General Disclaimers: While it features no ‘on-screen’ sexual activity or explicit adult situations, this hypnofetish story does contain examples of fictional characters doing illegal, immoral and/or impossible things to other fictional characters. If you are under the age of consent in your community, are disturbed by such concepts, or want graphic sex in your online pornography, then for goshsakes stop reading now!
Permission is granted to re-post for free to any electronic medium, as long as no fee whatsoever is charged to view it, and this disclaimer and e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org) are not removed. It would also be nice if you told me you were posting it.
Copyright Voyer, 2010.
Specific Disclaimers: I just followed this one as it came dribbling out, and it ended up as (evidently) a distant prequal to another story in my Technological Horrors section.
Dedicated to Prospero.
A length of corridor, shrouded in near-darkness. Off at the far edge of hearing, a heavy rumbling sound going forever.
Then the lights brightened, eyes opening all the way, each quivering globe set in its socket in the ceiling, revealing details. The longer walls were mirrored, two polished sets of teeth. As the lights gained strength, began swiveling about, they bared at each other, matching the sound, reflecting away into infinity.
For a long moment nothing more.
At either end, the corridor terminated at an unmarked metal panel, wide and tall, recessed just far enough into the wall to be noticeable. Beside each was mounted a glossy black rectangle, a foot tall, half a foot wide. Now one of them flashed, a collection of colors mixed, like the lights overhead. The panel shuddered, then began to rise in slow evenly-spaced jerks, revealing more teeth where it had been intermeshing with the floor. Clunk. Clunk. Clunk. A thick white mist came oozing in through the resulting space, uncoiling sluggish tentacles down the corridor. The rumbling sound grew louder, tinged with other sounds, half organic half mechanical, a clockwork forest heard over a hill.
Clunk. The panel, the door, was open. The space beyond was filled with more mist; beyond that, thin twisted shapes loomed in the dimness, trees perhaps.
There was something, or rather someone, in the door. A woman, that much was obvious even as the mist continued to pour in. She was tall, with an amazonian figure. She stood for another long moment, watching, her hands on her formidable hips. Then, apparently satisfied, she turned to the object squatting beside her. the size of a small sofa, perhaps, but more perfectly rectangular. It glimmered, the sheen of metal, and there was a large handle mounted on the near end, or at least a horizontal bar that could serve as one. The woman grabbed this, and began to pull, walking backwards. It was a repeat of the door’s movement, only sideways. Scrape. Scrape. Scrape. Slowly she and her burden came into clearer view. As noted, she was quite tall, with a luxurious mass of long black hair looped into a rough ponytail and spilling down her back. She was wearing a one-piece suit, very silvery and form-fitting, but functional, which left her arms and legs free to be covered with sturdy-looking gloves and low-heeled boots fashioned of the same material. Or rather, the two legs and one of the arms; one glove lay on top of the object being dragged, its fingers pointing towards the ceiling.
She was also wearing a matching belt to which was attached numerous sealed pouches of various sizes, and, strapped firmly to her head, a large gas mask, complete with dangling re-breather. Except for two silvery antenna that poked up a vaguely jaunty angle from her temples, the thing looked ancient, carved out of stone rather than, perhaps, leather.
Scrape. Scrape. Scrape. The Rectangle slid fully into view. Rather than silver, it gleamed gold, with various semi-random bulges and hollows scattered artistically along its seamless length. All the various corners were carefully smooth and rounded. Sitting on top of it, along with the gloves was a large glass jug, tapering to a cork and filled with some purplish fluid, and a tall pyramid, also made of some clear material, the interior of which glowed green
Scrape. The Rectangle was all the way through the door. The woman straightened up, massaged her lower back for a moment, then in one swift athletic motion, jumped onto her burden, walked along it, stepped off again, so she was standing next to the black panel. She slapped her ungloved hand on it, her blunt brown fingers spread wide.
