"And people do this for fun?"
"You've never d-done any laser tag before?"
Pel looked at the dentist's chair with the weird bicycle helmet and the adjustable monitor and the sunken speakers and the endless tangle of wires.
"I sit in that..." Pel pointed.
"... and I stare at that..." Pel pointed again.
"... and I listen to those..." Pel indicated the speakers.
"You've got it."
"... and that's supposed to hypnotize me into following the rules of a game?"
Laine nodded. "More than, ah, just following. It's... um it's more like the rules become unbreakable laws of the universe." She grinned a bit sheepishly. "If I d-did the programming right, and I put you in a g-game, you'd just... you wouldn't think about the rules, they would just happen, you know?"
Pel ran her fingers over some of the wiring curiously. "Doesn't seem like it'd work, in my experience. Files, programs, videos, recordings, I mean, sure, for people like..." She trailed off, flushing a little. "But really I think only for people who want it and for those more experienced. You're telling me that if you just grab someone off the street and stick them in the chair—"
"Yeah, if they want it, if they don't f-fight or anything, if they..." Laine shrugged. "Alterations are just really safe. A-and the brain chemistry and psychology stuff is fascinating, I could show you some papers if you like the academic stuff."
Pel shook her head. "No, I was always more about the... fun parts of hypnotism, right?" She tentatively moved towards the chair. "But this doesn't seem like much fun."
"Only one way to find out..." Laine smirked a little.
Pel sat up, taking a quick breath in surprise. "How... what... why..."
Laine stood there, smiling smugly. "I added in a bit of a memory blank suggestion. Just for fun." She held up a clear visor and a plastic gun, and Pel noticed that Laine was wearing a visor and carrying a gun herself. "Want to try it out?"
"I... guess I do, or I wouldn't have got in the chair, right?" Pel stood. "What sort of rules do you have me following?"
"Well, it's just you and me here..." Laine said, handing Pel the equipment. "I thought you might not mind s-something a little... exciting..."
Pel took the tools, put the gun aside, and slipped the visor on. "Very curious about the excitement you have planned. So when something happens, there's going to be, what, a suggestion appearing on the visor that I can't help but obey?"
Laine shook her head. "It's not that simple. Uh, see, th-there's been a lot of, um, a-advancements in miniaturization and, uh, stuff, a-and so there's like high-power magnets in the shell and, and subliminals already in your ears from the band, and if I look right I can see some of the light flashes in the visor traces. Alterations are a big deal th-these days."
"That's... actually kinda cool." Pel picked up the gun and looked at it. "Hypnotism being mainstream is... I dunno."
"Y-yeah, it's really fun." Laine leveled her laser pistol. "Wanna see how it works?"
"Before we go into the arena?"
In response, Laine pulled the trigger. Glittering lights filled Pel's vision. "The system doesn't know where we are, it just detects a hit."
Pel tried to respond, tried to move, but she found it impossible. The lights just seemed to sap her energy.
"Of course," Laine said, "if this was a real match, you'd have teammates to save you, b-but..."
The Alterist walked up to Pel and put her hand on the painter's shoulder. The lights faded.
"Oh that's... wow," Pel said as she undid the button of her skirt and stepped out of it, revealing comfortable blue panties. "I don't know how you all did it, but..."
"Right, should be impossible? Heh, I've r-read some old stuff about hypno and..." Laine shrugs, trying not to stare too much at Pel's bare legs, or the slight but visible dampness between her legs. "The, um, advancements of the last couple generations h-have been amazing, if it's anything to be believed."
"So does mine do the same to you?" Pel asked, raising her own pistol.
"Nope, I haven't been Altered for the game."
"Well that hardly seems fair!"
"Or it seems perfectly fair," Laine said.
"It seems perfectly fair," Pel echoed. "So it's just you and me running around the maze? You stalking me?"
"That was my plan, unless you have another idea."
"It's your game..." Pel walked over to the door leading into the maze. "See you inside."
Laine gleefully picked up Pel's skirt and laid it out on a table, giving her prey a few seconds of head start. The map blipped up on her visor, showing her exactly where Pel would be.
Even if she couldn't fire back, it was still fun. She'd have to see about bringing Tia here, if they reconnected in this timeline. She knew her lover was fine, just not present. She hoped Tia was having as good a time as she was.
Pel moved through the maze in her underwear, her blouse forgotten in a corner of the maze and her sandals left by the door after she'd been zapped a couple times. She had no conscious awareness that she was running out of clothing, just that every so often Laine would zap her, laugh at her, then let her go. Somehow, too, Laine always managed to get one step ahead of her. Probably it was familiarity with the maze layout more than anything, knowing where Pel might hide, or might try to run next.
She came around a corner to see her opponent waiting, leveling a pistol right at her, and then the glittering of the visor left her breathless, immobilized, as Laine walked over to her with a big grin on her face.
"I'm sure you'll understand soon enough," Laine said, as her hand on Pel's shoulder caused the light to fade, and sent chills down the artist's spine. Her panties were almost uncomfortably damp at the thought of it all, and the ouroboros charm cold on her chest. A little hypno ray for Tia... The possibilities were astounding. Of course, the two of them had their little games with their charm necklace.
Laine had gone somewhere, deeper into the maze. Pel took off at a fast jog, trying (but not very hard) to stay well hidden.
"Understand what?" Pel asked herself. She wasn't sure just what she wasn't understanding.
A noise behind her made her start to turn, but then the visor shone brightly, and...
Laine grinned, walking up to the pretty artist.
"I wanted to do this l-last one myself," Laine whispered in her ear from behind, her hands sliding sensuously down Pel's sides. "I made the last burst more powerful for j-just this occasion." She slipped her fingers under the waistband of Pel's underwear, and slowly, slowly slid them down her victim's legs, savouring the feel of that soft skin under her hands.
"I'm sure you understand now," Laine continued as she got to her feet, her touch trailing up Pel's back. She walked around to Pel's side. "All you have on is my gear, and that..." she looked down at Pel's chest. "That..." She blinked heavily. "That... lovely..." Her thoughts were getting cloudy. It was hard to focus on anything but the silver snake eating its tail.
She stood silently, staring, as the glittering faded away from Pel's visor.
"So if the rules of your world work on me..." Pel said with a grin, stretching up tall and watching Laine's eyes track the charm, "it stands to reason that the rules of my world would work on you. See, when my partner or I see this charm on a naked body..." The artist chuckled and wiggled a bit in place. "Instant trance. Not sure why it would work like that on you, but then don't really care. Because now you can teach me all about Alterations." Pel let out a small chuckle. "And we've got all night, and I've got you as a test subject for anything I might like."
Laine nodded faintly, her eyes locked on Pel's chest, a hint of a smile in her blank expression.