Assault of the Slave Girls
The atmosphere in the room was tense but not explosive. Tina sat between U1trawoman and Mystique and realized that she still had no power of her own. She merely stood between the powerful and had their favor. That could change quickly if she failed. There was a difference between faililng Modok and failing U1trawoman. The thought of being crushed in Ul1trawoman’s grip sent a thrill of fear and yet a little pleasure as well shooting through Tina. All her life Tina had wanted power but now she was beginning to realize that just being next to it was a thrill. She had a little power and that shouldn’t have satisfied her, but at the same time she only had a little of the responsibility. There was a safety in that that did satisfy her.
Beside Mystique sat Destiny and beside her sat Shadow Web and Modok.
“This modification of plan will complicate matters,” Modok said. “I do not think that it is needed.”
“Destiny has already said that the timelines favor us,” Shadow Web added.
“Time lines shift,” Tina said. “Random elements can turn history on a dime. A lost plan there, a careless word here, a clue overlooked… It can all come crashing down.”
“You’re plan rest on elements beyond our control,” Modok pointed out.
“My plan doesn’t exist,” Tina said. “We went over this when you first recruited me. You changed my plan. Just because we’ve had a string of successes doesn’t mean I’m wrong.”
It was quiet in the conference room for a few minutes. The place was bare of anything but a table and chairs, the walls were white and beyond them were lead, cement, steel and electronic scrambler fields. It was about as secure as you could get from prying eyes.
“We let the Scarlet Witch and Ms. Marvel/Ultra Woman scenarios play out,” Tina said at last. She was desperate but she was under control. “I can keep tweaking Ms. Marvel and Ultra Woman so they’ll at least have a sexual liaison. The second part of that plan is all primed and you and Mystique can enjoy their crash all you want. With Crimson and White Owl I’ll be more hands on, not only driving them into bed but making sure that they think only of each other, that they become more and more paranoid. We’ve linked into the net and satellite feed to the cabin they’re staying in, I can put any thought into White Owl’s head and I can beam subliminals toward Crimson. Give me a week and they’ll be so in love with each other and so scared of the world they’ll think their own mothers are part of the conspiracy. Then we have SHIELD capture them, U1trawoman save them and Mystique and let them think of the best way to attack the other side.”
“It’s the ultimate random element,” Mystique said. “In essence they’ll be traitors and traitors have brought down empires before.”
Shadow Web wasn’t convinced but Tina saw agreement in Modok’s eyes.
“We will try it then,” Modok said. “What is your first step?”
Tina felt U1trawoman’s hand on her shoulder and her entire body felt supercharged.
“White Owl’s going to have nightmares,” Tina said smiling.
Athena woke up in a cold sweat reaching for the weapons in her utility belt before she realized that she wasn’t wearing it. She was in bed, wearing a pair of pink flannel pajamas that were now pasted to her body. She looked around the room but there was no danger, no sound or movement. The full moon flowed into a completely still bedroom.
Athena lay still for a moment and then threw the covers off of herself and sat up. The cabin they’d been put in was a two story, six room mini-mansion with wide windows overlooking a picturesque lake. It was anything but rustic and featured a hot tub, bar, video room with a movie-screen sized TV and a play room. Each bedroom had it’s own bathroom. She and Tiffany had settled for rooms right across from each other on the second floor. Athena sensed that Tiffany wanted to be closer but something held her back. Athena felt like she was being pulled in two directions at once and the added strain of their situation made it even worse.
Would I have had the nightmare if she were sleeping beside me, Athena wondered as she headed toward the bathroom. I doubt I’d be asleep to have one.
The last thought popped into her mind as she turned on the light and looked at herself in the mirror. She’d looked better. Her hair was a mess, there were circles under her eyes and even her skin looked a bit paler than it should have. She was so heavy with sweat it was dripping off her face! She’d felt like this before when a bad period was coming but her period was at least two more weeks away. Tiffany had cooked them steak and potatoes for supper so it wasn’t the food.
“I guess I’m just worried,” Athena said as she unbuttoned the pajama top and pulled it off. She pulled off the bottoms as well and then toweled herself dry. Padding back into the bedroom she went over to the bureau and was reaching for another set of pajamas when a thought popped into her mind.
