Tuesday, May 11th, Reiwa 42.
The greatest heroine the galaxy has ever seen has come back from the death, the result of four billion credits, two years of research, and one man’s stubborn ambition. In this room, Commander Shepard stands before that man, and she has only one thing on her mind before she even thinks of accepting a suicide mission…
“Where’s Garrus Vakarian?”
“The turian disappeared a few months after you were declared dead. Even we haven’t been able to locate him.”
“Where’s Liara T’Soni?”
You sigh, leaning against Korri’s side as she plays, with Marq on the other side of the couch messing with his phone as he munches on an éclair. And, sure, it’s a good game and all, but: “How can you play this, knowing how badly it’s going to end?”
“It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey!” says Korri. “Specifically, it’s about two thirds of the journey. One half, if you count Andromeda.”
“I don’t think anyone does that,” you mutter. It’s just another ordinary day for you, even as upstairs, you can hear your family’s preparations. Korri brought the food so you wouldn’t have to look at the preparations in the kitchen, which you always appreciate this time of year.
“Of course not.” Korri giggles. “Garrus isn’t in it, so what even is the point?”
“Garrus Vakarian, aka, ‘If I Had To Pick A Dude’?”
“Mmf. These éclairs are really good,” says Marq, a bit of white cream escaping the end of his long, turgid pastry. (Er, that’s not a euphemism, honest!) “Where’d you get them?”
“Uh…lemme see.” Korri checks the side of the bag. “The Chagall Cafe, looks like? There’s a few cafes in Le Mille’s mall, I get them mixed up a lot.”
“Isn’t that north of the river?” you ask. “It’s pretty far. What were you doing there?”
“Oh, I flew there! I landed on top of Le Mille, took the express elevator, grabbed these, flew back.” Korri laughs – she’s got a personal rotorcraft (or PRV – which Marq insistently pronounces ‘perv’), which she unfortunately doesn’t get to use as much as she likes. “Took a while, booking the flight plan was annoying, but I wanted some flight time anyway.”
“Mm. I’m gonna need something to drink for this.” Marq continues to scarf down his éclair – so quickly, you’d think he were you. “Gonna check up on dad in the kitchen. You two want anything?”
“Just water,” you say, with Korri nodding in agreement as your brother walks off. You take the opportunity to press your head into Korri’s shoulder, fluttering your eyes as you once more take advantage of the warmth of her hoodie.
“It’s kinda nice, though,” says Korri, as she adjusts herself into your side. “How Shepard is still so loyal to her friends, even after coming back from the dead.”
“Well, it’s good to have friends!” N-not that you have many friends! (Though, you seem to be making more these days, which is nice.) “I’d be like that too. ‘Where’s Korrigan Trelawney?’ ‘Where’s Calvina Aeterna?’ ‘Where’s Stella Maris?’”
And, just like that? Korri puts the controller down and looks at you with a big, bright, loving smile, stars in her eyes. S-she’s practically glowing! “Ah, does that mean stuff with Stella went well and you’re friends now?!”
…oh, fudge, you did say that, didn’t you! “Eheh…” You didn’t mean to give that away so easily; guess there’s no stat to stop your big mouth. “I mean, I don’t know if we’re friends exactly, yet, but…we’re getting along better? She wants to do study dates with me from now on, to get her grades up in Seul–” Er, no, explain that later! “uh, Ms. Yi‘s class.”
“So your project went well, too? I was a bit worried, but after you did it with me, I was sure it’d work out okay!”
“It did!” You try not to blush, thinking about that kiss. (And the guilt is already starting to falter…) “I think I really helped her, too.”
“You helped me, too,” says Korri. “I’ve been feeling a lot better about things since then. It’s nice to not have to worry all the time…” She wraps her arms around you and gives you a big ol’ hug. “Thanks, Cibby. It means a lot…”
“Yeah…you’re welcome,” you say, hugging her back. If only she knew; would she still accept it, knowing what you did?
“Maybe…maybe you wanna practice with me again?” Korri’s big, dark eyes flutter as they stare into yours. “My family won’t be around the next couple of days, so we can be at my place so yours doesn’t bug us.” Would be nice if that wasn’t still a risk, but there’s still a ton of people in and out, and you’re not the only one avoiding things this time of year. But that’s not even the main issue!
