Christina Stoppel was back in Boston, and she wasn’t at all sure she liked it.
Boston was her hometown, not just where she was born and grew up but where she’d made a life for herself afterwards. She had the typical hometown pride you’d expect from anyone around her, and as a member of the Police Department she’d made it her life’s work to try to keep the place feeling safe.
But after almost three months away, the city seemed entirely changed - although she knew all the change was in her.
She’d left the city in a hurry in May, and left her job behind at the same moment. Having worked to put a mind controller behind bars, Christina had been left with the lingering idea of his control in her head - only to realise before too long that her vague sensation that another mind had hold of her strings was nothing compared to the effect he’d left on a few true slaves still in Boston.
She’d been confronted by them, tricked, and captured. Marcie, the Thoughtsmith’s slave, had done her homework and decided that the woman who took him down should be part of his rescue plan. She’d found a device that was enough to twist Christina’s head temporarily into exactly the shape she wanted it to be, and Christina had rescued the Thoughtsmith before he could stand trial - and they had then fled the city, allowing Christina the opportunity to be firmly brainwashed into her new slavery.
Christina had discovered a purity of purpose that had been lacking for years now. As with many police officers, she was all too aware that there were problem elements in her department, and that the culture would make testifying against them a bad idea. She still believed in the duty she’d signed up for, but she knew that almost no case was as simple as that under the circumstances, and knew she was having to turn blind eyes to things that might be OK or might be awful - and there was often no good way to tell.
A few years trapped in that complicated mess of motivations would muddy anyone’s sense of purpose, even their belief they were contributing to anything worthwhile. But anything she did for her Master was worthwhile, and right, and made the world better. Loving him. Serving him. Acting as his enforcer as he carved out a little space for himself, or as he looked to other criminal organisations to make money - that had clear value. It was for her Master, so it was always going to be the right thing to do.
And she served alongside her old partner. Now known as Ellie, her redheaded colleague and she had grown closer than ever after Master decided they should pleasure each other into new levels of conditioning.
And so, yes, Boston was the city most sacred to Christina’s thoughts, most important to who she was. It was also hunting her Master (and, much less importantly, herself). It was, in many ways, her enemy.
It was perhaps not so surprising that Christina wasn’t entirely comfortable with the place anymore. Walking along the street, hands deep in the pockets of her bulky leather jacket, blonde ponytail protruding from under a Sox baseball cap pulled low, she was hopeful she was going to be pretty much unrecognisable, but the shadows in the streets she passed seemed darker, somehow, and full of a threat she couldn’t remember feeling before.
In theory, this was just a recon mission. After a couple of months in which he gritted his teeth and just dealt with it, Master had decided he wasn’t willing to accept being unable to influence Boston. Like many other big coastal cities, it effectively became a nexus point for both legitimate business and crime in a radius around it. Not being able to risk setting foot in the city was an active hindrance for the Thoughtsmith’s lofty ambitions.
(Not that he had spelled these out clearly for Christina, hardly thinking her submissive station made her a suitable confidante. But she was a well-trained detective, originally, and could draw her own conclusions from the half-formed asides he would make from time to time, and from the order and attitude with which he asked new criminal slaves who they knew and had worked for.)
Master’s thinking was clear. Before returning to a city which knew about him and would have taken precautions, he needed a woman on the inside. In fact, two - possibly three; that was part of the reason recon was called for.
Even with the ability to take over the mind of anyone who meets your gaze, you can’t take over a city without planning. You need to be inside its security systems, so you can avoid suspicion or shut it down when it starts. You need to do that without any suspicion starting up - or you need to crush it so fast it can’t blossom.
And all of that needs doing before you can consider yourself safe.
The security systems of Boston included a legal side - the police - and an illegal side in the bigger local criminal organisations. The police was the one that never went away, had better funding, and (for the most part) better equipment. The bigger criminal organisations tended to have better foresight.
Christina had already offered her Master a solution to the question of the police. Her job here was partly to assess how viable that solution was - or, put another way, how easily Christina’s own sister could be added to her Master’s harem of useful women - and partly to assess what solutions might be most appropriate regarding organised crime.