Maybe I was just too hot wearing pajamas. I’ll just sleep nude.
Athena shook her head and took hold of the bureau to steady herself. Again she reached for the pajamas. She took hold of them, feeling the thick fabric and then took her hand away. Going back to the bed she crawled under the sheets and took a deep breath. The feeling of the sheets against her bare nipples excited her as the motion of her chest dragged the fabric across them.
I better not let Tiffany know I’m sleeping this way, Athena thought as she started to drift off. Almost of it’s own accord one of her hands drifted to her breast and the other between her legs.
Tiffany lay in bed and her fingers pressed on the remote every now and then, flipping through the channels but not really seeing anything. Her mind was drifting back over the events of the past few weeks.
She and Athena had seen Ms. Marvel murder someone and brutally attack others. Why were the Avengers, hell why were the X-men closing ranks with her? Why be so blatant about it? With Prof X’s powers they could have erased the knowledge or the memory of the crime easily that first night in the apartment. Then again they’d made an official report and he couldn’t wipe everyone’s mind, could he?
Tiffany stared the screen and didn’t notice the flickering that danced across it every few seconds. She thought of Athena in the next room and then she thought of Athena laying in a hospital bed while Wolverine ran his claws over her body. Of herself sitting in a chair helpless to do anything about it. The image enraged her but Tiffany knew there was nothing she could do. She and Athena were good and each of them could pull off some good surprises in battle but they could fight the X-men and the Avengers.
“And SHIELD,” Tiffany muttered under her breath. “Can’t trust them, can’t trust them, can’t trust them…”
Her voice drifted off as her mind sank into darkness, but her eyes were still open and when the screen switched from an old movie to a geometric pattern filled with color Tiffany watched and when soft words started to fill the room Tiffany listened.
“Subtle,” Mystique said as they watched Athena and Tiffany on the monitors.
“Thank you,” Tina said. She adjusted the controls. “I wish Crimson were more susceptible to the nanites but the hypnosis should do it for now. All I really have to do is re-enforce what she already believes to be true and press her to be more and more worried about White Owl. It’s not outside of the range of her normal behavior so there shouldn’t be any resistance.”
“And White Owl?”
“No more nightmares, but she’s going to have a wet dream just before she wakes up tomorrow. I’ll input a strong suggestion that Tiffany should do the laundry.”
“I see some awkward moments for those two tomorrow,” Mystique said sipping her wine.
“That’s what I want,” Tiffany said. “I want them orbiting each other and getting closer every moment until they unite. Once their love is solid as a rock we can use it.”
“Love is a many splendored thing,” Mystique said.
Tina didn’t reply but Mystique must have seen the look on her face.
“Love hasn’t been kind to you has it?”
“I was sixteen, he was nineteen. I thought it was love until he got me drunk and passed me around to his buddies at a party one night. The next day he laughed at me. I planted some coke on him and then told the cops, they did the rest.”
“Love has a dark side,” Mystique said. She watched as Athena moved restlessly under her sheets. “How far do you really think you can get her to go?
“Athena? If this works she’ll be completely loyal to U1trawoman,” Tina said. “Given enough time I can make her be loyal to anyone.”
“What are the other two going to go through this night?”
“Well they aren’t going to sleep much,” Tina said. “But since they’re in the mansion we can’t monitor them like these two. But if I push them in the right direction they should both feel the need to talk. Given how I’ve already pushed them to feel more than friendship the talking should help it along.”
“Push then,” Mystique said. “It’ll be just as good to see Ms. Marvel crushed as it will to see Rogue come back to me.”
“Pushing,” Tina said and manipulated the controls. “But at a certain point I’ll send out the word and the Ultra Woman will be needed.”
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” Tina said. “Also Ms. Marvel can’t leave the mansion, that’ll frustrate her to see Ultra Woman go while she has to stay. And the more frustrated Ms. Marvel is the easier it will be to manipulate her.”
Tania listened to the muted sounds of the city as she walked through the mansion. New York truly never slept and she could hear cars, horns, music and people even through the closed windows. She could also hear Carol grunting as she worked out in the gym. For a moment Tania paused at the door, but then she moved on. She and Carol were growing closer but Carol was still reluctant and Tania was not going to push.
