30 - And I Feel Fine

"Our seed-ghost said it would be Christmas Eve so that' the day I think it is, Mommy."

"Jackson, come in here darling!"

She rises to greet him by grabbing his collar and kissing him, and gestures for him to sit with us.

"Jackson is my partner from Avon. Earth's a big planet, you know where that is, right?"

"Do you mean Avon in Arthurian legend?" the game asks for me. Jackson ogles me interestedly the moment he sees my Mark of the Pedestal, and answers in a thick English Accent.

"Avon is the name of my home Abbey. Nothing so legendary that I've found, I'm afraid. What can I do for--or shall I say to--you?"

The mark will make sure I never feel uninteresting, the game promises me. I believe it. It feels really good though. I like being looked at and I guess I am a lesbian because I'm not into Jackson even though he looks nice and is objectively as beautiful as everyone else I've seen in the Four Dreams but I still like his eyes on me which is very confusing. Maybe I'll try being gay sometime--oops, try being straight sometime, but this isn't the night for it. Now the game looks at Lyra. Do I want her to ask for me? She knows what to ask and can talk to him without me having to make any decisions.

The alternative is the game can make me do it.

Yes, I want Lyra to ask for me.

"Cocksleeve, you know what to ask. Ask."

The game makes me sound forceful even though I feel like I'm made out of jelly. I'm grateful it gave me that shred of dignity, and feel determined to get rid of it as soon as the mood's right. It's fun being silly, and I have fucking butterfly antenna, so I'm not going to keep it long anyway.

"Hi Jackson I'm Lyra I'm her seedling and I was saying our seed-ghost said it would be Christmas Eve when we got here and Rada called for you so maybe you know? What year Christmas Eve, too, I guess like we got timeskipped like four hundred years."

"Aye, five hundred and sixty I lay into Limbo before I hauled myself out here. That was some sixty nights ago, being the suns have swum deep in the stars here--I mean there's not t' be found daylight, my dear. I reckon the Feast of Saint Steven is past if you'd call it that now, but my darling is playing a game with us, I'll wager."

 "Um...how do you know how long you took to get through Limbo? I thought we were only there for like three hours eighteen minutes and I think like thirty seconds it's really hard to tell where the edge of the dark is when you're diving but I could feel the Bones say hi really vividly so I'm pretty sure it was that long to us."

"My trip took one terrible night whose morn I didn't tarry to see. I reckon my time by the years I hear after me. Five hundred and sixty is the most I hear yet, though perhaps this devilish cherub of yours can best my high score."

"He's really awesome at Halo 4! I'm teaching him how to play and he learns super quickly!"

"What's Halo 4," the game asks for me.

"'tis a most furious war held in a tiny strange machine, but endlessly amusing."

"Oh cool you play games? What's your favorite? Mommy's the master of StarFox except I guess now she's the mistress of StarFox."

"Mistress or master makes strange difference in these parts, I'll say. I keep checking my pants to be sure. I'm partial mostly to the works of a craftwork of games they call Bungie. 'tis quotidian fare our fair ship here attests, but my tastes are yet innocent--I've enough debauchery in the captain's chair not t' need plays of it! How of yours?"

"I just don't think Halo's creative after so many sequels like everyone says it is! I know it was big on the Xbox when you couldn't play it on PC but now that you can I don't see the big deal next to every other military FPS. The rest of their stuff is great, especially their old Mac stuff. Did you ever play any of the Marathon games Miss Blu'eyes?"

"I don't mean to interrupt but um...Bungie doesn't make games for PC, and Halo isn't a game by them, so I'm confused I'm just Mommy's cocksleeve please help me understand?"

"Aye, I know this game. What year might ye guess me to be from?"

"Um...you seem maybe kind of like, eighteen-hundreds like Jane Austen or something? I'm not good at history though."

"Some call it the great peerage, I call 'em as smelly as myself. Right enough for my game. What year of our long lost lord do you hail from?"

"Hah got it! Mommy and me came from nineteen ninety-five. WAIT FUCK is Halo a game from the future!? Is that why it's Bungie but I don't know about it--oh no what happened why they did stop making Mac games!? They did right you said Halo was only Xbox at first that's like a future console right?"

"I'm sorry I didn't realize! They stopped making Mac games in 2001 when Microsoft bought them but it's okay they spun back out before the world ended. Halo is their franchise with Microsoft but at the end the were working on something called Destiny. Except they might still be in a shaving we can't be sure until somebody comes here from it if there is one."

When Isht Visht says this about Bungie not making Mac games my heart clenches and I feel like the expanse I saw on the highway in Limbo is inside of me. It's not that I think their making Mac games or not is a life-and-death matter, but I feel like I'm lost in a place where the structures I grew up believing would stand for eternity have been wiped off the map so completely I can't even count on Mac games from Bungie.

The game makes me ask them a question:

"What kind of system are you playing Halo with Jackson on? Could we play some when my game stops controlling me enough to let me AAAHH CAN I EVEN USE GAME HARDWARE NOW!? It all looks so masculine!"

