I didn’t really know what I was doing. Certainly, it was easy enough for me to force the body to produce the chemicals necessary to influence the brain. I could put someone to sleep, influence moods, stress levels, cause hallucinations, etc. It was a complex organ, however, and not one I could manipulate with fine precision to unlock memories or such like. I wasn’t a telepath, I couldn’t just read the bio-electric activity in the mind to see what a person was thinking. In that way, it was not like I could just forcibly trigger memories the way a person could access a computer file.
I kept her asleep and just ran her through a gauntlet of emotions and stresses that manifested as particularly vivid, yet trippy dream sequences. I felt her body twitching in response. The effect I was going for was to make her feel the stress of an overwhelming opponent, followed by a sense of peaceful acceptance that she had been defeated, but that she would also be alright if she just surrendered and trusted us. I wasn’t attempting to permanently alter her mind, just give her a temporary charge of reactions.
I wasn’t sure if this would actually undo the brainwashing or not. We’d have to see. After letting her wrestle with her dreams for a bit, I suddenly detected a flood of hormones indicating extreme stress and fear. I hadn’t caused it. Something, perhaps in her dreams, had giving her a shot of mortal terror. Her body shook, trying to come awake. Instead, I forced her to remain asleep, and gently soothed her mind with boosts to mood stabilizing chemicals. After a few seconds, she settled down into an easy slumber. I let her body cool down from my manipulations and rebalance itself.
“Any luck?” said Hitchhiker.
“I don’t know. I’m not even sure if this will snap her out of it. I guess we’ll just have to see.”
“How reassuring,” she muttered. She was still wearing the man she’d knocked La Luste out with. She leaned against the wall, looking bored. Strider was busying herself reading the placards of various displays, teleporting in front of each one in turn.
Max suddenly appeared next to us in a rush of wind. “James is fixing up the damage top side. How’s progress here?”
“I was about to wake her up. Everybody get ready. I don’t think she has any directly offense powers, but we’re not sure of the full limits of her control ability.”
We all turned away from the door, though Max backed up and planted herself in front of it, using her durability to form a barricade. I woke La Luste up with a tiny jolt to her nerves. I kept my skin needle attached, just in case.
She let out a soft groan, and sat up. A motion triggered light switch came on, causing her to blink at the sudden brightness. Rubbing sleep out of her eyes, she looked around confused. She slowly got to her feet and went to the door. I tensed my needle, ready to knock her out again incase she—
“Um… h-hello…?” she said in a meek voice. That certainly sounded a lot less hostile than one would expect from a supervillain.
Max took the lead. “Hello there. La Luste?”
“Um… uh…” she stammered. “I don’t, um… where am I? This looks like a broom closet.”
“What do you remember, La Luste?”
“La Luste? Are you calling me that?” There was a pause, then I sensed her body flush with a sting of self-awareness. “Oh, god, why am I naked?!” Then a bit of panic. “Oh, shit, what happened? Where am I? What’s going on?!”
Max looked to me. “I don’t think she’s faking it,” I said. “None of the usual body reactions from lying. I think she’s clear. Do they usually forget their actions?”
“It tends to vary,” she said. “It seems to be like waking up from a dream.” She spoke to the door. “It’s alright, hun. Everything’s under control now. Just take a moment to relax, and then tell us what happened.”
The woman took her advice, taking a slow calming breath. “The last thing I remember, I was in my house. I was about to put on a movie and watch it with Steve—” Another jolt of panic. “Oh, god, Steve! Is he alright? I have to check on him!”
“We can’t let you go right now, ma’am,” said Max. “We need to assess your situation, and then we will need to speak to the police about what to do with you.”
“What did I do?” she said. She sounded terrified. I could sense the dread in her. “I vaguely remember… there were people… there were a couple other women, we were… gah, something about taking on the city…?”
“You went supervillain,” said Max.
“Oh no! But… but why…? Why would I… I’m a nun for Pete’s sake!”
Hitchhiker cracked a grin at that, and opened her mouth to make a smart ass comment, but Max held a hand up to silence her.
“That’s what we’re hoping to find out, actually,” Max said. It was almost weird seeing her be so collected and professional. “Do you remember anything past sitting down for a movie?”
La Luste thought it over, then shook her head. “I’m trying, but… no… no, I really can’t remember. Um, look, if I did something bad, I’ll turn myself in, but, please, I need to check on Steve.”
“We’ll see what we can arrange,” said Max. “Now, about how your powers work. How long does the entrancement last? Or do you know?”
I felt her blush hotly again. “It depends a little bit on how long they’ve been looking at me. The longest I let anyone do it is five minutes, and they obeyed me for a couple of hours before they snapped out of it. Except, um…” She swallowed hard. “I didn’t… um… I didn’t… have sex… with anyone, did I?”
Max glanced at me. I scanned her body, finding no signs of recent intercourse. I shook my head. “It doesn’t seem so,” said Max.