She walked into the library and looked over the books. Most of them were hardbound classics but there were also dog-eared paperbacks and a few scrolls. Tania selected one of the books and sat down. She was half way into Tanith Lee’s Night Master when Carol walked into the room. She was fresh from the shower as Tania could tell from her wet hair and red robe. Carol hesitated for just a moment when she saw Tania and then walked over and sat down on the couch.
“One am reading,” Carol said. “I thought Jan and I were the only ones awake.”
“I heard Reed talking to Wanda as well,” Tania looked the book. “I didn’t expect to find science fiction paperbacks here, the mansion seems more a hardcover place.”
“Jan’s work,” Carol said. “She says as long as we fight crazy things we should bone up on them.”
“This is fiction isn’t it?” Tania asked.
“So far as we know,” Carol said. “But I’ve come across Frankenstein’s Monster and he turned out to be real, the Avengers have faced a half dozen menaces that were supposed to be just legends.”
Tania couldn’t suppress a shudder as she put the book down.
“You ever run into someone like Azhrarn?” Carol asked.
“I’ve faced my share of attractive demon lords,” Tania said. “You?”
“Mostly aliens,” Carol said. “I guess we stand at the center of two genres. Do a lot of reading?”
“I’ve gotten into the habit,” Tania said. “You?”
“Mostly detective and adventure stuff,” Carol said. “Until I met my first alien and then I started to read scifi.”
“At home most of our stories are told around the fire or at the feast, they are more social gatherings than times for immersing yourself in stories. But in the library we have thousands of scrolls with tales from ancient and forgotten lands. As a scout I was never one to linger there too long. You’d like our story parties, we feast and dance for the entire night, sometimes almost for days.”
“Sounds like fun,” Carol agreed smiling.
“When all this is over,” Tania said.
“If it ever ends,” Carol said. She sighed and Tania knew that the sigh released none of her frustration. “I’m used to dealing with my own problems and now I’m relying on a duck!”
“He’s an intelligent duck,” Tania pointed out.
“Might as well be defended by Bugs Bunny,” Carol said running her hand through her hair. “So what’s it like on your island?”
“We live in peace for the most part,” Tania said. “But for monsters and enemies that creep out of the dark. My job as scout was to keep them at bay or sound the alarm. Not so much different from here really.”
“You ever think of going back?”
“Yes, and I will someday.” Tania said. “Here I age after all and I won’t be able to be Ultra Woman when age takes me.”
“Then another one?” Carol said. “Who next? You have a daughter right?”
“Not her,” Tania said sharply.
“No I’m sorry,” Tania said. “What I’ve gone through… I wouldn’t let my daughter near what I’ve been through or the others who’ve been Ultra Woman.” Tania shook her head. “My nightmare is that I won’t be able to stop her when the time comes.”
“My father wasn’t in love with me joining the air force either,” Carol said. “I…”
She was interrupted by the intercom. A small hologram of Jan appeared.
“Tania we’re getting a message that the coast guard has picked up an amazon, or someone who claims to be one. She’s asking for you.”
“Odd,” Tania said.
“A trap?” Carol asked. “I’ll…”
She stopped and shrugged but her eyes smoldered.
“I’ll handle it,” Tania said. “It might just be another poor woman who wants to be an amazon. They find me at times.”
“Yea, ok.” Carol said.
“I’ll keep you on monitor watch,” Jan said. “Anything happens and we’ll be there.”
“Some of us will,” Carol muttered.
“This shouldn’t take long,” Tania said and headed for the door. She wanted to say more to Carol but couldn’t think of anything to say.
Dawn was beginning to break when Wanda got out of bed and slipped into her robe. On the bed Reed slept on snoring slightly and Wanda sighed.
“Snoring too? Seriously Sue how do you put up with him?”
