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  1. A storm was coming.
  2. It was a storm so huge and terrible that any being caught within it would instantly perish. Its mode of attack was coarse, haunting, and bitterly cold - and the razor sharp, rapidly solidifying droplets forming in the inky black clouds around me were to be its bullets.
  3. I was too far out. Worse still, I was completely lost. I had gone too far out, yet again, and ended up making myself a camp in the middle of nowhere. I thought I had more time.
  4. Around me was the torn, twisted remnant of what could have been a city’s edge. I only sort of remembered what cities were like. I heard that things were going well for humanity before the storms started. Now there's not a workable shelter in sight, but I had to find something. I had to. If I was outside when it started, it'd tear the flesh from my bones. I was freezing, and the ground was beginning to shake. I could only move so fast. Happy 16th birthday, moron, was all I thought. Guess this is the last one you'll live to see.
  5. “Five minutes.” My helmet states. I coughed, then, fishing in my pockets again for a moment as I searched for the near-useless compass they gave me. I held it flat, my hand shaking. It pointed… in a completely different direction to last time. Damn it.
  6. If I had been a bit smarter, I might have remembered the route I took from the tunnels we all called home – and where I and the rest of the men spent the majority of our time. I might have been able to return, and end my ordeal cosy and warm in the safe, infrared light of my sleeping quarters. Reading a book, perhaps, or drinking hot cocoa. Residing with those who had not been torn apart outside, like my father, or simply vanished, like the women. Of course, had I been a bit smarter, they wouldn’t have sent me outside.
  7. A lot of people who were sent outside talked about seeing things, especially during the storm season. Some of them talked about seeing movement, which we all knew was impossible – others span tall tales of terrifying screams and figures in the sky, of rabid mirages and aggressive clouds that would follow you for miles. The really mad ones talked about seeing the women. Some of us – not many, but some - remembered what women looked like, so it was definitely… known, and thought of as curious, but never really taken seriously. None of these people ever got a good look. Their descriptions only sort of correlated with what we knew about the real thing. And sooner or later, they became a liability. They tried to let the storm inside. That, or they went outside alone… and never come back.
  8. It was right before the storm and I haven’t seen anything. But I really didn’t have the time. I was running through a farm now, past some smashed up thing that might have been called a van or a bus – I’m still not clear on the difference – straight for the hills, like they had taught me in orientation. Caves, they had said. And damn it, if I could live through this, I was going to.
  9. I took a detour through a building on the farm’s edge. No roof, like everywhere else, but they could have had food, which removed the option not to. No one, after all, is surviving for a month in a cave on two weeks worth of rations and then making the trek back alive. Tuna. They had tuna. Did they have water?
  10. They did not.
  11. An explosion behind me made my heart stop for more than a second as I whirled around, pelted by shards of glass and splintering wood. That was when I saw it. The first of many, a huge, purple spike of crystal slammed right through the foundation of the building I was standing either in or on, depending on how loose your definition of building is. We called these things blank checks; they’re the big ones that came down just before the storms properly got going. They don’t kill anyone, not directly. They don’t home in, and they are few, not many, but they can sure as hell take out nearby structures and bury you in rubble. I didn’t bother with the back door – I just dived right out of the window and started running full tilt towards the hills, gripping the tuna with my good hand. They make you run an eight minute mile in the tunnels, backpack and all, before they let you outside. I never questioned it, but I never understood it until now. I jump as I feel another two or three hit the ground behind me. This is why, I realise. This shit right here is why.
  12. People who’d been outside always said that they felt like the storm followed them, and I was really starting to get that impression. I couldn’t outrun the rapidly expanding canopy of cloud any more, and these oversized stalactites were barely hitting the landscape outside of my immediate vicinity. After four minutes or so, I started having to duck and dive. As I started up the hill, my life was flashing before my eyes. In my mind’s eye, I saw myself impaled. I was dripping with sweat. I wanted to collapse. Someone once described to me what it was like to be hit by one – they don’t make wounds, but inside you just feels like you’ve died. It’s like a poison, one we can’t understand. But that wasn’t how this was going to end.
  13. As I came to a clearing, the sounds stopped. Not really comprehending how, I fell to my knees, alternating between coughing at the ground and staring up at the sky. It took me a moment to remember what this meant.
  14. The blank checks fall for a while.
  15. They get more aggressive, but you can dodge them and keep yourself alive. They rarely hit people.
  16. Then the blank checks stop. And everything gets all quiet.
  17. I glanced slowly back up, rising to my feet, heart pounding. All I could hear was my ears ringing. There was no sound, nothing at all, around me. The checks weren’t falling. The clouds weren’t booming. There was no wind, or fire, or movement. Not from anything. Nothing but the sound of my own breath.
