It’s No Game

Ⅲ.3: Seul-ki’s Wisdom

by Queen Fiona

Tags: #D/s #dom:female #f/f #hypnosis #pov:top #sub:female #gamemechanics #multiple_partners #mystery #romantic #second_person #worldbuilding
See spoiler tags : #bad_thoughts #corruption #cuties #cyberpunk #minced_swears #superhero #yurification

“…but what is the objective of psychology?” Ms. Yi asks in the afternoon, in the latest of her lectures here at the Verwest Adventist Academy. Now that there wasn’t the dread of a holiday occupied by classwork hovering overhead, the class is enraptured by her words – even if they were outside the curriculum, strictly speaking. It’d be an ordinary day, if not for what happened on Friday still lingering on the touch of your lips…”Is it to understand human behaviour? Is it to care for the emotional wellbeing of humanity? Is it to hide those people from our sight that we cannot stand to see? Or is it to control people, societies, impose the will of the strong upon the weak?”

Ms. Yi pauses, as she likes to during these lectures, and the class mutters to themselves. Many hadn’t considered the question as much as you might have hoped. Of course, to you it’s just an extension of what she’s been talking about since class started back in January. In relation to memetics, Ms. Yi’s words hold a further question; how does one influence human behaviour, and how can such a thing be considered ethical?

Out of curiosity, you look behind at Stella, who no doubt has similar questions on her mind – but when she notices your gaze, she averts hers once more, even as you see the faintest hint of color in her cheeks.

…yeah, things are still pretty awkward, huh.

“Stella,” Ms. Yi says, her pointer flicking smoothly toward Stella. “What is your opinion on the subject?”

“M-mm. Psychology is the journey to understand humans, ultimately,” says Stella. “All those other functions, good or ill, are just a side effect. This class is about the study of psychology as an academic discipline, primarily, is it not? Things like therapy hold only a secondary role.”

“Hm…I see.” Ms. Yi nods, and then her pointer turns its attention to you. “Then, Cibele. What is your opinion?”

…aw, jeez, again? Well, you are apparently her ‘favorite’…whatever that means.

“It’s a complicated question, but I’d say at the root of it, it’s always been to understand human behaviour first. Right?” you say, thinking of your prior studies – not simply this past week’s, but Ms. Yi’s general reading list and her prior lectures. “Like Stella said. If nothing else, you can’t hope to help or manipulate a person if you have no idea how they’ll respond. It’s quite possible to figure such things out by instinct, or by informal deduction; the field of marketing began with primitive psychological frameworks, for instance. But gaining a deeper understanding of what the human mind is, wants, and does must come first, right?”

You really like Ms. Yi’s class, because you get a chance to express yourself a lot better than you’ve ever been able to. Of all the teachers you’ve had, she’s the only one who makes you feel your knowledge and understanding is valuable, rather than a nuisance.

“Hm…interesting, interesting,” says Ms. Yi. “All other functions at their core must start from understanding, it’s true. Before you can treat people – or manipulate them – you must understand how to do so. Of course, the truth is, all of these goals have been the underpinning of psychological research and theory for at least some part of the field’s history. And indeed, like you both say, these other functions extend from the core of ‘understanding humans’. For what is science – and a social science is still a science, so put your hands down if that’s all you want to dispute – if not the journey to understand existence, and thus ourselves?

“After all, psychology has a long history of helping humans. It is a medical field, as well, albeit with no small amount of bias from its practitioner’s era.” Ms. Yi chuckles. “At one time, homosexuality was considered a mental disorder. Accusations of ‘hysteria’ have been used to silence women, and abuse their bodies and minds. Race, gender, sexuality…was this conscious harm, or simply the reaction of the era’s consensus?

“Even if we discount deliberate harm, Sigmund Freud’s own biases are legendary – his idea about the Oedipus complex, and all those sexual concepts that seem laughable today. At the very least, if it’s something honest, we can consider it just one step in the process of understanding. And even that limited understanding, for all its flaws, for all the flaws it has today…it can do so much to help people.