She made a noise behind the mask, annoyance, and repeated the gesture, with rather more emphasis, rattling the panel. This time her target flashed again, outlined her fingers, and blooped. The door panel began to slide shut, in the same way as before. She stood and watched it. Clunk. Clunk. Clunk. Clang.
The rumble died back to almost nothing, as the severed mist spread out, thinning away along the length of the corridor. The woman turned to the wall, a short section which was not mirrored, matching the prosaic brownish metal of the floor and ceiling. A careful examination revealed four neat intersecting cracks, another panel. She tapped at its center, shave and a haircut, and it slid open, revealing a alcove, empty except for a small manipulator-wheel poking up from below. She grabbed this, twisted it. The whole chamber began to rattle and blur, the mirrors turning heavily against themselves, shooting sparks. She turned on and on, and when she finally stopped, allowed silence to descend once more, the mist was gone, ground away to nothing. Then with a gasp of relief, she stripped off the gas mask and hung it on a waiting hook in the alcove. The hook clicked as it took the weight, and a moment later, the alcove sealed itself.
She looked at herself in the first section of mirror. She was not stunningly beautiful, but her features were strong, well-shaped, resolute, and under her wide forehead, her gray eyes were sharp. At her temples, there were streaks of vividly white hair. The general air of intelligence increased when she popped open one of her belt-pouches, extracted a large pair of black-rimmed eyeglasses, and (taking a moment to glower at the smudges on the lenses) put them on.
“Argh. That is so much better.” Her voice was a good match for her face. “Stupid plotzing mask.” She squinted closer, pushed her hair into order. Frowned, licked a finger, rubbed some dirt from the center of her forehead. Satisfied, she hopped back on the Rectangle, walked along it, kicked the glove into the air, caught it, pulled it on. “Now then...” She strode down the corridor, until she was standing in the middle of an army of her reflections. “I think.. on the way back...” She spread her arms, her broad fingertips almost touching the walls, and turned, slowly, staring at herself again and again. The lights all stopped their wavering and focused on her. She made an annoyed sound, lifted her hair so it was spilling down her front between her breasts (which were as formidable as her hips). And there, in the corner of junction.. on one of her reflections’ back, running down one of those hips.. a short streak of bright red.
“Hah.” She reached out to the reflection, into the reflection which cracked around the intrusion, pinching at the redness with her thumb and forefinger. The thing came away with a surprised pop, and she held it up, showering bits of glass. A cartoonish devil, crossed with a crab and a suction cup. It thrashed futilely in her grip, and started to bobble its eye-stalks, spin its black pits at her...
“Oh, please.” She popped open another belt-pouch, pulled out a bottle, a miniature duplicate of the first, flipped the attached top with a thumb, and jammed the creature inside. It thrashed and beat on the glass with tiny fists.
The cracks in the mirror sealed themselves.
She rotated again, flicking away bits of dirt here and there. Finally satisfied, she flipped her hair back into place, strode back to the Rectangle, put the small bottle next to the larger, pulled at the handle until the Rectangle was away from door, then walked its length one again, got behind it and pushed. This went faster, but it still went in stages, down the corridor, between the mirrors. The gold reflected off forever. The eyelights swiveled overhead, bouncing more colors. Ssslllide. Sssllide.
The other end of the corridor. She walked the Rectangle one last time, pulled the glove off again, slapped at the black panel. It scanned and blooped, and a second door, identical to the first, started to open. Clunk. Clunk. Clunk.
The room beyond resembled the bottom of a largish well, round with no ceiling, just gloom that went up and up into darkness. Knobby, twisted plants rose from irregularly-arranged metal pots, their thick stalks ending in an explosion of vibrant colors, leaves, fronds, bulbs, fruits; some of these actually glowed, supplying much of the room’s light. Behind them, the walls were somewhat like the Rectangle, sculpted into a careful randomness, tinted shades of gray. A fuzz that was not a carpet covered the floor. Reinforcing the well motif, there was even water, albeit confined to one side in a semicircular pool ringed with smooth blue bricks. Opposite, also confined to a semicircle, was a stretch of white sand, surrounded by red, out of which poked a jumbled collection of crystals that glowed various soothing pastel colors. From the pool came the sounds of giggling and splashing. The rocks hummed melodically.