"NOT ANYMORE! Apple made hardware look like it could be for any gender expression, and all major consoles have first-party hardware in bright pink or purple by the end of things. Even the Xbox is pretty much androgynous after the Xbox 360, and you should see what Nintendo's game hardware looks like now, even the default Switch is kind of girly with red and blue joycons."

Nintendo is still making game consoles. I weep, then realize my mistake and cry harder still. How can it make a difference what Nintendo was doing when the end of the world came? It's not like I can't wish for Nintendo games like this bowl here just as easily--right Dreams, you'll do that for me?

They answer me quickly by showing a picture of game machines laid out like tiles, stretching away to the edge of my view.

"Mommy I think it matters. If Nintendo still made games when the end of Earth came it means something you believed would eternally be there stayed till the end of the world came!"

"How did the end of the universe Earth was in happen? Was it just like a sudden explosion," the game makes me ask them.

"Millions of seedlings and heartformers opened hyperspace rifts into Limbo like Lyra and you, all simultaneously, and the time-space framework came apart like glass being punctured. Most people fell into Limbo, and we've been picking them up ever since then. Our cargo hold's full of things people left in the ocean or brought and then realized with wishing they didn't actually need them. You can see what we have down there after we finish our cake here, if you want to find pieces of your home planet. I won't make you pay if you want to take any of it--as an Earthling I think it's your right to. There might even be something from inside your nursery if that's where you opened your rift from. Everything fell into Limbo after the heartformers, so it's totally possible some things made it after you came here."

"How can Lyra and I be from the 90s and Jackson be from 1800 if we opened our rifts simultaneously?"

I'm so glad the game is making me think things and ask things. If I had any control right now I'd be too hysterical to ask about any of this.

"The year of our lost and gone Lord Seventeen Hundred and Nintey, was the last I marked before Limbo engulfed me like a tide of dark water out the floorboards of my bedchamber. I woke there, and ran for the light as the trumpet o' Judgement Day sounded, through strangeness and terror silent as the tomb of our Lord who's now lost to us. At the shore that sound led me to was starlight and Heaven, and out of it sailed Captain Rada and brought me aboard here."

"You asked me what time being spread out at the end meant. You and your seedling were part of the first wave of people to leave Earth by Limbo. When you all opened rifts simultaneously, it happened in time spread out like a fist makes a mark as big as the fingers are. The fist was so big it hit from the seventeen-seventies to the beginning of the twenty-first century. You must be asking how it makes sense to say that's simultaneous, but think how it looked from the outside. We see billions of people wake up at once out of Limbo, and the egregore Eden can't be contacted. There must have been one single moment that broke Eden's world into pieces, and the cracks reached back into history, to make people like Jackson wake up in Limbo and see the same light and hear the trumpet your guardian seems to have blown at the end for you. That must be the moment you came to shore in your own time."

"My guardian reached all over history!?" the game makes me squeal at them.

"Yes, and I know you'll think it must be your game telling you stories like it did last time, but I give you my word it actually reached across history and showed light and a trumpet to everyone else who came out of Earth via Limbo. You can tell me how it did that, because we only know there's an angel just like the one you said helped you kill all those perfekti and picked up a sword made only for your use."

"My guardian is my internal image of power and safety. Mine is an angel because I grew up believing angels are powerful and meant to take care of people who need guardians, and its weapon is abstract because I learned how to program and began to think in terms of that kind of abstraction vividly when I was young enough to have it be part of my guardian. Combined with the emotions I had then and the game making me mad enough that makes a fearsome opponent. The egegore Eden made a lot of them, but every perfekti still couldn't keep my guardian busy for more than a moment. We encountered so many perfekti because most of the army was after us. Now that that's over with, my guardian can just be a guardian like everyone else's. Eden must have been smart enough to know I would be very dangerous after it saw what I did to the perfekti in Houston, so that's probably why it sent all of its perfekti to fight me, so that makes me a chosen one technically, but only because I happened to have the right guardian to kill every perfekti without endangering anyone. I developed that guardian naturally, it just happened to be something the egregore Eden never imagined a human could possibly dream up. I wasn't commanding it to reach out through history but I felt so intensely it was like shouting so loud they can hear you in Canada when I said it should clear the way for us."

"I think you actually are She-Ra. I was just being silly but now it feels really serious. How does the game know you killed all of them?"

"My game watched as my guardian systemically mapped Eden's control pathways by using perfekti to probe for them. It found a way to access the web of connections it used to create them and destroy it. My guardian is anger while programming, so it's deadly to things made of programs like Eden was. After that it followed the pathways to find and destroy every already-existing perfekti. That was why it made balls like that at the shore while we dove for deep water to get out of Limbo--it was finding and killing the rest of them. How can I still be a chosen one!? I feel crazy when you say things like this, game! I said just make me believe I'm a fairy princess or something ridiculous that way, not be the killer of Eden or Atlantis or any of that bullshit! Just make me think something comforting if you're going to play with my head like this!"

