“Did you sleep well?”, asked Amy as she emptied her third plate, finally slowing down enough to talk. She had thrown one of her silk robes on and looked suitably mussed for someone who had just gone from bed to breakfast without a stop in the bathroom.
Basil was sitting on the other side of the table, having just started on his morning salad – he rarely ate much, often even skipping breakfast.
“Yes. It was nice, sleeping together again. We have not done that since-” you manifested your powers.
“Yeah. We ought to do it more often. Though your girlfriend might get jealous”, she replied with a smirk. All the while, more and more food was being prepared by invisible hands.
“Why? Because I sometimes sleep in the same bed with my sister?”
“You know, sometimes I forget how naive you can be. Then, I am reminded again.”
“Pfff. As if you are a shining example of maturity. I mean, I do not have anything against My Little Pony, but seriously, a Pony-thong?”
She at least had a the grace to blush. “Well, why do you think my costume’s purple?”
He slapped his forehead on the table. “No. You did not…”
“I actually considered putting some kind of horn on my forehead, you know? If it’s worth doing…”
“… it’s worth overdoing. Though I am pretty sure you are the first person to apply that concept to styling your supervillain costume after My Little Pony”, he mumbled.
“I have heard more ridiculous inspirations for a costume. You would not believe where some people are getting their ideas nowadays – there are these two villains over in Bavaria that styled themselves after Bombie the Zombie and Argus McSwine.”
“And you know what’s the best part? They are actually competent.“
“No. Just… no.”
They finished their meal in silence.
* * *
Afterwards, Basil sat down in the living room while Amy went up to take her morning shower. He had already done his morning wash while she had eaten her fourth through seventh plate (she could eat as much as she wanted without putting on an ounce of fat, so she always indulged her gluttonous side), so he sat back and on the couch and took up the phone.
First, he called Tim at the hideout.
“Yo, Basil”, Tim said. “You know, it is usually not done to have a kitchen sink you can convert into a jacuzzi.”
“Heh, so you figured it out? I am impressed.”
“And I am concerned. Very concerned. And I mean the whole thing with you and Aimi. Not the kitchen sink. Though that is another reason to be concerned. So, spill it.”
“Not over the phone.”
“Then are you coming over?”
“Sorry, not now. Amy has the day off and after yesterday, she just wants to spend some time with me.”
“Ok, that’s more important right now. Either way, I’ve got to go home. I called my ‘rents, but it’ll be better if they see me in person. But we have to talk. Soon.”
“Of course. Do greet your parents from me!”
“I will. And give Amy my regards.”
He had barely put the phone down when his mobile phone rang. Prisca’s ringtone.
“Hey sweetheart”, he greeted her, picking it up immediately.
“Morning, Basil”, she greeted him, her voice weak as if she was almost asleep, her words a bit hard to understand due to her slurring.
“How are you doing? I am sorry I did not call sooner especially when the hospital was attacked, but I was so dead tired after last night…”
“I can guess. Don’t worry, nothing really happened here – Lamarr had been close, it seems, and he trounced the Spiteborn. Have you heard the news? Polymnia’s armor actually recorded most of the fight in the acre and they are replaying the best parts on the news, discussing the UJH, their new members and the independent team.”
“Wow, really? I did not have a chance to watch the news yet.”
“Yeah, it’s quite crazy. Especially Brennus. The gadgeteer-fansites are going crazy over him, you should read it – a tech-hero who rigs up a bomb like that in the middle of a battle? That was awesome.”
“You know, I have got to come over so we can talk face to face. But I have some errands to run today and Amy wants to spend some time with me. Do you have time this evening?”
“Of course I’ve got time”, she said, sounding annoyed. “It’s not like I a-” She suddenly cut off.
“Prisca?”, he asked, but no answer came. After about a minute, someone picked up on the other end.
“Hello?” It was Charlotte.
“Hello Mrs. Smith. She fell asleep, did she not?”
“Oh, hello Basil! Yes, the poor dear was quite tired – no one here got quite enough sleep yesterday, you know?”
“Yeah, it was not much better over here, either.”
“Right, I heard that awful supervillain something-star fought against one of those trunks.”
“Well, anyway, I do not want to keep you from your work. Have a nice day!”, he replied.
“Thank you, and likewise!”
He put the mobile phone away and leaned back again.
Stretching, he winced – he was still sore all over. Earlier this morning, he had noticed several bruises, though not as bad as he would have expected from all the blows he had taken, especially the black blast that had hit him right in the chest. He took off his shirt to inspect them.
I do remember reading that their blasts are actually made of some kind of nearly-gaseous fluid that mostly affects organics – the kinetic part of the blast is not as large as their usual destruction suggests. My armor must have absorbed most of the damage.
“I’ve got a lotion for those.”
He looked up to see Amy walking towards him. Her hair was wrapped up in a towel and she was dressed in red shorts and a green button-up shirt. She held a featureless tube in her left hand.
“I can use that”, he said, reaching for it.
She slapped his hand. “Oh, let me do this.” She sat down cross-legged next to him on the couch, turning towards him. He turned around, so his feet were on the couch, and she started applying the lotion to his back – it was warm and soothing and it did away with the ache – which was, in and of itself, pure pleasure.
It took her almost ten minutes to apply the lotion to all of his bruises. In return, he took a brush and went to work on her hair while they chatted about their respective nights.
“That damn trunk nearly ran right into our house, you know?”, she told him.
“I saw the footprints on the street from the kitchen window.”
“Yeah. That’s when I grabbed it and threw it into the Quarterchild’s pool.”
“That… was not nice.”
