Marcie led her out of the subway and across to where her sedan was parked. She just pointed at the passenger seat, didn’t even say anything. But deep down, Christina knew that was an order, so she obeyed. Willingly. Without question.
She took her seat, strapped herself in, and looked across to Marcie, who, now they were in the car, reached behind Christina’s head and unsnapped the gag restraint. It emerged from Christina’s mouth with an audible pop and she breathed in deeply.
“That tasted disgusting,” was the first thing she said. She hadn’t intended it that way; somehow, part of her was warming to the idea that the two of them had something in common.
“Has to be done. The treatment breaks down initial resistance. Without that, we couldn’t be sure we’d have you in time.”
Christina scowled. Marcie glanced at her and smiled. “Don’t be such a grump,” she said, eyes back on the road. “You and me are going to be friends.”
“Don’t believe you.”
Marcie blinked. “You’re supposed to be repeating… ohhh.” She tutted. “Still haven’t properly worked this out. Look at the spiral and turn it back on.”
She didn’t like the idea, but it still came naturally to do it. She followed her new order unhesitatingly, and in no time found her eyes locked to the spiral once more.
She kicked herself inwardly for reminding Marcie that anything she said without the spiral wasn’t more programming. Sure, she wasn’t sure how she could get anything past the programming she already had, but the more orders that were added into her mind, the harder it was going to be.
“You think like a slave,” was Marcie’s opening gambit.
“I think like a slave.”
“You’re part of your Master’s harem.”
“I’m part of my Master’s harem.” Well, this was new information. And not information she was happy about. If she was lucky, Marcie wouldn’t notice that and ‘correct’ her unhappiness. But she still had new quest-
“You want to be one of his kept, not one of his sold.”
“I want to be one of his kept, not one of his sold.”
“You love the thought of being around your Master.”
“I love the thought of being around my Master.” More and more motivation to help Thoughtsmith. She was furious.
No, that wasn’t true. She wanted to be. But the idea had grown on her, so fast and so effectively, that it was as if she’d never had a different opinion.
“You want him to choose you. To keep you. To use you. To fuck you.”
“I want him to choose me. To keep me. To use me. To fuck me.”
“You’ll do anything it takes, anything you’re told, to get him back.”
“I’ll do anything it takes, anything I’m told, to get him back.”
Earlier she’d thought she couldn’t feel herself changing with the spiral. Of course, she knew now that you didn’t; you felt the change with the words. But the changes came so fast, now, the words came so fast with them, that she actually felt herself changing with them.
That sensation, she still didn’t like. Marcie, she still didn’t like, though she felt a kinship. They shared a Master. They were both, she was willing to bet, part of his harem.
Marcie was one of his kept, and she wanted to be.
“The moment you hear his first order, you abandon my service for his. No confusion.”
“The moment I hear his first order, I abandon your service for his. No confusion.” Christina was dimly conscious that Marcie had probably intended that as an order and explanation. But somehow she felt it settle into her as two orders. To switch to her Master from Marcie the moment she could was one. The other was not to be confused.
Her doubts and her concerns about her criminal Master vanished over the space of just two words. Christina sighed happily.
“Oh, honey, if you think this is good, wait until he hits you with his own power.”
“If I think this is good-”
“Don’t copy that.”
Christina fell silent, but a petty voice in the back of her head cackled that her interim mistress had made this mistake again.
They drove in silence for a while longer, Christina’s eyes still locked on the spiral. She had no control over that, of course. Hadn’t been told to shut it off. Couldn’t shut it off of her own accord. She wasn’t going to change much of her situation like this.
She wondered how she was going to-
“Oh! Yes. You’re going to give me the most honest information and the best advice you possibly can,” Marcie said as she finally remembered.
“Yes. I’m going to give you the most honest information and the best advice I possibly can.”
Marcie smiled. “You’re cute when you’re braindead.”
“I’m cute when I’m braindead.”
Christina really wished Marcie had told her not to copy that one. Of course, there may not have been time.
“Shut off the gadget, tuck it back in my purse.”
Christina obeyed, of course. She felt her head clearing, the strange openness receding, leaving her thoughts forever changed, and shook her head to quicken it. “I really don’t understand you,” she said.
“There’s not much to understand.”
“You’re a shrieking harpy the first time I see you, then a calculating boss bitch with a plan who sounds like butter wouldn’t melt.”
Marcie giggled. “No, I mean, there’s not much to understand. Master took away everything that got in his way.” She sighed dreamily, audibly. “It was bliss.”
“…Was it, though?”
“Yep. You’ll understand when he puts you under.”
By this time they were pulling into the driveway of a home in the suburbs. Christina prepared herself to enter the nest of this plot. “He almost did,” she admits.
“And you’ve been fantasising about it ever since, right? Daydreamed about it?”
“At least you’ve dreamed about it?”