“Oh, thank God,” she said.
“What would that have done?”
“If you let me see Steve, I can show you.”
Max frowned, but nodded. “Alright. Now, your power, does it rely on your nudity, or can you wear something to turn it off?”
“Um, no, it, um, requires nudity. The less I wear, the more people are compelled by me, but the actual entrancement doesn’t fully kick in unless I’m, um, showing off my privates. And the person has to be within a hundred feet of me, too.”
Max finally couldn’t help but crack a grin. “Ultimate stripper,” she said in a low voice.
“I heard that! I’m not that kind of woman!” I sensed La Luste cover herself with her arms, even though there was still a door between us.
Hitchhiker stripped off all of her host’s clothes, leaving the man with only his boxers and shoes. He’d been wearing jeans and an open long-sleeve shirt over a plain undershirt, more than enough to cover the majority of La Luste’s form. She set the clothes in a pile next to the door, and Max stepped away.
“Alright,” said Max. “We’ve got some clothes for you. Might not fit, but it’ll be enough to block your power.”
I disconnected my skin-thread needle, feeling she was no longer a threat. La Luste opened the door just wide enough to slip her arm out, snatched up the bundle and quickly put them on, before stepping out. The clothes hung loose on her, and she had to hold up the pants since the man hadn’t bothered with a belt, but it definitely eliminated the risk of her powers.
Hitchhiker grinned. “What are the odds, huh? A nun gained the power of hypno-tits.”
La Luste blushed furiously and looked to the ground. “Actually, I became a nun after. Because of the power.” She swallowed hard. “Um, how many people did I affect? I vaguely recall a big crowd.”
“At least a hundred,” said Strider, who had appeared in our midst.
“Jeez,” said La Luste. “Okay, well, can you take me to them?”
Strider paused a second, then nodded. I opened my mouth to tell her not to just teleport—
—and we were suddenly in a huge display area crowded with a hundred people. I blinked and shook my head. “Goddamn it, warn us before you do that!”
She offered me an apologetic smile. “Sorry.”
La Luste likewise blinked and took a second to orient herself. There was no physical side effect to the jump, no lurching stomach or anything, but to have one’s environment instantly change was definitely disorienting.
At least a hundred people were trapped in the room with us, and they turned to us all. Seeing their Mistress, they became furious and surged toward us, reaching to pull her to safety while they attacked us.
“S-stop!” yelled La Luste, holding up her hands. The entire crowd suddenly froze. They looked at her with concern, but also eager to hear more of her orders.
“You did a good job, everyone,” she said. “You have served me well.”
Elation spread over their faces like a wave. It was kind of spooky.
“Now, I’d like you all to take a rest. Just sit relax for a bit. Some doctors and emergency responders may come down to collect you and check on you. Just remain calm and go with them. I have to attend to some things, but I promise you, everything will be alright.”
The group frowned deeply upon hearing that she was about to leave them, but none of them protested. Hitchhiker released her host, and he stood as attentive as the rest, not even noticing his near-nudity.
La Luste turned to Max. “Alright, well, I think they’ll be okay after a few hours, at least. Some of them might take a bit longer to shake out of it, but as long as looking is all they did, there shouldn’t be any permanent effects. Just tell the authorities to be careful with them. It might be best to just wait it out before they start trying to check on them.”
“I’ll tell them,” said Max. “Alright, is that everything?” She glanced to the rest of us. None of us had any other particularly pressing matters to attend to. I had seen several displays shift around behind us as Strider returned everything she’d moved back where it had been, but she took care of it all in a matter of seconds.
“Alright let’s get topside,” said Max.
Strider nodded, gave me a glance to make sure I was prepared. I mentally braced myself and nodded. She made that little toe-tap and teleported us outside. We were back in the middle of the tiny park in front of the courthouse.
I blinked in the sunlight, forcing my eyes to adjust quickly. I looked around, and saw chunks of buildings flying through the air, reconnecting to where they’d fallen off. The Earth Mage was waving his staff and arms about, fixing up the last of the damage.
Max ran off to talk to the police, leaving the three of us to stand guard over La Luste. I ignored the sight of ambulances carrying away the injured.
Hitchhiker, however, didn’t let me. She motioned to the nearest emergency vehicle on the street to our left, where a person on a stretcher was being loaded in. “Going to lend your assistance, Doctress?”
I glared at her. “No.”
She cocked an eyebrow at me and put a hand on her hip. “No? Not even fix a few scratches?”
“People don’t know who I am,” I said. “Same as you. I’d rather keep it that way.”
“Even if it means people su—”
I grit my hidden teeth. “Yes. Now shut up, Fantasmas.”
La Luste was staring at me. “Doctress?” Her brow furrowed. No doubt she was confused as to why a man had a feminine title. There was also a chance she recognized that name. My icy glare shut her up immediately.