Getting Reed into bed had been easy but getting him aroused and active had proven to be a chore. The man just didn’t seem interested in sex at all. Not even after two bottles of wine to break down his inhibitions. Wanda had used every trick she knew and she still hadn’t gotten him going. Finally in desperation she’d used an old trick that she’d heard some of the wilder gypsy girls talk about when they had thought Wanda asleep. Going to her room she had grabbed a pair of wool socks and then wearing only them had shuffled around on the carpet around the bed for five minutes. Then she’d gotten on the bed and placed her fingertips on his balls. Electricity flashed, Reed jumped a little and the erection started. She’d done it twice more until it was solid enough to handle and after that some good old-fashioned mouth work had finally gotten him going.
But he hadn’t gotten going in the ways that she loved or even liked. She’d been excited about the prospects of his pliable body but Wanda had quickly found that pliable meant pliable. It had almost been like making love to a balloon animal in the shape of a man.
“From now on I just tie them up,” Wanda whispered ruefully. “It’s so unfair, Scarlet’s been drugged and it never stopped her from being aroused.”
She sighed and turned back to the bed. Wanda had stretched Reed’s arms and legs out and tied them to the four corners of her bed. That had been a good start and she’d mounted him but despite her efforts his penis had grown no larger than any other mans would have. Wanda had teased, bounced and caressed every part of him and the so called ‘Mr. Fantastic’ had mumbled equations! She’d never had a more un-satisfying night of sex in her life.
“Maybe it was the love potion,” Wanda mused as she started to tug at is arm to untie it. “Or maybe he’s just like every other guy… All those… Other…?”
Wanda stopped in mid-thought and sat down on the bed stunned as she seemed to wake up fully for the first time.
‘Every other guy?’ What was she thinking? Wanda had not had that many lovers in her life. Why did she suddenly think that she had? For a few minutes Wanda sat and tried to think but the thoughts and memories that had been there only a few seconds before slipped away from her like a dream. But as they did a fresh horror filled her as Wanda realized what she had done. This was the second man she’d raped.
Controlling herself Wanda finished un-tying Reed. He lay nude on the bed and as she looked him Wanda tried to see the man who had been her friend for years. A cold feeling filled her as she realized that they were in one of the guest rooms, not her room. There was no denying it now; she had planned this. More Wanda realized with a numbing horror, she’d be doing more of this. It didn’t matter if it were wrong or not.
Wanda turned to the mirror over the dresser and opened her robe, admiring her full breasts, wide hips and the triangle of well-groomed hair between her legs. She finally had a body that could bring men in, she had the power to bring them in and she was going to bring them in no matter what!
Unable to stop herself Wanda began to think of ways to improve the love potion. She pushed past the part of her that was disgusted and thought only of the men that she was going to have. She gazed at Reed again and as her eyes drank in the well conditioned body she thought of trying again. Surely there was some way to arouse him?
Maybe some coffee would help me think, Wanda thought going to the door and starting to pull her robe closed. He’s going to satisfy me if I have to…
She opened the door and froze. On the other side of the door Sue Richards froze her hand raised and ready to knock. Sue was wearing blue skirt, white blouse and blue coat. Wanda realized that she was wearing nothing at all under a very thin robe. That would have been bad enough but she saw Sue’s eyes drift past her to the bed. Very quickly those eyes showed puzzlement, realization, understanding and rage and then Wanda didn’t know what was in them because she was staggering back into the room with blood spurting from her nose.
“You bitch!” Sue growled and came after her. Her fist slammed into Wanda’s jaw and then her stomach. As Wanda doubled over Sue grabbed her hair and slammed her head into the dresser.
Wanda should have stopped. She should have retreated and tried to explain. But the Wanda who would have done that wasn’t there. The Wanda who was there looked at Sue and saw the perfect blonde haired, blue eyed beauty who had always had the easy life, the life where everything was handed too her. That Wanda found a fury in her soul equal to Sue’s.
She blocked Sue’s next punch and slammed her own fist into Sue’s stomach and then she hit lower when Sue drew back from the blow. Sue’s eyes went wide but she didn’t give ground. Her fist shot toward Wanda’s jaw and Wanda grabbed it.