The city of Boston itself made Christina uneasy, but offering Jillian to her Master hadn’t. She still remembered the thrill that ran through her when she first voiced the idea; it had been a betrayal of family, but that had been a pleasure, not a regret. She would do anything for her Master and, unless he was foolish enough to allow his control over her to lapse, she would never regret any action that made his life easier or better.
Being busted back to uniform and put strictly on desk jobs handling paperwork was not, of course, something the PD had done to Jillian because of her sister. Obviously.
Obviously not officially, anyway. To Jillian the connection was painfully obvious. And for all that Christina was supposedly under mind control, Jillian blamed her sister. If she’d had the will to hold on, none of this would be happening, and both Stoppels’ careers would be in a much better place.
Their parents hadn’t been in law enforcement, but Christina had set her heart on the job of a policewoman from the age of eight, and she’d never budged. Six and impressionable, Jillian had followed along for a while, and though in her early teens a burst of rebelliousness had seen her consider other careers - stuntwoman, vet, weather woman (meteorologist not having been in her vocabulary at the time and, honestly, only barely in her vocabulary now) - the amount of study needed or the likelihood of success had sent her back toward the police every time.
It wasn’t exactly hero worship - they were too close in age for that - but Christina’s respect had always been important to Jillian, and the pair had always been close. When Christina went to the Academy, stories of training and her eager explanations of the logic behind things and, later, her firsthand accounts of the encounters she’d been allowed to ride along on with her instructing officers had just made the job seem all the more important.
The problem had been that her sister had been a goddamn prodigy of law enforcement. She graduated top of the class. She didn’t beat the record for traffic violations or get the most arrests in her first year with the department, but she did get the record for the most arrests that stuck in court - which mattered more to, not everyone, but a few of the people who’d mattered most; her precinct commander, her shift captain, and a number of sergeants.
Nobody enjoyed the lectures that came after a bad arrest, either, even if that got saved up until after it fell apart in pretrial or court. Christina didn’t get in trouble often and any squad she’d worked with had seen better results and a big uptick in praise and support, and her fellow officers knew it. She wasn’t the golden girl of the department - for one thing, well, she was a girl, and it’d take a few more years seniority before the rest of the force could overlook this glaring and obvious deficiency - but it was still pretty clear that she was a rising star.
She was already rising by the time Jillian started at the Academy, and if having a textbook officer for a sister had made her path to that point easier, it made things more challenging afterwards. Jillian only found out toward the end of her course that the strange, quiet, sour expression many of her instructors wore after an exercise where she’d scored well didn’t indicate failure, except by the standards of her sister. Toward the end, driven to make her instructors swallow those frowns, she’d started bettering her occasionally.
But Christina was already several steps ahead, and with that lead, graduation hadn’t been enough to stop Jillian from always feeling pushed to compete. It hadn’t worked out at all the way she’d hoped.
Jillian had persevered anyway - it wasn’t in her family’s nature to give up on anything, or so she’d thought until recently - and she’d thought that she had it under control by the start of the year, which was when she started to actually look at the state of her personal life.
Hobbies that had been neglected were revisited. She checked her old dating profile and found almost nothing she was interested in; she punched it up, updated it, and tried again. Many fewer men make approaches when your profile clearly states you’re a cop but, honestly, Jillian was OK with that; those who made it through had already had a chance to opt out and hadn’t.
There were more than enough uniform fetishists in her new profile to mean she still had some work to do to weed out problems from the field, but she’d had a few good dates, and a couple of men were out there in Boston probably (she fondly imagined) who might be thinking of making things a little more official and wrapping her up exclusively.
Which was, honestly, the thought that had kept her going through a dull, frustrating Thursday afternoon seated at a desk catching up on paperwork for her team. This wasn’t what she’d taken the sergeant’s exam for; she also was none too happy to be back in uniform (not that she minded how it looked on her, but it took her further from the parts of the job she enjoyed the most).
