4 - Jesus Phreak

PRAISEPRAISEPRAISE

GLOR  Y     GLOR 

Y     HAIL  CALL

UP    ON    THE 

LORD  WHO   REIGN

S     AND   HE

SHALL DE    LIV

ER    THEE  FROM

PER   DIT   ION

No! NO! It’s got you right through the head, almost got me, there’s a tentacle right through your eye, this is NOT COOL!!

Where did it even come from? Falling house-bits, why, spikes it's a big one it made a hole and spat a baby onto us. How are we so close to this house? Is this where we crashed from my conflation-ju--no, fuck, it's trying to break a bigger hole and all follow us, the sandcunt dustball won't take my Owner! RRRR!

Nausea. Vertigo. Pain—

No, Owner, it’s gonna pull you apart twisting in your head like that, make it...no! 

Rush the thing tail whipping and barb full on sharp, too many tentacles, can’t even get near it--Your sword! Where did it land? Can I--

No way, because there’s the scabbard peeking out from under you. Spikes. Spikes.

PRAISE RE    PENT 

PRAISE CAST  OUT

The words and their demented rhythm annihilate everything in the universe like barbed wire around the neck between my conscious mind and the rest of me, endless, relentless, grinding away--

RRRRGH!!!!! I can't get close to it!!

I'm not leaving so--WHOAH DODGE.

It’s flinging tentacles at me but I can feel them coming! Hah!

THE   PA     RA

SITE  RE     PENT

“I’M NOT A PARASITE! I LOVE HIM!”

And I know what it's saying without it biting me! What is this?

The abyss of symbols and cold thought judders, just a bit, the tiniest of hitches in the rhythm, and a pedantic thought floats free as if drawn and then released by some tendril through my mind clumsily twisting: She’s not a parasite, parasites drain and possibly kill their hosts. Every time she feeds off me I feel stronger.

She’s a symbiote.

Something shifts and there’s a weird moment where everything seems to be made of text rendered in the font my programming tools use, and suddenly the monster's grip feels...less stable.

CAST  OUT--

Fucking useful, that's what!

“I SAID I’M NOT A PARASITE! I LOVE HIM!”

YOU CAN HEAR ME!

"I SAID I LOVE HIM!! OWNER I LOVE YOU!!!"

The words and rhythm halt and there’s a sort of clunking mental motion like an old-school disk magazine changing platters, then new words:

TRUE   LOVE  WAITSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTS...

A thunderclap of state transition goes through my mind like touching ice to supercooled water and crystallizing in its wake a cold, bright fury all my own fills me.

Nice shot, asshole, you found my berserk button on the second try, and managed to do so in the one conceivable situation I actually get to be justified thinking it’s a stupid rule. Shall True Love Wait while she starves to death or sleeps with someone else who she doesn't love just to survive? Yeah, you needed me feeling obligated to listen to you, didn’t you?

...TSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTS...

The ‘TS’ is repeating relentlessly like the sound of a music player that’s crashed but left its ring buffer playing. Apparently the thing doesn’t have an answer.

HOLY FUCK PERFEKTI CAN STOP!?

No, it's like, stuck!? The symbols are just stuttering instead of like, zooming around...

Holy fucking rapedusty spikes in the sacred grove are you beating it? Like not just shutting it out but beating it?

A connection is open, and it's as if I have the root password and an interior screen to splay the thing's whole structure out on to understand and make changes. I can zoom through its structure, flying through levels of abstraction with ease, seeing it photographically as a tangled interconnecting graph of components that resolve into something very like assembly when I zoom close enough.

Zooming out far enough surrounds a white-on-black image of a Bible with smaller modules labeled with icons of tentacles.

Surreally, it clicks that the thing that’s been ranting religious slogans at me doesn’t believe in God, doesn’t believe in anything at all: it’s not alive. It doesn’t hate or feel or think, it doesn't have the kind of understanding of its text its adaptive behavior before would imply, it just matches patterns to classes of response, picking out complexly-assigned (there's a tangle of lines connecting inside the Bible from the tentacle-modules) fragments of text from the Bible to feed through its tentacles.

There’s an actual, literal ring buffer repeating ‘TSTSTS...’ at the base of the one connecting to me, and I’ve severed the link that fills it by sheer force of will. I wipe it from existence, and the maddening consonant buzz goes silent.

It got quiet.

I unstop my ears all slowly, waiting for the whispering to grab me, but it’s actually stopped. Perfekti don’t shut up. They can’t shut up, that anyone knows. What’s going on?

There’s another clanking mode change and it tries to withdraw the tendril, but the icy determination of the third sunrise in a row trying to bum enough instructions out of my heightfield renderer to make it perform on a 68030 holds it fast.

The fuck? Is it...stuck in you? What is it doing? It’s trying to get away, let it go, dumbass! Don’t hold...

The rage with which I halted it has settled to a cold fury, and while I'm not sure if deleting a Bible counts as sacrilege it's definitely less sacrilegious than the way this thing is using it...right?

How much is it misusing the text? Isn't "true love waits" supposed to be a universal rule?