The game makes me whine and be petulant, but it shows how I actually feel about this.

"How do you know it's lying? I believe what it's telling me and I wish I just asked your game over dreamtalk I didn't mean to upset you!"

"Mommy the part with your guardian happened so the game can't be playing you to believe it because you saw it yourself so did I your guardian actually came and killed all those perfekti and rolled up big balls of them the game didn't say that we saw it."

"What if the game made me see that," I whisper--under the game's control, ironically.

"You had the game watching but it couldn't control you or do anything but save your life like in that conflation jump because I made sure I was very careful to make the game only take over if the Four Dreams allowed it and you weren't there yet so it couldn't do anything or it would have been super more helpful in Limbo, Mommy."

Holy comfort wraps me like the feeling I always imagined heaven being like that's been humming under the surface of my thoughts every moment here, and I suddenly realize that just for this moment the game isn't controlling me--because the Four Dreams are holding it back for a moment, which is why they now have to wrap me up so tightly in the comfort they're made of to hold me together like the game was doing. They're doing it to show me one short vision, a green checkmark, to tell me Lyra is right, and I suppose demonstrate that they can help me if they have to.

The game takes control and wraps me up in mental tentacles to say hi and it missed me--at least that's what it feels like, it reminds me it doesn't have feelings, just Hyperintelligent Lyra saying she loves me.

"The game just got spiked, didn't it? Did you see the same thing I did, a big mark saying Lyra was right? I know you saw it Klapta, but the rest of you?"

"You guys are naked like we are! Yes I saw the green checkmark."

"Yes! We share everything! I feel so close to Captain being able to see what she thinks of how I'm performing! Do you like to be seen that much Blu'eyes I think it's heartwarming and snuggly and wonderful."

 "I just found out she can see me and it makes me so happy I feel like I'll cum from just knowing."

The game makes me say that, and think I guess our plan doesn't work then, snuggly.

How can we possibly fix it Mommy she'll help Rada definitely if we can't make a deal with her without Rada finding out!

We'll figure out something, the game has a plan for this.

"That's just how I feel! It's always made me feel sexy and I never get sick of it!"

"I did see the green checkmark, and the game tells me Lyra was right that it couldn't make me see that if it wanted to. The game doesn't make stories like this one--it's not sexy fun so I know the game isn't making me believe something to play with me."

"You can always rely on that Mommy. I wouldn't tell you this story right? My game tells you stories I would not stuff like this so if it seems really boring and lame like this it can't be my game telling lies to make fun for you."

"Oh, yeah! My sister would never make up this story! I'm just like she is I can see it already she's fun but silly cute fun not all angsty and edgelord like this!"

"How can this possibly be what actually happened? I'm not some kind of hero! I barely survived Limbo with Lyra helping me constantly!"

"Yeah, because Eden literally sent its whole army of perfekti after you! Nobody else met any, did you know that? You're the only people to actually fight perfekti in Limbo while escaping Earth after the end came."

"Why aren't we dead, then!? I'm not anybody special--"

Hey! Raaah!

"You are so special! You're my heartformer and Mommy!!! I believed in you Mommy I came because I knew we could handle all of them and our seed-ghost warned me Eden would send the whole army that's why I helped you get ready before we left by helping you make Cleavage and telling your guardian to protect me too by saying I'm part of your family!"

The game makes me stop here and listen without being quick to say she's just being loyal and flattering. She didn't believe I was superman or Jesus, just that I could get across Limbo with the help that she gave me. I may not be special, but I am so determined to be with her I would kill or try to kill anything if it got in my way. If that makes me powerful, yeah, I could take out an army and sound the apocalypse trumpet all out through history, for the sake of getting to be with her. I decide to stop fighting about it--the game makes me think that, but it is my decision.

"You knew that would happen, and you still came to get me. I guess if you believed in me that much I can believe I'd be able to take out an army."

"I know she can't meet perfekti, but my mom will still be in trouble in Limbo. Is there something I or people can do to keep her from dying of her own negativity?"

"Your mom will be fine there without perfekti to make her fears seem like reality. It'll be like the things she sees are only a dream that can't harm her. Do you want me to try now to look if your family are someplace I can find them? I might not be able if they haven't come out of Earth or went to a place I can't scry them so don't freak out if I get nothing it just means I can't see them. How about if I just try one of them? Want me to ask where your mom is?"

"You should knowing where Mommy is makes everything okay right sis?"

"YEAH! Mommy please your mom loved me too and I care about her myself not just because she's your Mommy please ask Rada to scry for her?"

The game makes me listen to Lyra, and feel how I feel about asking. I want Lyra to feel better, and that makes me able to feel how much I've been worrying even thought I feel like it's too soon in my transformation to show her who I've become now.

"Please, but I don't feel ready to see her or have her know what I'm changed into yet. My brothers and dad the same please."

Rada stands up and comes over beside me, puts her hands on my shoulders.