This was, at least, the last punishment she’d have to endure in keeping up with her older sister. Once she finally crawled out from under the collective embarrassment of the entire Boston Police Department, she’d be able to forge a path that wasn’t going to be compared to Christina.
The problem was that it was already July and she was starting to think she wouldn’t be clear of the punishment until the next January at least. A whole year of her career wasted - no, worse than wasted; she’d still be looking for opportunities to climb back where she’d been at the end.
She clicked save on the work she’d been doing, set the original paper copies back in their folder, and sat back, giving vent of a long sigh she hoped would take her tension away with it. It… helped, at least. She glanced at the clock; another twenty minutes before she could consider her shift over.
At least there was that benefit from desk duty. She almost never had to work late.
…Why was Christina even on her mind today, anyway? It had been months, but somehow she’d been dwelling on her sister again, and it hadn’t been because of any reference she could think of.
As she let herself into Jillian’s apartment, Christina held her breath. Like many cops, both sisters had installed proper security systems; not the most expensive and full-featured on the market, because police salaries didn’t run to that, but nothing to sneer at either.
Christina was hopeful this was going to be simple, but she was aware she might be running soon, just to ensure her recon mission didn’t create too much risk for the original goal. It all depended on whether Jillian had updated her security code since Christina learned her true purpose.
As she punched in the code, she thought back to her quick surveillance of her sister earlier. Covered up in jacket and ball cap as she’d been, she was pretty sure Jillian’s eyes had slid over her without recognition - there’d certainly been no sign of it. She might just have written her sister off as gone and never coming back…
The alarm system subsided and Christina sagged slightly in the doorway, relieved. A tiny part of her - the frustrated cop, fighting against her programming, hoping to resurface one day if Thoughtsmith screwed up and failed to restore his hold - felt a sick weight in her belly at the clear evidence that Jillian had written her off, but the part of her which drove her was delighted that her quarry had made a mistake.
She slipped inside, closing the door behind her, and moved through the house, checking for signs of current occupancy. It wouldn’t do to try digging for information at her sister’s apartment if she’d effectively moved in with a boyfriend; likewise, if a lover had moved in, Christina would have to be as quick as she could.
No extra toothbrush, about the usual amount of underwear - just one shower gel bottle and only three or four shampoos; that felt like just Jillian. Checking the kitchen she found the dishes clearly hadn’t been done in a couple of days; Jillian had always been focused more on other questions than on keeping her place perfect, but if she had guests over regularly Christina would expect a little more care based purely on personal pride.
It also proved that Jillian was still living here.
Christina smiled to herself. This was going to be the capstone to a very successful day’s research. She should still have a couple of hours to check for opportunities before-
She heard a key in the door and stiffened. Thank Master she’d thought to lock it while she was inside; Jillian might not have changed her codes but she’d definitely be on her guard if she came home and found her door unlocked.
All the same, fuck. Jillian’s shift was barely over; she should have been handing paperwork for another hour or more yet.
Christina scrambled to get into shadow, tucking herself away in the corner of Jillian’s bedroom - figuring her sister would want to grab a drink first, or maybe use the bathroom. It would give her a chance to escape…
Jillian shut and locked her front door and stood there for a moment. She swept the hat from her head, hung it on a hook, and leaned forward, resting her forehead against the door, where she closed her eyes and exhaled slowly. There had been plenty of things about the day which might have driven her to this level of frustration, she freely acknowledged, but probably the biggest was that her next day off wasn’t until Tuesday.
For only the second or third time, all within the past month, Jillian asked herself if staying the course on this career was worth it. She could walk away, start again on a new career path, and never have to deal with her sister’s name being the first thing anybody heard of again.
She’d followed her sister into the career. Did she really have the passion for all this, if competition wasn’t enough to pull her along? Or was this just the doubt of someone having a shitty day?
Even rock stars said there were days that felt like hard, frustrating work. It was no wonder a cop might feel even worse after a run of quiet punishment from her superiors.
Tugging at her tie, she made her way into her bedroom. The sooner she could get out of uniform and into something comfortable, the happier she’d be… at least for the evening.
She could figure out if she was actually experiencing career regret later.
