Wednesday, May 5th, Reiwa 42.
Tired of your future-past-self’s insistence on providing you absolutely no information, you decided, rather sensibly, to try and look into the matter of whatever upcoming threat would be worth the desperation of time travel to avoid.
Unfortunately, nothing doing.
When you search for conspiracy theories, you get the usual sort of schlock; Nordic replacement theories, anti-vaxxer, lizards controlling our brains, that kind of thing. Occasionally you get something more helpful, but it’s all stuff you know about; the typical sort of sherbet about how Sunset has bent the city to its benefit.
Your Aunt Vesta works as part of an archival project funded through the Reiwa Accord, a successor to pre-Collapse projects like the Internet Archive. (She calls herself a ‘librarian’, though – and she certainly looks the part, cough, shifty eyes, blush.) She talks about a flood of information created in the network, where all information is made equal, and the necessary context to interpret this information is deliberately excised. A controversy, a battle among the people, is something that can become profitable – there’s not a lot of money in ‘truth’. A mass revolt of reporters, or a threat to them by a government, can cause the Third Estate to move…but when content is created by individual users and elevated to the same height, there’s no fighting it.
The Sunset Corporation, she says, has deliberately reengineered, over the past forty years, the exact same circumstances that got us here in the first place. This time, it was despite the resistance of government rather than something engineered by government, but within a generation you might see the consequences return to the fold…
Well, Korri says it’s not that simple. That there is a distinction, between what Sunset does, and what happened in the past, decades before you were even born. Both she and Marq worry that she’s missing the bigger picture, and that there are not only differences, but possibly even deeper issues we’re poorly equipped to contemplate.
But it’s all a bit much, and looking…well. There’s always a risk. You wish you didn’t have your eyes glaze over when Korri tries to teach you how to browse safely…and, well, your stats haven’t improved at all yet! Hopefully, someday, you can fight…
Until then, though, you don’t even have the slightest idea where to start…
and you can’t ask anyone about it.
It’s frustrating, because you really hate the whole ‘secret identity’ cliche. It’s always such a false source of drama, right? You feel like, if you had more ‘normal’ superpowers, you’d already have told the people closest to you, to let them help support you.
But, there’s really no easy way to tell someone you have brainwashing powers. It just…maybe you could trust Mom or Dad or Marq with it, but the idea of Korri thinking of you as the same sort of person who made her life in Old England a living hell – no, can’t do it. And Calvina would probably get the wrong idea too! Plus you’d have to confess to both of them your crushes, and there’s absolutely no way!
So, despite everything, you’re now a secretive superheroine hoping she can figure out what to do before it’s too late, and all future-past-you can think about is girls.
Well, to be fair, girls are cute! But it’s kind of a problem, especially with the whole ‘violation of free will’ thing.
You’ve been given a small amount of cover, however, by Stella’s decision to allow hypnosis as your field of study. It’s kinda convenient, really, but looking deeper into things on her social media, her interest in the topic is just a broader element of therapeutic study, so it’s likely just a coincidence. Thankfully.
That being said, with Ms. Yi unavailable over Golden Week, there is one person you can ask for a small amount of help, and trust not to blab. One burnt-out would-be psychology major who might just be able to help you out without you needing to say anything strange to anyone it might have consequences for…
“Hey, Marq, do you know anything about hypnosis –”
…well, that‘s a spit-take.
“Uh, I, uh, don’t know what you’re talking about, Cibs,” he mutters, all shifty-eyed. He doesn’t even turn away from his monitors to look at you, just hastily grabbing paper towels and wiping off the spit-take!
“You know, hypnosis. Hypnotherapy? Psychology? That thing you studied for years?” It hasn’t been that long since Marq dropped out, right?
“J-just because I studied psychology, doesn’t mean I know anything about hypnosis!”
Okay, yeah, you don’t need to read minds to know how suspicious this is. Let’s try a different tactic.
“Where does the Fourth Order stand on the matter of hypnosis, Marq?”
“Yuri was created by God to entertain us. That’s all we know.”
“That’s all we know, Cibs!”