  18. For about half a minute.
  19. If you’re still out there during that half a minute, know that a) We won’t be opening the door for you, and b) If you can’t find shelter before it starts properly…
  20. You might as well just lie down on the ground, and pray that death comes fast.
  21. I took off running. I didn’t have any idea where to, but I figured being anywhere would be better than being out in the open this badly. In my helmet, an automated message came to me directly from my rain gauge.
  22. “Twenty seconds.”
  23. I spotted something, then, something that probably saved my life. It seemed like some kind of green light? It was flashing.
  24. I turned towards it and started running. I didn’t know how it was possible, but it was there. Perhaps I’d walked so far I’d found another colony? That would be honestly amazing.
  25. As I got closer, however, leaping over the lip of the hill underneath me, I saw the source of the light in more detail. It was a huge doorway, built into the face of a cliff. And it was closing.
  26. “Ten seconds.”
  27. Could you have made it near seventy meters in ten seconds? Somehow, I did. I had to turn my body sideways to get through the doorway at this point, but I made it. And just as I’d made it, the storm had started.
  28. Like all the equipment they gave me, my helmet’s rain gauge had been inaccurate. It was wrong by about two seconds. There was a boom above me that shook the ground, then, and at that point I made the mistake of looking up. I didn’t see the sky. I saw a sea of gleaming knives, all pointed directly towards me, surging towards me at mach 4 speed. I saw a circular wall of dust thundering towards me from the distance. I saw death itself. I didn’t even have time to scream before I slammed into the iron railing on the other side of the door. And then the door shut. And I was plunged into darkness, my ears ringing painfully from the shrill roar of the storm outside. The door took a pounding, but didn’t buckle. It must have been made of something very special, because my colony would never have been able to build something that thin that could take the storm so well. I reached out then, and touched the door. About a centimetre away from the surface, my hand touched something invisible, something that sparked with energy and filled my world with pain and white. And then I collapsed.
  29. ---
  30. Nobody found me. I woke up in the same place. To the same, admittedly quieter roar from outside. As I awoke, it began to pick up again. Go figure.
  31. I decided it might be a good idea to move away from the door. The catwalk I was standing on was about as wide as the van I’d seen on the way, plus a meter or two, and beyond it, two paths lead off into the darkness in different directions, both, in the light, seeming to end up at tall vertical, caged tunnels with doors of their own, the catwalk forming rings around each. Elevators.
  32. Cautiously, I moved over to the one marked “A”. I wondered only briefly if my calling the elevator would be noticed by those downstairs. I was cold, and I was hungry, and I had nearly died anyway. I wasn’t going to sit up here on the elevator platform and wait to be found. Humans are understanding. They would provide food and shelter for one man. My own colony always had. It was only after I’d jabbed the button and waited for a moment that I heard the sounds from below. Obviously, the elevator was coming, but there was something more going on down there. It sounded like…
  33. Singing. Soft and quiet, but with a voice so soft that it almost felt feathery to his ears. A million vague, ghostly tales where something of the sort happened almost immediately brought themselves to my attention, but that sudden chord strike of fear I’d become used to feeling when even hearing stories of events such as this… just didn’t happen this time. And a moment later, I realised why. I wasn’t scared. I was curious.
  34. I could hear many things. Water, trees, people. The warm crackling of fire, and the quiet hiss of gas. All wonderful. All impossible.
  35. The elevator had made a noise for a moment when I pressed the button, the mechanism in front of me clearly coming to life, but then it stopped again. I blinked, then reached out, and pressed the button again. The mechanism operated for the same length of time, then stopped. I pressed and held. Oh. Okay.
  36. The first thing I noticed – and, to be fair, expected, when the elevator arrived, was that it only had two buttons. What I didn’t expect was how large the door was – it gave me far more room than I needed to get onto the elevator. Perhaps for equipment? The door had unlocked when it arrived, but I had to close it before the car would move again. Safety first, I guess.
  37. And so my descent began.
  38. At first, all I saw around the elevator car was pitch blackness, even as I searched with my eyes for something through the grated floor below. But as I was slowly lowered into the darkness, things got more interesting. Pipes, of all things, began to appear, in the walls around my cage. They came from both the place below and side tunnels that I knew were likely to end in a wall or machine. Perhaps these would be a good place to stop the elevator and hide? Something made me keep going. Below, blue flame torches cast the first light that I had seen in the tunnel since being at the surface – other than that from my compass, of course. Ahead, I was convinced, for a moment, that I had seen some vague shape moving down one of the many side corridors – immediately, I released the button, ducking down to hide in the lower part of the elevator, then peeking, silently, into the darkness. I couldn’t see anything.
