Super Sucker pt. 26

It’s the calm before the storm and Corey has some quality alone time. When Marcus meets with Bernard, he finds himself in a uniquely vulnerable position but he is, as ever, fully in control.

As the favored boy, Corey usually spent the night with Marcus in the estate’s opulent master bedroom. That didn’t mean he always slept in the bed with his Master. He did, often, but he was just as likely to sleep chained up and leashed at the foot of the bed, in a puppy bed in the corner, or even in the cage under the bed.

Occasionally, he’d need to sleep elsewhere. He may have been the preferred bedmate, but he wasn’t the only one. Marcus had a stable of eager boys and he was responsible enough as a Master that he made sure they never wanted for attention.

Sometimes, business would take Marcus away from home for more than a day. Multiple days, even, for some matters. Corey had blanket permission to use the master bedroom on such nights unless Marcus forbade it for one reason or another. He didn’t usually enjoy sleeping in such a large bed alone, though, not unless he was missing Marcus sorely.

Tonight was one such night. Marcus was away, visiting Bernard. It was an important part of the plan. Some would say it was a pivotal part of the plan. Still, Corey couldn’t help but feel a bit envious.

Not that he was envious of Marcus seeing other boys. He was happy to share. He was just envious about not being on the receiving end of Marcus’ all-consuming domination.

Corey couldn’t help but shiver just thinking about it. It was so difficult to tell where his thoughts ended and the ones Marcus had placed in his head began.

Anyone else would have been alarmed at the prospect but it just turned him on. He’d always fantasized about being controlled so deeply, so fundamentally. The fact that Marcus had reached into the very depths of his soul and rearranged things to his liking never failed to stoke the fire of arousal in Corey—not that it took much to do that these days.

Corey licked his lips and entered his room. It was a comfortable space but not one that he used very often. But just like the personal quarters of all the boys and servants that lived at the estate, he was responsible for its upkeep and maintenance.

It was a good idea to keep things neat and tidy anyway. It meant he wouldn’t have to pick up after himself whenever he did end up needing to use the room. He could just kick back and relax.

The problem was finding something to do to pass the time. Gene had gone back to the university to focus on coursework that he’d missed out on during his training and Castor and Pollux were out on a date.

The Centurion was an option, Corey supposed. The man had a delicious body, after all. And he made the sweetest noises when he was being tormented. Corey just wasn’t sure he wanted to bring Godspark out when he’d been training so hard for so long as Godspark.

There were other boys Corey could have hit up for some play. N3M0 was always eager for some VR shenanigans. Slick was a lot of fun—if a bit messy. Thorn had the best little friends but could be a bit scary at times—not that Corey minded.

He just didn’t feel like going through the effort of hitting them up and waiting to see if anyone was willing to get up to mischief. Training had pretty much drained his battery, which was a problem because it had done absolutely nothing to reduce his horniness.

One hand slid down the front of his torso, his fingers splaying as they brushed over the ridges and crevices of his cobbled abs. His other hand wandered further, cupping his caged cock through the pouch of his jockstrap before slipping lower to massage his taint.

A low groan came to Corey’s lips as he raised his legs in the air. The fingers of one hand traced slow circles around his navel while the fingers on the other dipped into the cleft between his ass cheeks to play with his quivering hole.

Gods. He wished Master were home. Sure, he enjoyed being on the receiving end of a variety of cocks but none satisfied him quite as well as Marcus did. There was a faint squelch as he pushed his fingers inside, his well-trained hole yielding with ease as he plundered the velvet heat of his own entrance.

Corey whined. The itch within only intensified despite his best efforts to scratch it. The need was too deep, too far beyond his reach. Two fingers quickly became three, which then rhythmically spread apart and came together to stretch him out. It felt wonderful but it still wasn’t enough.

It was in the middle of reaching as deep into himself as his fingers would allow that a thought crossed Corey’s mind. A bit of idle curiosity he now had the perfect opportunity to explore. The special dildo he’d used on the Centurion.