“W-well, I mean…I’ve got nothing tomorrow until programming class. I could totally come over then…” Sweet fudgey temptation…you just, you really want to do more with her beautiful mind, touch it more firmly, your telepathy brushing over her to feel her happiness…the warmth that pulses through eyes on the inside, all looking toward you…
“Alright! We’ll do it, then. Thanks, Cibby!” Korri picks the controller back up so she can give the game more attention again. “Anyway, how did things go with Stella? If you don’t mind telling me, I mean. We haven’t had a chance to talk about it much yet…”
You swallow. You could really use a sundae or something right now, because air conditioning or no, it’s too hot in here.
…well, there’s no harm in telling her a bit.
“I kinda…well, first she asked me about myself, and she got an answer she didn’t expect. She really didn’t trust me, you know? She assumed I must have some ulterior motive…” (Which you did, just not the one she thought and not for those reasons.) “So her hatred kind of melted a bit. One thing led to another, and…” The heat rises in your cheeks as you remember. “We, uh. We kissed.”
A-ah, no, of all the times for Marq to arrive! He’s got a big tray of drinks, partly hiding the shipgirl t-shirt (was it North Carolina? you can’t remember), as he plops it down on the coffee table and hops back on the couch.
“Y-yeah, I, uh. I kissed Stella.” You feel so hot, just thinking of it. Even now, you space out when you remember that kiss, or how it felt to have her vulnerable head in your hands, let alone to shape it with your Suggestion. I-it was nothing she didn’t want, right? “I-it just kind of happened! I think she had a weird image of me, but then she stopped having a weird image of me, and she thought I was cute, and she didn’t…”
Marq whistles, and grins in approval. “Things went way better than I thought, huh? Guess it’s like I always say, they can’t say no to you.”
“I thought you usually said ‘I’ can’t say no to Cibby, Mar-Mar!”
(…you think sometimes Korri has a crush on your brother, based on that occasional nickname. Well, he’s the only guy you’d accept dating her, but for some reason he’s not interested? And she’s never asked? Oh well.)
“Eh, Kerry,” says Marq, using his own occasional nickname, “it’s a different kind of ‘can’t say no’. A cute girl is different from a big brother, you know?” Marq shrugs, and picks up his mug. “Didn’t think tsunderes really existed, but weirder things have happened. Wouldn’t be the first time mortal enemies turned into lovers overnight.”
“W-we’re not lovers yet, or anything! I-it’s just a kiss, y’know? Stella has lots of girlfriends, she’s pretty free with her affections.” You don’t think Stella has any long-term relationships right now, but it’s not like she posts her entire life on social media like some people do. “I mean, I’m happy about it, but…”
“Stella seems like she’d make a good catch. Her SNS looks positive, she’s got a good head on her shoulders. If things go further, hey, I’m rooting for you.”
“Mar-Mar likes fancy dresses,” Korri stage-whispers next to you. A good chunk of Stella’s posts are of nice dresses, though a lot of them look more exposed than what she wears herself.
“Marqus!” you hear from the intercom – your dad Satre. “Sorry, we need your help again. Can we borrow you for a few?”
“Yeah, sure.” Marq shrugs, and disappears back up the stairs. (Lucky they don’t ask you anymore, huh? You try not to imagine what’s going on in the kitchen…)
“Anyway, that’s amazing, Cibby! Oh, I knew you were the cutest, even Stella couldn’t resist you for long…are you going to go out with her? I mean, do you think you have a shot?”
“I don’t know yet,” you admit. “She’s trying to play it cool, but those study dates…I might be in with a shot, I guess?”
“I hope so, Cibby! If nothing else, she shouldn’t be too mean to you anymore.” Korri nudges against you slightly as she shoots up the mechs on Freedom’s Progress. “What about the Debate Club? I’m still pretty worried.”
“It seems to be going alright? Milia’s really got some jealousy issues going on with me and Ms. Yi.” (Somehow, it feels wrong to not call her Seul-ki.) “I kinda maneuvered her into a lunch date with me, though! Y’know, to clear the air?”
…Korri immediately pauses the game, and gives you a flat look. “…really? A date? With Milia? The untouchable Empress Milia?”
“Really!” You grin – you admit you’re pretty proud of it, though you still got a bunch of dirty looks from her entourage at the Academy today. “I mean, it’s not really a date date, but…”
Korri just frowns at you. “I don’t know that it’s a good idea…”
“I’m sure it’ll be fine!” In fact, you know it will be! You just, uh, can’t tell Korri why. “I’m not afraid of her. She’s popular, but it’s not like this is an anime or anything. It’s not like she’s going to show up with a helicopter to harass me – er, I hope.”
