It was late afternoon before Ms Miracle was seen in the skies over Memphis again. She must have been more drained than she’d realised; she was definitely not hitting her usual top speed, though the exertion level felt about the same.
As she wasn’t going at the same speed, Amy took a moment to head somewhere that wasn’t home first. She never wanted to be seen on final approach, so she stopped off at Otherlands and picked up a jumbo Thunderbolt. Caffeine didn’t exactly recharge her powers, but she’d noticed that the buzz sometimes made it easier for her to push past her limits for a few moments - and she needed it, too; she felt like she hadn’t woken up properly at all.
Then it was a quick gulp, back into the air, and flat-out for her balcony, where the unlocked door let her in easily. She shut and locked the door behind her, glancing guiltily across to the other side of her block, where the apartment on her level belonged to her Master (which, a treacly, quiet voice in the back of her mind, was no different from this one, as he owned her, and therefore her apartment).
Her whole discussion with D.A.N.I.E.L. sat uncomfortably in her belly, as it all felt like a betrayal. She flipped the switch and her automated blinds started to close, which was the first time she’d deliberately hidden her home from his view since falling under his influence. Amy closed her eyes, tried to bury her concerns, and exhaled slowly.
When she turned back to face the lounge she noticed items left out on one of her chairs; a white leather collar and bustier; white silk panties, high-waisted so they disappeared up under the bustier; and beside the chair, the white calf-length boots with the six-inch heels.
It wasn’t Master’s absolute favourite outfit to see her in, but it was in heavy rotation. Or at least it had been, before…
…well, before whatever state you’d achieved when his commands were no longer your instinctive responses, but you still thought of him as Master and wanted him to be happy.
Had she left that out there?
It would have had to be out on display for the whole of the time she’d been in space…
For a moment, with that treacly, tempting voice in the back of her head, Amy was on the verge of stripping down and getting changed into the white look. She stood at the window, staring across at its presentation, listening to the urge, but her unease at the whole situation kept her rooted to the spot. Temptation passed before uncertainty, and she started trekking to the narrow hallway that led to her bathroom and bedroom.
She’d slept too much lately to want to sleep, but she knew the TV wasn’t distracting her, and she didn’t have the energy to patrol. Her mind was entirely on how she could distract herself from-
“Ah, there you are.”
The voice came from behind her, but for a heartbeat Amy wasn’t sure it had come from anywhere at all. Hearing Master’s voice as she was slinking away to try and distract herself entirely, her first thought was that her guilt had decided to manifest in auditory hallucinations. She’d had enough experience of that three years earlier, after all, when the Justice Guard had been nearly taken out of action by Mesmerio’s Infinite Dream Machine; after that summer, her inner doubts becoming hallucinatorily real to her would always seem not just plausible but likely.
It was only after that first heart-stopping moment passed that she realised she had her back to the kitchen, but would only now be visible to someone in her kitchen.
Master was in her apartment.
She hadn’t known he had access.
She spun on her heel, but didn’t raise her head to look at him. Her body had come to a halt but her head was still spinning, her stomach still churning with guilt. Master would no doubt take that all away if she made eye contact and he used his powers. And part of her craved that. Only… Only she had other concerns.
At least she hadn’t started undressing yet.
“Master,” she acknowledged, because she felt she had to say something.
“It’s been a while,” he said, his tone equally noncommittal. There was no green glow, so he didn’t seem to be using his powers, but he might just be waiting for her to look up.
“It has,” she agreed. “How did you get in?”
“You gave me a key and your door alarm code months ago,” he told her. “You just don’t remember, and I haven’t had to use it.”
“Oh,” she said, feeling her voice quieter, her throat seeming to tighten with how full his control had been. Might still be. She hadn’t tested it yet, after all, and she still thought of him as Master before anything else. There was an urge to drop to her knees, head bowed, thrilling through her as they spoke. Which wasn’t even something he’d ever had her do. Amy had much more experience of being someone’s mentally controlled puppet than Master had of owning a heroine. She’d been used in all kinds of ways. Some few of them she’d apparently enjoyed enough that Master’s relaxed hand on the reins brought the old impulses back out of her.
There was a moment of quiet, and oddly it calmed her. Being silent in Master’s presence had been so frequent that even with everything coming between them, it brought her peace.
“I know you’ve been busy,” he said. “Are you… still busy?”
