Cape City Chronicles
v1: Today the City, Tomorrow...
#17: Traps Close!
by Jennifer Kohl
Alex adjusted her baseball cap, pulling it low over her forehead. She looked around the shabby hallway of the rundown apartment building, and then shifted both bags of subs to her left hand and knocked with her right.
The door cautiously opened a crack, and she saw a tuft of brown hair and a blue eye looking at her.
“University Subs and Pizza,” she said, trying to keep her voice high and cheerful in the hopes they wouldn’t recognize her. This was the riskiest part of the plan, but she was banking on them not remembering her well enough to—
The door closed again. She heard the metal-on-metal sound of a chain being drawn back, and then it opened fully to reveal one of Tantra’s victims—Kelly Warner, if Alex remembered the file correctly—looking pale and uneasy in a men’s shirt that hung to her upper thighs, and probably nothing else.
Alex threw the bags in her face and used the distraction to barrel past her into the room, drawing her gun as she went. “Everyone down!” she shouted as she scanned the room. Living room with a kitchenette, unfurnished, and Kelly was the only one there. Two doors, one slightly ajar.
She kicked the open door wider and scanned the bathroom: empty. Then she turned to the last door, presumably the bedroom, and kicked it open as well. “Freeze!” she shouted at the other victim, who was cowering naked on a mattress in the middle of the floor.
Alex saw a flicker of motion in the corner of her eye and dodged aside as Tantra dove at her from the side. “I don’t think so, asshole!” she said, bringing her gun around to bear. With her leather jacket zipped up and jeans tucked into her boots, he would only be able to get her by touching her face or hands, and she wasn’t about to let that happen. Not this time.
“On the ground, Grouper! Make a move and I shoot.”
Tantra grinned with rather more confidence than typical for a naked man being held at gunpoint. “Nora, open the window. If she arrests or harms me in any way, jump.”
Alex’s trigger finger curled ever so slightly as her scowl deepened. “You fucking piece of shit.”
“Drop the gun, Officer Hottie, or she drops. Unless you want to take that gamble. This is the eighth floor, she might survive.“
Alex glared, tempted to just pull the trigger there and then. If she didn’t stop Grouper, how many more women would he hurt? But those women weren’t here. Nora was. Slowly, she began to lower the gun.
“I said drop it!”
With a deep breath, Alex turned the safety back on and let go of the gun.
“Good girl. And don’t worry, soon you’ll be very happy to do as your told...” Tantra swaggered toward her. “Now take off that jacket.”
“I won’t!” Alex snarled.
“Yes, you will. Because if you don’t, Nora’s going to jump out that window, aren’t you, pet?”
“Yes, Master,” Nora replied dully.
“...fine,” Alex finally said, and reached for her zipper. She began pulling it down slowly, dragging this out as much as possible. Then she heard a muffled thump from the other room and saw Grouper’s eyes flick in that direction, and sped up, unzipping the rest of the way and hastily tossing the jacket aside.
“Good girl,” he repeated. He stepped even closer to her and stroked a teasing hand down her upper arm. She shivered, almost succeeding in suppressing the gasp of pleasure at his touch. Her eyes fluttered, and she barely noticed the shadow in the doorway.
Tantra didn’t miss it. “The fuck—” he began.
Corvid gestured, and shadows swirled from all corners of the room to surround Nora, binding her in place. Alex grabbed Tantra’s hand and the pleasure thrilling through her at the contact was soon joined by deep satisfaction at the expression of pain on his face as she spun away, yanking on his arm and shoving him against the wall behind her. “Took you long enough,” she said to Corvid.
More shadows swirled, and Tantra was suddenly bound just as Nora was—and, Alex noted as she glanced out into the other room, Kelly was too.
“I waited until I was sure you had him distracted,” Corvid said. “If I moved before that, the civilians might have been hurt.”
You’re a civilian, Alex refrained from saying. “I’ll call it in,” she said instead. “I’ll make sure they know at least one victim’s a suicide risk. What about the rest of your team?“
“We decided it was best to stick to members who specialize in fighting without physical contact. Starfury is waiting outside as backup, I’ll let her know she isn’t needed.” Corvid muttered something, and a piece of her shadow detached itself and flowed across the room and out the window.
Alex made a quick phone call, then returned to Corvid. “SCI’s en route to pick up Grouper. There’s another car coming to take the girls to the CCU deprogramming center.”
Corvid nodded. “That’s where they took his victims last time.”
“Hear that?” Alex asked the nude man on the floor. “Those girls are getting cleaned up, and I guarantee you that between them and your past victims, there’ll be plenty willing to testify. You’re looking at kidnapping, sexual assault, assaulting an officer, and anything else we can make stick, Grouper. You’re going away for a long, long time.”
“Tantra,” he corrected, and Alex and Corvid both rolled their eyes.
“That’s not even what tantra means,” Corvid said.
“Fuck you!” Tantra struggled against the shadows, but accomplished nothing.
“What’s that?” asked Corvid drily. “You want to know what it actually means? Well, you would know that if you’d ever read a book, but since we’re waiting anyway...”
An hour later, Alex sat across from Tantra in an interrogation room. “All right, Grouper,” she said. “I’ll make this simple: you’re a ratty little piece of shit who has no idea what he’s doing. I know you’re not working alone.“
“I want my lawyer,” he replied.
