265: Hush Puppy

on August 7, 2008 in Book 10

In Which Mackenzie’s Loins Excite Interest

Eventually, the blood stopped flowing from the jug. I gave it a nudge and it rolled sideways. When a few repetitions of that only coaxed a tiny bit of the precious fluid from the jug’s neck, I put my mouth around the opening, clasped it between my hands, and rolled over on my back.

The chair shifted, and the woman spoke again.

“I’m going to be honest, puppy… you’re a lot scrawnier than I expected,” she said. “But we can fix that.”

Before too long… certainly not long enough… the blood stopped flowing. I kept sucking at the jug, both because the air inside tasted of it and because part of me refused to believe it could just go empty like that. It was a jug of blood, after all… surely there had to be more blood in it somewhere.

Motion caught my eye just as I was starting to get frustrated with the jug’s stubborn refusal to produce. I rolled over onto my side to see a gloved hand waving around a bit of meat on a bone near the floor. The jug fell to the floor and I crawled towards the seated figure. With a flick of her wrist, she tossed the rib in an arc just over my head. I reared up to catch it, snapping at the air as the morsel bounced off my forehead and went skittering across the floor.

“Must be drunk,” she said. “I can’t imagine either of my doggies missing a treat like that.”

I snatched up the sweet meat and chomped it, savoring both the flavors of meat and bone and the satisfying way the latter crunched between my teeth. More pieces… and bigger pieces… quickly joined the first, and I gobbled them up greedily.

A few more ribs were thrown my way, followed by a whole rack of them all at once, and then two big meaty strips of flaky flesh. I devoured it all, licking the floor when it was all gone, and turning to look at the lady who’d provided it all.

“All gone, puppy,” she said, holding her hands out wide. “It would have been fun to save some of the blood to drizzle over your boyfriend when he comes back upstairs, but I suppose one or the other of us would have to take the fall for what would come next,” the lady said. “And by ‘one or the other of us’, I mean ‘you’… but after waiting so long to find an adult female, I’m not going to risk having you put down, puppy.”

She laughed. What was funny? I was hungry and she wasn’t giving me any more food. There had to be more… I could smell it all over the room. I growled, baring my teeth at her, and she laughed harder.

“As adorable as you are like this, I’m going to need you to use your words,” she said.

She reached inside of a cloak, pulled something out, and tossed it towards me. I tried to catch it out of the air in my mouth, but the tiny glass ball broke against my face, releasing a cloud of caustic, stinging smoke. I fell back, choking and coughing, and as the scent of the smoke overwhelmed my senses, I started to come back to myself.

Between the smoke and the inescapable awareness of what I’d just done, what happened next was almost inevitable. I made it to the sink, even though my knee bashed through the cabinet door beneath it.

When I’d finished retching… with my eyes closed so I wouldn’t have to see the contents of my stomach… I turned around to properly look at… my visitor for the first time.

She was a woman with strong elven features, but she had a gray skin color that I’d never seen on anybody, elven or human. She sat serenely in one of the unbroken chairs, her cloak pushed back on her shoulders like a cape to reveal an outfit of black leather. The bustier she wore supported breasts that were small for a human, but large for an elf. It was subtle, but all in all she seemed to be just a bit on the “bulky” side for a full elf… I thought that maybe she was a subterranean elf with a bit of human blood.

“Hello, puppy,” she said.

“What the hell are you doing in my suite?” I asked.

“I paid for it,” she said.

“It’s still in my name,” I said. “If I ask security to show you out…”

“Then I’ll be gone before they get here,” she said. “Your boyfriend didn’t see me here, so it’d be…”

“Steff is a girl,” I said. Weak and disoriented as I felt, this one thing pissed me off enough to cut through the fog.

“Beg pardon?”

“You said my ‘boyfriend’,” I said. “Steff is a girl.”

She burst out laughing at this.

“Okay! Whatever you say, puppy,” she said.

“I’m not a puppy,” I said, my anger rising. She insulted Steff, laughed when I corrected her, and called me a demeaning name… yeah, I probably should have felt intimidated by somebody of her grace and beauty, but she was pushing all of the wrong buttons. “And I understand that she looks a bit masculine, but as a part-human yourself…”

“Oh, if I had a single drop of human blood in my body, one of us wouldn’t have survived your little feeding frenzy,” she said. I saw where she was going before she finished. “And by ‘one of us’, I mean ‘you’.”

