Lone Fox 3 – Ch 4 – Decisions Made

Thank you for reading! Me and my coauthor Darinost are gradually combining forces and blogs, so the joint comment section for our stories is currently located on discord! Come on in and let us know what you thought, we don’t bite.

“You know, Delphy,” Tanya said casually, “sometimes, if I didn’t know better, I might get the impression that you don’t actually enjoy making me cum!”

Astaria grit her teeth. “That is because I do not.”

“Awwww, don’t be a grouchy pants.” Tanya rubbed the dragon’s stomach. “You’re so good at it! Everybody’s got some kinda special skill, right? You’re amazing at all sorts of things, but your bestest talent, from where I’m sitting, is your uncanny ability to make my pussy gush. You should embrace it!”

“I would prefer to take that strap-on and determine how talented I am at shoving it down your throat,” Astaria replied calmly. “And test the adage ‘practice makes perfect’ while I am at it.”

The white winged woman giggled. “I’ve heard worse ideas. I bet if we changed places, you could show me a real good time with this, huh?”

“There is only one way to find out.” That prompted more giggling.

Astaria was spending the evening engaging in an activity that had become increasingly common: being raped by Tanya. They were in the madwoman’s suite, the one within the section of the Paradisium that had been cordoned off for Paragon’s use only, and seated together on the couch. That is, Tanya was sitting on the couch, and Astaria was in Tanya’s lap, her back to the woman while she fucked herself on her strap-on.

“I tell you what, Delphy,” Tanya said once her giggles had passed. “Things ever go topsy-turvy around here and you end up in charge of me, you go ahead and pound me as long and hard as you like. I promise you’ll hear no complaints about it from me.” Astaria flinched as the woman began kissing the side of her neck. “But for now, my horny little pet…” Tanya’s finger hooked into the dragon’s clit ring. “This tight cunt is mine.”

Pain spiked through Astaria’s body as the dark haired girl gave the ring a light tug. Her insides involuntarily clenched the buried strap-on, and Tanya purred in response. “Mmm, see what I mean, Delphy? Your cunt loves me. Sometimes it just needs to be smacked around a little to remember.” Her other hand did just that, delivering an openhanded slap to Astaria’s pubic mound.

Astaria bounced up and down on the fake cock like the girl wanted, and felt her shiver with pleasure beneath her. She couldn’t tell if she hated doing this more for Tanya or her father. When she rode Karakostas, he rarely spoke to her or even acknowledged her presence, save for nonverbal commands to change her pace or positioning, and the squirting of his cum into her backside at the end. He usually treated raping his daughter as a biological function no different or more important than using the bathroom. Talking to her would be like making conversation with the urinal.

Tanya was very different. “Give me some sugar,” she encouraged, and Astaria reluctantly turned her head so that she could share an openmouthed kiss with the girl. Tanya’s tongue eagerly explored her mouth while her one hand continued tugging and twisting on the clit piercing to make Astaria squirm. Her other hand played with the woman’s breasts, teasing her nipples with her finger pads and nails. After a minute she pulled back and kissed the tip of her nose. “Mmm, and don’t neglect my poor ass, Delphy. It needs some of your expert attention too.”

Astaria’s face grew slightly flushed. Her tail was not prehensile and had a limited range of movement, but Tanya had decided it should be used to pleasure her as well. The tip of it was currently buried in the sadistic girl’s asshole, wriggling around to help stimulate her. The dragon moved it a little faster, massaging Tanya’s rectum for her.

“See?” Tanya teased. “There’s yet another talent: being a butt plug! Your entire body is so good to my ass and pussy. Seriously, I’ve sampled a lot of the Paradisium’s wares, and even with this cock on, I usually need to finish myself with my fingers or get someone to give me a solid tongue lashing. But between this soft twat, and sweet mouth, and ripe tits, and even that hardworking tail, my pussy is all hot and ready without a single touch! You’re a real special girl, Delphy.”

“Am I meant to be glad that I can bring such joy to a vile monster?” Astaria retorted. “If there were any justice in the world, you would never know pleasure again.” She held the same sentiment for her father, but just speaking out of turn with him was cause for brutal punishment. A comment as disrespectful as that would have her marked as meat before she’d finished talking.

“Oh Delphy,” Tanya said, amused. “If there were any justice in the world, it would be a very different place. We live in a world that rewards cruelty with wealth and power, and has harsh lessons for naive girls like you that thought they could succeed without ever having to play the game. Don’t hate me just for being good at living in it.”

Unlike Karakostas, Tanya outright encouraged Astaria to talk back, and the few times she was punished for it were more about Tanya enjoying an excuse to indulge in sadism than any attempt to correct the dragon’s behavior. There was an uncomfortable dichotomy between the two people who controlled her. With her father, Astaria could sink into her role and perform it with almost no conscious thought required, unfazed by the painful, degrading tasks she performed, but in so doing she lost a little of herself every time. Every day she grew closer to becoming the empty, dead eyed slave he wanted for an incubator.

With Tanya, she couldn’t escape the humiliation and rage of her situation. The girl gleefully rubbed her nose in it, delighting in causing the dragon misery and reminding her how far she’d fallen. But the constant provocation and interaction also meant that Astaria felt more like herself when she was around Tanya than she had in years. The thought brought little comfort: the girl wasn’t doing it out of kindness or sympathy. She just enjoyed watching her victims suffer, and a docile fucktoy wasn’t nearly as much fun.

As if hearing her thoughts, Tanya giggled. “Feel like playing a game, Delphy? What do you think will happen if Kitkat goes to enjoy you later and finds your pussy basted with my gooey cum?”

The thought made Astaria shiver. The fake semen from the device Tanya wore couldn’t impregnate her, but her father would take no heed of that. He considered Astaria’s womb to belong to him alone, not even to Astaria, and he’d see it as a mocking insult, a challenge to his claim. He’d be furious with Tanya, but since he was bound by their contract, he’d take it out on his daughter instead. It wouldn’t be the first time that Tanya had finished in her in that way, but even she did it only rarely, and always gave the dragon ample time to clean herself out before her next meeting with Karakostas. If she wasn’t allowed to do that this time, the consequences would be immediate and severe.

“…What do you want?” Astaria asked. She knew all too well by now that there was no point trying to dissuade the girl when she got an idea in her head. The fastest way to get through this was to play along.

“Just a little pop quiz. You lose, and I give you a consolation cream pie for you and Kitkat to bond over later. You win, and mmm, I’ll give your guts another one of those warm cum baths they love so much instead. Tell me two, no, three things about the Paradisium that your dad wouldn’t want me to know. And make it quick because…” She moaned theatrically into the dragon’s ear. “The train’s leaving the station soon.”

Astaria’s mind raced to put her thoughts in order. The request wasn’t unexpected, even if the framing of it was. At Tanya’s insistence, the dragon had spent the last month deliberately eavesdropping on her father’s conversations, and sometimes going through his notes when she was certain he wouldn’t notice. She passed off what she’d learned every few days, when Karakostas was busy with private matters and she could sneak off to Tanya’s quarters for a few hours.

“He has been looking into Paragon’s Board of Directors,” she told Tanya. “Just some private investigators so far. I think he is trying to dredge up dirt in case he needs leverage later.”

The girl sighed. “Have I mentioned how stupid your father is? Like we need him getting involved in all this. Well, guess I’ve got some PIs to kill next week! What else?”