  39. I kept going.
  40. Minutes passed, bringing only more silence and more sightings that vague figure in the darkness, always vanishing from view as I got close. Perhaps not in a hurry to be seen, then – for it was far more likely that they were doing this on purpose? No, that was insane. Something like that couldn’t descend faster than the elevator could.
  41. Of course, to me, all that meant was that there was more than one thing out there.
  42. My finger was starting to hurt, bent back from holding the button. I glanced down, checking whether I could yet see anything below. This time, the conclusion was different. I could.
  43. It was only when I started looking down there, in fact, that I realised the I was no longer in a narrow tunnel at all. I glanced up then, searching for the ceiling, but I couldn’t see anything but blackness. I glanced back down. That wasn’t possible. That didn’t make sense at all.
  44. The elevator came to a stop not in any kind of hall or detox room, but in a garden. A huge garden, that extended far around me. These flowers… I’d never seen them before. And yet there were so many.
  45. Ahead of me, rivers of sparkling black water separated the garden from a much larger group of houses, lit by those same blue torches and blue gas lamps. There must have been hundreds… no, thousands of homes here, stretching out into the distance as the ground dipped down to give me a look. As for the bounds of the cave – though I was standing under an impressive looking cliff face, I  simply couldn’t see the other end from here.
  46. Everything glowed in the same eerie yet strangely comforting blue or pink colour – it was so strange to look at, and yet it felt so calming. So natural. This wasn’t any den, or settlement, like the tunnels. This was a kingdom. And right in the centre was a tower that looked like something straight out of a gothic sci-fi fantasy novel. Perhaps the strangest thing was how serene it was, at that moment, even as I realised that the song coming from the tower above was quickly being drowned out by approaching footsteps. How this strange and wonderful new world seemed to welcome me, despite how he almost certainly didn’t belong. Looking out over the water, he was struck with the thought that one day, he might want to live here. Not now, but perhaps in the far future.
  47. Suddenly, a hand jostled his shoulder. “Hey.” A voice asked, bringing my pensiveness to a sudden end. “You. What are you doing in the Egress Garden?”
  48. The strangest part was that the voice didn’t seem to come from directly behind my head – rather, it was coming from somewhere by my hip. Visions of some nightmarish pint sized creature with incredibly long arms immediately plagued me as I slowly turned only to be nearly blinded by blue fire. Was this person burning? Wait.
  49. Where was their head?
  50. “Down here.” A voice sighed. I recoiled. Under one arm, this creature seemed to be carrying her own head. A human head. But this couldn’t be a human. I knew full well that no human could survive without a head. It was Biology 101. And also History 101, funnily enough.
  51. “Did you just arrive here through the west tunnel, dear?” She asked.
  52. She. It was a girl. “Y…yes?”
  53. “That’s… rather strange, then. Are you lost? Why have you come to our settlement?”
  54. “Your settlement?”
  55. The dullahan nodded. “Don’t tell me a girl like you wondered in here by accident.”
  56. My eyebrows shot up. “A girl?!” I demanded. “Look, I don’t know how you think you are but I’m obviously not-“
  57. She jabbed me sharply, pointing up at the tower with death in her eyes. “Don’t tell me,” She growled, lifting her head to stare me right in the face and raising her voice sharply as she spoke – “A GIRL LIKE YOU wondered in here by accident?”
  58. “…Why do you want me to pretend I’m a girl?” I demanded.
  59. “Are you stupid?!” Was the hissed response, as the singing from the tower came to a stop. “How did you get in here? You need to leave! I can take you to the exit tunnel, but-“
  60. “I’m not going.” I interrupted.
  61. “What?! Do you know where you are?”
  62. “I’m not going!” I exploded. “I’ve been crawling the wasteland for the last two days. I need food and water or I’m going to die, you idiot!”
  63. “Look, I can get you what you need,” The girl pleaded. “But please, for your own sake. Keep your voice down-“
  64. “Izumiii?” Came a soft, digitised voice from the pulsing collar around the dullahan’s headless neck. It seemed to send a chill through Izumi’s spine, as well as mine. This was the singer, I realised. But at this kind of range, her voice made me… quite uncomfortable.
  65. “Can you get me some more milk, Izumi?” The voice sang. “I can’t help but notice you’re already at the garden, and I’ve run out again. I do kind of guzzle it down, don’t I?”