Directly ahead loomed the towering throne, unoccupied. Beyond that..
As the Rectangle slid onto the not-carpet, it bobbled, and then began to float, the floor-strands lifting it into the air, balancing it on their tips. The tall woman could now push it forward with a finger, and she did so. It slid a ways, twisting at an angle as it gradually slid to a stop. She slapped a third black panel, and the door clunked its way shut. On either side of the door was a silvery sculpture shaped like a tree-sized version of the plants, they reached up until they leafless limbs were brushing against one another overhead. She touched a spot on the ‘bark’ of one, and another alcove opened. Into that went the gloves and then the boots. She sighed happily, wiggling her bare toes in the strands, which wiggled right back.
She stood between the rocks and the water, looking at each. Finally she shrugged a shoulder and went to the pool. Despite the splashing sounds, the surface was mirrored stillness. Vague shapes spiraled in endless depths. She stared down at them for a long moment, then extended a foot and dipped in a single toe. Ripples spread for a moment, then were gone. Down below, one of the shapes broke off, came rising to the surface. It was another woman, slender, with long streaming hair, emerald and blue (and just possibly a few remaining traces of blonde..), wearing a suit like the tall woman, only colored blue-green, shimmering fish-scales. One her oddly-wide hands held a thing made multicolored coral, thin where she grasped, then spreading delicately up and out. She kicked up and up, coming a long way at great speed, her feet a match for her hands, and finally her head broke the surface, sending out a single large ripple which reached the lip of the pool and vanished. She looked up with very large and guileless blue-green eyes, and she giggled.
Miranda, the tall woman, studied her expressionlessly before replying.
“Umbriel. Is he here?”
Umbriel gave a shrug of her own.
“I dunno. Maybe.” Her gaze drifted over to the Rectangle. “What’s that?”
“I don’t know.”
“And you brought it back here?” Possibly a crinkling of the forehead.
Miranda displayed sourness.
“It was waiting in our delivery ring. So yes, I drug it all the way back home.”
“Oh. Well. It isn’t oozing or anything, so I guess-” Umbriel gaze drifted to what was sitting on top of the object under discussion, and her brain bounced instantly to a new subject. “Ooh! I see you have a present for me!”
“I don’t give out presents.”
Umbriel rolled her eyes, still smiling.
“Fine. Fine.” She extended her free hand. “I’ll see what I can do.” Miranda took off her glasses, and handed them to her. Umbriel cocked her head as she studied the lenses. “Oh dear sister, what have you been doing?”
“Dragging heavy things back home from our ring.”
Umbriel smiled, and slipped back beneath the water. She spiraled down, not as far as before, and swam in tight circles. Miranda watched her go around and around...
And then she was back at the surface, holding the glasses up.
“There. How’s that?”
Miranda took the glasses back, put them on. The lenses were so clean they were invisible, the frames gleamed, newly-cut rock.
“Good. Thank you.”
“Of course, of course.” Umbriel turned lazily, flicking water onto the not-carpet, where the drops danced on the tips before bouncing back into the pool. “And now..?”
Miranda returned to the Rectangle, and picked up the pyramid of light. Back to the pool, where she held the object at arm’s length, at a carefully considered height, and, with equal care, let go. The object dropped into the pool next to Umbriel, who watched with avidity as it slowly sank. She followed it down, circling, as the glow slowly began to spread and diffuse. And then both were gone.
Miranda returned again to the Rectangle and took up the two mismatched bottles, one in each hand.
The collection of crystals started scattered at the edges, then built to a pile that at its center towered up over Miranda’s head. In the very middle, there was a surprisingly wide platform. So wide, it seemed to run off into the indeterminate distance, where the crystals burned brighter and brighter, flickering their auras higher and higher in the air..
