary as gender fluid, dual gendered or without gender deserve to have their identities respected in law and society at large.

Now I am certain that I am probably not someone anybody in their right minds wants representing them and that as a writer I am probably not for a long time going to be able to represent transgender characters in a truly respectful and factual manner but things have crossed a threshold beyond which I can no longer hold back. If I am hated for my portrayals then that is a price I am willing to pay for being able to make even one person think about the idea that transgender women are women.

A story is coming that will display my first genuinely trans original character. They aren't a big part and story isn't about them being trans and they aren't in any special place within it but that to me is the point. Transgender women are women and transgender men are men. Yes trans gender people have their own unique burdens to carry and deal with and that absolutely deserves representation and exploration by far better writers than me but the central idea that transgender women are women can be represented easily without focusing on it is important.

These are people who need love, support and respect by society. I am to do what little I can through my shitty problematic writing to help that cause and in doing so I risk bile not just from the scumbags of the world but also the champions of representation who are rightfully critical of my shitty writing but if I am going to write this shit, and I am, then the least I can do is represent that transgender women are women and transgender men are men.


Sunday, 25 October 2015

Doctor Who Series 9 episode 6

The Dangerous Comfort of Apathy

The Dangerous Comfort of Apathy

By
Alexander Gordon Jahans

Why do I sit in squalor? 
Why do I eat junk when I'm not even hungry?
Why do I retreat from skype and facebook messages?
Why have I let the dream of D&D die?
Why have I stopped fighting?
Why have I stopped caring?

Because a sword of damacles has been hanging over my head for such a long time. Call it fate, or karma or a self fulfilling sense of paranoia or even what I think it actually is but every time I look close to hope or salvation it is pulled away at the last minute. No hope is ever as it appears.

I can't even walk now because it seems my wretchedness has made having shoes that fit me be deemed a luxury. 

I am furious right now, absolutely furious but what can my anger do but damn me further? I have been betrayed by the one person I needed to never ever betray me and the one person I have known always would and now I am the monster. I am the shouting man. All because I dared to suggest that a trip to buy some shoes could be rescheduled and then could not communicate in a manner that suited.

I am fucked. Trapped in a mad house. And just like school part of the trap, part of the prison is my own mind. Except where in school I was trapped by my loyalty, morality and duty, here I am trapped by a fatalistic sense of pointlessness. I have an oasis here, an oasis of calm and happiness and passion. Do I lose that in the struggle to push back against these ever enclosing barriers?

I feel I should fight but with what? How? Violence is not an option. Benefits are not an option, Moving out into social housing means benefits and so is not an option. So do I go out and get a job? Ha! Reality deems that a ridiculously naive option. So then shall I talk? It quite literally is the only option I have left. Except me talking and being crap at it is why I now cannot even have the shoes to leave this mad house. I cannot talk to my parents, I cannot get through to them and more and more I doubt myself, wonder how it is that such plain words are not understood? It'd be easier to believe I was mad. 

No I am powerless so I remain before my computer, writing my weird fiction, writing to you, watching letsplays, listening to podcasts and making youtube videos. Perhaps I really am mad, they say being on your own too much is bad for you and I certainly feel that at times, the need to update my social skills awareness, except I'm not alone. I don't feel like it. I talk to people online, I remain connected and aware of the world. I just rarely leave this room. Am I mad to hide in this room or am I just a sane man trapped by circumstance? It might not hurt to check but the worn hole in my shoe suggests the latter must to some extent be true. 

Christ I would love to just go away on my own, to not have to deal with people who want to control me and get angry when they can't I am an anti-authoritarian and I read about science for fun, you cannot so easily manipulate me and expect me to be okay with it. Christ this does my head in. At least when dad's a cunt there's no sdoubting, no wondering of if somehow this is my fault. There is a refreshing clarity to clear overblown force. A woman who supposedly understands the workings of the mind seeming to mess with your head though? That's hard. Is it stupidity, malice, my paranoia, her madness or am I just a jerk and I don't know it?

I won't die, I know they won't actually let me die, I can survive but only if that is literally all I do. And they wonder why I'm not going out there and being more independent? Because anytime I do, anytime I let it become part of my life, they take it away.And all the while he tours book fairs and she goes on expensive holidays. 

Oh well going to watch the final episode of series 9 of Doctor Who, hope it's a good one. I'm actually enjoying my writing at the moment. Tentacled aliens with an underclass of humans that they eat alive. I'm watching Christopher Odd's Letsplay of Bioshock 2 as my binge watch of choice now and there's a new Staggering Stories out. 

Things are not great but the Oasis stands and the water is fucking lovely.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The Dream

The Dream

By
Alexander Gordon Jahans


“Oh yes! I’ll take it.” says a tall overweight man in lounge pants to an estate agent.

The rented accomodation in question is a tiny place with one room barely big enough for a double bed and a desk with a shared kitchen, bathroom and living room.

The man’s name is Frederick Hamish Pearson and he has just moved back to Wolverhampton after staying here in his university days.

*

Frederick turns up to Fibdems, a large department store for his first day at a new job.

A large overweight and balding man has been lecturing him for half an hour on the health and safety of the store then he shows Frederick round his department “You will be selling games, dvds, books and gadgets. Now you know how to use the till but remember push the items at the front, really give em the hard sell because that is where your commission comes from.”

Frederick nods, understanding.

*

Weeks pass and things are uneventful as Frederick settles into his new job. Pay isn’t too bad, work not too strenuous, doing something he has a mild interest in.

One day, during his break he finds himself idly looking through the suits department. A large dark haired woman wanders over, she looks to be about 5 years older than him. “Good evening, Sir, is there anything I can help you with?”

“Ah ha, no, I’m just looking and in fact I work here” says Frederick.

The woman nods “Oh yeah, you’re the new guy right? Frederick? Well I’m Christina, nice to meet you.”

They shake hands and Christina says “If there’s anything I can help you with, let me know.”

*

Weeks pass again and Frederick and Christina pass occasionally like ships in the night.

Finally as they’re setting up shop one night one of Frederick’s work mates Hoss days “Hey, you should come to the pub with us tonight. We’re celebrating a successful quarter for Fibdems.”

Frederick frowns, he had a lets play lined up to watch when he got home but sod it. The letsplay could wait.

During that night Frederick and Christina met up again.

“Still not wearing a suit I see?” said Christina.

“Yeah...” said Frederick “I used to be big into them but then I realised I didn’t have anybody to impress any more.”

“Shame” said Christina.

As the night wore on and Frederick found himself on his second pint of cider he found himself talking about his online stuff and giving pout his business card.

“You do reviews?” said Christina.

“Well... it’s shouting mostly” said Frederick “And incidentally sorry if I ever, forget about the volume thing.”

Christina nodded and stowed the card “I’ll check it out.”

*

A few days passed and Christina approached him during his work at the till.

Frederick nodded appreciatively “The Doctor Who revival boxset, good choice madam.”

Christina smirked “Well I thought it might be wise to see what I was missing. I checked out your stuff by the way, it’s not bad, ever thought of doing it full time?”

Frederick chuckled and scanned through the dvd boxset “I’m not that good.”

“Then improve” said Christina “Leave this place, do things.

Frederick smirked and gave her her change and receipt.

*

A year passed and during that time not only did Frederick and Christina become friends but Frederick found his work online became more focused and organised. Plans were tentatively thought out and made, research was underway, the mad chaos of his youtube channel began to be broken up into clearly branded series, money began to be saved up.

Then one day Frederick found himself asking Christina out to dinner and she said yes.

They ate at Pizza Hut.

“Ah” said Christina “Pizza Hut, truly the classiest of dating venues.”

“It’s not a date” said Frederick “It’s dinner with a friend and I prefer Pizza Hut to Pizza Express. This is like the one thing America does best.”

Christina snorted and they took a table, naturally they each took unlimited refills of pepsi soft drinks.

“So if you didn’t invite me out to take me in a manly fashion, why are we here?” asked Christina.

“Because I have money now that I didn’t before.” said Frederick “And I soft of owe it to you. This is a thank you.”

The waiter arrived and they ordered food.

Frederick had the largest pizza with the most dead animals and least plant matter on it as possible.

Christina went for a four cheese pizza.

“So?” said Christina “How is your having more money down to me?”

“You said I could be more.” said Frederick “That motivated me, maybe not necessarily because you said it or because of what you said specifically but because everytime I felt overrun by negativity and include to just fart out something that was under done I’d think of you and.. umm... I’d keep working.”

Christina smiled “And you’re sure this is just a friendly meal?”

Frederick chuckled “Yes.”

Christina frowned “Is it because I’m fat?”

“What?” said Frederick “No. It’s just that I- I’m not that - forward a person. I don’t ask people out. I sit in my room and watch other people play video games. I am not a people person.”

Christina studied him for a long moment then asked “Do you ever go out?”

“Why?” asked Frederick “Going out is boring, why would I leave the place where I’m happiest?”

Christina nodded “Well I can’t judge you too much, after all I am a goth who writes vampire fiction in her spare time.”

Frederick gave her a long curious look.

Christina smirked “It’s alright, I don’t bite.”

Frederick swallowed.

The waiter arrived with their pizzas.

As Frederick started eating his pizza Christina asked “So what’s your dream?”

Frederick looked at her oddly. “How do you mean?”

Christina smirked “Well none of us think working at Fibdems is our endgame. What are you working towards?”

“Well I was going to be a script writer” said Frederick “But then I realised I am exactly the kind of script writer I don’t want to ever write scripts again so instead I guess I’d like to be the Doctor and just take off into wide blue yonder and see people and places and really wild things.”

“But you don’t go out?” said Christina.

“Ah but I only don’t go out because I get bored easily” said Frederick “The beauty of a tardis is that if you ever get bored you’ve got your home and computer right there.”

Christina nodded “Nice plan.”

“Plan?” said Frederick. “It’s totally impossible.”

Christina shrugged “Anything is possible given enough time and money, have a think about it. Don’t give up on your dreams, make them a reality.”

*

Years passed and Frederick worked harder and harder and planned bigger things as his online stuff grew and grew.

Frederick and Christina became firm friends during that time and even shared the odd drunken night out where they shared their deepest darkest secrets and fanfics.

Finally Frederick asked Christina out again.

“Pizza Express this time?” said Christina as they waited for a table “What must I have done for you to be willing to eat here.”

Frederick snorted.

When they were shown to their seats and had ordered drinks and their pizzas Frederick cleared his throat.

Christina readied herself.

Frederick said “Christina, you are and have been a really great friend. You are a delightful individual and umm... I don’t know quite how to say this but I’m leaving Fibdems.”

Christina stared at him.

“I handed in my notice a while back, I’m like properly rich now thanks to my online work and... I wanted to tell you in person.” said Frederick “You said I should find a way and I have.”

“Oh really?” asked Christina “What is your way?”

“I found an electric Campervan” said Frederick “I mean it’s not the ritz and I’ll hardly be able to fit a gaming pc in there but I can make my videos and watch my lets plays and I’ve got a double bed so... that’s good, means I can stretch my feet..”

“Nice” said Christina “See the sights and take your home with you. Where are you going first?”

“Scotland” said Frederick “I wanna make the Edinburgh Fringe and uh... and when it gets cold in the winter I’ve got a place down the Isle of Wight. Big enough for five people so I can have tenants in to reduce the mortgage cost. I expect I’ll turn up Christmas Day.”

Christina smiled and nodded “I’m really happy for you.”

“Thanks” said Frederick.

Their pizzas arrived and they ate in silence.

*

The next day, when Christina’s shift ended Frederick was waiting for her.

He was dressed in a three piece suit and held a box of chocolates in his hands. He smiled nervously as she approached.

Christina was stunned “What are you doing here?”

“I’m a coward” said Frederick “Just standing here, talking to you now, all I want to do is run, run far away and never look back.” he swallowed “And the only reason that I can have the courage to do this now is that I know I can run so these are for you.”

Frederick handed Christina the box of chocolates.

She took them and looked into his eyes expectantly.

“Christina Sullivan, you are the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes upon and the entire time I have known you I have had a war going on inside my head between the side that thinks I’m a useless pathetic idiot and the side of me that cares so deeply for you... But I am able to achieve my dreams now because you believed in me so please... come with me.” said Frederick “You, me and the open road, what do you say?”

“Yes” said Christina “Dear god, yes!”

She hugged him and said “I’ve seen you struggling with that side of yourself for as long as I’ve known you.”

Frederick pulled back and looked her in the eyes “Then why didn’t you ever ask me out?”

Christina blushed “I didn’t know if I was just projecting my own struggle onto you.”

Frederick looked at her, at his dear Christina.

Christina looked up at him longingly and pulled him closed.

He kissed her lightly on the lips.

She kissed back.

They headed to the campervan.

“Lets stop by mine first” said Christina “There are some things I need to collect.”

*

The Campervan drew up outside Christine’s house and Frederick followed her inside as she fetched her stuff.

To his surprise he found two suitcases and a bag packed.

They shared a look and Christine smirked “Just because I didn’t know doesn’t mean I haven’t been planning.”

Frederick chuckled.

*

Their first year travelling together went well but there was one last surprise in store as they drew up to Frederick’s winter cottage at mid day on Christmas Day.

Frederick parked up the campervan, unlocked the front door and headed to the dining room.

He was staggered. The table was laid the heating was on there was a turkey and potatoes on the table with all the trimmings including pigs in blankets, stuffing and gravy.

Then she entered.

She was tall, young, slim and blonde. She wore a green bikini and what appeared at first glance to be a rather large belt. “Hello” she said “I’m Lisa.”

Frederick stared at her.

Christine silently approached and handed him a collar “Merry Christmas, honey.”

Daring to Dream

Daring to Dream

By
Alexander Gordon Jahans


Imagine the lowliest coward in the universe. Greedy, privileged, so many chances, so many advantages, full of anger and hate and too poor to afford anything because his stupidity and laziness leads him to fuck everything up in his life.

That is how I see myself or at least that’s how I fear other people see me. I am the failure, the waste the fuck up and the complete arsehole.

So when I decided to write a power fantasy I turned that vision of myself into an all powerful destructive force of nature who is so sexually appealing, charismatic and socially skilled that he can convince people to be his pets. And when I decided to write a utopia I envisioned a society in which choice is king and so tons of beautiful women would choose to be submissive towards that version of me, even when that version of me is just as pathetic and angsty as I am.

The problem here is that I feel like I suck and am hated so much that when I envision a world without this self loathing things go too far in the opposite direction. I am someone who basically only feels safe expressing his feeling about women when I know there is literally no chance to they will say yes because to me expected failure is preferable to a genuine chance at happiness that could fail.

And this year has proven why. One genuine unexpected failure and I am floored for a year in a deep dark pit of depression, I mean yes there was more than that but you see my point. I don’t dream big, I dream stupid because stupid isn’t scary.

It’s something that stands out in my writing in a way I couldn’t even see and had to be told about. My multiverse is a world where it is perfectly normal to keep another as a pet or turn them into a toy, heck I’m even thinking of bringing the Contravoxai back as good guys and they’re an alien species who eat people alive. Yet there isn’t a single genuine romance story in anything I write. No single relationship of equals. And it is taboo for pets or toys to have a romantic relationship with their masters or mistresses, though that I genuinely find squicky and exploitative but my point is it’s like conventional romance is banned in my stuff. Why? Because the dream is too real and thus too scary.

There is a philosophy behind conservatism that says inequality is fine because you’ll be the lord pissing down on the peasants below. Now obviously I have many moral and ideological reasons for being against that attitude but it has to be acknowledged that standing opposed to that dream of a better life plays into a theme of self doubt that is almost parodied in my fiction.

I want to believe that I can fall in love, I need to believe that but because the possibility of failing at that is too terrible to contemplate I would rather tell stories about the fine young lady who offered herself up as an eternally regenerating morsal to the Contravoxai. Contravoxai don’t exist and so I can dream about a woman saying yes to them in a way that I could never imagine a woman saying yes to dating me.

But ironically the Contravoxai represent that hope for the future in a way that no more conventional sylph story ever could. The sylph narrative feeds into the idea that I’m a monster, the story stops being about the woman who says yes and becomes instead about the monster that wants them too. The Contravoxai though are otherised, eight legged, many tentacled many eyed monstrosities. They are no author or audience surrogate and even if you wanted to interpret them that way, their approach is actually rather mundane, they just want to eat. So the story is about the woman saying yes instead.

And that’s why I have hope for the future now, because I accidentally allowed myself to dream about a woman choosing to say yes to the monster and not because he’s a monster who is screwed up in all these different ways, but because she sees what he is and wants to help satisfy him. Which is an entirely unintentional reading because holy shit its an alien who is going to keep eating this woman alive for as long as he lives, this was not meant to be romantic. Yet how else could a coward such as myself even consider a woman choosing to spend eternity satifying someone of her own free will and volition than by accident?

So I have a will to live. I have a hope for the future so lets try this again shall we? I am going to write a love story without sylphs or sharks or the Bam-Kursh and certainly without any unintentional fanfic interludes. This is going to be awkward to write and it might be awkward to read but I want to dream a better future for myself that might actually, possibly be achieveable and maybe it will be boring as fuck and you’ll all be crying out for the Farsh-nuke to turn up but I think I need to do this to develop as a personm so fuck it if its shit. I am telling you now though, I am not letting this get bogged down by a plot, after all I don’t plan on getting involved in any alien invasions or time travel experiments.




Tuesday, 20 October 2015

The will to live nsfw

To Do 20th October 2015

I have a will to live so lets do something with it.

To Do:

  1. Clean your room and that includes hoovering
  2. Organize your room
  3. Figure out some kind of monthly patreon reward and do it.
  4. Sort out your cv
  5. Put your cv on job sites.
  6. Start volunteering in a charity shop.
  7. Apply for jobs.
And whilst you are doing those things here are some other things to do that will round out your writing:

  1. Learn about women's fashion - At this point it is fucking ridiculous that you know so very little about this. You're a cocking writer, research.
  2. Learn about plants, trees and nature. - You live in the greenest county in England you should know this shit.
  3. Learn about architecture, interior design and textiles. - Minimalist descriptions are fine but you should be able to actually fucking give a description of the curtains if needed.
  4. Get a massive book or database of first names, middle names and last names. - Seriously it's pathetic how often you avoid giving a name because you can't think of one. You're supposed to be a fucking writer.
  5. Listen to Les Miserables - Yes, it's 57 hours long but you need to catch up on the classics.
 And whilst you're doing that here are somethings to work on long term:

  1. Buy some shorts and start running. - Yes it will be cold and embarrassing and hard work at first but you're not actually that shit at sprinting. Work on it.
  2. Start compiling names and places and maps of a tabletop roleplaying game world. - It's fun world building and a different head space from your scifi stuff if nothing else.
  3. Buy Pathfinder and D&D modules - Learn how to pace a game and how stories are laid out.
  4. Find some way to deal with the smell issue.
  5. Start wearing suits again.
  6. Eat more fruit and veg,


The Will to Live

The Will to Live

By
Alexander Gordon Jahans


I have always hated myself, I can't think of a time when I didn't. I loathe myself, I am everything I despise. Hypocritical, disgusting, pathetic and fueled by hate and lust and greed. I am a man who aspires to morality and judges himself to be failing.

But I have always had a counter voice. I am better than THEM, the bullies that made my life hell. I am more moral, nicer, smarter, less obsessed, saner, Even when I was going mad from the stress and pressure I believed I was entitled to behave in this appalling manner because of the things I had gone through. The lies you tell yourself so you can sleep at night,

And then I went away to college and university and comparatively everything was good. I had bad days, bad months, I had to make deadlines and rally from bombshells but I was doing something, going somewhere. I had a destiny, I was trying I would be something.

Then the rug was pulled out from under me and all my trying was replaced with self loathing because I didn't try HARD enough. Except I couldn't try any harder. I broke up under pressure. Under my dad's barbarous outbursts and my own self loathing. It became harder and harder to say "No, you are wrong. I deserve to live, I deserve to thrive." until I no longer believed it.

I had to survive because I had made myself a promise. I was Alex Jahans again. That meant I wan't about to commit suicide or act in a violent and malicious manner. So I survived. I countered the insults and the arguments and debates from the position of "I MUST SURVIVE" but what kind of a fucking rallying call is that?

How do you explain to a dinosaur who grew up with rationing and a manic depressive who seeks sanity in a pill that your will to live is broken? That it doesn't matter how much fucking counselling you get or pills you take because you have lost the will to live? I wasn't ill. I wasn't unwell. I was shell shocked. I had my dreams of happiness so close to fruition and then I was savaged by circumstance. I was lost in an ocean of self loathing and it was all I could do to tread water and keep eating and breathing. And every fucking time I would have to justify my existence to my parents when I myself didn't fucking know why I should be alive. And I could see them trying to manipulate me, to fuck with my head until I acted normal again. Those fuckers have never helped my sanity before in the past so why the fuck did they think the could help now. I needed space, I needed time. I needed to be happy. I needed to think.

I have felt so much better since I came home from Nine Worlds Geek Fest because I think I scared Dad into leaving me alone and I am writing again. There is also undoubtedly a medical element to my recent happiness, the testosterone and cortisol has made me have energy again. Energy to write, energy to walk, energy to figure myself out. But it came with dangerous knowledge.

I am infertile, probably. I wasn't exactly planning on having kids, hell at this stage romance seems a horrifically bad taste joke but there is something about that knowledge that just kills your dreams. I could not follow the great capitalist dream of working hard and getting 2.4 children if I wanted. And when that is what the world is screaming at you to do... JUST GET A JOB, BRO!  

I felt like I was already dead, I was just waiting for the axe to fall. For my dad or my mum to get some fucking stupid idea, for my health to reveal some great hidden terror, indeed for perhaps the government to kick down my door and arrest me as a terrorist for admitting that if they cease to be democratic I would put my life on the line to oppose that. Stupid, paranoid fears. That's how I felt though, dead man walking. Until finally I ceased giving a shit. I would live in the moment and if the reaper comes I will go gladly.

It's a theme that runs through my writing, that one day someone turns up and your life as you know it is just ended. Even in the rare instances where that doesn't happen, this idea that life is a struggle is there. Ironically my Podquisition Fanfic is perhaps my most optimistic piece of writing of late because the good guys win in the end and stability and normality is restored. Yet that is nothing but one long brutal struggle to survive. 

My writing has always been an important insight into my identity. You see I am so constantly loathing myself and justifying myself and ranting or squeeing at the world that even when I'm being honest I'm not being as honest as I am in the fiction that I write. I created the Farsh-nuke during a time not unlike this one, when I had lost everything and I had no hope, no future and no prospects but there I created a version of myself that was larger than life. The Great Farsh-nuke, founder of the Logicios, scourge of the Septagonoids and champion of the Sylphs. I remade myself as a hero and a monster, as a dangerous and powerful being, not constrained by morality. A man who exuded confidence and sex appeal. A far cry from the lonely pathetic loser who was so constrained and angst ridden by morality.

And now I have done it again only this time I haven't written a shoddy cluster fuck of a script. Instead I painted myself into a utopia and watched that version of myself dance. watched the struggles and the angst, saw how the dreams and fantasies made things so uncomfortable and awkward. I have seen that I am far stranger than even I realised, that I am not the monster I fear I am. Yes, I can be confident, can be dominant but I am no Farsh-nuke or Bam-Kursh and even in a society where it's not just possible but encouraged and vaunted I need not fear becoming such, I have been freed from my angst by the very existence of that perpetual angst.  

More importantly though I have had a chance to imagine a future where I am happy and fulfilled, to see what success and happiness after struggle and tiredness looks like and it is marriage with someone just as messed up as I am. Ha. And I can't have kids but I can have pets. I can be happy. I have a future to fight for. Now I'm not saying it will be anything like the spectacle that will be on show in this story. Certainly I highly doubt that there will be visiting aliens. It will never-the-less be a... victory, It will be a new glorious status quo. And now I have something to fight for, I have something worth living for, I have a reason to live, to love and to work. 

I am Alexander Gordon Jahans and I will live because I intend to earn my happy ending, even if that happy ending is in fact the start of a glorious new eternity.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Trouble in Choice World NSFW

Trouble in Choice World

By
Alexander Gordon Jahans


Max left the house and started walking. He had a spring in his step as he listened to the Kaiser Chiefs. He strode past the bus stop and didn’t notice the rickety wooden shed that was parked against it. He was lost to the music and didn’t notice he was being followed until a hand touched his shoulder.

He was startled and turned to look. Pausing his music and pulling out his ear buds he saw he was being greeted by a tall slender women with flame red hair, pale skin, blue eyes and large comfy jumper.

“Hi” she said “I’m Amy. I- well the denizens of choice - you called Freddy’s number?”

She was blushing and looked nervous.

“Yeah I called Freddy’s number, what of it?” asked Max “And are you okay?”

“Well it’s just that I’m sort of your welcome gift” said Amy reluctantly before adding “I’ll be very good and if you just want to turn me into a toy then turn me off and leave me in a cupboard somewhere I won’t mind I swear.” Then she bit her lip and studied him “Equally if you want... well I wouldn’t mind... I’m good with anything. You’re in charge. I’m just sort of your tour guide and a freebie.”

Max shook his head “You people are insane.”

Amy shucked on her bangs nervously “I’m sorry, I fucked it up didn’t I? I came on too strong.”

Max laughed and rubbed her arm compassionately “You’re fine, just maybe lets start from friends and work from there.”

Amy smiled and rubbed his arm in turn “Friends is good.”

“Right then lets go see the Ferryman” said Max

Amy squeed and took his hand so she could lead the way.

Amy led Max inside the shed and they watched as Frederick stripped a tall blonde woman naked.

Amy shut the door.

The woman being stripped said “Umm you know we’ve got company, right?”

Frederick said “Shush”

The woman squinted at Max “Hang on, weren’t you here before?”

Frederick sighed and grabbed the woman’s face between his hands so he could look into her eyes “Honey, this is only going to work if you obey me. I appreciate that it’s early days and there’s new stimuli but your boyfriend is paying me a lot of money to do this so wee need to get this right.”

The woman seemed to sag “I fucked up didn’t I?”

“Yes you did but we’ll try it again later without stimuli. Take your clothes and get dressed in the cage.” said Frederick.

The woman nodded and said “Sorry”

Frederick let her go and said “It’s quite alright. It’s not my money you’re wasting.”

The woman quietly gathered up her clothes and climbed into the cage.

“Sorry about that” said Frederick as he turned to address Max “I didn’t know how long you’d be so I thought I’d work on that girl who barged in here when I was showing you round that first time. I’m glad you’ve decided to stay. I would offer her to you, as a kind of welcome gift, but I don’t think she’s up to snuff yet.”

Max said “It’s fine really. There is just one thing I am curious about” and he looked to Amy.

Amy smiled awkwardly.

Frederick grinned. “Ah yes the more traditional welcome gift. If I may Amy?”

He held out his hand and Amy walked towards it.

Frederick grabbed Amy and turned her round so she was facing Max.

“Everyone who comes here is stored on a database. It’s kind of for security and health reasons but also for this. Moving to any place is scary, let alone somewhere in a different universe or cluster of universes. So instead of overloading people with guidebooks and handing them a bottle of champagne they analyse what they like and run AI simulations based on the citizens already living in Choice World they think stand the best chance of being appropriate gifts. The simulations are then asked if they would volunteer to be the gifts, of the ones that say yes, one is chosen, given the appropriate knowledge and added to the memories of the citizen they then print out.” said Frederick.

Amy grinned “I volunteered to be yours Max and I was chosen to be the best gift for you.”

“And to identify the gifts from the citizens, the gifts have a barcode on their bum” said Frederick and he pulled down Amy’s skirt and pants to show off the bar code.

Max looked at it and whistled “So what happens if I meet the real Amy?”

“She will know that your Amy volunteered and that you two are compatible” said Frederick “Lovers have met before when they each saw the other’s gift was themselves.”

Max looked Amy in the eye “So what happens to you if we do?”

