Marcus leaves Corey at Auggie’s mercy while he pays a visit to an important acquaintance at one of the Hall of Heroes’ most secure detention facilities.
Marcus smirked. It hardly ever disappointed when his boys put on a show for him and both his little thundercloud and his newest pup were performing splendidly.
It wasn’t the first time he was watching Corey and Eugene together, though in the past it had always been with a hidden camera in Corey’s dorm room between him and the pair.
There was a unique pleasure to seeing things up close. The sounds were sharper, the slap of flesh against flesh and the pretty little noises Corey made whenever he was getting his brains fucked out of him.
The intimacy was better, too. Marcus was closer. He could be an active participant if he so chose. And he did, on occasion, tracing a toe over a thigh and relishing the slight tremor it elicited.
"Enjoying yourself, Auggie?" he murmured, speaking to Eugene’s pup persona as he brushed his toes over the curve of the younger man’s ass. "Do you like the sensation of that tight bitch hole wrapped around your knot?"
The response was immediate and pretty much exactly what Marcus anticipated, having trained Auggie himself. The pup yipped happily, shaking his butt to wag the tail plug firmly seated between his pert cheeks.
Corey groaned as the movement forced the sheath and the knot to shift inside him. It must have been more intense than Corey was anticipating as he whined and murmured, "M-master… Please…"
Marcus retrieved a crop from the side of his chair and brought it down lightly on the space between Corey’s shoulder blades. "Do not speak unless you are spoken to, bitch," he said with a smirk.
Oh, he loved his little thundercloud but that didn’t stop him from being mean. Corey deserved it sometimes. And it wasn’t like Corey didn’t enjoy the degradation.
Marcus stood. He walked over to the pair, crouching down as he traced a hand down the curve of Auggie’s back. He cupped one of the pup’s ass cheeks, brushing his index finger along the base of the tail plug.
"Still horny, boy?" said Marcus.
Auggie whined and barked. He wagged again, eliciting a low groan from Corey.
"Of course, of course," said Marcus, patting Auggie on the butt. "You cannot possibly be satisfied already when you have yet to come. Is that not right, boy?"
Auggie threw his head back and howled softly.
"I know, boy. I know," said Marcus as the corner of his mouth curled in a little smirk. "It is hardly fair, is it not?" he said.
Auggie tilted his head and made a small quizzical noise.
It was adorable. The ears on the hood were so expressive. Marcus was impressed. "Well, I mean…"
Marcus reached under Corey. He dragged a finger through the small puddle Corey had made when he came on Auggie’s cock.
Holding it up to the light, Marcus showed Auggie the cum clinging to the tip of his finger. "Look at this," he said. "Tell me, boy, do you think it’s fair the bitch came before the stud?"
Auggie squinted for a moment and Marcus could practically hear the gears turning in the pup’s head.
It was only to be expected. Good pups didn’t think human thoughts and the few thoughts they did have moved quite slowly. The only thoughts good pups had were thoughts put in their empty heads by their owners.
After a good minute or so, Auggie huffed and growled. It wasn’t an aggressive sort of growl—he wouldn’t dare make such a vocalization at his owner—but it did indicate some dissatisfaction.
Marcus chuckled. "That’s right, Auggie. A proper injustice is what it is," he said.
Auggie nodded and huffed. He turned his attention to Corey, leaning forward so more of his weight rested on the bitch to make his displeasure known.
"You should remember, boy, this is your reward for being a good dog," said Marcus. "You want to keep fucking your tight little bitch, don’t you?"
Auggie yipped softly and nodded, bumping his hips against Corey’s to emphasize the point. The motion made Corey mewl pathetically, a sound that elicited a distressed whine from the pup.
Marcus chuckled. "Such a smart dog you are, Auggie," he said, reaching up to pat the top of the pup hood. "So considerate. Are you afraid you might hurt the bitch?"
Auggie whined again and nodded.