“But, it can also harm. It can be used to enforce societal cohesion, at the expense of the individual. And the psychologist, like any medical professional, wields great power to harm their patients. Today, clinical psychology is understood as a way of helping every individual achieve their own desired happiness, in guidance rather than an authority and their obedient subject.” Ugh. Not the best wording, Ms. Yi…

(Though, is it just you, or did she meet your eyes with a dark-lipped smile when she said that…?)

“But it was not always thus.”

Ms. Yi presses a button on her pointer, and the smartboard, filled with prior notes on the subject, flips to a black and white image from long before you were even born. Two doctors in surgical scrubs examine an x-ray of a human skull, perhaps in preparation for brain surgery – oh, oh no, is that –

“Much of the early boom of psychology and psychiatry – of Meiji, of Showa, even into Heisei to an extent – was based more upon making patients easier to manage and less ‘disruptive’. Have you heard of the ‘lobotomy’? It’s a surgical technique that has long since been left in the dustbin of history, alongside trepanning and bloodletting; first developed during the early Showa era, by Showa 26, twenty thousand lobotomies had been performed in the United States alone. Most victims were women; in some cases, three women underwent the procedure for every man.

“The entire concept of the lobotomy – which, to be clear, is the severing of nerves to, or even outright physical removal of, significant portions of the brain – was, largely by the admission of those who engaged in it, to create patients that were easier to control, less of a burden on those around them.” Ugh. You want to throw up…”Naturally, that’s a drastic example, but such paternalistic concepts persisted in psychological and psychiatric care well past the period where lobotomies were popular – that making a patient seem superficially ‘better’ was the main goal. Vulnerable populations, like children and war veterans, were the worst victims of this.

“And in some particular fields, in some parts of the world, this persists to this very day.”

(…you shudder sympathetically, in memory of Korri, and what happened to her in the Duchy of Cornwall, on the other side of the world.)

“And this dovetails nicely with the final concept – control.” Ms. Yi extends her pointer toward the class. “How many of you have heard of MKUltra?”

The class murmurs a moment, and several hands go up, including yours and Stella’s. Well, you’ve heard of it, but not in detail…

The next slide comes to the fore – a heavily redacted document from June of 1953 CE (or Showa 28, if you’ve got your conversions right), relating to the study of the administration of LSD. “MKUltra was a program begun in the post-war Showa era, during what would come to be known as the First Cold War. It was developed by the Central Intelligence Agency – or ‘la Cia’, as you may know it these days – at the height of anti-Communist paranoia in the former United States.” Ms. Yi brings up more pictures, of various heavily redacted documents. “Most of the relevant records were destroyed or hidden in some manner after the political scandal known as ‘Watergate’, but more than enough information remains to definitively state that MKUltra’s goal was not prevention of Communist brainwashing, as some have claimed – but indeed control of society.

“Of course, control has many meanings. Some say the methods were intended for ‘enhanced interrogation’ – ie, torture. Others say the program was to resist torture, or to disrupt Communist societies and agents. Or perhaps it was to perform agitprop on American and world society, as la Cia had performed many times before. Under COINTELPRO domestically and through funding of groups like the Contras in South America, it was all considered imperative to contain Communist influence and ensure American hegemony…no matter the cost to ‘freedom’.

“But looking at the goals misses the forest for the trees.” The next slide is another black-and-white photo; this one is of a caucasian man, perhaps in his sixties, with thick-rimmed glasses and a dispassionate look in his eyes; presumably, he was involved with MKUltra. “This is Donald Ewen Cameron, a Scottish psychiatrist working in Quebec, at the time part of the Dominion of Canada. Under funding from the CIA, he performed experiments on his patients against their will, under his warped understanding of the intended goals of psychology…though, it must be said, more than in keeping with the practice at the time.

“Cameron believed mental illness was a literal contagion – that it could infect others, like a virus. It’s outwardly similar to the modern science of meme theory, but substantially more literal in application.” Ms. Yi bends her pointer, looking pensive. “Cameron believed that the weak would ‘infect’ those around them with their mental deficiencies, and had to be cordoned off from society and controlled by the strong…ironically, to prevent another disaster like the Holocaust, which he believed to be a result of the German people’s inherent psychological sickness.

“From the perspective of modern meme theory, this has a simple explanation to those of us here in the Reiwa era: ‘victim blaming’.