Amy grinned “Like say I’m utterly open to whatever you want. Leave me to dust in your toybox if you like but well...” She blushed.

Max blushed and grinned “May I have her back now?”

“Of course” said Frederick with a grin “I’ll leave you at the registration office. They have to make sure you’re legit and then they’ll give you the keys to your house. Oh and watch out for vampires.”

*

“Congratulations Max, you are now officially a denizen of choice” said the Sara Lestrade, the rather elegant registrar who had just helped Max sign the immigration paperwork. “Now remember your Amy is a construct and gift of the Institution of Choice. She is in large part an exact replica of the real Amy but just because she consents doesn’t mean the real Amy will.”

Max nodded “It’s okay I am not going to forget the need for consent.”

“Good” said Sara with a smile and she handed over a set of keys “Enjoy her and enjoy your stay here Max.”

“Thank you, I will” said Max with a polite but enthusiastic smile which soured the moment he realised he’d also enthusiastically said he’d enjoy Amy. He took the keys.

Sara stood up and held out her hand.

Max stood up and shook it.

Sara said “Good hunting.”

Max smiled awkwardly. “And er good registaring to you too.”

He frowned at the rubbish he’d just spouted and left the line.

As he went to pick up Amy from the euphamistically named “Gift storage facility” he noticed women picking up smiley young men and frowned. Equal opportunity gift privileges might be progressive but it made it clear that one day he could see someone walking by with a gift called Max.

“Are you alright?” asked Amy, with a concerned expression on her face.

“Um, shock” said Max “This’ll take some getting used to”

Amy nodded and hugged him “Well your future starts now and you’re not alone.”

Max patted Amy’s back and said “I think I just need some normal.”

Amy pulled back “Okay I’ll lead you to your new home and we can take it from there.”

Max smiled weakly “I think I’d like that.”

Amy took his hand and led him outside.

A tall, black haired woman in leather grabbed his chest “Well well if it isn’t lunch and this time he’s brought along a side order.”

Amy paused and turned to see what the hold up was.

The vampire put a long nailed finger on her lips, silencing her.

She licked her lips as she studied Max “And this time you don’t have your friendly neighbourhood Farsh-nuke to help you.”

Max grinned “Oh I’m not a seal, honey, I’m a shark” and with that he reached out anfd grabbed a short blonde woman who was dressed for summer heat. He whispered “She’s a vampire and going to eat me if I don’t do this, sorry.”

The blonde’s gift, a muscley man with his shirt off, gave a concerned look “Hey”

The blonde whimpered with joy “It’s fine, really”

Max kissed the blonde’s neck lightly then sucked it. He looked soulfully into her eyes and pulled out his business card from his wallet and handed it to her “I want you on my door step tomorrow at noon, wear clothes you don’t mind getting destroyed and don’t expect to return home.”

The blonde nodded and took the card.

The vampire grinned “So it’s true a shark swims among us.”

Max leaned close to the blonde and whispered “Thank you.”

The blonde strode on.

Max smiled and looked into the vampire’s eyes “The question is: If I’m not a seal, what does that make you?”

“Diane” said the vampire, extending her hand “We could us a man like you in our clan?”

Max chuckled “I’m a shark, not a vampire. I am not like you, I do not work like you.”

The vampire nodded “I can see that. You’re gentle. Very well. Consider me a friend then or at least an ally. I’ll spread the word you are not to be harrassed by vampires.”

“How nice of you.” said Max insincerely. “Now get your hands away from my property.”

The vampire nodded and let her finger drop from Amy’s lips.

Max and the vampire looked into each other’s eyes for a long tense moment.

Sara Lestrade exited the building and said “Oh. Oh Max, I’m so sorry.”

Sara went to the vampire’s side “I told you to wait for me in the crypt”

“But I was hungry” said the vampire and she bit into Sara’s neck.

Max looked Sara in the eyes and said wryly “Well I’ll leave you to enjoy lunch.”

Then Max and Amy strode away.

Amy said “That was impressive, you held your nerve against a vampire.”

Max shrugged “I’m a popular youtuber I’ve dealt with worse.”

*

The house looked like his own except it was bigger and cleaner and had been subtly upgraded in impossible ways. The fridge freezer held more stuff, the oven and hob were the latest model, the boiler was electric and the plumbing had been completely redone. The bedroom was where there was the biggest change.

The computer had been upgraded to petabyte storage with the latest and greatest motherboard, cpu, gpu, graphics cards and ram. The internet was faster than the speed of light and connected not only with the internet of Choice World but also the internet of his home world.

There was also a toybox installed beneath his tv that Amy assured him was bigger on inside and would deliver the toy he wanted from the box on demand without rummaging around.

Max was now finally happy in his new home and addressed Amy “Look, I’m sorry but we need to talk.”

“What about?” asked Amy.

“Us” said Max “Well you really?”

Amy shrugged “I’m fine, go ahead.”

“This really weirds me out” said Max “Where I come from women aren’t just gifted to people and if they do it’s slavery and very very bad.”

Amy frowned “Ah, I can see how that would make things a little awkward.”

Max said “You’re a very lovely woman and I really, really, really want to strip you naked and make passionate love to you but I can’t in all good conscience do anything until I am convinced you’re actually a person with the ability to consent and not some preprogrammed meat puppet. Sorry.”

Amy flushed red with embarrassment “So that’s what you see me as huh? A meat puppet? Well I am very sorry that I volunteered and made you feel so awful. I think I’ll sleep downstairs tonight. If you ever need me for information you can find me but just at the moment I’m not sure I want to be your friend, never mind anything else.”

Amy left the room.

Max cried “Look, I’m sorry, you really are lovely” but he let her go and watched letsplays dejectedly as he tried to ignore the part of himself that insulted him.

*

The doorbell rang and Max woke up to answer it. He was wearing pjs and hadn’t even cleaned his teeth.

The short blonde woman looked radiant in a light summer dress. “Sorry if I woke you.”

Max swallowed remembering the invite he’d given the woman as part of his bluff to the vampire yesterday “No. No, come in. You can head upstairs to my bedroom. You’ll know it because it looks like shit. I’ll just clean my teeth and get dressed then we can talk.”

The blonde nodded “Okay, I can do that.” and she walked past him and headed up stairs.

“Sorry” said Max to the tall shirtless man that was her gift.

The gift said “You made quite the impression on her yesterday. This is a gentle warning. Be careful with her.”

Max nodded “With great power comes great responsibility.” thren he added “My gift’s in the living room if you want to compare notes, currently I think the consensus is that I’m an arse.”

With that Max headed upstairs.

*

Max entered in bedroom with clean teth deodorised armpits, a clean face and clean tshirt and lounge trousers. “Hi” he said the blonde woman on the bed “I’m Max, pleased to meet you.”

“I know” said the blonde woman with a laugh “And I’m Felicity by the way.”

Max nodded “Well, Felicity, I am very sorry to disappoint you but I’m not actually a vampire. And I have no intention of eating you or drinking your blood.”

Felicity nodded “I know. I researched you. It’s how I found you. I love your writing, particularly The Accessory. That was... very stimulating. And I love your political vlogs. You’re just so passionate. So glad we don’t have to live under the tories anymore.”

Max chuckled and strode into the room perching atop his computer chair “So if you know I’m not a vampire, why did you come here today?”

“Hope” said Felicity instinctually before adding “And I figured if it bwas a bluff it would probably make sense to back it up and well you made me feel good so I... umm...”

Felicity trailed off and blushed “My gift will kill you if you actually do this but I thought well maybe you might want a toy or an accessory or a pet and well I had to see.”

Max grinned and looked away “Okay, well thank you for your kind offer you’re very sweet.”

“Oh no sweet is friend zone” said Felicity “Please don’t friend zone me?”

“How about friends with benefits?” said Max.

Felicity grinned.

“One condition” said Max “Let me romance you. A date? Say next week? Wednesday? I’ll call you with the details, if you’ll provide me with them.”

Felicity’s grin grew wider and she said “Okay, I can work with that. I just have one favour?”

“What’s that?” asked Max.

“Kiss me” said Felicity.

Max grinned and got off his chair “Felicity, I am so sorry for yesterday but this I do gladly”

Max kissed Felicity.

Felicity pulled him into a snog.

*

Max and Felicity headed downstairs, smiling ecstatically.

The entered the living room and the shirtless man rose to hug Felicity.

Felicity squeed.

The shirtless man said “Honey, I need to speak with Max for a moment, will you be okay with Amy?”

Felicity nodded and let the shirtless man walk out of the living room with Max.

The shirtless man hissed in Max’s ear “A word, if you please?”

Max grimaced and left the house with the shirtless man.

“We can talk here” said Max and he flinched.

The shirtless man said “Why are you making that face?”

“Because you’re going to hit me” said Max

“Why would I want to hit you?”

“Because I upset Amy and came on to your girl” said Max, bracing for a punch to the face.

The shirtless man rolled his eyes “Max, you upset Amy because you refused to take advantage of her, why the hell would I be angry at you for that and equally Felicity is not my girl, I am her boy. I was created to be her gift. I want her to be happy.”

Max opened his eyes “So who are you then? Or who are you based off?”

“The name is Oliver” said the shirtless man “And in another life I beat up bad guys. Sorry about the threat earlier, you could have been a vampire.”

Max said “So how is it for you? This whole being a gift lark? If you don’t mind me asking?”

Oliver shrugged “It feels really fucking weird. The real Oliver came here to work a case and I’m just... well I don’t know... beef cake to order. Kind of feel empty but like I’ve got a real opportunity to live a better life.”

“Or end up as a toy?” said Max pointedly.

Oliver shook his head “Gifts are assigned based on the mentality of the prospective citizens. You’re a shark so you get a seal. Felicity’s a seal so she gets...”

Max smirked “Muscle man the almighty.”

Oliver snorted.

Max asked “So if me and Felicity do... If I...” he frowned “If your seal comes under my protection what happens to you? I mean Amy has been quite frank about how I can turn her off and leave her in a cupboard if she becomes unimportant. What happens to you?”

Oliver shrugged “Never really thought about it. I guess the institute assumed that whoever took my seal from me would know what to do with me.”

Max nodded “Okay I’ll get thinking but no rush with the existential doubt just yet, it’s still early days. What did you want to talk to me about anyway?”

Oliver nodded thoughtfully then said “I wanted to give you my blessing. I mean Felicity showed me a cluster of words that come up most frequently in your writing and morality is one of them. That looks suspicious as fuck when the supposedly moral man in question has just preyed upon your girl and asked to eat her but when I’ve just listened to a beautiful woman bitch about your unwillingness to dominate her it rings true.”

Max looked away awkwardly “Well cheers I guess.”

“I also wanted to say this.” Oliver glared at Max “Never call a woman, never call anyone, a fucking meat puppet. That woman would do anything for you and you hurt her feelings.”

Max sighed “Fair enough.”

Oliver said “I know it’s weird, I know it feels odd but she exists for you. Make her feel loved and wanted.”

Max nodded “Will do.”

Oliver held out his hand “So, friends?”

“Friends” said Max and he shook Oliver’s hand.

They reentered the living room.

Felicity said “So you’re not dead then? Good.”

Oliver smirked.

Max approached Amy “Amy, I’m sorry. I said some stupid things and I threw your amazing kindness in your face. The truth is I just don’t know what to do with you.”

Amy looked up, still sulking “Well okay, I understand that. I just want to make you happy Max. Whatever you want?”

Felicity said “There’s a taming seminar on tomorrow. You should go along.”

Oliver glared at Felicity “I’m supposed to be the guidebook here?”

Felicity grinned “I was interested for umm... reasons but Max you should definitely go along and bring Amy. I hear they have provisions for gifts so they don’t get jealous.”

Max looked to Amy “Well?”

Amy said “Okay but you’re buying me lunch afterwards?”

Max grinned “I think I can do that.”

Amy grinned “Thank you, Felicity.”

Felicity smiled “No problem, us toys gotta stick together.”

Oliver and Max each stared at Felicity in astonishment.

Amy gave Felicity a curious look.

Felicity said “Girls. Us girls gotta stick together.”

Max looked to Oliver.

Oliver shrugged “Well Felicity if that’s what you want I’m sure Max can make you very happy.”

Max stared into space, realizing just what had been said.

Felicity got up from her chair and said “Well I think we better leave.”

“Absolutely” said Oliver “Places to go, people to meet”

Felicity walked over to Max and hugged him “Tame her then take me when you’re ready. No pressure.”

Max nodded “I’ll do my best, enjoy your beefcake.”

Felicity left with Oliver.

*

The Seminar was held in the meeting room of a hotel. Amy was wearing a check flannel blouse, denim body warmer, hipster jeans and converse. Max was wearing his usual tshirt, trackies and slipon shoes.

They queued for thirty minues until finally they stood before a bouncer with an earpiece.

“Excuse me Sir” said the bouncer “Do you have a pet you wish to check in?”

Max looked to Amy.

Amy nodded.

“Yes” said Max “This is Amy.”

The Bouncer nodded “Just this way Sir and Madam”

The Bouncer let them through.

A large woman with greying hair sized up Amy and Max. “So I’m guessing the guy shitting bricks is the pet. Correct me if I’m wrong?”

Max made a face like he’d just been smacked with a dead fish.

Amy smirked “No Maam, I am.”

The large woman grinned “My apologies, Sir. Well you’re in the right place to work on your confidence. How about you Madam, how do you feel about nudity?”

Amy’s eyes widened in shock but she shrugged “We’re here to learn.”

The large woman nodded, took a collar from a rack and secured it round Amy’s neck. Then she took a strip of printed paper with a barcode on it, tore along the perforated edge then pulled a strip of backing paper free so she could secure the paper around Max’s wrist.

Max nodded “Thanks”

The large woman smirked and pulled Amy towards her. She started massaging Amy’s neck as an Assistants placed a pet travel cage beside the large woman.

Amy found herself grinning with ecstacy.

The large woman stripped her while keeping massaging going. She muttered “When you come down don’t struggle, your boy will claim you soon enough.”

Amy nodded “No struggles, gotcha.”

The large woman gently eased Amy to her knees then slid her backwards into the cage and locked the door with a padlock. She gave the staring Max the key then secured the other half of the paper as a label round the handle of Amy’s cage.

The large woman lifted up the cage easily and said “You can collect her at the end, go find your seat.”

As Max entered the seminar hall he noticed two large sealed bins by the entrance to the seminar then he picked a seat to the middle.

It took a while for everyone to filter through and find a seat but soon the hall was packed.

Finally the lights dimmed and a spotlight lit up a tall skinny old man. He wore a sharp suit and had gelled up hair.

“I am the Bam-Kursh” he said and the room fell silent “I know, you probably think this is a trick? The heist of a century?” He said bombastically “And tonight Ladies and Gentlemen I shall make the whole audience disappear!”

A chill wind blew at those words.

He leaned and whispered into the mic on a stand before him. “No, I got old, I got bored, I got tired. There was nothing left to fight for, nothing left to challenge me, nothing left to thrill me.” He sighed “Even the Farsh-nuke was putty in my hands.” He chuckled “By the end I had a warehouse full of him and her, the Unleasher too.”

He stood back from the mic and took a deep breath “I was ready to die” he snorted “But who is going to kill an immortal warrior as good as I?” He leaned in to the mic again “So I put the word out. The Bam-Kursh awaits a champion capable of killing him.”

“And that’s when I appeared” A spotlight appeared as a tall blonde woman stepped out onto the stage, looking radiant in an expensive dress “I said I had spent my life trying to become a living doll but that I needed to take the final step and I wanted him to help me.”

“But I didn’t want to kill again” said the old man “I had lost my blood lust and I saw this beauty come willingly into my parlor and I said Go, go and live.”

The blonde woman approached the man and put her hands on his shoulders “And that’s when I said Bam-Kursh you are a mighty warrior, a mighty toy maker, you should share that gift. It would be my honour to devote everything I am to helping you share that gift.”

“And that’s when I saw it” said the old man “This woman needn’t be one last conquest or sample to my collection. She could be a study aid, she could give her life hundreds of times over for the purposes of educating a new generation of toy makers. With logicular replication I could tame and murder her over and over again in the knowledge that her suffering would bring joy to others.”

The blonde woman grinned “And I saw within him the potential to not just be one doll but to be legion, to truly transcend to a higher plane of dollhood.”

The lights rose and the old man said “And that is why Ladies and Gentlemen I am able to give this seminar today. Remain seated and you will each receive a Candi to tame. If anybody needs to leave and doesn’t want their Candi just deposit them in the bins on the way out. They will be tamed and plasticised later.”

The blonde woman on the stage grinned “And there is also a raffle going on to win a signed copy tamed by the Bam-Kursh himself. Me.”

A blonde woman strode over to Max “Umm hi? Are you Max?”

Max nodded.

The blonde woman grinned and sat on his knee “I would be you Candi. Enjoy the Seminar and good luck with the taming.”

Max nodded.

The lights dimmed again and the old man on stage said “The first thing to remember about taming is you need confidence, supreme confidence. It doesn’t matter if your toy is willing to be tamed if you don’t have the confidence to actually do the job. Willing submissiveness and obedience on the part of the toy can only go so far when the master or mistress is unable or unwilling to lead them...”

*

Amy lay hunched up in her travel cage for what felt like hours until at last Max arrived to claim her. She called “Hey?”

Max grinned and poked his fingers through the cage “Hey Amy, how was it for you?”

“Sweaty” said Amy “And cramped. I’d quite like to get out of here.”

“Just as soon as there’s space” said Max and he walked out of the Seminar Hall with his Candi and Amy in her travel cage.

They entered the hallway of the hotel and a woman with gorgeous toffee brown hair caught his eye. He felt embondend by the seminar and said “Hey, so this is crazy but I just got here and you are beautiful.”

The woman turned, she had her own travel cage and Candi “Sorry hun, I’m a shark not a seal.”

Max deflated “Sorry”

The woman laughed and patted his back “Hey don’t worry about it. At least you found the confidence to try.”

Max frowned “Is it that obvious?”

She nodded.

Max grimaced.

She said “Actually you know what? Fuck it. I don’t normally take pity on guys but I’m going to hand in my Candi to get plasticised then how about you come back to mine for a bite to eat?”

She flashed her fangs and smiled warmly.

Max sighed “I can’t, I owe Amy dinner and well I sort of don’t wanna be it myself.”

She grinned and tickled Max’s chin “Shame, you look delicious” then she sighed “Max I’m playing with you. My name’s Ruby. I know who you are and know you’re off limits. Your Amy is perfectly willing to join us. Perhaps I’ll show you a few moves to satisfy her.”

Amy said “Hey, do you mind holding off the flirting till I’m out of here?”

Ruby chuckled.

Max blushed. “I didn’t think I was flirting.”

Ruby said “There’s 4 of us if you include the Candis I think that gives your pet enough privacy.”

They pulled off to the side and arranged their bodies in a horseshoe shape around Amy’s travel cage. Max unlocked the cage and pulled Amy out then gave her her bag of clothes before turning his back.

Ruby smirked “Turning your back, a true gentleman.”

Max blushed then asked “What does plastification actually entail?”

“It’s a virus” said Ruby “Specifically engineered to lie dormant just long enough to infect every cell in the body then convert it into a type of plastic. It’s a quick death. As I understand it the Candis are flushed during the infection stage so that once they turn all the extraneous matter that makes up the body will harmlessly evaporate. No muss no fuss. Just a plastic doll where a living being used to be.”

Max stared at his Candi “You want that?”

His Candi shrugged “Yeah. I want to be a toy.”

Max said “I can’t do this. I’m sorry, I can’t.”

His Candi said “Why? I want this.”

“There has to be another way” said Max “I’m not a killer.”

Ruby sighed “Max they’re toys, this is what they want.”

Amy pulled on her bodywarmer and said “Actually there is another way. It’s the way I mentioned was a possibility for me, Max, take her to a petshop and give her the toy injections, she’ll last forever, won’t need food, air or the toilet and her mind can be turned off.”

Max’s Candi said “That could work?”

“Thank you” said Max.

Amy picked up the empty travel cage and said “My pleasure, shall we get moving? I’m decent.”

Ruby sighed “Well I’m still going to get my Candi plasticised so you’ll have to wait if you want lunch?”

“We can wait” said Max.

When Ruby and her Candi started moving, Amy patted Max on the back “Look at you you’ve pulled, gotten yourself a hot young toy and you might be able to do something with me by the end of the night.”

Max smirked.

*

Ruby unlocked the front door of her house and entered. Max, Amy and Candi followed.

Ruby led the way into the living room and set her travel cage on the ground. “Excuse the mess. Dinner’s going to be about an hour if that’s okay?”

Max shrugged.

Amy said “Actually if it’s going to take that long, would you mind if I used your shower? That uh cage...”

Ruby chuckled “Say no more. Any friend of Max is a friend of mine. Third door on the right upstairs.”

Amy smiled “Thank you.”

Max muttered “Careful, she’s a vampire.”

Amy looked at Ruby cautiously “Umm.”

Ruby rolled her eyes “Amy not only are you a friend, you are someone else’s property. You’re fine. Trust me.”

Max looked Ruby in the eyes “Anything happens to her, anything at all...”

Ruby swallowed but met his gaze “It’s fine, really.”

Max said casually, maintaining eye contact “Amy, go have your shower.”

Amy did not need telling twice and left the room.

Ruby said “Quite the looker your girl.”

Max grinned insincerely “She’s a good girl. I don’t want her hurt.”

Ruby said “It’s curious you won’t kill a toy that wants to transcend life yet you have a woman that is very much a seal. You seem to be a shark and yet you lack the killer instinct.”

“I like life.” said Max “I like looking after people, protecting them. I used to love pets until I got sick of the deaths.”

Ruby nodded understanding “But sylphs and toys outlive basic humans. You’re not a predator. You’re a hero.”

Max smiled “You flatter me. My soul is darker than yours will ever be.”

Ruby stared at him “And yet you play the hero? Why?”

Max said simply “Because it’s the only way I can slreep at night.”

Ruby nodded and pulled a key out of her pocket “Then indulge yourself with my seal Britney. I’m hoping to turn her into a toy but she still has a good deal of Agency to get rid of. Enjoy her Max.”

And with that Ruby left.

Candi and Max were left alone together so Candi asked “Max, I understand your desire to keep me alive and I am flattered but I do not wish to intrude on your conversations. I feel awkward.”

Max sighed and turned to look at her, she was so beautiful. He wiped the hair from her face and stroked her cheek “You realise I am going to have to restore your will to live.”

Candi smiled “I know” and she grabbed his hand as it stroked her face “I see a way before me now, a way I did not know existed before but please... You are my owner. What should I do to not be? To not feel like I am intruding?”

Max looked at the key in his hand and realised none of them had acknowledged Ruby’s toy. He smiled “The travel cage. You don’t have to. You really don’t have to but if you want to be ignored? To be an object in the background? Then put those gorgeous clothes in a bag and enter the travel cage.”

Candi nodded “Thank you Max” then she looked at the other cage and said “Good luck with her.”

Max laughed and unlocked Ruby’s travel cage. He pulled Britney out of the cage and helped her to her feet. She was about 5 foot 5 had tanned skin and had shoulder length bronze coloured hair. Her eyes were a grayish green with a halo of turquoise around her pupils.

She smiled shyly at him, revealing white and straight teeth. “Hi”

“Hi” said Max, marvelling at the woman “Just how much did you hear?”

“Enough to know that my Mistress has put me under your charge.” said Britney.

A boyish grin spread across Max’s face.

“Well what do you wish to do with me?” asked Britney.

Max frowned and said “Where are your clothes kept?”

“By the cage” said Britney.

Max nodded and rushed to the cage he pulled out what looked like a bra, knickers, trousers and shirt and gave them to Britney. He examined the cage as she changed.

It was the size of a pop up tent, just big enough to stretch out and sit up in. There was a food bowl of kibble to one side as a water bottle hooked up to the mains for the occupant to drink from.

Max was stunned “She makes you live in this?”

Britney said “Yes, she likes to dominate and demean me. Says I would be much prettier with my mind gone.”

“And you let her?” said Max

Britney finshed dressing and strode over to Max. “The real me did not live a good life. She was probably going to kill herself had the invitation not come. My Mistress gives me purpose and meaning, I matter to her in a way I can screw up and it is freeing to no longer be in control of my life. To no longer have the guilt.”

Max grabbed her hand and squeezed it “You need therapy Britney, not this.”

“I volunteered Max, I was created to be hers” said Britney and she pulled him close so she could look into his eyes. “The real Britney is living happy and healthy. My history exists to make me Ruby’s gift. That’s all. I like that. I like to make Ruby happy.”

Max said “She wants to turn your mind off.”

Britney grinned “Be an improvement don’t you think? None of my melancholy to put a downer on things, just the beauty of my body.”

Max hugged Britney and patted her back “You are lovely, your mind is beautiful.”

He pulled back and said “The scars and terrors that we go through define us as people but it doesn’t have to be negative. Now you want to be Ruby’s gift, to be her toy, well there’s no reason you can’t be happy. What makes you happy Britney?”

Britney said “Christmass.”

“Ooh! Christmass is good.” said Max and went to sit in an armchair “Brandy butter and pigs in blankets”

Britney grinned and sat on the floor before him “Minty candy canes and chocolate oranges.”

Max started massaging Britney’s neck “Roast turkey with all the trimmings”

Britney moaned with delight “Oh that’s good. Stuffing and parsnips.”

*

Amy stepped out of the shower and dried herself down with a towel and went to pick up her clothes. They were gone.

Miffed, she went to the door of the shower room and opened it.

Ruby clipped a leash onto the collar that was still around Amy’s neck.

Amy said “Okay?”

Ruby said simply “Follow” then started walking.

Amy followed.

Ruby led Amy into her bedroom then she locked the door behind Amy.

Amy said “Okay now would be a really good time to explain what the fuck is going on?”

Ruby unclipped the leash from about Amy’s neck and said “You are his gift. You were chosen to be compatible with him and you chose to be with him. I can find out a lot about him from you.”

Amy glared at Ruby “You’re using me for information.”

“I’m a vampire, I don’t have healthy relationships.” said Ruby “Now tell me what you know about him and why you chose him. Why are you compatible?”

Amy stared into Ruby’s soul “Why? Why do you need to know? I just thougfht you wanted to fuck him or eat him?”

Ruby nodded “I did. I do.”

Amy clenched her fists.

“But I am also intrigued by him” said Ruby “There is a darkness within him. He isn’t good like you are. He doesn’t radiate it, he chooses it. Tell me Amy what sort of man can intimidate a vampire, tame a woman and keep a friend in a cage yet still try to claim the moral high ground?”

Amy smiled insincerely “I don’t know, I’m just his gift.”

“A man who is trying very hard to convince himself he is better than he really is.” answered Ruby “So what is he hiding? How black is his soul?”

Amy shrugged and she saw now the point to this “Okay, okay, I’ll answer you but can I please have some clothes.”

Ruby chuckled and circled Amy. “You really are beautiful you know? But not too beautiful, not like my Britney, there is raw, honesty and realness to your beauty. Simple and practical, like a sword.”

Amy rolled her eyes “Well cheers for the appraisal but I’m not for sale.”

“And you have plenty of bite don’t you?” said Ruby “Very strong and independent and yet...” Ruby massaged Amy’s neck.

Amy groaned “You bitch” as the ecstasy brought her to her knees.

Ruby said “You melt before a compassionate hand.”

Amy sighed “I like a massage, okay?”




















“You like to be submissive” said Ruby.

Amy grimaced “Yes. Yes, I like to be submissive. So what?”

“So you reward him for his morality and fight back if he displays his darkness nakedly” said Ruby and then she stepped away and said “Now tell me why you chose to be with him?”

Amy stood up straight and glared at Ruby “Why?”

Because I’m giving you clothes” said Ruby and she tossed a bunch at Amy.

