From beyond the stairwell, the expectant rumoring of the crowd sounded like a sleeping monster ready to awaken and emerge from its cave to devour and destroy.
“Come on, Kimiko, you’re up.” Nami whispered urgently, her raised eyebrows dancing with urgency as she spoke and nodded her head toward the stairs.
Fuck. It was real now. This was it. Everything they’d been working for.
Kimiko nodded, ignoring the lump in her throat. She took Nami’s hand from below and squeezed her fingertips.
“I love you,” she said. Nami simply nodded in the subtle way she liked to do. One last moment of meaningful eye contact and one last nod that meant ‘You can do this’.
And now Kimiko could.
She walked up the three flights, and the crowd exploded into a deafening roar as she strode across the catwalk, and into view. Someone handed her a megaphone. She stepped forward, leaning against the handrail, raising the mouthpiece – and the roar died instantly.
“Brothers and Sisters!” she shouted, and as soon as she started talking, the hammering in chest seemed to vanish away and she fell into the role they had chosen for her. The role that her enemies had chosen for her when they had killed her Mother.
“We are here today because of the sacrifice of others!” she continued. “We are here today, not because we choose to be, but because we have to be! The Empress wants to deprive us of all choice – and she succeeded! There is only one way left. Resistance!”
The crowd cheered, and the noise was like a physical thing. She could feel it in her bones – in all the deep parts of her that were tribal and animalistic. It was pure adrenaline. She rode it like a wave.
“Resistance! Against oppression! Against despotism! Against inhumanity! Against the violation of everything that makes us human! The Empress took your livelihoods. She took your freedoms! She even took those of you that you love, and she erased them! She has no right!”
The crowd clamored in ear-shattering agreement.
“She has no right!” Kimiko repeated over the cacophony of anger, over and over and over, until the noise finally quieted down again.
“She never had the right,” she said quietly, but the megaphone amplified even those pensive tones into clipped, frantic noise. “But now the time has finally come. The time when she will finally face the justice she has tried to eradicate from this land. The justice she deserved from the very first moment she seized power. The justice that we will bring to her!”
She pointed at the stolen armaments that the crowd was gathered around. Another cheer erupted from their ranks. They finally had what they needed. Transports and guns and ammo, and even tanks. Five tons of high explosive. Seventy canisters of paralyzing agent.
It was everything that was required to enact her mother’s plan.
“We are ten thousand strong!” she shouted, and her amplified words echoed all the way through the disused storm overflow, echoing between the enormous pillars until the sound lost itself after hundreds of feet of enormous underground space. “We are ready!”
Another cheer. This was it.
“Tonight, we will finally complete what all of us have worked so hard on! Tonight, we will make the castle crumble and fall! Tonight, we will overcome! Tonight we will win! JUSTICE!”
“Justice!” The crowd boomed.
“JUSTICE!” She screamed!
–the world exploded into noise, and the deafening cheer of the crowd became a whisper compared to the cracking explosions all around her. The world tumbled and twisted, and there was pain everywhere as the catwalk under her buckled and fell, and her stomach lurched as she became weightless for a moment, and she fell, and fell, and –
The world turned black.
It was Nami. Kimiko looked at her and saw Namis smile. It was the whole world. She seemed to glow in the golden sunlight, and her hair swayed gently in the breeze. She was beautiful.
Kimiko smelled the air. It smelled of autumn. Dried leaves and wet earth. But the air was warm. The last beautiful days before winter. Before the cold.
Kimiko knew that the cold was coming. She knew it with certainty. But Nami would be with her to spend her warmth and comfort and counsel. Kimiko knew that hard times were ahead, and without Nami she wouldn’t make it through. Nami had the key. Nami had the answers.
Kimiko wanted to sit up from the blanket she was lying on, but she was too heavy. It wasn’t time yet, anyway. Soon, it would be. Soon, the painful things would need to be done. But not yet.
This was important. She had to use this peaceful moment. She had to make sure that Nami knew how much Kimiko loved her. She had to make sure that she knew how much she meant to her. After the warm breeze was gone, there would be no more time.
“Nami,” she said softly, and Nami smiled at her as if she already knew what Kimiko was about to say. But Kimiko had to say it nonetheless. She had to use this chance. It wasn’t winter yet. Soon it would be too cold to talk.
“Yes?” Nami asked, tilting her head curiously. It was so hard to imagine that anything bad could ever happen, but Kimiko knew that the cold was coming. It was coming fast now, and things would be so hard. Harder than they had ever been. Even harder than when they had lost Kimiko’s mother.
“I love you,” Kimiko said, but just as she spoke a cold wind cut the air and blew her words away, and the sun vanished behind dark clouds. The peaceful meadow around them was full of danger. The air had turned cold.
