Xara relaxed on the couch, feet tucked under her as she ate her breakfast, staring intently at the screen with a focus her school teachers would have killed to have her show in class. Layla purred and curled up next to her, so she spared one hand long enough to give the kitten a scratch behind the ears, never taking her eyes off the screen.
The room's security system let her know someone was waiting at the door, and a small pop-up in the corner of her screen showed Zoe waiting outside.
"Come in," she called, shovelling another spoonful of cereal into her mouth. The door slid open and Zoe walked in.
"Morning, Xar. Oh, nice place. Very fancy. Glad we're friends." She grinned, then came over to ruffle Layla's hair. "And who's this cutie?"
"That's one of Amanda's drone friends. We have an arrangement." She took another bite, eyes focused intently.
"What kind of arrangement?" Zoe wondered as Layla purred, rolling onto her back for belly rubs.
"When we're in my rooms together she thinks she's a cat, otherwise she gets to think she's just a housemate." Xara smiled to herself. "It's beneficial to all of us."
Zoe laughed. "I'll bet, you always were a bit of a cat girl." She took a seat next to Xara and let Layla curl up in her lap, rubbing her neck and rear with each hand. "What are you watching so seriously?"
"Genecorp stock exchange. Riveting stuff," Xara mumbled and crunched another mouthful.
"Didn't take you for an economist."
"You kidding? Look at those graphs. It's nice when they go up. They look all... curvy."
Zoe snickered. "Uhuh. You sure it's not just the screen?"
"I don't know what you mean."
The girls sat in silence for a few minutes, listening to Layla's purrs and watching the coloured graphs spread across the screen, showing Genecorp's continued market dominance.
"So," Zoe ventured, "why are you watching the stock market on your girlfriend's ass?"
"It's a widescreen," Xara grinned into her bowl. Zoe snorted.
"Does she know you do this?"
"Fuck no. This is for me. She doesn't need to be involved in everything I do to her." Xara finally pulled her gaze from the nanotech screen casting the video across Amanda's suit and admired her girlfriend's perfect stillness, frozen mid-stride on her way to the kitchen... probably half an hour ago? Xara kinda lost track of time when she was focused.
On the stocks.
Those nice, curvy line graphs...
"You ever think about how bimodal charts look like tits?"
Zoe shoved her in the shoulder. "Xara, you perv. Aren't you supposed to be working by now?"
The Heiress groaned. "There's a Pantheon meeting at nine thirty but I don't have to get ready till a quarter past. It's right downstairs."
"It's twenty past now."
"What? Shit!" Xara shot to her feet and swiped a hand across Amanda's ass, switching the screen to a digitised clock. "God damn it, I didn't set the alarm. Man," she whined. "I had such a nice alarm picked out, too."
Zoe gave Layla another scratch. "Well, I'm sure you can make it if you hurry."
"Yeah, yeah." Xara found her remote and pointed it at Amanda. With the click of a button the brunette's walk resumed as if it had never stopped, the time still plastered across her backside in bright pink-on-purple digits. "Amanda, we're late for the meeting. We gotta go."
"Huh?" Amanda turned, confused, as Xara's will shifted her nanosuit into a - by her physical shape, naturally - sexualised business suit. She tugged the ends of the skirt down, trying to be more modest than her owner was willing to permit. "Didn't we have another half hour?"
"No, you ditz, you misread the time," Xara grumbled as she quickly slipped on her own business shoes and buttoned her blouse. "Come on, get ready."
Amanda glanced at the kitchen. "I haven't had breakfast yet, Mistress..."
"There's no time," Xara winced, pointing the remote. "I'm sorry, I'll get you a big lunch." She held a button and spoke into the remote's microphone. "You had big a breakfast and you feel full. Very full, in fact, you probably ate too much... You don't even wanna think about food. Also, you drank a lot of water." Xara smirked as she stopped holding the button and turned to a mirror to fix her suit up.
Zoe chuckled to herself as Amanda carefully held her belly. "I think I ate too much... Mistress, I think I need to go to the bathroom before we go..."
"No time, Amanda, love. Just hold on, don't go without my permission." Amanda blushed and followed her to the door, taking slightly smaller steps than usual.