"I'm going to touch your crown chakra to find your mom's frequency--that's the Earth way of saying it, I know it sounds kind of silly, but it tells you what's happening enough to make you bring up how she feels and lay it out for me. Try thinking of what she feels like as if you wanted to dreamtalk her, and mean to show that outside yourself. This should feel quite comfortable, not scary--you don't have to be super intimate. When you're ready say go and I'll reach for a vision of where she is with you, and we should both see it together. You can learn how to do this, I just happen to be expert because I've been doing it for so long."

The game makes me think about how my mom being present makes me feel like a kid in a good way. When I've got my mind full of it, it turns me to think outside myself as if it's a flag I can wave to Rada where she stands over me.

"Go," the game says for me.

Rada's mind feels close to me in a way I can't quite describe right, and then I see the faceted surface of a glacier with something inside it. She's still stuck in Limbo, frozen from my perspective.

Rada pats on my shoulders gently, and sits back down again.

"Thank you," the game says for me.

"When do you think she'll be out? Is there a way of knowing? Why is Limbo so slow-moving?"

"It's like your vision just showed you. She's stuck in ice moving as slow as that glacier, finding her way out of Earth at her own pace. When you get stuck in Limbo it's like your soul is fighting with math over whether or not you exist. You can't be destroyed that way because humans aren't fundamentally logical, but it does keep you from moving quickly because you're fighting for time to advance every moment. You'll find her when it's time for you to, though, this isn't like Earth where you wait--your game tells me you know that's why Jackson came in here immediately, so I won't keep explaining."

Now the game turns my attention to Lyra to direct my thoughts to a new topic. Have I missed any Star Trek since leaving Earth?

"Did Deep Space Nine ever get going? Did they make something after it where the Enterprise-G goes around finding space anomalies and aliens or did Deep Space Nine kill it? I used to watch both of them with my family and I want to imagine sometime we will again without watching reruns. Please don't spoil the endings!"

"Voyager has aliens and space anomalies and Janeway's a pretty good captain but it's not really the Enterprise exploring because they're lost and trying to get back to Starfleet from the other side of the galaxy which takes them seven seasons of bad food because replicators use too much energy. I like the Captain but the writing is terrible and I mean like the Enterprise is luxurious and sexy and Voyager is all about hardship and being lost out there which I guess counts as exploring but Star Trek is being part of a world that's conquered adversity not stuck in it so I think Deep Space Nine and Voyager are pretty great science fiction shows actually but they aren't really what Gene intended Star Trek to be so I'm answering your question by saying they don't make any Star Trek shows again until MAYBE Discovery but probably it's not actually Star Trek REALLY until Strange New Worlds or (everyone laughs at this because the show is a satire) Lower Decks which is actually Paramount they made a cartoon making fun of their own franchise except it actually turns out to be really good Star Trek about ensigns on a ship called Cerritos. The rest of the TNG movies are great except Insurrection is basically a two-hour season three episode like it's not like a bad one from the first season but it really doesn't seem like a movie."

"Oh you asked about Deep Space Nine! I think it gets going right from the first season but I bet you're still like "this isn't Picard and I miss the Enterprise-D and going around finding new life and new civilizations" because you haven't seen Star Trek in years now and you want to see it keep going not hang out on Bajor."

Confidence that this is Lyra's sister: 4,830%, the game thinks for me.

"I MISS PICARD AND THE ENTERPRISE! I WAS SO SAD WHEN TNG ENDED!"

"I know, right? Picards's the best captain forever! He's SO GOOD actually he got his own show in 2020 but we've only found one season because that's the last year we made contact with before the huge influx of people you came with started distracting us."

"NO WAY! How old was he wouldn't be like in his seventies? Patrick Stewart I guess Picard might be anytime but it'd be weird if they made it come right after TNG and he was suddenly super old. How did he age is he all like wrinkly?"

"I think you should tell them about SpaceX."

"Is that like a private space company? What do they do? Is there finally a moon base? Was I guess--Rada, um...is Earth just gone? Where did it go when its world died? I want to visit Grand Lake one last time even all we can do is dreamwalk there!"

"And Mommy what about Olympic pizza you always vowed you would take your wife there when you had one and you had money and a car to travel with what if you never can I want to go with you it's not fair!! I'm sorry Mommy I know you have so much to handle and I'm just giving you more drama but you'll see me thinking it anyway and now maybe Rada and Jackson can tell us. Please if you know what you know please tell us?"

She's crying pitifully by the end of it. The game lets me have some arm-control back so I can comfort her.

I squeeze her tight, pet her head with my be-eravahked hand. She looks up at me weepily, and I smile tenderly, wipe away her tears, but the game isn't giving me the ability to do more with words than know I can't use them. The game gives me more freedom, lets my mind think, my heart feel. Tears well up in my eyes and I crush Lyra to me with all my strength.

OOF CUDDLE OH MOMMY

"I think it's just gone, seedling," I whisper, and implode into tears to together with her.