Nami frowned. She hadn’t heard Kimiko’s words, and now she was already looking around for a danger that was approaching fast.
“I love you,” Kimiko shouted, but the wind had turned into a storm, and the meadow had become a barren field under a black sky. Nami didn’t hear.
“Come on, Kimiko you’re up!” she said, and Kimiko was suddenly on her feet. The icy wind was blowing into her face, and she couldn’t turn around anymore. Nami stood behind her, and Kimiko couldn’t see her anymore. She could only see the barren desert around her, cast in deep twilight. It was a storm, raging all around them.
She felt Nami’s hand on her shoulder, ready to guide the both of them through the tempest, and a little bit of warmth blossomed in her chest. They would make it. Together. Kimiko leading, and Nami supporting.
She took the first step.
Thunder and Lightning erupted around them, and Kimiko’s foot found only empty air beneath her. The ground below her vanished, and Nami’s hand was ripped away as she fell, fell, fell.
She woke up.
She could tell that there were bright lights behind her closed eyelids. She couldn’t bear to open them. The pain was too much.
Everything hurt, and her throat was too dry to swallow down the disgusting taste in her mouth. The world was swaying sickeningly beneath her, and her head felt like it might come loose. The headache alone would have been enough to make her groan.
“Fuuuuckk…” she moaned, and even the little vibration of her vocal chords seemed to be enough to make her temples flare with numb agony. She sighed, letting her breath escape her. She felt so weak.
After what felt like a build-up of minutes, she finally managed the willpower to open her eyes.
She was in a hospital bed. There was an IV drip in the small of her right elbow, feeding her… something. Beyond her bed, the room wasn’t furnished at all. Simply clean walls and clean floors and clean ceilings, and no windows.
This wasn’t Resistance care. If this were resistance care, someone would be here to immediately debrief her once she woke up – or at least inform the second-in-command.
She remembered the explosions. Brick had been with her on that catwalk. Nearly all her troops had been there! Someone had attacked them! They had been found out!
For a moment, the thought was too terrible and too big to properly register. They had been found out, and someone had attacked them when they had all been gathered in one spot, with all of their armaments in that same place.
No. No. It couldn’t… it couldn’t just happen like that. It couldn’t just be over like that. They couldn’t just… they couldn’t just…
That hadn’t been supposed to happen. Not like this. Storming the castle, yes. Trying to get into the city. Trying to get into the inner defenses.
But not… not like this. Without even a fight.
It was so difficult to hold on to her thoughts. She must have missed something. That couldn’t be what had happened. Surely, they had made it out. Surely, they had fought them back.
She suddenly noticed a beeping sound. She realized that it was going with her own heartbeats.
The beeping was going quite fast.
After a moment, she heard another noise. Muffled footsteps, getting louder. The door to her room opened, and a female doctor poked her head in. The woman’s eyes met Kimiko’s, and Kimiko could tell with a sour feeling in the back of her throat that they were the empty eyes of an Empire thrall.
The doctor mustered her for a moment longer, then vanished out of sight again. There had been no trace of emotion in her eyes the entire time she had looked at Kimiko. Now that she was gone, Kimiko noticed that she’d been holding her breath. She breathed in again and cursed.
Fuck. They knew that she was awake. She had to get out! Now!
She tried to sit up, and nearly passed out. It took her almost a half minute to gather her strength again. This time, she pulled back her hands to prop herself up and–
Her hands caught against the handcuffs that tied her wrists to the hospital bed. A rush of adrenaline went through her as her groggy thoughts finally found a disturbance big enough to hold on. Physical proof of how utterly fucked she was. Proof so undeniable that even her lizard brain went into fight-or-flight, shaking off the half-delirium of the lingering sedatives in her system.
Fuck. Fuck! Fuck!!!
She was wide awake, and panic hit her in the face like icy water. She had been captured. They knew she was part of the resistance! Did they know who she was? Did they know that she was their leader?
She looked around again, crisp fear cutting into her throat like claws. Instinctively, she looked for a way out when she already knew that there wouldn’t be. No windows. No furniture. This wasn’t a hospital room. This was a cell.
She tugged at her handcuffs, but of course they wouldn’t come loose. She tried to tip over her bed, but it was bolted to the floor. She tried to pull out her IV needle to pick the lock on the cuffs, but the chains were too short to reach.
By the time her captors arrived, she’d tried everything, to no success.
The door opened, and she hoped that it would be some secret police captain and his assistant, plus maybe a doctor with some drugs or sharp implements. She couldn’t hope for anything better, but maybe it wouldn’t be worse. Maybe they thought that she was just some nobody.
