Queen Of Hearts
by Doctor Mercurious
Chapter One: Dealing the Queen
There are five thousand stories in Clockwork City, if one takes the point of view that people are like books. A population of such size does not make it the largest city-state on Eratha, a world where machines are run by gears, steam, and magical crystals. In fact, it’s barely large enough to qualify as a city-state.
However, as wolverines can attest to, size isn’t everything. When much larger city-states decide to, as the saying goes, ‘acquire additional real estate cheaply’, Clockwork City is avoided for two very good reasons.
The first reason is their intelligence service. All city-states worthy of the name have them. Clockwork City’s service is often referred to, half-jokingly, as playing with a full deck. This is because its founder dubbed it the Clockwork City Agency of the Rightful Democratic Sovereign, or CCARDS for short. It is a young agency -- barely a century old -- and in its youth it spend a lot of time doing favors for various governments. As a result they know where a lot of bodies are buried and in some cases no metaphor is intended. Of course they would never dream of spreading secrets unless they were forced to. Like, to save themselves from being conquered, just to pick a random example.
The second reason has to do with President Clockwork who, despite the D in CCARDS, is absolute ruler of Clockwork City. President Clockwork is one of those rare individuals who can tap into a mystic stone and use it to cast spells. There are nine or ten colors, depending on how one counts. President Clockwork’s stone color is White. It takes a particular type of personality to use White. It’s the same type of personality as a cop who single-handedly cleans up a corrupt department, killing only when left no option. It’s also the same type of personality as a firefighter who will never stop going into a burning building until he’s SURE everyone is out alive.
In short, it’s the type that never backs down. Considering the level of power a White Stone gives -- more than any other type -- not one to be messed with either.
Every so often someone new and stupid will try it. CCARDS will swing into action and the new and stupid someone will end up ‘beaten’ if he’s lucky, ‘captured’ if he’s not or ‘permanently indisposed’ if he’s come close to irritating CCARDS by doing something like poisoning well-water. So far their track record, with one current exception, is flawless.
President Clockwork smiles a lot about CCARDS. In fact, he smiles a lot in general. It makes people nervous.
Today, in the President’s Mansion, Clockwork sits behind an oaken desk . He is dressed in a dark blue pinstripe suit because his gray herringbone is in the cleaners due to yesterday’s events. Currently, he’s staring at a clock on his desk with intense interest and counting.
On ‘one’ a knock sounded on his door. His grin grew broader as he slipped a twenty out of his coat pocket and put it in his pants. "Come in," he told the knocker, adjusting his round-rimmed glasses.
In walked the most feared person in his government. "Good morning, sir."
He beamed at her. "Ms. Wythespree, you’ve won me another bet."
The albino woman raised a pencil-thin eyebrow at him. Publicly the head of public recreation and secretly the head of CCARDS, she was known as "Icicle" due to her penchant for wearing stark-white suits and her lack of emotional displays. She smoothly lowered herself into the chair perched at the front of his desk. "With yourself?"
"Well, no one else will bet against me, dammit. A man needs a few vices."
"That’s why you hired me, remember?"
"Ms. Wythespree, that sounded like a joke."
"I’m afraid you’re mistaken. I’m not scheduled to have a sense of humor until 10:45 am."
Clockwork sighed. Danielle had a job he wouldn’t give to his worst enemy. She thought up the nasty, unpleasant, vicious and above all necessary things required to run a government in a world perpetually at war. "I’ll make sure I’m around for it. I assume you’re here about yesterday’s incident?"
Danielle wordlessly pulled a folder form her valise and placed it on Clockwork’s desk. It was thick and labeled Revolutionary Association for Total Conquest of Here and Every Thing.
Clockwork stroked his goatee. "So, RATCHET was behind the assassination attempt."
"Worse than that. Censor was involved personally."
"RATCHET’S leader? That makes no sense! Why would she risk herself like that?" No one knew what RATCHET’S leader even looked like but in Clockwork City where the female-to-male ratio was so off-kilter ‘she’ was the default pronoun of choice.