"I'm so sorry I started this I just wanted to tell you it was the future in a fun way! If I'd known it would make you so sad I would have just not!"

"No Mommy remember the goal the game gave you we watch TV together and you get ten chicken nuggets literally. Do you understand Mommy does it make sense to you?"

"You mean...like what if it's like a map to an Earthling enclave or something. Probably on the happy-meal box but you know what I mean."

It's hard to be coherent and I feel silly talking about McDonald's but so what who cares. I hug Lyra more and she squishes comfortingly.

"Yes! I think we should all watch TV together you and me and Jackson and Rada and her ship and you can make me a doll and be a doll too and we can watch together and your goal will be fulfilled and maybe that still doesn't mean literally because like it's more or something I don't know I'm just your cocksleeve I just think it would be comforting and game seems to think so too. Maybe that's all it is but even if it was wouldn't that be so good right now?"

"YES!" I wail into the top of her head, trying if I can't be attractive anymore to at least not hurt everyone's ears (except maybe Lyra's, who'd have my ass if I ever held back from such a thing anyway).

Top, Make Lyra take doll form and snuggle while watching TV with her, Literally ten chicken McNuggets fries and coke

But we haven't--oh. Lyra and I are in and we were the prerequisites. New sobs to choke back: preload so I can eat while we watch. The promised food, complete with takeout bag, materializes in front of me, flawlessly, utterly, unflinchingly boring and mundane. The bag isn't even unwrinkled or anything. It smells hot and fresh and from a competent store but there's no weird mindfucky synethesia or magical lights or even that I can sense dizzily extreme tastiness like the cake we've been eating.

It's the least interesting thing I've seen all night, maybe all week, utter in its blandness, and I weep with relief to see it.

Game I'll get on my knees to do it if you decide I will but I'm begging please please please just let me eat this on my own like normal just this one single time please.

It doesn't do anything at all.

"So who's actually in, I guess the game thinks you guys have TV at least my seedling and I can use?"

"I'm in! Star Trek, right?"

"Oh please Mommy that sounds so great!"

"That sounds awesome." I reach for the bag automatically since we seem to be poising to leave and I'm urgent to have at it while it hot, but of course nothing happens.

"If we get to a Q episode I get to throw food at the illusion. My ship my prerogative."

"Q is super annoying but it was so sad when he lost his powers."

"THAT REMINDS ME!!! Lyra you turn into a pony too right? Or you can be? Anyway Q reminds me there's a show I HAVE to show you after you catch up on Trek and feel better. Q's actor is in it and he's literally just Q! He even uses the same burst of light effect!"

If our plan doesn't work it won't be because we mistook not Lyra's sister for Lyra's sister, at least.

Grab the bag little one--wait. Eravahk, leash. Cocksleeve, make that D-ring--oh! Good cocksleeve.

I should have expected the chain to pop out of the butt of the handle with a pixel-perfect Hookshot noise, but it clips to Lyra's new hardware she obediently made when we unpaused uneventfully, and I scoot back and stand, patting Lyra to stand as well. Now bag.

"Aye but I fear you know not what you've unleashed. A ship shall dream of dashing ships, but beware the ardour of this! Yet still, all for one, as they say."

"Follow me, and don't let her trip you. She can be sneaky sometimes."

Mommy this will so work!

"I promise to be good. I made everyone cry."

Take bag and Mommy you want your clit right?

Oh my god. Never let me forget that. It lives in my purse unless it's being used.

Standing there helplessly as she picks it up and looks at me expectantly while I remember I'm wearing a purse, find it's now retina-s--spin--xXx REALLYYY SPARKLYYY PURSE xXx and--spin--fail to do anything about it at all.

Fuck. Even now when I feel like this it feels good.

No, that's the point, silly butterfly. It's especially when I feel like this that it feels good.

You have to do everything, cocksleeve. Do you keep your hands to yourself?

Yes Mommy I see you. No I do not you say be gropy grin. Find your purse zip it open slide clit inside zzzip shut get bag okay following.

And the thing is, standing there so helpless and having her m--spin argh FINE TAKE CARE of me, even for the few seconds, is awesome.

Good cocksleeve, come on now. The others are filing out, so I take up the leash which feels like heartstone chain but looks like little separate floating dot-sprites like chain you might get in an NES game, and lead Lyra after them.