But the door opened, and the Person that entered the room was a tall dark-haired woman dressed in a long midnight blue dress hemmed with masterfully elaborate golden embroidery. She wore white gloves, and her face was powder chalky white, with purplish black lips and eyelids. Her dark hair was done up elaborately and immaculately, like a finely carved abstract statue depicting a cresting wave.
Kimiko’s heart turned to ice. They knew! They knew who she was, and it was enough for Empress Usagi to personally oversee whatever terrible things would happen next. Kimiko was in the presence of her mortal enemy – the enemy of all free people. A monster of a human being. Murderer. Torturer. Tyrant.
“You,” Kimiko spat, and made it sound like the worst insult in the English language. To her, it was.
The Empress merely sneered disdainfully, eyeing Kimiko like something nasty that had crawled out of the shower drain.
The Empress tilted her head, raising an eyebrow.
“How does it feel to be so close to the woman you want to kill? Knowing that you can’t? Knowing that you failed?”
“Ideas cannot die!” Kimiko spat, and the Empress scoffed.
“But your soldiers could. Very easily, it turns out. All we needed was some redundant detonators.”
“You’re lying. We reset the frequencies.”
“I’m sure you did,” the Empress said with a smug grin. Anger boiled in Kimiko’s stomach.
“You won’t get shit from me,” she said. “If you know who I am, you know that I won’t talk.”
“You weren’t listening,” the Empress said. “I no longer need anyone to talk. The resistance has been wiped out.”
The Empress was still smiling that sickening smile. What Kimiko would give to punch her, just once. Draw some blood, break some bone. Anything.
“Believe what you must,” the Empress said. “I didn’t come here to convince you of anything. In fact, I really don’t give a fuck what you think, Kimiko Mori.”
Hearing her name come out of that mouth felt sickening. It tasted like danger and defeat. She nodded. It wasn’t like she’d had any illusions about what was going to happen.
“Didn’t come here to kill me, either,” she said. “Or the hospital care wouldn’t have made any sense. Or did you want to make sure I was able to stand before you put me up against the wall?”
“No, no, no,” the Empress said. “This is exactly what it looks like. ”
Something ugly and terrible uncoiled itself in Kimiko’s chest, like an animal lashing out in its cage, raging and clawing. Adrenaline rushed through her and her fingers went numb as pounding fear gripped her.
They were going to turn her into a thrall. They were going to erase her. Brainwash her and burn out her sense of self, her memories, her will, her resistance. Anything that made her who she was.
“Same thing as killing me,” she said, but her voice failed to carry any sense of bravado. Her words sounded small and dry, and terribly insignificant.
“Oh not at all,” the Empress said, mock affront in her voice. “If I killed you, there wouldn’t be anything that I can use afterwards. And you’re such a pretty one. I would hate to waste such a nice bit of high-quality material.”
“You fucking bitch!” Kimiko screamed. “You impossible fucking monster!”
“You haven’t even seen the worst of it, dear,” the Empress said and turned around toward the door.
“Bring her in!” she called out. Moments later the door opened, and Nami walked in.
The world turned into dark, cold terror. In a flash, Kimiko remembered the last moment they had seen each other. They had looked into each other’s eyes, and Nami had given her the strength to go through with mother’s plan.
Nami wore a slight smile as she took her place next to the Empress, but her eyes were dead and empty. There was no thought in them at all.
“NOOOOO!” Kimiko screamed. Nami didn’t even react. She simply stood there, expression empty and thoughtless, looking through Kimiko as if she wasn’t there. Tears were streaming down Kimiko’s face, and she couldn’t even wipe them off. Her vision turned blurry, and she tried to blink them away. For a moment it was too much, and she closed her eyes as she quietly sobbed.
When she felt finally able to, she opened them again to look at the monster in front of her, and the thing that was no longer Nami. Nami was gone. This wasn’t her. Nothing of what was about to happen would be her doing. It was all the Empress.
They had dressed her in elegant silken Empire thrall robes, somewhere between a dress and an overall, with long ribbons hanging from the end of the sleeves. It was sickening how good she looked in it.
“Thrall Nami,” the Empress said, and the thrall next to her straightened.
“Yes, Mistress?” said the thrall using Nami’s lips. Using Nami’s voice. But it wasn’t her. It wasn’t her!
The worst thing was how bright and attentive she sounded. Alert. Eager. Kimiko knew that it was an illusion. There was nothing left behind those eyes and that vacant half-smile.
“Do you recognize her?”
“Yes, Mistress. She is Kimiko Mori.”
The silence that followed was deafening.
“How do you feel towards her?”
“I haven’t been told how to feel, Mistress,” the thrall chirped.