She couldn’t lie to Master. If he asked her a direct question, it had to be answered. “Not now, Master.”
“That’s good.” And it must have been; he sounded happier immediately, his voice less cautious, and her heart leaped to hear his happiness in spite of her own concern. “Change for me.”
Amy bit her lip. She shouldn’t. She knew she shouldn’t. But revealing she could fight his control might make things worse. She was so caught up trying to figure out how to solve this problem that she didn’t notice her hands and feet moving of their own accord, padding back into her lounge as her fingers caught her costume seal and coaxed it down. Her mind caught up with her actions as she was standing by the chair, shoulders shrugging out of the core of her costume. Before she did anything else she picked up the white leather collar and fastened it around her neck.
Was it her imagination or was she breathing easier with it on?
Her eyes flickered to the side as she stooped to unfasten her long boots. Master was standing there, in the doorway to her kitchen, holding one of her mugs. He’d been waiting for some time. Waiting to reclaim her. And now he was giving her orders again, even if she felt she might be able to resist, she wondered whether she would even try when it came to it.
Off came the boots and her hands went to the waistband of her tights. “Tear them off,” Master said. “You know I enjoy that.”
Less concerned now with the question of fighting his control, the tension was out of her body, and she found herself saying “Yes, Master.” Rather than a light touch, she curled powerful fists into her tights and brought her arms up into a classic bodybuilder flex, arms out straight, curved at the elbows, fists in toward her head. The ripping sound as the tights gave almost everywhere at once brought a satisfied growl of pleasure from Master as he watched her. Her tights dangled from her fingers like so many streamers.
She opened her hands and let the torn strips slip through her fingers, but maintained the flex a little longer. She knew how much Master liked it when she demonstrated the power under his control.
She turned her back on him briefly to undo her bra and set it aside, then hooked her thumbs into the waistband of her panties and, keeping her legs close together but not quite touching, she worked them down her legs, bending at the waist to draw attention to her rear and shimmying as she did so.
So, she noted for herself, apparently I’m willing to put on a show for Master. Am I just indulging my own kinks, is he still in control, or is this just getting him happy before I give him my pitch?
She picked up the white high-waisted panties and stepped into them, straightening and parting her legs as she pulled them up. A couple of quick adjustments had them in the right place and untangled the piece that always folded in on itself when drawn over her rear.
Still with her back to her Master but knowing he was observing every motion, she pulled the tall white boots on one by one, then picked up the bustier and finally turned back to face him, bare but for her collar from just over the waist up, breasts prominently and perkily on display - a benefit of superstrength much complained about by the women without it.
Only once she was facing him did she open the bustier, slipping it behind her back and slowly closing it back around her body, pressing the edges at the front together firmly so the tiny metal hooks could find their loops and hold it, and her, in place.
She watched Master’s smile with a fierce, burning internal pride. She was entirely responsible for the naked desire in his face. She’d been studying it for a few moments before she even realised she’d stopped looking away in case she caught his gaze. Reflexively, she shifted her stance, suddenly nervous again.
This felt too good and too right for something she knew to be absolutely wrong. Amy wasn’t sure whether she was still under his control or obeying on reflex, and certainly wasn’t sure how she felt about it - on principle, at least; she was clearly enjoying herself, and enjoying Master’s pleasure in her too. As she finally came to a halt, dressed in the outfit he’d picked out for her, she realised she’d gone far enough now that resisting his next order, whatever it was, could go very wrong.
But did enough of her want to for her to even try?
Master nodded, but took another drink from her mug before he said anything else. “Are you tired?”
It wasn’t a question he’d ever asked before. Amy was pretty sure she didn’t look too different - not today, anyhow; yesterday would have been another matter - so it wasn’t that. But his eyes were metahuman. That might not just be because he could push power out of them. Maybe they could also see things most couldn’t. “Not… exactly, Master.”
He turned and walked into the lounge himself, pacing up to the sofa like he owned the place. She lifted her hands briefly from her sides as if about to protest, but let them fall back, thinking better of it.
It would be much more fun, she admitted to herself, to let go entirely. Part of her trusted Master’s understanding of where the limits of what he could do with her might be. But she knew now. The time away from him had given her perspective, and it ached, an unsettling wrongness in an otherwise perfect picture.