“Oh, don’t worry. Those paranoid schmucks have the most expensive insurance for damage done due to metahumans a civilian can buy.”
“Since they obviously are going to need it, I guess that makes them not really paranoid – more suitably cautious.”
“Touche. Still, it was worth it. That bitch of a grandmother they’ve got living with them has been throwing insults my way every chance she got. Hope she likes having that damn pool wrecked.”
“Maybe she would not take as much offense with you if you did not constantly run around in the kind of clothes you usually do?”, asked the brother who waged a (losing) war to get her to dress decently.
“Bah, she would find something to pick on me, no matter what. She just wants to make other people small – I’ve looked.”
“Down in that acre – and before, at the toy factory – what happened to you?”
“Oh? How did you hear about that?”
She turned around as he was still brushing her long hair.
“I’ve got contacts. It won’t be on the news, but anyone in the know knows how you went berserk. And I’ve gotten a telepathic report sent to me while I was in the shower. So, what happened? That isn’t like you.”
“You know, it totally slipped my mind.”
“It what? How could something like that slip your mind?!”
He shrugged. “I guess being beaten up like I was kind of took the focus off of that.”
She looked at him, concerned. “Please, tell me exactly what happened. This doesn’t sound good.”
He paused for a second, before he took up brushing her hair again.
“Well. I got hit by Osore’s power – you know, that fear blast? – and I kind of shut down, mentally. I only remember fragments – strange memories that weren’t mine, though for the love of it, I could not tell you right now what I saw. And when I came to, both times, I had taken down a lot of spiteborn and the others told me that I had fought like a madman.”
Turning around, she looked him in the eyes. “What. Did. You. See?”
“I told you I do not… wait, there is one thing. There were memories. But there was also a voice. It talked to me… about the memories, but also about something else. I just can not remember about what…”
“A voice? What kind of voice?”
“I can not say. It was just there inside my head. It called itself… I think it called itself ‘The Blazing Sun’. Some kind of telepath, perhaps?”
“Not one I have ever heard of. And I have heard of all the top-telepaths. It would take one of them to get into your head despite all the shields and traps I put into your head.”
“Huh. There goes my best theory for what I experienced. Any other ideas?”
“I could… look. If you would allow me. No matter how good they are, shutting down a persons conscious mind, showing them foreign memories and controlling their body at the same time – that kind of thing always leaves traces.” She was looking positively concerned right now.
“Alright. Take a look – I want to know what happened.”
“Are you sure? You have no idea how intimate that kind of dive would be. How much influence it could give me over you.”
He rolled his eyes. “Amy, please. You are my sister. If I did not trust you, who could I trust?”
She smiled at that and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. “Alright, you sweettalker, you. Let’s get this going.”
* * *
“Not that I have a problem with you seeing me like this – or vice versa – but exactly why do we have to be naked for this?”, he asked as they entered the hidden meditation room Amy had built into her closet.
It was a rather large, five-by-five cube that was folded into the back of the closet through a contrivance. The room was completely white, with a soft light emanating from every direction, though never so bright that it would hurt the eyes.
Amy had stripped down in front of the closet and told him to do the same. Then they walked in and she closed the cube’s door – which fit into the back of the closet.
She sat down cross-legged in the middle of the featureless room and beckoned him to sit on her lap. He complied.
“Telepathy is far more complicated than most people think”, she told him as she pulled him into a warm embrace.
“Contrary to what one might get out of a comic book, simply entering a persons mind out of nowhere is quite difficult, even at my level.” She pressed her right cheek to his left one.
“You need to create some kind of opening – to throw them off-balance, even if only for the fraction of a second. Of course, you can just force your way in with brute force, but all you will manage to do is cause severe – maybe even permanent – damage to them.”
Her voice was soft and soothing and he could feel himself relaxing even more than he usually did around her.
“And even if you get in and don’t immediately damage them beyond repair – their minds will fight you every step of the way. And I can assure you, even I can not hold out against a persons mind on its own ground for long.”
“So, there are two main ways for a telepath to get their hooks into someone. One’s my favourite. You know about it – you’ve seen the videos of me fighting the Amazon and others. I turn their emotions against them, I grope them, kiss them, anything to throw them off-balance. If it creates some kind of intimacy, no matter how shallow, all the better – because that can protect me from being attacked by their minds. I take away their clothes, because being physically naked influences your mental state as well – you feel less protected, more open, and thus you are.”
His eyes fell closed, though he did not fall asleep. He felt like a bag full of warm jelly, completely boneless.
“The other way is this – putting people at ease, making them relax and open themselves. It’s far more effective, though time-consuming, and you need to already have some measure of trust.”
She took a deep breath and continued: “Furthermore, establishing a connection deep enough to read more than just the surface-thoughts of a person – not to speak of altering, suppressing or controlling their minds – is dangerous for the telepath as well – we have to open ourselves up just as much as our targets. And that not only opens us up for retaliation – it also means that, if we are not careful, our own defense mechanisms are going to attack the target’s mind in a misguided attempt at protecting us.”
She gave him a light kiss on the cheek. He was barely conscious by that point.
“Of course, between the two of us, most of the conditions don’t apply. We know each other – recognize each other, even subconsciously. There is no danger of our minds attacking each other. And there is more than enough intimacy between us. Normally, I would need to have all-out sex or something comparable with someone, to dive as deeply into their minds as I will have to with you. Which, if applied to this situation – eww. Just. Eww.”
Her arms tightened around his chest,
“And we both naturally relax around each other – so it’s easier to put you into an even deeper trance.”
He could barely hear the whisper of her voice by that point.
“Now you are ready, sweetie. Let me see what is going on in that beautiful brain of yours…”