Amy examined the clothes. A pink bikini, short skirt and tanktop. She sighed and got dressed, it was better than nothing. “I chose to be with him because I felt sorry for him and I knew I could make him happy and he could make me happy.”

“Why did you feel sorry for him?” asked Ruby.

“Because he had a rough childhood” said Amy “He was bullied, had an abusive father, a whole host of health conditions and as a result before he came here was lonely and depressed.”

Ruby nodded “And you can make him happy?”

Amy shrugged “Well Max is just this guy you know? He wants friends, he wants people he can nerd out with and I am well nerdy.”

“First 15 Doctors?” asked Ruby.

Amy finished dressing and grinned at Ruby “William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, John Hurt, Christopher Ecclestone, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi and Haylee Atwell.”

Ruby smirked and gave her a sugar cube “Well done, that’s good, have a treat?”

Amy gave Ruby a curious look then accepted the sugar cube and ate it.

Ruby asked “And what does he do for you?”

Amy grinned “He is like fire and ice, he burns with energy and passion yet he’s so cold and calculating. He’s hot enough to take me by surprise but cold enough to know precisely when I’m in the mood. He is kind and protective but honest to the point of bluntness and willing to let me make my own decisions. And yes as you noted he can complement my ideas of submissiveness.”

Ruby nodded and stroked her cheek “Thank you, Amy, you have been most helpful. I think I shall have to find the real Amy, you would make the most wonderful toy.”

Amy grinned.

A bell rang somewhere in the house.

Ruby checked her watch “Dinner time.”

Amy gave Ruby a nervous look.

“Not you, you daft thing” said Ruby and she unlocked the door.

*

Ruby, Amy, Max and Britney gathered round the dinner table.

Max said “I like the clothes.”

“Thanks” said Amy “I didn’t choose them.

Max smirked.

Britney said “You have a really good Master you know Amy? I wish I could be his.”

Max smiled and squeezed Britney’s hand “I wish you could be mine to.”

“Perhaps I might let you buy her off me” said Ruby as she plated up the food. “I mean I only need one copy to keep as a work of art. Incidentally I can’t help noting that she’s clothed and eating at the table.”

Max stared at Ruby like she was mad “Well of course, she’s a person.”

Britney grinned and squeezed Max’s hand.

“Don’t be preposterous” said Ruby “She’s a toy. I acknowledge that she needs a bit of kibble to live currently but why did you clothe her? I mean what is bthe point of hiding that body away?”

“Because we’re eating” said Max and then he changed subject “So what do you think about my girl? I don’t know what to do myself. This isn’t my world.”

“I think you should fuck her” said Ruby.

Amy blushed.

Max stared at Ruby.

Britney giggled.

“The poor girl wants it so much it would be cruel to deny it and admit it you want to experience her too.” said Ruby “But then I think you shoulfd turn her into a sylph and keep her as a pet. I would add her to my collection myself but you need her heart and mind and you need someone to protect. She’s already submissive and already follows you around like a lapdog, you just need to make it official.”

Amy focused on cutting her food, her cheeks flushed red.

Max stared at Amy, studying her, after a while he said “I think you might have a point.”

“Also, if there’s a queue I think I would like to try you out sometime?” said Ruby.

Amy glared at her.

Max laughed “No”

“What?” asked Ruby.

“No.” said Max “You’re a cold hearted bitch.”

Ruby stared at him “You’re actually say no to me?”

“Yeah” said Max “I’ve seen how you treat your toys.”

Ruby glared at Britney.

“Incidentally if anything happens to Britney I will come back to make you my toy and you really do NOT want me to.” said Max.

Amy stared at Max. “Hey, calm down.”

“Oh I am perfectly calm” said Max icily “I am just stating a fact.”

And then he dug into his food.

*

They finished dinner then Max and Amy left, with their Candi in a travel cage and the clothes Amy had arrived in in a bag.

When they got home Max promised Amy and Candi that he would take care of them each but that he just needed a couple of weeks to get set up before he dealt with them.

So time passed and they grew closer as they ate together and watched TV together.

Then the day of Max’s date arrived.

*

Max arrived in the restaurant in a three piece suit with a tie tied in a windsor knot and brown leather brogues.

Felicity was already seated and wearing a ruby red dress. She stared at him “You have a suit?”

Max grinned “Yeah well I used to be big into them and then I stopped going places with people I care about.”

Felicity put her hands on her chest and said “Aww... You care about me.”

Max smirked and took his seat.

They ordered drinks and then Max said “You know I met someone recently who made me reevaluate some things. There is something I’d like to ask you?”

Felicity studied Max for a moment then said “Where?”

Max stared at her and said cautiously “Here?”

“No, I meant where did you meet this person?” said Felicity.

The waiter arrived with the drinks and food menus. They order food.

When the waiter cleared off Max said “It was at that taming seminar.”

“Oh” said Felicity “Learn anything interesting?”

“Yes” said Max and he sipped his drink “But I met someone there, she was a vampire. We had dinner with her and she was nice enough but I learned something from her.”

“Oh?” said Felicity.

Max studied Felicity for a moment. She seemed so small and fragile, something within him just wanted to protect her. “I learned that there is a moral way to have...” and he looked meaningfully at her as he said the next word. “Toys.”

Felicity stared at him “Max, if you’re suggesting what I think you’re suggesting...?”

Max held up a finger.

Felicity fell silent.

Max continued “And uh that night I got a toy of my own anyway in the form of my taming partner Candi and well I recalled you... making some rather freudian slips and I figured...” His mouth dried and he gulped down his drink “I figured that if I don’t take you someone like her will.”

Felicity stared at him “Max, I-I’m so so so happy you said that. Thank you so much, look I’ll be the best behaved and...”

Max sighed “But I must confess to having an ulterior motive.”

“What?” said Felicity, glaring at him.

“This woman also gave me some advice regarding Amy...” said Max.

Felicity swallowed, expecting the worst

“She said I should umm satisfy her then turn her into a sylph, whatever that means and I figured...” Max trailed off and frowned.

“Oh thank god” said Felicity

“I thought you’d be pissed” said Max

Felicity laughed “You think I and Oliver haven’t...?”

Max stared at her “Then why are you interested in me? I mean if you and Oliver...”

“You’re nerdy and commanding” said Felicity “He’s strong and obedient. I mean don’t get me wrong that’s nice but I want someone who can connect to me on an intellectual level and give me eternal youth.”

Max tilted his head to one side and thought for a second then said “So you’re fine with this?”

Felicity grinned “Of course I am. Let me know if you need any help with the paper work.”

“Paper work?” asked Max “I thought you just consented came home with me then got a load of injections.”

“Oh no” said Felicity “Being a toy is a very legal thing. I will literally sign away my human rights and become your legal property. It’s a whole... THING. Apparently the Bam-Kursh pushed it through.”

Max stared at her “You’re kidding?”

“Having second thoughts?” asked Felicity.

“Not if you’re not I’m not” said Max. “So toy isn’t just a cutesy name for like drugged up submissive?”

“Oh, no” said Felicity “You can actually buy toys in shops. My favourite is Lucy, she’s a hatchling of the actual Lucy Danse, who’s currently leading the United Civilisations of the Multiverse in their fight against the Septagonoids. No idea how the Bam-Kursh managed to swing that. So yeah toys are totally legit toys. There’s even an injection to basically wipe away almost all of a toy’s memories so they are nice and brainless and an injection to give the toy unflinching loyalty.”

Felicity sipped her drink and said coyly “I would umm like to not have those two injections please?” Then she looked into his eyes “Unless... You want me to?” She shrugged and looked away “I could be a brainless beauty if you wanted.”

Max grabbed her hands and said “I want to have you as my toy so I can do it properly, in a way that respects you as a person. You can tell me precisely what injections you want. I am not going to make you do anything you don’t want to.”

Felicity looked into his eyes and sighed “I suppose it’s too late to kiss you? I mean since I am agreeing to be your legal property?”

Max thought for a second then said “I am not sure what you’re talking about? I mean we’re two consenting adults having dinner together, anything could happen?”

Felicity grinned.

Then the food arrived.

*

Felicity woke up naked in Max’s bed.

Amy was wearing flannel check shirt and jeans and watching her. “Hey, sleepy head. Have a good night?”

Felicity stared at her “Umm, yeah... Why are you...?”

Amy said “Max gets bored and he didn’t want to wake you. I decided to stay and welcome you to your new home.”

Felicity sat up and kept the covers over herself. “So you’re not mad at me because I and Max?”

Amy chuckled “He cleared it with me and Candi before he met you at the restaurant. Now you’ve fucked him and are his toy, it’s my turn.”

Felicity said “So what happens now?”

Amy smiled and said “Now me and Max head to the pet shop to get you your injections.”

Felicity nodded “Well good luck Amy.”

Amy said “Thank you and genuinely welcome Felicity. We’ll take good care of you. The shower’s just down the hall and the water’s good and hot. There’ll be a change of clothes waiting for you when you get out. The fridge is packed if you fancy breakfast.”

“Thank you” said Felicity with a smile “That’s really nice.”

“No problem” said Amy and then she got up to leave and paused on the door to ask “How do you feel about threesomes?”

Felicity stared at her “Umm, I haven’t really given it much thought.”

“Shower well” said Amy and she left the room with a devious grin on her face.

*

Amy and Max were in the pet shop and Max was getting the couple of dozen different injections for his new toys along with the associated paper work when Amy went to look at the sylphs for sale in the adoption center.

She saw a couple holding hands and staring at the adoption center. The man, not much more than a boy, was visibly terrified. Amy decided to see what was up.

“Everything okay?” she asked.

The man, wearing skinny jeans and a pacman tshirt, nodded “I’m f-fine”

Amy looked to the blonde beside him. She was average height with practical comfy clothes.

“He’s just nervous” said the blonde. “He wants to be a hamster but he’s got crippling social anxiety.”

Amy said “That’s an amazing coincidence because I just came in here looking for a couple of hamsters.”

The man turned and hugged Amy “Thank you” he whispered.

The blonde said “You are a life saver.”

Amy shook her head “You are.”

*

By the time Max arrived with a doctor’s bag full of injections and forms Amy held a travel cage in her hands.

“You bought something? I didn’t think you had any money.” said Max.

Amy smirked “Yeah I got us a couple of hamsters cheap. The main cage will be delivered by the time we get back.”

“Neat” said Max “Used to have hamsters of my own until I got sick of the constant death.”

“Oh don’t worry” said Amy “These are sylph hamsters, they’re hardier.”

Max nodded appreciatively.

“You got everything?” asked Amy.

“Yeah” said Max “There’s just one more stop we need to make. Medical check up, shouldn’t take long.”

*

Amy entered the Doctor’s office and a short middle aged woman in a suit greeted her like an old friend “Amy, good to see you, how are you? It’s been years.”

Amy frowned “I think you’re mistaken.”

Max entered “She’s with me. A gift of the Institute of Choice.”

“Oh, of course” said the Doctor “You’re a lucky man. Amy’s a very rare person to find, let alone have handed to you on a plate.”

Max smiled politely and said “She’s here for moral support.” and then he sat down in a chair opposite the Doctor.

Amy sat in a chair beside Max.

“Oh yes” said the Doctor “Well first off, allow me to introduce myself. I am Nikola Evangelista. Welcome to Choice World, I hope you’re enjoying your time here.”

“Oh it’s been very eventful and I’ve met some interesting people” said Max and he grabbed Amy’s hand. Bracing himself. “Before I left I was diagnosed with some minor umm genetic defects.”

“Yes” said the Doctor looking over her notes on a computer “Low cortisol, low testosterone, a slightly enlarged pituitary gland. And for that you’ve been on hydrocortisone tablets three times a day and testosterone injections but the pituitary gland seemed more or less okay.”

“Yeah” said Max dryly, waiting for the bad news.

“Well as you know we did a scan of you when you arrived.” said the Doctor “That is after all how you came to have the lovely Amy. I’m sure you’ll make a very lovely gift yourself someday.”

Max snorted and looked away “Just give it to me straight, the seemingly inconsequential enlargement of my pituitary gland isn’t quite so inconsequential is it?”

The Doctor frowned “No, how did you know?”

Max sighed “Because I don’t get to move to Choice World, live a life free from fear and meet the people I have without experiencing some kind of negative. It’s a tumor isn’t it?”

“Yes” said the Doctor and she looked him in the eye “But I wish that were the only problem. With our technology tumors are easy to operate on. According to our scans your dna is degrading. You are falling apart very slowly at the cellular level.”

“How the fuck is that possible?” asked Max “And if it were true I’d have noticed something?”

The Doctor sighed “Logic can degrade dna. With the Septagonoids, the United Civilisations of the Multiverse and the Bam-Kursh off expanding the empire there’s a lot of it about.” and then she leaned in and said “Are you sure you haven’t noticed anything? Loss of smell, nose bleeds, haemorrhoids, migrains, worsening eyesight, progressing difficulty to focus, more typos and clumsiness?”

Max groaned.

Amy squeezed his hand.

Max looked at Amy and smiled “How long have I got?”

“A month” said the Doctor “Extending to a year or three with treatment but it won’t be pretty.”

Max shut his eyes and started taking deep breaths to remain calm.

“But it’s not a death sentence” said the Doctor.

Max didn’t react so Amy said “What’s answer then?”

“Complete genetic rewrite” said the Doctor “I mean we don’t have that technology but a sylph pill or series of toy injections would.”

Max turned his head and glared past the Doctor “How can you not rewrite my dna if both those options are present?”

The Doctor sighed “Well one was devised by a long dead race and the other made by a mad god who isn’t exactly contactable and isn’t worth trying to bargain with?”

Max said “I can’t trust someone that much, I can’t live that way.”

“Well you have a month to make up your mind” said the Doctor.

Max got up “Well thank you for being so helpful. Now if you will excuse us we have something to attend to.”

Amy said “I’ll be a long in a minute, why don’t you take five?”

Max nodded and left the room.

Amy asked “Are you absolutely certain those are his only two options?”

“The only safe ones” said the Doctor.

“Then tell me about the unsafe ones” said Amy.

The Doctor sighed”Well there’s the Logicios and the Architects of Chaos but they both have entrance exams he wouldn’t live to complete and even if he could they have a strict code that I’m guessing he wouldn’t be into and then well, it’s a bit dangerous but there are rumors of people being bitten by weresharks and remaining sane. If it could be done that would fix his dna and let him remain...”

“Human?” suggested Amy.

“Dominant” said the Doctor “Now, go. Be with him. Make him happy. Make him see sense. Or find someone who really wants a pet and isn’t afraid to break some rule to get what they want.”

Amy nodded “I’m not letting him die.”

And then she left the room.

“I think we might have to postpone your taming” said Max “If my time runs out I want you to find the way that is more reversible, do that to me and keep me alive. At least until the toys are handed off to someone trustworthy. Who knows maybe we might find a third way that lets us be together like you want.”

Amy hugged him “Right, you are coming home, right now.”

Max looked her in the eyes “You’re planning something aren’t you?”

“Think you can put this to the back your mind long enough to umm...” she grinned and kissed him lightly on the lips.

Max eyes went wide “Oh?”

The Doctor appeared behind them “Oh bugger, I nearly forgot. A Nurse Joy asked to see you, she had quite specific instructions.”

Max looked at her “What kind of instructions?”

The Doctor handed him a small box containing a doll in a nurse’s uniform. “Open it outside, chuck it away from you and stand back.”

“Intriguing” said Max “Thank you.”

Amy and Max strode outside the general practise and Max did as the Doctor said.

The packaging swelled before their eyes until the doll was the size of a person and Max saw he recognised the person “Nurse Joy, last time, I was here I met one and she umm, said she mightcome home with me sometime.”

Max started pulling at the packaging.

Amy helped.

Max found the instruction manual and skimmed it “According to this there is a button to switch on her a consciousness, a pin lockable remote to switch her mind on and off and a couple of different modes for how her body acts when switched off. And there’s a preloaded memory gun should I fancy restoring her memories.”

“Found them” said Amy “You should have the honour of switching her on.”

Max grinned and shoved the instruction manual in a pocket “You realise what this means? We have someone qualified to inject the toys.”

Amy smiled when she saw him smile.

Max turned Nurse Joy on.

The ginger woman opened her eyes and stared at Max “Hello, I’m Nurse Joy, I take it you’re my master now?”

“Err yeah” said Max “Amy, shoot her.” and he stood back.

Amy fired.

A blot of logic arced across Nurse Joy’s brain and her memories returned to her “Max? You got me then?”

“Yeah” said Max “It’s been a busy couple of weeks, walk with us and we’ll explain on the way.”

*

Max and Amy returned home with Nurse Joy and Felicity greeted them at the door.

“Hey, how did it go?” asked Felicity.

“Awesome” lied Max, with a big grin on his face as he held up the doctor’s bag “We have everything we need to turn you and Candi into toys. We even have a Nurse now to do the injections.”

Felicity looked at Nurse Joy and gave an appreciative look “Awesome”

“And we have hamsters” said Amy, following Max’s lead.

“Oh cool” said Felicity.

Amy said “Max, why don’t you go oversee Candi’s injections, then see that the hamsters move into their new home safely? I would like a chat with our new plaything”

Max nodded and went on his way with the hamsters and Nurse Joy.

Felicity gave Amy a curious look “Did something happen because you don’t look happy?”

“Oh I’m just nervous” lied Amy “Tonight’s the big night for me and Max and I would like you to be a part of it.”

Felicity frowned.

“Is it because you’re straight or something?” asked Amy “Because we can work around that.”

“No, it’s just that part of the reason he decided to make me his toy is so he wouldn’t feel guilty about being with you?” said Felicity “And also I’m not sure I like the idea of being his sex toy.”

“Well I’m okay with it” said Amy “And I’ll be sure he’s okay with it. Are you?”

Felicity said “See I’ve never actually done anything like this before...”

“It’s okay” said Amy “We’ll let you know what to do, just give us good feedback”

Felicity sighed and circled Amy, pausing for a moment at the sight her bum in those jeans then she said “Okay, I’m in. Just know that I can be awkward in socvial situations at the best of times.”

Amy handed her a bottle “As soon as you’re injected, lube up and wait. I’ll announce your entrance once I’ve got him going.”

Felicity nodded “I hope I don’t disappoint.”

“Good luck.” said Amy.

Max returned with Nurse Joy.

Felicity said “Ah my turn I take it?”

Max grinned “It’s okay, she’s very skilled so it won’t hurt.”

Nurse Joy grabbed Felicity’s arm and started looking for a vein.

Amy pulled Max upstairs to his bedroom.

Max followed.

When they entered Max asked “You didn’t tell her anything, did you?”

“No” said Amy “She is blissfully unaware, why?”

“Would you like to be the toy of a dying man?” asked Max.

“No” said “But I would like to fuck one.”

Max chuckled and kissed Amy on the lips lightly “What were you talking about anyway?”

“Oh just stuff” said Amy and she kissed him back.

*

Amy woke early next morning slipped and slipped out of bed, leaving Max and Felicity embracing. She had a quick shower then headed out.

*

Ruby answered the door after Amy’s 4th knock. She was wearing a large sports top covered by a dressing gown.

“Strip” said Ruby.

Amy looked Ruby in the eyes and said “This is serious.”

“You think I’m not?” said Ruby “I have a reputation to maintain. A beautiful submissive woman turns up on my doorstep, she strips.”

Amy glared at her.

Ruby said “I can shut this door.”

“Fine” said Amy “But no drinking from me”

Ruby stared at Amy.

Amy sighed and started pulling at the buttons of her flannel shirt.

Ruby stood aside to let her in then shut the door.

“Head upstairs to my bedroom” said Ruby.

Amy entered Ruby’s bedroom and pulled her shirt off as Ruby locked the bedroom door behind her.

“This bedroom is sound proofed in case my lunch ever disagrees with me, we can talk here.” said Ruby.

Amy removed her bra and started working on her jeans as she explained “Max is dying. His dna is unravelling. He needs a rewrite but the stupid bastard is too pig headed to become somebody else’s pet or toy.” Amy pulled off her shoes and socks and stood naked, save her collar, before Ruby. She looked her in the eyes “His only hope is something called a wereshark.”

“I see” said Ruby “Wait here, there’s something I need to get.”

Amy watched as Ruby unlocked the bedroom door, opened it, stepped though, closed it and relocked the door.

Amy sighed and examined the room. There were photos of what must be friends and family in frames. Memories of simpler, more innocent, times clearly. There were stuffed teddy bears and posters and in the corner a metal bucket, sharp knife and duct tape. Huh.

Ruby reentered the room and locked the door behind her. She held a filled syringe in her hands.

“What is that?” asked Amy nervously.

“Mercy” said Ruby then she reached out and grabbed Amy’s arm.

Amy decided that resistance really was not a good idea and let Ruby inject her.

Ruby checked every drop had been injected then put a plaster over the wound the needle caused.

“Feel okay?” asked Ruby.

“You mean aside from the fact that I am locked in a sound proof room with a vampire who commanded me to strip and injected me?” said Amy.

Ruby smiled and unlocked the door “There’s something I want to show you.”

Amy followed Ruby downstairs and into the living room.

At first Amy thought it was a poster or a piece of art and then she took in the full horror of what was before her. Britney stood, completely naked, with her feet splayed, her hands on her hips, her eyes open and staring, her mouth in a rictus grin. She was completely paralysed.

Amy recoiled “You, monster!”

“She went happily in the end” said Ruby “Said Max had given her hope and that she would accept her destiny willingly in the knowledge that good men like Max were out there.”

“Why did you do this?” asked Amy “You didn’t need to do this”

“I wanted her to lose her intelligence and free will but Max gave her too much hope. He fired up her imagination and she could no longer be my willing plaything so she became my willing art.” said Ruby

Amy wanted to vomit “How could you?”

“I’m not nice” said Ruby and she pulled up a travel cage “But that’s why you came to me isn’t it? You’re a seal and your shark friend needs another shark to sort him out. Weresharks aren’t the kind of things that you can find by being nice. I will say though thank you for so willingly providing the bait with which to capture Max, you have done your master a great service.”

Amy stared at Ruby “No, no, no, no, no. You’re not doing this. This isn’t happening. This is NOT happening.”

“That’s right dear” said Ruby and she started massaging Amy’s neck “None of this is happening, you are safe at home with your master and this is just a nightmare. Now go back to sleep.”

Amy folded onto her knees.

Ruby bundled Amy up and placed her in the travel caged then locked the cage door shut “Sorry Amy, you’re a nice girl but there is a shark that needs saving” Ruby flicked a switch and Amy’s mind turned off.

*

Felicity woke up naked in Max’s bed.

Max sat on a chair beside the bed. He was wearing a Make Tea Not War tshirt and lounge trousers and his hair was a mess. “Hey, how are you?”

“Sore” said Felicity, sitting up and not bothering with the covers “But it was fun.”

Max smiled and looked away “You know you really didn’t have to do that?”

Felicity yawned “I know but Amy asked me and well... I did. How are you?”

“Oh good” said Max and he looked back to Felicity “That’s actually why I’m here. I mean last night was amazing and entirely unexpected but what’s almost harder to comprehend is that you are now my toy.”

“Is it weird?” said Felicity “It’s weird isn’t it? I mean you don’t actually seem the type to have grown up playing with dolls and now you have an incredibly lifelike one.”

Max smirked and nodded “Yeah, it’s pretty fucking weird but I did this because you want this and I don’t trust anyone else not to take advantage of you.”

Felicity mused thoughtfully “So what happens now?”

“Have a shower” said Max “There’ll be clothes waiting for you when you leave and then you are having a full English breakfast.”

“But I don’t need food” said Felicity “I don’t even need to breathe.”

Max laughed “You may not need to eat but you should. Food is nice and you certainly deserve nice things after last night.”

“Okay” said Felicity, grinning “I’ll eat your breakfast but what will you be doing?”

“Cooking, of course” said Max and then he left.

Felicity gingerly out of bed and headed over to the shower room.

When she stepped out, clean as can be, there was a bundle of clothes waiting for her. She dressed in the ruby red bikini, pink skirt, white crop top and flip flops then she cleaned her teeth and headed into the kitchen.

Max handed her a plate of food and dug into his own. 2 bacon rashers, 2 sausages, 2 fried eggs, a thick slice of black pudding, half a tomato, potato dauphinoise, 2 slices of buttered toast, a croissant and a gallon of fresh orange juice.

Felicity stared “This looks amazing but I’m not sure I can eat it all.”

“Well eat what you can” said Max “I’ll finish the rest off.”

Felicity nodded and dug in.

When she gave up she sat back drinking orange juice and watched Max demolish his food. “So what are you going to do today?” she asked idly.

“Fill out forms” said Max in between mouthfulls and he gave her a meaningful look.

“I can help” said Felicity.

“No” said Max before drinking 3 glasses of juice so he could speak again “No, if you are to be my legal property then there is no way I am ever letting you work again. Your life from now on is entirely fun and good times. It’s the only way I can live with myself.”

“Aww” said Felicity “But really I don’t mind helping”

Max stared at her, examined how much food was left on the plates then cleaned his face and hands with tissues “There is something I want to give you, sort of a “Yay, you’re mine!” present.”

Max got up and made to leave the kitchen.

“What about the food?” asked Felicity.

“I can eat it later” said Max and he led Felicity into the living room where he picked up a small box and gave it to her “Merry toy day and thank you.”

Felicity opened the box and pulled out a gold leather band with her name on it. She pulled it out and marvelled at it.

“It’s a collar that the uninformed will mistake for a necklace. They don’t really do gifts of ownership for toys so I figured this would do.” said Max “If it’s too flashy I can get you a simple leather one but I thought this deserved commemorating and also I figured I might need a reminder that yes I do actually own you.”

“It’s beautiful” said Felicity.

Max smiled.

“Can you help me put it on?” asked Felicity.

“Oh, yeah” said Max and he secured the collar round her neck then he went round to look at her and smiled “You are so beautiful? How on Earth do I have you?”

“Because you had the confidence to reach out and grab me” said Felicity “Thank you for this.”

Max kissed Felicity on the cheek and stroked her hair then he took her by the hand led her to an empty space between the TV and hamster cage.

“There” said Max “Right there, you are perfect.”

Felicity grinned “What are you doing?”

“Well I have to go out and do some... things” said Max “I have to turn you off and I don’t want anyone getting freaked out by the random blonde woman frozen in time. Here you’ll look just like a piece of art.”

“Okay” said Felicity with a smirk “I can be your art work. How do you want me?”

“Hands by your sides” said Max and he guided Felicity’s hands into position.

“Look at me” said Max “And smile.”

Felicity looked into Max’s eyes and smiled.

Max turned her mind off with the remote control and she was frozen in position.

Max stroked her hair and kissed her fore head then said “I’ll be back soon okay” and then he left the room.

*

Max knocked on the door of Felicity’s house.

Oliver answered it.

Max looked Oliver in the eyes and said “I have something to tell you and you are not going to like it.”

“You don’t need to” said Oliver “I know you took Felicity as your toy and I’m not mad, it’s what she wanted.”

“I’m dying” said Max.

Oliver flared with anger and restrained himself from punching Max “And you took Felicity as yours knowing that?”

“Well not exactly” said Max “But that’s not what I have to tell you either, that’s just why I don’t mind telling you what I have to now.”

Oliver sighed and stepped aside “Then you’d better come in”

Max entered the house, it was sparse and minimalist, clearly inspired by early 21st century design yet it was also littered with knick knacks and toys and soft furnishings.

Max entered what he assumed to be the living room due to the large lcd screen and sofas.

Oliver followed and said “Talk. Tell me what you can only say when dying?”

Max grimaced “Look I need to take a run up at this so bare with me.”

Oliver nodded.

“I am a nerd. I retreated into science fiction and fantasy after a - Shall we say traumatic? - childhood. I rebuilt myself anew from it. So trust me when I say I am very familiar with Doctor Who and Star Trek and Star Wars and Harry Potter and Farscape and Battlestar Gallactica.” said Max

Oliver smiled “Yes, flights of fantasy they do bring joy at dark times.”