"I don’t know." Danielle actually looked annoyed. "We did find the telltale signs of her presence. Her temporary base in the area reeked of bad perfume and shortly after the caper a local adult bookstore had all its adult magazines stolen by an assailant in a black rode."
"I never did understand her ego-signatures. Strange."
"Well, it takes a special mind to try to strangle someone with their own dinner."
"I know! How can I ever eat fried squid again?"
"That’s the third proof right there," Danielle continued. "Investigation of your dinner revealed that it had been reanimated using a Black Stone. We do know that Censor can use one."
"Mmm. Necromancy is a dirty business."
"Enough gloomy thoughts," Clockwork grinned. "When am I going to be properly introduced to those two gorgeous CCARDS who saved my life?"
"Ah." Danielle produced two pictures and a pile of documents from the valise. Clockwork studied the first picture of a lovely blue-eyed blonde
"This would be Tina Burr, yes?" Clockwork asked.
"Yes. Transferred to CCARDS six months ago from Clockwork City’s Police Department. CSI division. Good at analyzing crime scenes."
Clockwork gazed at the other picture, which showed a brunette with violet eyes, of all things. "Very striking."
"They’re both masters of savate, sir."
"I know that was a joke, Danielle. ‘Fess up."
"Of course not, sir."
Clockwork gave her a suspicious look but let the matter drop. "This is Emily Dreer, if I’m not mistaken."
Danielle nodded. "Clockwork City SWAT. Sharpshooter and firearms expert. Fully ambidextrous as well."
"I had firsthand experience with how well Ms. Dreer handles a gun when she shot those tentacles off me. Ms. Burr’s deductive powers were equally as impressive, spotting the RATCHET agent disguised as a waitress. Their units must be proud."
"They are each other’s partners. A Queen of Hearts, in fact."
Clockwork raised an eyebrow. If two agents went together like cheesecake and fudge sauce, Danielle would designate them ‘Queen of Hearts’. It meant that one could not be assigned to a case without the other. "I take it they were lovers while on the police force."
"No, actually. They occasionally jump in the sack together but have decided that they make better friends-with-benefits than lovers."
"That’s unusual for a Queen pairing."
Danielle nodded. "I was hesitant to give them that status at first; partners will always protect one another better if they’re lovers. I gave them a chance to prove me wrong and they have. Tina moderates Emily’s tendency to shoot first and Emily nips Tina’s penchant for overanalyzing in the bud."
"My my. Bet you didn’t see that coming, did you?"
She checked her watch and gave the thin-looking ruler a bright smile. "I did plan to make a mistake that day, so it turned out all right in the end."
"Would you PLEASE stop fidgeting?"
"I can’t, this stupid uniform itches. I hate dress uniforms, Tina! Why do we have to wear them?"
"Because we’re meeting President Clockwork, you ninny."
Tina stood at parade-rest outside Emily’s apartment, tapping a toe while Emily pulled at the collar of her gray jumpsuit. Emily seemed most unhappy, since dress uniform only allowed her to carry two firearms.
"Don’t see why." She grinned at Tina. "I’m not planning on wearing it long anyway."
Tina smiled back, still tingling from the quickie they’d given each other. "We have no evidence that President Clockwork will ask us to bed."
"Clocky goes through ten girls a day, Tina! Come ON!"
Tina put her arm around Emily’s waist. "I’m sure that’s a rumor."
Emily returned the favor as the two walked outdoors to wait for their ride. "I hope not. It’s been a while since I got to watch you make love to someone else."
Emily sighed to herself. Ever since they were designated Queen of Hearts everyone assumed they only had eyes for each other and left them alone. There was the occasional one-night stand, but no serious paramours. It was aggravating. Not that Tina and Emily weren’t best friends who every so often were a little more, but some variety would have been nice.
A skimmer with the CCARDS insignia, a deck of cards spread to form a fan, pulled to the side of the road. Tina and Emily exchanged signs and countersigns with the driver and got in.
"Hear you two are going to meet the boss," the driver said as she jerked out into traffic. A little old lady barely got out of the way in time.