Figures danced there, jabbed flames into the sky..
She shook herself, carefully reached out, holding the small jar and its prisoner between the previously-used thumb and forefinger, and placed them on the edge of the platform. There was a burst of light and noise, a loud TING, and now they were glowing like the rest.
She touched the nosepiece of her glasses, and spreading out from the touched spot, they inverted, black lenses held in transparent frames.
The light grew brighter, and there was a whispy figure sitting cross-legged on the platform, with very black skin, and flaming hair that danced up among the crystals, whipping them to glow brighter, burn yellow and orange and red, banishing the other colors to the far edges. Similar flame-silk danced across her chest, and one hand held something, a smooth straight length that burned white. She smiled at Miranda, composed entirely of guile, her eyes and teeth burning brighter than all the rest. Even behind her lenses, Miranda had to shade her eyes.
Desdemona wiggled her long, sharp fingers.
“Is he here?”
Using the rod, she made an offhand but complex gesture in the direction of the far end of the room.
Desdemona glanced at the Rectangle, raised an eyebrow, then turned her attention to the bottle sitting before her. She took it in her free hand, held it up; the occupant was now a vague black speck amidst all the light. And then the bottle was gone, and the creature was being stretched like a rubber band, tighter and longer, and parts burnt away, and.. She clapped her hand shut around whatever was left, and raised the eyebrow again, this time in Miranda’s direction. Miranda took a steadying breath, lifted the bottle in both hands, and hurled it into Desdemona’s face.
The cloud of violet steam spilled out in all directions, and rose and rose and rose into the air, wove itself into the most intricate and gleeful of shapes. And then it was gone, along with Desdemona, and the crystals hummed placidly. Sitting on the edge of the platform was the small bottle. Miranda let it sit for several long moments as tapped her glasses back to their original configuration then retrieved it, juggled it between her hands until it cooled. Inside was a small almost-square, mostly white ridged with thin ribs of pink, which she dumped out into her palm. The bottle went back into its belt-pouch. Miranda held the square to her nose and sniffed appreciatively at the steam rising off it, then carefully peeled off a corner, slid it into her mouth and chewed slowly, savoring the flavor as it spread across her tongue. She opened another belt-pouch, out of which wafted a bit of icy air, and stored away the rest.
She squared her shoulders, and walked across the room, right up to the edge where the not-carpet stopped, and another edge of stone, bone-white this time, marked where the void began. She looked deeper. Down? Up? Some other direction entirely? There were shapes there, too, moving slowly about, or rather lights.. swirling.
She stared for a long time, then turned away. She walked back to the Rectangle, got behind it, and scooted it closer to the Edge. She stroked its top, felt the risings and fallings. Two thirds of the way along, her fingers found... not an opening, but an engraving perhaps, a circle emblazoned on the top of the larger. Just wide and long enough.. She climbed on top one more time, sat cross-legged like Desdemona, in the waiting shape which fit perfectly around her, sat with her back straight and her head held high, placed her hands on her thighs, her fingers pointing towards the lack-of-ceiling.
She closed her eyes.
“Miranda. What are you thinking?”
She flipped her eyes open, only the tiniest jerk of surprise, rotated her head to see him standing close by. He was leaning on his staff, the ends of his long cloak twisting around on the floor, doing complex things with the strands.
“Sir. Sorry sir.”
She started to get up, but he gestured her to stay where she was, his fingers long and gnarled and graceful.
“For what? Please, tell me what you were thinking.”
“My thoughts were at rest, sir.“ She looked straight ahead, avoiding looking at him.. “But before that.. The void. It reminds me of something. I think. From.. before before.”
“Eh?” Though she couldn’t see it, he arched his flourishing eyebrows.
“Before everything, Sir. Being processed. Becoming your.. meeting you.”
He touched her shoulder, and she trembled, her fingers twitching, her eyes trying roll up inside their sockets.
