General Disclaimers: While it features no ‘on-screen’ sexual activity or explicit adult situations, this hypnofetish story does contain examples of adult fictional characters doing illegal, immoral and/or impossible things to other adult fictional characters. If you are under the age of consent in your community, are disturbed by such concepts, or want hot wet thrusting sex in your free on-line pornography, then for goshsakes stop reading now! Permission granted is to re-post to any electronic medium, as long as 1) No one's being charged to view it in any way, shape or form and 2) 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, 2004.
Specific Disclaimers: Long-time visitors to the site may possibly recognize one of the characters in this story.
Ashe placed his goblet back on the tray next to the decanter, and after a moment’s hesitation, Ian followed suit. Ashe nodded at the short, rather busty brunette who held the tray and stared up at him.
“That will be all for now, my dear. You may return to your regular duties.”
She gave a perfect curtsy.
“Yes, my Lord Ashe.” She turned and moved away, her wide hips rising and falling enticingly under the folds of her silvery dress, her bare feet silent on the tiled floor. Ian watched her out of the corner of his eye until she disappeared out of sight behind the green spray from one of the enormous potted ferns that half-filled the hallway.
Ashe crooked a gnarled finger in Ian’s direction.
“There is one more thing you need to see today. We need to see. Just the two of us, which is why I excused Ms. Oxnard.” He pointed at the nearest of the many dark openings that led off the main passage. “It’s just in there. And please, Ian, while we are-”
“Excuse me, my Lord Ashe?”
A new voice and they both turned. Another woman had appeared. As lovely as the tray-holder, her hips posed in exactly the same way, but otherwise a complete opposite. Tall and slender, with dark skin and a spray of frizzy hair (much like the fern, except that it was black instead of green) that was pulled back in a tight knot at the back of her head. She wore a large pair of glasses the frames of which matched her hair, and a white garment, essentially a labcoat. She was vaguely familiar; Ian had seen her heading up a team in one of the labs a couple of levels up. He glanced down at her bare legs and feet, as shapely as the rest of her.
Ashe didn’t. He simply smiled and spoke.
“Ah. Yes, Dr. Hamilton?”
The woman curtsied (sincere, but just the tiniest bit less polished) and held out a clipboard which she had been carrying.
“I apologize for interrupting, my Lords Ashe and Takawa,” Ian gave a small start at hearing his name... “but you asked to see the latest test results on the Puppet Class Simulations, as soon as they were available.”
“Of course. Thank you.” Ashe absently leaned his umbrella against the nearest fern pot and took the clipboard. He produced a small rimless pair of reading glasses from some interior pocket, perched them on the crag that was his nose and studied the attached sheets, flipping through them one by one. Like the tray-holder, the woman watched him, and Ian watched her. Her overt expression was one of clinical methodicalness, but tucked away behind it, it was the same as all the rest when they were looking Ashe or one of the other truly senior Higher-Ups; a wash of awe and devotion that was simultaneously hazy and as tightly focused as a laser beam.
No. Ian scratched absently at the fabric of his slacks with a fingertip. Ashe was somehow different than the others, even the handful of Higher-Ups who technically had more seniority. Not that Ian had yet had the opportunity to spend massive amounts of time gathering data in such refined circles...
She could watch him all day. The thought flickered across his mind. She would be the happiest woman on earth if she was allowed to just get down on her knees before him and to watch him... And if I work at it hard enough, keep my nose clean, someday...
Ashe finished his study, sighed, and returned the clipboard.
“So. No real surprises, then.”
“No, my Lord. We’ll be proceeding with the next set in the morning.”
“Of course. Carry on.”
“Yes, my Lord.”
She departed. Ashe studied her back for a moment.
“Have you worked with her yet? No? Brilliant mind. Her work here has been invaluable.” He looked pained and sad for a moment, then retrieved the umbrella. “You wouldn’t believe how she was wasting her time before we...” He waved his own thoughts away. “No matter. As I was saying. There was something that I wanted us to see.”
“First, however, there is one thing, which is very important. Once we go in there, do not speak until I do.”
“I understand, sir.”