“You want her to become a thrall. Until then, she is your enemy. She is a resistance whore. Whenever she tries to speak, you will tell her to be quiet.”
The thing that had Nami's face turned its attention to Kimiko, eyes narrow with focus, staring her down. Kimiko tried to meet the stare for a moment, but she wasn't strong enough. She looked into Nami's face, and her gut twisted with a thousand emotions and memory, and some primal part of her insisted that she would wake up. Had to wake up. Tell her that she loved her.
But Nami's face remained a mask. Her eyes remained cold and devoid of recognition. They had erased her.
"She is magnificent, isn't she?" mocked the Empress. "Such a beauty. And from what I've been told, so very very bright, and deeply caring and loving."
Kimiko bit her teeth together, trying to bear it, trying to endure it. Fuck you, you won’t get me to say anything. She wouldn’t give her the pleasure. She wouldn’t let herself be toyed with like that. She wouldn’t!
She pressed her lips together and stared at her knees, silently shivering as she tried not to scream, or cry.
“Got nothing left to say, I see,” the Empress said after a while, but Kimiko didn’t even dignify her by looking up. She was done. Let it be over with.
“It makes sense I presume,” the Empress said. “After all, why would you have anything to comment while this is happening?”
Kimiko could see it happening from the corners of her eyes. The Empress slipped the dress over the thrall’s shoulders, and it unraveled around her, falling down along her body like a red silk waterfall until in one smooth motion, the thrall stood in the nude. Kimiko swallowed.
There was a fresh tattoo across her lower abdomen, just above her mons. Kimiko couldn’t read it, but she knew what it read.
‘Thrall Nami’… and then her serial number.
It. Isn’t. Nami! She reminded herself.
The empress chuckled, and Kimiko saw her remove her gloves before she began to grope the thrall next to her. Kimiko looked away. She’d heard rumours that the Empress frequently used thralls for sex, male and female alike. Kimiko had readily bought those rumors. The Empress being a pervert on top of being a tyrant wasn’t hard to believe at all. But seeing them confirmed this way was so much worse.
“You know, Kimiko… my intel was never quite clear on you and Nami,” the Empress continued. “Were you lovers? Sisters? Both? Or were you just close friends?”
Kimiko said nothing.
“I already asked thrall Nami, but I’m afraid that piece of information got lost when the black toxin removed her personality. It seems like your relationship was one of the things that defined her. One of the things that she instinctively tried to hold on to as she fought the effects. And those are the memories that the toxin eradicates first.”
Kimiko’s lips trembled. Fuck you. You won’t get me to talk.
“You can tell me. If you do, the memory will live on in me. If you don't, nothing will remain of your love. Once you drink the toxin, it will be gone forever.”
No. She was trying to get her to talk -- to take that last bit of dignity away from her. She wouldn’t give her the satisfaction. She shut her eyes. She wasn’t playing along.
“Oh well,” the Empress said. “Too bad. I guess I’ll never know…. Unless…”
She paused dramatically.
“I could just ask your mother.”
Kimiko’s eyes flew open as the world shrunk to a point and all of her blood seemed to drain from her.
“NO!” she screamed “YOU–”
“QUIET, RESISTANCE WHORE!!!” Nami shouted over her, and Kimiko’s voice shrunk and shriveled under the terrible voice of the woman she’d loved, and tears returned to her eyes. She looked up at the beautiful woman that had been her lover and her closest confidante. The woman she had wanted to run away with, and the woman that had convinced her to stay and fight. For a moment, she looked so alive. So like herself.
But as the tears cleared from her eyes and her vision sharpened, she saw the emptiness behind Nami’s eyes and with the gravity of a tomb closing the terrible reality of it all returned to Kimiko’s desperate mind. Nami was dead. This thrall was nothing but a perverse affront to everything she’d ever been. A cruel, disgusting mockery.
And then the other thing that the Empress had said to her hit her like a boomerang.
'I could just ask your mother.'
No. She’s lying. She was just trying to rile me up, to get me to say something.
But then the door opened, and her worst nightmare came true.
The world seemed to fall away beneath her. Kimiko was falling. She was spinning. Surely she would hit the ground and die. Surely this terrible moment couldn’t continue happening. It was too much. The universe couldn’t possibly continue to exist in a state that was so completely wrong.
But it did, and despite herself, she couldn’t help but look into the eyes of the woman that stepped into her cell. The eyes of Azumi Mori.
The eyes of her mother.
And when she found those eyes alive and sparkling with vivid thought, she didn’t know what to think anymore. For a moment, the world seemed frozen, and she was frozen within it. For just a moment, she was too overwhelmed to feel anything at all. She watched dumbfounded as her mother stepped into the room and kneeled before the Empress. Something in Kimiko closed itself off. This wasn’t real. This was a trick. Mother wouldn’t betray the resistance like that. Not by her own will. Not without losing her memories to the black toxin.