“I was.. the words are gone. We drove around all the time in..” She lifted her hands, twisted them back and forth, let them drop back into position.
“Yes. I think. I had..” She swallowed. “There was another man, Sir. But not anymore.” She looked at him now, her eyes no longer sharp, but empty. Pleading. Worshipful. “Now there’s only y-”
“Yes, yes.” He flicked his finger, and her head faced forward again. “Go on, Miranda.”
“We got in an Auto Mobile, and.. propelled it. Up onto a.. hill. It was dark. Night. Night and day.”
“Yes. The earth rotated. Blue sky in the day, stars at night.” He sounded nostalgic.
“Yes. Stars. We propelled the Auto Mobile up onto the Hill, and looked at the Stars. And down below.. there were.. more Stars? No. Lights, that looked sort of like Stars, but more interconnected. People. Lots of them. A Complex, like here, but no roof. Just the Stars. And.. yes.” She nodded. “That’s why we went up there. Not because of the Stars, but to look at.. The box in the corner of the room. It talked and flashed pictures when we..” She mimed holding an object, pushing at it with her thumb for a moment, then her hand clicked back into place. “It had been going on about this new Star. No. Not a Star. A Com Met. Coming closer and closer. Only..”
“It wasn’t a comet at all.” He scratched at his beard where it spilled down onto his narrow but muscular chest.
“No.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “It was the You-Know-What..”
“The Harbinger. It’s safe enough to say the word, Miranda now. Coming to scoop us all up, and carry us all away. If indeed it did scoop all of us..”
She said nothing, sat perfectly still.
“I wonder..” He looked out at the void. “I don’t think we’ll live to see it, myself. Our grandchildren.. not that either of us is ever likely to have children.. what will they remember about our former home? Anything? The Complex, as you call it, has already changed a great deal. Two or three generations down the metaphorical road....”
He turned his attention back.
She was glaring at him, her hand curling into claws.
“Johnny! I remember! His name was Johnny, and I loved him! Children! We were going to get married, and have children! And then you came along, you bastard!”
“I didn’t come along, Miranda.”
“My name is not Miranda! It’s.. it’s..” Panic replaced the anger.
“The Harbinger came tootling along, spiraling down out of the Stars, and scooped us up, and carried us away.” He glowered, not at her, but at the universe in general. “I had a wife that I loved, you know, just as much as you loved ‘Johnny’. And I can’t remember her name, either.” His gaze went even further away. “She made the most wonderful corn muffins.” His fingers rubbed at the staff, which was almost as twisted and knobby as the surrounding plants, and the lights around them sharpened their edges. “Maybe she’s making them for someone else right now. Or she has her own version of all this away off at the far eastern edge of the Complex, with three cheerfully devoted.. what was the word? Hunks?”
“And.. what..?” She tried to lift her hands. “I’m supposed to feel sorry for you?”
“No.” He waved end of his staff in her face. There were gold coins there, and trapped fire, and water flowing endlessly. She watched it all, back and forth.. Spinning.. “You’re supposed to watch this.. always watch this.. and listen to my voice.”
“Your voice..” Her eyes stared to glaze.
“Only to my voice. I did Choose you, and Umbriel, and Desdemona, when it came time to.. decorate my cell. Because you are all, in your own ways, strong, and capable, and intelligent. Some of my fellow.. what it is you.. and your associates.. call us, with our staffs and ‘magic’ and pointy hats?”
“Some of my fellow Controllers.. continue to make spectacularly.. shallow.. Choices.” He leaned closer, almost whispering. “And if we are going to figure out all of this, figure out why some of us were made Controllers, where the hell this Complex or spaceship or whatever, is being dragged off to.. We need to work together, get the oxytrees growing everywhere, spread the floatcarpets.. use the best and the brightest to the fullest of their utility...”
Behind her lenses, her eyes went utterly blank.
“And so, for now, your name is Miranda.”
She blinked and smiled at him.
“Yes, sir. My name is Miranda.”