Ashe eyed Ian for a minute, then, evidently satisfied, entered the indicated archway. Ian followed him, but only for a few steps before straggling to a halt. Positioned just inside the archway were two more women, one on either side. At least, their amazonian figures indicated they were women; they were both wearing sleek visored helmets that completely covered their heads and hid their faces. The rest of their bodies were clad in smooth hard battle-armor, the whole making them look very much like bipedal insects. Lethal insects, with stings; they stood on either side of a metal gate, and each carried a wicked-looking weapon, a thing that looked like a cross between a poleax and a machine-gun. The instant the two men stepped into view, these weapons snapped up and locked into place, the muzzles unwavering. Ashe turned, and Ian realized there was a silvery mirror mounted in one of the interior walls of the arch, and next to it was a smooth black panel, a square maybe a foot wide. Ashe looked into the mirror for a long moment, then slapped his hand against this panel. A blue light flashed there, a hollow box shape that surrounded the edges of the plate. Ashe removed his hand, and jerked his head towards the plate. Ian duplicated Ashe’s actions, looking first in the mirror. Under his short-cropped black hair, his somewhat bemused expression stared back at him. Something flickered subliminally behind the mirror and then around his hand another square of light flashed. It was also blue, but not quite the same shade as Ashe’s palmprint had provoked. There was a machine-click, and now the two weapons were unwaveringly and exclusively pointed at Ian. Ashe made a small but distinct gesture with his free hand, and the guns clicked back to rest. Ian started breathing again.
After a final glance at the two guards, who now stood as immobile as black marble statues, Ashe turned his attention to the gate. The barrier was made of solid steel bars, set close together and reaching from floor to ceiling. Ashe again fished around inside his jacket, and this time produced a small gold key which was attached to the end of a fine chain. Whatever mechanism that fed out the chain made a small clicking noise inside Ashe’s clothes. The key went in the gate’s lock. Ashe glanced at the mirror again, then very deliberately turned the key.
Numerous bolts shot back, and the gate swung open on well-oiled hinges. The two men passed through and Ashe closed the gate behind them. Only then did let go of the key, which slithered itself back out of sight. The two men were standing in a last pool of light; before them stretched darkness. There was a light switch to one side, and Ashe flipped it using not his fingers but the metal tip of his umbrella.
Lights came on overhead, one after the other in a long line, gradually unfurling another corridor to their view. They started down this. Unlike the wood and elaborate inlayed marble tiles that was used almost everywhere else in the Complex, here their shoes rang loudly against large metal floor-plates. More metal made up the walls and ceiling; there were no ferns here. Far more so than before, Ian could feel the looming weight of the rest of the Complex pressing down from overhead. They were very deep inside the Mountain now, at least four levels deeper than he had ever gone before.
Apart from their feet, the only other sound was the eternal hum of the ventilation system, now clearly audible in the quiet. (There was usually music of one kind or another, covering it...) The lights gleamed clinically in their neatly-spaced niches. The passageway shot straight on, sloping slightly downward. There were occasional doors on either side, all massive things, tightly sealed with imposing and complicated locks. Most of them were unmarked, but a few had strings of unfamiliar angular symbols etched on them. A handful had words in plain english. ALLAMAGOOSA. EASTSIDE. VERMIN.
Ian gave another small start when Ashe finally spoke again.
“As you may have suspected, Ian, this is where we store some of our... most valuable and dangerous items. Not all of them of course. Never keep all of your eggs in one basket, a lesson most painfully learned.”
“The Detroit Wipeout.” Ian found his voice, but only a whisper.
Ashed nodded absently. “Yes. Along with one or two others which aren't discussed in the standard history briefings. And so, even I, after all these years, don’t know where all the storehouses are now located. As for this one...” He waved a careless umbrella at the doors... “I could spend a week showing you things locked up in here, things that would... ah, but we need not concern ourselves with that today. What we are interested in today is here.”
He stopped at an unmarked door that looked exactly like all the other unmarked doors. The fingers of his free hand fitted into waiting holes in the lock, and did something with it that Ian’s eyes couldn’t quite follow. Another blue light flashed in the lock’s depths. Ashe seemed suddenly tense beside Ian, far more so than with the guards, and Ian felt his fingers curl into fists.
The door slowly swung itself open, cloaked in an unsettling silence, revealing itself to be even thicker than it first appeared. Beyond was...
A tiny room, dimly lit, with another door just like the first filling the opposite wall. The cramped space between the two doors was empty. Ashe relaxed just a bit.
They stepped inside and like the gate, the first door closed behind them, sealing itself with a rather ominous hiss.
“Sir? What’s in there?” Ian pointed at the second door.
“No idea.” Ashe ignored the door, and turned to face one of the two blank walls. “I don’t have the combination, and I’ve never been inside.” He carefully slid the tip of the umbrella across the wall he was studying, and finally arrived at a spot that looked just like all the other spots. He tapped once, twice, three times, and the entire wall ghosted upward out of sight. “But I expect it’s gold, or something else quite valuable.”