From that point it was a wrestling match and the two enraged woman traded blows as they enveloped the room in a cyclone of feminine fury. Even as mad as both of them were though some remnant of their friendship stayed with them. Sue did not put up a force field or turn invisible and Wanda did not cast any spells. Or perhaps it was that neither of them could think clearly enough. It was a primal rage that enveloped them, one that reached back into a time when growls were words and action was not hindered by thought. All that Wanda could think to do was to beat Sue senseless and take Reed for her own and for her part all that Sue could think to do was to beat Wanda senseless and then beat Reed senseless. At some point they fell onto the bed and over Reed who woke up when Wanda’s blow missed Sue and hit him in the groin.
“What is going on?” Tania’s voice came from the doorway but Wanda and Sue were beyond hearing.
Wanda tackled Sue and the momentum of her charge carried them into the window and through it. They were on the second floor of the mansion and only Sue’s quick invisible force field cushion saved them from slamming into the pavement. Almost instantly they were up and at each other again.
“Stop!” Tania shouted flying down and pushing them apart. She stood between them and kept them apart with a hand on each shoulder.
Wanda locked her own furious eyes with Sue’s and might have gone at her again but a sudden flash distracted her. She looked and saw that a crowd had gathered and the flash was from at least a dozen camera phones and full sized cameras. Suddenly Wanda became aware that her robe was torn and open. Sue’s blouse had been torn open in the fight and her bra had been pulled out of position exposing one breast.
“Come on!” Tania shouted grabbing both of them and flying back through the open window.
“I’m fine!” Wanda growled as Hank ran a scanner over her body.
She would have sounded more convincing, Tania thought, if her voice didn’t have a nasal twang to it. Sue’s punch hadn’t broken Wanda’s nose but it had bloodied it and she sat on the medical bench with her nose pinched shut. Sue had collected Reed and gone and Tania didn’t want to think about what was going on in the Baxter Building right now.
“Wanda you just had drunk sex with Mr. Fantastic,” Steve said, Wanda drew her torn robe more tightly around her body.
“Who I see is my business Captain,” Wanda said.
“Not when we might have a security risk,” Steve said. “This is not you Wanda.”
“What you think I’m being controlled?” Wanda demanded and Tania wondered if she only imagined the note of hope in Wanda’s voice. “I like sex you know! I don’t have to be controlled to have it!”
“It’s happened before,” Hank said. “We both know it’s possible and we don’t know everything that Zola did to you.”
“If I am being controlled how do we tell?” Wanda asked. “Call Charles?”
“The electronic age is great for scandal,” Carol said coming into the room. She handed an electronic pad to Steve. “There were a lot of camera phones outside.
He winced and Wanda grabbed it from his hands. Tania looked over her shoulder. The picture was of her holding Wanda and Sue apart. Wanda’s robe was open exposing everything while Sue’s torn cloths allowed her to retain more modesty. The headline of the blog was blunt and tasteless.
‘Catfight over Mr. Fantastic!”
“Damn them!” Wanda cried throwing the pad against the far wall.
“Wanda what were you thinking?” Carol asked. “Sue’s your friend!”
“I wasn’t thinking,” Wanda snapped. “I was… I was…”
“Maybe not in control.”
They looked at Tania and for a moment there was silence.
“I’ll call the professor,” Hank said.
“Wait,” Tania said and looked at them all for a moment. “I have my own way,”
Stepping away from Wanda Tania raised her arms and held out her hands as if she were holding a hoop.
“Aly Afae,” Tania whispered.
A woman faded into existence. She was Tania’s height but slimmer and her dark violet skin, white hair and pointed ears betrayed her drow heritage. She was dressed in an Ultra Woman costume but there was a spider in the center of her tiara. She faded into existence in the same pose as Tania but she was holding a golden rope. The drow smiled and her eyes were full of love as she dropped the rope into Tania’s hands and vanished.
“Hello and farewell my little sister,” Tania said in a language that she knew none of the other people in the room understood.
“Who was that?” Carol asked as Tania turned around.
“An old friend,” Tania said. She held up the rope. “Once a person is bound with this rope they must obey and they must tell the truth.”
Wanda held her wrists in front of her.
Wanda felt a cold chill fill her as her wrists were tied together. Deep within her on a level of consciousness only the greatest telepath could have discerned a part of her huddled in fear. The rope’s magic took hold and it spanned her entire mind, both that part of Wanda that was still locked into the hideous form of a drider and the modified copy that occupied the body sitting in the medical bay at Avengers mansion. But it also took hold of the spark that was the woman who had held that body before. The desperate, angry AIM agent who was now forced to face herself in a way she had never been able to before. But that woman was still only a spark and the primary mind was still a copy of Wanda’s true mind. So it answered.