Of course. Marcus had to laugh. It wasn’t at all unexpected. He’d pegged Eugene for a conscientious young man so it wasn’t much of a surprise his pup persona was similarly thoughtful.
"You shouldn’t be," said Marcus as he scritched Auggie on the chin. "Don’t pay too much attention to the pathetic mewling. Think of those desperate little noises as the bitch expressing its inferiority—its submission."
Auggie tilted his head. He made a small, uncertain noise.
Were he feeling less magnanimous, Marcus might have chosen to take the least generous interpretation of that sound—even if he did know Auggie would never doubt him as his owner. The pup wasn’t really questioning him so much as making doubly sure it really was alright to keep going.
Marcus patted Auggie on the head, between the droopy pup ears on the hood. It was an attitude that he wanted to reward. After all, he meant for Auggie to be Corey’s guard dog every now and then.
"Yes, boy," he said warmly. "You are welcome to rut away to your heart’s content."
Marcus reached down with his other hand. He stroked it along the curve of Corey’s arched back. "The bitch can take it. The bitch will take it. Indeed, I would be quite pleased if you broke the bitch in with that fat knot of yours."
The quiet whimper that spilled from Corey made Marcus’ cock twitch. The soft noises of distress his little thundercloud made were like music to his ears.
He didn’t retract the order, though. He knew Corey could take a rough fucking from Auggie’s knot. The bitch was just whining because it would be intense.
But that was exactly the point. Marcus wanted to see Corey’s legs give out from under him. He wanted to watch the bitch collapse and squirm as his hole was repeatedly broken in by the fat knot at the base of Auggie’s rubber sheath.
"This is your prize for being such a good dog, after all, Auggie," said Marcus. "I want you to feel very well-rewarded."
He turned to Corey. He moved his hand down Corey’s spine and up the back of the boy’s neck, threading his fingers through the soft, dark locks.
He tightened his grip, trapping tufts of hair in the spaces between his fingers. He tugged on Corey’s hair, forced the boy to crane his neck back.
"You, my little thundercloud, get to be Auggie’s plaything for the rest of today," he said with a smirk. "Be a good little bitch because I am leaving his reward to you. Pleasure him with this perverse body of yours, won’t you?"
"Y-yes, Master," Corey moaned.
Marcus released his grip and stood. He smoothed down the front of his suit and tugged on his sleeves. He checked the shine of his leather shoes to make sure he hadn’t gotten any messy fluids on them—he hadn’t—and nodded to himself when he was satisfied he looked presentable.
"Alas, my boys, as much as I would love to stay, I have other commitments to attend to," he said while petting Auggie. "But do give me a show while I am here."
Auggie, ever eager to please, took Marcus’ words as a signal to start. He bucked his hips, grinding the thick rubber sheath wrapped around his cock into Corey’s ass.
It didn’t take long for the bitch to start whining, either. Marcus relished the sound. Corey had taken bigger before but Marcus had taken steps to ensure the boy would always return to an acceptable tightness however badly he was ruined.
It had the desired effect of making Corey a pleasure to fuck time and again but he was well-aware of the knock-on effect for the boy: it made every big cock intense. It accentuated the feeling of fullness, highlighted the stretching of the insides to accommodate the invasion.
Marcus licked his lips and squeezed the outline of his erection through his pleated pants. "That is not to say you should slack off when I am gone, boys. I would like some good footage to review upon my return."
Corey moaned—the little slut. Despite his gift of insight, Marcus never ceased to be amazed at how much the boy enjoyed being put in front of an audience.
Auggie’s bucking against Corey’s hole eventually managed to jostle the knot loose of the tight ring of muscle. Marcus reveled in the lewd pop it made as it slipped out.
Now that Marcus had assuaged the pup’s worries, though, Auggie just kept on rutting away. The knot banged against Corey’s tightness over and over and over again.