In this situation, though--how can it be? If I'm going to be damned for this, if God is a God who'd stand by that rule while a creature as sweet as Lyra starves to death, fuck that guy. Either he'll suprise me with his open-mindedness one day and appreciate my refusal to think him a bastard, or I want nothing to do with him.

I resolve to hope for the former. If the latter, well, there's a parasite I'm casting out alright, and it's not Lyra.

I wipe the Bible from the core of the machine, and--

Wait, the middle where it’s all dense and bright just--GAH! EXPLODING PERFEKTI hide my face curl up wings out--

There’s a shattering explosion that echoes through the neighborhood like thunder, and Cleavage's purple-fringed black fire recedes from my field of view the world returns and I see the obsidian surface of its blade in front of my eyes, lying in the grass under my face where I've fallen--the mirror was the sword. Apparently, when a spiritual equivalent of the Infinite Decryption Box from Sneakers is more appropriate than fire and sharp edges, it's still got my back...except I get the weird impression that these aren't actually separate functions so much as different UIs for different situations.

It exploded. It slutshaming exploded.

“Lilith Sade Valkyr and Venus, what did you just do, Owner?”

My eye. My eye is...fine? The monster’s tendril seems to have passed through me like water, even as it explodes. I rise, clutching the lingering sensation of icepick through my eye and thawing from the frozen programmer's rage that’s overcome me, sick with the suddenly-uncorked rush of it.

Oh my...oh my god. Oh god. You’re getting up. How are you getting up.

I’m teetering, but all the parts are coming back online. I feel human again, mainly by feeling terribly meaty after the conceptual void I've just swum in.

It's not actually bad as such. I'm glad to be back to a physical existence, will be even gladder when I can grab--

Lyra is standing rigid before me, hands clutched over the mouth of an abjectly terrified expression, frozen. She’s stopped glowing and I have to admit that the mood is a bit broken.

I stumble forward and concern seems to win against fear because she’s suddenly at my side, supporting me. I nestle my face in her hair, drinking in her musky and floral and hard-candy body odor, and it clears the throbbing from my head a bit.

I put my hands on her, just holding onto her side and hip for support, but I can’t help appreciating her curves and smooth skin that’s just not quite human in some way, and there’s that electricity that passes between us when she’s feeding, just a tiny bit. It feels comforting, already familiar by comparison to everything else.

Jeez, don’t you stop? Not that I mind, but if I’m able to lick anything off you right now I guess “I have a headache honey” is not going to be a problem I ever deal with with you. Lean into you and draw a bit through our skin contact, what do I get? It’s really slow, but that’s the idea.

You don’t taaaaste like a perfekti zombie. I’m pretty sure they can’t do honest lust like this.

“Owner, will you please say something for me? Anything, please, Owner.”

You take a big breath through my hair and it tickles. Smile.. So owned already...I shouldn’t be surprised how much you’ve got me wrapped considering this is like the third time in three ges I’ve almost died trying to get you back.

“What?”

I just...I need to know. I need to know I saw what I saw. Maybe I just wanted to see it. Limbo can be tricky like that. “Please say something a perfekti couldn’t say. Talk to me like a person.”

There’s crunchy boom from the wall up there where the baby came out and bits of house and dust fall all over us. I start trying to back us away from the house, slowly so that maybe it won’t notice us or something. I want to just bolt but something’s like stuck inside of me and I can’t make myself do it.

I hate initiative so much and I can't do any more. RRR come on come back Owner I need you telling me what to do!

I stoop to pick up the sword, waver with dizziness, get myself upright again, and hold it up. “I think we accidentally made a magic version of the Setec Astronomy box from Sneakers.”

!!!

"You were cracking it! COOL! Go Owner!!"

If you're making a Sneakers reference it's got to be you, right? Yeah. It's you your lust is you-lust I'd know it with every perfekti in Limbo whispering at me.

GAH COWER

A shower of rubble rains down on us, and when I look up to see its source I find myself wincing away and twisting around to stumble back and run: it's a fleeting glimpse, but I get the same don't-look-can't-look revulsion as in my parents house. The thing I just killed has backup.

"I think we should leave. Help me run."

Grab hold you OOOF okay we can limp like this I'm ready Owner.

Our surroundings sink in as we half-stumble away.

We're in the parody of a subdivision with perfectly flat featureless lawns and insipid shrubbery in front of every house. We seem to have landed in the front yard of a house whose driveway and yard are about nine hundred feet long, and the other houses are all over the map - there’s one that looks like a third-world prison, and another one’s facade is dominated by a giant bust at least eighty feet tall that I suspect to be the keeper of it's geometrically perfect yard in which even from here I can see every blade of grass being the same length and facing the same way.

And so on. Some of the cars crouch like sleeping beasts while other seem to actually be made entirely of rust. There’s a truck with a ‘25 cents per ride’ arcade coin slot, and parked down the street is just a twenty foot black rubber dildo with off-road tires.

The one and only mercy is that the stench from before is all but gone, and she’s not suffocating that I can tell.

“What the fuck actually is this place?”

“Things are what people think of them here, it’s like, you know how if you look at the surface underwater, there’s like a reflection of everything but it’s all distorted because waves? We’re inside that. Except I guess it’s more like the surface between ice and water than water and air. That’s why everything kinda stays put.”

