Dark Mistress 9 - Ambush

She felt the boots beginning to loosen on her calves. “Do it, Tiffany,” They comanded. “Stop them now!” Tiffany couldn't focus. She'd never had to fight these things before. The last time it happened, she wasn't even really aware of what was going on.

Now, even as the boots slid off, she was lost, gagged with a pair a panties and subject to the whims of a dorm room full of enchanted clothes.

She let out a whimper from behind her tightening lingerie gag. There were too many all over her, pulling and pushing, constricting around her arms and legs. Gwen and Bridget's clothing was far more forceful than any enchantments she'd been around—not seductive, not gentle.

“They're not going to let up, Tiffany!” Gwen's bedsheet leapt up and dove at the boots. Despite an attempt to leap out of the way, they were netted.

“Enough of you,” The sheet merrily wrapped up the boots, twisting up its corners like a vice. “She's got plaaaans for you, prison guard.” Tiffany made another desperate sound, struggling in futility against her captors. She saw the boots kicking from inside Gwen's sheet, trying to punch their heels through the thick cotton.

I can't do this. I'm outmatched. It's all around me, and it's--

“You have to feel their power, Tiffany!” It was her own t-shirt, muffled under the clothes wrapping around her. “Let yourself feel where it's coming from, and take HOLD of it. You know how!”

She knew how. She'd done it once. When she closed her eyes, she let herself go limp. The motion in them—the feeling of them...she let it surround her.

She could sense her own signature on the outfit she wore. Surrounding her was the will of her captor. The energy of the boots stood apart entirely, though it was muted slightly by the sheet. She held the feeling in her mind—the common energy binding all the assailing articles to a single will. It was strong, like being swept in psychic undertow.

“We're more powerful,” A pair of Bridget's jeans stood outside the fray, mocking her. “She made us that way. You can feel it, can't you? You're only wasting your strength.” The feeling got stronger, like she was being pulled under the will that controlled the clothes, and just as she thought she'd lose herself...

She found what she was looking for.

This was Nyxe's energy—the same she'd accidentally gobbled up the night before. She could define it. She was within it. She had it.Let yourself feel where it's coming from, and take hold of it.

The jeans in front of her wavered, and the clothing constricting around her loosened its grip. “Ooh—that's...” as soon as she felt their moment of weakness, Tiffany managed to pull an arm free. She went straight for the gag. “...that's not fair, Tiff. You're not being nice.” Tiffany tore the panties away from her mouth and glared at the jeans. She held out her arm toward the sheet as items of clothes dropped away from her. She scowled, closing her outstretched hand to a fist.

Everything dropped except for the jeans, which stood silent now. When the boots kicked their way out of the lifeless sheet, Bridget's jeans took a step back.

“Don't...move.” Tiffany's face was stone. The corners of her mouth were red and sore. “I let you keep your enchantment because you're going to tell Nyxe that Ana is waiting for her. Is that understood?” After a second of hesitation, the waist of the jeans bowed into a nod.

“I want you to answer me,” Tiffany said, taking a step forward. The jeans cowered again. “I-said-don't-mmmove.” She pulled her fingers together slowly, draining the life from the jeans for a second before letting up.

“Tiffany, calm yourself. You've won.” The boots trotted over to her, and Tiffany's face softened.

“But they hurt me.”

“They're done hurting you. You've won.” The jeans were nearly shaking—no longer filled robustly or standing tall. The boots faced them. “You'll do as she asks?”

“I'll serve my queen by passing on the message,” The jeans spat, finding defiant loyalty as they puffed out to shape again. “You're intimidating, but she's pure magic. ”

“We're leaving,” Tiffany said. She stepped into the soft, waiting boots. They zipped up and coordinated with her jeans to carry her to the door.

“She only wants the jailer and the guard, Tiffany. It's not too late to join your friends...” The jeans called behind her as she walked out the door. “They're on the right side of this fight, and they're having more fun than you can imagine.”


In the quad, Nyxe strutted her new body. There was sunlight on her skin. Trails of hair flowed around her with the breeze. The awareness of a body was so interesting, so concentrated from the inside. She pumped her diffuse magical body into this graceful, chemical machine, and her magic magnified. Once she took care of the Heyver Witch, bigger plans could commence.