Master sat, and then looked up at her. Pointed to the edge of the sofa, just beside him. She trotted over, obediently, and came to a halt standing beside the chair, arms behind her back, one wrist lightly captured in her other hand, body on display just inches from him, easily in reach of his hands if they chose to wander.
She would, perhaps, have stood a little more crisply straight before her recent foray into space. Have been a little more eager.
He looked up at her with a wary sadness, and that was when it clicked.
It wasn’t that she was tired. It was that she wasn’t as eager. He could see that, and he didn’t know why. No wonder he was being cautious - and it must have been something he only realised when he saw her moving properly. When he had a chance to understand her body language.
“What’s going on?” he asked softly.
“Do you really want to know?”
“…Fuck.” He laughed, just a brief thing, with no humour in it. “I don’t know if I do or not. I came here because I was missing you, and I knew you’d be back. I figured you were nervous, is all.
“Is this where I get arrested?”
Amy was silent for a long time, but she didn’t move from her stance. “I don’t know,” she said softly. “I kind of hope not.”
“Did you get hit with someone else’s power? Is that what happened?”
To the best of Amy’s knowledge, Master had never lost control over someone before. It was only occurring to her now that if he had, he might not have wanted to tell her, in case it planted ideas inside her.
“Yes,” she said slowly. “Kind of a lot. But nothing of this type.” She paused. “That’s never really been something the Earthbreaker does. We thought it created despair in people near it once, but that turned out to be something else.”
“What?” he asked curiously.
Amy shrugged, as best she could without otherwise changing her posture. “That is way too complicated to explain without a bottle of bourbon each.”
“I think I might like that,” Master said. He was quiet for a while. “So what broke you free?”
“I don’t know if I have,” she said, and swallowed. Just saying that makes me think I haven’t. “I haven’t been just playing you along since I came in, if that’s what you mean.”
“You don’t act like I’m used to,” he told her. “Even now you’re not standing the way I’d expect. And you… you’ve been probably the most rigid in your habits of anyone I’ve controlled. I never worked out if someone had trained habits into you or you’re just tapping into exactly what you like.”
She opened her mouth to tell him it was just what she liked but stopped short, frowning as she tried to decide if that was even true. “I… don’t know that either.”
“Not a lot you do know right now, huh?” He managed a crooked grin. Amy flushed and twitched - actually twitched, actually moved a little out of the pose she’d assumed for Master - for a moment, but as much as she resented the idea, it was all of a piece with what was going on in her mind.
“Not about this,” was what she managed to say, and she let her fidgeting, outraged body fall still again. Even that approximation of servitude made her feel better and calmer again. “If you want to know how to save the world, I’m your woman.”
Master didn’t look at her, but he nodded, quiet and thoughtful. “So what happened?”
Amy hesitated, and finally decided to make a statement of her own. She walked back to the armchair the outfit and been left on and seated herself on the armchair, pulling her legs up onto the chair with her, arms wrapped around them. “It… wasn’t good,” she said simply. “We had to do everything. Pushed ourselves. Called in… people we usually wouldn’t work with.” She broke off at that, didn’t mention Macabre, didn’t want to think too much about D.A.N.I.E.L.’s plan until she had a better sense of how things stood.
Service to her team and to her Master hadn’t been in conflict before. They now were, and she could feel the difference almost as a physical thing, her thoughts seeming to come slower as each one sought a way to serve two ends. “It was alright in the end,” she said. “Of course. A few injuries, but nobody on our teams even died. But I was flat out to work for a long time. And somewhere in all that…”
It was hard to shrug while hugging her legs to her, but Amy managed it somehow. The movement even seemed graceful, something she suspected was another mark of her superhumanity; even under circumstances like these her body behaved with an ease it hadn’t achieved at the best times before she came into her powers.
“Somewhere in all that, you broke free,” he finished. “Except you don’t act like you have, exactly.”
Amy nodded, her head turned to stare out of the window. It was easier - and felt much less risky - than meeting his eyes. “When you’ve said things, today, I’ve still felt I have to obey. I just… don’t feel quite the same about them.”
“Hm.” He was quiet for a few moments. “I’ve only ever had one person break free like that before. Well - maybe more than one, but only one I was still in touch with.” Aside from the gang he’d assembled in the past year and change, Amy knew he used his powers if he felt he could get away with it, but often in the simplest and shortest-term of petty ways; people would helplessly obey the one suggestion he bothered giving them, but when he was gone, never expecting to see them again, they were free to do as they chose.