"You're a real perv, Xara," Zoe grinned, following them out the door. She turned to watch Layla blinking and glancing around in confusion as the door slid closed. "Well, I gotta get to back on patrol myself. After the strings I needed to pull to get assigned this floor I don’t wanna immediately piss the boss off. Enjoy your meeting. I hope for Amanda's sake it doesn't go on too long."
"She'll be fine," Xara promised. "It's only meant to be an hour."
"An hour?" Amanda squeaked pitifully, squirming as she walked.
Down several floors they walked, Amanda painfully aware of Xara's hand on her ass each stair they descended. Xara really does love these pencil skirts, she complained to herself. And god, she felt like she hadn't gone to the bathroom since last night.
For her part, Xara was acting like fondling her ass was a gesture of comfort, rubbing it in small circles. "Don't worry, Manda, it won't feel that long. It's just boring business crap."
"That's the spirit." Xara smiled as they made it past the Shaft's upper living floors and arrived at the second-topmost floor of the business levels, one floor under the Matriarch's office, and walked through a waiting room that currently had about twenty subs sitting and kneeling in place. Men and women in harem slave outfits, maid uniforms or the usual drone nanosuits, all with either blank expressions or visages of lust on their faces, unable to do anything about it as they awaited their masters or mistresses.
"Looks like we're the last ones here, fuck," Xara sighed. She opened the heavy door and ushered Amanda into the room, slipping a stare at her girlfriend's backside again as she walked past.
The large boardroom had a table almost as large filling much of the space, and almost every chair was occupied by a dominant. Around twenty heads of industry and special task forces, then at the far head of the table were the Head Priestess of the Edge Church, Mistress Somna across from her, and the Matriarch at the head of the table, staring directly down the long table at Xara.
Ruby smiled slowly. "Ah, my lovely niece. You're late, sweetheart. Did you get lost in the elevator?"
Xara blushed a little as several of the dominants chuckled quietly. "We took the stairs, actually."
"No prizes for guessing why..." Somna muttered, and most of the dominants laughed. Xara blushed and took her seat, motioning for Amanda to stand next to her. Around the table Xara also saw Milo, the mining foreman, and Astraea, from the space agency. There were a few others she didn't quite recognise, as well as a few she had met at prior functions. She nodded to Damaris, the Headmistress of the Domme Training Facility, who she had studied under in the months leading up to moving to Ananke full time.
Ruby's polite smile grew wider. "Xara, sweetie, honey babe, apple of my sister's eye," she drawled. "No toys in the boardroom. We leave our dolls outside while we work."
Xara forced her eyes to meet Ruby's as she noticed Amanda shift her weight - a herculean task, honestly. "But you've got yours sitting next to you," she objected, nodding at the Head Priestess.
Ruby's smile turned wicked as she reached over and started stroking the nun's hair. "kia here is a very important, respected member of Ananke society, and we're all always happy to hear her opinions on matters of import." kia all but purred as her eyes fluttered. "Isn't that right, kia?"
"Yes, Matriarch," she mewled.
Ruby turned back to grin at Xara. "You may keep your comfort sub, Xara, but try to focus on work and not that lovely skirt you've got her in. Amanda, why are you squirming," she leaned forward on her elbows, hooding her eyes.
"I, um, need to go to the bathroom, Matriarch," Amanda blushed, bright red as she felt the weight of all Ananke's most influential people looking her way.
"Oh? Feel free."
Amanda and Xara blinked together. "N-now? Here?" Amanda squeaked.
"Why not?" Ruby smiled sweetly.
Xara cleared her throat. "Aunt Ruby, we should get started..."
Ruby leaned back and crossed her legs. "Of course. I guess you'll just have to wait, then, Amanda. Be a good girl and don't make a sound."
Xara spared a look up at Amanda just in time to see her mouth clamp shut. A whistle brought her attention back to her aunt.
"No more loving gazes, pet. We've got business to attend to."
The hour crawled by. Each head of industry was given a chance to report on their various projects and progress. It was all very dry, and Xara snuck glances to her right, watching Amanda's squirms progressively get more urgent. The poor girl didn't really need to go as much as she believed, but Xara was starting to feel a little guilty about leaving her like this so long.
Her attention returned to kia - one of the few in the room who were listening. Most of the dommes and doms were whispering to each other or staring at the holoscreens in the desk before them. Only Somna, Ruby and Xara herself were really paying the Head Priestess any attention.