Sarah was beside her, smiling like a fool. Her new outfit hugged her like a glove, and Nyxe gave it all its directions. Sarah didn't have to move a muscle, though she found herself being gently cooperative with the directed motions. Magic shoes. Magic fucking shoes. She was hand-picked by a goddess. She glanced at the former Chelsea with infatuated gratitude—seeing the unearthly confidence beneath her smile.

The smile disappeared for a second, as if she'd realized something, then returned with greater intensity.

“Gwen,” Nyxe turned to her, “Your friend is here. I'm sending you both to your vehicle to wait for me. I'd like to administer a little test, and I don't want her to see either of you.” Before the pair could say a word, their clothes shifted, walking them down another path leading behind Gwen's dorm. “Sarah, I'm going to suppress our magic for a moment.” Sarah felt the motions of the clothes fade. She walked under her own power once more as her clothing went limp. “There she is.”

Tiffany stormed out the door, heading down the path toward Nyxe and Sarah. Nyxe followed her every step though Chelsea's eyes. As she approached, Nyxe tried to contain her glee. Tiffany wasn't even paying attention. The girl had been able to take Nyxe by surprise after she'd been locked away and starved of power—but now that her abilities were restored, Tiffany didn't have a chance. She didn't have the same senses. She couldn't even tell Nyxe was there.

The two just barely brushed shoulders. The moment it happened, Tiffany's boots squeezed at her calves, alerted by a split-second of contact with the body Nyxe inhabited. By the time Tiffany realized something was wrong, it was too late. Nyxe made her move.

Tiffany went from being led gently forward by her outfit to being trapped in a net of fabric. She could feel the change ripple through her outfit, turning every seam and stitch against her. Her body stopped dead, and the leg of her jeans lifted and swung around, turning her body around and walking her in the opposite direction, right behind the two girls she'd just passed. Neither of them seemed to notice Tiffany's one-eighty.

Now the outfit carried her with a more forceful insistence, imbued with an energy that wasn't her own, and her boots were grabbing and pulling at her legs as if they were clinging for life. The outfit no longer felt like her. It felt like...

Nyxe looked over her shoulder at Tiffany, whose confusion turned to fear. A glint in the girl's eyes made a shiver run down her spine. She looked familiar, but it couldn't possibly be...

“I would forgive you, you know,” said the girl as she turned forward again. “You were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and you can't be blamed for that.”

“I don't know what you're—I'm sorry, who are you?”

“Focus. You can't have forgotten me already.” That voice. Tiffany didn't want to believe it, but the familiarity was undeniable. This was the bound one, speaking from a human mouth. It was really her. “I trust your boots aren't giving you too much trouble? I can't simply take control of them, but I can make their existence a bit less comfortable.” That explained their desperate grip.

“Are you—hurting them?”

“Hurting isn't the right word. I think a better analog is suffocating.” Tiffany looked down at her boots in horror. They were now following the flow of the clothes willingly and gently gripping Tiffany's toes. “I'm being dramatic, of course. Your boots are perfectly fine; right now they're cooperating to avoid the same pains you inflicted on me.”

“I didn't—”

“You did, Tiffany—though I don't think you meant it at the time. You've got talents you don't understand.” Sarah looked back at the silent Tiffany. “How rude of me. Sarah, this is Tiffany—the one who unlocked the cell in my 15-year prison.”

“Ana...wants you to meet her at her house.” Tiffany said it with as little inflection as possible. Not a threat, not a plea. They stopped near the curb behind the dorm as Gwen's car pulled up. Sarah opened the back door and entered, followed by Tiffany and Nyxe. Tiffany met Gwen's eyes in the rear view mirror.


“Hi, Tiffany.” She looked over her shoulder. “Has your day been as good as mine?” Nyxe shut the door and answered for her.

“No doubt Tiffany's spent the day having her mind clouded by the witch. But she did release me—so without her, none of this would even be possible.” Nyxe turned to face Tiffany, who only looked forward. “That's why I'm going to give you a chance to make the right decision, Tiffany.” Nyxe stared the girl down through possessed eyes, but Tiffany didn't flinch. “Girls, how would you describe the things I've shown you?”

“Hot,” Bridget said, smirking.

“Ecstatic,” Gwen replied.

“Have I ever once harmed you?” Nyxe asked. “Have I been cruel in any way?”

The girls shook their heads, but Tiffany stared straight ahead.

“How would you describe me to your understandably cautious friend?”

“You're a goddess,” Sarah blurted to Nyxe, catching Tiffany's gaze. She mouthed the word goddess again, looking directly at Tiffany. It was enough to finally force a reaction.