“That guy didn’t take it so well once it broke. Tried to kill me with a spoon.”
Amy blinked and laughed despite herself, a snorting, snickering release of the tension that had been filling her since Master had spoken earlier. “Sorry,” she said after a moment. “I just… wasn’t expecting that.”
“Yeah, well, neither was I.” It could have sounded harsh, but her laughter had evidently showed him the funny side of the issue; his voice was warmed by amusement. “There were a couple differences between that reaction and this one, is all.”
“I’m not trying to kill you?”
“And you’re still doing what I said.” He let the statement hang there, somehow making a spoken observation into a silent question.
“I… enjoy… being controlled,” she admitted. “You’ve known that for a while. Maybe this is… residual? I’m not sure. For all I know it’s going to be the new normal. Still following your commands, but as much as my body leaps into them without checking in with me first, they feel less natural. It’s like I’m less conscious of your control and more conscious that obedience is…” Her mouth hung open for a moment as she reached for the clearest way to put it. “…is being imposed on me from outside.”
“That sounds less fun.”
“If you gave Amy the choice, she’d pick the first version every time.” Her lip curved up in something like a grimace. “Ms Miracle pretty much has to object, though, if she has enough control over the situation to let herself.”
For the first time since sitting down, she looked across and met Master’s eyes. Spoken conversation is never just about the words you choose, or even their tone, and she needed to be sure he understood, even if it risked him trying to use his power on her again.
His control was imparted by eye contact, but it was far from instantaneous; it went deeper than many treatments she’d encountered before, but that took time. It was very possible that if he tried to re-indoctrinate her, she could act fast enough to put him down; it was just plausible enough that the remnants of her old conditioning would hold her back and she would sit there, allowing him to lower her back into contented, total slavery once again.
And as she met his eyes, not glowing, not active, but just the gaze of one person talking to another, she suddenly realised why he hadn’t tried reconditioning her yet.
He had asked himself the same question she had, and he hadn’t known the answer any better than she did. Their powers weren’t at all evenly matched, but they created a standoff; if he used his, one of the two would win, but neither of them could be confident who.
“I get you,” he said softly. “So… what happens now?”
An inarticulate noise emerged from Amy’s throat. A growl or a moan or something in between, driven by the frustration of her desires and her duty in conflict.
Abruptly she stood. “We need to talk about that,” she said, “but I’m not ready to do that yet. Are you?”
“No…” he answered warily.
“Right.” She folded her arms, glanced down at herself in the revealing white outfit of the submissive Master had assumed she still was, and adjusted the fold so her arms pushed her chest out and accentuated her cleavage. “Truce?” she asked.
“…Truce.” He didn’t particularly sound sure, but under the circumstances, Master being unsure was probably much better for her.
“Then order me into the bedroom,” she said firmly.
“Order me into the bedroom, Master,” she said. “If we’re in truce, I think we both deserve a break, don’t you?”
A slow smile spread over his face. “Turn around and lead me to the bedroom,” he instructed. Amy heard the contented purr that escaped her, but didn’t feel she’d had anything to do with creating it.
“Yes, Master,” she agreed pleasantly. As her body turned and began to walk toward the bedroom, hips rising and rolling in that slow strut she’d come to associate with her mind controlled, pleasure-doll self over the past few years - and God, had it been embarrassing to realise when D.A.N.I.E.L. confronted her about it that she’d given away her enjoyment of submission to so many villains, and maybe even one or two other heroines who’d been controlled while she was - Amy tried to quiet and quell her thoughts. To stop worrying whether this was the right thing to do, or question whether or not she should resist.
All of that would be relevant again after the truce, but there was no reason at all to dwell on it until then. Reason itself just got in the way. Far, far better to be an obedient pleasure-doll.
…which wasn’t at all what Master had called her; that was the way she’d felt with the steel collar of the Lord of Cats around her neck, that sleek, hairless alien whose skin made her nerves tingle with pleasure just to touch - and that was before his collar closed around her and she felt the spike burrow into her spine, linking into her limbic system and turning her into an obedient puppet.
Her mind had been allowed only to perceive what her body perceived as the collar’s control chip drove her movements and decisions. Ms Miracle had gone from an effective heroine to a plodding powerhouse in the streets and a squealing pleasure-doll between the sheets.