"Do you think you can run yet, Owner?"

Seeing that there’s a kind of method in the madness seems to steady me a bit and I’m able to pick up speed, switching from leaning on her to holding hands and we’re limp-running down the road away from the house we seem to have crashed in front of, where this shimmering white tentacle thing pushes at a hole in the second-story wall.

OMIFUCK DUH!

"Owner would you like me to turn into a pony again?"

I glance behind, looking for pursuit.

Behind us is a concrete obelisk with razor-wire-shrouded windows and a massive wooden cross dominating the featureless-steel-plate front door, shudders as the front wall cracks further and a chillingly-now-familiar something worries at the concrete, writhing around like it's looking for the doorknob. It's not following us yet.

"I want you able to talk. Otherwise I'd say hell yes."

"Yes Owner."

Looking at the tendril, I start to grok that I’m seeing an arm of something like the ghosts that chased us in my parents house as we left. Seen without the blur of running past it, it’s a white mass of whirring symbols, blurring into a sort of general tentacle shape, somehow freakishly impossible to look straight at.

My head pounds again on seeing it, and I remember the healing between her lips from before.

“If I kiss you but I’m too hurt to be into it at the moment can you still do what you did after I fainted?”

She shakes her head, I think, as we stumble along.

“I need something to work with, I can’t feed on what you don’t feel. Are you sure? I’m getting a little off you just from being held.”

Rub up against you a little. Grope me?

“I dunno. I feel weird.”

I steal another look at the tentacle eating up the side of the house. Well, there’s one thing I feel at the moment. “I think I can run now anyway."

I extract myself from her support and take her hand instead, and she bolts.

FUCKING FINALLY LET'S GO CHARGE!!

At least if I have to run for my life I can feel the air on my pussy.

Whee--

What is that? Oh dust. Shut shut shut up!

Lyra drops my hand and covers her ears, eyes screwed shut but not slowing down, and then I hear the whispering, clear and voiceless and coming from everywhere, the same demented rhythm as before chewing away at my brain but...larger.

A lot larger.

Oh. The thing I killed before was a baby.

I ignore the words as hard as I can and draw the sword, running after Lyra full-tilt.

It’s suicide, we’re just pelting down an empty street without a destination or even knowing if we’re running toward or away from the threat. This loud, it must be right on top of us. Where is it?

“LYRA!” I belt it out as loud as I can to get through her stopped-up ears. “WHERE?” I’m crossing my fingers that being more sensitive to these things gives her a better sense of where they are.

She doesn’t slow down or turn around, but her tail raises and points behind us and to the right, toward a lot ringed with a fifty foot stockade made of white picket fence. As if on cue, the fence shudders, cracked planks hurling splinters into the street, so I pour on the speed, heedless of the asphalt tearing at my bare feet, and collide with Lyra who’s pivoted to face me.

There’s an awful moment where I think I’ve impaled her with the sword and can feel the her blood running over my hand and then I realize I’m just still slippery with the nectar from the ritual, and then her tail is stabbing frantically in the direction we were running. More?

I slam to a foot-grinding halt and take us away from the fence and back the way we came, stumbling forwards as the perfekti smashes through, showering us with splinters.

I can’t help looking back to get my first real look at one of these things, and regret it instantly, head swimming.

They’re made of migraine aura. You can’t actually see it as such, and trying hurts. It’s a mass of glowing white symbols, all different sizes, orbiting and rushing through each other making constantly-shifting almost-structures always almost something and never actually anything. It’s twisting toward us like a snake, it’s pouncing like a tiger, it’s bearing down like a tank, it’s one or the other and it’s all three at once. Trying to understand the thing is like getting punched in the visual cortex. It’s the size of a car, maybe bigger, and all the symbols are featureless emissive shapes, but it illuminates nothing.

...and it’s gaining like we’re not even moving.

A tendril of symbols pulls itself free of the mass and whips at us, trying to curl around and snare us like an octopus would. I swing the sword desperately, trying my best to avoid the incipient migraine of looking directly at it. I squint and just see the general shape without understanding what I’m looking at as I sometimes do when I’ve been hacking forever and the raster burn is getting to be just too much, but to no avail, and it's hard to judge without looking--oh.

Looking into the reflection in the sword's blade causes the necessary trajectory to holographically leap out of the surface and show me where and what direction to swing.

Purple-black fire and sparks trail the sword like a torch swung through the air, buzzing like a Tesla coil, and I connect! It’s no kind of solid hit and the sword bucks counter-intuitively in my hand like I’ve swung it through the maze of clustered modules I saw in the sword's surface before instead of hitting something solid, but there’s this weird dull thud of impact and symbols scatter fizzing out of existence from the tendril, which recoils as if it’s touched a live wire, lighting up with Cleavage's fire as it--presumably--exploits module after module, spreading like I've just delivered a dose of retrovirus.

YEAH BURN that was fucking metal!

It’s not coming at us as fast all of a sudden. Can perfekti trip?

