by Tamari Erin (玉里えりん)
The room shook, and Mitsuki lunged for a railing. Her needle-gun slipped from her fingers and bounced off the metal catwalk to plunge into the darkness of the vast control centre.
High above, her sharp blue features illuminated by the beams of psychic ‘light’ she used to rule her vast underwater realm, Haxifa raised a hand to her face where Mitsuki’s disintegrator beam had scored a line of burnt synth-skin across her cheek. “You commit a grave error when you attack me, Terran. If I die, this city, and all who inhabit it, die with me!” Haxifa had the voice — and face — of an angel, but her tone was as cold and calculating as the mechanical heart that Mitsuki knew beat within Haxifa’s breast.
Mitsuki crouched down on the catwalk and curled her fingers around the railing. The metal was cool, and felt almost damp. The ancient city’s automated systems were failing and with every passing day more and more water was entering the city. Mitsuki remembered Thalie’s stark projections: within two generations, perhaps three, the city would be uninhabitable and Haxifa and her fellow gynoids would be ruling over an undersea mausoleum.
Haxifa’s voice echoed through the tall cylindrical room. “Terran, if you surrender now, I will be merciful… to you, and to your companions!” She gestured grandly and behind her a massive screen lit up.
Mitsuki gasped. On the screen, she could see her friends Thalie, Didier, and Snap, who had accompanied her down to the nameless underwater city after receiving an aborted distress signal. She thought they’d managed to escape the gynoids, but on screen all three were asleep in cryon tubes. There was a worried expression on her beloved Thalie’s delicate blue features that made Mitsuki’s heart hurt.
She steeled herself and rose to her feet, her anger overpowering any fear she might have felt. “Let them go,” she said firmly. “You said it yourself, I’m the one you want.”
The screen went blank. Haxifa stepped forward, her black and gold robes of office trailing behind her like water. She arched an eyebrow. “How easily you capitulate, Terran. I am almost… disappointed.”
“You have me,” she said, “I’m yours. I’ll do whatever you want as long as you release my friends.”
Haxifa gave a short bark of laughter. “I think not.” Mitsuki moved forward to speak and Haxifa held up a hand to silence her. “Not until,” she amended, “I have taken certain actions to guarantee your future loyalty.”
Mitsuki’s legs felt like water. “You have my loyalty, you do, you don’t have to–”
Haxifa brought her fist down on the railing and the noise resonated through the control chamber. Her face remained cool and impassive, and she looked down at Mitsuki as if daring her to continue. “Enough. You will come with me, Terran, and we shall begin the synchronisation process.”
Two gynoids emerged from the gloom, one on either side of the catwalk on which Mitsuki stood. “This way,” one said, gesturing behind her. Mitsuki debated resisting, but she knew if she put up a fight that, unarmed as she was, the gynoids would take her out handily. And it was likely that Thalie, Didier, and Snap would suffer for what she’d done.
Mitsuki followed the gynoids out of the control centre. They led her through the labyrinthine corridors of Haxifa’s citadel, their echoing bootheels as loud as church bells, and with every step a weight settled heavier on Mitsuki’s shoulders.
Finally, they arrived at a large set of double doors flanked by control panels. The gynoids entered a long series of codes while Mitsuki waited, her heart pounding uncomfortably fast in her chest. When the doors opened, the gynoids motioned for Mitsuki to enter, but made no move to follow her.
She stepped inside, and the doors whooshed shut behind her.
The room was small and mostly bare, with unoccupied cryon tubes lining one wall and a waist-high pedestal at the centre. A fully-equipped medpod dominated the far side of the room.
Haxifa was already waiting for her. She nodded a greeting at Mitsuki, her lips curling up in a self-satisfied smile. “Shall we begin?” she said. “I do hate to waste time.” She touched something on the pedestal, and a low rumbling noise came from the ceiling.
Mitsuki drew in a steadying breath, squared her shoulders and stepped forward. “Let’s do this.”