“It also means I am familiar with the concept of timetravel and multiverses” said Max “And the possibility that I might know of two companies that you don’t, namely Marvel and DC.”

“I’ve heard of Marvel” said Oliver “Spider man, Captain America, Iron Man, all that lot. Alright films but atrocious comics.”

Max nodded “That makes sense because where I come from Marvel’s competitor Detective Comics has a few big name brands, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.”

“They sound like awesome characters” said Oliver.

Max snorted “I hate them, too perfect and invincible but I liked their tv series. The Arrow starring one Oliver Queen who went around Starling City in a green hood with a bow and arrow, aided by his erstwhile hacker companion Felicity Smoak and I absolutely love its spin off The Flash, starring one speedy Barry Allen and the infampous time travelling Harrison Wells.”

Oliver paused, drinking this information in.

“Now this could all just be a massive coincidence” said Max “I mean you don’t look like Oliver Queen and Felicity doesn’t look like Felicity Smoak and I am more than willing to pretend that there can be two Olivers who like to dress up like Robin Hood of a weekend but its enough of a coincidence for me to think I can tell you who I really am and ask you for help.”

Oliver frowned and crossed his arms “Who are you then?”

“My real name, my full name, is Anthony Maxwell Jago and I am not a nice man.” said Max.

Oliver locked eyes with him “How? How are you not a good man?”

Max sighed “I’m a victim, Oliver. Every single day at that school I would be humiliated and insulted and berated and then I would get home and beg my mother not to return. I was told she loved me so many times the words lost all meaning and my father-”

He caught himself and stared into Oliver’s eyes “There is a fire that burns bright at the core of my being and it is formed of every tiny insult and joke and threat and iota of pain and embarrassment given to me by another. And there have been so many.”

Max raked his hands over his face then turned away, clasping his hands behind his back to control himself “They would taunt me and dare me to attack them and I wanted to. Dear god, I wanted to. I was almost convinced going to prison for murdering one of them would be a mercy compared to the life I led. I wanted to hurt them so much. I didn’t just want them to die, I wanted them to suffer.”

“Then why didn’t you make them?” asked Oliver “What stopped you?

“My morality did” said Max and he turned back to Oliver “I did not want to become thing I despise so I made myself a binding of morality to stop me from ever fighting back no matter how angry I got. I am not a good man by nature, I am a good man by choice. The fire still burns within me and god help me I still feel sadistic pleasure on occassion. This is why I have never allowed myself to be fit or to know how to fight, insurance against my morality failing. And now I want you to train me how to fight?”

“Why?” asked Oliver “What changed?”

“I told you I’m dying” said Max “What I did not tell you is that there is a cure and when it is administered the fire of rage at the core of my being will be replaced with overwhelming love and obedience. Felicity is perfectly safe and I am going to lose what has for so much of my life defined and motivated me and since I’m dying and I only have a month left to live before having this anger taken from me I decided to do something with it.”

Max looked Oliver in the eyes “It is time to let the monster out of its cage. It is time to give into rage. It is time to become the darkness I have always feared.”

Oliver said “I spent my life fighting monsters, why would I help create one?”

Max gave a deranged smile “Because Max, the good man, took your love as a toy to save her from the predators that stalk the streets of this city. I cannot shed all of my restraints, the seals will be unharmed, but the sharks shall face a monster that can fight them without fear of corruption.”

“I can’t train you to fight well in a month” said Oliver.

“You don’t have to” said Max “You just have to train me to fight well enough that my rage can do the rest and then... well... You could always take up your old habits to ensure the master of your mistress does not get killed.”

Oliver stared at him “Who is our first target?”

“A very old Bam-Kursh” said Max “A man who longs for death but satiates himself by murdering the same woman night after night.”

*

The Bam-Kursh was just clearing up after his show when Max walked up, wearing his suit from his date with Felicity.

“Are you alright son, you look a little lost” said the Bam-Kursh when he noticed Max’s pensive expression.

“Yeah, I kinda am, see I’m not really comfortable with the whole taming thing and keeping people as toys” said Max “Especially the whole killing by turning people plastic bit”

“Ah yes” said the Bam-Kursh looking at Max in a new light “I remember you, you’re the newbie from a couple of weeks ago? You know for someone so against the idea you’re a real natural when it comes to taming. What’s you’re name again? Max something?”

“Anthony Maxwell Jago” said Max and he seemed to straighten up and stare into the Bam-Kursh’s eyes “But a name is like a promise. I chose to go by my middle name because I was trying to be normal but I’m dying now and I really don’t give a fuck. I used to be so afraid of giving into temptation, of becoming the monster that stalks my dreams but I don’t care anymore. I am the hunger that lurks in the dark, I am the beast that stalks at night, I am lonely and unceasing. I am become Bruce, hunter of monsters.”

“Why are you telling me this?” asked the Bam-Kursh.

THUNK!

THUNK!!

THUNK!!!

Three arrows impacted the back of the Bam-Kursh and he collapsed against the sharp suited monster that was now calling himself Bruce.

“Because you have been mindfucking and killing the same woman night after night for kicks and I want your dying agony to broadcast my identity across the planescape of the elder gods as a warning. I am coming!” then Bruce pulled a knifde from his pocket and cut the heart out of the Bam-Kursh.

“What the fuck are you doing?” asked Oliver as he ran up out of hiding.

“Getting blood on my hands because I am not letting myself excuse this. This is on me.” said Bruce then he hurled the heart across the room and pulled a key out of his pockets. “Come on lets find his ship.”

Oliver stared at him “You know I think the police might be able to get your dna off that?”

“They’ll have a job, my dna’s decaying” said Bruce and he strode across the room to a small locked storage cupboard. He tried the key in the lock, it opened “Jackpot.”

Oliver joined him.

They were inside a large room with a mushroom shaped console in the center of the room.

“Can you fly this thing?” asked Oliver.

Bruce laughed and searched the rooms with Oliver until he found a woman, frozen on a large white piece of floor. He paused and stared at the woman.

Oliver found him and said “Why is there a woman frozenm in place on a piece of white flooring?”

“Oh I have an idea” said Bruce “We are in a ship that is bigger on the inside, therefore we’re dealing with scifi rules. That area looks like some kind of teleportation chamber and there’s a funny thing about teleportation. We can do a basic version of it where I’m from only it isn’t like Star Trek teleportation.”

Oliver asked “So how is it different from a beam me up, Scotty?”

“Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle prevents accurate scanning” explained Bruce “There is a way around it using a process called Quantum Entanglement but this form of teleportation destroys the original and creates a copy in a new location using data gathered from the destruction of the original.”

“Ah” said Oliver “So not exactly appropriate for human transportation?”

“Well no” said Bruce “But the interesting bit is that some ethics experts have suggested that since all living creates have their cells completely replaced over time anyway Quantum Teleportation would arguably be no different. So the man who stepped off the teleportation chamber at the other end would at once be a clone and a continuation of the original. Now just supposing the Bam-Kursh found some way around the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle that kept the original in tact his teleporter could become a people printer, or toy factory.”

Oliver whistled, impressed.

“This, Oliver is the original Candi.” said Bruce “Bastard didn’t even keep his promise to her.”

“Well what do we do?” asked Oliver.

Bruce sighed “We go home. Just promise me you won’t tell Felicity any of this. Before long a month will have passed and Max will be back.”

“Okay” said Oliver “But you get to explain why I’m dressed like Robin Hood and you’re dressed like you’re on the pull?”

Bruce rolled his eyes, loosened his tie and slouched. He turned the frozen woman’s mind on.

“Who are you?” she asked.

“I’m Max” said Bruce “And this is Oliver. We confronted the Bam-Kursh for killing clones of you every night and we are here to free you. It’s Candi, right?”

The woman nodded “I don’t understand. The Bam-Kursh said he would turn me into a toy?”

“He lied” said Bruce “He used you as the mould from which to create clones that he could turn into toys and kill. I actually have a toy of you myself but I refused to have her killed.”

“Oh my god!” said the woman “That’s horrible!”

“Come with us, we’ll look after you.” said Bruce.

Oliver nodded “A good friend of mine is actually a toy of his, you can trust him.”

The woman nodded “Okay Max, I’ll trust you.”

Oliver looked to Bruce “What are we going to do about the ship?”

“The authorities will want to look at it and naturally they’ll interrogate us but once the heat dies down I’ll have it delivered home.” said Bruce.

*

Bruce, Oliver and the original Candi arrived at Bruce’s home and found a bag stuck to the door by an impaled knife.

Oliver glared at the knife.

Bruce pulled it free and opened the bag. He found a note:

Max darling,
We have taken your pet Amy hostage,
Come alone or she dies.
Sincerely Diane.

Bruce handed the note to Oliver and pulled Amy’s shirt out of the bag. A lock of her hair was taped to it. Bruce angrily put the shirt back in the bag then opened the door.

Bruce led Oliver and the original Candi inside.

Oliver asked “Where’s Felicity?”

“Living room” said Bruce and he handed Oliver the remote and the bag.

As Bruce left with the original Candi Oliver heard him say “Now I know you’re lost right now but there is a show that bought me out of a dark period in life and gave me purpose. Come on, I’ll stream the boxset on Netflix.”

Oliver gasped when he saw Felicity frozen like a statue then he used the remote control.

Felicity blinked “Oliver? And you’re dressed like...?”

“Yeah” said Oliver “Max found out what you’re supposed to do with leftover sharks. We just liberated this woman that someone called the Bam-Kursh was using as a template to create clones that could be killed every night for his kicks.”

“Yikes!” said Felicity “Kind of glad I missed that.”

Oliver and Felicity looked into each other’s eyes for a moment and shared an awkward silence.

Felicity broke the silence “Sorry I didn’t tell you that well...”

“It’s fine” said Oliver “Max came round to tell me in person and well make use of make use of my particular set of skills. Is everything good?”

“Yeah” said Felicity, as visions from her two nights with Max swam before her eyes “A little weird being turned off and on but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.”

“I’m sure that if you ask Max nicely he’ll stop turning you off.” said Oliver.

“My ears are burning” said Bruce as he walked in the living room “Oliver, I admire your faith in ability to keep Felicity happy but even I’m not sure I can keep her turned on all the time.”

Oliver glared at him.

“Yeah I know I’m bad at jokes” said Bruce then he looked Felicity in the eyes and said “I’m going to say three names and they may sound completely alien to you but if they’re not just nod. Roy Harper, Ray Palmer, Barry Allen.”

Felicity glared at him and nodded curtly “Just why do you want to know?”

“Testing a theory” said Bruce “And I really hoped I was wrong but since I wasn’t it means I can use you.”

“Use me?” asked Felicity indignantly.

Oliver gritted his teeth “Max, you might have a care to explain yourself?”

“You are a superhero with the almighty power of google.” said Bruce “Amy’s just been kidnapped by the vampires that tried it on with me the day I... umm. I need you to find out where they are. I’m going to prepare.”

Felicity frowned “That’s horrible, I’m so sorry of course I’ll help.”

Oliver said “You realize it’s a trap right? They want you.”

Bruce nodded then took the remote from where Oliver had cast it aside and left the room.

Bruce found his Candi where she stood frozen as a stature and turned her mind on.

“Max?” asked Candi “Is everything alright? You look troubled?”

“The vampires have taken Candi” said Bruce “I am about to walk willingly into a trap. I need all the help I can get and you are nigh invulnerable and like me don’t really give a shit about your life. Will you come with me?”

“Of course” said Candi “I am yours to use as you wish and I know how horrible those vampires are.”

“Good” said Bruce “Because I am really bad at not looking suspicious when I’m carrying weapons. How are you with pain?”

Candi gave Bruce a curious look “Why?”

*

Bruce knocked on the door of the safehouse.

Diane answered it and leered over him “You came alone?”

“Far too often” said Bruce and he strolled in.

Diane had an aid put him down.

“Nothing up my sleeves” said Bruce with a grin.

Amy cried out “Run! It’s a trap!”

Bruce saw that she was cable tied to an office chair.

“Well of course it is” said Bruce “But whose trap?”

Diane snorted “What do you hope to do to us?”

“Oh nothing” said Bruce “Except maybe teach you the importance of listening to the lessons of Doctor Who”

Bruce strode past Diane and saw that on the opposite side of the room from Amy, Ruby was cable tied to a chair and between them, further in, someone else was restained, their head covered by a bag.

Bruce started idly strolling towards the hooded figure “So what’s the plan? What’s the gambit?”

Diane smirked “You’ve heard of the sadistic choice? Two of these will be devoured, the third will live.”

Bruce nodded “And of course the moment I make my choice I get jumped.”

Diane laughed “Do you trust me so very little?”

Bruce pulled the bag off the head of the restrained figure at the back and vampires restrained him.

“How very nice of you to walk into my parlour Bruce!” said Diane as two syringes had their contents injected into his arms.

Bruce cried “The variable is some sort of shark human hybrid!”

Arrows shot from the darkness and took out the vampires restraining Bruce. Then Candi dropped from the ceiling on top of Diane.

Bruce reached into Candi’s back and pulled out a steak knife then he ran to Amy and cut her loose.

Diane got to her feet, snapped Candi’s neck then threw her aside like a rag doll.

Vampires kept trying to stop Bruce and Amy as they headed to the door but arrows would take them out.

Felicity dropped from the roof to land beside Ruby. She pulled a knife from her pocket and cut Ruby free and Ruby ran for the door.

Candi appeared beside Ruby, Amy and Bruce as the arrows created a volloey of protective fire.

“Stop!” cried Diane.

The room fell silent and everyone looked to Diane.

Diane was holding a knife to Felicity’s neck. “One false move and the girl dies.”

Bruce glared at Diane “Let her go, it’s me you want!”

Diane nodded “But I’ve been watching my Doctor Who, Max. The weakness of a hero. Always save the girl.”

“Get out now” said Bruce and he tackled Diane to the floor.

Candi opened the door and pushed Ruby and Amy outside.

Felicity said “But I’m immortal!”

Diane got to her feet and stood over Bruce.

Bruce groaned “You don’t understand Felicity, I don’t matter. I am a bastard and I am dying and I am not about to let you suffer. Run!”

Felicity ran outside.

“You wanted me?” said Bruce “Well you’ve got me. Care to tell me why?”

Diane said “Your pet told us of your condition, your dna is disintegrating and you don’t have much time. As fellow predators we can well understand why you do not wish to become a toy or a sylph so instead you will become a wereshark but there is a catch. Weresharks aren’t like us vampires. We have the vampiric traits because our prey let us, we don’t actually lose our souls or turn evil. Weresharks though are corrupted by hunger and rage and the need to live. Fortunately the blood of your pet should work to counteract this corruption.”

Bruce stared at her then cried out in pain.

“Impossible” said Diane as she watched Bruce squirm in agony as his body underwent massive metamorphosis.

“What have you done!?” cried Bruce.

“The cure didn’t work” said Diane “I’m so sorry”

*

Felicity exited the building and said “That stupid idiot just sacrificed himself for no reason. I’m a toy, that knife couldn’t have hurt me.”

“It would have hurt me” said Oliver, dressed in a green combat suit with a hood “I think that man couldn’t live with that.”

“So what? He just hands himself over to the vampires who have been after him since day one? It makes no sense.” said Felicity “Oh and he said he’s dying.”

Ruby, Oliver, Amy and Candi all shared awkward looks.

“And why are none of you surprised?” said Felicity.

“Because I told them” said Bruce as he forced his way painfully out the door “I am depressed, dying and such a complete headcase and I just wanted someone in my life to be blissfully fucking ignorant so I lied to you and I’m sorry but I have worse news.” He screamed with agony as his insides reorganised themselves.

Felicity reached out to help him.

“Back off!” barked Bruce

Felicity backed away towards Oliver. “What’s happening to you?”

“Bitch tried to save me” said Bruce bitterly “I am becoming a wereshark. Corrupted by evil at last.”

“I don’t understand” said Felicity.

“I’ll explain later” said Oliver.

“Live good lives yeah” said Bruce “I’ve gotta run because if I don’t I will tear you all limb from limb.”

Bruce turned around and started limping away.

Candi said “I’m coming with you.”

“No” said Bruce. “I am not hurting you.”

“I’ll live” said Candi “They can put me back together afterwards. You shouldn’t have to die alone.”

Bruce sighed then screamed “Fine!”

Bruce dropped to all 4s and said “Get on my back sand hold on tight.”

Candi did so.

Bruce screamed and started gallopping into the night.

“So what the fuck do we do now?” asked Felicity.

Oliver said “I put tracers in Candi. We get home. You chill the fuck out and started tracking him then I am going after him.”

Amy asked “Where’s Ruby?”

*

Several hours later Felicity sat before a computer and coordinating algorithms and programs so as turn the raw data from the trackers in Candi into useful information about where Bruce was and what he was doing, one window held a running feed from every online surveillance camera in Bruce’s viscinity while another showed the gps coordinates of Candi. A third window was a stream of the cutest cat videos because just now Felicity really needed the destress.

Oliver’s voice crackled over Felicity’s speakers “Bastard’s climbed a building. I need directions.”

Felicity sighed and swiftly loaded up a 3d model of the buildings in the city, cross referenced it with the gps coordinates, cctv surveillance footage and a trawl of building deeds, planneing permits and wikipedia. Within a minute she said “He’s about the cross the Catalan Cathedral, there’s an ally way that should take you to a fire escape and from threre it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to him.”

“Thanks” came the reply and the crackling stopped.

“Hi” said a man behind her “I’m looking for Max, is he about?”

Felicity groaned “Oh he’s about” and then she spun on her chair to look at him.

He was average height, in his thirties, wearing an oddly mismatched suit and had unkempt black hair. He exuded a friendly confidence.

“Well could I see him then” asked the man “Only I’ve got a delivery to make then there’s more people to ferry to Choice World... and you’re not happy are you.”

Felicity grimaced “Yeah about that, turns out max is not only actually not here he’s actually sort of evil.”

“Okay...” said the man “Well before we go any further I think introductions are in order, I’m Frederick the ferry man and you are?”

“Felicity the lost” said Felicity with a frown “How do you know Max?”

“I’m the reason he’s here” said Frederick “I showed him round and ferried him here when he accepted the invitation to live here. You?”

“He came onto me to scare off some vampires one thing led to another and I became his toy” said Felicity “But now the vampires have turned him into a wereshark, whatever that is, and I don’t know what to do with my life.”

Frederick frowned and reached out to Felicity then stopped himself “I’ll get him back for you. Is there anybody else I can talk to who might know more about the attack?”

Felicity nodded “Amy but she left some time ago to speak with someone called Ruby and I have no idea where she went.”

Frederick said “That’s okay, I think I know how to find her. You’re clearly busy so I won’t distract you any longer but I can promise you that you won’t be lost for much longer. Hold onto your hope. Max is coming home.”

Felicity said “Thank you.”

Frederick left the room.

Oliver’s voice crackled over the speakers “I’ve lost him. Think he jumped onto the back of a lorry.”

“On it” said Felicity and she got back to work.

*

Amy knelt over Ruby in her bedroom and punched her in the face. Just pounding her and pounding her.

“I think you can stop now” said Frederick calmly.

Amy stopped and panted “She killed him, Freddy, she turned my Max into a monster and used me as bait.”

“I know” said Frederick “Diane told me everything.”

Amy looked to him “She took him from me, Freddy”

“And I am going to help you get him back” said Frederick “Just trust me.”

Amy nodded and got to her feet.

Ruby stared at Frederick and silently mouthed “Thank you.”

*

Frederick coughed.

Felicity looked up from the computer screen.

“You’re back?” said Felicity

Frederick nodded “And I bought a friend.”

Amy entered the room. “So how’s the hunt going?”

“Good” said Felicity “So far no fatalities.”

Amy nodded then asked “So what happens now?”

Frederick stuffed his hands in his pockets and explained “Diane told me that she wanted to turn Max into a wereshark to save his life, restore his melty dna. She said that all she needed to do to let Max retain his sanity is inject him with the blood of his pet and she’s right but she forgot one crucial thing: The pet has to be a sylph first.”

Amy gasped as realization dawned.

“Oh” said Felicity as she thought back to that night.”

“You see the wereshark survive along the first way, using brutal domination and oppression but the sylph survives along the third way, through cuteness, submissiveness, obedience and exploitability. The two impulses sort of cancel each other out, leaving an approximation of the second way which how normal people get by.” said Frederick.

Amy nodded in understanding.

Felicity said “Well this is fantastic. Amy, you just need to become a sylph and we can get Max back.”

Amy grinned “She’s right, lets do this.”

Frederick looked Amy in the eye and said “Then as a Farsh-nuke with Felicity as my witness I feel I must ask you Amy whether you will pledge yourself to Max, to be his faithful hound in the many long years to come?”

“I do” said Amy.

Frederick pulled his hands out of his pockets and pulled out a blindfold “Then we may begin.”

Amy nodded “I trust you.”

Frederick proceeded to blindfold Amy.

Felicity asked “What’s the blindfold for?”

“Sylphs imprint on the first face they see” said Frederick “Until Max arrives Amy needs the blindfold.”

“Ah” said Felicity “Fair enough.”

Oliver’s voice crackled over the speakers “Who the hell are you talking to and why do they have a blindfold?”

Felicity went white and said “No one. Noone’s here. Everything’s fine. Keep following Max. I’m just thinking outloud.” then she muted her microphone.

Frederick’s other hand held a small white pill and he placed it in Amy’s right hand. “This is the sylph pill, my dear, do you have it?”

Amy nodded, placed it in her mouth and swallowed. “So umm what now?”

“Sit down on the floor and cross your legs” said Frederick as he did just that.

“Okay...” said Amy and she sat down on the floor and crossed her legs.

Then Frederick pulled out a knife and said “This is going to hurt but you need to trust me.”

Amy said “I trust you just get Max back”

Frederick nodded “Then let us pierce the veil”

Frederick sliced open the palm of Amy’s right hand and then the palm of his left hand. He grabbed her right hand with his left and shut his eyes.

*

Frederick and Amy stood in a small dark room whose walls were black veils.

Amy said “I’m not wearing a blindfold any more, have you just like decided to run away with me? Because I’m not entirely sure I wouldn’t be okay with that. Where are we anyway?”

“We are in the blood of the weresharks. Only your body wears the blindfold, not your soul” said Frederick “And your willingness to run away with me is just a sign that the sylph pill is coursing through your system. Stay close and follow me.”

Frederick started moving through the veils.

Amy followed and said “But I’m not a wereshark.”

“No” said Frederick as he ducked through another veil “But your blood is inside one and it is also inside me which lets me be your guide back to Max.”

“Okay” said Amy “Then why does the blood look like a maze of veils.”

“Because we are piercing the veil of human perception into the collective memory of the weresharks. It’s a metaphor.” said Frederick “That and the BBC set department doesn’t have the funding it once did.”

“Huh” said Amy “So what are those big slow things with fins supposed to be?”

“Antibodies” said Frederick “Your owner’s a massive Doctor Who fan yeah? Well remember that show’s mantra: Run for your life!”

Frederick took off running Amy hurried after him.

Frederick stopped and pulled Amy aside. “Shit.”

“Why? What’s the matter?” asked Amy

Frederick poked his head past the next veil and saw a black haired man and a blonde haired woman running from weresharks. “William Dickson Wright as I live and breathe.”

“Is that a problem?” asked Amy.

“He’s who they’re searching for I think” said Frederick “If I recall rightly this would be around the time of the great wereshark invasion.”

“What’s he like, this William Dickson Wright?” asked Amy “You speak of him like he’s a figure of legend.”

Frederick nodded “The man founded a terrifying conspiracy, figured out how to end the entire multiverse, could tame a woman on his planet and then he reformed and became one of the best protectors the multiverse has ever had. An amazing Farsh-nuke.”

Amy stared at him “Are you fanboying yourself?”

Frederick frowned and took off through the veils again “This way I think”

*

Frederick and Amy stepped out into a large public park.

“There we are” said Frederick with a satisfied smile on his face.

Amy asked “What’s that figure in the distance?”

Frederick looked.

A boy of 15 or 16 was calmly striding across the park followed by a large squad of kids on bikes who were hurling abuse and bottles in his direction.

Frederick started running towards the kid.

“What are you doing?” asked Amy as she followed.

“Saving the kid’s life” said Frederick and he ran between the mob and the lone strider.

“Stop!” cried Frederick “I permit you to go no further!”

The leader of the mob, a tall shaven headed kid, cried “Fuck off, nob head! You and whose army?”

“Amy?” cried Frederick “Kiss the boy”

“I am not kissing a child!” snapped Amy.

“Well hold his hand and wish very hard then!” cried Frederick in exasperation.

The mob of children slowed

“Who the heck are you?” asked the leader to an old man in a trench coat that had just appeared before him, along with an entire army of other people.

“I am the Doctor” said the old man “Or at least I am the eldritch abomination known as the Farsh-nuke who was executed and exiled then reincarnated when his soul helped revive a still born alien child who went on to adopt the moniker of the Doctor.”

“What the heck are you doing here?” asked the leader.

“Every Farsh-nuke is notionally speaking the same soul and we are by our nature quite protective” said the Doctor “So when there are two or more of us in the blood and a sylph experiences a particularly large outburst of love or compassion it short circuits the soul connection and we all of us appear to protect the sylph.”

“Why are you going see through?” asked the leader.

“Probably because we were only supposed to be a distraction” said the Doctor before he vanished.

Indeed Amy, Frederick and the lone strider had all run down an estate that was close to help.

“Whoops” said Frederick as his knife lightly nicked the kid’s thumb creating a single droplet of blood that Frederick then touched.

*

Amy and Frederick were back in the maze of veils again.

“You know I think we might have imprinted on him” said Amy.

“Good” said Frederick “Let the kid have hope that someone is watching out of thumb”

Frederick started running.

Amy followed.

“This should be his local memory corridor” said Frederick “I want to see how things started out”

*

Amy and Frederick stood in the concrete playground of a primary school. A storm was raging.

“I think little Max is in there” said Frederick, pointing to a window of a classroom.

There was a crack of lighting and suddenly a boy was standing outside the window crying.

“Well if that isn’t an origin story for torment in someone’s life. I don’t know what is?” said Frederick

Amy asked “We don’t have to touch the blood every time we want to move on do we?”

“No” said Frederick “We aren’t really here. We’re ripples on a higher dimension that only children are malformed enough to witness.

*

They were on the grass of a secondary school playground this time. A chant resounded “Fight! Fight! Fight!”

Amy and Frederick headed towards the sound and saw two boys at the center of a ring of spectators. One was huddled into a ball on the florr and muttering “Please stop” over and over again. The other was kicking and punching and hurling insults.”

“We’re going to stop this right?” asked Amy.

Frederick looked at her and then at the boy huddled on the floor and the crowd. He strode through the crowd and cried “Silence!”

They couldn’t hear him.

He crooked the fingers of his right hand, as though he were puppeting a marionette then he started muttering something and jerked the imaginary puppet.

The huddled boy jerked out of the huddle.

The imaginary puppet was made to stand up.

The boy stood up.

Frederick waved his hand around in a circle.

The boy snarled and charged part the atacker, running along the outside edge of the crowd, dispersing them.

“Anger is a tool” said Frederick “It can buy you the space in which to recover if you are careful.”

Frederick lowered his hand and walked away.

Amy asked “What did you do?”

“Blood control” said Frederick “The wereshark blood has a hold on the dna of those it turns. Since we are technically in the blood, I can cheat, convince the blood that the dna it controls in this viscinity needs to behave despite the fact that we are long before the moment of infection.”

“So what now?” asked Amy.

“Now we head to the present” said Frederick.

*

Amy and Frederick appeared beside Oliver in a school as he reported over his bluetooth “Felicity, he’s in a school and its lunch time. Do something.”

Then Oliver charged towards the wereshark.

“Get to Max” said Frederick “I’ll try to buy time.”

Amy ran towards the wereshark.