“I’m pretty sure you used that line already,” I said.

“Sorry, my conversations with people don’t often last this long,” she said. “I usually ‘cut’ them short before I start repeating myself. See what I did there?”

It seemed nobody had ever told her that it wasn’t a good threat if you had to explain why it was funny.

“So, if you’re not a half-elf… what are you, exactly?” I asked.

“They told me you were a little slow, but I didn’t believe it would be quite this bad,” she said. “You do know that elves come in more than one color, right?”

“What… was your mom a subterranean elf and your dad a surface elf, or something?” I asked.

“No, of course not. Don’t be ridiculous… can you imagine a dark elf woman getting with a member of any other race, much less a light elf?”

“Then what?” I asked.

“I’m the last surviving member of the ancient race of gray elves, from whom both varieties of modern elves descended.”

“Seriously?” I asked. From what I could tell, both elven races claimed primacy… but if the first elves had actually been gray, that just might explain everything.

“No, not seriously,” she said. “My dad was a dark elf and my mom was a light elf.”

“Who are you?” I asked.

“You haven’t worked that out?” she asked. “You know, that order of yours caused more than a little bit of excitement.”

“Did it?” I asked. Unless I’d placed even more orders that I didn’t want to know about, the odds seemed pretty good that I was talking to Mercy herself, “old school” assassin turned restaurateur.

“It did. Most of our orders come from clients with whom we have a long-standing relationship… if we get a new order out of the blue without a referral, it’s almost always a human dilettante looking for what they imagine will be a wickedly decadent thrill. Most of those get cold feet and we end up collecting the gold without having to provide a single scrap of meat… unless, of course, it ends up being college students who think they’re being ‘edgy’. We don’t get those very often, but we usually have to…”

“Your guy said it was taken care of.”

“I know. I took care of it… don’t interrupt the deadly assassin when she’s talking, puppy,” Mercy said. “We usually have to turn those over to collections, which is more trouble than it’s worth… parents, you know? They tend to raise a fuss… never mind that I’m completely within my legal rights to harvest a non-paying customer who entered into a binding contract with me… and of course, because I’m a legitimate businessperson, I can’t just shut them up. Honestly, if MU hadn’t blocked access to us, I would have raised the minimum ordering age to twenty-five just to save myself from having to put up with bitchy parents.”

She paused and looked at me… for sympathy or what, I didn’t know. I just looked back. I couldn’t claim to be the victim in our little transaction, but she deserved far more blame than I did.

“Anyway, when your order came through, I was sure it was going to be one of those… nobody orders that much food from us for same-day delivery,” she said. “And good thing, too… if somebody orders a ‘steak’, that can come off any of the meatier parts of any body that’s handy. When you order something like a whole torso, though… that’s a presentation piece. I have certain minimum standards for those, and they always require a fresh kill. If it’s an advance order, I can shop around…”

“You know, I really don’t want to hear about this,” I said.

“Tough,” she said. “Because of your order, I have to find and train a new personal assistant way earlier than I expected to. Oh, what’s that look on your face? Did you think that because you were placing an order through a crystal ball, it meant it wasn’t real? Or that I was polymorphing pigs or carving up homunculi?”

“I wasn’t myself when I placed that order,” I said. “Otherwise, I would never…”

“Except you would,” she said. “Were you not yourself when you looked at your… excuse me.” She raised a hand to her face and faked a coughing fit while her eyes danced with mirth. I glared at her. “When you looked at your… your girlfriend… like he was a great big slab of beef?”

“Fuck you,” I said. “That wouldn’t have happened if your ‘products’ hadn’t set me off.”

“It would have… sooner or later, it would have,” she said. “Something would set you off eventually… I’d bet money it’s happened in the past, and I’d bet money it will happen again. It isn’t even a gamble… the only thing that’s up in the air is how long it’ll be before you go after somebody with slow enough reflexes for even you to catch.”

“I was doing pretty good for a long time,” I said. “If I’m having a run of bad luck, it’s just because I’m adjusting to new things.”

“Yeah, and you’re never going to encounter any of those again… look, puppy. I’m offering you a chance to make the people you care about very wealthy, while removing a lethal threat from their lives,” she said. “And as a reward for this selfless act, you will spend the rest of your life pampered and cared for.”

