Walking out of a downtown highrise, a man hesitated at the entrance before shifting into the river of people moving further uptown. Long-established muscle memory had him patting his suit jacket for the object of his addiction. That memory was interrupted, only making it as far as stepping off to a corner and feeling the cigarette pack in his suit pocket. He froze mid-motion, hands falling to his sides, staring down and off into space, wondering for a few seconds why he'd stopped. He gasped and blinked a few times, set off gently by not what his eyes saw, but what his mind recalled.
Green eyes. Mind-numbing, breath-taking green eyes. Eyes bolstered by a submersible quality that made them all too inviting to all other naked eyes, they seemingly breathed vitality, coerced initiative, and other things into him, that were his reason for being there. Eyes bearing a rich coloring that practically filled his, convincing him of eyes dulling like shade, somewhere deep inside. Eyes accompanied by a female voice somewhere beyond their brilliance, voicing a reasonable bidding. One of those things had to be stop smoking, because for the life of him, a totally extinguished desire prevented any cigarette from reaching his mouth, exiting his pocket and into the nearest trash receptacle instead. As was her will, he crossed into the crowd flow to go about his day, wondering if she had anything else in-store for him, knowing he'd be helpless to stop himself if she did.
At the other end of the lobby, close to the elevators, a blonde donning an elaborate wrapped bun of a hairstyle and a black suit smirked at her latest work walking out the door, permanently ushered into a healthier direction just after one session. Ten minutes worth of bad habit altering, another fifty of programming and convincing him that obedience and generously giving to his new doctor were good habits. Of course, even a super effective dose of therapy couldn't constitute a sure-fire cure-all; he would most likely relapse, would need further programming, and would launch himself back on the couch to let her back into his mind again. Cigarettes were now just the convenient excuse.
No matter how many times Dr. Julia Sway beguiled first-timers, the thrill of bending minds stayed inexorably fresh, lowering her custom-tinted glasses and let what they hid wash away comprehension of their watcher in the tide of guileless, persuasive green. Dr. Sway's hypnotherapy experience and skill notwithstanding, all she really needed was a glance to open people up to profound mental and essentially life changes. Such was her ironic luck, years of studying academically-practiced hypnosis techniques rendered practically obsolete with a spontaneously-developed hypnotic stare. She couldn't complain too much; little more than a glance wiped out student loans in record timing.
She still found it funny how 'hierarch' became the prevailing term that stuck for super-powered citizens rather than the derogatory 'mutant' or 'freak' terms found in children's comics, side-stepping subtleties and calling those like Sway outright better than everyone else. To be fair, the phrase was coined only when a handful were known to exist in the world. As more popped up, so did the animosity, but any hateful levied words she found were much tamer in most of America compared to her hometown of Johannesburg, much tamer in their behavior compared to the violence still found there for her kind. Faring with it came easier than for most, with a power that mollified and stole away most any intentions with long-enough exposure, many accidentally. But she decided to not take chances and emigrated to America as soon as she could, finding it to truly be a land of opportunity and higher public tolerance, quickly coming into the company of those who understood and acknowledged her power, and paid handsomely for her services.
Most of the known hierarchs she'd heard about were do-gooders or upstanding citizens trying to be normal, putting on a good public face for the majority. It didn't matter to the doctor that she only seemed like an upstanding citizen on the surface, or that the only good she did was for her bank account or ego; prioritizing self-interest suited her well for decades, and fate couldn't have bestowed a better ability.
A cabal of conglomerate heads who took offense to hierarchs in-general sought to oppose the heroes who made their kind look good, and was smart enough to have Dr. Sway as a hierarch-on-retainer, to gather what usable information she could, and to set things ethically questionable at best in-motion. Both the conglomerate heads and Sway knew what they were getting with each other, and were happy to always keep things at a professional distance. She was somewhat lucky that they didn't take enough offense to capitalize on her mercenary talents. They were supremely lucky that when it came to issues between hierarchs and everyone else, the hypnotist simply didn't care. "People are people, and whoever I meet is whoever I want them to be," Julia always reasoned. It was a sensibility she kept even after she "retirement."
Riding the elevator back up to her office, she was looking forward to her day ending. No matter how much she enjoyed her work, there always seem to be fatigue in an easy day job, creating unsurety of if she was keen on sharing the night with anyone. Maybe her receptionist, maybe someone from a different floor before they left, but having played with every regular in the building, it didn't sound quite as appealing. Maybe just a bubble bath and night alone was in her future. No thoughts disputed that outcome up until entering her office, to find it not as vacant as she left it.
A strange, defensive smile greeted her new guest.
"Good afternoon. Did I miss an appointment?" A touch of a faded South African accent filled the room.
"Not at all," a younger voice replied. "This appointment was very much planned, even predestined."
Sway's smile dropped its defensiveness with a sigh, realizing whom had invited themselves in.
Sibyl, the vernal psychic and seer extraordinaire, among the youngest to ever enter the hierarch hero game. Her old costume was ridiculous and thankfully forgotten, but she still toted her crystal ball around, functional for psychic augmentation, but still a strange accessory to jeans, a light jacket over a white top, and brown pigtails, still dressing to her hippie upbringing. Sway noticed with appreciative eyes how her old opponent had finally taken a confident posture; she looked so sure of herself, like you'd expect of a conquering hero, making the hypnotist's domineering advances all the sweeter once eventually employed.