Corey reluctantly wrenched his fingers from his ass and sat up to lick his lips. The toy had fascinated him from the moment Marcus told him about it. He was accustomed to having lightning inside him, coursing through the very fabric of his being, but a small part of him had wondered what it would feel like to do to himself what he’d done to the Centurion during his training.

He swung his legs off the side of the mattress. It was more than just idle curiosity now. He had to know. He was determined to know. And perhaps he’d figure out some other ways of having fun with the special dildo while he was at it.

Corey returned to his room with the dildo he’d used on the Centurion. It turned out there were two, so he’d taken the other one too, just for good measure.

He was excited. The looks the other boys had shot him as he was walking through the mansion with the dildos in hand had only made him hornier. It wasn’t exactly a rare sight for someone to be carrying sex toys around but people still paid attention.

Corey slathered lube all over the dildo and clambered onto the bed on his hands and knees. His ass hung just past the edge of the mattress, just like his feet.

He shivered as he pressed the blunt head of the dildo against his asshole. It was a different sensation to a real cock, of course. The lube was cold. The silicone was firmer than flesh. But it was titillating all the same.

Sucking in a sharp breath, Corey slipped the head of the dildo inside him. He hissed as his hole swallowed the considerable girth of the dildo. It was certainly meant to stretch a boy and was a bit of a challenge, but one he could overcome.

It didn’t take long before the entire thing was buried inside him. Corey groaned, spreading his knees wider as he arched his back. It was a unique kind of relief, his empty hole now stuffed full with cock—false though it was.

As soon as he had adjusted to the dildo, his insides no longer gripping the length of the rubber cock so tightly, he began to experiment. He brushed a finger over the base of the toy, sending a faint current through the metal filaments he could sense just underneath the silicone skin.

Corey’s cock strained in its cage. Just the barest bit of his own power made his insides tingle. It was a novel sensation, but not an unwelcome one. He intensified the voltage flowing through the dildo, his thighs wobbling at the involuntary spasms the lightning stimulated.

He could have pushed further, summoned more of the lightning in his veins, but he managed to maintain some semblance of restraint. He kept the voltage the same as he grabbed the base of the dildo and started moving it, his hole squelching lewdly as the girthy rubber shaft slid in and out with increasingly deep strokes.

Harder. Faster. Every pump of the dildo drove Corey’s desperation higher until he was mewling and whining, his toes curling from the pleasure he was inflicting on himself.

Restraint could only take him so far. His willpower was limited. Despite wanting to ease into it, lightning was rampaging in his veins, yearning to be released. The lights flickered as he struggled to rein in his powers, but the pleasure pounding through his body with every thrust of the dildo into his soft, yielding hole made it more and more difficult to hold on to control.

Electricity crackled across Corey’s bare body. Sparks and arcs crept along the curve of his spine and the length of his arms. He felt little more than a tingle on his skin but his insides were a lot more susceptible to his lightning, it seemed. Or perhaps it was a psychological thing, a lowering of his natural defenses due to a subconscious need.

It didn’t matter. It felt good, either way. The problem was that his command over his powers was slipping. The fact the lights were flickering at all was a testament to that. He was supposed to know how to prevent bleed-over of his powers but didn’t even have the wherewithal to do that.

Taking a deep breath in a vain attempt to re-center himself, Corey squeezed his eyes shut and focused on reining his lightning in. It was a difficult prospect made all the more challenging by the fact that he didn’t want to mess up his rhythm at all.

It would have been a simple matter to shut it all off, to bottle up the lightning and put an end to the experiment. He didn’t want that. Even as he fought to pull his lightning back, he maintained the steady shlick, shlick, shlick of the dildo sliding into his lube-slicked hole.

Corey arched his back, and pushed up against the mattress with his knees, sending his ass higher knowing that it would do little to ease the tension he felt. Moaning low against the sheets, he used all the strength and willpower he had to restrain his powers to just the slight trickle that he needed to make his inner walls flutter around the length of the dildo.