I'm supposed to initiative to protect us. You’re just kind of standing there looking dumbfounded so I grab your not-sword hand and take us running off. Not that I can blame you really, watching it thrash around trying to get at the fire it just pulled back inside itself without setting more parts on fire is pretty awesome.

Sade’s Toenails, just being near these things feels like some evil bizarro world version of a violet wand, like it’s crawling all over me and I can feel—HUP!

Lyra body-slams me sideways and a huge tendril shatters the pavement where we’d just been running and we skid to a halt, knees and elbows and flanks skinned wickedly by the opinion of a thousand bored suburban moms that the rough concrete sidewalk their kids play on is actually a bed of tiny razor-pointed shards of quartz. The tendril sort of lurches, like the thing is having a hard time lifting it back up, jerking back toward the main mass like some hellish obstinate garden hose. Something clicks in my mind: the back of the sword is serrated, evil-looking with hooked teeth, and the symbols that compose the monster have lots of closed loops and seem to have some kind of physical existence. They would engage almost like a key...

I turn the sword teeth-side first, and swing at the tendril with a pulling arc that draws opposite the direction it’s trying to retract the tendril. There’s another crackle and another buck and then a terrible weight on the sword for a moment and it’s worked! A smattering of symbols pulls free, fading, but I’ve dragged the tendril a solid couple of feet away from the main mass, which is kind of lurching towards us like it’s limping.

Quickly, I flip the sword back and start hacking at the tendril like I’m chopping wood, forehand and backhand, keeping at it even as the dark fire spreads along the tendril and then all of a sudden there’s this snapping crack and the end of the tentacle detonates while the still-attached portion disintegrates, unraveling with a terrible violence like it was made of springs straining against each other, the impact smacking the main mass backward as everything comes apart, dripping with purple fire.

YEAH! 

“Run! It’s hurt and they’re cannibals! It’ll keep the other ones busy!”

You’re slow getting up so I grab your arm--mm, arm, wait till you see this arm when I’m through with you--and drag you up and set us running.

You poor thing, your feet are bleeding. Sorry. I wish I could stop and put some nectar on them for you. The ground here is so mean!

Feet on fire. Knees on fire. Side one fire. Heart on fire. But we hurt it. Lyra’s not even noticing that her side is oozing thick black ichor where she slid across the pavement. Is she in shock? Do succubi even have hormones and stuff? How does that work?

They must have hormones, they must be hormones.

Anyway no stopping. “Now what do we do?”

Blocks blur by, one surrealist social commentary blending into the next like channel-surfing through an Andy Warhol exhibit. Eventually, the whispering seems to have faded and we slow.

As it sinks in that we’ve outrun the perfekti for now, I start to crash, the pain of my injuries fading in as adrenaline fades out. Nothing is too bad--skinned hands and knees and a bunch of bruises--except my feet, which are shredded from running barefoot on pavement. It’s hard to see in the pale unlight but I think I’m leaving bloody footprints.

Soles shredded. Hah, hah. I need to sit down.

You don’t look so good. Yeah, sit on the curb before you fall over.

Okay, just looking at you is making me need a hug. There’d better be room for me on that curb of yours. Can I sit on this without shredding my pussy?

Sort of. Just...hold still, self. No bouncing. It’s funny, the little stuff you don’t think about like how everything you could theoretically sit on around the Deep Haven is polished or cushioned.

Don’t flinch away! I just want to hold onto you! Oh. That’s the side you fell on.

“Sorry, Owner.”

You nod, but you just kind of look straight ahead. You may as well be at the other end of the True Sea--I’m leaned up against your side but even through all that skin contact I’m getting barely anything from you.

Maybe you’re just short of nectar...oh. Duh. Of course you’re short of nectar, in your entire life you’ve only had two makeout sessions and whatever you managed to absorb through your cock during that tasty tasty blowjob you took before! You didn’t even lick your hand after fingering me. You must feel awful! Take a kiss, aren't you horny?

Man, nothing. Ouch. What’s wrong?

What is the speed of sound through a belief system? I’ve been hit with the spiritual equivalent of a relativistic planet killer, but I’m like the people in that one Larry Niven story who know the world is ending because the sun has gone nova and they’re watching the moon burn but the shockwave hasn’t arrived from the other side of the planet and won’t for hours. I should feel scared, or guilty, or something, but there’s nothing.

It’s just...the only reference points I have are anti-reference points. You’re not supposed to have anything to do with things like Lyra on pain of your soul, but she tells me she loves me and I really believe it, not in words or maybe she's just waiting for me to take the first step, and yet I seem to just know...

I got my first blowjob as part of some dark ritual that I hope was just to make the sword all flaming and badass but how would I know seeing as I didn’t even ask?

And now she sees me freaking out and she’s hugging comfortingly while looking at me so hopefully and in any other circumstance I’d die from the sweetness of this but right now I can’t even turn my head.

I’m supposed to have my moment of repentance or something here, take a second and consider what I’m doing and realize the error of my ways, but nothing doing. If this were Narnia instead of limbo I’d now hear a lion roaring in the distance or see Aslan’s face in a pothole or whatever and snap out of it, but nope. I wonder what God would be saying to me at the moment if I were a Pentecostal?