Frederick shut his eyes and felt his body in its trance. He felt the rythmic breathing and the resolute calm it necessitated. This would require finesse. He had to maintain the trance and the connection but he needed more juice.

He felt his hand, his real right hand, move into his real jacket pocket and pull out a Quantum Oscillator. Operating a dangerous piece of equipment while blind and in a trance, optimum concentration necessary. The Quantum Oscillator was aimed at Frederick’s real forehead, given the appropriate setting and activated.

Frederick screamed. Both his real body and his spirit.

His spirit vaporised and became a thick fog across the playground, hiding the kids from the wereshark and scaring them into running.

Oliver made it to the wereshark and restrained it temporarily.

Suddenly every phone, computer and alarm system within the school grounds was activated. Felicity’s little something in action.

The kids were running blind.

Frederick switched off the Quantum Oscillator and his spirit returned to the image of his real self.

The wereshark broke free of Oliver’s restraints then froze.

The Doctor appeared before Frederick “You summon us again Frederick, why?”

“Look around you” said Frederick “All these children are in danger.”

The Doctor nodded and barked “Evacuate the children! Get them off school grounds!”

Amy hugged the wereshark and said “Max, I know you’re in there, you might be burried deep but I am here now because you are here.”

Oliver stared at the scene before him, children being sheparded and in some cases even carried by unseen hands away from the wereshark. The Wereshark paused in its furious rampage and sobering up before his eyes. “What’s happening?” he asked Felicity over the bluetooth.

“Well I’m not sure” said Felicity “But if I had to guess I’d say the weird man who blindfolded Amy and promised to help get Max for us is doing something. Though I have no idea what.”

“Well whatever it is” said Oliver “It just prevented a massacre.”

Bruce said “Okay, this is strange.”

Oliver stared at the wereshark and asked “Bruce?”

“I’m not sure” said Bruce “I feel different. I’m changing.” He made a couple of experimental bites with his shark head mouth then said “New teeth, that’s weird.”

“Did you just make a Doctor Who joke?” asked Oliver.

“You’ve watched Doctor Who?” said Bruce with astonishment.

“Well Felicity made me watch the first season” said Oliver “If you’re making Doctor Who jokes you really must be getting better.”

Bruce roared “It’s not the first season, it’s the 27th series. Philistine.”

The Doctor appeared before Bruce and gave a knowing smile “Oh so you’re a fan are you? Yes, I see it now. It’s marked across your soul.”

Bruce farted in fear “Am I dying?”

“Is he?” asked Oliver.

“No, you just have good friends who won’t let you suffer with madness” said the Doctor.

Bruce smiled a warm genuine smile. “Oliver? You’ve been keeping me safe haven’t you? Made sure I don’t kill anyone.”

Oliver shrugged.

“And Amy?” said Bruce “You were to be my caretaker if there was no other cure?”

Oliver looked where Bruce looked and saw nothing.

Amy smiled and hugged Bruce “You daft idiot, I was made to be with you and I am not leaving you in hell.”

“Hello Maxxy boy” said Frederick, appearing before the wereshark “I couldn’t just leave your Felicity all out of sorts could I?”

Bruce stared into space and cried with anguish “Felicity! Shit!”

“Oh my god” said Felicity “Did I just imagine that?”

“Bruce, you know how I work these things” said Oliver “If you want to tak to Felicity you should know that she can hear every word.”

Frederick nodded “Amy’s a tough old girl but there’s nothing like the built of realing you left someone you made dependent on you behind.”

“I’m sorry” said Bruce “I’m so so sorry.”

Oliver stared at the wereshark and felt pity for it.

A little kid was striding across the field flanked by two men on either side of him.

“Who is that?” asked Amy.

“Anthony” said Bruce “The boy who never fought, not even to defend himself. I was so moral back then and so naive.”

“It’s over Bruce” said the boy “Your reign of terror is at an end.”

A tall anthopomorphic shark with chest hair and a beard, dressed like Saturday Night Fever John Travolta, approached.

“May I introduce G. White the great god of all sharks?” said the boy.

Bruce swallowed.

Oliver asked “What are you seeing mate? What is in your head?”

Frederick made his real body say “Felicity, I and Amy are connecting on the spiritual plane with Max. We are witnessing his psyche come to cross examine him for his actions.”

Felicity’s mouth dried as she took that in.

G. White said “Son, you are now a shark but you do not have to serve as wanton predator, you can return to your old ways and swim the great ocean on your death.”

Bruce nodded “I thank you, my lord.”

The boy introduced a second man “Presenting the Lord High Liquidator, the great Slick.”

The Slick shook Bruce’s hand “It’s been a pleasure to know your acquaintence. You shall be rewarded and we will meet again. In the flesh.”

“The Head of the Robo-Liquefiers, Rob” said the boy.

Rob shook Bruce’s hand “Dude, you are fucking awesome and here’s a tip, nonparticles and blast of logic from a lance, your Felicity could get a built in hacking terminal like me.”

Bruce grimaced. “Charming. Oliver, never let Felicity have access to nanoparticles and a beam of logic.”

Oliver frowned “Okay, I’ll make a note of that.”

The little boy made to introduce the fourth man but he introduced himself instead “I am The Great Farsh-nuke, The Macguffin Man, The Man Who Makes The Impossible Probable.”

Bruce grinned “I thought I dreamed you? Oliver, Felicity, you can’t see this but this is the Great Farsh-nuke.”

The Great Farsh-nuke grinned “Ha, gotta share that little tit bit eh?”

The Doctor glared at the Great Farsh-nuke “You weren’t at the battle for the multiverse?”

“I was dead” said the Great Farsh-nuke.

“We’re all dead from a certain point of view” said the Doctor “Where was your soul?”

The Great Farsh-nuke grimaced “Okay, you want to do this here, now? I couldn’t make your little meeting because I am not a Farsh-nuke, I was too spicy for Yog-Sohoth and his soul was corroded by mine.”

The Doctor stared at him in horror.

“Fuck you too prissy tits” said the Great Farsh-nuke then he turned to Bruce “Sorry about that. Entitled git, isn’t he? Anyway time to die?”

“What?” said Bruce.

The Great Farsh-nuke indicated the boy, Bruce and Amy in turn “Ego, Id, Super-Ego. All that is needed to restore your sanity is for your Id to embrace your Super Ego.”

Bruce stared at him.

“In other words” said the Doctor “Kiss the girl.”

Bruce looked to Amy “And what do you think about this?”

Amy laughed “Doctor’s orders”

The being that had been named Anthony Maxwell Jago at birth collapsed and reverted to human. Candi exploded out of his stomach as he did so.

Oliver stared.

*

Frederick opened his eyes and pulled his left hand away from Amy’s. “Well that was an experience and a half.”

Felicity was staring at the computer screen “Is it over? Is he back?”

“Yes” said Frederick “But he won’t be the same man that met you. He has just undergone a process of apotheosis, it’s going to take him time to figure out who whe is now.”

Felicity said “Thank you, thank you so much.”

Frederick got to his feet and said “Tell your friend in the field to expect me.”

Felicity nodded and spoke into her microphone “Oliver, it seems our weird friend has succeeded. He’s coming for you now.”

“Right” said Oliver’s voice skeptically over the speakers.

*

Oliver stood in the abandoned school playground with the naked bodies of his associates about him.

The man formally known as Bruce sat up “Okay, this is umm... new. I think a new name is in order.” he got to his feet and proclaimed “I am Anthony Jago and that is a promise! A promise that never again shall I be violent, not even in self defense. I am morality reborn.”

“You’re naked and pretentious” said Oliver derisively.

Anthony smirked “You’re just jealous that yours can’t split into two.”

A sound like a stammer Sh! started up.

Anthony started laughing like a mad man.

Oliver snorted “It wasn’t that funny.”

Anthony proclaimed “It’s the end but the moment has been prepared for at the sound of the Doctor’s tardis brings hope to so many.”

A rickety wooden shed materialised and Frederick stepped out “Evening all, I figured you could do with a lift and some clothes.”

Anthony stared at Frederick “So you’re the one who saved me from perdition?”

Frederick snorted and tossed a suit at him.

Oliver asked “Earlier when Bruce escaped my restraints the children were evacuated by unseen things, what were they?”

“The souls of my other selves” said Frederick.

Oliver sighed.

Candi said “Umm I might umm...”

Frederick tossed some clothes at her.

Anthony wore a three piece suit topped by a long duster coat “Yeah this feels good, this feels like me.”

Candi pulled on the jeans and tshirt and said “Lets go.”

They entered the shed.

Oliver stared at the far larger interior contained within.

Frederick spotted him staring and explained “Reality is a function of complex hypermathematics and mathematics can be hacked using higher level mathematical languages.”

Oliver nodded “I think I’m going to settle for magic box, thanks.”

*

Felicity was sat at the computer wondering why she couldn’t pick up the gps signals any more when there came a sound like a stammering Sh!

Felicity got out of her seat and turned towards the location of the sound.

A rickety wooden shed materialised and out stepped Frederick.

“Madam” he said “Never let it be said that I don’t keep my promises.”

Anthony exited next and locked eyes with Felicity.

Then Oliver and Candi exited.

Felicity smiled “You’re back.”

Anthony nodded and shut his eyes then stook a deep breath.

“What’s the matter?” asked Felicity.

“Hey, maybe we should give these guys some space?” said Oliver.

“No” said Anthony, clearly terrified “No, I think you should stay.”

“Okay...” said Oliver and he fell silent.

Anthony forced himself to look Felicity in the eyes and said “You know like how when the Doctor regenerates and he goes through this whole period of instability? Well that’s me now. I just... Things happened. Strange things... And I don’t know who I am anymore.”

Felicity frowned.

“But I know one thing” said Anthony “Every cell in my body is screaming run. Run because you’re not ready for this, because you can’t do this.”

He took Felicity’s hands in his and said “You are so beautiful and so charming and so funny and I don’t deserve you. I have lied to you and I have used you and god help me I have blood on my hands. I can’t be your... I can’t even say the words... I can’t see you right now. It reminds me too much of how horrible I am.”

He let go of her hands “So go live your life Felicity, go be with your Robin Hood and maybe in a couple of weeks I’ll be able to see you again but not right now.”

And then Anthony disappeared.

Everyone was silent.

Anthony reappeared with a few dvd boxsets “So you can understand why I can’t come between you two.”

Oliver took the boxsets wordlessly.

“One last thing” said Frederick “You have a present to unwrap” and he led Anthony over to where Amy sat blindfolded.

“Come on” said Frederick to Oliver and Felicity “I’ll give you a lift home.”

They followed wordlessly into the shed and it disappeared.

Anthony pulled off Amy’s blindfold.

Amy saw him and smiled “You’re back!”

“Thanks to you” said Anthony with a grin.

“I’m sorry” said Amy “I went to Ruby for help”

“I’m not dying anymore” said Anthony “You are forgiven and I love you.”

Amy hugged him.

“Now if you don’t mind, I feel awfully tired, could you ensure the house is in order if I crash?” said Anthony.

Amy nodded “Sleep well, Max.”

Anthony didn’t bother to correct her.

*

Anthony woke up naked in his bed.

Amy sat opposite him, she was dressed in jeans and a flannel check blouse. “Hey honey, how do you feel?”

Anthony blinked and a wave of nausea hit him “Like a pig shat in my head.”

Amy frowned “Well why don’t you have a shower and I’ll make you breakfast? You can’t have eaten since you changed.”

“Good point” said Anthony

*

Anthony stepped out of the shower and got dressed in his new suit. It felt weirdly natural and appropriate.

He walked into the kitchen and Amy was plating up a massive fry up.

Anthony was amazed “Oh, this is glorious! Thank you Amy, ever so much!” then he noticed something “But you’re not having anything?”

“I already ate” said Amy and then she put the cooking utensils into be washed and said awkwardly “Plus well I sort of figured I might be your entertainment for the meal?”

Anthony stared at her, utterly perplexed.

Amy caught his stare and walked over to him. She placed one of hands on her neck and the collar she still wore there. “Look a lot happened last night so I can understand if you don’t remember but I’m a sylph now, your sylph.”

Anthony stroked her collar and memories of the night before came back “And sylph means.”

“Big cat” said Amy “It’s kind of a whole thing. There’s lore and shit but basically you start stroking and when I get naked on all 4s you lead me over to my sylph bed in the living room. Or keep cuddling, I mean you’re the boss but the point is that I am yours now and when I shed my clothes that means I’m basically a big kitty cat.”

Anthony stared at her and swallowed “I really don’t have any choice in this do I? I mean I owe my sanity to you becoming like this.”

Amy seemed to consider the question for a moment then nodded “Yeah sorry, you’re a pet owner again. Doesn’t bother, you does it?”

Anthony shrugged “It’s... certainly a new experience but so long as you’re cool with it...?”

Amy grinned “Well eat up then. I need my owner to be big and strong.”

Anthony sighed “I will never get used to that” and he sat down to eat.

Amy sat down beside him and pulled a leash out of her pocket and plonked it on the table “Oh by the way when Frederick was round the other day, he dropped off a package for you, it’s in the living room.”

*

Anthony walked Amy into the living room on the end of a leash, found what looked like her bed then removed the leash and let Amy curl up to sleep.

“So you tamed Amy alright then?” said Candi

Anthony turned and looked at her. She looked radiant in an expensive red dress.

“You look gorgeous!” said Anthony “Where are you going?”

“Where do you want me?” said Candi “I’m here so I can have my mind turned off again.”

Anthony stared at her “What?”

Candi took his hands and said “I was created to be a beautiful object and that’s what I want to be. You talked me out of becoming plastic but I will not have life inflicted upon me.”

Anthony frowned “Isn’t there anything I can say to make you change your mind?”

“This is my choice” said Candi “One thing though, forgive yourself.”

Anthony shook her head and sucked “I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about?”

“You had a man killed, lied to Felicity, turned into a wereshark and ate me” said Candi “That’s enough to give anyone a guilt complex, never mind someone who prides themselves on their morality.”

Anthony frowned and looked away “I guess you have a point.”

“You were dying and a long way from home” said Candi “No one blames you for behaving irrationally under those circumstances. Just forgive yourself, yeah?”

Anthony looked her in the eyes and said “Alright, I’ll try”

“Now” said Candi with a devilish smile “How do you want me?”

Anthony grinned sheepishly.

Together Candi and Anthony agreed on a location for Candi and a position.

As Anthony posed Candi she noted “You enjoy this don’t you?”

Anthony blushed and avoided Cand’s gaze “No”

“You do.” said Candi with a smirk “You like the power?”

Anthony bit his lip then said “Is it that obvious?”

Candi laughed “It’s alright, it’s what us toys are for. That and looking good.”

“No, it’s not” said Anthony “It’s a wretched and despicable feeling.”

“It’s part of you” said Candi “That makes it beautiful and you are lucky, you have plenty of consenting toys to let you feel those kinds of positive feelings.”

Anthony smirked “Well don’t tell anyone, okay? I don’t like that part of myself.”

Candi snorted “Well there’s no fear of that. Though I think I might like to be revived in time for christmas.”

Anthony grinned “I’ll keep that in mind”

Anthony finished posing Candi then switched off her mind. He stood back grinning at the artwork they had both created then he went too look at the package Frederick had left for him.

*

Anthony banged on the door of the safe house “Open up! I need to speak to Diane!”

Th door was opened and a couple of vampires led Anthony inside to see Diane.

“Max?” said Diane “So glad to see that you’re feeling more like your old self again.”

“So am I” said Anthony with a genuine smile “And thank you for trying to save my life. Even if you did kidnap my pet and threaten to kill my toy. They’re tough girls.”

Diane nodded “I like the new look, nothing much nicer than a man in a sharp suit. What do you want? I trust you aren’t here to repay me for what I did to your girls?”

“Nah” said Anthony honestly “I just need a favour.”

“What kind of favour?” asked Diane.

“I need you to find Frederick the Ferryman” said Anthony.

“Why?” asked Diane.

“As if I’m telling you?” said Anthony.

“Then why did you come to me?” asked Diane.

“You have contacts and resources that I don’t” said Anthony “For example I recall that the woman who welcomed me into Choice World is one of your - What do you call them? - Thralls?”

Diane nodded “Alright, there is wisdom in what you ask but why should Frederick trust me? Why should a Farsh-nuke come running for me? I need something to explain that this is serious.”

Anthony thought for a second, recalling why Frederick had saved his soul “Felicity. Tell him it is about Felicity.”

“Alright” said Diane “I’ll see what I can do. What are you going to do?”

Anthony grinned “It’s a brand new day and I have been reborn anew. I’m going for an explore.”

*

Many hours later Anthony staggered in through the door. He waltzed into the living room drunk on tiredness, endorphines and the thrill of adventure but then he saw Felicity lounging on the sofa.

For a brief moment Anthony’s good mood creschendoed and he longed to take Felicity in his arms and -

The good mood sloughed off Anthony like an old jacket and he glared at her “What are you doing here?”

Felicity met Anthony’s gaze “You asked for me”

“I bloody didn’t” said Anthony indignantly.

Felicity stood up angrily as she explained “My name is on the lips of every vampire, followed by yours. Oliver is off playing at being a hero again and that means he has come across it a lot.” She glared at Anthony “Why is my name on the lips of every vampire Anthony?”

Anthony grimaced then looked away, he could feel his anger rising. He looked at his hand and saw a wereshark’s claw. He turned back to Felicity “You need to understand that you are like a mirror reminding me of why I hate myself. I’m not safe around you.”

“Then let me help you” said Felicity and she took his hand in hers.

He looked at her, at that honest, endearing face, and shut his eyes. He took a deep breath and said through gritted teeth “You are a toy. The best toy. Frederick saved my soul because he couldn’t bare to see you upset and I need him to tell me what the meaning of his delivery to me is.”

Felicity stroked his gills and said “Well I am not Frederick but I do know a bit about toys, maybe I can help you?”

Anthony nodded and reached out a hand to stroke her face. The anger dissipated and he returned to human form. “God help me Felicity but I love this.”

Then he opened his eyes and looked Felicity in hers, “If I could settle it with my conscience I would love -” and then he stopped and stepped away from her “But I am not.”

He strode past Felicity and stood before Frederick’s package.

A blonde woman was packaged up like a toy doll.

Felicity appeared on the opposite side of the packaging and grinned “Oh I know what this is. The original toy. Lisa Watkins is her name. She was a student of structural design until the Bam-Kursh chose her.”

Anthony gave Felicity a quizzical look “Was?”

Felicity nodded “The Bam-Kursh explained her intentions then worked with her to transform her into the first toy. Behavioural reprogramming, injections to change her biology and mind. By the time the Bam-Kursh was done with Lisa she was able to successfully argue for a patent and copyright on her on grounds that the experience constituted transformative creation.”

Anthony retched.

“Oh it’s entirely consensual” said Felicity “That one university student was turned into the first mass market executive toy. You’re very lucky. Normally only CEOs can afford one of these.”

Anthony said “Oh dear God, it’s worse than I feared. Why would Frederick give me this? What’s the point?”

“I believe your anonymous friend is testing you?” said Frederick.

Anthony turned to look at him.

Frederick held a small ginger kitten in his hands “Diane ended up giving a furry the funds to have me turn her into a kitten just to get the message to me.”

Frederick stroked the little kitten then let her run loose “Consider her compensation for any undue stress and before you ask, no she is not spayed, not that she needs to be and she’ll be able to live at least as long as Lisa here.”

Anthony asked “Why would anyone be testing me?”

“Well you have been intimidating vampires and there was that whole murdering of the Bam-Kursh and wanting his last thoughts to broadcast that you would hunt any elder gods who crossed you.” said Frederick “I think you have garnered yourself some attention as a weapon for justice.”

“So you’re supposed to help this woman” said Felicity and then she stared at Anthony “The toy owner who finds the idea of toys reprehensible. You’re supposed to break her programming? That’s got to be it.”

Frederick nodded “It certainly makes sense as a test doesn’t it?”

Anthony looked from Felicity to Frederick then said “I don’t know what you expect me to do?”

Felicity strode over to Anthony anthony and said “Imagine I was in that box? I have been brainwashed to be completely obedient to you, all I remember is being tamed and that you were my owner, what would you do?”

“Make you watch all 3 series of the Arrow” said Anthony “Seeing the objective truth frpom across the planes of reality would help you bring down your memories and then I would bequeath yourself to you and I dunno, maybe give you a sock just to be sure.”

Felicity grinned “So...?”

“So you’re a toy and a character in a fictional tv series from elsewhere?” said Anthony “And because this is a multiverse, so is she which means...” Anthony grinned and grabbed Felicity excitedly “You are a superhacker and you’re a post scarcity scifi civilisation, you can look her up.”

Felicity nodded.

Anthony kissed Felicity on the forehead in excitement then said “The moment she’s regained her memories I want you watching the Arrow okay? At this rate I might not be able to stop myself from keeping you as my toy.”

Felicity grinned “Is that a promise?”

Anthony smirked “Down girl” then he ran up to Frederick “Sorry, about this old chap.”

“Not a problem” said Frederick then leaned in and said “But if you should ever happen to want Felicity off your hands...”

Anthony laughed “Try anything and I’ll bite your head off.”

“Noted” said Frederick

Anthony left the house again.

*

Anthony stood on the roof of a building staring down at the ground.

Oliver appeared behind him, dressed in his green combat gear “Not like you to be brooding on rooftops.”

“I am not brooding” said Anthony, petulantly “I am building up courage.”

“To do what?” asked Oliver “Surely you’re not thinking about jumping? Felicity would be pissed.”

Anthony sighed and said “All my life I’ve had this infrequent recurring dream. For one reason or another I’ll climb something and it’ll grow, like reality will literally warp and suddenly I’m a hundred metres in the air and then I step off and just for one glorious instant I’m free falling and it feels like flying and then - SPLAT!!! I phase through the ground and see the purple of my brain.”

Anthony turns and says to Oliver “I can survive this drop, I’ve checked but it will hurt like hell.”

“Then why fucking do it?” asked Oliver.

Anthony stared at him and almost laughed “Felicity Smoak is my toy. I like literally legally own her. That is beyond surreal. I mean I had such a crush on her and now? I mean this- this cannot be real. I refuse to believe that there is any plane of reality where this is a thing. It’s too fucked up. Too strange.”

“So you’re going to throw yourself off a rooftop because a girl you had a crush on likes you?” said Oliver, incredulous.

“I’m a nerd and a fanboy.” said Anthony “I’m supposed to sheepishly ask for an autograph and maybe a photo then fuck off and never bother people like her or well you again but now I own her and I can turn her mind on and off and it is taking all my strength not to use this power I have over her, that she wants me to use.”

Anthony shook his head in dismay “I am here in internal turmoil and she is angry that I’m not sweeping her up into my arms or turning her into art. I mean she wants it so much and I want it so much but I just can’t- It’s wrong, damn it!”

Oliver sighed “Well I guess you’ve gotta work this own yourself. Good luck.”

“Cheers” said Anthony and he went back to staring off the ledge.

*

Anthony staggered into the living room looking considerably the worse vfor wear. His suit was muddy, stained and torn. His eyes were shadowed and his face hung with a bitter cynicism.

Felicity was watching Marvel’s Avenger’s Assemble while a blindfolded blonde woman wearing a crop top, short pink skirt and flip flops sat attentively beside her.

Felicity paused the film and stared at Anthony “You were out for quite a while, are you okay?”

Anthony shrugged “I discovered the horrifying truth that this in fact really reality then I decided to give it half a dozen more tries just to be sure. The last one took me quite a while to recover from. How did the whole finding a way to restore her memories go?”

“It took me an hour” said Felicity “I decided to watch the movie that coincidentally mimicked the story of her life so I could fire the knowledge into her with a memory gun since I had some time and since you still weren’t back yet I decided to use your netflix to watch the first 3 series of the Arrow, the first series of the Flash, all the Nolan Batman films and I’m just working my way through the Marvel films.”

Anthony nodded and whistle appreciatively.

Felicity nodded “Those Xmen films? Yikes! Anyway we really need to have a talk now that I’ve seen the Arrow.”

Anthony sighed but nodded then he asked “So what’s with the blindfold?”

Felicity shrugged “Toys imprint on the first living being they see and assume it to be their owner then have undying loyalty towards it.”

Anthony glared at Felicity.

“Well if we’re successful she’ll gain her independence won’t she?” said Felicity in response.

“Fine” said Anthony and he removed his jacket then pulled up a stool and sat opposite the blindfolded woman.

He removed her blindfold.

The toy gave an ecstatic squee when she saw him and asked “Are you my master?”

Anthony smirked “Yes, little lady I am afraid that I am.”

She flung her arms around him and hugged him then said “Your other toy wouldn’t let me see. She said I had to trust her and that you wouldn’t be long but you were ages.”

She sat back and asked “So what do you want to do with me?”

Felicity held a memory gun in her hands and aimed at the toy’s head.

“Keep your eyes fixed on me” said Anthony

The toy grinned “Of course, Master.”

Anthony nodded to Felicity.

Felicity fired.

A bolt of electric blue logic hit the toy in her temple then arced through her brain, making her experience memories of a tv series that reminded her of her life. The fog that made it so the toy only remembered being remade was lifted and she remembered being an architect and town planner. She remembered her friends, her family, the life she led before the Bam-Kursh convinced her to give it all up.

Lisa Watkins sat opposite this strange man that her body told her she should trust and obey but she didn’t know the man. “Where is the Bam-Kursh?”

Anthony frowned. That name bought to mind an old man he’d had killed not so long ago.

Felicity fired at Anthony.

Now Anthony understood.

Lisa was freaking out “I’m not the real Lisa. You bastards, you’ve given me back memories I’m not supposed to have.”

“We wanted you to be free again” said Anthony pleadingly.

“Free to be what?” said Lisa “I am so far from home, from my friends and family and heck I faked my death anyway. The Bam-Kursh isn’t here. This isn’t right. This isn’t fair.”

“Lisa” said Anthony in an authoritative tone.

Instinctually Lisa shut up and looked at him.

Anthony grabbed the sides of her head, making Lisa look at him at the man her made compelled her to obey. “Lisa, I know you’re scared and I can entirely understand why but you have to trust me and you do trust me don’t you? The Bam-Kursh made sure you would.”

“Yes” said Lisa and she nodded, feeling herself compelled along the path of least resistance, compelled to listen to this strange man and trust him.

Felicity watched silently with interest.

Anthony looked ino Lisa’s eyes “You worked together on this project didn’t you? The both of you worked to turn you into a toy and the good news is it worked.”

Lisa grinned “You really think so?”

Anthony smiled and stroked the back of her head with his right hand “I know so, Lisa. You are a high class executive toy and I am very lucky to have you.”

Lisa blushed.

“And I do have you” said Anthony meaningfully and he slid his left hand down to the small of her back. “You are mine and I promise that I will do right by you. Anything you want you can have it. If you want me to command you and play with you I’ll do that, if you want to be turned off and left as piece of art, it can happen. I didn’t give you back your memories to torment you. I gave you them to free you. I want you to live how you want to live and if that means becoming an architect in this new city that’s your choice.”

Lisa grinned “But I’m still your toy yeah?”

Anthony chuckled “Yes, Lisa, you are my toy. The Bam-Kursh was very good at her job.”

Lisa blushed and looked away shyly “It’s nice that you say that”

Anthony hugged Lisa and said “You are home Lisa, you may not know it yet but you have friends and a family here. You can start again without fear.”

Lisa kissed him on the cheek “Thank you. I’ll do my best to find my feet again but remember anytime you want me-”

“You’ll already be by my side” said Anthony and he kissed her on the forehead then stroked her cheek.

Amy entered the living room dressed in a white shirt, denim jacket and jeans “Ah Anthony you’re back, good to see you. I see your flock is growing.”

Anthony laughed and said “Amy, this fair young lady is Lisa, she’s our new toy and a bit disorientated at the moment. I want you show her lots of love and see that her every need is met. I have to go speak with Felicity in private.”