Behind the now-departed wall, there was yet another barrier, but instead of steel this one was made of glass... or some transparent substance... several inches thick.
The room beyond appeared to be perfectly square, and made of more large sheets of metal, riveted tightly together. No windows or doors visible, but it was all so brightly lit it was almost painful, and Ian had to stifle an impulse to feel for his sunglases. The lights were tinted very slightly, or maybe it was the glass. It wasn’t any one color, but a mixture, something that rocked back and forth across the spectrum... He made the internal Adjustments as Dubov had been teaching him, and the problem faded away.
Ian then realized what was really wrong, or at least truly odd about the space in front of him; it was divided in half, with another thick wall of glass forming a T with the one behind which the two men stood. On the left hand side of the glass, there were various objects scattered irregularly across the floor, but Ian couldn’t identify any of them. They looked like some sort of tangled abstract sculptures, made of wood and metal, maybe. There was also a small metal sink and a very functional-looking toilet mounted against one wall. The other side of the room was barren, totally empty, with one exception.
The woman in the far corner.
She was Japanese, probably, but surprisingly tall, and wearing some sort of one-piece garment, the complex and seamless straps of which wrapped themselves tightly around her curves, leaving large patches of skin bare, including area around her belly button. Around her neck was a clamped an enormous metal collar, the most substantial one that Ian had ever seen in actual deployment, with a glowing Symbol centered on its front. A long and tightly-wound ponytail of hair left the back of head and slithered across the floor, a glossy black snake with a tiny curled head.
She was standing on her hands, her eyes closed, her bare toes pointed neatly skyward, or at least ceiling-ward. She gave every impression of being able to maintain this position indefinitely.
There was a small control panel on the men’s side of the glass, and after studying the unchanging scene for a very long moment, Ashe thumbed a button on the device, and spoke a single word.
The woman’s eyes flipped open. Even under the lights, they were purple, and they seemed to spin and glow from somewhere within. She smiled, and an instant later was on her feet, moving with a fluid easy grace that was terrifying. She flipped the ponytail out of the way (it reached all the way to her ass), and slinked her way towards their glass, ignoring the other half of the room. Ian took an involuntary step backwards. The woman spoke, and her voice was like her eyes.
“My Lord Ashe.” The usual words, but lacking the usual undertones. A pause, and she shifted her head in Ian’s direction, a quick snapping motion. No, not quite in his direction. Ian suddenly realized that it was one-way glass, and she couldn’t actually see them. Still... “And another. Someone I don’t... quite... recognize.” She tipped her head, still smiling. “Someone who hasn’t been to visit before.”
She was too beautiful to be beautiful. It was like looking an ice sculpture carved with edges so sharp they’d draw blood if touched.
“No.” Ashe was grim. “His name is-”
“Don’t tell her.” The words came out before Ian could stop them. “Please. Sir.”
“Oh, come now.” The woman.. Isia.. drifted closer to the glass, her legs not seeming to move at all. “If you tell me your name, you’ll dream about me tonight. You’ll dream all about me...”
“That’s what scares me.”
She laughed, a cold tinkly sound, made entirely of swirling chips, more ice, and she turned back to Ashe.
“I like him. He’s the first interesting person you’ve ever brought to see me.”
“What about Miss O'Brien?”
Isia looked vaguely puzzled.
“The young woman who was sent down to see you last night.” Ashe’s expression didn’t change, but Ian thought the older man was possibly smiling, somewhere inside.
“Hmm? Oh. Her.” Isia rolled her eyes and then absently clicked her long fingers a couple of times. The noise was surprisingly loud.
There was movement in the other half of the room, someone uncurling off in the other far corner.
Another woman. A redhead, wearing the tattered remains of a green dress. Ian saw that she had been twisted into some kind of impossible-seeming yoga position, and he had mistaken her for one of the sculpture-things. (His eyes automatically re-checked the rest, but they all appeared to be truly inanimate...) At the clicking of Isia’s fingers, she untangled her limbs, got to her feet, and scurried to the center of the room, or as near as she could get to that place with the second glass wall in the way. There she posed herself, her legs locking in the same position as the insect-guards. She became utterly still, her eyes wide and black and unblinking. Her hair, and she had a nice thick crop of it, dangled rather messily around her face. Under normal circumstances, she wouldd have been quite pretty, but in same room as Isia, she was faded and drab, a two-dimensional cut-out. Isia spoke, now sounding and looking utterly bored, studying her perfect white nails.
“Who are you?”
“i am no one.” The woman’s voice was tiny.
“Whom to do you serve?”
“i serve the Hierarchy.”
“What is real?”