  66. “I, um…” Izumi said quietly, struggling find words for a moment. “I’m a little busy?”
  67. “Busy? Busy with what, Izumi? Do you need me? Do you need your Countess? Can you do anything right, Izumi? I hope you haven’t spoiled my garden.”
  68.  “N-no, but I really can’t get you milk at the moment. Everyone in the village is tucked up in bed after you moved their bedtime forward by three hours so you could stay up and play your games.”
  69. “Are they? That’s not good. Not gooood.”
  70. She had the voice of an angel. But not a nice angel. An irritable angel.
  71. “Can you wake some of them up? For me? Pretty please?”
  72. “Countess, I’m not-“
  73. “Do I have to order you to do it?”
  74. “Countess, please. I’m busy. And you are up very late-“
  75. “Izumi,” The Countess sang. “You’re making me very cross, you know? Is that what you want? Do you want to make me cross?”
  76. Izumi began to tear up a little. “N-no, bu-“
  77. “Last time I got cross, it was for a long time, you know. It took a game of catch with my friends from the village to cheer me up. And then you made me cross again.”
  78. “T-that wasn’t my fault!”
  79. “I’m pretty sure it was.” The singer sighed. “We had no basketballs on hand because of you, so we had to use your head. You made everyone in the village very sad that day, Izumi. Now they can’t play catch any more because you threw up all over their court. They all hate you a lot, you know?”
  80. “…I k-know.” Izumi sobbed, hugging her head close.
  81. “Do you like them hating you, Izumi?”
  82. “No, o-of course n-“
  83. “Then get me some milk, Izumi.”
  84. There was a long silence.
  85. “Oh, and one more thing. The ground crew sent a message. They say they saw the elevator moving down, but everyone is accounted for. Knowing Amos’ engineering skills I’m not that surprised but if it does turn out that we’ve had an insect wonder in from outside, you will bring him to me, won’t you? I’m quite tired of these simulations. The real thing is so hard to come by these days.”
  86. The Dullahan looked me in the eye, and gulped. “Y-Yes, Countess.”
  87. I looked back at her for the longest time.
  88. “Are you-“ She began to ask, but I held up a hand.
  89. “I just need a second to process everything I just heard.”
  90. “I s-see…” She began to shake a little, her collar glowing red.
  91. I point curiously. “What is…?”
  92. “You’re going to have to come with me,” She interrupts. “I can’t disobey her. She’s my superior.”
  93. “Is this before or after we somehow get hold of milk?” I ask.
  94. She deliberates for a moment. “Before,” She says firmly.
  95. “Fine by me.”
  96. I follow her out of the garden and down to what seems like a mobile shed. The door opens for her, apparently recognising the collar she’s wearing. I can tell she’s trying to be quiet, so I sheepishly hang around the door, not stepping into the darkened but surprisingly warm feeling room as I watch her lift a colossal jug out of a rack to our right and begin to very carefully pour it into a glass. She looks back at me. I look at her sheepishly. She places another glass on the rack and begins to pour again. And then the light turns on.
  97. To our left is the rest of the shack, containing a cosy looking kitchen and sleeping area. In the center of that area, looking quite annoyed, stands yet another girl – a girl with horns and hooves. I didn’t really have much of a reaction to the round orbs on Izumi’s chest except that they made me feel a little funny, but I can’t seem to take my eyes off of hers. They’re huge. What were these things called in the data banks? I’m trying to remember. “B…” She says, looking at me, in shock.
  98. “Breasts!” That was it.
  99. “M-MY EYES ARE UP HERE!” She shouts, red in the face, sending a folding chair sailing through the air at me. It hits the wall beside me with a clang. I don’t even react.
  100. “W-Why’s there a man in our settlement?! I thought we ‘ad all the men repopulating on our planet!”
  101. “Meryl!” Izumi squeaked. “Stop making a racket!”
  102. “You’re from space?” I inquire.
  103. “Yes!” They both yell at the same time.
  104. I narrow my eyes and start to say something. Then I think about it for a moment. “Yeah,” I conclude. “I guess anything other than that would be a bit strange.”
  105. They look at each other for a moment. “Where’d you come from?” Meryl asked.
  106. “Outside.”
  107. “But we’re terraforming outside.”
  108. “I live in the ground.”
  109. “Oh. Does that mean you’ve seen our patrols between the-?”
  110. “Don’t tell him things, Meryl!” Izumi snaps. “I’m taking him to the countess.”
  111. “Oh no. Oh no no. You can’t jus’ take him to the Countess. You know they deliberately rig the companionship lotteries just so ‘er name doesn’t come up, right?”