…er. Right. Standing there in the entrance to Marq’s room is going to look weird, isn’t it? You step in, carefully closing the door behind you as you look around…
It’s a tiny room, but it’s nice and private. The most private room in the house, actually. Marq’s surprisingly fastidious – he may be a NEET, but he’s not messy – but there’s no denying that every bit of available space in it has been put to use. He’s even got a mini-fridge! Shelves are coated with models and collectibles, and of course all the technology around, bookshelves, but nothing so much as the series of smart posters and wallscrolls he’s got. It’s pretty common for him to switch up the displays every so often, and today…
Guerreiras Mágicas de Rayearth – or Magic Knights Rayearth in English. Though it has mecha in it, it’s mostly a magical girl show, so it didn’t really hold your interest much. (Marq tried to show you an episode or two, but they had way too much weird het.) Apparently it was pretty popular in Brazil in the Heisei era, and your brother’s always been a big magical girl fan. (You think his favorite might be the glasses girl – she has the bulk of the pics.)
Images of colorful schoolgirls, a fantastic world of wonder and danger, fantasy-styled robots…well, some of this looks like yuri fanart to you, but in one of them, the main character – uh, Lucifer? Lucy? Or something? – is being embraced from behind by an evil duplicate with long pointed ears…Chevy Nova, you think.
It’s a bit striking, since…
(it reminds you, of the darker future self, who abandoned what she claimed to love, all to give in to her selfish desires…tempting you into the same.)
(an animation plays nearby, of the duplicate disappearing with a kiss from the original – if only it were that easy for future-past-you.)
…right. About that. Maybe it’s time to ask the question you’ve been asking ever since it was obvious that gap year wasn’t temporary.
“I still think you’re holding out on me, Marq! Come on, we’re not just siblings, we’re friends, right?”
“And I’m just saying, I’m not holding out! I don’t know anything about hypnosis!”
“I mean, first off, you have the only room in the house to yourself.”
“I pay rent!”
“With what money?! You don’t do anything!”
“I’ll have you know, Cibs, I have a very successful crowdfunding campaign for – wait, shit.”
You grin. “Ha! I knew it! There’s no way you could make enough money to pay rent without writing porn!” You’re surprised it took him this long to admit it, honestly.
“I prefer to call it erotica, thank you. It lets me post it on forums which think ‘erotica’ and ‘porn’ aren’t synonyms…and, a lot of it isn’t lewd at all! Aunt Vesta helped out and everything. Y’know, it’s just girls, hypnotising…”
Oh, Marq, you can’t outsmart your little sister~ You smile from ear to fudging ear. Nailed it.
“…ugh, fine, fine, fine! I know a lot about it! Are you happy?!” Marq looks so defeated! It’s been ages since you got one over on him like this! You could get used to that, honestly.
“Reasonably~” you tease, giggling behind your hand. “But, now that you’ve admitted it, you have to show me!”
“…I can’t do that,” Marq says – and yeah, you’re still having a conversation with the back of his head.
“It’d be weird! You’re my little sister! Y’know, I can’t just show you this stuff, right?”
“…okay, Marq, A. I’m nineteen. B, you’ve been sharing age-inappropriate yuri with me for way longer than I’ve been nineteen!”
“It’s different when it’s your own, you know! It’s like…y’know, it might give you a weird image of me.”
“As opposed to the normal image I have of you?”
Marq turns around in his chair – today’s t-shirt is of the Rayearth glasses girl in green (Fuu? Was that her name? Or was it Anne? Piloted the, uh, Windows Vista or something.) – and raises his finger to explain…
…and immediately just lowers it, and sighs. “Fine, fine, you win. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though.”
“I mean, that’ll make for interesting reading, but…I imagine it won’t be as helpful for things with Stella as your own advice.” You smile at your brother. “Have you ever done it?”
Your brother shrugs loosely. “Not that much, but yeah. If you asked Aunt Vesta about it, though, she’d tell you everything I could and more.” Marq gets along a lot better with her than you do, for whatever reason. Has she read this stuff?! She’s asexual, sure, but you get the sense her partners are very satisfied –
oh, jeez, she’s been doing hypnosis with her girlfriends all this time, (and aside, young Percy looked really hot while Vesta was looming over her), you never should’ve peeked into her brain, it’s like a fudge-melting flame of desire or something! Bad thoughts, bad thoughts!