Corey’s cries picked up in pitch and neediness until his hole finally gave and the knot pushed inside him again.
Marcus rubbed himself through his pants, watching the cycle repeat. With each iteration, the knot would pop loose sooner and would slam back in faster.
It didn’t take too much longer before Corey’s hole yielded completely. The knot punched in and out of his hole with no resistance, the soft, pliable muscle gripping the rubber bulb on the way out and sucking it in on the down thrust.
Corey moaned and whined and mewled, his cage twitching as his cock strained against the filigree. His legs trembled, too. His hips held up only by sheer force of will and Auggie’s grip.
Marcus was satisfied. Auggie would ruin Corey’s hole just as he wanted and he would have quite the show to come back to when he was done with the day’s business.
He could hardly wait but there was work yet to be done. "Carry on, boys," he called out over his shoulder as he walked away from the rutting pair. "Do remember not to come, Auggie. But feel free to pound the bitch until your strength is spent."
The Hall of Heroes prided itself on being accessible to the common man. The campus of the main headquarters in Selene City was open to all bar a few ‘high-security’ locations.
Anyone with even a bit of sense knew the unspoken truth, though. Nothing of any real importance was on-campus. Everything public-facing was sterile and inoffensive, meticulously constructed to maintain the image of the Hall’s heroes as shining and morally upright defenders of peace and justice.
Marcus knew of only two vital structures present on-campus: the command center and the training facility. Both were ostensibly open to the public but each had an extensive underground complex where most of the operations were conducted.
The surface command center mostly dealt with petty crime and routine patrol. The surface arena was for prospects and new recruits and the occasional exhibition match between heroes.
Everything else was nearby, hidden behind the façade of unassuming buildings. The prime example was the Barb, the Hall of Heroes’ highest-security custodial facility.
It was a place reserved for the worst of the worst. Detained at the Barb were the supers deemed irredeemable or otherwise incapable of reform by the Hall and its vaunted experts.
Marcus thought it was all rather questionable but it was a fact he was happy to use to his advantage. He was, after all, the reason many of the Hall’s best and brightest were imprisoned in the Barb.
The contragrav limo rolled to a stop in front of an otherwise unassuming building in the heart of Selene City. Marcus stepped out of the car and walked into the lobby.
Aboveground, the Barb was a regular consultancy firm, one of many businesses owned by the Hall of Heroes. As such, the lobby looked fairly normal and had a reasonable amount of foot traffic.
Marcus confidently strode across the lobby to a closed door marked "Personnel Only." As expected, the door wasn’t locked. He turned the latch and entered.
He’d barely made it past the threshold when he heard the whir of plasma rifles winding up. Both barrels were pointed at him as one of the guards barked "Sir! This is a restricted area!"
Marcus held both hands in the air and shrugged. "I know. I’m here as a visitor to the Barb," he said.
He quickly looked the guards up and down. Fortunately, he kept himself abreast of any developments in the tech industry. His gift of insight didn’t magically give him knowledge he didn’t have, it merely gave him a preternatural ability to make connections between data and prior knowledge to draw generally-accurate conclusions about things.
For that matter, the guards seemed to be well-geared. They were wearing C-Tek exoskeletons with integrated nanoalloy armor plating. The models were a few years out of circulation but clearly worked well enough still.
Marcus could tell, however, that the armor had seen better days. Strangely enough, the rigging of the suits had scuff marks that betrayed manual in-house repairs. The plasma rifles, likewise, had signs of the same.
The first guard lowered his gun ever so slightly. "Please state your name and purpose for coming here," he said.
Marcus smiled cordially and nodded. "Marcus Satellus. I am here on the invitation of the director to take a tour of the facilities."
The guards looked at each other. They pressed buttons on the sides of their helmets and switched to a secure channel to converse.
After a minute or so, the second guard turned to Marcus and said, "Sorry, Sir. Usually, we’re informed well in advance if we have visitors."