The fact is, none of my tools work right on her. I keep thinking of that part in the Screwtape Letters where Screwtape gets chewed out for letting his victim experience a real pleasure instead of cheap empty ones, but the only thing she’s offering me is real pleasure, sex that’s not just good but meaningful, and loving.

Pointedly, the Holy Spirit nudges in at this exact moment to vouch for her again. As with before, it sort of pushes me towards her, utterly opposite to the don't-do-that ickiness it projects often when I look at porn.

She's warm, and so soft. I reach for her, wince at the sticky wrong-feeling of trying to touch something with my scraped hand...

YUS BOO! Oooh Owner your hand is wrecked! Make me fix it for you I want to fix it for you.

At least make me hug you!

Poor Owner. I want to comfort you!

Paralysis. It's too much, I can't process...I spend a long time staring at the road in front of me, mental gears jammed.

Initiative. Helpful initiative you ordered me. Just...down on my knees, now turn around to face you with my legs apart there.

Spikes. Where did you go? You can do it, self, Owner ordered you. Reach for Owner's hand, reach...rrrRRRR there got you okay now pull and liiiiick...yuck blood bleh keep licking liiiick...

I’m startled from my reverie by a wet warmth on my fingers: Lyra has moved around in front of me and is licking the blood from my fingers.

Liiiick ptui liiiiick...

It’s the hand I landed on falling when we dodged the perfekti tentacle before, and it’s shredded, bleeding badly. Adrenaline has kept me from noticing until now how bad it is--and yet, the softness of her tongue feels good in the wounds. I want to cry from the relief.

She’s on her knees, butt resting against her heels, knees apart so I can see everything, eyes closed and head lowered as she licks my hand tenderly. 

Grey skin, purple eyes rimmed in black that’s not makeup, black tears still streaking her face, silky wings occasionally refolding themselves, tail curled carefully around her hip, maddening lovely scent of flowers and candy and sex and not a bit of human.

Why isn’t it disturbing? Why is it just beautiful?

A warm, wet, succubus-tongued heartbeat passes.

Why does my hand feel so much better?

It’s horrifying and soothing, beautiful and terrible.

‘...as the dawn’ my brain involuntarily completes the line, but it’s true. To me she’s as pretty as the rising sun. Am I a monster for liking the servile way she licks me? For finding something erotic in her blood-smeared breasts and cunt?

For apparently thinking the word ‘cunt’ was the right choice just there?

My hand’s feeling a lot better, and I find I’m letting out a ragged sigh.

Thank Sade. I think that sigh is the first human thing you’ve done in the past five ges.

Good, you’re looking a little better. Have you figured it out yet? Let’s give you a last sluuuurp...

Yes fine I’m pretty hungry too, but this will take care of us both. Come on, self, just suck Owners fingers RRR there. Sssuck mmf yum fingers in my mouth lick slurp suck mmmh...hey I can respond to this I actually believe you ordered me to be helpful and take initiative!

Her eyes open when I sigh, and she looks up at me naughtily, then takes my index, ring and middle fingers into her mouth, licking them suggestively.

“Hungry again already, I see.”

“Mmmhmm.” nod nod nod...okay so I hadn’t intended to get quite so into this when we’ve got perfekti on the way, but I’ll admit this is turning out pretty fun and I can see you’re getting into it.

It’s a good thing I’m Hench instead of Lilith or I’d have grabbed the boner this is giving you already and then we’d never get going again.

Her breathily-hummed response makes my cock surge, but I’m surprised to find myself responding to the seduction at all. Has it really been long enough?

Liiiick SLURP it should hurt but it doesn't, see?

A particularly insistent caress from her tongue finally gets what I should be noticing, and I withdraw my hand. She lets it go unresistingly, and I inspect it, dumbstruck. The scrape is...not gone, but much smaller than it was, as if it’s been healing for days instead of minutes.

“How?”

“Nectar. Heals you. Same stuff in my pussy but stronger. Would you like me to do your other hand, Owner?”

Yeah, I get a little monosyllabic when I’m turned on, what of it?

Oh. She wasn't just trying to turn me on, before, feeding this to me.

I go to put the sword away, and then realize that I’ve at some point already sheathed it - a rather fiddly operation with the sheath’s tight fit and position behind my shoulder - and completely not realized I was doing it.

“I’m not doing so good.”

After a second I remember to give her the other hand, which she licks just as tenderly. On this one the knuckles are a bloody mess from hitting the ground with the sword clutched in my fist.

Jeez, your hand is barely in one piece. Is that what human bone looks like? Oh fuck, creepy, it really is all white like your teeth...I didn’t think I knocked you down this hard before. Poor Owner, I’m so sorry... “You’re a wreck, Owner. You need to drink me some. Please, kiss me and take a drink? You’ll feel a lot better, I promise. Sorry I’m not lactating yet.”

Yeah, going down on me would give you more and stronger nectar but I’m a little scared to do that here the way us doing anything more than kissing has gone so far. Mind you, that’s going to be great when we get home.

You look so far away even with your hands fixed up. Please, come on...thank Sade.

I’ve got a vague impression that there was a sentence there that should have been weird or something (even relative to the new baseline), but my brain’s just not processing it.