Cold sweat trickled down the side of his face. The effort was titanic. But he managed. Somehow. Desperate little noises escaped him as he plundered his hole with the fat dildo, the rubber sliding against his prostate with every thrust.

He should have known that the balance was unstable. The better he felt, the less he could restrain himself. The lightning built inside him, like the might of a river pooling behind a dam.

Corey could have stopped. He should have stopped. But his body craved the sensation. His hole enjoyed the sensation of being stretched. His insides practically danced as his lightning reached deeper into his body than it ever had before.

Pleasure coursed through his body, pure and indescribable. His mouth hung open as low, keening moans spilled from his throat. His eyes glazed over. His rhythm faltered. And yet, through it all, his hungry fuckhole gripped tightly around the thick dildo that was sliding in and out of him.

It was too much. Corey felt too good. Despite the discipline ingrained in him by the Hall of Heroes and what he’d learned from being trained by Marcus, he couldn’t hold back. In truth, it was probably inevitable.

The dam broke. The lightning Corey had been bottling inside him won free. He half-expected arcs to leap off his body and strike every piece of exposed metal in his room but that didn’t happen.

Every crackling volt, every rushing amp of current flooded through the base of the dildo buried inside him. How the metal filaments and electrodes didn’t burn out was beyond him, but he didn’t have very long to ponder the question as enough electricity to stop an elephant’s heart three times over ran rampant through his body.

Had Corey had permission, he would have come instantly. But he didn’t. And Marcus had reached deep enough into his mind, had exerted control over such fundamental parts of him that his body had no choice but to obey.

His hamstrings wobbled, his ass jiggled. One hand clenched tight around the base of the dildo while the fingers of the other tangled in the bedsheets. Every muscle in his body locked up as his spine arched and his toes curled, every fiber of his being crying out in ecstasy as he scorched himself inside out with all the fury of the storm that raged inside him.

Corey’s cock swelled against the confines of the filigree cage that Marcus had locked him in. Strands of pre-cum dripped from his tip as his cock pulsed and throbbed, his balls churning and bouncing as he experienced dry orgasm after dry orgasm, each distinct wave of pleasure crashing into him until they’d all merged into a tidal wave that washed away every thought in his mind for a good few minutes.

“Tea?” said Bernard, his gold eyes having never left the vicinity of Marcus in the few minutes that they’d been together since Marcus arrived.

Marcus met Bernard’s gaze and gave him a small smile.“Oh, yes. I’d love that,” he said with a chuckle.

“Milk or sugar?” Bernard proffered, having poured a cup for Marcus.

Marcus shook his head. “Neither for me, thank you,” he said as he gratefully accepted the cup from Bernard. He raised the piece of fine china to his lips and delicately sipped at the tea.

The warmth was a balm on a cool night such as this one. Selene City was climate-controlled but that didn’t mean it was warm and sunny all the time. Plenty of resources had been sunk into algorithms that replicated natural weather patterns from planetside. Marcus knew better than most—he’d invested in many of the companies responsible.

“I appreciate your coming,” said Bernard after a moment as he returned his teacup to the coffee table in front of the couch. “After a while, I was worried that you might not come.”

Marcus looked at Bernard past the rim of his teacup and quirked an eyebrow. “Whatever gave you that idea?” he said, making no effort to hide his amusement.

Bernard averted his eyes and said, “I thought that you might’ve found my…inexperience…at our last meeting distasteful.”

Marcus chuckled. “And what was the last thing I said at our last meeting?” he asked, eyebrow still raised.

Bernard’s cheeks took on a faint tinge of pink. “That I have your contact details. And that if I want to see you again, I need only ask…”

Marcus set his teacup down and leaned forward. He captured Bernard’s chin between his thumb and index finger, forcing the other man to turn toward him. “Is that something I would have said if I had found our last meeting unpleasant?”