“the Hierarchy is real. the Hierarchy is life. the Hierarchy is death. i obey the Hierarchy without thought without fear without qualm-”
Another snap of the fingers, and the woman fell silent.
Isia made a theatrical ‘there you are’ gesture.
“She was no fun at all. She was easy.” She casually lifted a long smooth leg and touched the glass wall that separated her from the woman with her toes. “I wrapped her around my little finger. Metaphorically speaking, of course.” Ian didn’t think it would have been possible, but her expression became even more sly. “If you just let me out, My Lord Ashe, I could go find some girls who are so much better. Bring them back here. Save you all the trouble. I know they are out there. I can smell them, even down here, almost taste them...”
“That’s what I’m afraid of.” Ashe spoke, dry as a desert. He turned to Ian. “Last time she got out, she brought back twenty of them. Twenty. One of them was Miss Oxnard, in fact. The young woman with the tray.”
“Oh yes.” Isia. “I remember her. Matilda Oxnard, of 241 Justine Drive, in lovely Parkdale. Population 10,423, and home to the largest ball of twine in the tri-state area. I went to see it. I bought a postcard, then I went to her house, and sat on her sofa in her living room, waiting for her to come home from work. She worked in the dental offices of Dr. Christopher Szell, DDS. I petted her cat, and I used one of the others...” An expression of.. confusion? Something besides slyness, anyway, flashed across her face before she went on. “Ursula Gramble, that silly little blonde lawyer, that’s who it was... she was my footstool. Matilda came in and... struggled against me. Actually struggled.” Isia clasped her hands, for a moment looked dangerously innocent and winsome. “When I finally had her down, kissing my feet...” She again lifted a leg, pointed it with precision, twirled like a ballarina. “...worshipping my feet... seeing only my feet... it was sooo tasty. We did it for hours. Such a nimble little tongue she has. And then I brought the others over. I had all twenty of them, there in Matilda’s living room. I arranged them so they were all kneeling in a circle around me, black and white and yellow and brown, minds all drained totally dry, whispering my praises, thinking only of me-”
Ian groaned, and took another step away from the glass.
Isia was there, pushing against it, staring at him.
“I’m going to have you, with or without your name. Find you, and have you, and then-”
“No.” Ashe spoke, and Isia’s head snapped in his direction. “That’s enough.”
“My Lord Ashe-”
“That is enough.”
Isia stopped smiling, her hands still pressed against the glass.
“Down, Isia. Down on your knees.”
She made a Noise that was quite inhuman.
“Down. On. Your. Knees.”
Isia jerked away from the glass, her grace suddenly gone.
She dropped to her knees, and her hands slapped against the floor.
She stared up at Ashe, eyes wide, lips parted.
He looked back, from under his heavy brows. He lifted a hand, spread the fingers. His voice was unlike anything Ian had ever heard from him.
Her body spasmed.
and like the
There were two statues beyond the glass.
Ashe pushed another button. In Isia’s half of the room, the lights began to flicker and drop almost to nothing, leaving only a vague strobing outline of her shape. No words were spoken, but the redhead suddenly curtsied, and turned. A hole opened in one of the walls on her side of the room, revealing a shaft which was half-ladder, sloping sharply up out of sight. The redhead climbed, using both her hands and feet, and was gone. (She was agile enough, but again compared to Isia, her movements seemed almost spastic.) After a moment, the men’s wall slid back down into place as well, concealing everything.
Ashe faced Ian. He raised an eyebrow.
“Not bad, son. For your first time, not bad at all.”
“What? I was... that was awful. I don’t deserve to be here. Sir.”
Ashe laughed, without a trace of coldness or condescension.
“Isia said you were interesting. And you didn’t go insane or have a heart attack. Believe me, that gives you a right to be here. Next time, it will go a little better, and the time after that...”
“Next time? Why?”
“So you can take my place.” Ashe let the words hang. “So I can finally retire.” He paused again, and Ian suddenly realized just how old Ashe really looked, as if a mask had been torn off. “I’ve got a bungalow, on the beach, you know. I’ll go and sit and watch the waves. I only hope I am able to convince Miss Anderson to come with me. Our chess matches are the only thing I would truly miss...”
Ian stared at Ashe.
Then he carefully took the umbrella from the man’s unresisting hand, and tapped the wall in the right place, once, twice three times.
The wall moved again.
Isia looked up, her posture shifted now to a crouch, a thing a predator does before it springs.
Ian found the right button on the control panel.
“My name is Ian Takawa. I’ll see you tonight, Isia. In our dreams.”
Unlike Isia, Ashe smiled.
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