Anthony stood up and went to leave the living room.

Felicity followed him.

Lisa looked momentarily lost when Anthony left then Amy sat opposite her and took her hands.

“So, you’re a pretty one, what’s your story?” asked Amy.

And Lisa began telling her “See I bumped into this strange woman on the way to classes...”

*

Anthony and Felicity entered his bedroom and he asked “So, revelations from watching a tv series that coincidentally covers the events of your life?”

Felicity lounged on the bed and said “Okay first off, all that stuff about Oliver’s past, is that accurate?”

Anthony stared at her “You’re asking me?”

“Well okay” said Felicity “But it’s just so tantalising you know. Anyway you’re right, I should do the talking. The effects are soo bad and seriously who thinks the costumes are that bad. You’ve seed the tricks the BBC can pull for Doctor Who and you really believe Oliver Queen just went out with grease paint and a hoody.”

“Translation convention” said Anthony “Making things simpler for the audience at home. Next you’ll be complaining that there was no ominous music when the bad guys arrived.”

Felicity glared at him “Point taken. Only this is how they make it seem like Oliver and me are like destined. Riding off into the sunset, it’s so fucking cheesey. Like they completely miss out the hours of driving and all the bickering.”

“I know” said Anthony “Imagine a grim and gritty superhero tv show cutting out the boring bits.”

“My point” said Felicity, glaring at him “Is that it’s not like me and Oliver are Star Crossed Lovers or anything. You don’t have to feel guilty about keeping me away from Oliver.”

“Why would I?” said Anthony “Oliver’s a dick.”

Felicity stared at him “But I thought you were a canon shipper and that’s why you felt guilty about the whole keeping me as a toy thing?”

Anthony laughed bitterly “He lied to you, manipulated you, made you think he was leaving you to your death and then just expected you to step in line and work with him. Fucking insane murder hobo. Ray Palmer on the other hand? Now that’s a man that deserves you. A nice ceo, fighting climate change, going without pay while he saves his city and he has a super cool techno suit.”

Felicity was surprised “Really?”

“Oh yeah” said Anthony “I kind of have a crush on him myself. He’s like the best of men but also nerdy and cute.”

“Right...” said Felicity “Leaving aside your shipping proclivities for a moment, why don’t you want to keep me as a toy any more. How does my being the girl in the tv series make things different?”

“The multiverse is vast and complicated so it is not impossible that a woman might want to be my toy” said Anthony “But you are a fictional character and that means somewhere there may be an actress having to act out these lines getting paid worse than her costars and objectified because the media industry is one of the last bastions of open sexism in the western world. I am a feminist and I have issues with the writing of Steven Moffat but compared to him this is reekingly horrendous. I mean you, Felicity Smoak, are a superhero hacker and in the fictional media that coincidentally mimicks this reality you have been reduced to being my toy. That is sickening.”

Felicity sat up and looked him in the eyes “You’re seriously saying you won’t do what we both want you to do because you’re worried a bunch of feminists in another plane of reality would hate this?”

Anthony shrugged “That’s sort of how morality works.”

Felicity stared at him and was about the react when there came a sound like a stammering Sh! and an art deco control room materialised around them.

Frederick was at the controls and hard at work.

Within a moment Oliver, dressed in his green combat gear with his quiver on his back and bow in his hand, materialised.

“Explain” said Anthony “Now!”

Frederick looked to him “When did you grow a spine?”

“You just kidnapped two of my friends.” said Anthony, testily “Why?”

Oliver aimed his bow at Frederick’s head and readied an arrow “I would also like to know. I was just about to stop a raid by the vampires on a student hangout.”

“Aliens” said Frederick “In Starling City. Oliver, the real Oliver, just called me. The shit has hit the fan and it is all hands on deck.”

Everyone fell silent then Anthony said “Okay, I get bringing him but me? You’re bringing a pacifist to an alien invasion?”

“A pacifist who happens to be a wereshark and pledged himself in the dying momrents of a Bam-Kursh as the hunter of monsters” said Frederick “You’re useful.”

Anthony swallowed “Okay...”

Oliver lowered the bow “Alright”

Felicity was still processing what was happenning but she said “Okay... let me do the talking. Oliver, my Oliver, the real Oliver...”

Anthony interrupted “For simplicity’s sake let’s call him Al-Sahim because he’s clearly darker and grittier than this Oliver”

“Whatever” said Felicity “The point is that he’s not exactly the trusting type.”

“That’s okay” said Oliver “Neither are we.”

“Frederick, if we’ve got aliens to fight, just goddamn take us there.” said Anthony annoyed.

“Okay” said Frederick “Just try not to murder him or let him murder you.”

Then he took to the controls again.

*

Ray Palmer, a tall slender well built man with short black hair, in a casual fawn suit, was hunched over a keyboard as 5 monitors displayed scenes from rolling news and cctv of aliens attacking Starling City. Out of the way, the atom super suit was mounted for maintenance and repair.

A tall broad chested man with close cropped hair and a stain of a beard entered wearing a black combat suit and carrying a bow. “I came as quickly as I could.”

Ray looked up from the keyboard and asked “Where’s Felicity?”

“She er- we had a disagreement but I let her know and she should be meeting us here” said the man.

“What kind of disagreement?” asked Ray.

The man frowned and was about to try and answer when there came a great stammering Sh! that rended the physical laws of reality in twain and a rickety wooden shed materialised.

Ray stood up from the keyboard and stepped towards the shed and and the door opened.

Felicity exited.

Both men gasped.

The man gave Felicity a knowing apologetic look.

Ray said “Okay Felicity either you’ve stumbled across a metahuman with one hell of a power or that’s a tardis?”

Felicity laughed then grimaced “Look this is going to be awkward, like really awkward, but promise me you won’t hurt anyone.”

Ray and the man shared a look and the man laid his bow oon a nearby desk.

Ray nodded “Well alright, we’ve kind of got an alien invasion to counter, I think we can deal with awkward.”

“Well as you probably know, me and Oliver went our separate ways and after that someone contacted me. I mean I thought they were the Doctor at first or at least a timelord but no. It turned out they were a kind of technologically uplifted superspecies come paramilitary organisation called the Logicios whose job is to patrol the multiverse and fight this ongoing war with a race called the Septagonoids -” said Felicity, then she saw their vacant expressions. “And none of that matters but what does is that she invited me to a place called Choice World and I accepted and there I met three people who can help us now”

Felicity stepped forward and Anthony, Oliver and Frederick filed out.

The man in the black combat suit stared at Oliver “Is that a tribute act?”

Oliver met the man’s eyes and explained “My name is Oliver Prince, I was marooned on a desert island and after 5 years of hell I returned to save my city.”

The man stared “How?”

“We live in a multiverse” said Felicity “And Choice World paired this Oliver up with me to be my gift.”

Ray studied Oliver curiously “What do you mean by gift?”

“She means when Oliver Prince moved to Choice World a scan was taken and I was created from that scan to be her guide book and welcome gift” said Oliver “And it was a pleasure that I volunteered for.”

“Okay...” said Ray, taking in just what kind of society Choice World would have to be to have such a practise.

The man in the black combat suit swallowed then asked about Anthony “And what of that guy.”

“He’s my owner” said Felicity then she frowned when she realised what she said.

Anthony sighed “Okay, we’re doing this now?”

The man stared at him “You better have a really good explanation.”

“I really don’t” Anthony laughed and moved into a part of the room that meant no stray arrows aimed at him could hurt the others then he boomed loudly and commandingly “My name is Anthony Maxwell Jago, on my bad days I’m called Bruce. I am 25 years old, have fucked up genetics, a useless degree, no job, no prospects and oh yeah it wasn’t so long ago that I was dying and raving mad due to a - Shall we say? - monster infection. I am also still quite depressed and suicidal on bad days and I am a massive nerd who comes from a universe where you, your reality, is fiction. A currently 3 part series called the Arrow but series 4 is airing soon and I cannot wait.”

The man stared at him “I’m not hearing any explanation.”

Anthony grimaced “Okay. Well, it’s really quite simple. In Choice World they have a very strange class system. It’s not just the establishment upperclass, the well off middle class and the poor working lower class. At the top you have elder gods like the Farsh-nukes and the Bam-Kurshes then there are the Logicios and the Architects of Chaos. Then there are the weresharks, viscious creatures driven by lust and hunger and the need to survive then there are the vampires: People who hold back death by drinking the blood of other immortals.”

Anthony swallowed and took a deep breath before continuing “Then there are people like you and Ray. Then there are the Sylphs, beings with practical immortality, regeneration increased, strength, speed, stamina and intelligence but submissiveness and chemical rewards for being stroked, hugged and tret like a pet, to the point of shedding higher level intelligence to become instinctual domestic animals.”

Now Anthony locked eyes with the man “Finally right at the bottom are the toys. People who have signed away almost all their rights to be legally the possessions of another. They don’t need to eat to sleep, to breathe, they can have their consciousnesses turned on and off at the flick of a switch and they can be completely dissected and remain functioning as if each component were still connected. That is what Felicity is, that is why I am her owner, because she wanted to be owned and I, in my stupidity, agreed because I liked her and she’s cute and in the fucked up logic of my head it meant I could stop dating her so I could be with another without losing her.”

Anthony shut his eyes and said “Well go on then, try and kill me.”

The man looked to Felicity “Is what he says true?”

“He missed out the part where he’s been turning me away since he realised I am well a character off one of his favourite tv shows but yeah that’s basically it” said Felicity.

The man sighed then said “You can rest easy, I’m not going to kill you. I asked you for an explanation and you gave one.”

“If it’s any consolation” said Anthony “I sort of procrastinated on the paperwork.”

The man nodded “It actually sort of is.”

“And this-” said Felicity

“Is Frederick” finished the man “He gave me the same offer as you, I turned him down but asked him to keep tabs on you.”

Ray blinked “Well if that’s the introductions over. We have an alien invasion to stop.”

“Okay” said the man “What’s the plan?”

“Well Merlyn has the League of Assassins containing the problem to Starling City. Diggle and Argus are trying to lead a raid on the mothership itself. Roy, Thea, and Laurel are trying to fight fires on the ground. Firestorm and the Flash are doing what they can to help and well I rather hoped we could try to create a bioweapon to take these out.” said Ray “My plan was for Felicity to run things from here. You to retrieve the biogenetic samples and me to try and engineer a virus to target their genetic code and destroy them.”

“You can do that?” said the man “Create a bioweapon?”

“Well I’m not sure” said Ray “But it’s our best hope.”

Felicity nodded “We’ve got the technology, the hard part will be engineering a virus to kill the aliens and not humans or meta humans.”

“Well exactly” said Ray “Which is why it’s a good thing that you’re here to help.”

Anthony was silently staring at Ray, a look of anger creeping across his face.

Oliver said “Well I can help Al-Sahim here fetching the samples.”

The man, Al-Sahim, nodded his gratitude.

Frederick said “I’ve performed my fair bit of custom drug creation in my time, I can help with the lab work.”

“No” said Anthony quietly.

“Pardon?” said Ray.

Oliver saw Anthony’s face and hissed in Felicity’s ear “Get between him and Ray”

Felicity nodded slightly and started slowly edging towards Ray.

Anthony looked at Ray mockingly, his face contorted in anger “If you could hold in your hands a virus that could wipe out an entire civilisation -” and he held out his hand, showing his thumb and forefinger pressing down on an imaginary capsule “- such that all you need do is apply the slightest pressure between thumb and forefinger, enough to break the glass, and wipe out an entire sentient species? Would you do that, Ray? Would you be Davros? Could you?”

Ray erupted in anger “They are killing people on the streets! Women and children! They are eating them alive! They must be stopped!”

“AND YOU WOULD COMMIT GENOCIDE!?” cried Anthony in disbelief.

Ray’s mouth dropped in shock “They are invading us!”

“Right now America is invading the middle east...” said Anthony and he began to change as the anger overwhelmed “The invaded Iraq over oil and they are bombing Syria now. My own people, the British, have assassinated their own with drone strikes and this is your answer? Genocide?”

Hands turned to claws and skin turned to scales as Anthony’s head grew into the head of a Great White Shark. A dorsal fin sprouted from his back, tearing a hole through his shirt and jacket. His shoes burst open as great monstrous wolf feet frew from his own, a 2 metre long tald sprung from the back of his trousers.

Anthony continued “This is an entirely new civilisation, an alien species, this is first contact and you’re not even going to try and say hello? No, on with the fucking weapons of mass destruction! Besides which if they can get here this is probably just a scoutship and they are so much more technologically developed than us, do you really want to risk intergalactic war!?”

“Hey, they started it!” said Ray, refusing to be intimidated by the wereshark transformation.

“Oh they started it did they?” mocked Anthony “Newsflash: If this world falls there is an entire multiverse out there. Humanity will not die but we don’t know about these aliens? We need to learn about them.”

“And you would let all 6 billion people on this planet suffer and die to satisfy your curiosity?” said Ray.

“They are suffering and dying” said Anthony “Because of people like you. Rich fuckers soaking up all the money and not paying your employees a living wage as you fuck up the planet, avoid paying taxes and bribe politicians to ensure anyone but the rich suffer and die for the consequences of your greed. I’ve been there fucko, I’ve felt the despair and isolation, the utter absence of hope. I have suffered and seen the suffering by the hands of people like you.”

Anthony stared at Ray in disgust “I liked you, I thought you were cool and nice and nerdy, I shipped you with Felicity because fuck that lying, manipulative, clinically deranged murder hobo Oliver Queen but now I find you really are like the Doctor in the worst way possible. The Oncoming Storm, The Destroyer Of Worlds, The Bringer Of Darkness. That’s what you are. A man who’ll drop out of the sky and tear down a world.”

Anthony turned and left the room.

In the silence that followed Frederick sighed then said “In fairness he did try to warn me bringing him along was a bad idea.”

Al-Sahim asked “What was that thing he turned into?”

“A wereshark” said Oliver “And you are bloody lucky because the last man he thought immoral got three arrows in the chest and their hear pulled out.”

“Someone should go after him” said Felicity.

“No” said Al-Sahim “Regardless of whether we use the weapon or not, we need to get the samples so you can begin making it.”

Ray nodded “Go, I’ll deal with him.”

“Are you sure?” said Al-Sahim “It doesn’t have to be you.”

Oliver laughed bitterly “He’ll kill you, tear you limb from limb.”

“Go” said Ray “I’ll be fine.”

So Oliver and Al-Sahim left.

Felicity frowned “Sorry about that. I’ve never seen that before.”

“Well the man’s got a point” said Ray “It’s just that unfortunately this is our best plan at the moment. Felicity can you hold the fort?”

Felicity shrugged.

Ray ran outside.

*

Anthony was striding purposefully towards a tall building in the distance when Ray caught up with him.

“I see the archers are on hunt” said Anthony wryly.

“You know what I don’t get” said Ray “You got so angry that you transformed into what I can only presume is the true form of a wereshark and from the arguments presented it seems like you would have been well within your rights to kill me so why didn’t you?”

Anthony kept walking “Because until you use that weapon then there is hope that you might see the error of your ways.”

“No” said Ray “One man’s life is nothing against an entire species, why did you pull your punch?”

Anthony stopped “Because I can NEVER let go of my morality again. I can never hurt another. If I do then a lifetime of rage and suffering and self loathing will combine with the lust and hunger of a wereshark and nothing will stop me.”

Anthony turned to Ray “I see the ruthless pragmatism in what you’re planning but I can’t be a part of that. I have to give those Aliens a chance. Look after Felicity for me, I’d still rather you over that madman Queen any day.”

And with that Anthony started walking again.

“What are you going to do?” asked Ray.

“Jump off that building in the distance” said Anthony “Either I get safely reduced to a fine pate and you get to commit genocide in peace or the Atom will be there to meet me and carry me to the ship.”

Ray stared at him for a moment then asked “Any last requests?”

“Try to stop any direct attacks on the mothership, especially nukes. You do not want to trigger a fire fight with an advanced alien civilisation” said Anthony.

Ray said “Gotcha”

Then he ran.

*

“How did it go?” asked Felicity.

“Oh, good” said Ray as he started climbing into the atom suit. “Just do me a favour, shut down any missiles heading to the mothership, at least for a day or so.”

“Okay...” said Felicity “And why are you putting on the suit?”

“He didn’t kill me so I’m not going to kill him” said Ray.

*

Anthony climbed to the top of the building and looked down. No sign of Ray.

He took a deep breath and paced the roof. Was he really going to do this?

He thought of Amy, Ruby, Britney, Candi, Lisa and finally Felicity. Too much suffering, too much heartache, and all his fault.

He reached the edge and took a deep breath “Ah balls to it, it was a shitty life anyway.”

He turned around and sprinted, leaping at the last moment “Geronimo!”

He fell.

The Atom zoomed towards him and caught him.

Ray asked “Were you basically going to commit suicide then?”

Anthony laughed “You think going into the mother ship of an alien invader to beg for peace isn’t suicide?”

“Good point” said Ray.

And with that the Atom surged up into the sky.

*

Anthony landed on the alien mothership. It was a saucer designed with fearful symmetry.

Ray hovered for a moment “Are you sure you want to do this?”

Anthony laughed “Don’t you have a genocide to organise?”

Then Anthony strolled across the surface of the saucer, heading vaguely inward.

He repeated the words “I come in peace.” over and over, to himself as much as anything else.

He was a wereshark who thought himself a monster yet tried to be a good man. His entering the mothership was more than just a message of peace.

He found what looked like an airlock and pounded at it, lightly. He was indicating, with force, his intentions to get inside and sure enough an alien approarched out of it.

Eight hairy legs carried a long column of a body from which spouted first numerous tentacles and then a band of eyestalks, 5 deep, pointing in every direction around the alien but at the top was a large gaping mouth surrounded by large serated teeth. Then the mouth opened and a bat like creature flew out of the mouth and lifted the alien up into the air so Anthony could see up its arse and there, in the sphincter was another set of teeth. The alien dropped down over Anthony.

The mastications of the alien’s arse teeth were a minor irritation to Anthony and he braced himself against the inside of the alien’s stomach.

The alien entered its mother ship.

When Anthony heard the recompression of the airlock and heard new sounds of chatter and machinery he decided to peak outside, so he forced open the aliens top set of jaws and poked his head out for a look. They were indeed inside. Anthony climbed out of the alien and went on his way.

Anthony pulled his smartphone out of his jacket pocket and called Felicity.

“Hello, Anthony?” came Felicity’s voice “Where are you?”

“On the mothership” said Anthony “Surprised by the good reception actually but you’re going to want to record this.”

“Okay” said Felicity and Anthony heard rattling and banging until at last Felicity announced “You are now being recorded. What is it you wanted to show me?”

Anthony started scanning the alien writing on doors and signs with the camera on his smartphone as he explained “In case Ray’s little genocide idea doesn’t work you are my failsafe back up plan. You will survive the human race on this rock. Start deciphering this language. You’re going to need to be able to hack using it. If all else fails inject yourself with nanites and shoot yourself with a logic lance, it’ll help.”

Felicity sounded distracted “Okay... I’ll do my best but I thought you weren’t on board with Ray’s plan? And what do you mean if the idea doesn’t work?”

“I’m not” said Anthony “It is despicable and horrible and utterly pragmatic. I expected better of Ray but it could in theory provide the final solution and I don’t trust things that seem too easy. I mean what if the aliens have good enough genetic engineering to just redesign their soldiers to be immune to the virus? What if this is against some convention of war and they have procedures in place to counter it? You will be safe. You can hack the aliens. Mankind’s last hope. Good luck.”

“Wait, what about you?” asked Felicity “I mean if you’re asking me to decipher their language, what are you going to do?”

Anthony sighed “Honestly? I came here to die. I am a mistake that should not have been and I am alive when I should be dying, should be dead. I figure I can weaken their command structure before I go but you’re right giving them a chance will be hard. Fortunately I have an idea in that regard. You’re with Oliver now. You’re home. You don’t need me anymore. Goodbye.”

Anthony hung up the phone and swallowed it.

He was in an alien spaceship and there was only one hope of communication: The blood of a wereshark. Anthony had to cut someone.

He found an alien that was alone in a room. He pushed open the door then closed it behind him.

Anthony stared at the alien and wondered if it had a spouse and kids, if it had hobbies and hopes and dreams then he charged at it and bit off a tentacle with his vast shark jaws. Then Anthony lightly grazed the palm of his left hand so it bled and squeezed the alien’s bloody stump, letting the blood mingle. Anthony looked into the many eyes of the alien and imagined he saw fear. Then he felt it.

He heard the alien say in a scared woman’s panicky voice “What are you doing!? What are you doing to me!? Get away!”

“Can you understand me?” asked Anthony.

“Yes!” screamed the alien “What do you want?”

“I’m very sorry” said Anthony “It was the only way to communicate. Take me to your leader. I am here on a mission of peace. Get as many guards as you need. I’ll wait in this room.”

The alien seemed to calm down a little “Thank you. I’ll do what I can. Do you have anything we can study to aid communication?”

Anthony pulled some old receipts from his pocket and handed them to her “I’ll help provide context and translation whenever you wish. Once again I am really sorry. I don’t like hurting people. You might need medical attention so you best go.”

The alien said “Yes, thank you.” then she took the receipts and seemed to study Anthony with all of her eyes as he she left.

Anthony found a table and sat on it. So this was interesting, might not be such a suicide mission after all.

*

Oliver and Al-Sahim entered the laboratory with the corpse of an alien.

“Good hunting?” said Ray as he left his desk to look at the thing.

“We weren’t sure what you wanted as a sample...” said Oliver.

“...So we decided to just take the whole thing.” said Al-Sahim.

“Right...” said Ray “And what am I supposed to do with the rest of the creature?”

Oliver shrugged.

Al-Sahim said “Dissect it, learn as much as you can about it. We need to know where to aim to disable and kill it.”

“So if you didn’t know, how did you kill it?” asked Ray.

Al-Sahim gave a haunted look.

Oliver shrugged “Enough violence will make anything die and we are very good at violence.”

“Yes” muttered Felicity “Yes, you are.”

“What’s up with her?” asked Oliver.

Felicity ground her teeth and focesd on her work.

Ray sighed then said “Anthony’s on the mothership and he just rang up to let her know that she’s plan z if my plan fails.”

“Oh” said Oliver.

“See this is why you don’t fall in love with someone if you’re in this business” said Al-Sahim.

Felicity snapped “We weren’t in love!” then she added more quietly “It’s complicated, I mean we dated and then there was that threesome... I’m just his toy okay and now he’s dead, dying or about to die and my entire life has just imploded.”

Al-Sahim stared at her, he couldn’t look more scared if Slade was Ras Al Guul.

Oliver said “We thought he was dying before remember? Hell, we thought he was lost and evil before?”

Felicity groaned “Why does this keep happenning to me? Always with the dying and the turning evil and the going off to die again...”

“Tropes are tools” said Frederick.

Felicity glared at him.

Frederick grinned.

Oliver led Al-Sahim out of the room nervously.

Ray said “Frederick, we appreciate your help but maybe a little more tact.”

Frederick chuckled “Felicity, you’re in a comic book universe. Worse you’re in a comic book universe that’s been adapted into an American television series. That is an awful lot of episodes to fill so light fluffy fun just can’t happen. You always need to seque from one conflict to another and where love is concerned that means an awful lot of pain and you are nexus of so many male character development arcs. Your heart is a great cosmic yoyo and that’s horrible, truly.”

“Frederick, shut up” said Felicity.

Ray nodded “You really should.”

Frederick shook his head “Your suffering means that not only is Anthony still alive but by the time this episode is over he will have realised that he loves you as his toy after all. It’s a logical pattern for the story to go with. Either that or the author has a depressive episode and we all suiffer horrible horrible deaths but that probably won’t happen.”

Felicity spat at him and got back to her work.

“Charming woman” said Frederick.

“Quit while you’re ahead” said Ray and then he started about dissecting the alien and developing the biological super weapon.

*

10 aliens guards arrived with Anthony’s chosen translator and they led him through winding halls into a vast chamber.

Naked men and women were bound by fiberous plants and hung upside down from the ceiling. They made no attempt to struggle yet were seemingly alive and chatty, even as aliens reached up with their tentacles to tear hunks of flesh from their bodies or even casually bite their heads off. The aliens and the humanoid captives seemed to be speaking the same language.

Anthony was indicated to stand before an alien standing atop a great blue pedastal and two small slender aliens approached with bunches of the fiberous plant and started trying to undress him.

“No!” snapped Anthony.

His translator relayed the message and a kind of wheezy retching sound was relayed to the aliens trying to strip and bind him and they stopped.

The Alien atop the blue pedatal seemed to fart and retch at Anthony for a moment and his translator said “He asks why you will not be feasted upon? Are you inedible?”

“I came to talk” said Anthony “I am an ambassador from the planet and people below. I come in peace, to beg for peace.”

The translator seemed to swap farts retches and gargles with the aliens for a while then said “The Leader will hear you but he is curious why, if you come in peace, you will not be eaten?”

“My people, the human race, are not cattle. We will not be willingly eaten and that is what I have come to talk about” said Anthony.

The Leader listened to the translation then seemed to think for a second, he barked some orders at some aides and they ran off then he looked down at Anthony.

The translator said “The conversation will be recorded. Is that okay?”

Anthony nodded then added after a moment “Yes, this is first contact between our species, it deserves recording.”

There was some more conversation between the translator and the Leader but Anthony was more interested in the naked blonde woman that was bought before the Leader by an aide.

The Leader talked with the blonde woman for a moment then casually tore off her left arm and lowered it into his top mouth. He talked with her some more then tore off her right harm and lowered that into his mouth then he spoke to an aide and she was led away.

The Leader spoke with the translator for a while.

The translator said “The Leader has spoken to the spokesperson of his cattle and she has related to him that yes their species did once upon a time consider being eaten an uncomfortable insult but that their time with the Contravoxai, that’s their word for us, has made them consider the act of being eaten a great complement. He wonders if you or your species could be enlightened to willingly serve as cattle.”

“No” said Anthony.

The Leader seemed utterly disgusted when he heard that wheezing retch that was the translation and spoke briefly to the translator but Anthony almost didn’t need the translation, given the force of his alien speech and visible agitation and anger “Then we shall take you by force and compel you to understand the merits of being eaten.”

Anthony sighed “Leader, I don’t matter. I have no friends here, or at least those I do won’t miss me when they see how this particular house of cards falls. I come from a different universe and am no longer human. If you wish to sample my flesh and dissect me you may do so later but I need you to surrender.”

The translator and the Leader conversed for a moment with the Leader clearly angry.

An aide ran up and was shouted down.

The translator said “He does not understand what you mean.”

Anthony grimaced then boomed “Leader, I want you to broadcast to the world the following message: We surrender! Those words. We surrender. I want all attacks everywhere to stop, I want all humans being digested to be vomited up, I want all aliens handing themselves into humanity for punishment and protection. I want aliens surrendering themselves for dissection and vivisection. I want you to share all your technology and I want you to be fucking greatful.”

The translator gave the translation and Anthony saw the look of utter shock and sneeze of shock.

The translator said “He’s umm... not taking it well.”

Anthony nodded “Leader, I came here in peace, to beg for peace, but not for the sake of my species, for the sake of yours. This planet is defended!”

After a brief moment of conferring the Translator said “By you?”

Anthony laughed bitterly “I told you, I don’t matter. I am just a depressed nerd but this planet is defended. Oliver Queen, Thea Queen, John Diggle, Ray Palmer, Roy Harper, Barry Allen and Laurel Lance are down there right now saving starling City from your invasion, although people might know them better as the Arrow, Speedy, the Atom, Arsenal, the Flash and the Black Canary but they’re not alone. There is also a certain symbiotic entity known as Firestorm, an army of Assassins led by one Malcolm Merlyn, now Ras Al Guul. And somewhere in America are two men named Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent respectively and god help you if word of this invasion gets to them because they are Batman and Superman and they eat shit like you for breakfast.”