“He had two vulpan guards executed a few days ago for cornering and raping some of the servants while off duty. He ordered them secretly vivisected first so that he could try and study the artificial marbles inside them.” After hearing what the two of them had done, Astaria had felt little sympathy for what she understood had been a very slow and agonizing experiment for them.

“Mmm. If he thinks he can figure out my recipe, good luck,” Tanya said. “Maybe I should scrawl a greeting on the next one I stick in one of his people. Almost there, Delphy, you and me both.”

Astaria needed a third secret, but her mind was blank. Those were the only two things of note since her last meeting with Tanya. She wondered if the girl had already known that, and deliberately demanded three to make her fail. But if Tanya already knew what she was going to say, why did she even need to ask? She felt like if she knew more about how Tanya’s ability to see the future worked, then maybe she’d be able to find a weakness to be exploited. But that wasn’t what mattered right now. Something her father wouldn’t want Tanya to know…

Maybe she was thinking about this the wrong way.

“He’s still very angry with you for tricking him into sending Doval to Japan,” she said. “Angry enough to want revenge.”

Tanya clicked her tongue. “That’s your third thing, Delphy? I knew he was going to be pissed at me before I even lied to him!”

There was an undercurrent of amusement in the girl’s tone that told Astaria she was on the right track. “You didn’t ask for new information,” she retorted. “Only to name things he wouldn’t want you to know.”

The winged girl laughed out loud. “That’s right, I didn’t! Good girl!”

“It was all a test,” Astaria accused, certain of it now. “You already knew everything I had to tell you.”

Tanya made no attempt to deny it. “I did call it a pop quiz, after all. You think too much in straight lines, Delphy. You need to learn to be more outside the box. Forget about Kitkat making you his slave; if you can’t learn to be at least a little devious, he could hand over the keys to the Paradisium today and you’d have lost the entire place before the weekend. It would be downright cruel of me not to help you out, if and when you become more than just his fleshlight. You’re welcome, by the way. Now treat yourself to a sperm enema.”

Her face red, Astaria lifted herself off of the fake cock, repositioned slightly, and then sat back down, letting the thing sink into her asshole. Since both Karakostas and Tanya used it regularly, it easily accepted the strap-on. It was shameful, even, how adroitly it swallowed the entire cock from tip to base and then tightly hugged it, as though she wanted to wring its contents out. That was her father’s doing, and thousands of hours practice pleasing him. He expected clockwork like perfection from her in all things, even the elasticity of her body, and did not take failure well. By now, even a conscious effort not to perform couldn’t stop her from falling into the patterns of a well trained fucktoy.

“You little fibber,” Tanya teased. “Pretending you’re not in love with me and my cock here. It’s adorable the way you play hard to get. But once it’s back here, you just can’t help yourself, can you?”

“You know… that is not true,” Astaria breathed as she involuntarily rode the strap-on hard. She wished that she could believe it. The wretched truth was that while her sessions with Tanya were full of pain and humiliation, they were also… pleasant, sometimes, a little. Perhaps more than sometimes and more than a little. From the very beginning, the dark haired girl had viewed their trysts as a sort of game, where the goal was to break Astaria’s resolve and make her enjoy herself, even if only for a few seconds. Astaria had resisted, but Tanya always knew exactly what to do to get her aroused, and her resistance had only grown weaker over time as her body came to associate the girl’s touch with pleasure.

By now, and to her great shame, the only question was whether she would find pleasure despite that pain and humiliation, or because of it. Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference between the three when she was with Tanya. Smacks and pinches could feel almost as good as kisses and licks sometimes, and when Tanya teased her mercilessly, it wasn’t only her face that grew flushed and hot.

Astaria tried to view her actions in a more positive light. The sooner she made Tanya finish, the sooner this would be over. Logically speaking, pleasing Tanya was her best course of action. If she told herself that enough times, perhaps she could convince herself that logic had anything to do with her behavior, instead of ingrained obedience and the wetness between her thighs. “You disgust me.”

“Mmm hmmm,” Tanya purred into her ear. “I know. That’s part of what makes you so… much… fun…!” Hot cum sluiced the dragon’s bowels, and Astaria stiffened. She tried to stop herself from massaging the strap-on as it spurted its fake payload. She didn’t need to encourage Tanya to empty every drop of the stuff into her, didn’t need to prolong the girl’s orgasm for as long as possible to reward her for her gift of cum. But she found herself doing it anyway.

Tanya yanked hard on her clit ring, and Astaria tried to brace, but it was no good. She was too aroused, and the sudden burst of pain pushed her over the edge, making her squirm in unasked for pleasure and join Tanya in moaning out loud.

Both women panted silently for a minute after their orgasms had passed. One with a sense of relaxed pleasure, the other with exhaustion and shame and guilt… and pleasure of her own, no matter how much she wanted to deny it. “You’re… always such a good fuck, Delphy,” Tanya said eventually, and kissed the side of her neck again.”The softest, sweetest, and loveliest pet a girl could ask for. Now clean up after yourself, if you please.”

Astaria nodded and let herself slip off of Tanya’s lap and onto her knees, using the opportunity to extract her tail from the girl’s ass as well. She twisted around to regard the strap-on and begin bathing the dirty thing with her tongue. She went at the task with professional efficiency, even when Tanya started softly humping her face. In that regard, she and Karakostas were nearly identical; it was exceedingly rare for Astaria’s mouth to get near either one of them without being used to make them cum.

The way that the girl humiliated her was the worst part. If she’d just insulted Astaria, called her awful and stupid and worthless, her words wouldn’t affect the dragon at all. Even the harshest insult was nothing compared to the way her father looked at her. But Tanya was too… nice. Astaria hadn’t realized how easy it was to insult someone with compliments before her alliance with Tanya had begun. The girl would talk about how lucky she was to own someone as amazing as Astaria, how good it felt to be with her, how proud she was of her pet and how much she adored her. She lavished the dragon with praise and affection, as though she truly cared about her. The way that she spoke almost made the idea of being owned sound pleasant, as though it could be a loving relationship no worse or less intimate than any other, merely different.

If words like that had come from anyone else, Astaria might have called them romantic. She might not have felt such shame at being labeled a pet, and even worse shame at sometimes enjoying the experience of it. But they came from Tanya, and she knew all too well what kind of person the girl really was. She was a cold, calculating monster, and nothing that she said ever really meant anything. It was always just a means to an end, a way to push things towards her desired outcome. Whatever Tanya wanted from her, her visions told her that she could get it by acting this way, and that was the one and only motivation behind her apparent kindness.

But knowing that as a logical fact, and not being affected by it, were two very different things. For a woman like Astaria, who’d spent most of her life surrounded by servants and the last few years by tormentors, her relationship with Tanya was the closest she’d ever come to having a genuine friend, not counting fleeting acquaintances like her fellow contestants in the Paradisium Game years ago. And to her deep discomfort, being around the girl was enjoyable for reasons beyond just the physical pleasure that so frequently accompanied their time together. Whatever dark goals might motivate her behavior, Tanya was still charming and intelligent.

“Tanyaaaaaa,” complained an unfamiliar voice behind Astaria, “I’m hungryyyy.” A young woman that appeared to be about Tanya’s age, wearing only a long t-shirt that went down to her knees, appeared from the bedroom doorway. Her brown hair was matted and tangled, as though she’d just been sleeping on it, and her eyes were only half open. Brown fox ears were nestled in her hair, and nine tails dragged behind her.