Marcus nodded. "That is alright," he said with a small smile. "It’s likely my fault. The director extended the invitation just last night, and at my insistence, I’m afraid."
The first guard was a lot less polite than the second. "Can we see some ID?"
"Of course," said Marcus.
The first guard lowered his rifle and retrieved a scanner unit. The second one kept his pointed at Marcus and seemed downright apologetic when he said, "Sorry for the gun. Standard procedure."
Marcus laughed. "Oh, I understand. One must be careful about who he permits into a high-security facility and all that," he said.
"Okay. ID, please," said the first guard tersely as he held the scanner unit out toward Marcus.
Marcus retrieved a small rectangle of plastic from his coat pocket. It was solid blue but for an ornate gold pattern and a small polyglass window he had to hold his thumbprint over.
After an integrated diode on the corner of the card lit up green to indicate it had successfully verified his biometrics, Marcus tapped the card on the scanner.
The screen glitched briefly, much to the first guard’s annoyance. He banged the side of the scanner and muttered "I’m not paid enough for this shit" under his breath.
"Any trouble?" said Marcus.
The second guard shook his head. "No, sir," he said. "The machine’s just a bit… Let’s just say it likes to freeze up sometimes. It should be alright."
The blow from the first guard seemed to do the job. The scanner resumed its normal operation and displayed Marcus’ identification on the screen.
"Looks like this checks out," said the first guard, giving the displayed data a cursory look. He pressed a button on the screen and continued, "The Director should be down in a minute to escort you. For now, we have to make sure you aren’t carrying any contra—"
Marcus smiled. "Thank you," he said, interrupting the first guard’s spiel. While he was reasonably confident his equipment was well-hidden, neither did he have any desire to risk discovery.
He’d gotten a fairly good read on the two guards in the last few minutes. The first was a lot firmer and by-the-book. The second was more amicable and seemed to have a genuine desire to prevent any distress.
Given the dynamic between the two, he was fairly certain baiting the second guard into an otherwise sensitive discussion would be a suitable enough distraction that the first would forget all about the inspection.
Marcus looked at the second guard, pretending not to have heard the first guard. "Interesting you’ve been having equipment issues. I would have thought the Hall paid top dollar for the most advanced gear," he said as if to pick up the earlier conversation.
It worked about as well as Marcus expected. The second guard shrugged and was about to say something when the first reached across and tapped him on the chest with the back of his hand to stop him.
"With all due respect, sir, it’s not our place to talk about that kind of stuff," said the first guard in a rather gruff and standoffish tone.
Marcus chuckled. "Fair enough," he said. Not that he was willing to drop the topic so easily. He just needed to delay long enough for Bernard to arrive. "I suppose you are tasked with the security of this entrance first and foremost. But it was just an innocent question. There wasn’t any harm in it."
"W-well, that is true, but we’re just guards. What would we know about the Hall’s decisions?" said the first guard.
Marcus laughed. "Well, as I am interested in the quality of equipment the Hall has purchased, it only makes sense for me to talk with the people who have been using the equipment. Is that not right?"
"I-I mean, fair enough, but that doesn’t mean we can just talk casually about it," said the first guard. "We still have to keep the reputation of the Hall in mind."
"Come now. You don’t seriously think I am the kind of man who would run his mouth about this sort of thing. Do you?" said Marcus. It was always a pleasure to see his gift of suggestion at work. People never noticed they were dancing in the palm of his hand—and if they ever did, it was almost always too late.
"N-no, but—" started the first guard.
"Then there’s no harm. Is there?" said Marcus.
The first guard frowned. He gave the question some thought and shrugged. "Alright. Fine. But none of it leaves here, okay?" he said.
Marcus nodded and said, with a smile, "Of course."
Turning to his companion, the first guard said, "If you want to talk, go for it. I won’t be part of it, though."
