The lines of brainslaves repeating in their flat, depersonalized voices made it hard to focus as you snuck among them.
You had to hurry. Not only to avoid succumbing to the numbing lure of the chant, but to find your friend before the Reinforcement Cycle ended and the drones, now clockwork statues in their identical fetishwear, awoke and grabbed you for noncompliance.
Then you’d be just like them, your mind smoothed away in the monotonous repetition of
The complex was devilishly mazelike, tier upon tier of mind-controlled slaves lining the identical corridors, indicator lights on their collars blinking in time with the command word.
You’d almost stopped hearing it, and you weren’t sure that was a good thing. It was a sort of torture, buffeted from all sides by the relentless voices, as you scanned slave after slave for the familiar shape and face of your friend.
When you finally saw them, standing at attention amongst their fellow drones, it was almost a shock and... a kind of disappointment?
The tension, the anticipation, had been so great, the release upon locating your friend was dizzying.
But now even more haste was needed. Surely the Reinforcement Cycle would end soon, and before that happened you had to grab your friend, and–
The sudden change in the drones’ tone and cadence hit you like a drug.
Only halfway down the corridor towards your friend, you stumbled in a wave of exhaustion. Your drowsiness was echoed on blank faces as the drones repeated the new command word.
Your friend seemed to be murmuring the command just for you as you slumped to the floor, almost at their feet. Your rescue attempt had failed.
The despair was only momentary, replaced by an irresistible drop into numb, empty blackness as you obeyed along with your friend and the other drones.
It was too late to worry about what joining them would feel like.