"Yeah, and I can’t wait!" Emily burbled.
"Same here." Tina said. She slipped an arm around Emily’s shoulders.
"Well believe me, the boss sure want so meet you."
Both women gave the driver a hungry glance. Neither noticed her flip a switch underneath the dashboard. "Really?" They said in unison.
"Oh yes," the driver smiled as the hidden gas jets sprung to life. "You two have no idea."
Tina and Emily awoke in a compromising position. This was nothing new but for the first time they couldn’t remember how it happened.
Both women were strapped at opposite ends of a wooden table, crotches pointed at each other, by their hands and feet. Their legs had been spread-eagled and manacled so they stayed that way and each could feel a dildo shoved deep into their pussies which were almost touching.
Emily was the first to speak. "Tina, either Clocky is better than I thought or we are in a heap of trouble."
"I vote trouble," Tina answered.
"Why I do believe you’re right," said a third voice.
Both women jerked around, trying to see the source of the voice. They were in a pitch-dark room but the echoing quality suggested it was a large one. There were no lights save a small spotlight illuminating the table they were strapped to. The voice sounded odd, somehow metallic and hollow.
"Er, help?" Emily suggested.
A figure stepped into the spotlight. It wore a black voluminous hooded floor-length robe and heavy gloves. Concealing the face was a silvery mask sculpted to look like a woman’s face with painstaking detail. A miasma of cheap perfume surrounded the figure.
"I don’t think so," she said.
Both Emily and Tina stiffened. They’d both smelled that perfume, very recently in fact.
"Hello my dear, clever girls," cooed Censor as she glided over and placed a hand on the exposed portion of the dildo. Idly, she began to wiggle it back and forth. "I take it you’re not too uncomfortable? You both do seem to be enjoying yourselves. Look at how tight you both are."
"If I say ‘no’ will you let us go?" Emily had always had a smart mouth and wasn’t about to stop now.
"Sarcasm in the face of certain doom. How utterly charming." She increased the strength of the wiggling.
Tina kept the waves of pleasure form her voice with effort; Censor had good hands for a sociopath. "Death traps? That is soooo last decade."
Emily, on the other hand, didn't bother. "Mmm, jerk that a little harder would you? I’ll never get off at this rate."
The Censor released the dildo and stepped back so both could look at her. "Do you realize how long it took me to put that assassination together? Three months to buy a silent partnership in the restaurant, two to hire a cook that could make good fried squid, another month for the advertising campaign...a lot of care went into that."
"If at first..." Emily started, but Tina thumped the side of the table with her hand and her partner took the hint and shut up.
"Such a success on your part requires I deliver a special revenge." Censor reached into her robes and withdrew a foot-long rod of blackened wood. On one end it had a Pink crystal and the other had a Silver. "That’s why I had this made."
Emily had no clue about magic stuff, save for the things that sped hot death with the pull of a trigger. "Okay I give up, what its it?"
Tina didn’t have much clue about magic either, but unfortunately due to her CSI training, recognized the configuration of Body and Mind crystals on the rod. "It’s a cursing stick; for permanently cursing someone."
"Full marks, my dear." Censor said. "That’s exactly what it is. Of course, Clockwork could lift any curse such a paltry item could inflict, so I am required to add my own...special touch." Her free hand dipped back in the robe and came out with a Black crystal.
Both Tina and Emily considered themselves hard to faze, but there are some things you just cringe from.
"What are you going to do to us?" Tina’s voice quavered.
"Yeah, just kill us already would you?" Emily sounded equally as shaken.
"Oh, my no. That would mean your suffering was over. I want you two thinking about the price of getting in my way for a long, long time." She raised the rod, pointing the Pink crystal at them. "Of course you will also serve as an example to others. I just adore getting twice the bang for my buck." The Black crystal in her left had twitched and, if possible, grew darker.
"Don’t worry," Censor assured as the spell hit. "You’ll enjoy this...at least the beginning."