"...sharp rise in lewd acts in town recently, which isn't a bad thing necessarily, but the orgasm rate has gone up 23% in the last year, according to Nyna's stats," kia reported, wide-eyed and clearly expecting a similar level of shock. "It's like an epidemic: despite an increase in the number of Edge Police officers, they can’t keep upWe need to find a way to educate the populace and get our people to stop getting off, or the consequences could be dire."
"What consequences are those?" Astraea mumbled as she poked at her screen, not bothering to look up. Nevertheless, kia turned to her.
"They might... cum!" She confided in a scandalised whisper.
Matriarch Ruby smiled and put a hand on kia's shoulder. "Thank you for that intensely thorough and important report, love. We're all glad you keep an eye on such a... critical danger to Ananke." The other dominants in the room snickered, but kia just beamed proudly.
"Then, can the Church get some more funding to -"
"Unfortunately, I'm afraid Ananke just can't spare the funds right now. Our city is strapped for cash, and we need to prioritise. But bring it up again at next month's meeting - you know we're always happy to listen."
"Fifty-third time's the charm," kia smiled, undeterred.
"Indeed," Ruby grinned and scritched behind the nun's ears, earning another purr. "Now, you get to your next important task and sit there looking pretty for us. No need to think for now."
"Yes, Matriarch!" kia fluffed her hair and wriggled in her chair to get comfortable yet visible, and Xara could have sworn a light went out in her eyes as her face adopted an blank stare.
"As for the rest of you," Ruby interlocked her fingers. "Your projects will receive all the funding you require, as usual. We're making good progress, good profits and city morale is higher than ever, despite setbacks."
A holoscreen behind Ruby flared to life and the disapproving frown of Ashe appeared on it. "A 'setback'?"
Ruby grinned again. "Your coup set us back almost two hours of productivity. If Xara hadn't been so selfless in stopping you -"
Ashe scoffed. "We all know what she was motivated by."
"Mmm," Somna agreed, meeting Xara's eyes. "She's seldom motivated by much else."
Xara's cheeks glowed. "Fuck all of you," she growled.
"Language," Ruby, Ashe and Somna barked together in amused, strict and playful tones respectively.
"Sorry, m-" Xara started to respond, biting her tongue just in time to avoid further embarrassment.
"In addition, the Waking Bell has been installed in the church's spire, so we can wake all the drones and hypnosubs in the city up in the event on another attempted coup," Ruby continued.
Ashe grimaced. "I keep telling you, that's not necessary."
"Safety is important," Damaris purred, drumming her fingers on the desk. "It would be useful, even if you aren't the threat."
"Well," the Matriarch clapped her hands, kia blinking, shaking her head and smiling once again. "I think that about wraps up this month's meeting. We'll return on the first of next month, as usual, and -"
"Oh, fuck! Fuck me, Xara, yes, slap me, spank me! Harder!" Amanda cried out, her body suddenly bucking, a wild hip clouting Xara in the ear as the sub orgasmed.
Twenty-four pairs of eyes stared down the table at the girls, most amused or questioning. kia looking horrified, moments from fainting, while Somna simply raised an eyebrow and Ruby's lips quirked. The image of Ashe behind her shook its head.
"Good lord," she said before the holoscreen disappeared.
"Xara, my sweet,” Ruby softly began. "What was that all about?"
Both Xara and a recovering Amanda were blushing so hard they were sweating, Amanda wondering if she should bother getting back to her feet or just crawl under the table to hide. All eyes turned to Xara and pinned her in place with their force.
"I, um... I think I set my alarm an hour late," she squeaked, staring at the blank holoscreen on the desk in front of her.
"Three, two, one, sleep," Somna snapped her fingers. Amanda and kia leaned towards each other and fell into a deep trance, limp and silent.
Somna left the girls on the sofa and turned back to the Matriarch and a still blushing Xara. The rest of the dominants had left to return to their duties, many politely complimenting Xara and Amanda on their way past, knowing grins on their faces. The girls looked ready to melt into puddles, and perhaps that was punishment enough.
"Now, what did you want, Xara?" Ruby sat on the edge on the table, dangling a foot in her intimidating boots in a way that drew Xara's eyes before she forced herself to look back into Ruby's.
"I want to go on a holiday."
Her mother and aunt snorted. "A holiday? From what?" Somna smiled. "All that work you've been doing?"