“Who are you?” Tania asked.
“Wanda Maximoff,” Wanda replied.
“Is anyone controlling you?”
And that was the truth since the copy of Wanda’s mind was free, but it followed desires and rules that Wanda’s true mind did not.
“Why did you sleep with Reed?”
“Because I wanted too.”
“He’s powerful,” Wanda heard herself speak the words and even though they were true she hated that they were true. For even in the copied mind there was awareness of right and wrong, made all the more powerful because that copied mind was still linked to Wanda’s true mind. “He’s strong, he’s handsome and I wanted him.”
All of that was true as well, but Wanda knew that she was holding something back, but it was something she didn’t know. Just as she didn’t know about the bionics that mimicked the powers of the true Scarlet Witch, she didn’t know about the computer in her womb. She didn’t know that she was just a copy of the true Scarlet.
“So you did it completely of your own free will?”
“What about Sue?”
“I didn’t care.”
Tania untied her wrists and Wanda looked down. She couldn’t look up and see the disappointment that she knew was on the faces of her friends.
“You’re not being controlled,” Tania said.
“But you got some serious problems,” Carol said.
“I know,” Wanda said. “Steve, as of now I’m leaving the Avengers. I need to get help.”
“Where will you go?” Tania asked.
“Away,” Wanda said.
She got up off of the medical bed and walked numbly out of the room.
“Wanda wait,” Steve called going after her.
Tania coiled up the rope but she didn’t miss the look’s that Carol and Hank shot her way.
Tina had always found Shadow Web’s laugh disgusting. The creatures laugh sounded like a bad mike connection in a cheap bars karaoke night. But she was hearing it now and more frustrating than the laugh was the fact that everyone was ignoring the danger.
But Tina had to admit that the image on the monitor screen was funny. The CNN feed had blurred out the R-rated anatomical details but that was all. Ultra Woman stood between a near naked Scarlet Witch and a beat up Sue Richards and was barely keeping them apart.
“There has been no comment from either the Avengers or the Fantastic Four,” Wolf Blitzer said as the image shifted to standard pictures of Wanda and Sue. “But we know that the Scarlet Witch has left Avengers Mansion and that her where-abouts are un-known.”
“You’re scheme has proven very enjoyable,” U1trawoman said. She was sitting to Tina’s right and Mystique and Destiny were sitting to her left. Shadow Web and Modok were on the other side of the table.
“This could be a problem,” Tina said raising her voice to be heard. Shadow Web stopped laughing and they all looked at her. “I know it’s funny,” Tina went on, “and seeing Scarlet’s boobs bounce around on national tv is popcorn worthy, but think about it.”
Tina looked around the table but only got blank looks.
“This further splits the superheroes,” Modok said. “That serves us.”
“But it puts a target on the Scarlet Witch,” Tina said. “The Avengers are trying to figure out what’s going on, they know someone’s framing Ms. Marvel. Having a member suddenly act out of character is going to point them at her. If they find out she’s a fake they could possibly find out where her bionics came from.”
“We stole those bionics from Latveria,” Modok said.
“We don’t want to tick of Dr. Doom!” Tina almost pleaded.
“We will have to deal with him eventually,” Shadow Web said.
Tina forced her anger down. The woman’s tone sounded as if she were planning to bring an umbrella in case it rained.
“Doom is not to be under estimated,” Mystique warned.
“No he is not,” U1trawoman agreed.
“Are you saying that he could beat you?” Shadow Web demanded.
“I’m saying he’s dangerous,” U1trawoman said.
“My point is that we should move to make sure we don’t have to deal with him until we’re ready,” Tina said.
“We do not have to worry about the Scarlet Witch,” Destiny said suddenly and in a tone of voice that made Tina shiver. “The help she is looking for isn’t available and without it the instincts that we have programmed into her will take over.”
“What do you mean?” Tina asked, careful to keep her tone respectful.