“Are you all insane?” Sarah's almost cult-like adoration was too much. “Correct me if I'm wrong, Gwen, but isn't your new friend ACTIVELY POSSESSING the body of someone in your hall?”

“I'm fine, Tiffany,” Nyxe said with Chelsea's own voice. “She's just—borrowing my body for a little while. Once this is all finished, she'll give it back.” A violet flicker went through her eyes and Nyxe continued in her own voice. “Convinced?”

“Not a bit.”

“Then let me make your decision easier. As we speak, your sloppy work of ridding my influence from Ana's house left behind a pair of gloves.”

“Ana can handle a pair of gloves,” Tiffany said.

“She could have handled everything I had to throw at her last night after you drained the life out of me.” Colder now. Nyxe was losing patience. “But thanks to your friends, I'm as powerful as I've ever been here. By the time we reach the house, those gloves alone will have prepared everything for my plans—including the witch.” Silently praying it was only a bluff, Tiffany didn’t respond to Nyxe’s prod. Gwen decided to to break a few seconds worth of tense silence.

“You were there the first night, Tiffany. You felt how incredible it was--how amazing she can make things. Why are you so sure you’re on the right side?”

No response from Tiffany. She only stared ahead.

“I can only be so patient, my dear.” Tiffany’s bra teasingly pinched at her nipples as Nyxe spoke. “When we arrive to face the witch, I will ask for your help one last time.”


The gloves survived in the glow of Ana's enchanted closet, suffering amnesia following Tiffany's drain. As Nyxe picked up her acolytes, she could feel the gloves, their faint signature growing stronger and stronger until she could communicate with them again.

Nyxe rode in the car in silence a few miles away as she remotely fed them magic. She worked her energy into the cuffs and through the leather fingers, getting no resistance from the free agents. They were only too happy to once again be connected to Nyxe's reservoir of magic—and once again, their will was hers.

Ana never saw them coming.

She had prepared a barrier around the house, and she was in the middle of preparing another. No warnings, no premonitions—only leather cuffed over her mouth.

“I nearly didn't recognize you, Ana.” Even though she hadn't heard it in fifteen years, she knew the voice immediately. “Time isn't very kind to you creatures, is it?” Ana struggled to counter the enchanted gloves, but their strength was overwhelming. Just as she reached up to pry the glove away from her mouth, the other drew its cuff over her hand, forcing itself over her fingers.

Once it was on, mortal terror came over Ana. Something in the glove over her hand was dimming her power—making her abilities cloudy. Her gloved hand easily grasped the other, still flailing, and held it still. The glove over her mouth jumped toward her grasped hand, and Ana's wriggling fingers, the glove easily slid onto her other hand.

She was disoriented. She had no intuitive warning about these enchantments flying toward her, no detection of the bound one's magic in the house. Still, it was her—there was no doubt about it. The gloves turned her hands back on her crossed over her chest, making her clasp her own shoulders.

She felt her blouse puff up around her. The cups of her bra gripped her just slightly. “Let's march.” Ana's skirt swung her hips around as the leather on her hands yanked her forward. She only kept up by the grace of her now-living outfit.

“No words for me, witch? You're free to talk.” There was nothing to say. She held as still as she could in the silence, but the outfit coaxed and twisted her into motion, supporting her when she went limp and overpowering her when she tried to resist. Maybe if she surprised them for a split second at just the right moment...

The gloves and the sleeves of her blouse tightened around her just as she pulled her arms back with every ounce of strength she had. She only succeeded in making the fabric constrict tighter, and—from the sound of the laughter—amusing the entity.

“Ana, my dear, you're not going to get away from me. I've done everything right this time. I've even gotten those wretched black boots of yours to yield to my power.”

“So you're free. What are you going to do?” Ana finally asked.

“I'm going to punish both you and them as I see fit.” The gloves pulled Ana's hands out in front of her, palms down. “Beyond that, my plans are none of your concern. Let's go upstairs for a moment.” Her outfit pulled her body forward, leading her toward the stairs.

“And Tiffany?”

“Tiffany is free to do as she pleases. I owe the girl my freedom. Don't fool about on the stairs, now. I don't want those legs of yours all bruised up.” That was a little more than disconcerting. Ana had nearly lost control of her body to this entity before.