”I’m sorry, kiddo,” Tanya said with what sounded like genuine sympathy. “Dinner’s gonna be arriving in just a few minutes, I promise. You have a good nap?”

A childlike smile appeared on the brunette’s face, and her tails rose from the carpet to swish eagerly. “Yeah, I dreamt we went to the amusement park again. You got me more candy cotton and this time the roller coasters went upside down and sideways and stuff.”

“Mmm, that does sound fun! Tell you what: go wash up, make sure to take your medicine, and by the time you get out the food will be here and you can tell me all the details, okay?”

“Okay,” said the girl happily, nodding her head. “Who’s the green lady?”

“This is Astaria.” Tanya tousled the dragon’s hair. “She’s a very good girl who plays lots of grownup games with me. And Astaria, this is Nami, who is also a very good girl. Poor thing was cooped up in Paragon for the last few months, but I finally got to bring her here a couple days ago.”

Astaria let her head slip off of Tanya’s shaft. “It is… good to meet you,” she said slowly. Everything about the girl’s mannerisms suggested a young child, but she was clearly an adult. Her behavior was a mystery, but not half as much as Tanya’s, who sounded almost motherly right now.

“Can I play some grownup games with you too?” Nami asked Tanya eagerly.

“When you’re older,” Tanya said, in the resigned tone of someone giving a familiar answer to a familiar question. “Now go wash up, brat, or you’re gonna be sad when the food shows up and you’re not ready to eat.”

“Okayyyyy.” The girl happily padded barefoot towards the bathroom.

“Who is-mmmph!” Astaria’s question was interrupted by Tanya forcing her dildo back down the green haired woman’s throat.

Tanya winked at her. “That mouth’s got better things to do than talk right now, Delphy. We really don’t have a lot of time before dinner, and I’d love to put another load of cum in that belly before it gets here. So let’s work quick, okay?” She gripped Astaria’s horns in both hands and began using them to roughly pound the dragon’s throat.

“Anyway, that girl is a special project of mine,” she continued. “See, the old vulpan, they used foxes like her to make their marbles. They’d slice off slivers of their soul until there was nothing left. Three years ago, Nami wasn’t much more than a blowup doll. But once we figured out how to consolidate the marbles, that left a lot of foxfire with nothing to do, and it all came floating back home.”

She pulled Astaria’s head closer, until she was grinding the woman’s face against her. “Stick that tongue out, Delphy, just the way I like it.” Astaria obeyed, extending her tongue to reach Tanya’s wet slit just below the strap-on. The dark haired girl moaned as the dragon’s mouth pleasured her two times over.

“Poor Nami got her soul back, but it jumbled her brains a bit. Lost most of her memory and, well, you saw what she’s like now. She’s growing up fast, though. She was like a toddler at first, now she’s up to at least six or seven. Give her another decade and she’ll probably be right as rain. Almost there, Delphy, just a little more!”

Astaria felt the hot juice spurt into her throat. She still wasn’t sure what the stuff even was, only that it was salty and slimy and tasted almost as awful as her father’s seed. Tanya clutched her horns tight, happily slapping the dragon’s wet face against her soaked crotch as she came. “That’s it,” she breathed. “Wouldn’t have been very fair of me not to feed my other pet her dinner too, right?”

The dragon coughed when she was released, careful not to trigger her collar. The throatfuck had been humiliating, but she’d barely noticed it. Her attention was wholly focused on the new side of Tanya she’d just seen. Anyone else and she would’ve taken the girl’s role in caring for Nami as simple compassion. But not Tanya. There had to be more going on, but she had no idea what yet.

She was still coughing when there was a knock on the door. “That must be them!” Tanya said cheerfully.

Astaria’s face burned with shame, but she forced the words out anyway. “May… May I have some too? Please?” She’d been fed almost nothing but cum for the last two years. If there was even a chance of eating real food for once, she’d ignore her pride and beg for it.

Tanya grinned at her. “Aww Delphy, of course you can! As much as you want, assuming you can convince Nami to share.” She raised her voice. “Nami, di-“

There was a loud and angry noise as the door to her quarters was violently ripped off of its hinges.

The woman who sauntered in through the open doorway had her blonde hair tied back in a ponytail and wore a servant’s uniform, though her confident demeanor made her look nothing like the cringing workers who normally roamed the halls. She was tall, American, and had a smirk on her face as she brandished a pistol at the white winged girl. “Tanya Petrov?”

“The one and only,” Tanya said cheerfully, showing no sign of distress at what had just happened. Astaria herself was frozen, uncertain of what to do. The intruder’s intentions were obvious, and a month ago the dragon would have cheered her on, even knowing that she would not be spared from the violence about to ensue. But the thought of Tanya Petrov’s death didn’t hold the same appeal it once had. Was this the very reason the girl had been showing her kindness, so that Astaria would hesitate and not seize this opportunity to help rid the world of her?

Like it or not, her pure hatred of Tanya had become diluted over time, her feelings twisted into something far more complicated. Did the girl deserve to die here and now? Undoubtedly. But did Astaria want the girl to die? That… was a question for which she had no ready answer, and one that she was not going to have time to ponder.

Three men, also in servant uniforms, came in behind the woman with their own weapons drawn, and fanned out to block all the exits from the room. “This is nothing personal,” said the blonde calmly. “We’re just here to do a job.”

“Oh, no worries, no worries,” Tanya assured her. “Nothing personal for me either. Just gotta keep my baby girl fed, you know?”

The man closest to the bathroom screamed as a large brown fox burst through the door to tackle him. The woman kept her gun trained on Tanya, but the other two reacted immediately, spraying the fox with gunfire. Nami didn’t even seem to notice the bullets as she bent down and almost playfully ripped the man’s throat out with her teeth.

“I’d put the gun down and my hands up if I were you,” Tanya told the woman cheerfully. “I’ve been teaching her to spare folks who do that, but it’s been a while since breakfast, so she might be feeling a little unruly. You know how kids get.”

The assassin pulled the trigger instead, destroying the couch cushion behind Tanya. The girl herself had shifted her head almost as if by accident, resulting in the bullet missing her by inches. The woman emptied the rest of her clip with no further success. “Kitkat did warn you I’m a precog before he sent you after me, right?” Tanya asked. “Or were you just a test run to see what I can do?”

The woman stared at Tanya for a moment, completely unharmed and surrounded by bullet holes, then sighed. “Fuck.” She dropped the gun and raised her hands into the air. The other two weren’t so quick, and blood sprayed as another man went down. The third lost his nerve completely and bolted out of the apartment, but Nami chased after him. There was a strangled cry, and then she reappeared dragging his corpse in with her by the teeth.

“Can I eat all three of them, Tanya?” The woman’s pet gumiho asked excitedly, her muzzle red with gore. “Can I?”

“Not just yet, Nami,” Tanya said, and looked down at Astaria, still huddled on the floor in shock. “Delphy here was just telling me how hungry she is. You want something, Delphy? Maybe a leg or two?”

Astaria vomited.

A short while later, Tanya, Astaria, and the unknown assassin were all in Tanya’s bedroom. With Nami nearby as motivation, the blonde had reluctantly obeyed Tanya’s commands. She was now naked and spread eagled on the bed, her limbs handcuffed to the bed posts and her ponytail tied off to the headboard behind her. Her body was well toned and bore multiple scars, the lean frame of someone who spent their days on their feet and on the move. “I won’t talk,” she said, staring up at the ceiling with stoic defiance.