Bernard flushed. He would have lowered his eyes but Marcus’ hand was in the way. “I-I thought that maybe you were just being polite.”

Marcus chuckled. It was amusing. For a man with such power, Bernard was awfully shy. “Bernard, I am a busy man. I have fingers in many pies—distasteful as the image may be. I have no time for unnecessary pretense.”

Bernard licked his lips. “Truly, Marcus? You didn’t dislike what we did together?”

Marcus felt the urge to roll his eyes but knew better than to indulge it. He shook his head. “I didn’t,” he said softly. And then, looking straight into Bernard’s eyes he added, “It would be easier for you if you simply tried to take my words at face value.”

Bernard shivered. That faint blue halo that ringed the gold of his irises almost seemed to pulse. He briefly closed his eyes, nodded, and said, “I’ll try.”

Although there was little doubt why Bernard had asked Marcus to come, this wasn’t a social visit. Not entirely, anyway. Marcus didn’t do social visits.

Bernard was a vital part of Marcus’ plan. He would play a pivotal role in determining the victor of the upcoming showdown. There were contingencies in place, of course. A plan that hinged on a single variable was a vulnerable one. But if he could secure Bernard to his side, he would be that much closer to victory.

The facility Bernard oversaw, the Barb, was of particular import. It was the Hall of Heroes’ most vital institution. A high-security prison for the Commonwealth’s most dangerous espers and a research facility for some of the most cutting-edge esper tech, it could hardly be ignored.

It also just so happened that many of the villains held at the Barb were under Marcus’ thrall. It had taken many years, and machinations as far-reaching as they were subtle, but Marcus had built an army right under the enemy’s nose. Now, he just needed to ensure that the Barb was his to command. And Bernard, as the facility’s director, was the key.

With his free hand, Marcus pushed the tea tray toward the center of the coffee table. He appreciated a good tea set and there was no reason to risk it getting knocked off once they got frisky.

He leaned in closer to Bernard until their faces were barely an inch apart. He could feel the heat of Bernard’s breath ghosting over his lips and he was sure Bernard could feel the same. He allowed himself a small smile, the corner of his mouth turning up in a wicked little smirk. “Don’t you think you’re somewhat overdressed for this?” he said in a low voice that elicited a tremulous exhalation from the other.

Bernard licked his lips. “N-now that you mention it, I think I might be,” he said. Like Marcus, he was wearing a three-piece suit.

Marcus pulled back. “Then remedy the problem,” he said.

Bernard was still for a moment, his cheeks taking on a darker shade of red before he stood. His suit jacket was already unbuttoned as he’d been sitting just moments ago, which meant it was easy enough to shuck and set aside.

He took a breath, his shoulders trembling. He slid his fingers down the seam of his vest, popping open the buttons with a practiced ease. It followed the suit jacket onto one of the nearby chairs, with his tie landing on top shortly thereafter.

“Good boy,” Marcus murmured as Bernard undid the button on his collar. Before Bernard could undo any of the others on his dress shirt, Marcus clicked his tongue and said, “Stop there.”

Bernard’s fingers went still. He lowered his hands to his sides and looked into Marcus’ eyes, waiting for his next command.

Marcus patted the couch.

Bernard sat down, tensing ever so slightly when Marcus leaned in toward him. “D-did I do something wrong?” he said.

Marcus chuckled. “Did I say that?”

Bernard gulped audibly and shook his head. “No.”

“Then why do you ask?” said Marcus as he reached forward and traced his fingers over the curve of Bernard’s shoulder. “Did you do something wrong that I need to know about?”

Bernard shivered. “I-I don’t…N-not that I know of,” he stammered.

“Then trust that I will let you know if you ever displease me,” said Marcus. He leaned in so he could speak his next words right into Bernard’s ear. “And I will trust that you will do what you can to rectify your mistake, in that event.”