Xara squirmed. "Well... I thought it would be a nice way to bond with Irene and Zoe? You know... Get the next generation all... comfy?"
"Ah, so Amanda's staying, is she?" Ruby smirked and inspected a painted fingernail.
"No! She comes with me," Xara insisted.
"I rather think she can handle that without you present, sweetheart."
"Look, it doesn't have to be too long... Barely even three days? We wanna go visit the outside world, see some sights."
"You want to take her into the outside world," Somna nodded at the sleeping Amanda. "You should have thought about that before you pushed her figure into the topmost percentile."
"No way she's in a percentile," Xara defended, then cursed. "I mean, if we don't let her get seen it'll be all right, won't it?"
Ruby and Somna glanced at each other. "Mmm," the Matriarch considered. "Do you think the girl who had her toy scream during a meeting can be stealthy, Somna?"
"Not particularly," Xara's mother admitted. "She's never been the subtle type."
"I can be subtle! Let me prove it!"
Ruby smiled. "Your daughter, your call, Somna."
"Gratitude," Somna commented sarcastically, and turned her attention to Xara. "You realise you'll be out of Ananke's sphere of influence. Our satellites are occupied with their own missions, so no Nyna, which means no nanotech or access to our Omninet."
"I can deal with that." Xara nodded.
"We can modify Amanda's suit into a skin-toned compressor to minimise the flare of her hips, but there's an awful lot to hide," Ruby mused, almost to herself. "You'd still need to keep her out of sight, especially during the day. We can spare a portable nanoserver."
"Nyna handles the computations for our nanosuits," Somna explained. "Portable nanoservers allow Anankians to do so outside her sphere of influence, but they are costly and a bit bulky. They're like a foldable chamber." She made a box shape with her hands, about twice the width of her shoulders and knee-height.
"It will let you modify her suit while she stands in it, but you'll need to leave it in your quarters, too. We don't want our tech falling into the wrong hands."
"No, we don't," Somna looked sideways at the Matriarch, who grinned back.
"Okay, I agree to all that. Can we go?" Xara and Ruby watched Somna thinking. "Come on, mom, please? It's just three hot young girls and a..." She turned to look at Amanda, eyes dropping to their favourite spot.
Fuck, she's hot.
"What could go wrong?"
Somna closed her eyes as Ruby laughed.
Deep underground, several blocks from the Shaft, Xara and her friends walked into the Ananke Transport Station. The city was remote, and surrounded on every side by flatlands and lakes, so the main method for citizens to return to the outside world and back was the underground bullet train. In under an hour, it could bring dozens of people and several tons of cargo from the middle of the continent to the coast, which was where the girls' first destination was. From there, they were taking a private plane several cities down the coast.
Somna had come to see them off.
She's almost as overbearing as Mom, Xara thought to herself. Ann had already returned to school to oversee the secret preparation of another group of cursed. Wonder if there will be any hotties this year?
"Take these, Irene," Somna was saying, handing her protégé a small case. Irene opened it and frowned.
"They're an aid. You haven't trained enough to be a natural hypnotist yet, so these will help you. They only have one function and they use your body's electrical charge, so all you need to do is wear them. If they register you making eye contact they will activate and perform a process of lights and spirals that will make anyone staring at them agreeable and suggestible."
"Ooooh," Xara said, leaning over.
"They won't work on everyone, just the easily led," Somna cautioned, her own eyes flicking to her daughter and back so fast Xara barely noticed. "Try not to rely on them, but if you need to hypnotise someone I'd rather you had the help."
"Thank you, Mistress Somna," Irene smiled and walked off to the bathrooms to put them in.
"Zoe," Somna called. The girl snapped to attention, her years of security training giving her an instinctive readiness when a superior called on her. She blushed bashfully and grinned. "I'm giving you a flashstick. You know what these do."
"Right," Zoe nodded. "Poke 'em in the neck, click the trigger, zaps 'em and wiped the last few seconds of memory."
"Again, only use when necessary." Zoe nodded and put the flashstick in her trouser pocket.
"What do I get?" Xara grinned, brimming with excitement.
"You get a warning, sweetie."
"Oh, boring," she groaned.
Somna smiled. "You're representing Ananke. You will be alone with your friends out there. You won't have Nyna, you won't have me, you won't have your security detail and you won't have diplomatic immunity."
Xara frowned. "I don't have a security detail anyway."