Tanya patted her head. “That’s okay, Nessie. I don’t need you to say a word.” The blonde tried not to react, but the way her eyes tightened told Astaria that Tanya had named her correctly.

“How is it that you know her name?” the dragon asked. “I do not recognize her face; she is not a servant here. Do you know her from elsewhere?” She took another careful bite of her sandwich. It wasn’t much of a meal, just two pieces of dry bread with a few thin slices of meat and cheese between them, but compared to her usual diet, she felt like she was dining on ambrosia, and she was going to savor every moment of it.

She had Nami to thank for the meal; the girl had become distressed and nearly started crying when she saw Astaria’s reaction to her feeding. It hadn’t taken her long to calm down, but when she’d realized that Astaria had been hungry, she’d begged her guardian to let the woman eat something. The dragon had no idea if Tanya would’ve eventually allowed her real food even without Nami’s intervention, but once the girl had started pleading, the dark haired oracle had seemed helpless to refuse her.

“Vanessa? Nah, you just saw our first meeting.” Tanya casually flicked one of the bound woman’s nipples, and her handcuffs all rattled a little. “Buuuuut, the thing about my new friend here is, these nice firm teats of hers are very sensitive.” She flicked one again with the same result. “So while she’s been trained to resist torture, after a little experimentation, I’d discover that sticking a few pins in them was enough to make her sing. Here, I’ll show you.” She opened the bedroom drawer and took out a piercing needle. “Had this delivered last week just for her.”

The blonde’s eyes flickered towards it, and her expression of calm grew slightly forced. “If you don’t need me to talk, and you already know what I’d say, then why torture me at all?”

Tanya smiled, and bent down to lick and suck on Vanessa’s left breast. “Mmm, becaush ish fuhn, shilly” she said. The assassin’s entire body went rigid as Tanya delicately closed her teeth around her stiff nipple and tugged, making the breast stand up. She put the piercing needle against the base of the nipple, and the entire bed shook violently as it penetrated the flesh. Vanessa closed her eyes, trying not to show how much it still hurt. The dark haired girl pulled a small ring from the same drawer the needle was in, and none too gently inserted it into the new piercing. “See?” she asked, lightly tugging on the ring and clearly enjoying the way her captive flinched each time. “She looks cute with pierced nips, right? And now the other.”

“It won’t work,” Vanessa insisted after both bloody rings were in. “No matter what you do to me, I won’t reveal the name of my employer. If you really can see the future, you have to know that much.”

Tanya shrugged. “Maybe? To be honest, I don’t see any futures where I bother asking. I already know Kitkat hired you.”

“He would not dare,” Astaria blurted out before she could stop herself. “It would mean breaking his word! And, and if he was somehow able to do that, he wouldn’t leave your death to someone else.”

“My sweet, innocent cunt licker,” Tanya said with a grin. “You’re almost as cute as Nami. Your dad can’t come after me directly, but if he tells someone else what a bother I am, and that person tells someone else, and that person tells someone else, and eventually someone gets the idea that they could curry favor with him by having me eliminated… is that really breaking his word? Or is there enough ambiguity there for it to slip by?”

“I… do not know,” Astaria admitted. “Possibly…”

“See, this is exactly what I was talking about before. Your dad knows how to be devious. I guarantee you that you could count on your fingers the number of times keeping his word has actually stopped him from doing whatever he wanted. And that a hundred times as often, his reputation for honor has helped him screw someone over. You’re right about one thing, though: there’s no way Kitkat really thought this was going to succeed. Nessie’s just here to test the waters, get a sense of what he’s dealing with. He’s probably not even expecting to kill me while I’m here. He’s a patient bugger, you know? He can wait until our agreement’s over, maybe even give me a decade or two after that, and then bam! Shows up on my doorstep one day all quoting Biblical passages and stuff, with six different contingency plans to take me down.”

Vanessa’s face had lost some of its color as it sunk in that Tanya really didn’t want to know anything. Her knowledge was one of the only currencies she had right now to trade for her life and wellbeing, and the winged girl had just made it clear that it was worthless. “I could be of use to you,” she said. She tried to sound as stoic as before, but the way her eyes darted between Astaria and Tanya betrayed her anxiety. “Many people have paid a fortune for my services in the past. I’m willing to offer them at a considerable discount.”

“You would offer yourself to someone who just killed three of your companions?” Astaria asked skeptically. Her sandwich was down to its last bite, and she regarded it longingly before popping it into her mouth and slowly chewing

Vanessa shrugged. “They were just hired muscle, and they knew the risks. Like I said, this was nothing personal. I only tried to kill you because someone paid me to do it, and as far as I’m concerned, that contract’s now null and void. People like me are loaded guns; we don’t care who pulls the trigger or who we’re pointed at, we just do our job.”

“If we call your performance out there a job interview, you don’t exactly come off too impressive,” Tanya pointed out.

“Only because I was not informed of your abilities or your bodyguard,” the blonde said coolly, a touch of pride in her tone. “Like you said, I wasn’t sent to succeed. If I’d been properly briefed, you would be dead right now.”

“Maybe, maybe not.” Tanya ran a hand across the woman’s stomach. “But your incompetence aside, I am interested in hiring you. What are your rates?”

“That depends on the job,” Vanessa said, relaxing slightly. “My default fee is two hundred thousand dollars, American. That gets you anyone you want above the age of eighteen dead.”

“You do not kill children, then?” Astaria asked.

Tanya grinned. “Silly Delphy, she charges extra for children, don’t you?”

“Exactly,” agreed the assassin. “As well as any other special requests. If you want the target to die slowly, if you want it to look like an accident, if you want a video recording, if you want them to know why they’re being killed… most of my clients are looking for more than just a bullet to the back of the head.”

“Mmm hmm. And how much do you charge for anal?” Tanya asked.

Vanessa’s eyes narrowed. “Are you calling me a whore?”

“Wouldn’t dream of it!” the white winged girl assured her with a smile. “Whores get paid. I’m just wondering, hypothetically, how much you think your holes are worth. Don’t worry, I don’t plan to give you a single cent for them, American or otherwise. It’s just my natural curiosity talking.”

“That would be a mistake,” Vanessa told her, full of indignation and an undercurrent of fear. “I’m not some… some subhuman mongrel you can pick up off the street and slap a collar on. I have money, influence, and the skills necessary to kill everyone you know and love. You beat me today; I get that. But don’t bite off more than you can chew. Take the win and let me go.”

“I won our first game,” Tanya said. “But now I’m gonna go for a best of three, kay?”  She looked over at Astaria. “You wanna help, Delphy? I know she’s just your type.”

“My… type?” the dragon asked.

“Yeah, she’s all like evil and stuff, isn’t she? And you’re little miss gonna save the world. Even a subby like you must be getting all juicy at the thought of tearing into her, right?”

Astaria frowned. It was true that after hearing from Vanessa, she was feeling considerably less bad about what must be in store for the woman. And there was a part of her, the remnants of her pride that burned every time she had to follow another disgusting order, that was tempted at the opportunity to be the one in charge for once. But she shook that desire away. “No. I will not sink to your level, no matter what she has done. There is no excuse for torturing another sentient being.”

Tanya gave her a look with something approaching genuine scorn, then shrugged. “Okay, I’ll let her go.”

“That easily?” Astaria asked suspiciously.