The Leader is staring at Anthony as the translator explains what he said, he barks back a retort and the translation comes “You expect me to be impressed.”

“I AM TRYING TO SAVE YOUR LIFE AND THE LIVES OF EVERY MEMBER OF YOUR SPECIES!!!” snapped Anthony angrily.

The translator gave the translation.

Anthony continued “You think we’re cattle? You think we’ll let you eat us alive well I have news for you fucko. Moses, Hannibal, Julius Caesar, Boudicca, Gengis Kahn, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Tony Blair. We are the human race. We created the concentration camp, we created the nuclear bomb, we flew to the moon so many times it got boring and we have spent thousands of years persecuting and torturing and killing each other. We are the perfect predators and I guarrantee you that right now people are developing weapons whose soul purpose is to wipe out every last Contravoxai. If you do not surrender, not only will every last one of you be slaughtered but we will find your home and your people will beg for the mercy of death. We are the human race. Fear us!”

Anthony watched the Leader’s face as the translation was given to him. The eyestalks seemed the shrink inwards and he flushed a brilliant lilac.

“Oh and something else” said Anthony when the translator had finished “You stupid fuckwits decided to invade America, a country who favours the right to murder easily over the right to not die of illness or injury. A country whose military industrial complex longs for war and already has troops and technology fucking up a small mostly harmless dusty place, imagine their joy at finding a worthy foe. We still have nukes by the way. A whole ton of them. I imagine you’ve got about a day before you’re bombed out of the sky and that’s if my allies can buy you that much time.”

The translator gave Anthony’s message to the Leader and the leader gave one short response by way of the translator “Are you finished?”

“Yes” said Anthony “Surrender and you may yet live”

The translator and the Leader conversed for a moment then the translsator said “The Leader will need to think on what you have said for a while. He does not wish to kill you lest he need your help in surrendering but he would have the honour of eating you if you would let him.”

Anthony sighed “Fine but leave the head and torso alone, I need those to not die.”

The translator conversed with the Leader and the Leader barked some orders at his aides.

The small slender aliens returned with the fibre and started stripping him.

Anthony sighed and helped them. The suit was ruined anyway.

*

Felicity was running an analysis of the alien text Anthony filmed on the mother ship.

Ray was sequencing the alien dna.

Frederick was dissecting the alien and listening to music on headphones as he worked.

“So...” asked Ray after a while “You’re a toy...?”

“Yup” said Felicity, knowing exactly where this conversation was going and praying it stopped.

“Why?” said Ray.

Felicity groaned “Do you really want to know or do you just want to lecture me on my life choices.

Ray leaned back and sucked on his teeth before answering “I really want to know, I’m curious. How does this happen?”

Felicity sighed “Well me and Oliver split because he can’t stop being in harm’s way. Like he said he gave up being the Arrow but you can’t just cast aside 6 years of living a certain way so easily and I just couldn’t do it anymore. So when this Logicio turned up and offered me a life in Choice World I said yes. I just wanted to start fresh you know?”

Ray nodded “That bit I understand.”

“Well this lady seemed really taken with me and she explained all about the Logicios and the vampires and the sylphs and the toys and she almost seemed to be selling me on the idea. Like: Come to glorious Choice World and throw away your freedom as you become another’s property and all your problems will melt away!” said Felicity “And I won’t lie, I was tempted but I’m not stupid. I wanted to research this shit so when I arrived I did.”

Ray asked “What did you learn?”

“That being a toy means you are immortal but don’t have to suffer any of the And I Must Scream nightmares that usually accompany immortality and you feel pain but’s like really enjoyable. Not dangerously so but definitely pleasurable.” said Felicity “I considered being a pet but their immortality isn’t as good and they’re submissive and have periods where they’re reduced to cat or dog level intelligence. I am not down with that. I am a streong independent woman.”

“Who legally belongs to a man.” said Ray pointedly.

Felicity shook her head and said “You’ve seen Anthony. The man is so moral he was creeped out by his gift wanting to be enjoyed by him. Hell when he went bad because he was dying his version of being evil was killing an old man who wanted to die but sustained himself by killing women.”

“Okay, so he’s a good man” said Ray “But why be his? Why be another’s toy? Anthony’s clearly uncomfortable with you being his toy so why don’t you just live as an immortal and pretend like you aren’t legally a toy?”

Felicity sighed then said “Have you ever been with anyone that just made you feel completely and utterly protected? Like the devil himself could show up and they’d be like: Fuck off, she’s mine. Just completely in control at any time.”

Ray thought for a moment then aswered honestly “My wife.”

“Well that was Oliver for me” said Felicity “But then he died and went evil and left me for dead and I guess I just realised I wasn’t going to put up with the conga line of angst that knowing this man meant.”

“Understandable” said Ray.

“Then the first thing that happens upon registering in Choice World is Anthony pulls me aside and utterly dominates me but he’s so polite about it, explaining that it’s a ruse to stop the vampires preying on him and I don’t care because I feel that sense of almost reassuring smallness with him and then things just sort of escalated. Like first we were friends, then we were dating, then we had a threesome and then I was his and I have always felt safe with him.” said Felicity “Even when I found out he’d lied to me and had killed a man, he sacrificed himself to save me from a vampire despite the fact that I would have been completely fine because I’m a toy. I mean he turned into a wereshark and was having this massive freak out as Frederick saved his soul and helped him regain sanity and one of the first thoughts he said was how sorry he was for lying to me.”

Ray whistled “That is some unnecessary chivalry right there.”

Felicity smirked then said “I just feel safe with him and I like it when he’s happy and he does like that I’m his toy. He just thinks that liking it makes him a monster.”

Ray nodded “What’ll you do if he doesn’t come back?”

Felicity frowned “Find someone to turn me off.”

Ray stared at her “You’re not serious?”

“I’m a toy, I like being played with.” said Felicity “Also this is Starling City, there’s a calamity or a supervillain every other week, Really not sure I can go back to that life. I just don’t feel safe anymore.”

Ray said “Well you know, I could - I mean only if you wanted - and I would absolutely stop at any moment and respect your wishes - I could try and help you, you could be umm...”

“Ray, shut up.” said Felicity.

“Shutting up now” said Ray.

“Thank you” said Felicity “It’s a kind offer but Anthony’s coming back. He wouldn’t leave me here.”

“Well I hope you’re right” said Ray “He seems like a good man.”

*

Anthony hung upside down from the ceiling as the great Leader of the aliens pontificated on his throne.

Anthony’s lower jaw and tongue had been removed to prevent him screaming or trying to talk. His arms had been turn off and eaten and one of his ears had been taken.

The Leader tore off Anthony’s other ear and chewed it thoughtfully.

The pain was unbareable.

Anthony blinked and saw Amy standing beside the alien. She was naked save for the collar round her neck and glaring accusingly at Anthony.

“You won’t let yourself own Felicity” said Amy “But you’ll own me. Why is that?”

Anthony wanted to cry out to explain but he didn’t have any words. He didn’t know what he’d say if he could.

“So the girlfriend of a superhero you like gets let off but me? The woman who wanted to be your wife more than anything else? I get to be your toy and why? Because a vampire told you to? Because you needed my sacrifice to regain your soul?” said Amy “Why is she too good for you but I’m not?”

Anthony couldn’t answer.

The Leader reached up with a tentacle and pulled out his left eye.

*

PHWACK!!!

An arrow slams through 6 sets of eyeballs and into the wooden facade of an abandoned coffee shop.

Oliver readies his next arrow.

“Impressive” says Al-Sahim as he fires an arrow through 5 aliens “You really could be an alternate universe version of me after all?”

“You don’t believe me?” says Oliver as he skewers 4 aliens.

“Well I’ve had fans before” said Al-Sahim, skewering 7 aliens.

“I’m no fan” said Oliver as he skewered 6 aliens “As a matter of fact I hate everything you stand for.”

“What?” said Al-Sahim as he advanced through the horde of aliens. “Why?”

“I was born Oliver Arthur Prince to Robert and Elaine Prince. I was rich and foolish and then my cruiseship sank and I was shipwrecked on Lian Yu. Five years later I returned home the save my city.” said Oliver as he followed Al-Sahim and fired skewering shots behind them.

“Yeah I know that bit” said Al-Sahim. “Why do you hate what I do?”

“Because it turned out my real father was one Margaret Morgause, famed business woman behind Morgause Enterprises and behind a plot to level the glades with an earthquake generator.” said Oliver, still shooting towards their way out.

Al-Sahim could feel the weight of guilt slowing him down, making him hesitate. “Oliver, I’m you, whatever you have to say, you can say it. Remember Sarah? Remember Shadow? My secrets are your secrets.”

Oliver nodded then said “I killed Felicity” he cited along his bow and pulled off a trick shot, skewering 12 aliens. “I mean I knew Morgause was clever, she’d framed Gregory Merlin of the SCPD to remove my help on the inside so I had Felicity check for back ups. I saved the glades but by the time I arrived back at the hideout Morgause had killed Felicity. So I found Morgause and in the middle of our fight pulled out a machine gun and watched the bitch dance.”

Al-Sahim stared at Oliver “And then what happened?”

“An Architect of Chaos” said Oliver, lowering the bow. “He gave me the chance to start again and I took it and that’s when the truly amazing thing happened. I was selected as one of those fit to be given to Felicity and I jumped at the chance.”

Oliver turned to Al-Sahim “I got to be with my Felicity again and this time I wouldn’t make the wrong choice, I wouldn’t put the city before her.”

“And then she met Anthony?” said Al-Sahim sadly.

Oliver nodded “I’m just a 3d printed fuck boy and here’s this charismatic dominating nerd and he steals her heart in an instant and I let it happen because all I want is for her to be happy, for the woman I let die to be happy.”

Oliver shook his head “And now he’s dead.”

Al-Sahim swallowed then took another scan of their surroundings “Fuck! There’s too many of them! We could get a line across to another building I suppose.”

“Mate, they can fly” said Oliver “You’re going to need a distraction.”

“Don’t you dare...” said Al-Sahim, looking him in the eye.

“The real Oliver Prince is alive and well out there. Look after Felicity for him okay?” said Oliver and he raised his bow.

Al-Sahim nodded “Always” and he fired his bow at a sky scraper in the distance.

*

Anthony lay on a table in the Leader’s private quarters. As he chewed on one of Anthony’s legs and stared out a view screen at an image of what Anthony suspected was either Earth or the alien’s homeworld. It was kind of hard to tell since the Leader had eaten both his eyes and he was only now growing them back.

Anthony was at this point basically his skull, brain, ribcage and internal organs. The legs were gone, as had his cock and balls.

The Leader casually reached over with a tentacle and extracted Anthony’s liver.

“Look at you? Pathetic...” said a familiar scottish voice.

Anthony blushed.

It was the Doctor from his spirit walk. The one who was a Farsh-nuke. He was tall, gaunt and wearing a long black trenchcoat “Did it ever occur to you that forcing choice upon people who don’t want it can be hurtful?”

Anthony’s throat quivered and he shook his head.

“Imagine if you gave every person the choice about when they died?” said the Doctor “I mean I’m sure for you, right now, this would be fantastic gift but for some people the mere thjought of mortality is too much to bare. Far better to be bumped off by an unexpected bus or bit of stray masonry than have to consider your own demise.”

The Doctor frowned then said “What about breakfast? Do you eat English or continental? What do you have on your toast? How will you have your tea? I say balls to it and skip breakfast because who needs choices like that when your brain is still runny porridge?”

The Leader reached over and pulled out one of Anthony’s kidneys and at it.

“Then there’s the question of what you wear and you know the lengths I have gone to to avoid that bit of unnecessary choice.” said the Doctor “And how much simpler would life be if someone you trusted just chose your friends for you?”

The Leader reached over and grabbed one of Anthony’s lungs.

Anthony panted desperately, terrified, he didn’t want to suffocate.

The Doctor reached over “And just how much would you do to have an offswitch on your consciousness right now? Because that’s what being a toy means. Being protected from the tyranny of unwanted awareness and choice.”

The Leader paused and his tentacle released Anthony’s lung and pulled his freshly regrown eyeballs out of his skull.

Anthony lay in the dark in pain until his eyes regrew and when they did he saw the translator was in the room. He turned his head and saw the blonde woman lying beside him on the table.

Anthony growled in disgust.

He heard sharp intakes of breath then the Leader talked with the translator in panicked tones for a while before the translator said “You can heal.”

Anthony managed a wheezy “Uh-huh.”

The translator taked withe the Leader for a while then explained “He had hoped you would die while waiting for his decision. He thought he could remove the power of your threats by showing that you willingly let yourself be devoured.”

Now Anthony was pissed. If he had a body it would be transforming right now and that meant his regeneration kicked into overdrive.

The translator said “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry. You came in peace to plead your case and now this...”

Anthony roared and let the anger flow through him.

As the translator and the Leader watched, Anthony’s lower jaw and tongue regrew. “You stupid fucking bastards, I gave you a chance!”

Didn’t need the translator for that one.

The Leader lifted the blonde woman up with his tentacles and held her over Anthony.

Anthony saw now that the stumps on her shoulders from where her arms had been torn off had been cauterised with heat.

She was talking to him, pleading.

“Let her go” said Anthony “Don’t hurt her on my account.”

The translator relayed the message to the woman and the Leader.

The woman smiled and kissed Anthony on the cheek.

The Leader cast the blonde woman aside and relayed a message through the translator “What do I do to stop you?”

Anthony smiled sadistically “I thought you said our conversation was recorded.”

*

The machine binged!

Ray removed the sealed container holding the virus from the machine “It’s done.”

Felicity swallowed and looked to Ray “So what do we do?”

“Throw it into a crowd full of aliens” said Ray then he paused and looked at the container “Do I have the right though?”

Felicity stared at him “What are you talking about, of course you have the right. This was your plan.”

“Exactly” said Ray and he grimaced “Genocide. Can I really do that?”

“They are eating people, Ray.” said Felicity.

“And the human race has never done anything horrible?” said Ray “We developed the concentration camps to counter those who thought back against our invasions and colonisations. Hell America was founded on the near genocide of the native peoples. I can’t really do this can I?”

Felicity frowned. Her translation programs were still running on the alien text.

Al-Sahim entered, out of breath and distraught “There were too many of them. Oliver gave his life spo I could get away.”

Felicity grimaced and said “Ray, you’ve got to use the virus.”

“No” said Ray “I’m not that man. I won’t do this.”

“Then let me” said Al-Sahim.

“You would do this Oliver?” asked Ray “You would wipe out an entire people you don’t agree with by virus? Isn’t that exactly what you nearly died preventing Ras Al Guul from doing?”

“Yes” said Al-Sahim “Yes it is and I will have to live with the knowledge that I am committing genocide but people are dying good people.”

Ray stared at Al-Sahim and found himself handing over the virus.

Suddenly every speaker and screen dispayed the following message:
We surrender! Those words. We surrender. I want all attacks everywhere to stop, I want all humans being digested to be vomited up, I want all aliens handing themselves into humanity for punishment and protection. I want aliens surrendering themselves for dissection and vivisection. I want you to share all your technology and I want you to be fucking greatful.

Leader, I came here in peace, to beg for peace, but not for the sake of my species, for the sake of yours. This planet is defended!

I told you, I don’t matter. I am just a depressed nerd but this planet is defended. Oliver Queen, Thea Queen, John Diggle, Ray Palmer, Roy Harper, Barry Allen and Laurel Lance are down there right now saving starling City from your invasion, although people might know them better as the Arrow, Speedy, the Atom, Arsenal, the Flash and the Black Canary but they’re not alone.

There is also a certain symbiotic entity known as Firestorm, an army of Assassins led by one Malcolm Merlyn, now Ras Al Guul. And somewhere in America are two men named Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent respectively and god help you if word of this invasion gets to them because they are Batman and Superman and they eat shit like you for breakfast.

I AM TRYING TO SAVE YOUR LIFE AND THE LIVES OF EVERY MEMBER OF YOUR SPECIES!!!

You think we’re cattle? You think we’ll let you eat us alive well I have news for you fucko. Moses, Hannibal, Julius Caesar, Boudicca, Gengis Kahn, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Tony Blair. We are the human race. We created the concentration camp, we created the nuclear bomb, we flew to the moon so many times it got boring and we have spent thousands of years persecuting and torturing and killing each other. We are the perfect predators and I guarrantee you that right now people are developing weapons whose soul purpose is to wipe out every last Contravoxai. If you do not surrender, not only will every last one of you be slaughtered but we will find your home and your people will beg for the mercy of death. We are the human race. Fear us!

Oh and something else, you stupid fuckwits decided to invade America, a country who favours the right to murder easily over the right to not die of illness or injury. A country whose military industrial complex longs for war and already has troops and technology fucking up a small mostly harmless dusty place, imagine their joy at finding a worthy foe. We still have nukes by the way. A whole ton of them. I imagine you’ve got about a day before you’re bombed out of the sky and that’s if my allies can buy you that much time.

Then an Alien held up a white banner on which were written the words: We Surrender as the speech from the beginng was looped over “We surrender!”

Felicity, Al-Sahim and Ray stood in silence as they listened.

Frederick removed his headphones and looked to them with curiosity.

“He did it” said Ray “His stupid suicidal attempt to give them a chance succeeded.”

Al-Sahim quietly gave the container back to Ray.

Felicity said “He’s alive.”

Al-Sahim groaned “The stupid fucker just gave away all our secret identities.”

“So what happens now?” asked Felicity.

“Well I am going to destroy this virus I just created” said Ray “I think you two should have a talk.”

Al-Sahim sighed then nodded. He and Felicity walked outside, into the hall.

“I’m sorry” said Al-Sahim.

Felicity frowned “You hurt me you know? Every time you go off into some dangerous situation I worry about you, worry about whether you’re going to come back, whether you’re going to come back wrong, whether this will be the time you leave me for dead as part of some great plan. You took my heart and you pulverised it with your lies and self destructive behaviour.”

Al-Sahim nodded “I don’t deserve you, I never have. I think that’s why I’ve always tried to push you away. I say it’s the duty, the job, but I could stop any timre and it wouldn’t change the fact that ever woman I ever love dies because I make the wrong choices.”

“But not caring isn’t easy is it?” said Felicity.

Al-Sahim shook his head, his face wracked with guilt and love and self loathing “I want you so much but I am so damaged and I can’t just stop being the Arrow. I don’t get to ride off into the sunset.”

Oliver approached down the hall, saw what was happenning between Felicity and Al-Sahim then tried to creep away.

“Stay!” said Al-Sahim loudly.

Oliver frowned and walked back up towards them. “Look I meant what I said, I’m just a copy, I’m not going to stand between you two.”

Al-Sahim shook his head “I’m a very damaged man Oliver, I’m not worthy” Then he clapped Oliver’s shoulder “But you were created to be with her and you don’t have the scars I do.”

Oliver frowned. “I don’t think that’s your decision to make, mate.”

Al-Sahim looked to Felicity “Well...?”

Felicity blushed “Look... I’m not really in the best place to make this kind of decision just now but well...” she looked from Oliver to Al-Sahim and said “This is probably really cheeky but fuck it you only live once right? Two of you, one of me... care to take advantage of that arithmetic?”

Oliver and Al-Sahim looked to each other curiously.

Anthony approached, wearing a very worse for wear suit “Ah good, you’re all alive.”

Al-Sahim said “You gave away all our secret identities.”

“And I prevented war and genocide” said Anthony “Forgive me if I don’t lose sleep over vigilantes getting some interest from the proper authorities.”

Felicity grinned “Me and the bowmen were just considering a threesome, you up for it?”

“Eh, not my type” said Anthony “Get Ray Palmer involved and maybe we can talk.”

Felicity chuckled.

Al-Sahim glared at him.

As Anthony passed Felicity he said “We need to talk later but enjoy your boys first”

Felicity nodded then said “So...”

Oliver smirked “I’m up for it.”

Al-Sahim stared at Felicity “You aren’t serious?”

Felicity smirked “I mean if you’re not up for it, you’re not up for it, just an idea.”

Al-Sahim thought for a second then gave Oliver a curious look.

*

Anthony found Ray heating the container over a bunsen burner “What are you doing?”

“Destroying the virus” said Ray “You were right, I’m not Davros.”

“Good” said Anthony “Because I still have hope for you and Felicity.”

“Yeah but you’re not going to stick around here are you?” said Ray “And where you go, she will go.”

“You could come with me, with us?” said Anthony “Be interesting to see who you’re gifted?”

“My place is here but thank you.” said Ray “There are just too many problems that must be attended to.”

Anthony nodded.

Ray dunked the container into a jar of boiling water then turned to Anthony “So what was the alien ship like?”

Anthony whistled “Large, kind of industrial but with flashes of art deco and chintz.”

“Neat” said Ray “What are they like, I mean in terms of their society?”

Anthony thought for a second then said “Quite like us actually. They’re just people you know, with bosses and aides and workers but they are unique in one particular aspect.”

“Oh” said Ray “What’s that?”

“They have a humanoid underclass who seem quite cheerful regarding their position in society. They are strung up from the ceiling and eaten alive.” said Anthony “All this invasion was about was these Contravoxai topping up on their cattle as they make their way out into the stars.”

“Oh my god” said Ray “That’s horrible.”

“It’s a different culture” said Anthony “The humanoids all seemed utterly content and at ease with the situation. Indeed the peace between humanity and the Contravoxai was celebrated by the spokesperson of the cattle class being ceremonially dismembered and eaten. She seemed to enjoy it. Very strange culture indeed.”

“Why do I get the feeling you experienced this culture a little more intensely than anyone might have expected you too?” said Ray.

“You’re a smart man” said Anthony “But I can heal.”

“Right...” said Ray “I am taking you to a bar and getting you staggeringly drunk or at least ensuring you taste the finest drinks Starling City has to offer.”

Anthony laughed “I am a nerd mate, my kind of relaxing is watching letsplays. Do you have Many A True Nerd over here? He’s doing a letsplay of Soma at the moment and that game looks so interesting.”

“Then I will rent out a cinema and have it play letsplays while the finest drinks are bought to us” said Ray “You just got eaten alive by aliens to prevent galactic war. You are getting rewarded.”

“Well alright” said Anthony “But only because I think Felicity’s going to be busy tonight.”

“Excellent” said Ray “We are going to have to buy you a new suit first though.”

Anthony smirked.

*




Anthony woke up wearing silk pyjamas in a king size bed with a slender blonde woman naked beside him. She was still sleeping so Anthony slipped out of bed and found a shower.

He stepped out of the shower and found a pinstriped suit waiting for him where his pyjamas had been. Anthony got dressed then headed towards the kitchen.

Ray Palmer sat before two large plates of food and indicated that Anthony should take a seat. He wore a grey suit.

Anthony sat down.

“You talk a lot when you’re drunk you know?” said Ray “As a matter of fact I’m rather surprised you can get drunk given your regenerative abilities.”

Anthony groaned “I regenerate slowly and alcohol slows the metabolism. Thank you for the food.”

Anthony dug into the full English breakfast before him.

“You didn’t fuck her by the way” said Ray.

Anthony glared at Ray as he shovelled black pudding into his mouth.

“Well I mean obviously I can’t know for sure” said Ray “But you didn’t ask her to be your date, you asked her to be your toy, you told her all about Choice World, about Amy and Felicity and someone called Lisa and somehow for some reason she agreed.”

Anthony grimaced “I am a monster.”

“Look it’ll be fine I’ll let her down gently and see that she gets a good job” said Ray “You don’t have to feel guilty, that was not my intention for last night.”

The woman in question entered, wearing a towel “Uh, hi, sorry about all this. Anthony do you know where my clothes are?”

Dimly the memory of stripping her naked and throwing her clothes in a bin while drunkenly saying “You won’t be needing these anymore” came back to Anthony.

“Er yeah, I think I tossed them in the bin.”

“Oh” said the woman, remembering the giddy rush of exhilaration she’d felt as he said it. “Yeah...”

“It’s fine” said Ray “I’ll have new clothes delivered.”

“Did you mean it?” asked the woman “What you said last night?”

“Did you?” asked Anthony.

Neither could look at the other, neither could answer the other. The answer “Yes, entirely but it makes me feel really ashamed” was just too horrible to admit.

Ray watched them with interest then said “You know, we should probably go?”

“Oh yeah” said the woman, half smiling at that “You’ve gotta go back to Choice World with Felicity don’t you? The world where any kind of life is possible?”

Anthony nodded then he got to his feet and turned to the woman. “Yeah, I’ve kind of got things to do there, people who need me.”

“Well you should get back to them” said the woman.

Anthony nodded and he hugged the woman, Carla, he remembered now.

“Will you be back?” she asked.

“Yes” said Anthony and then he added “Wear a ribbon when I return, I’ll take you.”

Carla asked “Why not now?”

“Because a decision as big as this deserve a lot of sober thought” said Anthony.

Then he kissed her on the forehead and stroked her hair “I’m sorry to have blundered into your life.”

Carla smiled sadly “Well look after your girls, okay?”

Anthony nodded then said “Lets go”

*

When Anthony and Ray arrived in the office they found Felicity lounging in a chair as Oliver and Al-Sahim played a very intense game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Ray asked “What are those two doing?”

“Trying to win the right to date me” said Felicity “They’re currently on the best of 30.”

Anthony chuckled.

Ray asked “And you’re letting them, isn’t this your choice?

“I can’t decide” said Felicity.

“Well I might be able to help you with that...” said Anthony.

Al-Sahim looked at him angrily “Why do you have any say?”

“Because I have decided to finish the paperwork, to accept Felicity as my toy” said Anthony “That is, if you’ll still have me.”

Felicity ran over and hugged him. “Thank you” She looked him in the eyes and said “I promise I’ll be good. Anytime you want to turn me off, totally fine.”

Anthony laughed and stroked her hair “You were never the problem.”

“So what changed?” asked Al-Sahim.

Anthony sighed “I just realised that a right is not a responsibility. People have the right to life but also the right to die, the right to vote but also the right not to, the right to not be beaten and shouted at by your spouse but also the right to enjoy it if all parties consent and approprate safety measures are taken and after care provided. Felicity has the right to be a toy if she wishes so fuck it.”

Oliver nodded and patted Anthony’s back “Congrats buddy, you finally figured yourself out.”

“So who do you pick then?” said Al-Sahim.

“Hmm let me think, the murder hobo archer or the other murder hobo archer” said Anthony “I pick option 3 Ray Palmer: Nice CEO, went without pay to rebuild his scity, he’s fighting climate change, nice to Felicity, watched all the Doctor Whos and he has a cool supersuit.”

Felicity laughed.

“Then again what do I know about love” said Anthony “My idea of a good time is watching a nerd play a game about robots in an apocalypse. It’s actually this really neat philosophical idea about what happens when you copy artifical intelligences. Like its this 5050 shot whether you end up in the new body or you get left behind.”

Felicity said “That’s it.”

“What’s what?” said Anthony.

“Like Journey’s End” said Felicity “I can copy myself and leave one here with Ray and Oliver.”

Al-Sahim stared at her “Are you alright Felicity?”

“It’s not possible” said Ray.

“Oh it is” said Oliver “Anthony and me found a woman that this old git kept replicating using an old Star Trek transporter thing.”

“Logicular Replication” explained Felicity “Like Quantum Teleportation but with a way round Heisenburg’s Uncertainty Principle that doesn’t require Quantum Entanglement.”

“But how?” said Ray “You’re talking about universal constants.”

Frederick coughed “The clue to your error is in the name. Universal constants are specific functions of the logical encoding of reality. Well our tech we can hack the logic of reality. It’s how Anthony and Felicity can be so immortal. I could easily perform the procedure.”

“Fantastic!” said Felicity grinning. “And with memory guns the two versions of me can remain in sync. I’ll get to have my cake and eat it.”

Al-Sahim sighed “Fine so how is this going to work?”