"Of course you don't," Somna smiled, eyes darting around the platform. "Be careful anyway."
Amanda stood taller and shivered as Somna walked over to her and inspected her up and down. "Now, Amanda."
"Y-yes, Mistress Somna?"
"I won't bother giving you any instructions. Ancestors know no matter what I say you'll do what Xara says anyway." She gave Amanda a pat on the shoulder and walked past, leaving the drone stammering and red-faced, avoiding looking at Xara giggling.
Irene returned just as the train lifted off its tracks and a hum filled the air. "All right, let's get going!" Xara beamed and pulled Amanda over. "Man, that compressor really makes your ass look small."
"This isn't small, Mistress," Amanda whispered, still the largest she had seen in Ananke yet.
"Smaller. You could almost pass for normal. Maybe." Xara gave her a fondle as she pushed her onto the train. "Aw, it's so firm now. I like the jiggles."
"Xara," Somna called from the platform. "Stay out of trouble."
"I will, Mom! Bye!"
"Have fun, darling."
The doors slid closed, and moments after taking their seats in the otherwise empty cabin the girls were pinned back as the train took off like an arrow, a brief disorientating acceleration quickly compensated for by internal inertial dampeners and gyroscopic structuring.
"Irene, lemme see your thingies." Xara hopped over one seat so she could lean forward and look into her friend's eyes. The black irises had a small, almost invisible rim of yellow around the pupils, and specs of yellow and green flashed in and out so fast Xara wasn't sure she saw them. "Wow, they look pretty. Oh, hey, could you hypnotise Amanda?"
Irene raised an eyebrow as Amanda spluttered in the seat next to Xara. "What, now? Traditionally?"
"Yeah! I know you aren't fully trained, but Amanda's super easy mode. It shouldn't be too hard."
"Mistress," Amanda mumbled. "I don't think -"
"Amanda, goldfish memory, ten seconds." With a snap of her fingers Xara had Amanda blinking, slightly dazed.
"All right," Irene sighed. "Amanda, come here."
Amanda frowned as she swapped seats with Xara. "Miss?"
"Give me your hand, palm up."
Amanda obeyed. "Why?"
"Just trying something. Watch your hand." Irene placed the tip of her finger in the middle of Amanda's palm and started to trace her lifelines, then letters, then spirals. "Can you feel that?"
"Your finger, miss?"
"Good. Keep watching. Can you do that?"
"Can you breath slowly, deeply?"
Amanda took a deep breath and sighed it back out. "Yes."
"Do that. Can you feel me tracing in your palm?"
"Yes," Amanda answered, frowning. She watched Irene's finger dance in ever more complicated patterns, breathing deep.
"Can you feel me squeeze your hand like this?"
"Can you feel yourself blink?"
"Can you hear my voice?"
Irene took a deep breath herself, quickly planning where she wanted to go next."Yes."
"Is your name Amanda?"
"Are you saying yes?"
"Yes." As Amanda spoke, Xara put her hand to her own mouth to stifle a giggle.
"Is saying yes easy?"
"Yes," Amanda replied, smiling, her voice a little confident, if dreamy.
"Will you keep saying yes?"
"Are you feel sleepy?"
"Yes." Amanda’s voice dipped a little quieter and her eyelids twitched, as if about to slide closed.
"Do you like listening to my words?"
Irene subconsciously licked her lips and shifted her weight. "Do ou want to keep saying yes?"
"Can you keep saying yes?"
“Are you hypnotised?"
"Are you being hypnotised?"
"Are you in a trance?"
"Sleep," Irene suddenly slapped Amanda's palm and the girl fell forward, almost landing face first in the trainee hypnotist's lap before Xara caught her by the shoulders and pulled her back to a seated position. Amanda’s eyes were closed and she breathed softly.
"Wow, that was hot," Xara grinned.
"That was... easy," Irene mumbled. "She really is a hypnosub. I didn’t think that would work."
"I'm pretty sure at this point she'd get hypnotised by a piece of paper in the wind," Zoe snickered.
"Oh, man, I should make her think she gets hypnotised by advertisements while we're out," Xara gasped.
"No," Irene frowned.
"Bah. All right, Irene, could you..." Xara mumbled some instructions into her ear.
"Huh. She'll consent?"
"She wouldn't do it if she didn't wanna, right?"