“You want me to sell myself to you?” I asked.

“Name your price,” she said.

“A million platinum,” I said sarcastically.

“Okay. And the beneficiaries?”

“I’m really supposed to believe you’d pay a million platinum for me?” I asked. “Or that ‘the rest of my life’ would be any time worth speaking of… do you really think I’ve forgotten what you do with slaves?”

“Oh, I’m not buying you for my restaurant,” she said. “I plan on breeding you.”

I stared at her.

“What?” she asked.

“Are you hiding a penis under that leather, or something?”

“That’s got nothing to do with it,” she said. “I mean breeding you with other half-demons. I love half-demons, you see… you make the perfect pets… like adorable little puppies, except you don’t make messes on the carpet. Well, okay… you don’t make the same messes on the carpet. I have two males, but I’ve never successfully bred them… the one time I had a breeding female before, I made the mistake of leaving her unsupervised with them. I figured nature would take its course, you know? It did… just the wrong half of it.”

She threw back her head and laughed until her eyes started to tear up. I considered running from the room or making a move against her while she was distracted… but I knew from experience that I’d probably end up hurting myself, and who knew what she might do if she could claim self-defense? I was pretty sure it was against the law for her to have snuck into my room like this, but I hadn’t so much as asked her to leave yet.

“I shouldn’t be laughing… I shouldn’t,” she said when she’d got herself under control again. “It isn’t the least bit funny, really… I mean, I paid a fortune for that bitch. But if you could have seen what they did to her… and I only left them alone for a weekend.”

“I guess you had to be there,” I said.

“Well, no, because they did this thing with her intestines that reminded me of… well, I guess maybe you did have to be there,” she said. “But it was funny at the time. Anyway, you don’t have to worry about that. What’s the saying? ‘Once bitten, twice shy?’ If you sell to me, I will take care of you for the rest of your life… which I can promise you will be a lot longer than if you don’t.”

“Yeah, threatening me’s going to help,” I said.

“I don’t know, it might,” she said. “But I’m not about to do anything that could be used to fuck me over on a technicality later… no, I’m not threatening you. Do you know what the lifespan of a half-demon is?”

“Uh, no,” I said. “Not really.”

“Neither do I,” she said. “And neither does anybody else… nobody I’ve talked to knows any that have died of old age. Nobody I’ve talked to knows any that have lived to old age. In captivity, though? I’ve had my Brutus for almost three hundred years. He looks about forty or so.”

“Somebody named a half-demon ‘Brutus’?”

“I did,” she said. “I haven’t picked your name out yet. I was thinking Lulu II, but that seems a touch disrespectful to the original Lulu. Anyway, puppy…”

“My name’s Mackenzie,” I said.

“I haven’t picked your name out yet, so you’re ‘puppy’. Anyway, we checked you out when we got the order,” she said. “We know you’re having legal trouble with the school…”

“Uh, no,” I said. “The school’s having legal trouble with me.”

“Whatever, it can’t be a picnic for you,” she said. “What’s more, we’ve picked up a bit about your fetishes… I think if you take the time to think about it, you’ll realize the life I’m offering you is really in your best interest. You would have a real, legal owner… you could wear a collar and sleep in a little kennel. Strict discipline and regular meals… what more could you ask for?”

“Those ‘regular meals’…”

“Don’t tell me you wouldn’t enjoy it,” she said. “I watched you eat just a few minutes ago, and you were in hog heaven.”

“This is why I have to say no,” I said.

“You’d rather wait until you snap and eat a friend or lover than be fed bits of people who would have died anyway?” she asked.

“I’m not eating anybody, ever again,” I said.

“If I had so much as a finger on me, I could prove you wrong in a second,” she said. “Think about that.” She got to her feet. “Anyway, this offer is open-ended… you know how to get a hold of me. If things start to get too hairy, you get bored, or you just realize that I’m right, give me a shout and I will come running. Even if you’re already in trouble… I have much better lawyers than you’ll find at Pendragon and Associates. One million platinum. Split it between your friends however you want.”

“One million. Why not ten?” I asked.

“Don’t get greedy, puppy,” she said. “Though, honestly, in a hundred years even that would seem like a bargain. Of course, just in case you’re stupid enough to pass this offer up, I have a second one.”

Here comes the threats, I thought.