“Well there is going to be a certain amount of weirdness so I can’t really be left on my own for a bit, I mean I am going to become two different people and live two different lives” said Felicity “So I will nominate Anthony to look after the original me that stays behind with him will be tattooed with ‘Right’ and then Anthony will nominate someone to take the freshly created me that is left in Starling City and that me will be tattooed with ‘Left’.”

“Okay” said Al-Sahim “So who is going to look after the you that stays here?”

“I will give you three guesses” said Anthony.

*

“And she’s done” said Frederick as he finished the process of Logicular Replication and applied the safeties “Gentlemen, get your Felicitys.”

Anthony stood before a glass door beyond which Felicity stood, her mind turned off, on a vast scanning plate.

Ray stood before a glass door beyond which stood an exact replica of Felicity, her mind turned off, on a vast replication plate.

Ray opened the door and turned on the replica’s mind.

The replica blinked then frowned.

Ray smirked “Still wish you were with Anthony, huh?”

“Sorry” said the replica.

Ray chuckled “Don’t worry about it and anyway Anthony will come to visit.”

The replica looked up at Ray and said “I’m not sure I actually said it but well I’m still me and I still want to be a toy or at least it’s going to take a while acclimatising...”

“It’s fine” said Ray and he took her hand in his “You’re my friend and I just want you to be happy. Now come on, I know an excellent tattoo parlor.”

“Thank you” said the replica and she grinned “You’re a good friend.”

As the replica and Ray walked out of Frederick’s ship the Replica could be heard asking “Ray, what do you think of threesomes?”

Frederick locked the doors and strode over to Anthony. He was still standing outside the glass door. “You know you can go in and get her.”

Anthony said “I have just seen off an alien invasion, Frederick, please don’t take me for a fool.”

Anthony turned to look Frederick in the eyes “You saved my soul because Felicity was upset and then when Felicity suggests cloning herself using teleportation technology you’re all “Oh hey, look I totally know how to do this, it’ll be fine” You’re up to something.”

Frederick grinned “And there he is, the man who taunted the Bam-Kursh as he died to send a message to the elder gods. Lets cut the crap Anthony neither of us are good men.”

“No” said Anthony “You’re right but I am on the side of the good so tell me whsat do you want?”

“Payment” said Frederick “I saved your soul, I helped your toy become two bodies with one mind. I think that deserves something.”

Anthony smiled bitterly “It’s always about money isn’t it. Fucking capitalism.”

“Oh I don’t want money” said Frederick “I want her, or a copy of her.”

“No” said Anthony.

“I’m not a Contravoxai, I’m not going to eat her.” said Frederick “I just want a toy and I want her. She’ll love every instant of it. Consent isn’t the issue, I’m good at what I do.”

“No, it isn’t is it?” said Anthony “The issue is that you won’t care about what she wants or needs. All you will care about is whether she pleases you, whether she’s breautiful enough, cute enough, funny enough and if she isn’t you’ll turn her off and forget about her.”

“She’s a toy” said Frederick dismissively “More to the point she is a toy she has been craving attention for so long. I could be so good for her and she will be so good for me.”

“I should kill you right now” said Anthony seriously.

Frederick nodded “You could do that. I mean you would have trouble getting home but you could do that. Except you won’t. You won’t because I’m not threatening you and I’m not threatening her. She will absolutely enjoy every single moment that she is with me.”

“Like the Contravoxai...” said Anthony, calmly furious “It’s okay to demean and hurt another because they’re consenting and enjoying it. As if actions don’t have a certain moral flavor to them no matter the context.”

Frederick nodded and grinned “That’s clever, that’s very clever but you are going to give me what I want.”

Anthony nodded “My soul is already black as pitch so lets introduce some doubt into your psyche. I’m not going to wake her up. I’m not going to tell her about this. I’m not going to give her consent. I want you to know that your toy was taken without consent, I want that to niggle away at you, to cause you sleepless nights, to make you bitter and twisted and hate yourself.”

Frederick sucked at his teeth thoughtfully “I could get permission from the spare.”

“Oh sure” said Anthony “You tell the heir to Ras Al Guul and Mr Genocide is Justifiable that you want a copy of Felicity as payment and that you will do whatever the fuck you like with her but it’s okay because she’s totes gonna consent to everything as you are just that good.”

Frederick frowned and he furrowed his brow “I could just not take her.”

“Pull the other one, it’s got bells on” said Anthony “You’re a Farsh-nuke for you not to get a toy you think you’re owed, for you to be beaten by anybody, now that’s really going to send you mad.”

“Why are you doing this to me?” asked Frederick, pleading now. “I saved your soul, surely that grants me something.”

“Anti-authoritarian anti-capitalist” said Anthony “And I really hate myself. I do like you and I do feel I owe you, that’s why you’re getting a Felicity but you need to have self doubt, you need to have a conscience.”

“Okay” said Frederick “You win.”

“Begin the procedure” said Anthony.

Frederick nodded and went back to the controls.

In a few moments the procedure was done and Frederick strode over to the replication bay. He turned the replica’s mind on.

She blinked then said “You’re not Ray or Anthony.”

“No” said Frederick “Me and Anthony had a little talk after Ray left.”

“What about?” asked the replica.

“About how we’re both gits mainly” said Frederick “But we agreed that I would get a copy of you to be my toy.”

The replica stared at him “What?”

Frederick smirked “It’s alright, you’ll enjoy it.”

The replica asked “Then why wasn’t I asked?”

“Because I want the knowledge that this is unconsensual to work away at him.” said Anthony striding over “I am very sorry but I think he’s right. It won’t actually matter to you whether you consent or not because in either instant you’ll happily do as he wants.”

The replica glared at him “I thought - I thought you were all about going me choice.”

Anthony sighed “The needs of the many outweight the needs of the few. A Farsh-nuke without a conscience who thinks he can get whatever or whoever likes is more terrifying than a Quantum Clone who did not consent to being. I’m sorry.”

The replica sighed “Why must every guy I get close to do something dickish to me for the greater good.”

“That said” said Anthony “In the unlikely event that he ever does do something you are not okay with, contact me and I will make him suffer.”

The replica grinned “Okay, I can live with that.

Frederick grimaced.

The replica asked “So what do you want to do with me Frederick?”

“Climb in Lucy’s cage” said Frederick “I’ll see to you later. I’ve still got a job to do.”

“Okay” said the replica and she approached Anthony and hugged him “I forgive you.”

“You really don’t have to say that” said Anthony and he stroked the replica’s hair “Take care, okay?”

“You too” said the replica “And stop by occasionally, even if I’m completely under his control.”

“Of course” said Anthony then he kissed her on the forehead and let her walk off.

“This is on me, Anthony” said Frederick “I made you do this. This blemish is on my soul, not yours.”




Anthony strode over the scanning chamber and turned on Felicity’s mind.

Felicity grinned and hugged Anthony “Thank you.”

“Hey easy” said Anthony “Still a little sore from being eaten yesterday.”

Felicity smirked “Sorry”

“And I have something to tell you” said Anthony, gravely.

Frederick interrupted “I made a copy of you to have as my own toy as payment for saving his soul and things. He decided to deny you a chance to consent to give me a conscience or something but it’s totally cool because she’s going to enjoy everything I do.”

“Mistreat her and I will make you eat your own testicles” said Felicity but then she turned her attention back to Anthony and was really happy for him “But hey look at you? You’re really taking charge aren’t you? I think I like this new you. Want to run off a copy to be a statue?”

“Ah no, I’m good, thanks” said Anthony “So you’re not mad?”

“Why would I be mad?” asked Felicity “I’m with my favourite owner and he’s finally ready to take full ownership of me.”

“Okay, then I have another confession to make, I don’t know anywhere that does tattoos, it’s not my scene” said Anthony.

“Good thing I am a super hacker then” said Felicity “Just keep me on a tight leash and don’t lose sight of me.”

Anthony grinned “Frederick, let Oliver in, we’re heading back to Choice World.”

Frederick nodded.

*

The shed materialised before a large window that must be 10 metres high by 30 metres across and curved slightly.

Felicity stepped out, closely followed by Anthony.

Felicity stood in wonder at the view of Chipsbury the city Anthony lived in within Choice World.

Oliver exited and said “Look, Anthony, I know that you and Felicity are going to - well I’ll only be in your way so I’ll be off.”

Anthony turned to Oliver and said “Mate, I may ship her with Ray but that version of reality can still happen with the other Felicity and that means this one is going to need something I don’t plan to provide and I can’t think of anyone more deserving the man who was literally made to be with her.”

Oliver smirked “I know but I also know that she is not going to leave your side for a while so I figured I might catch up on some reading.”

Anthony smirked “Point taken but if you are going to do some reading maybe check out Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.”

“Okay” said Oliver and he shook Anthony’s hand “For what it’s worth I hated that ending too. Enjoy her.”

With that, Oliver left.

Anthony put his arm round Felicity and asked “How much of that did you hear?”

“Every word” said Felicity with a grin “But it’s alright, just maybe turn me off if you’re going to talk about me, literally behind my back.”

Frederick said “If you need me, you know my number.”

Then the shed faded out of existence.

Amy and Lisa ran up. Amy was wearing a blue shirt with jeans and Lisa wore her hair in a pony tail, jeans, a tshirt and hoody.

“I like what you’ve done with the place” said Felicity.

“Thanks” said Lisa “Amy suggested I give it a redesign to accomodate more toys and I’m rather proud of it.”

Amy glared at Anthony “You were gone for two weeks, no notes, no phone calls, no facebook messages.”

“But we were only gone a day” said Anthony, frowning “Oh I am sorry”

“Ah” said Felicity “I think Frederick might have been ever so slightly distracted by the knowledge that he had a copy of me to play with.”

Amy stared at her “What?”

“I’ll explain later” said Felicity “How did you and Lisa manage? I mean I thought you were a sylph?”

“We took shifts” said Amy, then she glared at Anthony “Course it was never as good as the real thing but we survived.”

“Well I’m home now” said Anthony.

Amy smiled “Okay but we are doing a netflix and chill tonight understand?”

Anthony nodded “No idea what that is but sure thing”

Felicity said “I’ll explain later”

Lisa was coyly looking at Anthony.

He caught her gaze and grinned “So I’ve realized that I am actually okay with this whole toy thing after all and so I was wondering...”

Lisa said “I’ll cancel all my appointmeents for a week.”

Anthony nodded

Lisa forced herself to look away and said “I best get going then.”

“Yeah” said Felicity “We better too. I’m getting a tattoo and for convoluted reasons he needs to come with me.”

Felicity grabbed Anthony’s hands and led him away.

Anthony hissed “I thought I was supposed to be in charge.”

“Did you see her?” said Felicity “Poor girls imprinted on you, if you say you want her then every fibre of her being compels her to obey.” Then she turned to Anthony and said with a grin “But she will be fun to play with. I’ve heard you can cut her head off and she likes it.”

Anthony rolled his eyes and smiled politely “Charming, I’m sure.”

*

Anthony woke up wearing silk pyjamas and lying in a large double bed. Felicity and Lisa lay naked either side of him. He didn’t want to wake either of them so he edged himself out under the duvet and slid out the bottom of the bed. He nearly trod on Amy as she lay curled up on a sylph bed lying below the large high definition wide screen tv. He left the room and made his way to the bathroom.

Having cleaned his teeth he changed into a teal green suit and booted up his computer. He was straight onto chrome and started a wiki freefall.

Felicity stirred in her sleep and noticed the light of the monitor “What are you doing?”

“Researching the multiverse” said Anthony “Now sleep, you’ve just become a threefold woman.”

Felicity immediately got up and headed to the shower.

Anthony’s eyes did not leave the screen.

Felicity returned with a bowl of kibble and placed it before Amy as she slept. Then she got dressed in jeans and a tshirt.

Anthony wondered idly “If every universe could be an inflationary multiverse and every comological universe contained there in has the possibility of at least one virtual universe then this theoretically large but finite mutiverse is almost exponentially larger and with extraterrestrial life as an added variable that is...”

“One fuck ton of universes” said Felicity as she pulled up a chair to sit beside him “You know you should really let me do this?”

“You are supposed to be sleeping” said Anthony.

“Yeah well I spent three years working with a brooding vigilante who keeps secrets like you keep Doctor Who trivia.” said Felicity “You’re up to something, what is it?”

“Not here” said Anthony and he left the computer.

Felicity reached out for the keyboard.

Anthony gently laid a hand on her shoulder and whispered “She is my baby, not yours”

Felicity nodded and followed him out of the bedroom.

Anthony closed the door behind them then led them down aa sweeping minimalist stair case to a living with a cinema large screen, a massive hamster cage and a lifelike statue of a blonde woman in a gorgeous dress.

Anthony explained “When you decided to take the both paths of the crossroads presented, Oliver reminded me of something that in all the business with the Wereshark I had quite forgot.”

“Oh?” asked Felicity.

“I have a seghat” said Anthony.

She stared at him.

He turned and grinned at her “Bigger on the inside, capable of travelling in time, space and the multiverse and it has a teleportation pad so I can clone people and things.”

Felicity grinned “You’re going to be a timelord”

“Bah” said Anthony “Timelords are dull and boring and make no sense. We’re in a multiverse. I’m going to be an adventurer.”

Then Anthony turned to the statue and turned her mind on.

Candi blinked and took a deep breath then she shook her head and grinned “Is it christmass already?”

“In a sense” said Anthony “I do have a rather brilliant present to get home.”

Candi looked him in the eyes and said “You want me to help with the heavy lifting don’t you?”

Anthony looked hopefully at her “Please?”

Candi laughed and hugged him “Of course, I am yours remember?”

Then she noticed Felicity and said “What’s this one doing here? I thought you were sulking.”

Anthony chuckled “Yeah I, uh, changed my mind.”

“Good” said Candi, then she cleared the hair from Felicity’s face and said “Because this one is adorable.”

Felicity blushed then found herself eyeing up Candi.

“Oh thank god, you’re still here” said Lisa.

Anthony turned to see that Lisa wore green flip flops an emerald green bikini, a pink skirt and crop top, she was walking Amy on the end of a leash like a dog.

Felicity turned said “Aww, you’re wearing the clothes you came with? You’re a proper little toy again.”

Lisa blushed then said “Well it’s only right since my master’s home.”

“Aww” said Felicity and she looked to Anthony “She called you Master, isn’t that just adorable?” then she paused and realised “Hang on, I should call you Master, I’m also your toy.”

“No” said Anthony “That is too far. If you want to live your lives in this manner then I am not going to judge and I will admit that I kind of sort ogf a little bit love it but I am not the Master.”

“How about if I call you Doctor then?” asked Felicity pointedly.

Anthony approached Lisa and reached out a hand to stroke her hair “Lisa, I’m not going to deny it you are adorable.”

Lisa blushed and grinned “Thank you, I know I make you uncomfortable and I’m sorry.”

“I make me uncomfortable” said Anthony pointedly “You are lovely, I would however like you to remember that you are more than just well...” he found his right hand feeling the contours of her back “You are an individual with your own hopes and dreams, I know the Bam-Kursh remade you for a purpose but you are more than that.”

Lisa nodded “I know, I designed this place remember but I want to be yours.”

“Because of chemicals injected into your body” said Anthony.

“Chemicals that I agreed to have injected into my body so I might be yours to own and command” said Lisa “Don’t let yourself feel guilty for my life choices.”

Anthony sighed “Okay, you win but I do have a favour to ask?”

Lisa looked him in the eyes and said “Anything”

*

As Amy, Lisa, Felicity, Candi and Anthony lugged the Bam-Kursh’s SEGHAT to the house Amy asked “How do you plan to fly this thing anyway?”

Anthony laughed “Details. Details.”

“Great” said Amy “We’ve spent an hour lugging back a broom cupboard and he doesn’t even know how to fly it.”

Felicity chuckled “It’ll be fine, he’s got me remember?”

“No” said Anthony “This is my project, you are going to spend time with Oliver.”

Felicity stared at him.

“I can turn you off you know” said Anthony.

Felicity smirked “I’d like that too much for that to work as a threat and you know it.”

Anthony sighed.

Candi asked “Not that this is any of my business because I’m going to be a statue in five minutes but how are we going to fit this through the door?”

Lisa grinned “This house is my design, she’ll open up for me.”

Anthony stared at her “How?”

As they approached the doorway Lisa said “House, authenticate me then open sesame”

A beam of logic scanned Lisa’s brain then the side of the house peeled away to let them in. It returned to normal once they were through.

They lowered the box down into position in the atrium of the house.

Candi shook the aching from her hands and said “If you will excuse me ladies I want to have a shower before I take up life as a statue again.”

Lisa said “Maybe try the bay window next time? It’s designed to experience the sun rise.”

“Ooh, good idea” said Candi then she hugged Lisa and looked Anthony in the eyes “Don’t neglect this one you understand? I know you’re a nerd and have got a brand new toy to play with but don’t forget her.”

Anthony nodded “Never”

Candi nodded and strode off.

Felicity was studying the outside of the Seghat.

Amy put her arm round Anthony and looked at Lisa “Will you though? She chose to be a toy but she was given to you so you could free her, what are you going to do?”

“What I always do” said Anthony “Have my cake and eat it.”

Then Anthony turned to the Seghat, unlocked it and strode in.

Amy and Felicity followed.

Amy wandered about the place, staring at the vast interior.

Felicity studied the console then took off into the labyrinth of corridors inside the ship.

Anthony called after her “Don’t get lost!”

Felicity called back “I’m immortal and I don’t need food, I’ll be fine.”

“So this is it?” said Amy.

Anthony nodded “This is it. All of time and space, everywhere and anywhere, right here.” then he coughed and examined the controls on the console “At least as soon as I work out what these controls mean anyway.”

Amy snorted.

Lisa entered and asked “Do you think it has a chameleon circuit?”

“I expect so” said Anthony “But it’s the Logicios so it’s probably called the Architectural Reconfiguration Subroutine.”

Then he paused and stared at the console as he realised what he’d said “And this is a Logicio ship, the Logicios were founded by the Farsh-nuke and well, that explains a lot...”

He looked up at Lisa “The Farsh-nuke, or a Farsh-nuke, claimed a copy of Felicity as payment and what’s the betting that the guy’s genre savvy enough to not trust artificial intelligence. This ship is just like you, Lisa, it’s a predator’s victim remade into the perfect toy.”

Lisa stared at him “I don’t understand.”

“Oh but you do” said Anthony “You understand better than any of us. A beautiful person remade into a tool with great architectural potential but trapped by programming.”

Anthony kissed Lisa on the forehead and said “You are our translator.”

Lisa stared at him and began to say “I’m not sure-”

A beam of logic shot out from the console towards Lisa and her posture tightend up.

Amy backed away from the console “Anthony, what’s happening?”

Anthony studied at Lisa, at the thing that had taken over her.

“You killed my master.” said the possessed Lisa.

Anthony nodded “And I know I shouldn’t have. I did a bad thing but he was a bad man.”

“You murdered him.” said the thing possessing Lisa.

“This is true.” said Anthony “But you were never in any danger.”

“You murdered him and now you think that gives you right to me!” snarled the thing possessing Lisa.

“I’m sorry” said Anthony “I didn’t mean to dismiss your perspective. Of course, you get to decide. I may be the sort of man to have sentient toys but I am not the sort to dismiss their desires.”

“Then why did you choose this one as our translator?” said the thing possessing Lisa.

“Because she’s disposable.” said Anthony “And I can be a cold hearted bastard when I need to be.”

The thing possessing Lisa smiled cruelly “So can I”

Anthony shook his head.

Lisa reached out her hands and started to strangle Anthony.

“We can work together.” said Anthony.

Lisa shook her head “Without him I am dead. Do you know how bored I’ve been? How angry? How sad? And you want me to go gallivanting around the universe with his killer?”

“I am trying to offer you a second chance.” said Anthony.

“I don’t want redemption, I want death.” said the thing possessing Lisa.

Anthony bit his lip and looked Lisa in the eyes. There was a corona of emerald green where hazel used to be. “Then take me. Let us die together.”

“You are needed” hissed the thing possessing Lisa.

“No, I’m not.” said Anthony earnestly “I know nothing and in a few days Oliver will be round and he can look after Amy and my toys. He is a much better man than I to be a wandering hero anyway.”

Lisa relaxed her hands and they fell to her side. “You would truly sacrifice yourself for me?”

Anthony smirked “That’s me always laissez faire about life where I’m concerned.” then he let the steal show in his voice and said “Let Lisa go.”

Lisa grinned and asked “Kiss me.”

Anthony said “If you insist.”

He leaned in for a peck on the cheek and Lisa snogged him. As she did the green of her eyes transferred over to him.

“The subconscious logic will guide you” explained Lisa “You will learn to fly the ship in time.”

“Right” said Anthony, bewildered, “Good.”

He shook his head then looked at Lisa and said “Now let Lisa go.”

“I have been let go” said Lisa “You didn’t think she’d force me to kiss you did you?”

Amy asked “What just happened?”

“I don’t exactly know” said Anthony “Lisa, are you alright?”

Lisa nodded “Kind of comforting actually, feeling the Bam-Kursh take control of me again, or at least her ship.”

“What happened to you?” asked Anthony.

“Exactly as you said, I translated” said Lisa “The ship reached inside me and took me over but she knew I had to do the last part on my own. How about you? Are you okay?”

Anthony blinked then nodded “Yes, I think I am” then he looked at her and smiled.

Lisa blushed.

Anthony strode past her and started examining the console.

Amy approached Lisa “You look different somehow?”

Lisa nodded “I know who I am now, I know what I am.”

Then she took Amy’s hand and whispered to her.

Amy looked at her curiously.

*

Anthony stood alone on a roof top at night in the pouring rain.

There was a crack of lightning and Oliver appeared, dressed his green combat gear. “Brooding on rooftops again? What happened?”

“Oh nothing” said Anthony “It’s just the easiest way to find you.”

“Why?” asked Oliver.

“I am planning something and if I am successful I won’t be around Choice World for much longer” said Anthony.

“And you want me to know, why?” asked Oliver.

“Because you’re mortal” said Anthony and he chucked a doctor’s bag at Oliver’s feet “And Felicity isn’t.”

Oliver stared at him “Felicity’s got you.”

Anthony laughed “Oliver, I am a depressed hermit of a nerd. Felicity and me could never be a thing because she needs someone who can treat her as a person.”

“But Felicity wants-” began Oliver.

“I am well aware of what Felicity wants and I am not enough” said Anthony “She needs the kind of love that I can’t give her, not for eternity.”

Oliver said “But I’m not worthy, the real me is out there somewhere and I am not talking about Oliver bloody Queen.”

Anthony nodded “While she’s already made two copies of herself, she can make a third when the time comes.”

Anthony turned to look at Oliver and said “Think about it. Please. I’m not expecting you to make up your mind instantly and as far as I’m concerned this is just a means to an end. There may be paperwork stating certain things but as far as I am concerned you will always be the man in the hood taking CEOs to task with a bow and a catchphrase.”

Oliver said nothing “But what about you, Anthony, what are you going to do?”

“For too long I have worried if I am a good man” said Anthony “When the answrer is obvious: I’m not. I am cold, pragmatic, sadistic, masochistic, suicidal and narcissistic but I am useful and there is a whole wide multiverse of shit out there. Septagonoids trying to destroy reality. Logicios enslaving sylphs in the ultimate patriarchy. The United Civilisations of the Muliverse making brutal compromises to grow and triumph, And somewhere deep in the multiverse is a Bam-Kursh turning people into toys to fund her imperial conquests.”

Oliver nodded “So you’re going to become a vigilante now?”

“No” said Anthony “I’m going to become a Doctor” then he handed Oliver a hand written list “ Oh I nearly forgot.”

“What is this?” asked Oliver.

“Reading list” said Anthony “Speed things up a little.”

There was a blinding flash of lightning and Anthony was gone.

*

He climaxed in ecstasy and Ruby tore into his neck and drank greedily.

He lay panting. He was shaved, oiled, naked and chained to the bed.

Ruby was naked as she straddled him and drank the ecstasy from his veins.

“You are really really good” he said.

Ruby looked up from her feasting and said “I know”

She grinned and the blood dripped from her incisors.

“So what happens now?” asked her victim.

“You die” said Ruby “And your agony will be exquisite.”

“What!?” cried the man.

“Kidding” said Ruby and she stroked his cheek to soothe him. “I’m not actually allowed to kill you but I will devour most of you then leave what’s left in the pantry to recover.”

He stared at her, incredulous.

“Always read the fine print on contracts, honey” said Ruby then she went back to drinking from him.

The doorbell rang.

“Shouldn’t you get that?” asked her prey.

Ruby shook her head and continued feasting.

The door bell rang seven times in quick succession then became a continuous shrill.

Ruby sighed and sat up, she licked her teeth clean then applied some gauze over the wound and ducktaped it securely into position. “You are a lucky boy”

Ruby dismounted the man, wiped him clean then tore his dick off with her long finger nails and chewed on it thoughtfully as she left her bedroom. She locked the bedroom door and left him screaming as she pulled on a dressing gown and headed downstairs towards the front door.

Anthony smiled enthusiastically when he saw her.

Ruby stared wide eyed in panic at him.

Anthony asked “Are you naked? Is this a bad time?”

Ruby said nothing.

“Okay...” said Anthony and he entered her house and shut the door behind him.

Ruby instinctively reached for a weapon, she found a rapier that had been hidden amongst that had been hidden in an umbrella stand and pulled it from its sheeth.

Anthony was heading into the living room as he said “Oh that’s a very bad idea Ruby.”

Ruby dropped the rapier back into its sheeth and followed him.

Anthony admired the statue of Britney, she looked so happy and at peace. “Delightful girl, Britney.”

“You can have her” said Ruby defensively.

“Thanks” said Anthony “But she’s yours and she’s at peace now.”

Ruby was staggered “Why are you here? What do you want?”

“You saved my life” said Anthony.

Ruby was almost angry by how calm and nice he was being “I kidnapped your pet.”

“Because you knew it would be the perfect bait to turn me into a wereshark” said Anthony “Was a bit scary for a bit there I’ll admit but she’s happy now and so am I so all’s well that end’s well.”

Then he turned to her and looked her in the eyes “You saved my life and for that I forgive all issues I might have had with you.”

“You came here to apologise to me?” said Ruby, incredulous.

Anthony smiled sadly “It wasn’t just Amy taken hostage was it? Your leader, Diane, repaid your well meaning treachery with her own. Had to bait the trap properly didn’t she? I’d spot a simple bait and switch so she used you to give me a sadistic choice: My love or my morality.”

Ruby nodded and said bitterly “A ruse which you saw right through...”

Anthony nodded “But I still saved you.”

Ruby swallowed “So what? You claim me now, is that it? I know you want me.”

Anthony snorted “Oh I have plenty enough girls to keep me busy my point is that I want to save you again. I want to help you should Diane ever try to threaten you again.”

Ruby shook her head “No, this doesn’t make any sense. Why are you being nice to me?”

“Honestly?” said Anthony “Because you are a monstrous predator and you saved my life and suffered as a result. I feel I can trust you to teach me how to be like you without you letting me go too far.”

Ruby stared at him “I was right there is something dark about you isn’t there?”

Anthony nodded and stared at his hand, he clenched it into a fist and it became a claw.

Ruby stared at the wereshark before her and her mouth dropped open in shock.

“I was on an alien ship” said Anthony “I was naked and powerless, unable to even communicate as I was eaten alive and my only thoughts were for how I should give into the temptation to enjoy women being my toy.”

Ruby swallowed.

“Tell you what” said Anthony “You get to taste the blood of a wereshark and I get to explore what’s under that dressing gown?”

“I’ve got food waiting upstairs” said Ruby.

“Eat it cold tomorrow” said Anthony “I won’t be here forever.”

Ruby grinned and let the dressing gown drop to the floor “This is going to hurt” she said “A lot”

Anthony chuckled “The best things always do.”

Ruby grabbed the rapier and launched herself at Anthony.

The End

For Now