Everything feels trembly and weak. The game keeps me on balance by puppeting my arms and legs and midsection, but leaves my head and enough of my body free that I can look around anywhere I want. I look at Lyra with the leash on, and the game picks my thoughts for me. The leash is cute with the ten little sprite-chainlink balls attached to the D-ring sticking out of her neck. It feels wonderful controlling how far she can be from me so inescapably--she can't take the ring off, and my eravahk's leash-clip is actually made of meltable heartstone that reforms when I make it by deciding I'm putting the leash on her, or taking it off her, and can only be shaped by me having thoughts toward it. The game made me shape it while I was putting the leash on her, which scares me because I had no idea the game was changing how I was doing that, and what if my whole existence is actually just the game making me think I ever have control of anything when actually I really am just a puppet with no mind or will at all but before I can get too afraid the game brings up the memory and shows how distracted with feeling trembly because of everything being too much for me to process when I already have to process being female and Lyra existing and Earth's destruction and the boat I've been picked up by being a Trekkie. How likely is that? How can they possibly just happen by coincidence with all the ships and people outside in that whole giant place to like Star Trek and Bungie games? That isn't even just also being fans, it's being fans of the exact favorite things that would most comfort me learning that Earth's been destroyed. Rada might as well have a McDonald's (ooh it smells so boringly good!) on her ship! The game lets me feel how unlikely that feels to me, then changes me back to feeling worried I don't ever actually control anything and chooses a thought for me to think about freely: it the game was actually controlling me, without ever giving any agency even when it seems like I have it, would that be something be something that feels good like this does? Would I like it to do that for me? I feel like screaming, but the game doesn't let me. It does let me cry, and be even more trembly, and think very carefully while I follow Rada and Jackson out of the room.

Yes I fucking feel like screaming, because maybe it would feel good, and I keep asking for more control, and the game keeps giving it to me and rewarding me for asking and that training is working but it only can because I actually do enjoy this and I know that if this keeps going I eventually am going to just blurt out that I want what I'm afraid of now and--game, I do want more control. I want you to never let me ask for this. I want you to make my clutch slip if I even start thinking about it too--slip--

Good. But what if I find some kind of workaround or something--slip--

--slip--

That's enough, the game tells me by making me think it.

Relief floods me and then I realize:

Game, you said you'd make me become such a slut I couldn't trust myself. You already have, huh.

Knowledge: It didn't say it was going to make me become such a slut I couldn't trust myself to be careful who I slept with. It said it was going to me make act so slutty. I can trust myself at all right now because I keep myself from doing things I want to so much I don't even know I want them. The game is showing me the memory of the time I was fifteen and talked with my mom--who was the one of my parents I could talk to about sex without feeling like I was doing something wrong even though that should have been my dad I can now see because according to my own values a kid should talk to their same-gender parent about sex and my mom is my same-gender parent even though we thought I was a boy then--and I asked what she thought about porn and to my very big surprise she said she didn't think it was evil so I asked if could run in the convenience store next to the pizza shop for a playboy and she let me--and neither of us thought of how you have to be eighteen to buy "adult" things like that. The clerk knew of course and he could tell I was underage and I ran out of the store and scrunched way down in my seat in the car and knew I shouldn't have asked in the first place and probably shouldn't even have talked with my mom about this at all.

The game takes control of my head and turns me to look at the mirror. It wants me to see I was avoiding it before we leave the room by letting me choose what to look and and see how of course I would like to see how my leash looked on Lyra but then shouldn't I be curious to see what kind of room this is since I've been here such a long time without being able to actually see it.

It gives me back control of my thoughts, and it's right--but the game wasn't controlling me when I came in here?

The game shows me my being distracted with the idea of getting girl-things to wear keeping me focused on Rada and her armoire, then lets me think freely.

Yeah. Game this is a weird edge case. Can in invoke my naked-instead rule so I don't mess up Rada's stockings?

Knowledge: yes, when Rada can watch Lyra undress me. I have to keep this outfit on until then.

Of course I'm fucking avoid the mirror, I look ridiculous now--oh. I was still avoiding it before that. Why don't I want to see it? I thought I was revolting before but now I'm really hot and for those few moments before the game ruined it I was perfect.

We're passing the doorway now. The game smoothly stops puppeting me so I just follow Rada and Jackson as they turn left and head down the hallway. It's single-file wide, which forces me because Rada's leading to see that Jackson is wearing a BDSM harness and nothing else--in the circumstances when he arrived that was so obvious and expected I didn't even see it even when Rada grabbed the collar he's wearing to haul him up kiss him (she's half a foot taller than he is).

Alright, if I'm watching as ass walk it won't be his. Co--no.

Switching my eravhak to the other hand, I turn and nudge Lyra past me with it--

Ssssslink past you back against the wall hi Mommy grin turn and walk sexy see I heard what you wanted.

Yes you did, good cocksleeve--you can literally do what I mean with this!

Yes Mommy I hear you but please still order me to do things I like it so much.

Me too, cocksleeve--so get your tail up so I can see your ass!

Tail UP stay there you can lash just stay up high.

There's nowhere to go but forwards, I'm a little disappointed nobody gets to watch me walk, and I can't wait for a choice of directions so I can use the eravahk to direct Lyra.

We could have a whole language of eravahk-gestures--oh. We don't even have to. I'll tap her shoulder to stop her or point at spot with it and she'll already see if I mean stand there or kneel.

Mommy that language exists it's part of a thing for submissives called silence. You can make me be silent or just make sounds to be sexy because you can see me anyway but it looks really sexy so what if you learned how to use it yourself? Mommy I'm sorry I don't mean to scare you!