“Shut up. The public defender’s on his way. But before he gets here, you’re going to tell me who you’re working for.”
“I’m my own man! I don’t work for anyone.”
“Bullshit,” said Alex. “You didn’t just come back all of a sudden for no reason. Who called you back?”
“I’m not telling you anything, bitch!”
Didn’t deny it this time, Alex noted. So someone did tell him to come here, but he’s not working for them. “Someone called you, didn’t they?” Alex pressed. “Told you something that brought you back into town.“
Tantra laughed. “Oh, you’re on the trail of that asshole? Tell you what, give me immunity and I’ll tell you what I know.”
Alex snorted. “You don’t know shit.”
“Yeah? I know what he promised me.”
He, Alex noted mentally. Promised, huh? “And then didn’t deliver, right? You’re not the only person he lied to.” I mean, most people have lied more than once in their life.
“Asshole said he’d keep the cops and capes off my back. Well, here I am!” Tantra raised his hands, but not very far—they were cuffed to the table. “Bastard calls himself Mindfuck, I’ll show him fucked!”
So it’s true, Alex thought. Somebody’s bringing mind controllers into town. I bet if I ask Chip Carpenter about the name, he’ll tell the same story. But what is this... Mindfuck trying to achieve?
Technopath struggled in their bonds, but they were securely tied to the chair. A more technologically sophisticated trap would have been easy for them to break, but this was just rope and metal, nothing for them to work with. The fact that they couldn’t see made it even harder, and with no cameras in the room, they couldn’t borrow that sight either. There were the biosensors attached to them, but those just told Technopath things they already knew—the rapid heartbeat and spiky brainwaves of agitation. There was something else in the room, too, just over their head, but it was powered down, so they couldn’t do more than detect its presence.
Then, suddenly, their blindfold was removed. The room was dimly lit, but it was still bright enough to dazzle Technopath after their long time in darkness. Olympia was standing in front of them, their blindfold dangling in her hand, while behind her, in the shadows, another figure Technopath couldn’t quite make out.
“Mx. Kusanagi,” the man in the shadows said, pronouncing it mux.
He was monitoring their biosigns. There was no point in trying to hide the panic that seized them when he said their name. But they’d been in their civilian costume when Olympia dropped on them. Maybe he didn’t know who they were. “Let me go,” they said.
Olympia laughed. “Why would we do that?”
“Presumably because of their friends in the Protectors,” the man said, killing Technopath’s hope that he didn’t know who they were. “My dear, that is precisely why I intend to keep you.“
Then Olympia lowered a helmet over their head and turned it on. Immediately they recognized the chip the helmet pushed against the back of their neck. They had only a moment to ask it to stop before it awoke the same pleasure and desire they had briefly known under Master—under Carpenter’s control. The same experience they had been on their way to unpack and resolve with a professional deprogrammer when Olympia had jumped them. The experience part of them still craved more of.
And then it was too late. The chip was active and happy to make them feel so, so good, so hot, so wet, so eager, so desperate... And there were sounds hissing in their ears and colors swirling in front of their eyes. They could shut those down easily, with a simple request to the systems in the helmet, even before the hypnosis resistance training all the Protectors received.
But it would be so hot to give in to it instead. That wasn’t normally something they wanted. They knew it was something the chip was doing to them. They could ask the chip to stop it—but it felt so good to go along instead. So good to squirm in their seat and open their mind to hypnotic programming.
With this, he won’t need the chip, Technopath thought. He’ll control me with or without it. They nearly came at the thought. His voice had seemed so familiar, but they couldn’t place it. Now they knew it, though, even if they still weren’t sure where they’d heard it before: it was the voice of their Master.
Then they stopped thinking entirely, and let his programming fill their blank, empty, helpless mind.
Tantra tossed on the uncomfortable cot in his cell. They’d questioned him for hours after his lawyer showed up, but the useless fucker didn’t get him any kind of deal at all. They didn’t even care what he knew about Mindfuck! Not that I really know anything other than his phone number and what his voice sounds like, he admitted to himself. But that wasn’t the point—the point was to get let them think he knew everything, get a deal out of it, and then walk! But that idiot lawyer couldn’t even get that right. I’ll probably have to just represent myself.
Satisfied by that thought, he drifted to sleep—and found himself in Kelly and Nora’s apartment, just like it was when he trained Cosmic Cheerleader. Fuck, that had been fun. But there was no sign of her here.
Red light spilled in through the window, which slid itself open. A woman drifted in, a slender, curvy redhead with blue skin, wearing what looked like a metal bikini. He recognized her, of course: Starfury, another of those bitch Girls Power.
Before he could say anything, she spoke, her voice echoing strangely. “I’ve linked our dreams to make this space,” she said. “Nothing here is real. Nothing here will impact anything outside of this dream-space.” The glow around her faded as she settled to the floor. She looked different than he remembered: smaller, the expression on her face oddly nervous, almost shy. “So... please...” She looked down at the floor and trailed off.
Tantra smirked as he understood. Then he stepped forward and stroked her bare belly, just like he had last time they’d met. She shuddered in pleasure, her eyes rolling back as she surrendered to it. She didn’t resist as he led her to the couch.