The second guard nodded at Marcus. "I don’t know what’s got him in such a mood. But anyway, most of the money that comes into the facility goes to the stuff inside."
It wasn’t anything Marcus hadn’t already surmised. General power dampeners were expensive machines that required regular maintenance.
Besides, Marcus knew the Department of Supervillain Correction and Rehabilitation was exceptionally fastidious. The DSCR designed and individualized containment measures for every esper in its custody—measures that were bound to be expensive to implement and maintain.
The second guard continued. "Grunts like us? We get the shit end of the stick. Stuff’s old and faulty. Our buddies on containment duty? Everything’s brand new and hi-tech."
The first guard scoffed. It looked like he was about to say something but the ding of the elevator on the far end of the lobby interrupted him.
Both men stiffened as a man dressed rather sharply in a suit and tie emerged from the elevator cab. He marched toward the security checkpoint, looking rather flustered, his heels striking the tile.
"Director!" said both guards, saluting the man.
"Bernard," said Marcus with a small smile.
Bernard Aquinas Jr. AKA Silver Serpent was a hero with an unblemished track record. During his active years as a hero, he was single-handedly responsible for a number of prominent supervillain takedowns.
He was quite the looker and appeared rather young for a man in his mid-thirties. He had a handsome jaw, short-cropped hair, and a smile that somehow managed to remain pretty despite the flush in his cheeks and his shortness of breath.
"Marcus, I had meant to greet you personally when you arrived but the time got away from me," said Bernard.
Marcus laughed. "It happens," he said. He met Bernard’s gaze. He looked into the younger man’s eyes. They glowed golden in the light but there was just the slightest hint of a faint blue ring surrounding Bernard’s irises.
Breaking eye contact, Marcus glanced at the two guards and said, "These young men have been keeping me rather entertained with some minor conversation."
"Ah. That’s good to hear. It was decent conversation, I hope," said Bernard.
"They would not have kept my attention otherwise, Bernard," said Marcus with a small smirk. "Indeed, I would say our conversation was rather eye-opening."
"I think that’s about everything I’m allowed to show you," said Bernard.
Marcus smiled. The two of them stood in front of the third basement floor directory. "Thank you," he said. "It has been enlightening, to say the least."
Bernard smiled. "I’m glad to hear it. Now, about that matter we discussed when last we conversed…"
It was a line of conversation Marcus had expected. The Hall was ever in need of money owing to the restitution it paid out to the victims of clashes between espers, more so now that a substantial portion of Seaside City was in need of significant repairs.
Marcus was more than happy to discuss a charitable donation to a "good" cause but there were other matters he had to attend to before such talks could begin. "Actually, I was wondering if you might be able to do a tiny little favor for me."
Bernard gave Marcus a warm smile. "Of course," he said. "As long as it is within my power, I shall endeavor to do my best."
"Well, you see… I have always been rather fond of Luxus…" said Marcus.
Bernard’s expression stiffened. It was clear he’d cottoned on to what Marcus was hinting at. "Marcus, I don’t—"
The objection was unsurprising but Marcus cut in before Bernard could finish. "I know, I know. He is no longer the hero he used to be. But I dearly want to see him up close. Would that at all be possible?"
"I-I don’t know, Marcus," said Bernard. "As a matter of procedure, we generally don’t allow outside visitors. I-I hope this won’t impact the, uh…"
Marcus waved his hand and chuckled. "No, no," he said. "Not at all. I understand the security of the facility is your utmost priority. I would not hold it against you were you to do your job."
"Thank you, Marcus. I’m glad to hear it," said Bernard.
"But I do so yearn to see one of my heroes up close," said Marcus.
It wasn’t a lie—Marcus didn’t like to lie—but Bernard was unlikely to understand the wordplay unless he was privy to Marcus’ true identity.
Luxus was indeed one of Marcus’ heroes but not in the sense that Marcus looked up to the speedster. No. Luxus was one of Marcus’ heroes in the sense that Marcus was Luxus’ owner.