Making her way over to the inbuilt closet on one wall, she finished untying her tie and hung it over the open door. She stood at the closet’s door, unbuttoning her blue dress shirt.
She was tired, exasperated, and her mind was half on whether she could be bothered to cook anything worth eating that night. She didn’t notice the woman she’d walked past, her eyes on a different destination, until a floorboard creaked a pace or so behind her.
Instantly Jillian was wide awake again. Her fingers abandoned her shirt buttons after undoing just three, and one hand dropped to her hip, where she still wore her service weapon. One foot slid back a step. She was already spinning into a turn when whoever else was in the room slammed into her, springing forward and bearing her into the door of her closet. The hinge audibly cracked but Jillian couldn’t complete her turn, couldn’t see who it was, and her gun hand was twisted painfully around her back, away from the weapon.
Something stung the back of her neck. For a second Jillian wondered if she’d been bitten, but that didn’t make any sense.
She felt a heat start to throb outward from the sting; not just an odd warmth but an arousal, a need, a lust. Jillian tried to wrench herself free of her assailant, but the unseen attacker held on. Jillian heard a soft voice counting seconds, very hushed. Her attacker was a woman, then.
Another shiver of arousal ran down her spine. Her vision began to swim. She’d been drugged.
She stopped fighting her assailant. Focused, as best she could through the heat, on the pressure she was being held by, on the positioning of her opponent.
As soon as she felt the pressure lesson, her back foot went up then came back down, stomping on her opponent’s instep. She threw all her strength into a twist at the hips that threw her attacker forward over one shoulder, and she turned, scrambling away.
Intent and training both said: get a couple of steps away, draw, turn, aim. She stumbled her couple of steps’ distance from an assailant she knew would be stunned having crashed into her closet (and with any luck she’d be tangled up in a power suit and a little back number).
That was as far as training and intent could carry her. Bringing her arm back down toward her pistol, the edge of her thumb brushed her buttock, and she shuddered and spasmed as the heat the drug filled her with coursed through her again. She dropped to one knee, gasping in shocked euphoria, and her gun hand flew out to brace her.
She stayed like that, breathing ragged, for perhaps four or five seconds before her mind emerged from the warm, heady fog enough for her to will her other hand around, looking for a cross body draw.
But, again, her lust-driven body betrayed her wishes. Rather than reach her holster, her hand went straight between her legs, thumb squeezing against her crotch through her uniform trousers and her panties. A tiny part of her panicked further, knowing her attacker was still at large and could probably strike at any time. But the rest of her, the part of her that was driving, let out a needy moan.
She went to two knees, sat back on her heels. Her hands didn’t seem to be acting under her own initiative when they tore at her belt, strength more useful than technique in springing the buckle open. Her clumsy, needy attempts to undo her pants were accompanied by her own ragged, frantic breathing and the sound of strained fabric ripping. One hand plunged inside her soft, wet black panties as soon as she had access, two fingers sliding inside her, taking up their well-loved, familiar place without her feeling as if she had any say in it at all.
There was an attacker in her room. Someone who’d drugged her. And, as her other hand slid into her open shirt to find and tease a rock-hard nipple, that was completely irrelevant to her. What mattered was her body’s need. Only the tiniest part of her mind even tried to protest as pleasure nerves up and down her body fired and sizzled with passion.
This was like no drug she’d ever heard of, and she had no idea how to handle it.
Christina had felt reasonably confident once Jillian didn’t notice her on entry. She could hopefully dose her (although it would be one less for tomorrow’s work, and she’d already had to use more than she’d intended today) and maybe even learn something worthwhile.
She’d just… underestimated her sister’s combat awareness, and her attempt to compensate for that had been well below the level it should have been. Frankly, she’d deserved to be taken down like that, and her head ached from her impact with the door.
Still… by the time she untangled herself from her sister’s clothes, Jillian had been incapacitated by the serum. Christina still had no idea where her Master had found it, but he had a briefcase of the stuff in the overlarge house he’d taken over as his HQ, for use when he sent agents into the field who might need to meddle with the heads of outsiders.