“Six hundred platinum for the use of your womb,” she said. “We make sure you produce a girl…”

“Hold on, there’s no magic that does that,” I said. I knew this because my grandmother was firmly opposed to any research into methods that would allow it.

“No, but there is aborting and starting over,” she said. “I love my boys fiercely but I’m not paying six hundred plat to get another one. Think about it, puppy. It doesn’t have to interfere with your schooling. We’ll provide all the necessary healing care, and you’ll be sitting pretty for whatever you have in mind for your life. It’s a good deal… though not as good as the other one.”

“Yeah, I’ll… uh… think about it,” I said.

“You say that, but you’re thinking that the answer’s going to be no,” Mercy said. “But you know what? You will think about it. Every time you look at one of your little fuck buddies and get a strange urge… every time you smell a bit of virgin blood and feel your mouth water… every time you see your friends struggling and wish you could do something to make their lives easier. A million platinum, puppy. That could set a lot of people up for life.”

“How am I worth that much, to you?” I asked. “Why would ten million be a bargain in a hundred years?”

“Good question, isn’t it? I mean, your pedigree is interesting, on both sides, but you’re scrawny, clumsy, and nothing special to look at… but the fact remains that you’re a breeding female, puppy,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how much you’re actually worth in and of yourself, I can use you to make more of you… and all of those little puppies can be trained from birth.”

“And what would you do with all of those ‘puppies’?” I asked.

“Whatever I wanted,” she said. “That is, as they say, the nature of the beast… but you would be well-cared for. Scrawny or not, you are kind of adorable, in that helpless, stupid pet kind of way.”

“You’re really laying the charm on thick,” I said.

She shrugged.

“I knew coming up here that the immediate answer would be no regardless of what I say,” she said. “Just as I know that long-term the answer will be yes… also regardless of what I say. It’s just a question of you coming to your senses soon enough, before you get yourself put down. Now, I know something about where your predilections lie… so, I’ll point out that while I wouldn’t dilute your infernal blood or my immortality by breeding you myself, you would be my personal pet… and even if I’m not hung like your little girlfriend, I do have real boobs. I think you’re going to be thinking about that, once the taste of vomit and stinging smoke’s not so fresh in your mouth.”

She headed towards the doorway, then stopped when she got to it.

“I’m going to be keeping an eye on you, puppy,” she said. “Don’t worry, nothing illegal… I’m not going to be stupid enough to break into a dorm room personally or anything. I just want to make sure you live long enough to make the right decision. I might send you some puppy treats from time to time, too.”

“Don’t,” I said.

“Oh, but, you don’t have to eat them, of course,” she said with a smirk. “You have a great rest of your vacation. I’ll have the kitchen send up another entree, and find your ‘girlfriend’ and tell her it’s safe to come back.”

She headed into the living room, and her voice floated around the corner to echo in my ear.

“At least, as safe as it’s ever going to be.”


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7 Responses to “265: Hush Puppy”

  1. pedestrian says:

    now that is one scary Dame of the Empire.

    ?? Darth Merciless ??

    Current score: 0
  2. MackSffrs says:

    So Deus ex Machina to ‘save’ Mack from potential troubles down the road?

    Current score: 0
  3. Erm says:

    “Are you hiding a penis under that leather, or something?”
    “That’s got nothing to do with it,”

    Just noticed this on re-reading. I guess that’d be a yes?

    Current score: 6
    • BlackWizard says:

      “… so, I’ll point out that while I wouldn’t dilute your infernal blood or my immortality by breeding you myself, you would be my personal pet… ”

      I would say that it’s a most definite yes. :p

      Current score: 4
      • Daezed says:

        Desah.

        So….. Certainly could be.

        Also, fourth time through, and that’s the first time I noticed that. Nice catch, Erm!

        Current score: 2
  4. Predator says:

    Mur-ci was a grey elf as well, in the story about the Hydra Company.

    Guess she did end up surviving, huh?

    Current score: 6
  5. Jechtael says:

    Darn. I somehow got it into my head that Mercy was a nagakin or lamia or something of the sort, and missed Mur-si (I assume the same character) being described as a grey elf, if Predator is correct. I was hoping she was part of the “one of the half-demons got eaten by a snake-woman. Her name was Mercy, or something like it”. She could still have a bit of demon blood in her, but I doubt it.

    Current score: 2