"It would be brief," said Marcus before Bernard could brook an objection. "And there would be a cell between the two of us."
Bernard scratched his cheek. "If I chose to allow the visit, it would have to be brief. And I suppose there would be a cell between you and him. But I still don’t think it’s the smartest idea."
"Come now," said Marcus. "You have confidence in the security measures you have implemented, surely."
"Of course I am, Marcus!" said Bernard with poorly disguised indignation in his voice. "But when it comes to espers, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. I could probably hold my own, but I have to worry about your safety too."
This was Bernard’s work. It was only to be expected he would bristle at the suggestion he wasn’t wholly confident in it. Marcus knew as much, and he knew well enough how to exploit the knowledge.
Marcus smiled. "Then perhaps you are not as confident in the containment of these ‘villains’ as you say you are," he said, bearing down on that button.
"The Barb has the most state-of-the-art containment procedures for espers, Marcus. Like I told you, there are redundancies and contingencies for every floor and cell in the building," said Bernard.
"Then pray, humor me, Bernard," said Marcus. "Were a supervillain the likes of Draconis Rex to break into the facility today, how much damage do you think they could cause?"
Bernard pondered the question for a moment. "Well, there’s no question the place will sustain some pretty significant damage but…" he said, trailing off as he rubbed his chin. "I’m 98–99% sure there won’t be a consequent mass containment breach."
Marcus smiled. That was exactly what he wanted to hear. He’d expected Bernard’s confidence to be quite high but the fact it was so much higher than he’d anticipated served his purposes even better.
"Then perhaps it would not be so dangerous to allow me a moment to see Luxus," said Marcus. "After all, if you are confident Draconis Rex could not cause a mass containment breach, what chance would I have to do the same?"
Bernard frowned. It was clear he had no rebuttal for Marcus’ words but it was admirable how he stuck to his gut and resisted the suggestions all the same.
The result was a foregone conclusion, however. All Marcus needed to do was keep pressing. Controlling minds was a complex process, one prone to errors. Making suggestions, on the other hand, was simpler and more reliable by far.
All it took to change a mind was a few nudges in the right direction. It just took time.
"More to the point, I would be correct in saying you are confident in the abilities of your guards… right?" said Marcus.
Bernard nodded. "Yes, of course," he said. "I trained them myself."
Marcus had guessed something to that effect but he was glad to see it confirmed. "Then you must trust they would closely follow the screening procedures you taught them."
Bernard chuckled. "They had better," he said. "I’d be forced to discipline them otherwise and nobody wants that."
Marcus smiled. "Then you must also trust they conducted a thorough search of my person for any potential contraband that could threaten the integrity of the facility’s security measures."
Bernard threw his hands up. "Alright, alright," he said. "I’ll take you to see Luxus. Briefly, though. We won’t be lingering too long."
Marcus grinned. "Thank you, Bernard," he said. "Perhaps if I see these containment measures of yours in action, I would be inspired to secure your access to even more funds."
Bernard laughed. "You really are a master of the carrot and the stick, Marcus. Now I can’t help but wonder if you were on the debate team in school."
Marcus smirked. "I was," he said. Not that the debates themselves had been particularly stimulating.
His gift of insight had made it pathetically easy to anticipate and dismantle his opponents’ arguments. Most of the fun he got was derived from knocking arrogant upperclassmen down a peg.
A small smile tugged at the corner of Marcus’ mouth as he reminisced. After mercilessly destroying his opponents, his favorite thing to do was hunt down the cockiest guy on the enemy team to make his.
"This way," said Bernard.
Marcus smiled. "I like to think I did rather well," he said.
Bernard laughed. "I can imagine."
Bernard wasn’t joking when he said the Barb used state-of-the-art technology to maintain the incarceration of its detainees. The tour had involved a look at the staff and surveillance facilities but had been scant concerning details about the containment measures.