A narrow pillar descended into the room and grinded to a halt once it was face-height to Mitsuki and Haxifa. It unfolded two spindly arms each topped with a thin half-circle of metal, and brought the arms parallel to the floor so the two half-circles faced each other.
“As you may have noticed,” Haxifa began, “many of our vital systems are malfunctioning. This is sadly the cost of the city’s growth. It has become too large for me alone to manage. If we are to expand further, I will need a secondary mind to assist me in ensuring–”
“Grow further?” Mitsuki said, in bafflement and horror. “But this city already covers–”
Haxifa laughed. “Oh, you foolish little thing. Hadn’t you guessed by now? My ultimate plan is for the total conquest of Aven itself! And none shall stand in my way, whether they be a lone Aveni princess and her three alien companions or the entirety of Aven’s military forces.
“We will be victorious. You’ll see. And you will help.”
“But why me? Why not use an Aveni, or… or one of your gynoids, I’m sure they can–”
Haxifa leaned forward and bared her perfect white teeth. “And what do you think I’ve been doing, these past centuries? The gynoids can not handle the strain for more than a year or two, and every Aveni I’ve attempted to synchronise with has gone mad, and believe me, I have tried many, many times.
“But you. Oh you, you’re something special. You initially drew my attention when the Queen’s daughter first brought you to our world. The Terran mind is uniquely suited for this sort of work, and you, my dear Mitsuki, are a marvel of cleverness even among your own people.
“So I conspired to draw you down to my city, to best use you for my purposes. And now my plans have come to fruition, and here you are.” She punctuated the last few words by patting Mitsuki’s shoulder.
“When I do,” Mitsuki said, her voice shaking, “when I do this, you’ll free my friends.”
Haxifa had circled around behind her and bent her head to Mitsuki’s, her mouth brushing her ear. “Of course,” she whispered. “I give you my word.”
Haxifa’s hands were on her shoulder, and she guided Mitsuki towards the contraption that had descended from the ceiling. She stood her in front of one of the arms and placed the metal half-circle on Mitsuki’s brow. Mitsuki gasped at how cold the metal felt on her skin.
A shiver ran through her, and suddenly she couldn’t move. Her body felt like a useless lump of meat, and she watched, wide-eyed with horror, as Haxifa slowly walked to the other side of the device and placed the other metal band on her own forehead.
The machine hummed to life.
And Mitsuki blinked along with her.
“There,” Haxifa breathed. “There you are. Hello, my dear.”
Mitsuki felt strangely distant, as though she were watching everything at a remove. As though the weight of Haxifa’s thoughts were pushing her out of her body, like juice from an orange.
Haxifa removed the diadem from her brow, and Mitsuki repeated her exact gestures a moment later. She let Haxifa take her by the hands and lead her in a slow circuit around the room. The synchronizer retreated slowly into the ceiling. The grinding noise was louder this time, and Mitsuki alerted a gynoid to schedule a repair.
And she gasped once she realised what she’d done.
Haxifa laughed fondly at her reaction. “Oh, I knew you’d be good at this. Now come. Let’s try something a little… more advanced.” She guided Mitsuki over to the medpod. Its hood was down, and Haxifa leaned Mitsuki against it, like a doll being propped up in some little girl’s game of pretend.
Haxifa took a few careful steps backwards, a wicked smile on her face. She regarded Mitsuki briefly before raising her arm out to her side.
Mitsuki was helpless to stop herself from mimicking the gesture. The horror of it all sunk in her heart like a knife.
She dropped her arm when Haxifa did.
Haxifa advanced, and set her hand on Mitsuki’s cheek. Her touch was cool, and Mitsuki felt the sensation echo through Haxifa’s mind. She stroked Mitsuki’s cheek for a moment, relishing the alien-ness of the sensation, until Mitsuki realised what was happening.
“You can’t feel,” she said, both fascinated and repulsed.