“I hope you know what you’re doing, Cibby…you’re really doing a lot the past week or two, I don’t want you to get involved in anything dangerous.”
“I don’t think it’s as bad as that? There’s just a thing we need to talk about, that’s all. She’s Seul-ki’s favorite – apparently she’s on first-name terms with Ms. Yi.” (As are you now, huh?)
Korri raises an eyebrow. “Really? That sounds weird. Teachers don’t really do that kind of thing usually, do they? Even in sixth form, first-name basis is pretty uncommon…and I don’t think most of them play favorites like that, either.”
No they don’t.
Somehow, in all of this excitement, it just escaped you how weird Seul-ki was acting. You were so happy to be praised, and so honored to be given a bit of her trust – and don’t forget proud, of getting one over on someone like Milia, of having something she wanted and couldn’t have – that you ignored that this…
Your Adaptability has increased by 1!
this is totally weird!
M-maybe you should watch your back, huh? (Especially if your system is telling you that.)
“Mm. It’s okay, Cibby.” Korri pauses the game again, so she can drape you in a nice, comfortable, warm hoodie hug. Black eyes, messy hair, your beloved, precious Korri. “I trust you, you know? Just don’t forget what she’s capable of.”
A faint flicker of memory through Korri’s mind shows Milia’s bad side – the nasty, vengeful, smug Empress you’ve heard only whispers about. But, so too, can you feel the warmth inside Korri, and she makes you feel like you can do anything, anything at all!
(What would she think, if she knew you’d gained such a power to persuade others, and you gladly used it to shape Milia’s mind?)
(What would she think, if you showed her just what you can do?)
“I won’t! I promise I won’t. And…” You squeeze her even tighter. “I’ll protect you. Always. From anyone and everyone.”
Yes. Protect her.
Korri feels so safe in your arms. You can tell, now more than ever. And you, yourself, have never wanted to let her go. Only one person has proven worthy in your eyes of laying hands on your very best friend, and your brother – for whatever reason, I mean, look at her – has no interest in moving beyond friendship. Hell, you’re jealous enough of Garrus Vakarian, and he’s certainly something you’d consider boyfriend material for Korri if not for the whole ‘being fictional’ part.
Korri has been in a relationship before, back in Cornwall, on the other side of the world. At the start of high school, when you’d finally reunited? Plenty of people tried to push Korri into relationships she didn’t want, thinking she was ‘easy’ (or, to be fair, because they were as socially awkward as Korri was). And you protected her from them – to the point where some people made jokes about you being the final boss of the Trelawney Challenge. At first, under Korri’s explicit instruction and consent; then, later, under her tacit approval; now, because you’re so used to it that you can’t imagine not doing it, little as it needs to happen anymore.
(Every time you see her scars, though, you remind yourself – it was necessary.)
…you can’t claim it’s selfless. You know that. You’ve always kind of figured, well…Korri spends lots of time outside your watchful gaze, and if she ever fell in love, if she ever truly and genuinely fell in love, there’d be no force in the universe which could stop her from expressing that feeling. Silently hoping that the person she does fall for is good enough for you, looking for a true confession of love that keeps you from your own selfishness.
But until that day comes, you won’t let her go.
“I really enjoyed it, last time, Cibby,” whispers Korri. “Being hypnotised, I mean.
Ugh. S-she really does enjoy tempting you, huh? “Well, um. What is it you enjoy about having me hypnotise you?”
Korri’s head buries into your shoulder. “Ah, well…it’s nice feeling safe, and having a friend help me with my feelings!” And…
You can feel a warmth. A heat. Behind those ‘eyes’ that are Korri’s mind, through your telepathy.
Something within her burns, and yet, her emotions reflect nothing of it. To her, it’s like it isn’t even there – or not worthy of notice. It draws you in, like a moth to the flame.
Her mind is so beautiful. Within those ‘eyes’ are a million different reflections, and you wish you could dive in deeper, see more. You want to know Korri inside and out, and you can just feel your will, your soul, seeping out of you. Daring to grasp her. As if on some deep and fundamental level, you know she’s yours, and she knows she’s yours.
If only you could ask her: “Do you like…when I take control?”
…except you said that out loud!