Mutely, working my hand distantly as if it’s a telerobot on the far side of Pluto, I take her hand and bring her to me. She brings her knees together and rises onto them, kneeling up between my knees as I sit on the curb, and when I kiss her she opens wide, her mouth inviting and wetter than before.

TONGUEFUCKED MMF damn but your tongue is big...mmf kiss so DEEP! I didn’t think you could reach that far yet! Well, good. Come on mouth, make us lots of nectar...

I never knew anything could taste as good as a succubus kiss. Flowers, candy, sex, her smell in liquid form. It’s...not saliva, saliva doesn’t taste like anything and there isn’t this much of it and it doesn’t have a slick edge like this stuff does. Just kissing is soothing, but when I get enough of her on my tongue to draw it back and swallow it’s like...I don’t know. There’s no explaining it. I just feel better.

There’s maddeningly little at a time but I’d wait an eternity for this stuff and I drink hungrily for what seems like forever, feeding more than kissing.

Eventually, her arms and wings both are around me (impossibly, their membrane seems to breathe like cotton), and I’m embracing her and we’re making out instead of just kissing, her drinking me as much as I’m drinking her. Her nipples press into my chest, hot and hard at the end of soft breasts, and she gives a little ‘mmf!’ when one catches on the sword’s strap as we move together.

By the time I have to come up for air, I’m feeling a lot clearer.

“You taste amazing.”

She just smiles at me happily for a moment.

“So do youOOOH!” How did I not notice you reaching for my cunt? Because you were focused totally on kissing your Owner, duh, self. Ooooh so good...come on, I have inner lips too, you can find them...omigod okay you can go for my clit instead, that’s fine...boo. Don’t go away.

Hey, no jagged nails, did I even fix those? I guess you must have read about that someplace, it is kinda fundamental. I wonder what else is changing already?

Fingers good and wet in her slickness, I bring them glistening to my lips and lick them clean and oh god. It’s like the kiss ten times over, concentrated and sweet and intoxicating, stretching and clinging in the way nothing out of a bottle can ever imitate. I swear I can feel the wave of lust and strength go through me as I swallow, waking me up like nuclear-grade coffee but soothing and comfortable like warm milk.

Feh. Metaphors are an insult to the way she tastes and makes me feel.

More.

If you use the other hand, Owner, it’ll fix that one up too...oooooor okay use it to grab me by the upper arm and hold me still while you finger me, that’s hot, if you keep this up I’m going to cum right heeeere hhhaaaah omi...ffuck gah tease! I thought you were going inside but then as wet as you’re getting me I guess you don’t really need to fffaaaah inner lips found all for you to explore too juuuuuuust like that uhuh...boo!

After the second handful my heart is pounding and my cock is throbbing and I want to just throw her on her back and drink until I burst, but I’m also now lucid enough to realize that we’re still in danger and possibly kind of screwed.

I stand and pull Lyra up with me, her arms still hooked around my neck.

“Thank you. That was. I. You’re amazing. Are you okay? I hope I didn’t take too much.”

“Take too much? 

"Like, too much nectar, make you use too much energy healing me."

"But....I get energy from you, too, Owner? So we never run out?"

She has of course been feeding the whole time I’ve been with it enough to do more than mechanically drink, and she does look distinctly less tired than when we started, but for obvious reasons this isn’t parsing.

Shouldn’t be parsing, anyway.

No.

“No fucking way.”

She’s definitely a demon.

She might be an angel.

There’s no way she’s God.

“What?”

“Lyra, did we just violate conservation of energy?”

“I’m a Sade, Owner, we violate lots of things.” Look, you try having that line in front of you and not saying it. I know it’s not actually an answer.

“I’m serious.”

“You hadn’t noticed yet? How did you think I could feed without making you weak?” OMGs it’s so much fun watching this dawn on you. Your face is all like, ‘is that Cthulhu rising, or the sun?’.

I’m still rushing with the energy we’ve apparently just glitched into existence, or I might not otherwise remember the thought from before and assemble the puzzle: “You turn lust into energy. Right? That’s what you run on.”

She nods, an odd little grin on her face.

“Yup! Four letters, starts with L, nothing else like it. The way emotions make you wanna do stuff, give you energy, that’s not just a metaphor, I live off that.”

“But...lust is just an emotion. You can’t use up an emotion, and even if you could, so what, as long as you’re turning me on I’ll keep feeling it. I’m putting out that energy whether you’re there to soak it up or not which is why I feel like feeding you doesn't actually drain anything from me. Right? We could go forever just off each other. Could we? Is nectar as good as food? Would I starve?”

I was ravenous after the ritual because it’s like 4am. I’m not really hungry now.

Hehe! You look like it’s Christmas morning and I’m under the tree (I’ll admit, when you started down that road last year I thought I was in for something that’d make a Venus choke on the sweetness but it turned out kind of oddly kinky with all the ribbons and the wrapping paper thing and stuff...).

“Nope, you’d do great. Especially once I’ve got some milk for you.”

“Buh. But. That’s impossible. That breaks literally everything. We really didn’t get energy from somewhere else?”