“Sure, why not? Nessie’s not gonna come after me again no matter what somebody offers, are you, girl?” Vanessa quickly shook her head. “See? She’ll go after other people instead. No one you or I will ever meet. Let’s see… there’s the husband and wife over in Portugal that she’s going to kill next week. The contract’s only for the husband – some complicated labor dispute – but the client wants to be sure his death sends a message, and a big gory bedroom tableau for the neighbors to find a few days later will do it in spades. And then there’s the mistress in Hong Kong that’s refusing to get an abortion after her lover insisted on riding bareback. He’s convinced that she just wants to use the baby to blackmail him in the future, so he’s gonna nip that potential problem in the bud and make sure it can’t happen again.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Astaria demanded.

“Because actions have consequences, Delphy,” Tanya said, as though it was obvious. “Now me, I don’t really care who Nessie kills. We’re all maggot food eventually, right? But all that stuff matters to you for some reason, so I figured you should know what you’re asking for.” She beamed at Astaria as she dropped the handcuff key into her hand. “There, now it’s your decision. You can let her keep murdering folks left and right, or you can give me the go ahead on raping and torturing her.”

“I refuse to accept that those are my only options,” said the green haired woman defiantly. “You could find a way to reach a peaceful agreement wherein no one needs to suffer. At the very least, you could keep her confined here without doing her harm.”

Tanya wagged her finger at her while clicking her tongue. “That’s not how it works, my sweet little subby. You can’t change who we are: let Nessie go and she keeps killing, keep her here and I abuse her. The only power you have over this situation rests in whether you use that key or not.” She winked at the woman. “I don’t deserve my powers, remember? So let’s see how you would handle a bit of foresight.”

Astaria looked despondently down at the key she held. There was no way out of this… even refusing to play along would mean consciously surrendering the assassin’s fate to Tanya’s will. No matter what the dragon chose, she would share responsibility for the consequences now. “These people you say Vanessa will kill… if she is not there, won’t the client simply hire someone else?”

“Sometimes, sure,” Tanya said with a shrug. “But a lot of them won’t. The new guy hired to off the husband is a real dummy, manages to break in on the one night a month they’re over playing Sueca at a friend’s house. Gets himself arrested and squeals about everything. And that mistress is already making plans to flee the country. The extra day she gets thanks to her lover having to dig deeper into his connections is all the time that she needs. The kid turns out to be an adorable little brat, by the way.”

“You already know everything that will happen,” Astaria said bitterly. ”Why not just tell me what I pick?”

“Because getting to choose is the fun part, Delphy!” Tanya told her, eyes sparkling. “Isn’t it great being in charge of things for once, knowing that you get to determine who lives and who dies and who suffers? What you’re doing right now is how I get to live my life alllllll the time! It’s a lot to take in at first, but once you get used to it…” She twirled in place with girlish glee. “You get to make everyone dance and dance and dance…”

If what Tanya said was true, Astaria no longer had to wonder why the girl was so erratic, or why the oracles of old were so often described as mad. For the first time in her life, she felt something that could almost be described as pity for the girl, the same kind of pity she’d feel for a rabid animal. This single impossible choice made Astaria sick to her stomach, and she knew that whichever option she picked would haunt her for a long time. Tanya made a thousand choices like this every day. If Astaria had been cursed with that much power as a child, would she have been able to keep her sanity? She doubted it.

There was no getting out of this. There was nothing Astaria could think to do now but to try and figure out the right answer. What was the moral choice? Assuming that Tanya wasn’t lying about the outcomes, by numbers alone it was better that Vanessa not leave this room a free woman. But she couldn’t base her decision on numbers alone. A life was more than a statistic. She had no responsibility to protect those that Vanessa might hurt if she was freed. But that didn’t make their pain any less real. Wouldn’t Astaria be helping this woman just because she was right here while the lives she would take were faceless and nameless?

“I don’t want to rush your little mental ethics course,” Tanya said eventually. “But Kitkat won’t be busy forever. He’ll be back in his chambers in less than three hours, and he’s expecting to find his fucktoy ready and waiting. Don’t worry, there’s no right answer here, just a bunch of wrong ones. You could trace every choice, every consequence, every unintended outcome… trying to see where it all goes, trying to figure out that perfect choice that makes everything right… and you know what you’d find, Delphy? That there is no perfect outcome. Life is nothing but a series of bad decisions; getting to peek at the back of the book doesn’t change that.”

“I… will not help you hurt this woman,” Astaria said slowly, feeling as though the words were killing something inside her. “But I will not ask for her freedom either. She made her choice when she came to the Paradisium to kill you. She must accept the consequences for that.”

“Wait,” Vanessa said quickly. “We can work something out. If I take a sabbatical for a few weeks, that’ll do the same thing, won’t it? Or you could give me a list of people not to kill, or clients not t-aaagh!” She screamed as Tanya unexpectedly gave one of her nipple rings a sharp yank.

“Even if you did, Nessie, that would just change which people died,” Tanya said with mock sweetness. “We could keep playing that game all day. Now, I suggest you stop talking; your mouth is going to be getting a workout soon, and we don’t want to tire out those jaw muscles too fast, do we?” Vanessa’s face tightened and she looked like she was about to say something nasty, but she bit the response back. “Good girl! Sooooo, like I was saying, we’re gonna play a little game. Since Delphy doesn’t want to play, she gets to be the referee!” She patted the cordless alarm clock on the nightstand. “She’s gonna keep an eye on this, and let us know when two hours have passed. Once that happens, you can head on home and never worry about me ever again. Unless, of course, you decided at some point during those two hours that you should swear an oath to be my slave forever and ever. When that happens-” She giggled and winked. “Sorry, if that happens, you’ll be spending the rest of the night right here getting to know your new mistress’s pussy. Sound good?”

Vanessa clenched her teeth and gave a tiny nod.

Tanya turned back to Astaria. “Nami’s probably getting a little antsy on her own. Go fix her a glass of water, let her know we’re alright.” She offered Astaria the alarm clock.

The dragon was confident that Tanya would be able to break the woman, and in no hurry to find out how, so she didn’t hesitate to accept the clock and make her way to the kitchen. She filled up a glass in the sink and headed to the other bedroom in the apartment, where the gumiho had been waiting since the attack was over. Her eyes couldn’t help drifting toward the exit, where the door was still off its hinges, but it was only a passing urge. Paradisium security would bring her down before she even made it to the building’s exit, let alone past the multiple security checkpoints, and the restrictions her father would no doubt impose to punish her for the attempt would only make it less likely that a serious chance to escape would ever arise.

She knocked on the bedroom door and it swung open a moment later. Astaria entered the room with no small amount of trepidation. Karakostas had begun researching kitsune right after his deal with Petrov about the vulpan, eager to learn all of their capabilities. That research had included gumiho, and Astaria had picked up enough details while being her father’s cocksheathe to have a good idea how fearsome they were. They possessed strength and speed that far outstripped even the vulpan, and an equally formidable appetite for human flesh. Astaria wasn’t technically human even when trapped in a mostly human shape like this, but she had a feeling that wouldn’t much matter to a gumiho’s taste buds.

Nami’s room was a disconcerting mix of styles. The clothing and the furniture wouldn’t have been out of place in any young woman’s room, but it was also full of toys and stuffed animals and brightly colored posters. Nami herself sat back down on the edge of her bed, holding a thin tablet in her hands. Colorful shapes danced across it in some kind of game, but she seemed to be paying it little attention. “Is Tanya okay?” she asked plaintively.