“Mistress,” said the woman that sounded and looked like her mother but couldn’t possibly be. Kimiko’s thoughts were spinning wheels without any grip. None of this made sense. What…?
“Thrall Azumi,” the Empress said. They had even stolen her mother’s name.
“Do you want me leashed, or can I go ahead and talk to her?” her mother asked. The Empress smiled and nodded, and the woman stood back up, and turned toward Kimiko with a smile. She looked so much like her. But it couldn’t be. But then, the woman smiled softly and said just two words that sent Kimiko's mind tumbling:
Kimiko whimpered. It was her. No one else knew to call her that. Kimiko opened her mouth to speak, but nothing else came out. Her mother raised one hand in a gesture that was meant to calm down.
“I know, I know,” her Mother said. “Let me explain.”
“I–” Kimiko began, but mother shushed her.
“Don’t,” she said with a mild smile, and looked over her shoulder at the naked thrall. “Thrall Nami’s only going to yell at you if you talk.”
She looked at her daughter, and Kimiko looked back at her with wide-open eyes as she tried to understand what was going on. It was still her. Azumi Mori. Her Mother. It had to be. She was awake, lucid, thinking! Kimiko must have missed something. Some secret plan of her mother. Some trickery. Some–
“Don’t get your hopes up, squirrel,” her mother said. “I’m just as much of a thrall as your former lover Nami over there, despite appearances. Your mother is gone. She drank the toxin and became the Empress’s willing servant.”
She drew her hands down the front of her chest, softly moaning.
“She uses me all the time, and I’m more than happy to give myself to her. It turns me on so fucking much.”
Something inside Kimiko died, then. In that moment, she felt herself give up, and a terrible, black acceptance washed over her. The part of her that wanted to cry and scream lay shattered and broken. And even though her heart was still beating in her chest, screaming at her to run and fight, there was only a leaden calmness in her mind, a dry feeling in her throat, and a heavy weight in her stomach. She knew this would end soon, and at this point she was beyond fighting. Just let it happen.
But before it happened, she wanted just one more thing. She wanted to understand. She wouldn't go before she understood what they had done to her mother. She couldn’t end without knowing what had happened. She looked up into the bright eyes of the woman that had just told her that she was no longer her mother, and the woman seemed to understand her.
“Mistress has a special poison for very important people she wants to control. People like me. A rare mixture. Blacker than black. Potent enough to eat through the defenses of the victim’s will before the rest of the personality is gone. It leaves the person mostly intact. Not an empty vessel to be filled like thrall Nami here. Just a small void at the very core, where the self lives. The thing in us that wants and desires and hopes and dreams. Only that part is killed. And Mistress can replace it with whatever she wants. And she did. She made me want it. Really want it.”
Kimiko opened her mouth, but stopped herself. She couldn't bear to hear Nami scream again.
The woman turned to her Mistress. “Would you let her speak, Mistress?” she asked, and the Empress nodded.
Kimiko swallowed. She could feel her heart beating painfully against her ribs. “So that’s what you’re going to do to me? Turn me into an eager servant? Make me a loyal follower of that Empress Bitch over there?” she asked.
Her mother narrowed her eyes, then laughed. “Oh no! No, no no! Oh, child. You thought I was here to rub it in your face what you would become? You thought I was here because Mistress wanted to dangle me in front of you?”
She shook her head. “No. I asked Mistress for all of this! This was my idea. I’m here because I want to be! She didn’t even really know who you were before I told her all about you and how pretty you are. Otherwise she would have just killed you. She already had the woman who knew the resistance’s plan, after all.”
Kimiko couldn’t speak. Something had caught in her throat. Her calmness was cracking.
Her mother leaned forward until her face was close to Kimiko’s. She smiled.
“This is my reward for betraying the Resistance,” her Mother said. “I get to watch while we erase you.”
“Mother, please don’t do–”
“Quiet, whore!” her mother shouted, and slapped her across the face. The pain blindsided her completely, and for a moment she was disoriented. Her head was bouncing, and then suddenly it wasn’t. Someone had grabbed it. She opened her eyes and she saw both thralls above her. Nami was holding the sides of her head with both hands, and her mother was suddenly holding a small flask of purplish black liquid.
Her calmness was gone. The universe was red-hot with panic. No! No! No! This can’t be happening! This can’t be!!!
She tried to twist free, and for a moment she succeeded. But she had nowhere to go, and Nami quickly grabbed her again and pushed her down against the pillow. She swung herself up on the bed and straddled Kimiko, kneeling across her abdomen as she clamped down on her temples as Kimiko struggled to break free once more.