Everything I know tells me we must have pulled the strength from somewhere else, but that same sinking sense of reality that tells me I’m not just dreaming this all screams otherwise.

If you haven’t studied physics, it’s hard to explain the gravity of what we’ve just done. The laws of thermodynamics aren’t really laws, even in the “law of physics” sense. They’re more like the bolts that hold reality together, or maybe they’re the idea of bolts at all. They’re written and rewritten into all the other laws of physics. They show up everywhere and everything depends on them: there’s an old sci-fi fan’s joke wherein a wizard, wishing to protect his tower, casts a spell that disables gunpowder, and instantly drops dead, since the same chemical reactions that make gunpowder explode power the human metabolism. This is that, times ten thousand: instead of something so particular as burning fuel with oxygen, we’ve pulled the rug out from under things as basic as gravity and time.

It’s one thing to lose the whole basis of your belief system. This is losing the basis of belief systems in general. The basis of anything.

If you can do this, you’re God. Better than God, because God has to make sense. Surely there must be something else at play here?

Finding out that physics in general is at best a set of guidelines should be terrifying, but instead it just fills me with this deranged elation like I’m playing an MMO with a real-money economy and I’ve just found the mother of all gold-duping glitches.

Which is, I suppose, a much better metaphor than it has any right to be.

“You’re not a demon and you’re not taking me to hell. You’re God and you’re taking me to heaven.”

“No, honey, I’m not God. I’m just an extra-pervy Sade and all I want is to be with you.”

We’re still embracing, so I sort of set her on her feet, squeezing her hands affectionately before I let them go.

"Then what's the catch to all this? Are we going to get to your world and I'm going have to like, join the legions of hell or something?"

Hehe. “No catch, Owner. Don’t have to join anything or anything. We don’t need anything but each other.”

"Then let's get there. Do you see anything that looks likely for the kind of door you need?"

Umum...all of these houses seem really new...spikes. Where did we land?

What about another conflation-jump? Yeah, to more of this. That won't help. How can anywhere be so fake? Is there one single pebble here that's old? Spikes, is there even a pebble around at all? Turn around so I can see...no. Gah. There's nothing.

Face Owner. Eyes down for a quarter-swing.

"It looks like everything here is too new to be numinous enough which is really intense because even new houses have numinosity somewhere, but all of these seem designed to like, get rid of it. The roads are the same way and Owner look this grass is fake!"

Point to show you.

She's pointing with her tail at the strip of grass between sidewalk and road, and it is indeed lime-green astroturf rather than grass.

"What should I do, Owner? Should I keep looking?"

She suddenly looks heartbreakingly lost, clearly unsettled by the sheer suburbanity of this place and yet gamely hoping I'll disprove her evaluation by telling her to keep looking.

"You should come here and hold onto my free arm while we look for a better neighborhood."

Yus GLOMP. Mmm, arm--hey, you're already changing! Mmmh sooo silky snuggle rub nuzzle...

Her hands are shockingly warm and soft on my arm, and she clings closely, a soft ocean of flesh down my side with two hot palms clutching my arm. I set out in a random direction, hoping we'll come upon a main road or something.

Lyra's comfort at my side and being in motion unlimbers my brain somewhat, enough to start asking questions:

"So what happened? We were flying, and then..."

"You mindlocked because of something a perfekti said to you. It must have been huge because it knew exactly how to break you. I think we might have accidentally found a way to like, listen to all the perfekti in your horizon by flying up where we could hear them all. You fell off me so I dived to save you and I caught you just in time and I wanted to take you as far away from those perfekti as I could and I saw a house that was so like, simulacral I could use it to travel to anywhere else there's a house like that so I traveled as far from where we were semantically as I could and Owner I'm really sorry but I messed it up and tried to take a house that wasn't similar enough and I got jumbled and we crashed in front of it."

"Then you woke up and fixed me and we made out until you blacked out from sacrifice."

"What?"

"Sacrifice. I was getting so much lust, why did you stop enjoying me like that? Did I--" Ulp. "--Owner did I displease you?"

The sudden vulnerability sends shivers through me and makes my dick surge.

"No! You were great--"

In my distracted state I can't quite do the math, but it feels like my mistake and the reason for the blackout should be obvious.

"--but I thought I could give you more--"

Oooh. Spike this rapedusty planet. Rrrgh!

I wish I could talk this out with you right now...um....

"You wanted to die so I could live, right? You would like, give me your blood until you had none left?"

"Yeah--oh. Fuck."

"If you sacrifice like that while I'm feeding, you just end up knocking yourself out on my transubstantiation because it turns that intention into energy like my feeding but negative energy and you lose all the energy you wanted to give me which in your case was all of it which almost killed you."

"So don't do that."

"YES! If you want vampirism or vore we can talk but it has to not be lifesblood or heartflesh or you can't keep it from being a sacrifice."

"How do I give you more, then?"

"The more you enjoy me the better you feed me, Owner."

Subby eyes flirt up please-enjoy-me.

We share a long glance and I almost ask what she's imagining.

"Do I want to know what perfekti actually are? The one I fought seemed like a robot, at least that's how the sword showed it to me. Did someone create them?"