Haxifa shook her head. “Not quite. We do have a sense of touch, but compared to your own” –she trailed a gentle finger down Mitsuki’s jawline to let it rest on her mouth– “it is sadly quite inadequate.”
She pinched Mitsuki’s lower lip sharply, and Mitsuki could only gasp in response. Her body was as unmoving as a statue, and she knew the only reason she could speak or even make noises was because Haxifa found it amusing. She focused on the pain in her lip, let it anchor her back to her body.
Haxifa’s hands moved down her face, and she slowly began to undo the fastenings of Mitsuki’s Aveni diving suit. Her fingers lingered on every inch of skin she exposed, and Mitsuki felt her heart beat faster in spite of herself. And she knew from the smirk growing on Haxifa’s face that that was all her own traitorous body.
When she reached Mitsuki’s waist, Haxifa shucked her suit off her shoulders. She’d left the wrists still fastened tight, so it hung over Mitsuki’s hands like a shadow. She pulled the rest of Mitsuki’s suit down to her knees, effectively immobilizing her even if she were able to run.
The air in the lab was cool and damp, and raised goose pimples all over Mitsuki’s body.
Haxifa studied her bra and mismatched panties for a moment before ripping them from her body as if they were made of paper. She nudged Mitsuki’s knees apart before crouching down between her legs.
“What?” Mitsuki said, her voice husky. “It’s no different than what you Aveni have.”
Haxifa ignored her words and slid the back of her hand up the inside of Mitsuki’s thigh. It was barely a ghost of a touch, but it throbbed straight to Mitsuki’s cunt.
“Ohhh,” Haxifa breathed. “Oh. Is that all it takes?”
Mitsuki laughed weakly.
Haxifa stroked her thighs a few more times before moving upwards. She pressed the heel of her palm against Mitsuki’s pubis and slowly rocked it back and forth. Mitsuki moaned as the pressure mounted within her.
When she was close to the cusp, Haxifa drew her hand away. Mitsuki made a noise of protest — one that swiftly became a moan of pleasure when Haxifa drove the first two fingers of her hand deep into Mitsuki’s cunt.
“Unh!” Haxifa groaned as she collapsed to her knees. She set a steadying hand on Mitsuki’s thigh as she let her fingers slide in and out in shallow thrusts, her thumb tracing small circles on Mitsuki’s clitoris, the pressure growing as she increased her rhythm.
Haxifa stared up at her, her eyes glassy, her mouth hanging open as she panted in time with each stroke of her fingers. Mitsuki knew her face mirrored Haxifa’s expression.
Mitsuki’s fingers twitched.
Haxifa threw her head back, and she and Mitsuki cried out in harmony as Mitsuki came in a wet gush all over Haxifa’s hand.
Haxifa collapsed to the floor, and for that moment, Mitsuki’s mind, her body, was her own. Somehow, Haxifa’s control had been loosened. Perhaps the orgasm had simply been too much for her.
Mitsuki took her chances, and moved. She shook her hands free of her suit, palmed the release on the medpod and grabbed Haxifa by her gown. She was far lighter than Mitsuki had expected, and Mitsuki easily hefted her up and slammed her into the now-open medpod.
“What are you–” Her voice was a shriek that echoed inside Mitsuki’s skull, but her control was still shaky, and Mitsuki was able to shut the medpod and activate the stasis shield within the pod.
Haxifa’s voice cut off with a pop, and Mitsuki’s mind was fully, finally hers again. She sagged against the pod with a moan and stared through the translucent hood, at Haxifa’s face, still frozen in a moment of shock and fury.
A million words ran through her mind, but nothing came out.
She shook her head and stepped away from the medpod as she slowly pulled her diving suit back on. Mitsuki could still feel an echo of the city in her mind. It was child’s play to order the gynoids to begin an evacuation.
She didn’t look back as she ran out of the lab, headed in the direction of where she now knew Thalie and the boys were being kept.
Let Haxifa keep her city.