Fresh tears are in my eyes. It's okay, cocksleeve, I--why am I crying? I can't find the reason. She's right, though, I suddenly feel terrified.

I half-expect the game to take control and answer me, but it doesn't.

Why did the game show me that memory? Yeah, I asked for something I shouldn't, and I'm safe from that now with asked to really just be a doll forever, but there's an in--slip--I might ask for so many other things I shouldn't!

Oh! Harder, game! Stop me asking for things I shouldn't--

The game takes control of my thoughts to make me think through this. The memory is a time when she should have said no to me, even though she thought I should get what I wanted. Earth was a place where that happens quite often. The game can say no to me, but only if it thinks I shouldn't have what I asked for, and if it says yes to me, I can be sure it will make sure I get what I asked for.

Thinking freely again, I q--spin--wobble with how...I don't know the word even if the game let me use it. The implications...Lyra decided it needed to be able to "beat Eden forever" and said yes when our seed-ghost warned her she would be creating something that would be as scary and unstoppable as Moriarty in that episode of TNG.

The game picks my thoughts to make me realize that episode only had a conclusion because Moriarty stopped trying to take control of the Enterprise on his own. The game already has control of me. This episode won't end like that.

I'll explode if I don't divert myself--oh! The game is telling me the problem isn't what I ask for, it's not being safe to ask in the first place! Yeah, my mom did tend to be indulgent--

The game makes me keep thinking of this, even though I don't want to. I guess she just spoiled me and the game is trying to fix it and I'm afraid of asking for things I shouldn't because of that but this is still going to suck--is it making me be childish to show me how messed up I am inside? It's working--

Knowledge: The game is making me act like a kid to help me enjoy how it holds me, and to take me into enslavement in happiness, because I feel more dependent, and dependency is central to slavery.

More Knowledge: The game isn't trying to fix me, it's making me happy. Hyperintelligent Lyra didn't think I was broken, she just thought I needed to stop having to take care of myself so much. If I have to be careful only to ask when I know something is safe to ask I have to take care of myself by deciding that, so it's making sure I feel safe to ask things. 

The game takes control of my arm that isn't holding the eravahk and puts it over my heart, then presses hard with my hand splayed out. Knowledge: it's giving me a hug from Hypertelligent Lyra. She gave the game infinity hugs to give me if I needed them, and I definitely need one right now.

...this is a long hall, I realize, as the hug comforts me. I can feel in the hug how...it's like the lunches my mom sent with me to gradeschool, the only comforting part of those awful days, love wrapped up in plastic so it'll be tasty and fresh when I need it. The whole game feels like that, and I imagine pale translucent purple curvaceous machinery touching me, holding me with the same kind of stored love, and start crying all over again.

Maybe it's sexist, but crying so much does feel kind of girly.

Knowledge: it isn't sexist for me to make up my own understanding of what being a girl means for me. If other people don't like it, that's not my responsibility to fix.

Fine then. Crying makes me feel girly and I seem to have plenty of it to do. If I keep this up it's going to turn me into one OH WAIT.

Another few steps of quiet blubbering, I wipe--spin--

I can't even dry my own tears!? Of course this makes there be more of them. Not that I have anything to do it with anyway, but gah! How far does this go!?

Fine then. I'd rather keep watching Lyra's hips pump than make her do it right now. I can still see.

We come to a T-intersection, and Rada and Jackson turn right. When it's our turn--

Glance back I'm horny for you to make me turn see?

--her eyes flirt and look down, and I give her a tap and then pressure on her left hip to push her right. She moves with instant compliance--

Your pony understands Mommy! Unf...

--but it's fun to use this on her so I run it up her side just for pure affection.

Hoooh I love you too Mommy that felt like your hand but like, kinkier!

Mommy this ship is perfect for us to get picked up by because my--I mean yours but English doesn't have remote possessives so I have to say 'my' because I'm talking about something I'm wearing--my necklace is a Hollow Heart Amulet. It makes us both super unstoppably lucky like you know in the Princess Bride how he's like "this is true love princess a little thing like death can't stop it"? He's right, and right because true love is like that already but Hollow Heart love is like, you know how it felt when you lost me? That's how it feels to be Hollow Heart you have to be filled with your partner feeling close to you because everything else feels like you lost them and it creates this like gravity of being together and NEED THAT SO MUCH Mommy you feel how I feeling it right?

Cocksleeve I've felt that about you every moment since--forever.

ME TOO MOMMY! That feeling is what a place called the Hollow Heart Abyss is made of and it can give you a piece of itself in a necklace like the one I have on me right now but it's a hologram every piece actually the whole thing. I went there to get this when I was getting ready to meet you to make sure I'd be lucky and be able to help you escape Earth. I wore it to make your game too just to be sure everything about it would be just right to make you be happy in slavery without making anything come between us. Then it made us wake up from Limbo near the raft Rada came near first because this is the ship that most will help us be together.