He patted her on the head, and she trembled.
“What were you thinking about?”
She looked around, looked down, back at him.
“My thoughts were completely at rest, sir. But before that.. I was wondering what was inside this big golden Rectangle that I dragged back!”
“Well. Let’s find out together, shall we?”
“Yes, sir!” She smiled, then creased her forehead. “You... don’t know, sir? It was inside our delivery ring.. but if it could be some sort of trap I could drag it back out, push it under the Atom-Smasher...”
“No no. Everything here is a trap, Miranda. But I can tell it’s not from one of my fellow Controllers..” He waggled an eyebrow, looked at her beltpouches, which all turned briefly transparent under his gaze. “Not like your little red friend there.”
“I’m sorry, sir. But they taste so good after Desdemona.. Processes.. them. I was going to take it.. most of it.. up to Tier 23, and trade Sycorax for some of her-”
“Yes, yes.” He flicked his fingers and possibly looked a trifle sour. “An excellent use of resources. Back to the matter at hand.”
“What have you learned so far about the.. Rectangle, was it?”
“Not much, sir. There’s a hollow circle on top of it. I’m sitting on it. In it..”
“Hm. Well, hop up, and take a closer look.”
“Yes, sir!” A moment passed, and she looked down at her body in puzzlement. “I seem to be turned to stone, sir.”
“Oh, yes.” He snapped his fingers, a thunderous sound which shattered free her limbs.
“Thank you, sir.” She hopped up, curtsied, brushed away dust, and traced the outlines of her former seat. “I was noticing before... it’s not a crack, but there’s something there..” She shot a glance in his direction.
She leaned closer, adjusted the frames of her glasses with a precise clicking sound.
“There’s more.. it branches out.. off over here, and here.. five places around the edge.. all interconnected..” Her finger etched along the top of the Rectangle.. “..and then on the outside.. they all lead to these.. things. These lumps and holes.” She tipped her head. “Although they’re too pretty to called that.”
“Mm. So what is to be done?”
“It’s so obvious!” She looked at nothing in particular, crinkling her forehead again. “Why didn’t I see it before? It has to all be.. I don’t know.. equalized. Somehow..” She balanced her hands up and down across the surface. “There’s too much.. it needs more.. Ah.” She extended the hands so they were pointing, at the pool, at the crystals. “I’m going to need your other- the other two, sir.”
“Of course.” He thumped the metal-shod end of the staff on the ground, and Umbriel instantly rose from her pool, Desdemona was sitting on her platform, looking at him, only at him, their eyes empty and worshipful. He gestured with the staff, and their heads swiveled to point towards Miranda, who climbed back onto the Rectangle, back into the Circle, planting her butt back on the Star. Not looking up, staring at the golden landscape before her, she held out her hands, wiggled her fingers preemptory. Umbriel held up her cup, water came spilling out, Desdemona extended her rod, fire flickered forth. They met in the middle of the room, intertwining, where Miranda poured into the valleys, burnt the hills away.
And then there was a perfect Rectangle, sharp-edged, glowing gold. Miranda did a slow back-roll off her perch, came to her feet, as the Circle and Star were the last to fade away.
He was standing at the other end, and he extended his staff, touched amid the heart of the glow.
The gold flowed away in streams across the floor, fed along the carpet, climbing the walls, settling into delicate highlights here and there, tipping the branches on the metal trees...
For a second there was a last razor-thin framework of edges, and that crumbled away, leaving on the ground a large white fluffy pile. Miranda took a cautious step forward, and poked at it with her toe.
Feathers. The one she had dislodged floated across the carpet, much like the Rectangle, slowly coming to rest.
And then the pile began to shift, more of its contents falling away. A head emerged. Blonde hair, gone almost entirely white, a fluffy halo. A woman, with equally pale skin, and light blue eyes above a nose that jutted out like, the only word, really, a beak. She wore feathers down her body, leaving her thin arms and legs bare, and a matching cloak spilled down her back; a surprising number of them making up the pile. Her gaze passed over Miranda like a piece of scenery, came to rest on the man opposite.