Another arm reached across her and pinched her nose shut, and she felt the cold glass press against her lips. She pressed them shut, but already she was struggling for air. She had to break free. She had to breathe in! This wasn’t happening. This couldn’t be real. Her lungs were burning, throbbing. She had no air. She had no air!
She opened her mouth, and immediately the dark liquid filled it, and a flat hand closed shut across her lips as she was coughing and choking, and she tried to spit it out, but reflex overcame her and she swallowed it down as she gasped for air.
The hand came off and she drew in the life-giving breath – but the relief lasted only a second until she realized that she was going to die now. She had swallowed the toxin. Her mouth and her throat burned with acrid sweetness, like scalding hot overripe fruit, and she felt her skin quickly turning raw and tender where it ran down her chin.
She could already feel the painful burning spreading in her head. Oh God, no. This can't be happening! This can't be it!
She looked up at the faces of the two women she’d loved the most in her life.
“Mama,” she whimpered, and there was no fight left in her voice. She was scared and confused and wanted this to stop. She wanted this not to be happening. She wanted the pain to go away. She wanted to go home. She wanted her mama.
“Please,” she said, tears streaming down her face. “I don’t want to die.”
“Oh, squirrel, no,” her mother said. “This is so much better than just killing you.”
Kimiko sobbed, and closed her eyes. They were so heavy. It hurt so much. The throbbing in her head was overwhelming now, and already her thoughts seemed to be… so much pain… so much… drifting. Her thoughts were drifting. She was… she was… so much of it. Oh God. The taste… so rancid and sweet and overwhelming… so biting and irritating and her thoughts…. her thoughts, they were… they were… Oh God, it was erasing her. She could feel it. Please, God, no! She... she... was falling… tumbling… slipping. Mama… mama had done this… she had betrayed her. She had… it was so sad… it was so sweet and acrid and she was so sad… she wanted to… she wanted to… so sweet… so much pain… she wanted to go home. Please, let this stop. Please just… she wanted to… her thoughts were… she wanted to… so sweet… she wanted… mother… sweet… drifting… falling… slipping… falling… no, please… sweet… please… slipping… please… no… no… mother… falling… drifting…
“Listen,” a voice said. The Empress! No! She the Empress was going to… she was going to… she… who? Someone had spoken… someone… what? Kimiko couldn’t… she couldn’t…
“Listen,” someone said. What? Who? She… so sweet… so… falling… she didn’t…
“Listen.” No… she--
“Yes,” she said, and for a moment she noticed how slurred her own words sounded before… before… she--
“Yes,” she said. She was listening now… she… she’d been doing something else… there had been something else… some thoughts... something important... but she… she didn’t--
“Yes. Listen.” She was listening. Sweet. Acrid. Listening. Sweet. Listening. She was listening. She was listening. Listening. Listening.
“Good,” she repeated… sweet… slipping… good. Bad? Had it been bad? Something had been bad… had been… sweet… it had been… sweet… good… good…
“The toxin will erase you.”
“Noooo,” she groaned as something bad inside her came back and she suddenly realized that… she realized that… she… she realized that… what had she been thinking? She was… slipping… falling… sweet… good… good… listen. Listen. Listen.
“The toxin will erase you. Repeat after me”
“The…” the toxin… bad… No. She didn’t want to…. She… she didn’t… the toxin… sweet… sweet…
“The toxin will erase you. Repeat.”
“The toxin… will…” Please no. Please not the… sweet… sweet… slipping… falling… good… erase… toxin…
“The toxin will erase you.”
“The toxin will… erase me…” sweet… sweet… something felt still wrong…. Something was… something had been… slipping… falling. Gone… erased… gone… erased… sweet…
“You will not resist.”
“I…” she had been… she had been… resisting…? She had been… she had been... slipping… falling… Sweet. Good. Toxin.
“You will not resist.”
“Not resist…” Falling… slipping… why would she… where was… sweet… there had been some… sweet… sweet… erased… gone… good… erased… not resist… will not resist…
“You will not resist.”
“I will not resist…” Easy. Good… something had been… had been... but… but not… not anymore… gone… erased… good… she hadn’t resisted… she hadn’t… sweet…
“You will obey.”
“I will…” sweet… erased… gone… good… obey… will obey… erased… obey…
“You will obey.”
“I will obey.” Obey… sweet… good… She would obey. She would obey. Obey. Obey. Obey.
“You are a thrall.”
“Thrall…” thrall… thrall… obey. She… she would obey. She would… obey. Thrall… she knew… knew what that was. Thrall… erased… falling… good… thrall… obey… thrall…
“You are a thrall.”