Marcus pulled back just in time to see Bernard close his eyes and tilt his head back, lips parted as he shivered. When Bernard snapped out of it, he looked at Marcus with lidded eyes and almost whispered, “I-I will.”

“Good,” said Marcus with a little smirk. “As you are mine, you should know at least this much.”

“Y-yours?” Bernard said, his eyes wide and uncertain.

“Yes. Mine. My investment. My asset. My boy,” said Marcus as if he were reciting a fact from an encyclopedia. “You had surrendered yourself to me at our last meeting,” he added with a light laugh.

“S-surrendered…” Bernard shivered again, his lips parted in a quiet moan as the lump in his pants swelled. Eyes glassy as his thoughts turned toward the last time he was with Marcus, he mumbled, “Y-yes, I remember… I-I’m yours to do with as you please, Master…”

Marcus chuckled. “Yes. You are mine. You obey me. No thoughts in that head but the ones I put there.”

Bernard’s cock twitched. “No thoughts but your thoughts, Master…”

“No will of your own but a slave to mine.”

Bernard’s shoulders slumped. “No will but your will, Master…” he whispered.

“Good,” said Marcus. Bernard was so suggestible it was a wonder he hadn’t already been taken in by any of the second-rate villains with hypnotic powers. Either way, it was a factor that played in Marcus’ favor. “Now, come back to me.”

Bernard was quiet for a moment. And then, clarity returned to his eyes. He blinked and sat up, cheeks flushing pink yet again as he wiped the trickle of drool from the corner of his mouth. “T-that was incredible, Master,” he said almost breathlessly. “I-I don’t know if I could ever get used to that.”

“Silly boy, it’s not something to get used to. It is something to relish and appreciate, something to savor at every opportunity,” said Marcus, a small smile playing on his lips.

Bernard’s eyes widened. He nodded almost too hastily, his head bobbing up and down. “I will remember that, Master,” he said.

“Good,” said Marcus with a little smirk. “Would you like to know what we’ll be doing tonight?”

“Yes, Master! I would love to!” Had he had a tail, Bernard would likely have been wagging it. For a man in his mid-30s, he still managed to exude the energy of an eager puppy. Perhaps it was his relative innocence when it came to these sorts of matters. Either way, it was something that Marcus rather enjoyed.

“First, I do not make bad investments. Tonight, you will prove your value. You will show me that I was right to choose you,” said Marcus.

Bernard flushed. He lowered his gaze, feigning a sudden interest in his shoes. “I-I’ll try, Master,” he said.

Marcus smirked. “No,” he said firmly. “You will not try. You will do as I said you would.”

The red in Bernard’s cheeks darkened. He pressed his lips into a thin line, eyes shining with sudden determination. “I will, Master,” he said, shakily at first but with increasing steadiness as he steeled himself. “I was not a mistake.”

“Good,” said Marcus. “And second, I will show you that no matter what situation I might be in, no matter how helpless or powerless I might seem, I am still in charge. Do you understand?”

Bernard seemed confused about what Marcus meant but he nevertheless nodded resolutely and said, “I don’t think I do, Master, but I will appreciate the lesson regardless.”

Marcus chuckled. “I like that answer. And don’t worry. You will when we’re done.”

Bernard nodded. “What would you have me do, Master?” he said.

“First, you prove yourself to me,” said Marcus. “Show me your abilities.”

Bernard’s eyes widened. His reaction was understandable. Although his powers were public knowledge, the details were a matter of much secrecy in the Hall of Heroes. The less was publicly known about how his abilities worked, the more difficult it would be for villains to counter them, after all.

This was the test of how much further Marcus had to push Bernard. It had been one thing to manipulate Bernard’s sense of duty toward the Barb for his purposes. It was another thing entirely to subordinate a lifetime of vigilance, discipline, and restraint to a desire to please.

Despite the clear conflict Marcus could read in Bernard’s eyes and body language, he didn’t notice even a single moment of hesitation. Bernard held his arms out in front of him.