Christina held her breath and watched her sister finger herself to orgasm, and beyond that, into the trancelike stupor which always followed. The intensity of the drug experience left a mind just barely able to register and respond to external stimuli and well below the capacity for independent action, once the pleasure had burned the brain out.
It wasn’t a long window - the human psyche is resilient, and the serum’s designers hadn’t been able to provide much resiliency against the human immune system either. But it would be enough… for whatever ‘enough’ ended up being.
She heard her sister’s cries of pleasure, watching impassively. Jillian might be a blood relation, but all Christina saw her as right now was the next addition to a harem her Master had commanded. As the cries subsided and Jillian’s thoughts burned away, she watched her sister start to slump backward, and hastily reached forward to catch her before her head could hit the floor.
There were already too many indicators of a break-in; she didn’t want it to be made any worse.
She lifted her sister from the floor and lay her on the bed, one hand still in the waistband of her panties, one arm flopping free, shirt half-open, pants torn around the fastening, eyes unfocused, staring glassily past and through the ceiling.
Then she perched herself at the foot of the bed, well out of Jillian’s line of vision. As little as she expected her target to remember of all this, the best thing she could possibly do was avoid showing herself in her sister’s subconscious.
“Can you hear me?” she asked softly.
“Yes,” Jillian breathed. Her lips barely moved enough for Christina to see them twitch. Her body was almost entirely unmoving, lying there basking in the afterglow of the serum.
“Are you seeing anyone?”
“Would they miss you if you stopped?”
In her drugged stupor, there was no emotion to the answer. No lament. A tiny part of Christina wondered idly if her sister would be happy about that or not.
She didn’t bother asking if work would notice. It was work’s job to notice. She did, however, ask her shift patterns, and confirmed when Jillian would next have an actual day off.
“On Tuesday, your phone will ring at ten a.m. All you’ll hear when you answer it will be a location. You’ll go to that location for two p.m.,” Christina instructed, taking a liberty and hoping her Master would be pleased with her inspiration. “You’ll convince yourself it’s your own idea.”
Silence. Christina felt her heart beating loud in her chest, caught in the worry she’d pushed it too far. She wasn’t an expert in manipulating the minds of others. That was her Master’s skill, and she wouldn’t dream of considering herself on his level.
“Right?” she prompted.
“Yes,” Jillian agreed dreamily.
Christina breathed a sigh of relief, and decided that pushing her luck any further wouldn’t benefit her Master.
She tiptoed to the door, let herself out, replaced the spare key, and left.
Perhaps two hours later, Jillian blinked. Her eyes - and her mouth - were dry, and she was lying on her bed, half-undressed, hand in her panties…
She sat up and glanced at her closet. Her clothes were in disarray, some having been dislodged from their hangers. The door stood open and listed slightly at an odd angle. It looked almost like there’d been a fight…
She drew her weapon, got up, and padded through into the hallway. She checked the door, which was locked, and proceeded to search the apartment room-by-room in as close to the approved manner as can be done when you have no partner to back you up.
Nobody anywhere, but also no sign of disturbance. She checked her couple of secure hiding places; some emergency cash was still in the tea caddy under the full coffee caddy. Her backup weapon was still taped to the wall directly behind the sofa, and hadn’t been unloaded or tampered with. Her jewellery was on her makeup table.
The idea there’d been an intruder and all they’d done was mess with her closet was blatantly ridiculous, and her heart rate dropped a little.
She couldn’t remember a thing since getting in the elevator to come up to her apartment. Or could she? She’d made that trip hundreds of times now. There was never any security issue. Was she just failing to remember doing so today because it had faded into the background as so many did?
Had she just come home, gotten halfway-undressed and nodded off?
That didn’t seem like her, but nor did anything else in this weird situation.
And it had been a very, very weird day.
No, she decided. This was the last straw. If she was so worked up she was losing time, if she was only in the job because of a sister who she was best off forgetting, if… and of this… then the job wasn’t for her.
She’d work another two months and give notice to end at the end of her fifth year, she decided.
And in the meantime she should probably brush up her resume.