Cape City Chronicles
v1: Today the City, Tomorrow...
#12: Save the Cheerleader, Save the... Cheerleader!
by Jennifer Kohl
“So what do we know about this creep?” Alex asked. She had reluctantly allowed Glory Girl to dazzle her with a Glory Burst and carry her, temporarily blinded and confused, to the Girls Power hideout. Which looked a lot like the living room of a communal house, Alex observed.
“We know he’s a creep, kidnapper, and rapist,” said Glory Girl.
“He’s misogynistic, obsessive, and bitter,” said Starfury. Alex wasn’t yet sure what to make of her—a slim redhead in green spandex, no discernible accent, but something was slightly off about her. “He knows exactly what he’s doing but feels entitled to do it because, in his mind, he is owed access to submissive women.”
“He’s been psych profiled,” said Alex, impressed despite herself.
“Not exactly,” said Starfury. “I’m a telepath. He believes he acquired his power—a touch that is addictively pleasurable—as a gift from some divine force, to enable him to take what he considers rightfully his. His victims end up sexually obsessed with him, slavishly loyal, and full of self-loathing.”
“Does he have any goals? Favored targets?” Alex asked.
“Last time he started with women he knew personally, then women perceived as high-status,” said Glory Girl. “Wealthy, socially active students, sorority leaders, that kind of thing.”
Students, sororities, Alex thought. That’s why I’ve never heard of this guy, because he was a college student and the school didn’t report it as a crime because they didn’t want to have to publish it in their crime stats.
“We think that’s why—” Starfury started to say, but cut off at a glare from Glory Girl.
“You think that’s why he targeted Cosmic Cheerleader,” said Alex. “You think of status in college terms and you’re living in a communal house. You’ve been using a sorority as a front for your little Specials gang, and he targeted her as a sorority leader.”
A low chuckle came from the shadowy corner where the fourth person in the room huddled in a dark, hooded cloak.
“Something funny, Corvid?” Glory Girl asked.
Corvid unfolded to her rather unimpressive full height. “Just, so much for secret identities.”
“I’m a detective,” said Alex. “It’s what you wanted my help for, right?”
“Yeah,” said Glory Girl, though she looked uneasy about it.
“Then let’s detect,” said Alex. “We have his name, face, MO, and psych profile. That’s a lot, but it doesn’t tell us where to start looking for him. What about his victims?”
“The only one we know of this time around is Cosmic Cheerleader,” said Starfury. “And if he’s broken her...”
“I can match her hand-to-hand,” said Glory Girl. “You can too, probably. Add in Corvid’s magic...”
“Yeah, no,” said Corvid. “Maybe if I got the drop on her, but shadow sorcery is chaos magic, and her Spirit Cheer is, well, cosmic. She could shred my shadows with one yell.”
“What about telepathy?” Alex asked. “Confuse her, shut her down—”
“No!” Starfury leapt up and back, eyes flaring red. Then she closed them and shook her head. “No, I—sorry, but I can’t do that. I won’t violate someone’s mind, that would be as bad he is.”
Alex raised an eyebrow. Definitely something going on there. “From everything you’ve said, this doesn’t sound like the kind of guy who stops at just one. Let’s assume he’s stuck to his MO and targeted students. Could we get a list of who’s been missing classes?“
“Maybe,” said Corvid. “But it wouldn’t be very useful. Most classes don’t track attendance, and there’s lots of reasons a student might miss.”
“Hmm.” Alex considered. “Unless another avenue occurs to one of us, I think we’re stuck with old-fashioned footwork. Where did the kidnapping happen?”
“Here,” said Starfury. “At a party.”
Alex smacked herself in the forehead. “Why didn’t you tell me that sooner! We’ve got a roomful of witnesses, maybe one of them saw something!”
Tantra leaned back naked on the couch, an arm around each of Nora and Kelly, who eagerly kissed and nibbled and stroked whatever they could reach. Between his legs knelt Candice, slurping desperately at his cock. “So the next phase,” he said, thinking out loud. “I was going to just keep adding to my harem until the Girls Power started coming after me, but you’re a gamechanger, sweet Candi. You know them. Where they are, how to find them, how to get them alone. You’re going to bring them to me one by one so I can make them mine, aren’t you?”
“Mmmm,” Candice purred. Disgusting, she thought. But... but I have to do it. I need this. She thought about forcing one of her friends to their knees, holding them back while her Master touched them, addicted them, broke them. It was monstrous, evil, an absolute violation of everything that she believed in... but she would do it, because she had to obey. I’m such a good, obedient girl, she thought, and came.
“And then,” Tantra continued, “once I have my little army of supersluts, we’re going to round up all the girls you took away from me. We’ll ransom them to their rich daddies for a fucking fortune, and then they’ll come right back to their Master the minute they can get away. And then...” He paused. “I dunno. Buy an island or something, take you all there. You GP sluts can be my guards. And if any other Specials come after us... well, there’s always room for more in the collection.”
At that, he came, and Candice swallowed every drop.
“Now,” he said, “tell me everything about them and I’ll decide who to snag first.”
Starfury had a plan. She’d come up with it while she, Corvid, and Glory Girl talked to that police officer: Tantra was collecting a harem, which meant somewhere in the city there had to be a growing concentration of women whose minds he’d influenced. If she could learn the shape of that influence, she might be able to find that concentration, even if she couldn’t follow an individual mind that far. So she stood in the middle of the Gamma Pi living room, eyes shut, tracing the echoes of Candice’s mind as Tantra caught her.