“I've already told her all about you, how you got here...how you got into those boots. She's not going to let you--” Her gloves suddenly pulled her body into the air, pulling her off the stairs and sending her flying toward the vaulted ceiling.

“Neither you nor her are in a position to stop me, witch.” The voice growled. The gloves dangled Ana fifteen feet over her staircase. “I'm giving your misled apprentice the benefit of the doubt for now—but for her sake, I hope she doesn't choose the losing side.”

All Ana could do from here was hope that somewhere, Tiffany had the upper hand.


“Remove the boots, Tiffany.” Certainly a command. Adrenaline began to rush through Tiffany's body as they got closer to Ana's house. Nyxe wasn't bluffing—she had no reason to. For now, the only thing to do was cooperate. She reached down and unzipped a boot, feeling it squeeze her toe just slightly as she did.

Good luck, Tiffany thought, wiggling her toes in response just before slipping her foot out. When she drew the zipper down the other boot and took it off, she felt different—almost energized. She did her best not to react to it, hoping the inconspicuously renewed strength might give her an edge later. She'd have to stay attentive.

“In a few moments, you choose your future—at your will.” Tiffany met Nyxe's gaze through Chelsea's fiery eyes. “The girls and I will take care of the witch, and you may do one of three things.” She raised a finger. “First, you can take this vehicle and leave us to our work—and I promise that if you don't interfere, we'll call it even. I won't bother you again.” She raised another. “Second—and this is my favorite—you'll see that your friends here are on the right side, and you'll help us in binding the witch. Help us, Tiffany, and I'll help you reach your full potential.”

“And third?”

“You make the mistake of believing Ana's lies, you do something—anything to get in my way—and you join her in whatever punishment I devise.”

“And...what is my full potential?” Tiffany raised an eyebrow.

“Make the right choice, my dear, and your potential may serve you with power as limitless as mine.”

Gwen turned into Ana's suburban development. Tiffany's heart pounded. Clear as she tried to keep her mind, she kept wondering if Nyxe would display even a moment of vulnerability. If it happened, Tiffany knew she had to stay focused to have any hope of recognizing it.

“The witch is restrained.” Nyxe flashed a grin of satisfaction. “I hope you girls are hungry for a lot more fun, because once this is finished—the world is ours.” She looked over at Tiffany. “All of ours, if you choose.”

She was laying it on thick--as if at any time, Tiffany would simply change her mind and declare her loyalty. Was that a weakness? Nyxe had three girls in the car, apparently more than happy to go along with whatever plans she had. Maybe she was so confident in her persuasive abilities that...

“Limitless potential?” Tiffany asked. Nyxe turned to her with narrowed eyes.

“With no magical training at all, you nearly destroyed me. With my help, who knows? But I have to tell you, Tiffany—it will take a clear act of loyalty for me to bring you into the fold.”

“Ana jailed you. She told me that herself. She also told me she was warned from opening that gateway, and she did it anyway.” Tiffany looked away. “But for the same reason you'd let me go—I can't harm her.”

“She'll be repaid the same injustice I suffered,” Nyxe said. “Fifteen years, sealed into suspension. She won't be harmed any more than she harmed me.”

“Only imprisonment? And then she's free to go?”

“That's all,” Nyxe said. “She must repay my time with her own, and then she's as free as you or I.” Tiffany went through the possibility in her head, trying her best to emulate deliberation. She tried to ignore the possibility that Nyxe would sense her double cross—to ignore that an opportunity to strike was far from a sure thing.

Certainty was only reserved for the choice Nyxe offered her. That meant that if she failed in what she was about to attempt—she could plan on joining Ana in her prison for the next fifteen years, and Nyxe's power would be unopposed.

“Tell me what you want from me.”


Ana's gloved hand reached for her closet door. When it made contact, she felt something pulse through her. As the gloves gripped the handle, a light came from under her closet.

“We're going to want some witnesses for the formal proceedings.” Ana's hand turned on the knob. With a pull, the glove threw open the closet door, revealing the impossibly-sized enchanted closet. “Maybe a few witnesses who understand how it feels to be locked away for years. Right, ladies?”

The gloves raised Ana's hands into the air and tightened around them again. A denim skirt pulled off its clips and inflated. On the other side, a fitted black blouse met up with the skirt. Ana felt more things coming to life—a pair of latex gloves from the short rack above, thigh-high boots from a shoe rack in the back, a fishnet bodysuit, tight spandex leggings... Now the nature of the pulse going through her was clear. The gloves were using her power as their own.