And all the while the collar had been pushing pleasure through her brain. It was designed as a cumulative process, a training system, something the Lord of Cats had acquired in his conquest of another system, which would over time reduce a thinking being to a twitching, dripping mess of pleasure-guided decisions that followed whatever their Lord desired.
Sometimes Amy had wondered what the Earth might look like in the timeline branch where she hadn’t been rescued, where she had eventually become so conditioned that her collar would have been removed and used to tame another, her own need for pleasure serving the Lord of Cats as well as a control chip in keeping her from activity.
As she came to a halt by the side of her unmade bed and Master strode into the room behind her, moving with a fragment of his usual swagger, Amy delved back into that bank of fantasies, imagining Master’s skin as having the same pleasure-override tingle to the touch, his voice the same raspy confidence.
She felt his hands on her ass, along her collar bones, stroking the soft warm skin of her breasts above her bustier, and she held her pose motionless, just as she would have during her time as a pleasure-doll. Her body was less well-disciplined in other ways, though; a steady stream of quiet moans and soft whimpers escaped parted lips. This hadn’t been her usual habit with Master, and either the novelty of it or the act itself clearly excited him.
He took a handful of her hair in a loose fist and pulled her neck back; with her strength it wouldn’t even have been necessary for her to tense to stop him, she’d had publicity shots taken back near the stat of all this dangling a grown man from one finger, but her head went back easily because he was her Master and the only force that needed to be exerted was in her mind. With her neck bared to the world he bowed his head and lips and teeth played along her throat, a shiver of bliss tingling through her scalp.
Master tugged at the edge of her bustier until one of her breasts squeezed loose, then grabbed her there. His lack of subtlety had never been a problem under his full control; in the fantasy she was losing herself in, Amy was also able to move straight past it. Besides, right now her nerves were so sensitive, tingling delightedly with only the lightest provocation.
Abruptly, he released her with both hands, giving her a hard shove. It might have sent a normal person stumbling, but would have had no effect whatever on Ms Miracle - unless she decided to. She compromised by allowing herself to be driven to hands and knees across the bed, and stayed there while she heard the clink of an unbuckled belt and the quiet rrrr of the zipper.
When Master didn’t immediately yank her panties down afterward, she knew he was making himself comfortable first. This wasn’t going to be a quick truce; he was going to make the most of it. She turned her head to look at him and saw him almost freeze in place when his eyes met hers. Only then did she realise how lust-charged her expression had to have become.
She grinned, and must have looked like a wild woman; Master skipped taking off his shirt and deposited himself on the bed, rolling onto his back, bare from the waist down. She could see him, proud and upstanding, as he lay there, and she found herself clenching and relaxing, squeezing as if she were already on him.
“Straddle me,” Master ordered, and of course she obeyed, her head caught between the three points of conditioning, lustful fantasy, and needy, wet reality. She reached down with one hand, tugging the white and already wet material of her panties away from her pussy. Her eyes met his, begging him for permission without having to ask the question. A fractional nod was enough and she lowered herself onto him. Both of them seemed to gasp at the same moment, linked by their common connection, by the need and pleasure they sought, so much sweeter for both if one was under the control of the other.
She was on top of him. She was countless times stronger than him. But he had all the power, and would do at least until the truce ended. Being in control was far harder to pin down than how a situation looked.
The rocking of his hips set the pace, slow and steady, and while she wanted him to really pump, to thrust harder, he kept to his own rhythm and Amy let her fantasy and her obedience training take her back to the mindset of a pleasure-doll. Pleasure-dolls could find bliss even in the minor denial of a partner focusing on their own pleasure; they fed off their partners’ pleasure, after all. It was what they were for, and they took pride in it.
Both of them came, multiple times, before the truce was over and they subsided, Amy collapsing off her wilted mount to lie beside him atop sodden sheets.
She recovered first, but chose to play coy, lying there with one hand idly stroking up and down his thigh, her head nestled against his shoulder, until she heard a shift in his breathing and felt him start to stir. Her hand drifted upward from his thigh, past his cock, and onto his chest, where with barely any exertion of pressure she pinned him to the bed, fingers firm against the expensive workmanship of his silk shirt.
“It’s time to have that talk,” she said, “but we need some ground rules first.”