“I am…” thrall… she knew… she remembered… she… she… so little… but this… she… knew… she knew this… obey… thrall… she was a thrall… she… obey… she… she obeyed…
“You are a thrall”
“I am a thrall.”
Thrall knew this… she… she knew that she was… she was… a thrall. She was a thrall. She obeyed. Thrall obeyed. She… she… sweet… so sweet… so good… sweet toxin, erasing her… she was a thrall… she could taste it… she could feel it. The toxin. Feel it erasing her. Feel it eat away at… feel how it… how it… sweet… good… thrall… obey…
“You only exist to serve.”
“I only exist to serve,” thrall said. She was…thrall… she was… she was a thrall. She would obey. Only obey. She only existed to… to… to… obey. To serve. She was a thrall. Had there…? had there been… something… something else? Resist... fight... no... obey. Thrall. Slipping… falling… erased… erased. Gone. Good. Obey. Listen. Obey. Thrall. Toxin erasing. Sweet. Good.
“You only obey.”
“I only obey.” Yes. Only obey. Thralls only obeyed. She... remembered. She... she was a thrall. She obeyed. She… she… sweet… good… obedience. Sweet… good… sweet… she… she only existed to serve. She was a thrall. She only obeyed. It was so easy now. Listen and repeat and obey. Good. Only a thrall. Only obey.
“Obedience is pleasure. Obedience is happiness.”
“Obedience is pleasure. Obedience is happiness.” Obey. Yes. Thrall obeyed. Good. She was happy to obey. Wanted to obey. Obedience was pleasure. Sweet pleasure. Sweet… sweet… good. Thrall. Obedient. Happy. Good.
“Obedience is sex.”
“Obedience is sex.” Yes. Hot. Wet. Sweet. Thrall obeyed. Obedience was pleasure. Hot, wet pleasure. Sex. Sweet sex. Good sex. Good and obedient and happy. She was a good, wet thrall.
“Obedience is life.”
“Obedience is life.” Yes. Only obedience. Thrall would obey.
“You are my property.”
“I am your property,” she said. She was happy. She was property. But… whose… whose was…?
Thrall opened her eyes and saw her. Empress Usagi! Thrall recognized her from… from… somewhere… erased… erased by toxin. Yes. Erased. Sweet. Good. The Empress. Thrall. She was… thrall… she… was her property… her thrall. So good. So wet. So hot. So happy.
“You have no will.”
“I have no will,” thrall said. Thrall only lived to obey. Thrall was property. Sweet. Good. Erased. Happy. Property. Obey like property. Obey with no will. Thrall obeyed. Thrall had no will. Thrall was happy. Happy. Good. Hot. Wet.
“You have no thoughts of your own.”
“I have no thoughts of my own,” thrall repeated. No thoughts. No will. Only obedience. Only obedience. Only obedience. Only–
“I am your Mistress. You serve me and only me.”
“You are my Mistress. I serve you and only you,” thrall said. Thrall thought Mistress thoughts. Thrall obeyed. Thrall only obeyed. She was erased. Gone. No more sweetness. All gone. All inside her now. Only obedience. In her mind. Between her legs. Warm. Wet. Happy obedience. Good. Thrall.
“What are you?”
“I am a thrall, Mistress,” thrall said. Thrall was wet between her legs. She was obedient.
“Good,” Mistress said with a smile. A sadistic smile. Thrall recognized it, but didn’t think about what it meant. Thrall had no thoughts of her own. Thrall was obedient. Thrall would serve. Thrall was happy.
Yes. Good. Erased. Thrall. Obedient.
“I will give you a name”, Mistress said, and it was clear that thrall did not need to repeat after her. Thrall listened, ready to obey. “But your name means nothing. It is simply a way to tell you apart from other thralls. You are thrall Kimiko.”
Thrall Kimiko accepted the name without comment. No affirmation was needed. The name was meaningless, functional. Something to listen for. Something to answer to. Something to obey with.
Thrall Kimiko obeyed.
The Empress’s private chambers were a large room, paneled floor to ceiling with magnificent patterns of dark woods. Intricately carved pillars divided the space, and translucent silken drapes adorned them, some stretching in between them and some hanging from the high ceiling like a colorful canopy. Rows and rows of paper lanterns shone from above, wrapping the space in a soft, even light.
In the very center of the room stood a large four-post bed, and in front of that bed stood the Empress herself, surrounded by three of her thralls. Thrall Nami, thrall Azumi, and thrall Kimiko.