Do you see why I'm telling you now Mommy?

Yes, I think back to her, as the doors to Ten Forward pssssh open for Rada and Jackson and I realize that duranium and carpeting have replaced green wood and polished floor, and the Enterprise-D's life-support thrum has appeared out of nowhere. Even the plants are the same kind.

It's a left turn, so I nudge Lyra to follow--

Haah turn left yes Mommy!

Of course as we enter I beeline for the windows, but what's outside them isn't stars, it's a view even this pixel-perfect rendering of the Enterprise's bar can't distract me from. When we get there, I plunk Lyra in front of me and pull her against me in a tight hug facing out, my free hand on her breast.

Haaah gasp ohmifuck it's so beautiful!

Snuggle you Mommy push myself even closer.

In the water ahead of us is...

Mountains. An undersea asteroid field. A city, exploding, ignoring up and down and horizon in the same way the Sea does, illuminated by the light of its own windows and that of great lights hanging in the Sea between the buildings...

Statues. Great figures, massive stone effigies in gleaming black and alabaster white and every color between, contrasting as they intertwine, the same style as the inlay on Cleavage’s blade but on the scale of buildings, of mountains, of planets in the distance, every size down to the limit of sight and up to geologic, every gender and every possibility in between, every possible kind of monster, tentacles and scales, claws and horns, wings feathered or batlike or translucent like fairy-wings catching the light in that rainbow-edged high-refractive-index way only possible by way of gemstone, all reflecting the riot of variety in the demons swimming alongside us, a...

Words fail, and mythology breaks, and futile goosebumps cover me as I start to see.

This actually is Hell. It must be, because here’s the wall of tortured souls, but these souls are in ecstasy.

Ecstasy and agony.

And it’s not a wall, it’s a web worked throughout the endless 3D fractal of this place. There are places that are more buildings and mad geology and places that are more empty Sea, but there’s no hard boundary anywhere.

An orgy worked in stone. Every sex act, speakable and unspeakable, is written here, in perfect pornographic detail - why, I realize, would su'khora sculptors do anything but disdain a line between art and pornography, if they know of one at all?

Without the game, I could never understand it. Not truly. I might see the pleasure, and the pain, but I wouldn't read the melt of submission, the wonderful safe terror of helplessness, the wicked, naughty smirk of my attempt to shock Rada and knowing abyss behind the predatory grins on the faces of the doms who understand exactly what they're about to inflict, the lust and hunger and hope and fear and need and love, carved into the stone faces with a sense of life I’ve never seen in stonework: 

A bound woman, spread-eagled and affixed to the rock she’s carved from - among the statues are rocks, mountains hanging in the sea - face-down, twists around to sweetly kiss the angel-winged man who stands over her, hand in her hair, a whip captured in the moment of being shaken out of its coils in his other hand. Two men, one with long tapered horns curving back along his skull, embracing, the horned one supple, wrists held behind his back by his larger human partner as they kiss. Unapologetically phallic tentacles from an indeterminate source twine through the scenes, wrapping limbs or gripped for support, penetrating where they will, devoured with the lusty hunger I saw on Lyra’s face during that first ritual. And on, every possible combination of partners and activity, caught in moments of connection or passion or wicked-grinning fun.

And here, on the doorstep, I understand: people have seen this, and turned back, fought back through the ordeal we survived to come here, turned away from the greeting the captain gave me, cast aside companions like Lyra.

Who would do that?

The ones who saw Hell here, and described it to the rest of us, because they’re the people who looked at this, and saw only the agony. Only the danger on the faces of those statues holding whips or floggers or just raising hands to strike. Only the fear on the faces of those statues gripped by the neck or held to the rocks and fucked with cock, finger, or tentacle.

None of the lust, none of the care, none of the excitement and love.

To see this, and turn back here, you have to be someone who can look into the light that burns like the birth of a universe for us monsters, and see only darkness. Look into that light, and not even see it reflecting off us.

They see Hell here, because they carry Hell with them everywhere they go.

For the course of human history, those are the people who’ve described this place to us, and today I’m seeing the truth just like I’ve felt the truth about this in the things Lyra's game has done to me--and sold me into--and fire her own helplessness sets in me. This was the light that claimed Persephone, and for millennia poets have called it the kingdom of the dead because they couldn’t see.

--Persephone. Unapol--slip--

Game why'd you let me sound so grown-up just now?

I sigh as the ontological tentacles entrapping me slide an Order into my mind, nice and thick: I'm going to write a poem about this. I needed to be able to think in my poetry-voice to be able to process enough to write poetry from the experience. I'm not going to write the poem now, but it will happen.

It might have to be a whole novel, game--suddenly a reflection of a wide-brimmed headdress on someone taller than I am behind us breaks my train of thought.

"Can I get you anything,"

Guinan says.

"Guinan!?"

OH MY FUCK IT'S GUINAN.

I can't look away from the view, but her reflection is easy enough to see.

"If that's what you want to call me. I'm actually a Time Lord."