“As such, our understanding of the Collapse suggests much the opposite, that the failure was not in the people, but their leaders. But by Cameron’s logic, obviously, there is no recourse but the total control of the human will, at every level of society.”

The class…everyone looks rather disturbed. You can’t blame them.

Suddenly your own powers don’t seem so bad.

“Even though the full details of MKUltra weren’t known and likely never will be known, the actions of Cameron, and others under its aegis performing experiments designed to control, pacify, and denigrate their subjects…forgive me, a moment, if I might delve into Showa era history. My apologies if this is unknown to you, but imagine a world where the Watergate scandal of Old America never happened, where such experiments continued, where those like Cameron were given money and research grants and allowed to control the zeitgeist. No grand reckoning, no long looks at the sins of the field’s history, no paradigm shifts. Can you imagine what ‘psychology’ would mean in such a world? What evils those in it would resort to, to ‘cure’ mental illness through absolute control of their will? Maybe the Collapse never would have happened, but at what cost? If dissent was crushed in such a manner, would we have simply ignored the warnings about the climate in favor of our blind optimism, and drowned our coasts even faster than we have today?

“If you ask me, such a vision is pathetic in its myopia. Few individuals could be entrusted to such a task as ‘ruling the world’. Perhaps, no human ever could. And yet, in their arrogance, they claimed they knew better – even as they persisted in the same crimes they, supposedly, sought to prevent.”

Ms. Yi lets the class digest this in her silence. Little more needs to be said – and no one wants to answer such a call.

Chocolate fudge, what a terrifying world you live in…and even more terrifying?

It could always be worse.

“Cibele.” The pointer glides so smoothly, you almost miss it – and Seul-ki’s mysterious blue eyes, her heart-melting smile, is pointed entirely toward you.

“E-eh? Me again?!” Everyone’s staring now! I-it’s embarassing!

“Of course! Forgive me for my favoritism, but you’re quite far ahead of the class.” A-ah, no, Stella’s gonna get all jealous! “What would you say the main fault in this line of reasoning is, for society?”

“Um…oh, if it’s that?” You nod, trying to focus. Enhanced Intelligence, you hope, should help…”I would say it’s paternalism, isn’t it? Under this line of thought, society’s leaders and rulers are the ‘father’, and society itself the ‘child’. Under such a theory, the child is always at fault for straying from the will of the father, and any conflicts toward the father are a sign of misguided and misinformed thinking. Something to be corrected, with no concern for whether the child’s will has any justification at all.” (You can feel Stella’s eyes behind you, somehow, aah, it’s too much attention!) “To be sure, sometimes people are just wrong. Do we justify someone’s racism or homophobia? Even then, of course, such things are often a reflection of memetics or real grievances with misplaced causes, but I do understand that there’s a need for a strong hand.

“But to entirely fail to treat society as anything but a child who needs to learn to do what it’s told, to fail to understand it, let alone know when society is telling you you’re doing something wrong…that’s where the paternalism lies. An ideal society, then, can only be built on mutual understanding – even if we might lack a perfect language with which to convey our thoughts.”

…was that good enough, you wonder? Would it satisfy Yi Seul-ki, the woman you’ve come to want so badly to approve of you?

“Mmm…very good, Cibele.” (If you didn’t know any better, you’d almost think Seul-ki sounded…seductive.) “I think this deserves a round of applause, don’t you?”

A-ah, wait, wait–!

O-oh…oh, there’s clapping! Kinda quiet and understated, but the way glances are going your way, you can’t help but feel a little happy…

(even if you know Stella’s not clapping herself.)

All that done, Ms. Yi wipes the smartboard, and you’re left glowing in praise and attention as she finishes up. “Now, with this in mind, class, I would like you to do some research on famous ethical failures of psychological research and practice. This will be an essay…”

After class, Stella doesn’t wait to come to your desk, right in front. She doesn’t even seem to be waiting for anyone to leave, huh? Is she…? “…Cibele.”

“Stella…” You can’t quite bring yourself to just smile, like this. Such an emotion as your telepathy can see in Stella, turbulent and confused…

Blonde and beautiful, you can just feel how she’s swallowing her pride. “…your grades in other classes are struggling, yes?” O-oh, could she be…?