It felt good, obviously. The pleasure that those echoes contained was unlike anything she’d sensed since she came to this planet. Her mind wandered to memories of the Pleasure Fields of Nariol, just outside her home city, where her people had gathered to engage in acts of pleasure, every moment of joy shared across a million minds and compounded by a million other moments. That was what being Tylifarian had meant: sharing, openly and freely. There were no secrets on a planet of telepaths, no lies, and no cruelty. But that was all gone now. She was all that remained of Tylifar, everything else swallowed by the evil of Memex. All the others were empty shells now, or slain when the sentient meme used them to try to conquer planets more resistant to infection.
And Earth was so different. She hadn’t understood, at first, why they kept the insides of their minds so shuttered and dark, why they were so hurt and angry when she pulled things from them. She did now. They could hurt others without hurting themselves, and secrets and lies were often the weapons they used—but sometimes those were the weapons they used to protect themselves, too. They called it “privacy,” and when she took it from them, she was violating them the same way Memex violated her friends and family. The moment she understood that was the moment she swore never to do it again. She would read the feelings people broadcast, she couldn’t help that; for everything else, she would ask with words first.
But she still missed the joy, the sharing. And this, the feeling Tantra gave to people—forced on people, she reminded herself—was just as good. No wonder they got addicted.
Her phone buzzed, distracting her from her reverie. It was a text from Glory Girl: We got someone. Need you to boost his memory. She hesitated, just a moment, tracing the shape of Cosmic Cheerleader’s pleasure one last time, before texting back that she was on her way. It took her only moments to arrive at the dorm common room Glory Girl texted to her, where Glory Girl and Alex sat with a boy who looked rather stunned to be questioned by a superhero.
As she approached, Alex stood up and walked over to her. “He says he saw somebody who looked like Grouper and a blonde girl leave the party together and get into a car. Can you help him reconstruct details about the car?”
Starfury nodded. “If he consents, I can observe the memory.”
“Perfect,” said Alex. “He’s already agreed—I think he’s a fan.”
It was easy. As soon as he saw her, the boy’s eyes lit up, and he was eager to agree to let her observe the memory while he thought about it. She pushed aside the fact that lust was prominent among the feelings he was putting out—in her experience, it often was with humans—and focused on the memory as he described what he could. She was soon able to read out a license plate number to the others, which Alex quickly looked up. “Bingo,” she said. “Registered to one Kelly Coleman, and there’s someone named that in the student directory.
“Did you say Kelly Coleman?” asked the boy. “I know her, she was in my physics class last semester. I don’t think she was at the party, though?”
“Probably the getaway driver,” said Glory Girl. “Which means he got her earlier.”
Alex nodded. “Still, it’s a lead. We should ask around, check if anyone’s missed her. Her address is listed as just “off campus” in the student directory, but assuming she’s renting I can get it off the city database and ask the neighbors.”
“Right,” said Glory Girl. “Let’s go.”
“And that’s everything I can think of, Master,” said Candice. Her knees ached from kneeling so long, but she stayed on them like a good obedient girl, which was so hot and felt so good every time she thought of it.
Tantra smiled. “Very good, Candi,” he said, fondling her affectionately. After her cries of pleasure died down, he said, “It sounds like Aisha or Cara’s disappearance would take the longest to be noticed. Which of the two do you—”
He was interrupted by a knock at the door. Tense silence descended on the room in its wake, and he nodded at Nora, who hastily began dressing. There was a second, more insistent knock, but by then Nora was hastening to open it.
Alex studied her as soon as the door opened. She didn’t look like the picture of Kelly in the student directory. Must be the girlfriend the woman next door mentioned. “Police,” she said, flashing her badge. “I’m looking for a Kelly Coleman? Does she live here?“
Nora glanced back into the room. “Uh, is she in trouble?”
“I just want to ask her a few questions. Is she in there?” Alex already knew the answer. The way Nora looked back into the room was a dead giveaway. And guys like Grouper weren’t fans of sharing unless they controlled everyone involved—which meant he’d probably snared Nora too, and was using the apartment as his hideout.
“Uh... no, she—”
“You’re lying,” said Alex. That confirms it. Alex tapped Send on the phone she held in the hand Nora couldn’t see through the crack in the door, then slipped it into her jacket pocket. Then she kicked the door hard enough to send Nora tumbling back and the door flying open, and stepped into the room, gun drawn.
“Gordon Grouper!” she called, training it on the nude man on the couch with the equally nude blonde kneeling in front of him. “You’re under a—”
Before she could finish the sentence the blonde was suddenly standing in front of her, blocking her shot. Fucking Specials was all Alex managed to think before the gun was torn from her grip and tossed aside. She tried to grab the Special’s extended hand, get her into a wrist lock, but the was fast and skilled as well as tough and strong; she had Alex spun around, armed pinned to her sides, before Alex could blink.
Then, indignity of indignities, she lifted the far shorter Alex a few inches off the ground, leaving her to ineffectually struggle and kick the unyielding Special. Nora closed the door as the Cosmic Cheerleader turned and brought Alex toward Grouper.
“Well well,” he said. “Nice of you to drop in, officer. You’re a bit old for me, but pretty hot for a cop. I think I’ll keep you.”
Sexual enslavement, thought Alex as he reached his hand toward her face. With any luck, I’ll be immune to it, just like oh FUCK that’s good!
Then the window blew in, and Glory Girl and Starfury flew into the room.