“I see the Scarlet Witch following her orders,” Destiny said still in that odd tone. “Only vaguely do I see a time line where she becomes a problem for us.”
“Will she be back in the city?” Tina asked.
“I can’t tell,” Destiny said and she suddenly sounded tired.
“We’ll maintain a watch for her,” Modok said. “If she re-enters the city we shall know about it.”
“What about the Invisible Woman?” Mystique asked.
“I don’t think we have to do anything about her,” Tina said.
“I agree,” U1trawoman said. “Though Dark Star would like another battle with the Thing.”
“Dangerous,” Modok said. “After the last attack my spies report that Reed Richards has started to focus some of his energies on your group.”
“What have they reported?” U1trawoman demanded.
“So far only that his research is focused on your battles over the years,” Modok said. “We shall notify you if anything comes from his research.”
“See that you do,” U1trawoman said.
“What about the duck and his wife?” Mystique asked.
“Locked up in my keep for the moment,” U1trawoman said. “The duck intrigues me, he is brave but not foolhardy, no hero but not one to back down when he thinks he is right.”
“I think…” Destiny said suddenly and again in that strange tone of voice that sent shivers down Tina’s back. “I think Howard and Beverly could be… Could be part of getting Rogue back to us… I can see… I can see… Nightshade…”
“You will use… Use them…”
“If she’s seen it then you will,” U1trawoman said. “Think Tina.”
Tina was about to protest when U1trawoman put her hand on Tina’s shoulder. Mystique did the same on the other side of her. Tina swallowed as her heart started to race.
“Think,” Mystique said and while there was command in U1trawoman’s voice there was entreaty in hers.
Tina swallowed again and her mind began to race. She couldn’t, she wouldn’t let these two down.
Tania watched the sunset from her room in the mansion and idly fingered the golden rope in her hand. Wanda had packed and Hank was using a quinjet to take her someplace in Massachusetts. Tania had felt like an outsider while the arrangements were being made. She loved Wanda as a sister but the words her friend had used had shocked Tania as much as they had anyone else.
What changed in you sister, Tania wondered. She’d known Wanda for years and they’d been through many adventures together. She’d never thought Wanda would do this sort of thing.
A knock on the door interrupted her reverie.
“Come in,” She said and Carol and Steve walked into the room. Tania smiled to herself, she had expected Carol at least but she knew why Steve was there too.
“Wanda’s gone,” Steve said and Tania nodded. “I don’t know what happened to her, but I hope she’ll be alright. Agatha Harkness is the witch who trained Wanda in magic beyond her natural mutant ability, if anyone can help her she can.”
“I hope it works out for her.”
“We need to talk about something else though,” Steven said.
“You’re curious about this.” Tania said holding up the golden rope.
“Avengers respect each others privacy,” Steve said. “But we also don’t hold back from each other. I don’t want to pry…”
“I do,” Carol said interrupting him. “We’ve heard of you but we’ve never heard of that rope. I’d like to know who that girl was too.”
There was a spark of jealousy in her voice and Tania welcomed it. She and Carol were moving progressively closer toward something very beautiful.
“If I were to bind you with this rope,” Tania said, “and ask you what you had for dinner on a Tuesday in May five years ago, you’d have to tell me. If I commanded you never to have that food again you’d have to obey me.” Tania twirled the rope into a lasso. Then she held it up so that the loop framed Carol’s face. “If I were to bind you with this Carol and commanded you to go down on your hands and knees and bark like a dog, you’d have to obey.”
Tania tossed the lasso to Steve.
“Steve, if you were to bind me with that lasso and order me to tell you every weakness I have, I’d have to tell you. My weakness –every amazon’s curse- is that once we experience a sexual orgasm our powers leave us for seven hours. If you were to tie me up with that lasso and order me to have a sexual climax I would. If you commanded me to strip nude and crawl to you and beg, beg you to let me pleasure you I would have to.”
Steve walked over and handed the lasso back to her.