“A little,” you admit, a bit sheepish. You doubt your enhanced Intelligence is going to do much to improve them until your final exams for the semester, and studying wouldn’t be so bad…

Though you’d be studying Stella way more than you would any of your subjects.

Stella clears her throat, trying to ignore the stares. Well, this whole situation is unusual, isn’t it? “I want to improve my grades in Psychology. You need to improve your grades in other classes.” Stella tries to look stern, like she did before now, but her heart isn’t in it.

Try as she might to cling to old patterns, Stella Maris knows nothing is the same anymore.

“So you want my help?” you ask.

“Yes! Er. I mean. It would be beneficial for us.” Stella’s eyes shift for a moment, before they get caught back on you, and linger. You can hear her thoughts, feel the powerful turbulence within her, and that faint tinge of desire you both feel so guilty for and desperately want to enjoy.

Everyone is looking at Cibele differently…well, not Ms. Yi, but everyone else. Even the Empress and her floozies are talking about her. It’s like she suddenly got much prettier and cuter and more charming overnight…or, or is it just…is it me? Is it me who’s seeing a difference?

Huh…it’s not a huge thing, but Stella’s noticed something’s up! It’s to be expected; she sees you every day, she has to put up with you in Psychology, it’s only natural she’d notice the difference. Superpowers are enough of an outside context problem that she won’t blame them unless you do something really stupid, but because she’s a bright girl herself, she’s considering the matter even through the filter of her newfound attraction to you; unless you pull something really obvious that you’d never otherwise be capable of in a million years, there’s no way she’ll figure out you’ve got horrible brainwashing powers!

(…hey, maybe you really are getting smarter?)

“…Cibele.” Stella gets all indignant – ah, it’s kinda cute the way her nose wrinkles, but you can’t just space out in the middle of a conversation!

“Ah, sorry, was just thinking about a thing,” you offer as a (lame) excuse. “Do you wanna do it tonight, or later?”

“I’m spoken for, for most of this week. Sometime by Friday, though, for sure. We can…” Her eyes shift away again. “We can negotiate the location.” Yeah, she might not wanna go back to your place – and with the whole family home, you might not either. “You still have my mobile. And…” Stella – beautiful, gorgeous, talented Stella Maris, now pining(?) for you – sighs, and bites back her reflexive taunt, lump in her throat. “See you later, Cibele.”

“Yeah, see you,” you say, waving and staring as Stella passes by, wondering – just what will your relationship be now? Just what could it be? Could you grasp her in your own two hands, and should you –


Is someone clapping?

A quick glance around the room shows there’s absolutely no one left…except Ms. Yi.

Right there, behind her desk, Ms. Yi is slowly clapping for you. A rather broad grin on her face, mysterious blue eyes shining upon you through her glasses with a gaze you’re not sure you’ve ever seen before. “Mm, very good, Cibele. I had hope Stella’s attitude toward you would improve, but you…you’re more than I dared hope for.”

…what a strange way of putting it.

You walk up to the desk, suddenly very nervous. This worrying sensation crawls up the back of your head, as you get a close and personal look at Ms. Yi; today, she’s been wearing a corset, over a loose blouse that, open like this, practically invites you to look down her cleavage. (That can’t be on purpose. Right?) Her lips are a dark violet color, and just so rich and full…and today, she’s got big hoop earrings, too.

(Her fingernails? Still the same, even as she plays with that pointer like a metronome.)

(Tick. Tick. Tick.)

“Well, if you wanna know how things went, you have my and Stella’s videos, so…” You try and play it off, you try and play it cool. There’s no sense in thinking something’s happening here when it’s not.

“Yes, I do, Cibele…and I already watched them.”

“R-really?!” The marks haven’t even come in yet! D-did she…

“I’m quite interested in your development. You’re quite talented, Cibele, in so many different ways…even if you don’t realize it.” Her eyes, her gaze, the smoothness, silkiness, invitingness of her mindscape…t-they’re all pointed at you. B-but, this is what you said, about how you probably shouldn’t look into a teacher’s mind – i-if you seem so much more attractive than before, isn’t it natural even Yi Seul-ki would notice?