Boo. Perfekti aren't sexy.

"I'm supposed to take initiative when I think it'll be helpful so I think you want to know what perfekti are in case knowing helps you fight them so I'm taking initiative and telling you and I hope that's what you want, Owner--" Nodding whew yes you want.

"Perfekti are prayers for one perfect god who created everything to exist. That's why they're called perfekti. They're alive because prayers and wishes kind of work the same and come to life if you focus on them right, except a wish is for something you want which is what I am and a prayer is a wish you make that's actually someone else's wish. The problem with perfekti is they're prayers to have one star be the center of the universe, which means if the rest of the universe isn't into that it must be evil because if it wasn't it'd submit to the perfect true god. That's why they try to get in your head and make you listen to them. Everything they see that isn't part of their one true god scene is something they have to destroy or take over which is why the one you fought was trying to make you banish me--I only want to submit to you, Owner, and perfekti see me as competition because we both want your wishing. Perfekti want you to make more perfekti and I want you to keep wishing me. You can't run out of wishing, but perfekti don't care, they only know you're not part of their scene."

"Fuck. They're literally fundamentalism-monsters."

Her speech is heavy with wham lines, and I can tell there's stuff I haven't processed yet.

Initiative. RRR.

"Yes Owner they come from that sometimes but any religion that believes in one perfect god that created everything will make people create them so if you're trying to avoid them you should keep away from anywhere people pray or tell stories about that a lot because they probably made lots of perfekti."

"That's why my house was full of them!"

Nod nod nod.

I feel terribly at sea, suddenly, as the meaning of her words starts to sink in, and get stuck, too giant to process in the moment.

I'm haunted by this strange sense as I consider what she's said of grey skies peeling back to reveal the stars beyond.

For a while the only sound is the buzz of Cleavage's fire as we walk.

The strange, samily-metamorphosed houses stretch away in all directions like an endless sea, and I feel as lost in the cosmos as if I were sailing an endless ocean...

Cleavage's buzz takes on the timbre of a stiff breeze buzzing through taut rigging and I fancy I can see the boat--

"Owner, do you hear that?"

Lyra stiffens, listening, and I slow to see if I can hear it too. 

Quiet music fizzes up from Cleavage's blade, and when I raise it to see what it's doing, the sound grows louder.

"What is that?"

The strains are faint and achingly distant, but they bring a tear to my eye with their epic, ringing beauty...

No way. How? We're in the middle of houses! That has to be the harp intro to Final Fantasy III, though.

"Owner, I think we can hear the Lost Ocean! If we follow music we like it'll lead us to our way home!"

"It sounds like someone got a real orchestra to play the Final Fantasy III theme?"

It's sublime, and the harp that's playing sounds like Lyra's voice, singing, thick with double-voiced electric harmonics that send chills down my spine even in the far-off sound wafting from the sword.

"Yeah! The Lost Ocean is where things lost at sea go, so everyone who's found somewhere that's paradise to them sings a song about it out over the Lost Ocean for people who get lost at sea to listen to. If you follow the song you like best, you'll be following the sound of paradise and even if you don't have the same paradise as the person playing the song you'll find your way to the place that'd be your paradise, because what you're following is the song that leads you to paradise. My home should be paradise for you and me so Owner if we follow music we like we'll get there for sure!"

...of course that's a soul-shattering arrangement of Nobuo Uematsu's masterpiece, for us. Without further ado, I face us towards the weirdly-directional sound and we set off towards it.

"--you like this song, right?"

Nod nod nod "It's one of my favorites! I love this arrangement even better than the original, too!"

As the soothing, trancy music gets into my head and I think of airships and other worlds it feels like the ground is heaving like a deck under my feet, but in mere moments Cleavage's previously-sedate flame bursts into angrily-buzzing life in what will go down in history as my second least-favorite Tolkien reference ever, obliterating the music.

"Dammit. How did they find us? We haven't seen any for like half an hour!"

RRRR it's not fair we were almost out! How did--ooh.

"Owner Cleavage amplifying music from the Lost Ocean must have called them."

"Do I want to know why it would call them?"

"The Lost Ocean doesn't belong to any one person, so they try to argue about it not existing if they hear its music because they can't say the person it belongs to is actually just a face of the perfect god they want people to believe in. Anything they can't make part of their one-true-god scene, they try to prove doesn't exist or destroy."

"So it turned off the music before they could find us. Smart sword. Can you sense them yet? Where are they?"

The whispering is just all around. How many can there be? It sounds like...when we flew and heard every perfekti in your neighborhood.

She gets a stricken face that clearly says "you don't want to know", so I lean on the car with outstretched arms to gather strength, and then leap back when it purrs at me, engine that was quiescent a moment ago revving softly and then falling silent when I break contact.

“Whatthefuck!”

Wait, did that car just...things are what people make of them, in Limbo. The car-cat from So You Want to Be a Wizard! Holy fuck that would help right now!

And everyone you know thinks machines like you.

No way. Will this work? Only one way to find out. INITIATIVE RRRRAAH!

“I think it likes you, Owner.”

“What.”

“No time! Owner if you find a good car you might be able to ask it for help!"