Something shifted beneath the sleeves of his dress shirt. Something long and sinuous slid down each of his arms. Two snakes peeked out past his cuffs at the same time. Their distinctive arrowhead-shaped skulls gleamed with a mirror-like luster, each one with a pair of glinting ruby eyes.

Bernard turned his palms up. The snakes pulled themselves out of his sleeves and reared up, exposing their segmented metal bodies as they coiled around his wrists.

As the pair of snakes regarded Marcus with unfeeling ruby eyes, Bernard seemed rather proud of himself. The way he was looking at Marcus was reminiscent of a puppy that had just dropped a stick at its owner’s feet, proud and searching for validation.

Marcus smirked. That Bernard had shown him this—without the slightest hint of hesitation—was a good sign. It meant Bernard wanted to please him more than Bernard felt bound by duty and obligation to the Hall of Heroes.

“Is that all?” said Marcus. The look of disappointment and consternation that shot across Bernard’s face was priceless. Anyone else might have felt bad, but Marcus had never felt guilty about manipulating people and pushing their buttons.

“It’s alright if that’s it,” said Marcus. “I simply struggle to understand how this struck fear into the hearts of the Commonwealth’s villains before the days of the Barb… And during your late father’s era.”

Bernard’s face was a joy to watch. His poker face was atrociously bad. His emotions were writ clear in his eyes. The mention of his father had struck a nerve, but he was more desperate to impress Marcus than to confront the perceived insult to his father’s memory.

“N-no, Master. This is just the beginning,” said Bernard. Then, after a short pause, “A-and my father was much more skilled than I am.”

“Is that so? Then, perhaps… Was your father’s snake bigger than yours?” said Marcus, knowing full well the consequences of his choice of words and the tone in which he’d said them.

The plaintive look in Bernard’s eyes hardened. His gaze darted to the portrait of the late Bernard Sr. that hung above the fireplace, to the display case that held the original Silver Serpent suit off to the side.

It was exactly the reaction Marcus had expected. Bernard didn’t care when his abilities were belittled, but Marcus making fun at his father’s expense and essentially trivializing the skill and accomplishments of the man he considered a hero was a step too far.

Bernard said nothing against Marcus. He still wanted to please, but now he had something to prove. Now, he had to defend his late father’s honor. “I will show you that I was a good investment, Master,” he said, his voice steely as he closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

The snakes split, each one bisecting along its line of symmetry to form four half-snakes that each then grew their missing halves. The snakes didn’t change size. They were all exact replicas of the first two, the additional mass seemingly appearing from out of nowhere.

Marcus gave a small nod. Acknowledgment, but no more than that. The message was clear. Bernard would have to try harder, would have to show more.

Bernard said nothing. He nodded. He would rise to meet the challenge. He rolled his shoulders and took a breath, thrusting his arms forward as the snakes split again.

He grabbed one of the snakes by the tail. It transformed in his hand, part of it turning into a handle while the rest of it grew longer and thinner, eventually coming to resemble a bladed whip with a snakehead weight at the tip.

Drawing his arm back, Bernard snapped the whip forward. As he did, the snake hissed. Its mouth opened, fangs extending as if it were striking. Glistening crimson venom sprayed from it at the peak of its arc. The snake’s head snapped its jaw shut on the way back, its ruby tongue tasting the air as it dangled from Bernard’s grip.

“Impressive,” said Marcus, glancing over his shoulder at the spray of red mist that still hung in the air. “But why was this the terror of the Commonwealth’s earliest villains?”

The steely determination in Bernard’s eyes had melted away the instant Marcus called his demonstration impressive. He seemed downright sheepish when he scratched his cheek and said, “I would demonstrate, but I can’t, Master. These snakes can form restraints that suppress the powers of espers.”

Of course, this was not news to Marcus. N3M0 had extracted that information from the Hall of Heroes some time ago. “Interesting,” he said. “A pity you won’t be demonstrating that aspect tonight.”