S-still, you are kind of ‘talented’…but maybe, she’s thought that all along? It makes you kind of happy, but it also makes you wonder what kind of eyes she’s been looking at you with.

“What you did with Stella, Cibele, was a display far beyond anything the rest of the class could produce.” Her lips go wider. You want to kiss them…n-no, bad thoughts! “All that attention paid to my lectures paid off, didn’t it?” She chuckles, and her smile grows warmer, even as she speaks of what she saw. Even if she didn’t see that kiss, she’s taking a much bigger interest than you ever thought possible.

…it’s kind of creepy, but…but it’s Ms. Yi. You’ve never trusted an adult as much as her, except for family. She’s taught you so much already, and she’s been endlessly kind and supportive to you! Y-you can trust her, right?

“Did you do anything else while you were there?” Ms. Yi asks. “This is all off the record, of course.”

…when did it become so easy to be trapped in Ms. Yi’s presence? Not just her physical attractiveness, but just how she is, how she always is around you. Everything about her seems to draw you in.

Her eyes.

Her lips.

Her words.

The tap of her fingers on her pointer, like a metronome.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

O-okay, um. Focus, Cibby. You need, hard as it might be, to think rationally about this – j-just like Ms. Yi taught you! – a-and not be tempted by your crush on your teacher to do things you shouldn’t.

But…but if it’s like this…even you can tell something’s not right here. And your thoughts drift to Milia – to someone who seemed so challenged by Ms. Yi’s interest in you. Surely it’s innocent, surely it’s nothing bad, but maybe…maybe if you play along, you’ll find out? You’ve got enhanced Charisma, put it to use!

“Ah, well…” you mutter, playing up your shyness and embarrassment before your teacher – not that it’s hard. “I did ask my friend, um…Korri? Er, that is, Korrigan Trelawney.”

“Yes, I’m familiar.” Seul-ki nods – yeah, it stands to reason she knows about Korri, all the teachers do.

“Anyway, um! I asked Korri about the project, and she let me practice on her. Let me send you that video…” Slipping into your bag, you send the Korri video through the campus intranet in a few brief taps, and it pops right up onto Ms. Yi’s monitor. She skips through it, observing your technique with a deep interest. Her mind is so focused on it…

(just as you’re focused on her.)

“Yes…I see you’ve been doing quite a lot of this, haven’t you, Cibele?” You blush (genuinely) in response to your teacher’s praise. “Helping those around you is rewarding. Isn’t it?”

“Y-yeah, about that…” You look to the side, using your enhanced Charisma to play the role of the ingenue properly. “I, um…I kinda…it’s, sort of hard to say…”

“It’s alright, Cibele,” Ms. Yi says. “I’m here for you. You can tell me anything, you know. Anything at all.”

“I got kinda…” You swallow, feeling like the words are pulled out of you, just from her encouragement. “I…I got, um. T-turned on? A-and I feel so weird about it, because it’s like. Korri is my friend, and I want to be friends with Stella, and it felt like I was betraying them!”

…well, you did. Kind of. It’s more complicated than that, but…

“Betraying them?” Ms. Yi tips her head to the side, as her fingers continue to glide along her pointer. (Tick. Tick. Tick.) “Might I make a guess, at what happened?”

“I-if you want!” The nervousness has quickly stopped being an act. E-even with enhanced Charisma, you’re still a student in the ways of allure and presence that Seul-ki has surely mastered.

And the way the words escape from Yi Seul-ki’s shining, wet lips make it impossible to ignore.

“You have a fetish.”

A-ah…you go utterly, completely red.

You’ve been spending so much time trying as hard as possible to deny it, and yet, in a single motion, in four words, Ms. Yi pulls it from you. Just like that.

(…is it wrong, if you’re jealous?)

“It’s quite alright,” Ms. Yi whispers, leaning closer, giving you even more of a look down her shirt. Her “It’s natural to have such fetishes. Interests like that are nothing to be ashamed of. You don’t have to feel bad about it, Cibele.”

It’d be so easy, to accept her words. Even sink into them.

(…you almost want to know, how it’d feel, to be hypnotised by Ms. Yi.)