“Yes, she’s fine,” the dragon said slowly, trying not to think about what she must be up to with Vanessa. “She thought you might be thirsty.” She started to offer the glass of water to the girl, then reconsidered getting so close and placed it on the nearby nightstand instead.

“Thank you,” Nami said, looking back down at her tablet. Astaria nodded politely and quickly turned around to leave. “…You don’t have to be afraid of me,” the gumiho said quietly behind her. “I’m a good girl, I promise. Nami is a good…… a good girl.”

She was making no attempt to hide her clear loneliness, or her desire that Astaria approve of her, and the dragon felt hot shame run down her back. Regardless of what was going on with Nami physically, the girl inside seemed innocent and kind. It was because of her that Astaria had gotten to eat her first real meal in years, and she’d done it out of pure compassion. She turned around to face the brunette. “I am sorry,” she said humbly. “I do not have much experience with gumiho, and I was caught by surprise earlier.”

“It’s okay,” Nami said. “I don’t get hungry. I mean, I do, but not like I used to, I promise. I’m not gonna hurt anyone.”

“That is good,” Astaria said slowly. “Was that Tanya’s doing?”

“Uh huh. She saved me. I was…….” Her eyes became distant. “There were bad people. They hurt me. For fun. Then one day they all went away, and I was alone…” Her face lit up with a smile. “But she came and made me better! She gave me clothes and food and didn’t hurt me even once. And if I’m a good girl and take my medicine, I don’t get more hungry when I eat. Tanya says soon I won’t get hungry at all.”

Astaria carefully considered her next words. “There is a thing inside of you that causes that hunger. A fox marble. Do you know what I’m talking about?” Nami nodded. “It should be possible for you to give that marble away. Then you will feel better, without having to rely on Tanya.”

“No!” Nami said stubbornly. Then, more calmly, “we made a promise, after she saved me. She promised that I can be more than just a good… she promised that I’m special, and important, and that she loves me. And I promised that I would help her someday. If she ever gets in trouble, I’m gonna save her just like she saved me, and I can’t do that as a normal fox.” She gave the green haired woman a determined look. “I don’t wanna be normal. I just wanna be hers.”

Astaria could think of a hundred different anecdotes off the top of her head that she could tell the girl to demonstrate that Tanya wasn’t the benevolent savior she was being made out to be. But she couldn’t bring herself to voice a single one of them. To shatter Nami’s faith in her protector would be an act of cruelty, no matter how well intentioned. A harsh truth was always better than a sweet lie in the end, but could she be certain that Tanya’s behavior was a lie? She had seemed to show the girl genuine affection; perhaps she really did care about her. Even the worst monsters could sometimes open their hearts up to people.

And if she was deceiving Nami for some nefarious purpose, would telling the girl truly be an act of kindness? Nami could no more leave the Paradisium of her own volition than Astaria could. If she exposed Tanya’s character, she would not let the girl go, or give up on her plans for her, and Astaria had no means of protecting her. The most likely end result would just be Tanya dropping the charade and treating Nami as viciously as she did everyone else.

Until Astaria understood more, she couldn’t in good conscience interfere. So for now, she simply nodded. “I am very glad that she was able to save you,” she said. “You are a special and important girl, Nami, with or without your fox marble.”

The brunette grinned at her and held up her tablet. “Do you wanna play my game with me?”

“Thank you,” Astaria said politely, “but I should return to Tanya.” She didn’t really want to see what Tanya was up to, but she also grew nervous imagining her alone with Vanessa. There had been a manic edge to her interactions with the assassin. Astaria still didn’t understand the twisted affection that Tanya had for her, but between that and their shared desire to keep their relationship hidden, she never went so far as to do something that would cause permanent damage and raise questions. She had no such restrictions on her actions with Vanessa, and Astaria was afraid to see what Tanya’s sadism might look like with nothing to temper it. “But I am sure I will be back here again soon. I would like it very much if we can play then, yes?”

“Sure!” said Nami happily, and her legs swung back and forth as she began tapping things on the screen. Astaria bowed to her and left.

The green haired woman made an important discovery when she returned to Tanya’s bedroom to see how things were progressing: the room had been soundproofed at some point. The moment she opened the door, screams resounded through the previously quiet apartment. And when she looked in and saw the reason why, she very nearly vomited for the second time that day.

“Oh, she’s just being a crybaby,” Tanya told her without looking. “I gave her some anaesthetic and everything.” The girl was using the attached bathroom to wash her hands in the sink, scrubbing away the blood. More of it soaked the sheets of her bed.

She’d amputated Vanessa’s limbs.

The wounds had already been treated and wrapped with gauze, and the smell of burnt flesh suggested they’d been cauterized. The limbless woman was squirming and howling, still bound in place on the bed by her ponytail. There was no more confidence or calm in her expression, only unbridled horror. “Why… why would you do such a thing?” Astaria whispered, stunned by the sight of her.

“Why not?” Tanya said with a shrug. “I thought it might be fun. Couldn’t do it to one of the slaves here without your dad getting cranky, unless they were meat, and most of those women are so dead inside they wouldn’t have such a nice reaction.” As she dried her hands off with a towel, Astaria caught a glimpse of blood and flesh in the bathtub and quickly averted her eyes. She had no desire to see what was left of the woman’s arms and legs.

“So!” Tanya strolled back into the bedroom. “That took, what, twenty minutes? Means I’ve got another hundred on the clock! Let’s relax and enjoy ‘em, Nessie.” She muffled the screaming woman by sitting on her, eagerly humping her crotch against Vanessa’s wailing mouth. “Come on, I didn’t leave you your tongue so you could go and waste it. It’s time to get to know my pussy.”

When Vanessa didn’t give her the response she wanted, Tanya rolled her eyes and hooked two fingers into the woman’s nipple rings. The former assassin’s cries went up an octave as the girl tugged both of them like she wanted to rip them out of her, and then Tanya’s expression melted into a lazy smile. “Muuuuuch better,” she said happily, releasing the nipple rings and patting the woman’s side. “Don’t worry about being clumsy, Nessie: I promise you’ll be getting lots and lots of practice in the days ahead.”

She cocked her head at Astaria. “What’s wrong, Delphy? She’s a bad guy, remember? That means I get to do whatever I want to her and it’s okay!” She clenched Vanessa’s head with her thighs and leaned down to bring her own face to the woman’s crotch. “Mmm, I could get used to this hero stuff…” She bit down on Vanessa’s clitoris. The blonde screamed into her pussy and bucked from side to side, but she was unable to evade Tanya’s teeth nor her wet slit.

Tanya rode the former assassin like that through two orgasms before she let go of Vanessa’s clit. The blonde’s reprieve was short lived, as her tormentor fetched the piercing needle from the nightstand without getting up. A couple minutes and several agonized screams later, a ring dangled from Vanessa’s newly pierced clit.

“Soooo cute,” chirped Tanya as she carefully tied pieces of string to each ring. “You’re gonna love it here, Nessie. You get to just lay around and relax all day, and I know all sorts of ways we can still have fun together.” She looked up at Astaria and winked, gathering all three strings in her hand. “Like horsie rides. Giddy up!”

Vanessa wailed like a banshee as Tanya tanked on all three strings as hard as she could, hard enough to lift the lower half of her torso into the air. She eased up, letting the helpless woman flop back down, then yanked again just as hard. She repeated this over and over, making Vanessa’s body dance in the air while she laughed happily.