“I-I did ask her!” you say as you try to run from those implications, thankfully able to hide your embarrassment some. “And I’ve been going over her reading material, too.” Even if you’re not sure you understand it all…”She said something about ‘trust’?”
Marq nods, sighing heavily despite himself. “Yeah, she’s right. Trust is pretty important. I can’t say I‘d trust someone who hates my guts to treat me right, but…”
“I think I do trust Stella, though! In a way. Like the Lost Girls say…in my ‘ghost’, right?” You never quite understood what that meant, but maybe it’s something like this? You’re sure anyone else in this situation wouldn’t even consider something so risky or fraught.
“I guess if it’s like that…sho ga nai, it can’t be helped.” Marq waves his hand lazily as he turns back around in his chair. “Just be careful, yeah?”
“I will!” you say. “But I think, someone who wants to make a living helping others can’t be an awful person…and Ms. Yi’s logic makes sense too, you know?”
“It does make sense, in a way, but there’s something real weird about this assignment of yours. I don’t think most psychology classes have you doing mock therapy, for a whole list of reasons. And assigning you your bully?“ Marq shakes his head, and looks back over his shoulder. “Even if she’s right, and she damn well could be, I don’t know what’s going through your teacher’s head, Cibs.”
“Maybe the point is to demonstrate we understand her lessons in more than the abstract.” It’d make sense, for how she likes to teach – she prefers something more hands-on than most teachers. “The description indicates we don’t need to be perfect or anything, right?”
“It’s just a bit ethically fraught. Convenient in your case, sure, but I feel like if she tried to pull this at the university level, someone would be asking questions.”
“I guess.” Marq would know better than you. “But, this might be my only chance with her!”
“I still say you should talk to Li Xiao-Yin.” Marq just…spins his chair. (Advantage of having his own room: not getting scolded for it?) “But if you’re determined, Cibs, anything I said would be irrelevant anyway.”
“I guess I’m pretty stubborn, huh?”
“Better to be stubborn than spineless. Someday, Cibs, that determination’s why a girl will fall for you – and she’ll fall hard.”
…nice of Marq to be so supportive, at least. (And nice, perhaps, of future-past-you to let you find out it’s genuine.) You don’t feel very strong like this, but –
but maybe that’ll change, with the Gamer in your hands.
“Anyway, lemme just send that link over…” Marq taps his phone, and you take out yours, and –
…how many of these stories does he have?!?!?!?!?!?!?
Your trip to your room didn’t last long. Not with the kinds of feelings this writing was inspiring.
This kind of thing? This kind of feeling? Your only option is the basement.
There’s a sort of tacit agreement that unless you’re not around, one of the basement storerooms is for you, Korri, and Marq. (All three of you have needed that kind of private space before in the past, Korri especially.) On occasion, you’ve slept down here, with all the old consoles and optical discs and other old world collectibles – and unless you want that same conversation about not masturbating on the bunk bed to happen again, it’s best to stick to the couch. (I-ignore that Korri usually sits on this couch.)
But…Marq’s writing, the stuff he’s hidden from you? It’s all hypnosis, and it’s all yuri! And there’s tons of it! And it’s all really good!
Looks like Marq – or rather, ‘Sky God Windam’, as is his pen name – really has a one-track mind, huh? (Like you can talk!)
There’s all kinds of fandoms, and settings, and characters…a few of them seem to revolve around some kind of trans-dimensional university, and there’s even one which looks like a thinly-veiled riff on that old Tear Ring Saga gacha game. (Complete with comedic gender-swapped self-insert.) Not to mention all the stories revolving around a female King Arthur OC (inspired by some obscure Tsukihime spinoff)…though those get sometimes get a bit more overtly lewd than you think you prefer.
(…wait, does this mean your definitely not a hypnosis fetish overrides any other desires? That you think it’s better than sex? N-not to say there isn’t plenty to like about all of these stories, even the ones about the ‘Divine Tyrant’…)
Marq’s first story – at least, the first he’s published – was about those Magic Knights, falling one by one to a scheming shadow witch, who keeps gloating to her little sister (whom she loves dearly, naturally!) about what she’s done with them. A kitten, a dancer, and a maid…
Though Umi’s search of the room had left her no closer to escaping than before, she couldn’t say it was a total loss: the books she had skimmed had taught her some bits about Chizetan customs, and some of the jewelry found complemented her current outfit well.