"Can you hear me?"
"Xara is your owner, isn't she?"
"You are Xara's possession?"
"Yes..." Both Amanda and Xara whispered.
"And Xara is on holiday?"
"So Xara brought luggage with her?"
"Is Xara's luggage her possessions?"
"You are Xara's possession, Xara's luggage is her possession. Is that right?"
"So you are Xara's luggage, aren't you?"
"Yes..." Amanda's head drooped slightly, her voice getting fainter.
"Can you say it? 'I am Xara's luggage.'"
"Yes... I am Xara's luggage."
Irene shot a glance at Xara, who grinned and gave her the thumbs up, then stood to drag a large suitcase into the aisle from the storage rack.
"Will you take my hands, Amanda?" Irene held hers out.
"Yes," Amanda sighed, her own hands slowly finding Irene's.
"Can you stand?" Irene stood, gently tugging on Amanda's hands,
"Yes," Amanda replied, letting herself be pulled to her feet. Xara opened the suitcase and laid it flat on the floor.
"Can you carefully step over here," Irene murmured, guiding Amanda sideways. Amanda's feet bumped into the side of the suitcase, then gently stepped over the rim until she was standing in it.
Irene lowered herself to her knees, pulling Amanda with her. "Do you want to lie down?"
"Are you sleepy?"
"Yes," Amanda whispered as she first sat on her haunches, then rolled her legs under her, still holding Irene's hands all the way until she lay on her back.
"Are you luggage?"
"Are you comfortable?"
"Do you feel safe?"
"Yes," Amanda smiled.
"Is this where you belong?"
"Good girl. Can you repeat that to yourself, nice and quiet?"
"Yes... I am luggage... I am comfortable... I feel safe... This is where I belong..."
Irene looked up at Xara and scowled as she saw her fingers rubbing her shorts between her legs.
"What? It's fucking hot," Xara whispered. Zoe giggled and nodded.
Irene sighed. "Keep repeating that, Amanda. When the suitcase closes, keep repeating it in your head until you fall asleep or the suitcase is opened. Can you do that?"
"Yes... I am luggage... I am comfortable..."
Xara grinned and closed the lid of the suitcase, pulling the zip closed around it and spinning the combination lock. With a grin she and Zoe pulled the suitcase back to a standing position and wheeled it back to the storage rack.
"God. Thank you, Irene." Xara gave her a hug, then leaned back to smile, looking her in the eyes. "You're awesome."
"Don't say I never do anything for you," Irene muttered with a blush.
"Yes," Xara agreed. Fuck, her eyes are pretty.
The train barely took an hour to make it well out of Ananke, and from there the girls patiently took a transport to an airport. Normally security would have posed a problem, wheeling a body around in a suitcase, but Xara's official Ananke government papers afforded her certain benefits, amongst which was a shortcut right around airport security and into their private plane.
From there they travelled up the coast to a resort town built in the late 2090s, Clairview. The plane landed without any fuss, the girls hopped into another transport, and the AI - a much more mechanical and emotionless system than every Anankian's favourite busty cat girl - drove them to the Palladium, the tallest and most exclusive hotel in the resort.
"God, it's been years since I came here," Xara sighed. "I wonder if they still do magic shows?"
"You've been here before?" Irene stared at the golden carpets and regal red walls. "I can feel my bank account dying just breathing in here."
"Yeah, I... I've been here before," Xara blushed. She wheeled her suitcases behind her and stood at the front desk.
A pretty woman only a few years older than her sat behind the counter, smiling and brushing her dark hair over her shoulder. "Welcome to the Palladium. Do you have a reservation?"
"Yes... Under Xara Nocturne," Xara mumbled. Irene and Zoe came to a stop behind her. "All three of us, please."
The woman's eyes widened momentarily. "Oh, Miss Nocturne, of course. We've got you on the twenty-seventh floor. Are you sure you don't want the Owner's Suite?"
"No!" Xara hissed. "I'm trying to be... you know, normal. Average."
"In a ten star resort," Zoe smirked.
Irene was staring off to one side. "Is that a macaw in the conservatory? I thought they went extinct."
As Xara quietly fumed, the receptionist handed her a key card. "That will get you into room seven on floor twenty-seven. Minibar access is free, and if you want we can have the cooking staff make you anything you want, any time you want. All the other rooms on that floor have been booked out to keep them vacant, so it's just you girls. You can use the VIP elevator for privacy, too,"
"Thank you," Xara said, taking the key card and wheeling her luggage to the public elevator.