By the time the two hours were over, Vanessa had lost her voice from screaming, and all that came out of her mouth were whispery sobs. Tanya hadn’t shown the woman a hint of mercy in all that time, treating her more sadistically than she’d ever played with Astaria. The woman’s breasts were covered in scratches, her stomach in cigarette burns, and her pubic mound in bite marks, all artifacts of Tanya’s “helpful lessons” about how she liked her pussy licked. Vanessa’s face was plastered with the girl’s juices, and her eyes were dull and unfocused by the time Tanya climbed off of her, leaving her exhausted tongue lolling out of her mouth.

“Well, I gotta hand it to you, Nessie,” Tanya said cheerfully, untying her ponytail from the headboard. “You made it through the entire two hours without swearing yourself to me. You win!”

The woman had certainly tried to. For the first hour, whenever she wasn’t too busy screaming to form words, she was begging Tanya to let her give up. No matter how hard she tried, though, the girl pretended she couldn’t make out what she was saying, and eventually Vanessa had accepted that she wasn’t going to be allowed to surrender.

“Guess that means you can leave,” Tanya told her. “Door’s that way, if you forgot. I’ll let you see yourself out.” Vanessa whimpered softly, and a tear ran down her cheek. “What’s that?” the girl asked, putting a hand to her ear. “You had so much fun you wanted to stay?” Vanessa shook her head and croaked something.

“Well, I sure wouldn’t complain about getting such a nice big body pillow for my bed,” Tanya remarked, casually kneading one of the woman’s breasts. “But you should think it over carefully, Nessie. This was just us having a little fun, you know? Your tongue getting to make friends with my twat. You stick around, things are gonna start to get serious. First thing I’ll probably do is roll you over and try out that ass. You sure you’re up for that kind of rough pounding after everything else today?”

“You know that she cannot move,” Astaria said quietly. “You have already won. Why must you continue to mock her?”

“Because winning means I get to do whatever I want,” Tanya said easily. “So why shouldn’t I take my time and enjoy a victory lap?” She flipped Vanessa onto her stomach and rubbed her anus with a thumb. “Yeah, that’s gonna be a nice warm hole to squeeze into. You really should’ve considered being a whore instead of an assassin, Nessie. Quality fuckhole like this, you’d be swimming in cash. Now you won’t be swimming period, right?” She giggled.

Vanessa found enough voice to scream again as Tanya eagerly crammed her thick phallus into her tight backdoor. Once it was all the way in, the girl laid on top of her, palming her breasts from behind while she nuzzled the blonde’s back. “Mmm, now this is the position for me,” she said. “This is how I’m gonna sleep from now on: me hugging my pillow, my pillow hugging my dick, and everything warm and soft inside and out. It’s a damn shame I can’t pee out of this thing, cause then I wouldn’t even need to get up to use the bathroom.”

Her hips began to move back and forth, slowly at first but picking up speed with every thrust. The way Vanessa’s anal ring clung to the shaft, so reluctant to give up every millimeter, told Astaria that the woman had been a virgin back there. “Of course, if you keep feeling this good, it’s gonna be a while before either of us gets any sleep, Nessie.”

“Please…” the woman whispered hoarsely.

“Please what?” Tanya teased. “Please keep you in a garbage can under the sink, and only take you out to fuck, piss in, and smack around for fun? Please see how many more bits I can chop or gouge or burn or rip off without rendering you unfuckable? Please find out just how much tighter I can make you get by playing with your piercings again? Is that what you were gonna ask, Nessie?” The blonde whimpered. “Or were you about to ask me to please fill your sexy ass with some hot sticky cum?”

Vanessa’s voice was small and defeated. “…please… fill my sexy ass with… with hot sticky cum.”

A minute later, her soft grunts told Astaria that Tanya was doing just that. She didn’t pull out when she was done, just continued pumping smoothly in and out of her new toy’s guts, her shaft visibly covered with semen every time she drew back. “You should be getting home, Delphy,” the winged girl said. “Kitkat will be there in twelve minutes, and if you don’t have his cock between your tits in twelve and a half, you won’t be able to sit for a week. Besides, the exciting part is over. All that’s left is to hose down this hole another few times, persuade Nessie that she’s not too good to clean her mess off my cock, and then relax and listen to her cry herself to sleep.”

Astaria felt bad leaving Vanessa – or anyone for that matter – alone with Tanya, but the girl was right: she was out of time. So she reluctantly said “yes, Tanya”, and left the room. The last thing she heard as the door closed was the former assassin quietly begging for more cunnilingus lessons instead, and Tanya laughing and promising her they would have all day tomorrow for that.

On the way out of the apartment, she eyed the closed door to Nami’s room. The girl had no idea what sort of guardian she owed her life to. Astaria still hadn’t decided if it would be kinder to tell her the truth or let her live in blissful ignorance. It was a question without an easy answer, and one that she knew she’d still be turning around in her head tonight while Karakostas continued breaking her down.

Another question plagued her too, one that she knew would also linger for a long time. Tanya Petrov was one of the most powerful people in the world, all but invincible thanks to her abilities, capable of getting anything she wanted just by asking, and unburdened by sanity or conscience.

What sort of plans did someone like that have for a trained gumiho?

3 thoughts on “Lone Fox 3 – Ch 4 – Decisions Made

  1. (Comment from a previous chapter)
    “She’s basically a child popping the heads off her dolls.”

    My comments NOT supposed to be an instruction guide.
    Accurate though they may be.

    Reading that part felt like I had ran straight into a brick wall;
    0-100 in less than a second.
    Well done.

    As for the final question of the chapter;
    Obviously she’s going to use the gumiho to kill Levinson and Ilya so she can really be in control.
    If she’s willing to make another nightmare like with her sister (she is);
    She has a loyal attack dog that can take out the dragon too.
    The last one failed to finish him off because he was just a pest/distraction from her actual goal.
    (Side question, did Nadia actually find Moonshine’s owner?
    Or was Tanya just giving her a target that would take a bunch of time to find?)

    About the philosophy of the chapter;
    I’d probably go with a “hands off” approach to pretty much everything in terms of influencing the world.
    But I’d have killed Vanessa just to get her out of Tanya’s clutches.

    Seriously, living with her is a fate worse than death.
    Even when death comes, it’s ignored several urgent and enthusiastic invitations before it shows up.
    (The preceding statement is not to be taken as an instructional guide and/or invitation to prove me right.)

    Are there going to be many scenes like this one;
    Or was this just an “Escalation” and things are about to get much worse?
    Or both?

    Great to see Nami again, hopefully she got to eat a few Vulpans.


    1. “She’s basically a child popping the heads off her dolls.”

      My comments NOT supposed to be an instruction guide.
      Accurate though they may be.

      Reading that part felt like I had ran straight into a brick wall;
      0-100 in less than a second.
      Well done.

      This one was all Darinost’s idea so I’ll make sure he sees this 🙂

      As for the final question of the chapter;
      Obviously she’s going to use the gumiho to kill Levinson and Ilya so she can really be in control.
      If she’s willing to make another nightmare like with her sister (she is);
      She has a loyal attack dog that can take out the dragon too.
      The last one failed to finish him off because he was just a pest/distraction from her actual goal.
      (Side question, did Nadia actually find Moonshine’s owner?
      Or was Tanya just giving her a target that would take a bunch of time to find?)

      I will obviously neither confirm nor deny the speculation, but regarding Moonshine, that absolutely was her own that Nadia’s got to butcher. In that, Tanya had no reason to lie.