"Still acting like a cheeky child, I see. A shame you've only gotten more arrogant, or dumber...or maybe just more millennial; I can't tell."
"Still underestimating what I'm capable of. A shame you probably haven't grown any smarter."
Seated behind her desk, the black highchair turned toward the city, concealing the smile revealing she enjoyed, even missed the verbal back-and-forth heroes were always good for, at the outset at least.
"I take it my receptionist didn't invite you in."
"She still doesn't know I'm here, though I get the feeling she's truly oblivious to everything in the world but you, something she never signed up for."
The doctor turned her chair to face her interloper, toying with the temple of her glasses, teasing her with lowering them.
"This might shock the nonconformist in you, but in corporate America, you'd be surprised at the expectations set for underlings. But when you put it like that dearie, who wouldn't sign up for such a dream job? And for your information, she did give me verbal consent."
"You talked her into it."
"That's what happens in interviews - people talk. Some more than others."
Sway appreciated how a wiser Sibyl had more patience for the banter, rather than throwing a hissyfit because one could be twice the smartass she was and not get merely annoyed at her attitude.
"Speaking of interviews, is that why you're here? Vying to be my new receptionist? My current girl loves her position, so much so that she might fight you for it."
"The only position that will need filling is yours, once I bring you in."
"Bring me in?" The blonde questioned with a hand to her mouth.
"Yes. To justice? Have you really forgotten all your misdeeds and suffering you've caused?" Sibyl clarified with knowingly cheesy comic book flair, but mystified at why she had to explain this.
"So many hierarchs and the authorities have been looking for you for the longest time. Kudos to you for staying off the radar as long as you have; all the other perpetrators wish they could hide in plain sight like you do. Should impress the hell out of everyone that I'm the one to find you and bring you in."
Turning on a swivel, giving Sibyl ample view of the back of her highchair again, Sway forced out a hearty chuckle befitting a villainess to hide the more reactive laugh she wanted to give. Still facing the city, Sway gestured toward the pictures hanging on her wall.
"It wasn't as easy as you'd think, laying low all those years. But when you sit behind a desk all day, as busy as us hierarchs keep ourselves, the days can start to be a blur of what we've done. The day begins and your eyes can be just like those green eyes. Wide awake, interested, engaged, ready to take on the world and win. By the end of the day though, those eyes are just lose their luster, lose their liveliness, and those lids are ready to shut and stay down."
The digital portrait of her green eyes was a matter of convenience for Sway. They had about half the draw of her natural eyes, more than enough to prime them for a glance of the real thing followed by eventual subservience, or just outright trancing weak-enough onlookers when the hierarch wasn't present.
"You try as hard as you can to keep that lively green in your eyes, to keep your spirits up, your attention high and your concentration strong, before those eyes become slits, a dusk of light and energy, perhaps dreaming of moments when you're eyes can be that bright, that lovely, that focused, where you've earned the right to be tired, happy, even sleepy, so you can sleep soundly and peacefully knowing those green eyes have brought you there. Don't those eyes look so lively and green?"
Indirectly delivering her induction with a smile, she waited for what would be an induced admission.
"They look guilty to me," Sibyl's deadpan voice replied. "Are all your clients made to look at silly pictures?"
She got up from her desk with the grace of a stalking panther that respected her prey and savored the meal to come.
"Art imitates lively green, so as you 'bring me in,' why don't you let me bring you in, just for a little while?"
She finally lowered the glasses down to give full view of her enchanting eyes. They gazed proudly, powerfully into a glassy pair of eyes, or so they seemed glassy only because of the psychic shielding covering her view. The crystal ball also tangibly amplified her hierarch powers, giving off a nearly invisible ethereal energy that carried out her will, including shielding her from the not-so-secret weapon aimed at her.
"Neat little deterrent you have there," Sway tested it with unworried joy, impressed with the creative defense, but still tested an intense stare against it, to no avail.
"That's strike two, Sway. Don't bother going for three; you'll have more than a while to think about your bad life choices and fowl-ups in prison, maybe be rehabilitated into some kind of decent person."
"Sorry dearie, I'm way past decent."
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Sway's smile widened as she concentrated her hierarch prowess to produce a vivid, colorful, masque-like visage around her eyes. Fluorescent shades of pinks, purples, turquoise, and light greens washed over the space around her eyes, like waves, accentuating her look, adding layers of fascination upon fascination. The center of a whirlpool of color struck enough to pierce the psychic barrier, to make the young heroine sink into deep confusion, lost in the tow of Dr. Sway's stare, unable to fight the physical, emotional urge to let those colors bedazzle her thoughts, to let those green eyes work their magic with no hope of fighting.
"If you really want to talk baseball, this must be what they call a home run, and I've knocked your will out of the park. Maybe now you'll want to tell me who underestimated whom."
All Sibyl could do was stand still, hold that crystal ball up, feel its power emanating, yet feeling the turning of the tide of control passing to the doctor, a familiar premonitioned posture, and rumblings of the past.