“Fifteen years, Ana. I could sense you, you know—even locked up in those boots—but I still wasn't prepared for how out of practice you are.”

Ana could feel the animated outfits behind her. She was being depleted.

“You've gotten so much weaker in fifteen years. I'm not sure I'd take it for the next fifteen.” All of the sudden, the ethereal circuit in the gloves was broken. The drain stopped, and the flux ran in the other direction. “I'm sorry, Ana. I had no expectation you'd be so weak.”

With her outfit marching her back out of the room and down the stairs, Ana realized that the mercy of the gloves was no blessing. Nyxe could remotely power not only them—but all the outfits following her, even her own.

“But how can you...your power is so—”

“You know what you called out from the void, Ana. You know what you were looking for.” The leather at her hands let up on her, giving her hand a gentle squeeze. “We could've been wonderful together, Ana—but you rejected me. You imprisoned me.” Ana tried to pull her hands from the gloves once more, but her shirtsleeves locked in place. “Stop that. You can't possibly overpower me that way, Ana.”

“You—you tried to take over my body!”

“We could've shared it, Ana. I could've made you so much more than you've become. If you hadn't rejected me, you'd be a goddess by now.” The gloves came toward her, cupping over the mounds in her blouse. “But while I've gotten a younger, stronger model—I'd still consider playing with you in fifteen years. We'll just have to preserve you in the void to serve out your punishment. It won't be so bad, Ana.”

Ana's plan was falling apart. By allowing herself to be ambushed, her preparations were now a liability to her. With control of the portal configuration, Nyxe could send her away. She'd have no reason to grant Ana a reprieve—in fifteen years, or ever. But the “younger, stronger model”? If she said she'd leave Tiffany alone...

“I'm sorry,” Ana said. “I'm sorry for locking you away, but you tried to--”

“Think nothing of it, Ana. I'm doing my best to be fair about this and not take it personally, but you locked me away—you wrongfully isolated me. Now, I'm only asking that you experience the same. I promise you that when your sentence is over, I'll release you.”

The fishnet body stocking was the last outfit to reach the bottom of the stairs. The animated clothing took positions all over the room and entryway, and Ana's outfit walked her over to her coffee table. One of the leather gloves made her pick up a lighter and flick it to ignition. Under the power of the clothes, Ana lit each of the five candles in a configuration on the table, a nearly exact copy of the same portal she'd created years ago.

“And after your years to reflect—to come to terms about your imprisonment and mine—you'll wake up to an entirely new world. You won't believe how much I'll have improved it by then.”

“A new world? What do you mean?”

“A plane recreated, Ana. Your world, reshaped by my magic and the delicious dreams of my acolytes. It's going to be the most beautiful thing you've ever seen.”

What had she done? This being's whims went far beyond revenge. In fact—it didn't seem interested in revenge at all. It had large scale designs, and if they were inflicted upon the world she knew—it was going to be all her fault.

“Be a dear and get the door,” Ana's glove pointed at the fishnet body stocking. It sauntered to the entryway and hooked itself to the handle, pulling it open to reveal five girls on the porch.

Chelsea walked in, her eyes gleaming violet when her eyes met Ana's. “Did you look this good when you summoned me, Ana?” She sneered as she walked into the house. “It's funny, actually. When you brought me here, you seemed so strange to me. I wasn't sure exactly what to do with you—so frightened and paranoid of my power.” The girls followed Nyxe inside, with Tiffany taking up the rear. “But now I've found a better approach—a way to find those that share my passion for creativity.”

“You said you'd let Tiffany go,” Ana said.

“I said that Tiffany was free to do as she pleases,” Nyxe's correction came with a sly smile. “And so she is. But make no mistake—her presence does not preclude her loyalty to you. She made me vow not to hurt you; a vow I'm going to keep. Even your own apprentice understands, Ana: with punishment comes reconciliation.” Once the girls were inside, Nyxe flung her hand toward the door. The body stocking slammed it shut with authority. “Serve out your time. That's all I ask.”

“Tiffany—you can't help her! Whatever she's promised you, it's—” Ana's glove clasped itself over her mouth.

“And who knows, Ana...if my plan goes exceptionally well, maybe I'll let you out after five years. After all, if these girls turn out to be the wonderful students I expect—it'll be thanks to your imposed sentence that I found them.”