“Oh. Yeah,” she said guiltily.
“Masturbated over it.”
Christina blushed. But she had to give honest information. “Sometimes.”
Marcie grinned. “You’ll fit in just fine, sister.”
Sister. Christina seized on the word, trying to use it as leverage to break herself free again, mentally. She had a sister. Jillian. Eight years her junior, just about to leave high school, and keen to join the police. Think of her. Remember your hopes for her. Protect her. Be ready to be with her again. Break. Free.
Christina followed Marcie obediently into the house.
Marcie hadn’t noticed the tension in her (temporary) slave. “I need coffee,” she said over her shoulder. “How about you?”
“Ooh, tough girl.”
“Yes,” Christina said, and Marcie laughed, smiling broadly. Christina smiled in spite of herself; her body, including her expressions, seemed much more accepting of the control she was under than her mind currently did.
A few moments later, Christina shrugged. “I don’t know why,” she admitted. “I feel like, psychologically, if I add anything to it, I won’t get the caffeine.”
Marcie nodded, busying herself in the kitchen. Christina stood in the doorway, feeling awkward, wondering how to handle this, what to do, if there was anything she should say or offer to do…
Then her phone rang.
Fucking damn it to fuck!
“Who’s that?” Marcie asked. She didn’t even look at Christina, focusing on her coffee maker.
“Probably my partner.”
“As in, your lover? Or a cop?”
Christina sighed. “A cop.”
“Because you were obviously a trap.”
Marcie looked up, startled. Her eyes tracked to the right as she replayed their encounter, then she laughed. “Yeah, I guess that’s fair,” she conceded. “Explains why you were so quick to fight, too.”
Christina shrugged. “I’m not a bad fighter. Should I answer this?”
Marcie grinned. “Yep. Tell ‘em you got the better of me, found my address, and you’ve got me with you while you try to figure out what Master’s doing.”
Christina nodded. She turned away, pulling her phone out of her pocket, and stepped into the hallway, then into a lounge. She’d wondered if Marcie would follow, to eavesdrop, but evidently she felt her commands were airtight enough not to need supervision.
“Are you OK?”
Christina laughed, surprisingly realistic to her ears. “You took your time getting back to me.”
“There was a thing with - you know what, that’s not important. Are you OK?”
“As I’m going to be,” Christina said, honestly.
“Well, bad news first, it was a trap.”
“But as you might guess, I’m fine. I got through it. In fact, I’ve got a perp with me.”
Christina shrugged. “I figured I wanted enough to make sure before I dropped her off. Don’t want them expecting me to do the job on days off.”
Ellie was silent, either thinking or waiting for Christina to continue. So she did. “I got her addresss. Figured if there was anything going down tomorrow, this would be the place to figure it out.” She waited.
Ellie didn’t disappoint, although Christina’s heart sank anyway. “Where are you? I’m coming out.”
Christina plucked a bill from behind the clock on the mantle and read out Marcie’s address. Marcia Martin, it turned out. No wonder she just went by her first name. “I gotta warn you, though, she’s a powerhouse.”
“You’re letting her walk around loose?”
“Of course not. Just - well, there’s muscle to go round, and she might get desperate.” Pick up the hint, Ellie, dammit…
“It’s gonna take me twenty minutes to get there, but I’ll be there. Do not leave without me.”
Christina hung up, then strolled back into the kitchen. Marcie held out a coffee, and Christina took it, setting her phone down to do so. “She coming?” Marcie asked.
Christina held her mug in both hands. She nodded before blowing softly on her coffee. All part of her ritual.
Marcie smiled, picking up the phone and glancing at it. Which meant she saw the unfinished, unsent text.
“So is this partner called Lane?”
Once again, Christina bitterly regretted her honesty requirement. “No. Lane’s a friend, though. She was with Special Operations when we took Master down.”
Funny how easily that title had crept in to replace Thoughtsmith. It tripped off the tongue. And she did seem to feel happier when she wasn’t fighting the control she was under.
“Can we use her?”
“Depends on what the plan is.”
Marcie nodded. “I hadn’t come up with that yet.” She sipped at her coffee thoughtfully, and Christina followed suit.
“What are we doing about Ellie?” she asked.
“And Ellie is…?”
Marcie nodded again, obviously thinking about it. “I was planning to wing it, but actually, I think maybe we can do something fun with her. You want to hold her while I take her mind for Master?”
Christina hesitated. This was a decision that was going to echo through her brain for a long time to come. Ellie was a threat to Master’s freedom, and she so badly wanted Master back. But she’d worked with Ellie for years. They were as close as two women could get without ending up regretting a drunken night in bed.
She could try to fight, maybe save Ellie. Or she could give in, go along with her changed mind, and let her regrets and her worries melt away.
When she put it like that, there was no contest. Not with the feeling of Thoughtsmith’s power lingering over her.
Christina smiled. “You bet.”