"Gosh, is that you, Xara? I can hardly recognise you under all that modesty..." Zoe grinned as they stepped inside.
"I didn't ask them to book out the whole floor for me, okay! Mom's just... a bit of a control freak."
"She is a hypnotist..." Irene pointed out.
Xara sighed. "Yeah. Apparently she does the odd show here a few times a year, but I made sure she's not coming this week. Last thing I need is for her to embarrass me."
I am Xara's luggage. I am comfortable. I feel safe. This is where I belong.
Amanda mouthed the words as they looped endlessly in her head. It was dark. She wasn't sure if her eyes were open or shut; ever since the zip was closed she had lived in pitch blackness.
It didn't bother her. She was luggage. Luggage didn't have opinions.
Dimly, she had felt the tug of motion, the bump of wheels on uneven ground and flooring, the acceleration of transport and even the change in air pressure of high-speed high-altitude travel.
None of it mattered. She was luggage. Being moved was her purpose.
I am Xara's luggage. I am comfortable. I feel safe. This is where I belong.
Sometimes she could hear her owner's voice, sometimes others. Other times it was quiet outside, and she felt a pressure as if other suitcases had been wedged against hers. All throughout she repeated her mantra. Why would she worry? What did it matter if she was jostled around a bit? She was luggage. She was comfortable.
She once felt a rhythmic tapping on one side of the case she might have associated with Xara amusing herself by gently tapping her foot against it, had she any reason to think beyond her mantra.
After an impossibly indeterminate amount of time she heard the sound of a zip being drawn, and light flooded into the suitcase. It was bright, so bright. Her eyes watered, but she neither closed them or blinked. She just repeated her mantra, utterly relaxed.
"Wow, she's still at it. You really brainfucked her, Irene." Her owner's voice giggled.
"I'm pretty sure she did most of it herself," came the slightly disengaged reply.
Someone's finger poked Amanda in the cheek, tracing across her lips and down past her neck. "Oh, wow, she's been drooling," Zoe laughed. Poor thing..."
Xara grinned. "Hey, luggage. You have a nice trip?
Luggage... Luggage? Luggage...
Luggage stopped its mantra. Its owner was demanding attention. "Yes..."
"Good," Xara purred. "Let's get you out of there, we need to unpack." Her hands found grip under luggage's armpits and lifted it, while Zoe grabbed its ankles. The two girls carried luggage over to a nearby sofa and dumped it on its back.
"Now, what, next," Xara wondered. Luggage stared mindlessly, unmoving, as the three girls chattered about what they wanted to do on their trip, pulling out a box-shaped case and unfolding it into a person-sized chamber.
"I definitely wanna hit the pool," Xara said. "Right after we go swimsuit shopping."
"We're supposed to keep the human cartoon hidden," Zoe snickered, as Irene nodded.
"She might pass as more... realistic right now, but we still need to be careful."
"I'll hire the pool for just us, it'll be fine," Xara waved off concerns. "Besides, Amanda loves pools. Don't you Amanda?"
She looked over at luggage, frowning after a few moments.
Luggage stared blankly back. Xara crawled close and slapped luggage gently on its right cheek.
Luggage didn't know who its owner was speaking to, but it wouldn't speak unless it was specifically addressed. It was good luggage.
"Irene?" Xara sounded slightly panicked.
Her friend knelt next to her, holding luggage by the chin and inspecting her eyes. "Hm. I think she's dehumanised herself."
"If I had to guess, four hours repeating that mantra made her even more suggestible than usual, and you calling her luggage made her forget she's anything else. Your girlfriend is... fascinating." Irene smiled.
"That she is," Xara grinned. "So she's fine, she just forgot she's human?"
"That's what it looks like."
"Okay, that's hot. She can stay like that a bit longer." Xara kissed luggage on the lips, then got up to gather her other luggage. "I'm gonna go claim our bed. You girls each get your own through those doors," she pointed, "unless you wanna share."
"I'm down," Zoe teased, waggling her eyebrows.
"Maybe some other time," Irene smiled sweetly.
The trio laughed and went their separate ways to get situated in each of their rooms, leaving luggage alone to stare blankly across the room.