Max reappeared, just as the Earth Mage had finished up the last of the repairs. He floated down to join us.
“Well,” he said, giving La Luste a once-over. “I see at least some us managed a non-lethal solution.”
“Oh, fuck off, James.” Max glowered at him.
“I was including myself in that disparaging assessment.”
“Yeah, that’s the problem. Being a constant downer doesn’t help.”
James frowned, but nodded. “Point taken. Now, then, miss, I take it my colleagues have already questioned you?”
She shook her head. “I don’t remember anything. Honest. I barely remember what I did here. Like I told them, I remember sitting down to watch a movie, and then suddenly, I’m waking up in a broom closet.”
He frowned. “Alright then. We will have to hand you over the DSA for psychological assessment, but in most cases like yours, you should be cleared to return home after a few days. We—”
“No! I have to check on Steve!” As if it suddenly dawned on her, she asked. “Wait what day is it?”
“April 12,” Strider responded. “Thursday.”
La Luste paused for a moment, glancing up as she ran a thought through her head. “Oh, good. Good. It’s only been a day. He should be alright. But I still need to check on him.”
“Who is Steve?” James said.
La Luste blushed yet again and looked to the ground a bit shamefully. “He’s, um, he’s my boyfriend. Was my boyfriend. Now he’s…” she cleared her throat. “When I asked about if I’d had sex? The other thing about my power is that, my nudity entrances people temporarily. But having sex with them, well, it makes them my permanent slave.”
Her face contorted into a tight frown, and for a moment, she looked almost about to cry. But she forced herself to be calm, taking a breath to compose herself.
“I, um, Steve and I, we…” She took another moment, then forced herself to spit it out. “Steve and I, we met not long after I came back from the Doorway. I had a sense of what my power could do, but I didn’t know the exact limits. We fooled around some with my power for, you know, foreplay stuff. He was into that sort of thing, thought it was really hot. But we didn’t go all the way at first. A little fooling around was one thing, but it felt too much like taking advantage.
“But then, he finally convinced me it was okay, and I gave in. I was a virgin until I met him, and I wanted it to be special. I made him wear a blindfold so he wouldn’t be tranced out while we did it, but it ended up not mattering. We made love, the blindfold slipped off, and he was entranced. I was too caught in the moment, I kept going anyway, thinking it would be the same as before. But it wasn’t. He was completely under my control, and he never snapped out of it.”
Tears sprang into her eyes. This may have been the first time she told anyone this. We all stood there and watched her cry for a minute. I don’t know about anyone else, but it was incredibly awkward for me. James, at least, was a bit of a gentleman, and pulled a handkerchief out from the inner pocket of his robes. She took it gratefully.
Hitchhiker couldn’t help but be an asshole about it. She grinned and leaned over to Strider. She whispered, but my ears were too keen to miss her words. “I dunno, sounds pretty hot to me. Suck a man’s brains right out through his cock? Would have made my old job much easier.”
Strider just gave her a flat look, while the rest of us glared. Hitch just shrugged and shook her head. “I’m just sayin’.”
La Luste either hadn’t been paying attention, or she had the forgiveness of a saint. In her situation, I might have whirled and socked Hitch right in the nose.
I wanted to say I could sympathize the most with La Luste’s plight, but I could never in a thousand years write off my past actions as an accident. This poor woman had just made a mistake and it cost the life, effectively, of her lover.
“So, this Steve,” said James, putting a hand on La Luste’s shoulder as she calmed down. “What is his condition?”
“He, uh, he’s basically like an, an automaton, I guess,” she said. “He responds only to what I say. He won’t even take care of himself if I don’t tell him to. I have managed to get him on a self-maintenance regiment, so he can feed himself, shower, sleep, use the bathroom, do some exercise without me having to prompt it. I keep him healthy. But he can’t do anything of his own initiative, so I keep him with me, to take care of him. If it’s only been a day, he should be okay, but I still want to check on him, make sure he has enough food before I have to go anywhere.”
“And have some fun with no doubt,” Hitch muttered.
“Shut up, Hitch,” said James. He was looking studiously at La Luste. “How are his memories?”
She seemed a little thrown off by the question. “Um, I mean, he knows who he is and everything.”
“I mean, if he, say, saw a movie with you, and you asked him to explain the plot, could he do it?”
She thought for a moment. “I mean, I guess so? I never tried that. But I’ve asked him to remind me of something once in a while, he does that well.”
James turned to Max. “Please inform the authorities that we will be taking La Luste into our own custody for the moment. I wish to question her boyfriend.”
Max nodded and took of to consult with the officers still manning the barricade.
La Luste looked confused. “I can tell him to answer your questions, but I’m not sure what you think he’ll know.”
James’ smile was almost ruthless. “You say he stays with you and that your last memory was of sitting down to see a movie. In your home, I presume?”
“Then even though you don’t remember what happened from that point, he might.”