  112. “Y…yes-“
  113. “Because she’s so terrible.”
  114. Izumi panics, glancing quickly between me and Meryl as the cow woman steps in front of me protectively, hands on her hips. “She’s n-not that bad, I swear-”
  115. “Izumi! You’re her serf. You know ‘ow bad she is. ’S like dealing with a child.”
  116. “I’ve been ordered-“
  117. “I’m yer’ medical officer and I’m overriding your orders.” Meryl snapped. Immediately, Izumi’s collar turned blue again. “From now on, the boy stays wid’ me. And ‘e can tell me where ‘is friends live so we can geddem out of the storm and ferry them out. Poor men shouldn’t be living out in that.”
  118. “But the countess said-“
  119. “Countess is a spoiled military brat from some old Magitech family. It wasn’t right what ‘er and them friends did to you before. She can go do one n’ all. No, the best thing for ‘im is to stay here.” She glances at me. “Oh, don’t look so scared. I’m a married woman, I’m not going to do anything to you.”
  120. “That’s not what I was thinking about.” I say.
  121. “Then what were you thinkin’ about?”
  122. “I’m trying to work out why Izumi’s collar light stayed on after the Countess called her.”
  123. Meryl stared at me for a moment. Then, she slowly turned around to look at Izumi. “Oh.” She said. “You’re transmittin’.”
  124. “Oh.”
  125. “Oh.” Comes the Countess’s horribly smug voice.
  126. Smash.
  127. The door comes flying out of its frame, followed by not one but three women, all dressed in hefty armor – and with helmets all but hiding their faces. There’s a flash behind my own helmet, and I notice that Izumi and Meryl are both acting like they’ve been blinded by something.
  128. “What the-!“ The cow woman cries, holding her face with her hands as she collapses to the side.
  129. “Hand him over!” The soldier yells.
  130. It’s at this point that I decide it’s as good a time as any to leave. I dive through the window behind me – I’m getting quite good at diving through plate glass windows – and scurry to my feet, taking off down the central road into the settlement.
  131. “He’s getting away!”
  132. Oh dear, they noticed.
  133. I don’t know how long I ran for. Longer than I needed to, probably, because once I got near to the center of the town, they vanished. I rapidly stumbled to a stop then, stepping slowly over the threshold of the city center. It was silent, but for the sound of the black, babbling river below. I looked down at it for a moment, and rapidly remembered my thirst – and my need for a good place to hide.
  134. I stepped around the edge of the bridge to the center then, moving down towards the river. Stepping out of the view of the road, I looked into the dark water, cupping my hands and bringing some to the light. It was crystal clear. I drank. It was tasteless, and refreshing. Above me, several pairs of feet thundered over the bridge in the direction from which I had come. I sighed in relief, sitting my back against a stone by the water. I’d done it. I had a place to be, and none of them knew where I was. I just had to wait out the storm now, and then I could bypass them in the night and get out via the elevator with them, wherever they were, none the wiser.
  135. I don’t know how I felt about them. They definitely weren’t unfriendly. Mostly. The ruling class of… whatever this species was, seemed to be exclusively nasty pieces of work.
  136. “You think you’re very clever, don’t you?”
  137. Well, no. I’d barely gotten away the first time. For a while it had seemed like this countess, whoever she was, was several steps ahead.
  138. “For a while?”
  139. Yes, but- wait.
  140. I slowly look over at the water.
  141. That was, I think, the first time I met the countess. She was my age, and, I think, my size as well. Her skin was a porcelain gray, and her form was doll-like, and soft. She had long, thick black hair, tawny and unkempt. Unlike Meryl, her chest didn’t make me feel that funny. Her ass, however, and the general proportions of her body in that area, made me feel very funny indeed.
  142. It seemed this was where our physiological similarities ended, however – I’m not sure if it was the sharp little teeth that made me jump the hardest, or the one gigantic eye she had in her head. Perhaps it was the ten others she had attached to her back.
  143. I wanted to leap up, to run away, but I just couldn’t seem to tear my gaze away from that huge eye of hers. She was standing there, completely naked, in the river. She had known exactly where I would go. She’d been waiting for me.
  144. “Well,” She said, drawing herself up to full height and snarling at me as I sat on the side of the river. “Now I’m in a bad mood.”
  145. “H-heyy.” I whimpered, wondering just what the hell I was looking at. “You must be the countesss- right? Everybody calls you that.”