Bernard sighed. “Another time, perhaps,” he said. “Though now that the Barb exists, there is little need for my powers besides as a contingency…”

“But you can demonstrate your ability to create restraints,” said Marcus with a little smirk.

Bernard blinked. “I have never tried to restrain myself using my powers,” he said.

Marcus laughed. “And when did I ask you to bind yourself?” he said with a little smirk.

Bernard’s eyes widened.

“Restrain me, boy,” said Marcus.

Bernard hesitated.

Marcus chuckled. It was amusing how much Bernard resembled a deer in headlights right at that moment. “Remember the second part of tonight’s session?”

A thoughtful look crossed Bernard’s face. Then, understanding. “Master, I—”

Before Bernard could finish, Marcus cut in. “Restrain me, boy. That is an order.

Bernard gulped. But this time, he didn’t hesitate. He thrust his hands toward Marcus. Two of his snakes sprang forward. They were heavy—seeing as they were made of solid silver—but they somehow landed gently on Marcus’ torso despite the force with which they’d thrown themselves forward.

To make things easier for Bernard, Marcus raised his arms over his head, crossing his wrists. Fortunately, Bernard understood well enough what he wanted.

The snakes slithered up Marcus’ body. They climbed his arms, spiraling around until they reached his wrists where they coiled around each other to form a tight, unyielding restraint.

As soon as the snakes were in place, Marcus felt his gifts retreating just beyond reach. “Remarkable,” he murmured to himself, his voice having lost some of its edge, some of its resonance.

“Master… You’re an esper?” said Bernard softly, his eyes wide with wonder.

“Far from powerful,” said Marcus. “And more than a little powerless now,” he added with a smirk. The intuitive understanding of the world he had grown accustomed to having was gone.

The constant buzz in his head had fallen quiet. The shuffling of millions of disparate thoughts and ideas to form a comprehensive picture of what he was looking at had stopped.

Marcus actually rather enjoyed having all that activity in his head but he wasn’t so much of a workaholic that he couldn’t appreciate this brief moment of blissful silence. He looked at Bernard and while instinctively he could tell part of what the man was thinking, Bernard didn’t seem like such an open book anymore.

It was unsettling but liberating, in a way. Normally he could look at a person and see into the depths of their soul with ease. He could tell who was a friend, and who would need to be made into a friend at a glance.

The risk of this plan was suddenly in stark relief. His manipulations could have failed. His control over Bernard could have slipped. He might have unknowingly delivered himself into his enemy’s hands.

But even if Marcus had lost his ability to know other people better than they knew themselves, he still knew who he was. He never took losing bets. He never gambled on a maybe. There had never been a possibility of losing in the first place. The fact Bernard was still calling him Master was proof positive of that.

“I-I’m sorry, Master, I’ll release you right—”

Marcus sat up, interjecting just as Bernard was about to call his snakes back. “What gives you the right?” he said.

“I-it must be uncomfortable, Master. It doesn’t matter how weak your esper powers are. I don’t want to—”

Marcus laughed. “See, therein is your problem, you want,” he said as he looked Bernard straight in the eye. “When did I say you could release me?”

“You didn’t, Master, but—”

“When did I say you could act on your own?” said Marcus, more firmly.

“Never, Master, but—”

“Did I put you in charge?”

“No, Master—”

Marcus smirked. “Do you feel like you’re in charge?”

Bernard paused. Then, after a moment, he said, “No, Master.”

“Who is?”

“You are, Master…”

Marcus chuckled. “And what did I tell you to do?” he said as he reclined against the backrest of the couch.

“Restrain you, Master,” said Bernard.

Marcus quirked an eyebrow. “Then?”

Bernard took a deep breath. “I will do as you say, Master!”

Shortly thereafter, another pair of silver snakes landed on Marcus’ chest and his powers retreated just a little bit further away from reach.

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