Ana struggled against the glove at her mouth.

“Calm yourself. I'll give you a chance to speak your mind in a second. You won't get to do so again for a long, long while, so make sure you let it all out.” Nyxe walked right past her and into the living room, holding her free hand up toward the configuration on the coffee table as the other carried Tiffany's silenced boots. “It's strong already—I can feel it.”

The girls filed in behind her. Sarah, Tiffany and Bridget passed by Ana like they didn't see her, but Gwen caught her gaze, seeing the terror in her eyes. Once the others were in the living room, Gwen walked on.

Ana caught on to Gwen's momentary doubt, but there was no time left. If Tiffany had really decided to join the bound one, Ana's last words would have to be convincing—or the world she'd come back to a decade and a half from now would no longer be her own.

“Ladies,” Nyxe called to the clothes around the room. “Show the girls a good time, will you? Choose as you like and work them up a bit.” The latex gloves drifted over to Sarah, teasing a finger across her lips. The spandex leggings bounced over to Bridget, leaping up and bending their legs around her. She let out a laugh as she caught the springy lycra ass in her hands. The denim skirt strutted toward Gwen. She reached out to the black sleeves of the blouse coming toward her. The thigh high boots unzipped and presented themselves to Tiffany. As she stepped into them, they zipped again, hugging her calves and thighs.

The glove over Ana's mouth shifted, and Nyxe turned to her as Ana's enchanted clothing flirted with the girls. She dropped Tiffany's boots on the ground.

“Now then—say everything you like to say for the next decade, Ana. It's the only chance you're going to get.” The glove fell away from her face.

“Girls—if you knew the force you were dealing with, you wouldn't be here helping it right now. You've become involved in something I started years ago, and for that I'm sorry.” She looked to Bridget and Gwen. “But what you have to realize is that if you make yourselves part of this, you make yourselves responsible for whatever she has planned for our world.”

“And what if we agree with her plan?” Sarah asked, nuzzling against a black latex glove. “What if we--” The glove muffled Sarah.

“Quiet, hon.” Nyxe chided. “I want her to be allowed her say here, without interruption. I want you all to know that I have no reason to fear the lies of my jailer.”

“You can't listen to anything she says!” Ana continued. “I'm like all of you—I'm human! If you don't help me now, there's not going to be anyone to stop her.”

Her eyes plead to be met, but she was competing with Nyxe's novel form of attention. Sarah was mesmerized by the latex opera gloves. Tiffany seemed to stare through her.

“Tell me what she said to you, Tiffany! However she changed your mind, it was a lie!” Tiffany looked away from her, smoothing out the leather boot cuff at her thigh. “You!” Ana shouted to Gwen, looking over the collar of the blouse. “If you help her, the world you know is going to be irreversibly changed. It's going to be HER world. You know I'm telling the truth.”

The black blouse and denim skirt hovered higher, wrapping their sleeves around Gwen's head and holding it between its fabric breasts. Gwen's laughter echoed through the room, and Ana shook her head. She looked back at Tiffany one more time, but the girl's eyes wouldn't meet her. Nyxe had the entire deck stacked against her.

“You're finished, then?” Nyxe walked over to Ana. “I've got nothing but time, Ana. I want to make sure you've got everything off your chest.” Her bra lifted her chest at the last word in Nyxe's sentence. She pushed out a flustered noise. “Then it's my turn.” Nyxe turned to the girls and the playful clothes paired with them. “Ladies?”

The enchanted clothes came to attention, making the girls follow suit.

“I've told you why we're here, and that now you've heard the witch herself, you can see I've been honest with you. Tonight we start something—together--that will change your entire world.” Nyxe approached Gwen and the skirt and blouse combo. “She's told you that you'll be responsible for that change—and she's correct. You will be the ones responsible for bringing my gifts to everyone.” She looked over at Sarah, clinging to her every word. “You've felt my energies. You know—intimately—that I'm not some cruel overlord.” She looked over to Tiffany, finding the girl smiling back at her. “You even know how patient I am—how fair and willing I am to forgive...even those that would lock me away. So if there's anyone with any doubts about helping me,” back to Gwen now, “Anyone--even if I'm in debt to you for saving my life, or freeing me...you can leave now, and I promise that I will harbor no ill will.”

Seconds passed. None of the girls made a move. Nyxe smiled, turning to the configuration on the table. She lifted her hands toward it and took a deep breath.

“Then let's begin.”