  146. Silence.
  147. “Ha, yeah. It’s like they want to be formal or something but you don’t have a first name so they just, you know-“ My mouth closed on its own halfway through the sentence, catching my tongue painfully. I supposed that wasn’t going anywhere anyway. God, she had a lot of teeth. Why did she have so many teeth?
  148. That central eye was really cute, though.
  149. Suddenly, the countess’s face went redder than a traffic light. “W-Wha?” She muttered suddenly, looking at me.
  150. “…Mmm?” I tried, and suddenly I could move again. She wasn’t looking at me any more. She was looking somewhere to my right. I looked over, but there was nothing there.
  151. “What was that about my eye?” She asked, very quietly.
  152. “Um.” I say, embarrassed. Oh god. That look she’s giving me is making me feel very funny.
  153. “I didn’t even mess with you yet,” She said, taking hold of my shoulder, but not yet meeting me with her gaze again. “And you said my eye was cute. You said it was really cute.” She’s panting a little, and her knees are shaking.
  154. What had I done? I tried not to think anything else that confirmed her suspicions, but I kept having these funny thoughts. She jumped a little each time I had one. “Stop!” She squeaks. “Stop raping me with your eyes! Pervert!”
  155. “What?!” I demanded. “You’re the one not wearing anything in public!”
  156. “I LIKE THE AIRFLOW BENEFITS!”
  157. “Nudist!”
  158. “Perv! Lech! Insect!” She started hitting me with her fists, pulling me closer to the river’s edge. It didn’t really hurt. “I bet you can’t wait to just climb into this river, bend me over the side and have sex with me!”
  159. She finally met my gaze with an accusing look from her single eye, and I immediately lost control of my body. I shook for a moment, not fully understanding what was going on here as my hands fumbled for my fly. As I stepped into the water, naked from the waist down, having not broken eye contact with her for a moment, I felt perhaps more funny than I have ever felt in my life. I couldn’t control my limbs. And it didn’t seem like she was in control either.
  160. Rapidly, I bent her over the side of the river as she gasped, biting her lip. Neither one of us could break eye contact. I didn’t know what’s going on, except that all I could think of is her, her perfect ass, and her single, beautiful eye. “How dare you,” She gasped, her tone closer to erotic roleplay than genuine distress. She seemed to try to shove me off, but my body roughly pushed her against the side of the river. “You can’t force me to- Ohhh…”
  161. Her body felt like silk. She was all I could see. I didn’t even notice the lights shining on us from above, or the small audience it seemed like we’d picked up.
  162. “N-No…” she moaned. “I won’t let you put it in… I won’t mate with you, you dirty little human!”
  163. She tensed up against the river’s edge, lifting her ass into the air. My body lined itself up with hers, instinct taking over as her eyes began to fire beams of deadly fire and light, just missing me, in some token attempt to fight back. The water they hit hissed and boiled as I stared down at the throbbing rod between my legs. I lowered myself, watching her strain and pull at my arms, moaning as I pushed my hard penis against the little slit. It only took a moment to go in, but it was a tight fit. Huh. So that was how that worked. And I had thought it was kissing that made girls pregnant.
  164. It was too tight. I couldn’t get it any further in, but I had to try. As I did, I felt something break. I looked down in shock, and saw blood trickling down my penis. That’s what broke the spell. I jumped back, staring in disbelief at the blood, gasping for breath. “Shit!” I gasped. “Oh fuck. Oh fucking hell.”
  165. “What the hell?” She demanded. “We were getting to the good part! You’ve popped me now. Take responsibility and impregnate me!” As if to emphasise this, she pressed herself against the riverbed again, wriggling her hips invitingly. “Come on! I just had the treatment. If you do it now, we could make a baby boy…”
  166. Her voice was fading. Everything was fading. All I could see was the blood. I don’t like blood. I really don’t like blood. As my knees buckled, she grabbed me by the armpits. “God damn it!” I heard her say. And then I completely blacked out.
  167. ---
  168. It’s… warm.
  169. For a moment, I was worried, but the place I’m in… it didn’t feel strange. The warm blankets, the cool air, the infrared light…
  170. It felt like home.
  171. “Wow, guys.” I said quietly. “I just had the craziest dream.”
  172. “Oh?” Meryl responded. “What ‘appened?”
  173. My eyes snapped open and I looked around the room. I was amazed for a moment at how nice the room I’m in is. It was like a hi-tech version of my room at home, complete with a warm bed and a computer. That’s where the similarities ended.
  174. The cow woman was back. Sitting bolt upright and seeing her still there confirmed that this wasn’t a particularly sexy episode of sleep paralysis. So I pose the question.
  175. “Where am I?”