Her voice was harsh but strong and somehow beautiful at the same time.
She came up, and she was holding a sword, a long and shining thing that would seem to be far too heavy for her arms to lift, much less wield, but she slashed it through the air effortlessly.
“NO!” Miranda screamed the word, and suddenly between the sword and its target were two enormous shields, transparent, edged with black. The sword clashed against them; they held, but massive cracks shot through at the impact point. Miranda staggered backwards a step, and clutched at her eye.
The bird-woman did not get another chance to swing. The water and the fire came pouring in, swirled together, swallowing her, pulling her arms and legs apart, spinning the sword away. She struggled uselessly, then looked at her attackers in disbelief.
“Vous le défendez?!”
The shields were gone. Miranda stepped forward, her eyes hard and dead behind her lenses, one of which was cracked. Her hands closed either side of the newcomer’s head, a grip of stone, stopping with effort just short of crushing force, and turned it so it was facing forward.
He had not moved during all of this, but now, he extended the tip of the staff, into the swirl, and vast spirals appeared, endless, bottomless.
“Ce qui? Jamais! Je ne soumettrai.. jamais..” Her body floated up off the floor, tethered only by Miranda’s hands, and as her voice trailed off, she gradually went limp.
Her hips began to sway in time to the display before her.
They were all watching the display now, all four of them, even as they helped create it, twisting it all deeper and deeper, adding more colors, making it more and more beautiful and inescapable. And it was their voices who were speaking, all as one.
“He is your controller.”
Miranda’s fingers laced together, closed completely around the feather-woman’s head, leaving only her eyes and mouth free.
Not that either were free..
“Il est mon.. controller..”
“You obey his every command.”
“J'obéis sa every command..”
“You exist only to please him.”
“J'existe only to please him.”
The last cracks sealed shut, leaving only swirling blackness.
And his will.
“Your name is Perdita.”
“my name is Perdita. my name is Umbriel name is Desdemona. is Miranda”
“we obey our Controller!”
The other three girls were sitting cross-legged, amidst their flames and water and earth, their backs straight, their fingers pointing to the nonexistent sky, their eyes wide and blank.
Perdita was kneeling at his feet, staring up at him. He patted her on the head, and she shuddered down to her bare (rather pointy) toes, her eyes rolling up in their sockets.
“Are you ready for your first assignment?”
“Yes sir” She quivered again, this time in eagerness.
He pointed with his staff, in opposite direction to Miranda.
“It’s pretty simple. Go see what’s out there. Bring back a full report.”
“Yes, sir!” Her eyes gleamed, as the carpet wafted her sword into her waiting hand. She rose, walked to the line of white stones, spread her cloak, and stepped across without hesitation.
“Oh, and a hunk of clean fresh air. It just might come in handy.”
“Yes sir!” She made the sword dance in her hand, and then was gone, a white speck fading away.
He quirked a smile.
The chair was sitting close at hand, low and battered and worn, but well padded. He sank into it with a relieved sigh, placed his staff in the attached holder.
As one, the three remaining women rose and came to him. Umbriel stood to one side, Desdemona to the other, Miranda knelt before him, and held up her glasses. He took them, turned them in his hands, outlined the crack with a fingertip. Umbriel held out her cup, and he placed the glasses inside. Desdemona waved her rod over the top, and the water inside glowed. The glasses re-emerged, once again whole and spotless. Miranda put them back on, then went to her hands and knees, offering her broad strong back as a footrest, of which he availed himself. Umbriel tipped the cup, and instead of water, wine poured out, a deep purple red. Desdemona waved her rod again, and glowing bitesized puffs went on display, trailing steam. He sampled absently from both, then laced his fingers over his stomach, and looked up above for a long silent, into the darkness.
“That will be next, I think. I can’t imagine what she will be like.. but it will interesting finding out..”
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