Marcus reached out to touch the smooth translucent barrier in front of Luxus’ cell. Even before he could make contact, he could feel a faint buzz at his fingertips.
"Impressive," he said as he pulled his hand back. "One would be hard-pressed to find a hard light installation this early on."
Bernard smiled. He seemed rather proud of himself. "The power draw is beyond what most places can sustain at the moment," he said. "This is a bespoke solution C-Tek tailored to the specific needs of the Barb. It cost quite the fortune and the price tag’s only gonna get bigger with maintenance costs and as upgrades are developed."
Marcus chuckled. He had guessed as much. "I can imagine…" he said, trailing off for effect as he watched Luxus doze inside the cell.
He backed away from the cell to stand next to Bernard. "Time used to be Luxus was the hottest hero in town," he said. "It was a few years into my doctorate studies when he had that deal with Hermes."
Bernard chuckled. "I remember," he said. "I was really young back then but my dad got me a pair of MiniLights."
A smile tugged at the corner of Marcus’ mouth. "Sometimes I cannot help but think of how far he has fallen."
Bernard’s expression faltered. "Yeah…" he said. "I get that. I used to look up to him, too. Honestly, part of why I didn’t want to bring you here was because I didn’t want to come."
He paused to glance at Luxus. The fallen hero was sleeping soundly on his bed, hands folded over his stomach.
"It hurts to see him locked up like this," said Bernard. He glanced down the hall. "It hurts to see all of them here."
"All of them?" said Marcus. Naturally, he knew the answer. He just wanted Bernard to vocalize it.
"All of the ex-heroes. The ones Imperious got to…" Bernard sighed. "Honestly, sometimes I wonder if what we’re doing here is even right."
Marcus tilted his head. He was pleased to hear Bernard had doubts. "What do you mean?" he said.
Bernard’s expression changed. He laughed and shook his head. "Forget I said anything," he said. "It wasn’t important."
"Nonsense," said Marcus. "If we are to be business partners moving forward, you ought to be able to confide in me."
Bernard smiled and nodded. "I know," he said. "But I was talking out of turn and—"
"You know I have been trustworthy so far," said Marcus. "You know I have kept to my word. You know I haven’t given you any reason to mistrust me."
"Y-yes," said Bernard. The thin blue ring around his iris glowed faintly. "I know these things but I doubt you would be interested in hearing my angst."
"I don’t look like the kind to break confidence… Do I?" said Marcus. "You said it yourself. I am a successful businessman. You know that requires discretion."
"I-I suppose you’re not wrong," said Bernard with a sigh.
"And besides," said Marcus with a little smile, "You already started talking. That must mean some part of you recognizes I am someone you can talk to."
Bernard laughed. "Remind me never to get in an argument with you ever again," he said.
Marcus chuckled. "That would be prudent, I think," he said.
"Did you know? Contrary to what the official line might be, they haven’t discovered any traces of mind control in Imperious’ victims?" said Bernard.
Marcus feigned ignorance. "What do you mean?" he said.
"The researchers all say there might be some sort of alternate mechanism or some sort of rational explanation they just haven’t found yet…" Bernard had quite a faraway look. "But it’s been years and they’re no closer to a solution now than they were at the start."
"So what do you think?" said Marcus.
Bernard looked at him before turning his gaze back to Luxus in the cell. "Honestly? I think the answer is pretty simple. Imperious just managed to convince them to turn against the Hall."
Marcus fought down the urge to chuckle. Bernard seemed oblivious to how close to the truth he was. "How could that be?" he said in an attempt to pry more out of Bernard. "All of these heroes seemed so loyal. How could they just turn their backs on the Hall?"
Bernard shrugged. "I don’t know," he said. "But I can’t help but wonder if maybe they know something we don’t. Maybe—and I hate saying this—maybe Imperious is the one in the right."