  176. “In the countess’s guest room. You’re a lucky one, actually. You’re the first guest she’s had since she established the colony here.”
  177. “Where’s the countess?”
  178. “In her room.”
  179. I looked at her, shakily. “I bent her over the side of the river.” I confessed, numbly. “I was going to make her have sex with me.”
  180. “I know.” Meryl said. “She said she really enjoyed it. She was in such a good mood she gave Izumi the night off. Izumi hasn’t ‘ad time off for years. And just between you n’ me – none of that was you.”
  181. “It wasn’t?”
  182. “No.”
  183. I stared at her for a moment. Then, I ask another question. “Why are you here?”
  184. “I was arrested. Then brought here, to tend to you.”
  185. “Are you going to be alright?” I ask, slightly in shock.
  186. “Talking shit ain’t a crime. She’s got nothing on me.”
  187. “I can hear you,” Comes a voice from the other room.
  188. I got up, then, moving towards the source of the noise. As I got closer, I felt something under my feet. A comic? If it was, it wasn’t in any language I could read. And what was this next to it? Was this…?
  189. No way.
  190. It was something called a game. We had these in the tunnels. We had a machine called a PS2, a TV, and two games for it, one about driving, one a 3D platformer of some kind. This was a game as well, for some machine her race had created. I was sure of it. Immediately, I flipped the box over, hungry for more details on what I was holding. No use – the pictures were interesting, but it was all in that same strange language that the book was.
  191. But still. Wow.
  192. Without a second thought I surged towards the nearest cabinet and opened it. Bingo. Full of games. All the boxes looked heavily used, some were missing their jackets, and all of them were in the same strange language. And something else was slung into the cupboard, as if without a care in the world. Something light and silky that I easily dislodged from its location behind the games and then immediately wished I hadn’t.
  193. “Nudist.” I muttered, glaring down at the girls’ underwear in my hand. I looked down the coridoor next, coming up to a notice board with upcoming events. “Septet Conference”, read the foremost event, followed up in a different person’s handwriting by the doubly-underscored words “WEAR CLOTHES THIS TIME”.
  194. “Hmm hum humm.”
  195. I entered her room slowly, not really knowing what to expect. What I definitely didn’t expect to see was her leaned against the foot of her bed, apparently playing a game on a large screen. Wearing clothes.
  196. “Hello?” I said quietly, causing her to pause, giving me an angry look.
  197. “Oh, hello, Mr. Virgin.”
  198. “Excuse me?”
  199. “Excuse me,” She mimicked, “I’m Mr. Virgin. I can’t even have sex with a girl without blacking out for two whole days, that’s how much of a virgin I am.” I ignored her, and she glared over at me, pausing her game. “What is it?”
  200. I stared at her for a moment. “I just remembered something. The thing I punctured was your hymen, right?”
  201. She doesn’t say anything.
  202. “Doesn’t that mean you’ve never had sex eithe-“
  203. BANG.
  204. I drop into a crouch, my ears ringing as I looked behind me and saw a hole in the side of the tower the size of a car. The eye pointed towards it - towards me – pulsed with light. “What the fuck?!”
  205. “Oh, sorry. Were you saying something, Mr. Virgin?”
  206. I opened my mouth to reply, but she’d gone back to her game. I stood in the doorway for a moment, grinding my teeth. “I like the clothes.” I said.
  207. “Do you?” She asked, gesturing to the suit she wore. “I found them online.”
  208. “Online?”
  209. “Yes. I searched for ‘clothes’, and found this suit. I bought five of them last week and had the army delivery service bring them-”
  210. “Hey, listen-“
  211. “Don’t you interrupt me. I had the army delivery service bring-“
  212. “I wanted to ask-“
  213. “Don’t interrupt me while I’m interrupting you. I had-“
  214. “What’s your-“
  215. She looked me in the eye and my mouth shut itself again. She gave me a look of smug victory, beginning again, slowly this time – “I bought five of them last week and had the army delivery service bring them to the ships stationed off planet. They were delivered, with the usual supply crates-“
  216. “What’s your name?” I asked her.
  217. “What?”
  218. “I was wondering what your name is.”
  219. “You’re not supposed to be able to do that.”
  220. “Do what?”
  221. “Talk while I have full control over your body. Hey, stop hitting yourself.”
  222. My own hand slapped me across the face once, but then remained stubbornly by my side. She gives me an odd look, then jumps to her feet. “Oh, you want to play this game with me?” She purred. “Okay.”