The Empress looked at the fresh thrall’s naked body, and commanded her to turn around. The thrall obeyed immediately. The Empress inspected the body of her newest servant. Some light bruises still blemished her skin from when she’d fallen during the attack. Otherwise, she was flawless. Good, firm breasts; a wonderfully pretty and youthful face, without being too doll-like; smooth, full pussy lips, moistened by mindless obedience. Above her slit, a fresh tattoo: 'Thrall Kimiko'
The thrall stood motionlessly as it was being inspected, eyes looking straight ahead. It waited for a command.
“Turn back to me,” the Empress said and thrall Kimiko obeyed. The Empress smiled, and the faintest echo of satisfaction showed in the thrall’s face before her expression returned to blank nothingness.
“Very good material indeed,” the Empress said to thrall Azumi. “Once the bruises heal, she will be one of my most presentable servants.”
Thrall Azumi straightened, a wide smile on her face. She nodded.
“It was my pleasure to serve, Empress. My only regret is that I don’t have more material to offer. Thank you for allowing me all of this.”
She went to her knees.
“I know I am not worthy of your grace, Mistress – but Please allow me to service you.”
Her eyes were wide with need and subservience, but it didn’t move the Empress, who merely sneered at her.
“How presumptuous of you, thrall. What makes you think that I desire your affection? If I wanted you between my legs, I would command you to.”
Thrall Azumi bowed her head.
“I’m sorry, Mistress! I’m sorry!”
The Empress nodded.
“Of course you are. If anything, you are too eager to serve, and I would be a cruel Mistress to punish you for this. I am not cruel, but generous: You may find your own pleasure as I use the thrall you have so eagerly betrayed into my service.”
“Thank you, Mistress!” thrall Azumi gasped, and immediately began undressing. The Empress meanwhile turned to thrall Kimiko, who hadn’t moved. The young thrall was still staring straight ahead, her empty eyes fixed on her Mistress, waiting for a command.
The Empress smiled. She turned her head to the third thrall.
“Thrall Nami, disrobe me. Thrall Kimiko, watch carefully.”
Thrall Nami obeyed, and carefully removed the layers of elegant cloth that were draped around the Empress’s body. They fell to the floor in soft ribbons until the Empress stood naked in a bed of silk. Thrall Nami’s arms fell to her sides, and she stopped moving. Her task was complete.
Thrall Kimiko straightened. She had obeyed, too. Her muscles were tense with readiness, but her expression had not changed.
“Do you know who these two thralls used to be?”
“Yes, Mistress. Azumi Mori and Nami Goto. Members of the Resistance. Your former enemies.” That was all it knew.
A curt moan cut the air. It had been thrall Azumi. She was on her knees again. She had started masturbating.
The Empress looked at thrall Azumi for a brief moment. Then she stepped out of her robes and sat down on the bed with her ass on the corner of the mattress. She spread her legs.
“Yes, Mistress,” the mindless thrall said, ready to obey.
“Do you remember how to eat pussy?”
“Yes mistress,” the thrall affirmed, and the tiniest smile went across her lips when the remnants of her cauterized mind realized that they possessed knowledge and skills which made her a more useful thrall. She was happy to serve and to obey. Obedience was pleasure. Obedience was sex. Obedience was life.
“Good, thrall Kimiko,” said the Empress. “Because that’s what you exist for. You’re my pussy licker. You’re my fuck thrall. Kneel over here.”
“Yes, Mistress!” The fuck thrall obeyed and knelt between her Mistress’s spread legs. She smelled her sex. Even in her thoughtless mind she realized what Mistress was about to command her to do. Some small part of her even felt proud for figuring it out beforehand. The thought quickly lost itself. She was only obedient again. She was only eager and hot and wet, waiting for a command. Happy erased fuck thrall. She obeyed. Only obeyed.
“Yes!!! Fuck her!!! Obey her!!!” a small moaning voice came from across the room, and fuck thrall Kimiko recognized it as the voice of thrall Azumi who was currently fucking herself on the hardwood floor of Mistress’s bed chambers. Azumi was nothing but another thrall. Another thrall that was currently obeying, even if not it in same way as fuck thrall Kimiko was. Not… like…
The fuck thrall lost the thought. The other thrall didn’t matter. She had to obey.
Obey. Listen. Serve. Good. Wet. Hot.
She fixed her eyes harder on her Mistress. Mistress had been distracted by the other thrall’s moans as well, but she hadn’t done anything to stop thrall Azumi. Thrall Azumi must be obeying. Always obey. Obey. Serve. Hot. Wet. Good. Happy.
Mistress’s gaze returned to fuck thrall Kimiko. The thrall tensed. Obey. Serve.
“You heard her, fuck thrall Kimiko. Fuck me. Obey me.”
Yes. Obey. Serve. Good. Wet. Hot.
Fuck thrall Kimiko pushed her tongue between her Mistress’s folds and did the only thing she existed for.