Marcus ruminated on the implications of Bernard’s words for a moment. He doubted Bernard would be pushed to such a crisis of faith just by seeing fallen heroes in prison.
There was a deeper reason, Marcus was certain. And while he was privy to a lot of things, he had precious little information about the internal workings of the Hall.
"Why do you say that?" said Marcus. He figured his suggestions had been strong enough he could press for more information without putting Bernard on guard against him.
Bernard was silent for a long time. Then, he took a deep breath, looked at Marcus, and said, "What I tell you doesn’t leave this building, yeah?"
Marcus nodded. "You know you can trust me to keep your confidence," he said.
Bernard nodded. "I do," he said. "Alright. Well, if you must know, the Barb is not just a detention facility, it’s also a high-security research site."
Marcus had surmised as much. "Truly?" he said.
"What is researched at the Barb, if I might ask?" said Marcus.
Bernard looked both ways down the hall. "It used to be that we researched powers and the mechanisms thereof."
"Invaluable for designing countermeasures and means of containment," said Marcus.
"Right." Bernard nodded. "Power dampeners were developed here. On one of the lower floors. But if I’m being honest… Some of the more recent research directives from the brass have been a bit more disturbing."
Marcus was certainly interested in hearing more of this. "How so?" he said.
Bernard leaned in and spoke in a low voice as if afraid someone might be listening in. "Methods of transferring powers between individuals… Wide-scale power dampeners that could cover an entire city… Ways to target those dampeners against certain individuals or ways to make it so certain individuals can be exempt from the dampening effects…"
Given what he knew, Marcus wasn’t at all surprised. Crazy bastard really is laying the groundwork for an esper hegemony in the Commonwealth.
Bernard closed his eyes and shivered briefly before he continued. "They have civilians down there. Volunteers. They’re trying to find out if there are ways to artificially induce super-like abilities in normal people."
A tremulous breath.
"And I think the worst part is that they’ve got some of the heroes down there, too. They’re trying to figure out if there’s a way to permanently deprive supers of their powers," said Bernard with a haunted look in his eyes.
"Those sound like good ideas," said Marcus—from the perspective of a tyrannical megalomaniac that had everyone fooled, especially. "Why are you so concerned?"
"I-I don’t know," said Bernard. "It’s all ostensibly for public safety and all that but I can’t help but feel like it’s the build-up to something much worse."
Bernard sighed. "I wouldn’t have questioned it until I heard from one of my insider friends that the higher-ups are putting together a list of politicians and influential people who are unfavorable to supers."
Marcus nodded. "I see," he said. "I think I can understand your perspective. And I do believe you have reason to be concerned."
He paused for a moment, allowing his words to sink in. "Pray, do you trust your instincts?" he said.
Bernard nodded. "I do," he said. "Well, in battle, at least."
Marcus chuckled. "And they have served you well?"
"Then you should pay closer attention to them outside of combat," said Marcus. "They might just save your life."
Luxus cracked an eye open. Master and Bernard were gone. He’d wondered if they would ever leave. Everything was so slow without his powers.
He sighed as he swung his legs off the side of the bed and got up. He missed the feeling of the wind on his face as he ran. Running laps on the facility track without his powers just didn’t feel the same.
He was bored out of his mind but he knew he had a mission to do. For Master.
Shivering as his bare feet touched the cold metal floor, Luxus made his way to the front of the cell. He bent down to pick up a small metal disc that had somehow managed to slip through the hard light barrier.
He smiled and went back to his bed, tucking the device under his pillow. Things seemed like they were moving faster than he expected. He liked that.
For now, though, it was back to waiting.
He clambered back into bed and lay on top of the sheets. He stuck his hand down the front of his pants and grabbed his cock.
Just seeing Master again—being so close to him—had gotten him all riled up. He closed his eyes and stroked himself. He couldn’t wait to rejoin Master and the others.
The time was nigh. He just had to endure a little longer.