Not only that, but you couldn’t resist it. Without even thinking, your Suggestion reached out, and grasped those eyes, squeezing them into place and position and shape, impressing a part of your will upon her, as though divine revelation…
(it feels so good. so right.)
H-how did this happen?!
You close off your telepathy, lest you see too much, but…Korri’s eyes went all glassy, and she opened her mind to you. Not even a hint of resistance, to your ‘hand’, your ‘touch’ crushing her brain in your palm, just a little bit. (For a moment, you swear you could’ve felt pleasure, but that can’t be right…)
“…I guess I kinda do, yeah…it’s nice not having to think too hard, or decide…”
She’s got the widest smile, and she doesn’t know why.
…it’s different from when it happened with Milia. With Milia, you could feel her nature fighting you. It was only thanks to some cracks in her defenses that you were able to do what you did – the need to find out more about Seul-ki’s new favorite.
Here, it…lines up with Korri’s nature.
She really doesn’t mind having someone thinking for her.
Maybe…maybe you just put words to her thoughts?
(or maybe you’re just trying to make excuses, for being willing to violate her like this –)
ah! Korri hugs you tighter.
“It’s alright, Cibby. Whatever you are, whatever you’re thinking…I’ll be with you. I trust you, even if you’re going into dangerous places, to always make it through. Just like you have for me.”
…you nod, and squeeze her in return. Feeling that warmth. You won’t feel too guilty, if you didn’t shape her too much; there’s nothing in the skill description that says your Suggestion actually has to alter her, right? I-if she’s already thinking like that, you’ll just turn a blind eye to it, even as you worry about how easily you were drawn in, and about what thoughts lay deep within Korri’s mind. A mistake isn’t unforgivable, right?
And you smile, as she returns to the game, and you bury yourself in her hoodie.
Because being here, with her, feeling her warmth, and her friendship – even as you wish it was love –
You barely speak for the rest of the visit, just clinging to one another as you play the game, but it’s nice.
(“…you know, I’ve played Mass Effect 3,” Marq says to Korri as he comes in and sits back down. “I thought it was very nice.”)
(“Well, you’re wrong.”)
Hypnosis Branch: Induction
Induction T1: I Want The Control. You gain the ability to make much more deep-seated changes using your hypnosis, pushing the limits of what is considered possible. You may make them perform actions they are ordinarily opposed to, or go so far as to change deep-seated parts of their personality, such as their sexual orientation.
The exact limits depend on your Charisma, how many times you have hypnotised them before, their vulnerability to hypnosis, and other similar factors.
Requires Instant Hypnotherapist.
Good…good. You’ve got a taste for it now, don’t you? Hypnosis…all those methods of control, and this is still the best. Subtle and intimate and lovely. This way, you can make Korrigan yours, the lovely girlfriend you always wanted. Any objections with regard to sexuality are obsolete.
Induction T2: Handshake Induction. Your skill with hypnosis has increased to the point where you can prime an induction with a mere moment of physical contact. Not only the legendary ‘handshake induction’, with far more precision and success than ordinary hypnotists can manage, but any kind of touch, from the mundane to the sexual.
The target must not be hostile, and the touch must be in a situation which is socially acceptable.
You can merely prime them for a later quick induction (even potentially in combat, with sufficient preparation), or you can bring them under right away.
Requires I Want The Control.
Induction T3: Hypnotic Trap. Your capability with hypnosis is such that you can write in an inherently hypnotic way. This can be any sufficiently long form of writing, such as an email, a short story or essay, or even a whole book. This writing has the full force of all your Hypnosis skills, and thus is more effective than any normal text-based induction.
You may tailor this writing so it only has an effect on those you choose, as broad a category as a whole gender to as narrow as a single person at a very particular time in a very particular place. Those who you do not intend to be affected treat the hypnotic part of the writing as though it doesn’t exist, although machine analysis may reveal it.
You must have used Cold Reading (Psychology T1) on a target to be able to tailor the writing. It is much more effective on those you have Cold Read for an extended period. If you have Natural Language Processing (Psychology T2), the depth of the effect and how deeply it’s tailored is greatly amplified, and you may even tailor the writing to someone you haven’t met before; those you have met can be given tailoring so deep that even machine analysis will not reveal the hypnotic quality of the text.
In addition, having Natural Language Processing compels the targets to read as soon as possible.
Requires Handshake Induction and Cold Reading (Psychology T1).