It was while she was reading something about Chizetan dancing that she started hearing some strange music in the background. It was a pleasant, soothing tune, and Umi, welcoming the reprieve from the total silence of before, began moving a bit to the rhythm.
Shortly, she left the book behind, and applied her lecture by dancing, her body moving with remarkable grace, her jewels resonating harmoniously with the music. She slowly stopped worrying about escaping, or about finding Hikaru and Fuu. To her, the dance was all that mattered.
You can tell he was just getting his feet wet, but –
yep, date checks out. He was maybe a bit too young to be writing that, huh? (Again, you’re one to talk!) If it started that good, he had nowhere to go but up!
His most popular story may well be one about a well-armed magical girl trapped in a time loop – you think it’s the Fourth Order’s ‘Adversary’, the demon that ‘opposes’ the Goddess – where everyone in the next loop becomes intensely, even fanatically attracted to her. And of course, she doesn’t know why, and has trouble letting herself take advantage – and doesn’t that sound familiar, but…
But, uh, there’s a lot. A lot a lot. A lot a lot a lot. Marq’s SFW stuff is only a tiny fraction of his output, and it’s filled with mind control stuff! And it’s really, really good…you wouldn’t expect a guy to write such good yuri, usually.
M-maybe it’s the topic – ashamed as you are to admit it – but, you don’t really think you’ve been this excited by girls’ love stories than this. (Or ‘excited’, for that matter.)
You think your favorite bit is…
One of the stories is of an idol-like girl in a fantasy-like setting, a selkie ‘shaped by clearest blue’ with an inherently hypnotic voice, that inspires others to love her in turn. After being transformed into the ocean depths into a monster with perfect body, a psychologist tries to get her to change back – only to fall prey to her beauty, then her voice, then her mesmerism.
I didn’t say anything. I felt a bit of drool escaping the corner of my mouth, and my patient sat up, reached out, and wiped it up with her fingers.
…it felt good.
Turned from a would-be conversion therapist into a loyal servant, one who can admit that she loves girls without guilt, fear, or shame.
This psychologist…she’s happier the way she is now, right? But, the selkie altered her against her will…and yet, as she was before, not only was she a conversion therapist willing to harm others, she was utterly repressed, to the point of justifying her obvious gynephilia as a natural state of womanhood, twisting herself in knots to hide herself from the obvious conclusion. And she had openly said that she encouraged her patients to do the same.
She had freedom, before. But she used that to hurt others, all because she didn’t understand herself.
Is her freedom worth, then, all the lives that have been harmed in her wake? Is the sanctity of her mind and self worth more than all the girls she’s told couldn’t love girls, couldn’t be girls? Can you weigh a single mind against that – especially when the mind that’s been reshaped is so much happier than she was before?
You don’t know. You really don’t know. You don’t believe a human has the right to make that call, but – but you don’t know…
and the only thing you do know is, you made sure to lay out the sheets for this very reason, because these fantasies you don’t and shouldn’t have make you wonder, what it’d be like, to hold someone’s head in your hands…
what if they needed to be shaped?
what if they were happy to be shaped?
what if they asked to be shaped?
what if they wanted to be shaped?
(…you try not to focus too hard, even as you come, on the idea of the girl you mesmerise, and shape, bearing blonde ringlets and golden eyes…)
Skill Tiers & Branches
There are three skill trees: Hypnosis (in red), Telepathy (in gold), and Enchantment (in green). These trees have three branches each, which have overlap and crossover, with higher-tier skills having additional requirements.
There are three tiers per each of the three branches, plus the Opener and Capstone. The opening skill is required to buy from the branches, while higher-tier skills have additional requirements:
T1 skills only require the opener.
T2 skills require the T1 skill in the same branch. The governing attribute must be 2 or higher.
T3 skills require the T2 skill in the same branch and the T1 skill in another branch. If you have T2 in the secondary branch, you gain additional benefits. The governing attribute must be 3 or higher.
The capstone requires one T3 skill in one branch, one T2 skill in another, and one T1 skill in the third. The governing attribute must be 4 or higher.
Every time you unlock a skill, I’ll have comments for you. Gain power, and I’ll tell you more about my future…and of course, about the possibilities in the present.~