“If you say so, I guess…” you whisper, fidgeting. Finding it difficult to not simply be pulled in. Trying not to say too much. “I mean, maybe I’d like to do it with Stella, i-if she stops hating me, since she seems kinda interested? But I don’t know, I’m so nervous…” At least, you manage to keep your wits about you not to mention that you kissed; you need…you can’t just let yourself be pulled in. You need more information.

Ms. Yi’s hand – her cropped black nails – extend to your arm, brushing casually against you. Ah, her touch is warm…

“It’s alright, Cibele.” Her warm, welcoming smile…m-maybe you would do anything, if she asked, but she wouldn’t. (Right?) “Like I said, you can ask me about it if you wish! I would love to help you understand your feelings. And if I can help you and Stella get together…all the better.”

…huh, Ms. Yi is rooting for you? That’s…that’s a good thing, but it’s also very worrying, isn’t it? T-there’s no way she could’ve planned it, right? Even if you take a little peek in her mind –

Not that she’ll be able to resist forever.

– and you wonder, just what it is that makes Ms. Yi so confident, and why it is she has so much interest in you and Stella. (If only you had more Telepathy skills, maybe you could find out…or maybe you’d find something you never should have.)

“Ah…t-thanks, Ms. Yi!” You bow to your teacher, feeling the glow of her approval and praise, and wondering if – maybe, just maybe, you should be asking more questions.

“Please, Cibele…call me Seul-ki,” says Ms. Yi – or rather, Seul-ki. “It means ‘wisdom’.”

“Seul-ki…” You roll the name on your tongue a little. Seul-ki, Seulgi…the pronunciation is a little unfamiliar, but growing up in Verwest has given you plenty of chances to practice. “Seul-ki.”

“Exactly! You’re more than just another student to me, Cibele.” Seul-ki laughs. “You’re an adult, you know? Wake up! You don’t need to follow along like you’re a child anymore, following the world’s rules because they think they know better than you. You should be able to follow your dreams, express your feelings – and maybe, just maybe, treat me as an equal.” A-an equal, huh? You feel like you’ve got a long way to go before then! “In any case, I need to get back to my office. Na-ri – Ms. Seong, that is – is waiting for me, I’m sure.”

“Ms. Seong…” You had a few classes with her years ago, but now you can finally ask the question that’s been on your mind since starting this class, as Seul-ki packs up her bag and walks out, with the click of her heels on the floor. “If I might ask, Seul-ki, are you two dating?”

And it almost seems like she’s not going to answer as she heads out the door, before she pokes her head in one last time –

“Something like that~!”

– and then she disappears into the halls, leaving you all…dazed and confused.

Your teacher, Seul-ki, noticed you at last, almost like you’d been dreaming of…and after all this, you’re not sure how to feel about it.

Seul-ki is hot and nice and wonderful and all, but…but you get the sense you should stay on your toes. That whole conversation was weird, and raised more questions than answers. (You think it’s a good thing that you didn’t tell her about the kiss, let’s put it that way.) You almost want to just follow along with her rhythm (tick, tick, tick), and yet…you just can’t let yourself. You need to know more.

And maybe, just maybe, you think as you pack up and head out for this week’s Debate Club…

Milia de L’Impératrice will have some answers for you.

Telepathy Branches: Mentalism, Clairvoyance, Override

Mentalism allows you to read thoughts and emotions, and use that knowledge to subvert others.

The first step to manipulating others is understanding them. With this, you can do more and more to truly understand what your crushes want. And other humans, too! Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted? Perfect understanding among humanity…the first step to a golden age of cuties in your bed.

Clairvoyance allows you to use your senses more effectively, warning you of danger.

You want to be a heroine, right? This is the best way to do it. Admittedly, it doesn’t have much application in mind control, but sometimes the best offense is a good defense. You don’t want anyone stealing your girls, or get stolen away from them, right?

Override allows you to control the bodies and minds of others like that of a doll, and manipulate the physical world with thought alone.

Such beautiful dolls they are, dancing on strings…other humans posed, dancing, kneeling…they want it, so much. You can give it to them. Let them give their will entirely over to yours, so completely, and show such happiness at having you to guide them…

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