  223. We stared at one another for a while, her trying to compel me to do things, and me refusing to comply. I caught my hands moving towards my face, and pulled them back, but she pushed harder. Suddenly, my skull feels very tight. My hand hits me, hard. “Ow!”
  224. “Nice going.” She remarks sarcastically. “You almost made me use 10% of my power.”
  225. “Oh really. Why don’t you finish what you started over by the river, then?”
  226. She goes a deep red. “I’m not in the mood.” She muttered. “No, you ruined it. You ruined your only chance with me. Now you get to stay here until the terrastorm is over, and then we’ll decide where you go.”
  227. I shrugged. “Alright.”
  228. “Alright.” She repeated, evidently frustrated by my response. Then, “Why are you sitting beside me now?”
  229. “We had these in the tunnels. We had this 3D platformer one, it-“
  230. “That sounds really boring.”
  231. “I’m going to stop talking to you in a minute.”
  232. “Stop talking to me now.”
  233. I reached over and tapped one of the buttons on her controller. Her character jumped off the platform he was standing on. Immediately she started trying to recover it, but it was too late. The character fell, and died, and…
  234. Didn’t respawn.
  235. “Game over!” A voice called, along with the option to load and quit. Oh, shit.
  236. “Wait, were you on your last life-“
  237. I couldn’t seem to get any more words out. She’d turned towards me now, and was looking at me so intently that I felt like my head is going to explode. Quickly, she grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and slammed me into the bed with inhuman strength. “I see.” She whispered in my ear. “You want me to mind rape you. Shall we go a couple of rounds now?”
  238. “No way fag,” I yelped, pushing my hands into the bed, but she was leaning on me, hard. I turned over and found her on top of me, pinning my hands. She was breathing heavily.
  239. “Stop looking at me like that!” She yells. “I can’t deal with you looking at me like that all the time!”
  240. “But you’re beautiful.” I tried.
  241. “Am I?” She asks. “Okay.”
  242. She casts one spell, then another, and let go of my wrists. As I realise what her intentions are, she schooched back a little, enough to undo my fly, and let my dick free from its confines. “A month is a long time to be here with me,” She mused, as I tried to stop her from touching it – and noticed that my hands are now held to the bed by magical chains. “Do you want another chance with me, then?”
  243. “Do you think you deserve one?”
  244. “Oh, you are just a glutton for punishment, aren’t you? Okay.”
  245. She touches her finger gently to my glans, then begins to circle, gently, as I struggle against the magical chains. She runs her fingers up and down it, tugs on it, and then, at the last possible moment…
  246. She lets it go, caressing only oh-so-gently with her fingertips. “Okay…” She whispers. “If I can’t have full control of a man through my normal abilities, that’s fine. I can still control the only part that matters.”
  247. “What are you-“
  248. “Shhhhh.” She whispers, stroking my quivering glans very softly. “You’re interested in me? Prove it.” She smiled. “Cum. As hard as you like.” As if to emphasise this, she began to shake and pull on my dick again, and I very nearly came. But then she stared me in the eye. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t.
  249. She giggled a little. A long time passed after that. She tugged, stroked, and tickled my dick, and all the time I felt I was about to cum… but I couldn’t. And I realised I knew why. 100% of her hypnotic power now was being put into forbidding me to cum.
  250. It was torture.
  251. “Can’t you do it? It’s okay. We can go all of today, and all of tomorrow too.”
  252. She tickled and stroked my dick, running her fingers up and down, as it throbbed and ached.
  253. “We can keep going. Until you learn your place.”
  254. I stared into her eye. I tried to throw her off with impure thoughts. I tried everything, but it didn’t work.
  255. And then I noticed something.
  256. I noticed I could feel her mind. And I could feel what it was doing to mine, to try and push mine to do something. She had connected us.
  257. Which meant that I could do the same to her, right?
  258. “What?”
  259. I felt it, then. I felt her opening.
  260. I felt her slide onto me.
  261. “Wh-What are you doing?”
  262. I felt her name.
  263. “Mari.” I whispered, grinning at her as she tried to break our eye contact, bouncing up and down despite herself. “Countess Mari.”
  264. “Wha-“
  265. I wanted to cum. She was fighting. But I waited for her. By the time we were both close, she was giving me this resigned, humiliated look. It was just me and her. And then, suddenly, both of us came.
  266. I felt her clamp down then, shivering as she did. I felt her orgasm as well. I felt my semen fill her womb. And then she closed her one eye, and our minds disconnected.
  267. I couldn’t take the sensation without her there. I blanked out at that point. But just before I went, for the second time, I heard her mutter to herself.
  268. “Well, I guess that settles that.”
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