      About the philosophy of the chapter;
      I’d probably go with a “hands off” approach to pretty much everything in terms of influencing the world.
      But I’d have killed Vanessa just to get her out of Tanya’s clutches.

      Seriously, living with her is a fate worse than death.
      Even when death comes, it’s ignored several urgent and enthusiastic invitations before it shows up.
      (The preceding statement is not to be taken as an instructional guide and/or invitation to prove me right.)

      There was actually a spirted discussion of exactly idea in discord, but the long and short of it that a) Tanya wouldn’t let her die and b) Astaria really doesn’t want to have to kill someone/pull the trigger.

      Are there going to be many scenes like this one;
      Or was this just an “Escalation” and things are about to get much worse?
      Or both?

      This was a definite escalation, and in some ways things will continue to get worse, but there isn’t really another scene quite as brutal as this in this particular way but… there are some similar things coming. Sort of. You’ll have to wait and see, its hard to describe.

      Great to see Nami again, hopefully she got to eat a few Vulpans.

      Nami was a very very very popular side character, so she got to come back as something important to the story rather than have basically this kind of repair happen to her off screen.

      Glad you are enjoying, thank you for the comments.


  2. Well, I did say I was going into some more depth at some point, didn’t I? We’ll start with this chapter.

    Minimal reaction to Vanessa (she’s pretty much completely amoral, but what happens to her is still horrific). I was part of the discussion on whether or not Astaria is playing the game. I remember suggesting something for her that made her seem a bit smarter (something like realizing that she didn’t really have a choice, and that while she can’t really control what Tanya does, she can control what she says, so she says she won’t do anything), though I’ll admit that doesn’t really make me feel any better at all, especially given what’s coming in their next scene.

    One scene at a time, though…

    The emotional impact of the Tanya/Astaria segments is hard to describe, but seeing as I keep saying that the Hanei segments are more relaxing for me, I guess it’s a mixture of pain and inevitability here. It’s like being in high school, walking down the halls, and a bigger kid comes up alongside you, and you know at some point he’s going to shoulder check you into the wall, but you also know you can’t do anything to stop him. You just have to wait in a sense of building fear for it to happen, get hurt when you hit the wall, gather up your books and keep walking to class, knowing that he’ll do the same thing to you next time.

    Same thing here. I spend the entire chapter in a sense of slowly building tension “waiting” for it to hurt me, it does, and I crumple in on myself a little, and then I finish the chapter, knowing the same thing will happen next time, likely worse. In addition to factors already discussed and dismissed on the server, I’ll just mention that the Hanei chapters lack the sense of inevitability these segments have, so they’re not as bad.

    Oh, and before either of you freak out, that wasn’t autobiographical.

    Of course, that wasn’t what I was talking about when I mentioned going in depth, so let’s talk about making villains sympathetic. Now, as I frequently do, I’ll first mention that the endeavor to make Tanya more sympathetic worked for a lot of people on the server, just not two of us, I think (maybe three of us). This, as always, is just my feedback.

    In this chapter we learn some stuff about Tanya’s backstory, how she got her powers and how they work (more or less). This seems acknowledged in-story as making Tanya something like a rabid dog, and I know one of the goals in this story was to make people feel sorry for Tanya. It’s not really doing that for me.

    When it comes to villains I feel sympathy for, there’s a fine line they tend to walk. Generally they either show positive traits, something that makes me wish they were on the side of the heroes, or they have a backstory or motivation that’s deeply sympathetic (usually one that recontextualizes their actions). These are generally prime candidates for redemption arcs. Tanya’s single largest problem there is her nature as a deceptive villain. Because nothing about her can really be trusted, I assume that any positive actions she takes are just steps in her plan. The fact that you’ve also baited the audience in this sense (with her conversation with Nadia back in LF2, which I correctly assumed to be another form of manipulation) reinforces it: I don’t buy that anything she does is out of actual kindness.

    I can think of one example of a manipulative villain who got a sympathetic moment: Azula from Avatar: the Last Airbender. As with Tanya, one of Azula’s primary tools is her ability to manipulate other people, and deceit is obviously part of that (“Azula always lies.”), which would pose the same problem Tanya faces in terms of gaining audience sympathy, and yet during “Sozin’s Comet” she actually becomes a genuinely tragic villain. DiMartino and Konietzko get around the manipulator aspect of the character by using the short exchange with a hallucination of her mother. Everyone else is out of the room, and Azula’s dialogue shows she knows her mother isn’t really there, both of which serve to show us that she isn’t playing anyone; she knows there’s no one there to manipulate, so what she says about her feelings toward her mother is genuine, and while it doesn’t recontextualize all her actions, it adds to stuff she’s said in her interactions with Zuko (most notably in “The Beach”) to give a sense of what her childhood was like, giving the audience a clear impression of how much she really wanted her mother to love her, and of the toxic influence her father was. I felt bad because there I could see what she could have been like under other circumstances.

    But when it comes to Tanya…

    The only information we have about childhood Tanya comes from Nadia, and that only in the form of expository narration, and we’ve never gotten a Sozin’s Comet moment where Tanya is by herself and not toying with anyone, so that we know what she says or does is genuine. In addition…this is far more highly subjective, but Tanya has been a constant source of misery for me, making me feel like there’s nothing the characters I like can do to oppose her. The nature of her power meas that yes, she could be wrong about something, but beating her would be more of a physical thing (e.g. when an explosion goes off, a piece of debris goes six inches to the left instead of six inches to the right, or she’s not quite quick enough to dodge the attack she can see coming). It’s always more rewarding when the heroes do something the villain doesn’t expect, maybe because they’re intelligent or maybe because the villain can’t understand them morally and so doesn’t anticipate their actions. Tanya’s future sight, however, shows her any potential action they would take that she could learn about, so no actions taken by a character can surprise her in any meaningful way.

    Leading speculation on the server is therefore that she will succeed in her goals, and that said goals just benefit the other characters. There are times when heroes having to team up with the villain and go along with their plans is cool, but in every case of that I can think of, I already thought the villain was entertaining, and I knew at some point what the villain wanted and what the heroes wanted would diverge (even if it was after the mission was completed), putting the two groups at odds again and meaning that at some point, the heroes would actually have to defeat the villain. This is, thus far, evidently not possible with Tanya, so this idea doesn’t feel fun at all.

    Like the big kid who decides to pick on you in the halls, Tanya chooses a character I like, and all they can do about it is suffer, along with me.

    Tanya’s also gleefully sadistic, of course, thoroughly enjoying all the suffering she causes, which magnifies how painful her scenes are for me to read. You may have heard the concept of characters building up good will with the audience, such that when they do something wrong, we don’t turn on them. As all of what I’ve just said may suggest, Tanya has built up a massive amount of bad will, which as you may expect has the opposite effect. Her sadism also hurts the “rabid animal” comparison for me, since a rabid dog is driven to bite people, but it doesn’t actually enjoy it.

    To sum up this long-ass post, the way Tanya is being written may be meant to engender sympathy for her, but for me it is actively preventing it. You want to keep the audience guessing about what Tanya’s up to, so we can’t get a ten year old Tanya PoV, and thus I can’t feel bad for the girl we lost when she became the monster we have now, Her actions throughout both stories and the lack of PoV mean that I presume any hypothetical altruistic actions to be manipulation, and again, she’s been such a constant source of emotional pain for me (and the way the character’s powers are set up means she’s anticipated to be a future source of emotional pain for me) that a lot will have to be done to make me feel anything positive for her.


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