“I’m the fifth Ultra Woman that has come to man’s world,” Tania said taking the lasso with a smile. She knew he’d give it back. “The first woman was killed and it wasn’t until later that we found out how she was killed. She used this lasso freely and it wasn’t long before some villain used it on her. She was made to reveal all of the weaknesses of an amazon. Since then those villains who’ve known of the lasso have always used it against us. It’s been lost for years and passed from villain to villain to Ultra Woman back to a villain… I captured it from one of Doc Droids men and in the beginning I was careless with it too.” Tania frowned at the memory. “Until the Wraith Lord mystically cast me into the dark elf city of Menzoberazon. I used the lasso to force a drow queen to send me home, but she had guards and even in that place they know how to make chloroform.”
Tania winced at the word and the memory.
She gave me to one of her daughters to break. We’ve all been in dungeons so I won’t bother with the details of my torments. Her name was Aly and she knew what she was doing. I was tortured in many ways. While Aly was doing her best to break my spirit her mother used the lasso to wreak havoc on her enemies. But Aly didn’t have the spirit of evil that most drow have. She hated her people and their way of life and was intrigued by the kind of life I led. She didn’t believe my tales of honor, principle and sacrifice at first, but she was curious and used the lasso on me and knew I was speaking the truth.”
Tania smiled remembering the look on the young drow’s face when she realized that there was more to the world than what she had been taught. Different ways of living that didn’t involve cruelty and deceit.
“She helped me escape and her mother pursued us. We were months in the Underdark and then the surface world. During that time I saw her blossom and grow like a dark rose in the moonlight. She learned how to be a good woman and I was surprised to find a core of kindness in her. Even though we were on the run and constantly hunted those were good times, perhaps the best in her life.”
“What happened?” Steve asked when Tania had paused a bit too long.
“We made it too the portal,” Tania said trying and failing to bury the pain of the memory. “Almost through the portal. But Aly’s mother shot her in the back with a poisoned arrow. She stumbled through the portal near death but had enough power to cast one more spell.”
Tania stood up and held up the lasso.
“Aly Afae,” Tania said.
The drow appeared, smiled at her, took the lasso and vanished with it.
“Aly isn’t dead or alive,” Tania said turning to them. “She fused her own spirit with the lasso and it holds her in limbo. Her spirit can’t move on and her body is dead so she can’t really come back to the world of the living. So when I call her she enters this world long enough to take the lasso back or give it to me. It was her last act of thanks to me.”
“That’s one hell of a last act,” Carol said.
“She knew what the lasso cost me and the former Ultrawomen,” Tania said. “I think she might have been inspired by my tales of heroism too. When I call her Aly knows if I am being controlled some by some villain so she won’t come. If I fall in battle she snatches the lasso back into limbo before it can be grabbed.”
Tania sat down again.
“It hasn’t always worked,” She said. “A few times a villain has grabbed the lasso from me before I was knocked out. But it has helped.”
“But you don’t use it that often,” Steve said.
“It’s not your shield Steve,” Tania said. “Even Thor couldn’t break free if I tied him with the golden lasso. When I was in the drow dungeons and Aly was torturing me, dragging out of me every battle I’d ever been in and every defeat and humiliation I’d ever suffered… I realized just how careless I’d been with the lasso. So since then I’ve used it sparingly and often pretended that it was either a myth or lost. When pressed I’ve also told villains that I loose my power for ten hours after an orgasm, not seven. We amazons are an honest race but I’ve learned the value of deception.”
“Thank you,” Steve said after they were all silent for a few minutes. “This won’t be talked about again unless we need too.”
Tania nodded and he left.
“Why didn’t you use the lasso on me?” Carol asked. “When I wasn’t sure?”
“I never thought of using it on you,” Tania said. “I never thought you were being controlled. I had faith that your feelings were true.” And hope, Tania added silently admitting to herself that she hadn’t wanted that hope to be crushed. She knew that she felt true love for Carol and she felt that Carol was beginning to feel the same way about her. The idea that it was false on Carol’s part wasn’t one she was ready to face.
Or at least that’s what I told myself, Tania thought.
“Are you mad that I didn’t?” She asked.
“I’m not sure,” Carol said and left the room. “I have to think,” She said as she closed the door behind her.
Tania sighed and returned her attention to the window but the sun had set and only the lights of the city greeted her eyes. Was Carol mad? Should she be?
Tania sat and grappled with the questions.
... to be continued.
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