The manacles binding their legs released. Tina and Emily both made to push against the table with their powerful legs, probing for a weak spot, but they couldn’t. Tina’s legs were drawn to either side of Emily and likewise for the other woman. Waves of pleasure coursed through their bodies, making them cry out. Something was happening to both of them below the waist but the ecstasy they were in prevented them from knowing what it was.
"As much as I’d love to stay and watch, I really must be going." Censor turned to leave, but the moans of passion from her prisoners made her pause. She stepped forward to take a better look.
She had to hand it to herself; when she crafted a curse, she crafted well. Emily’s legs were slowly being absorbed into Tina’s body as Tina’s were being absorbed into Emily. When it was done the ‘dildo’ -- a part of the curse stick -- would draw their hips and pussies into each other, making them a Queen of Hearts in reality as well as unit designation. Censor just hadn’t accounted for how erotic the whole process looked.
"Minion," she said absently.
A RATCHET flunky sprang to her side, clad in the agency uniform which consisted of a pair of overalls worn over a skintight black body suit. "Ma’am?"
The agent looked confused. "Ma’am, shouldn’t we be going? You said - "
A moment later, only a pile of rotting flesh remained of the hapless agent.
"Minion," Censor repeated.
An identically-clad agent sprang to her other size, eyeing the remains of her sister agent. "Ma’am?"
This agent was smarter than her predecessor. "Yes ma’am."
"And don’t chintz on the butter."
"Never, ma’am," the agent saluted as she sprinted off.
Censor stepped forward. It seemed to be happening far too fast. Already their legs were mere swells of flesh against each other’s sides; in a few minutes they wouldn’t even be that. She couldn’t resist running a gloved hand here and there. "Enjoying yourselves?"
All she got in answer was twin moans of passion. She stroked one of the swells and they really seemed to like that, bucking against her hand.
Had she been more attentive, she would have realized that such mutual cooperation already was A Bad Sign, but even clever villains have their off-moments.
She began stroking with greater abandon. Her ministrations actually seemed to be speeding the process along, almost like building someone towards orgasm. The last vestigial signs of their legs disappeared. At that point, Censor made Another Not-So-Bright move. She released the manacles binding their hands. After all, the psychological impact of fingering their pussies as they were absorbed into each other’s bodies had to be worth some level of anguish, now didn’t it? She was never one to let an object lesson pass by uncompleted. Besides, their stroking of their conjoining hips was speeding the process along very rapidly.
Another RATCHET agent appeared on the other side of the table. "Ma’am? CCARDS scout airships reported overhead."
"Have they deduced that we are here?" Censor’s attention was distracted at the moment. Tina and Emily were building to what looked like an orgasm as their hips swallowed each other.
"Then we’ll stay here for a bit until they leave. Get ready to move out quickly."
"Yes ma’am." They agent strode off, unknowingly a little lighter.
The process was complete, yet the two still seemed to be building to orgasm. The end of Tina’s waist flowed directly into the beginning of Emily’s waist. Censor couldn’t even begin to fathom what they were having an orgasm with, considering their lack of sexual organs below the breasts. She probed their shared bellybutton curiously.
Suddenly, neither girl was orgasaming. They were smiling, however.
Emily’s hand pointed a RATCHET Hell-spitter gun at her temple. Simultaneously, Tina’s hand came up with a Blue crystal, cut to deliver a one-shot lighting blast.
Censor wouldn’t have been concerned if she’d been farther away. This close, things were dicey. "You managed to pickpocket the agent while in the throes of orgasm. Impressive."
"Not as impressive as the stain you’re going to leave on the wall after I pull the trigger," Emily snarled.
"Come, come now," Censor chided. Do you think I would give my agents weapons that could harm me? Be serious."
"I vote we find out," Tina snapped.
Emily, without words, passed the vote with a 2-1 majority.
Ms. Wythespree, aboard the CCARDS airship Royal Flush was sure that Censor was keeping Emily and Tina prisoner around here somewhere. It had taken far too long to track them down as it was.
"Ma’am?" Ventured an agent.
"Yes, what is it?" Her eyes never left scanning the city below.
"Sensors are picking up a manna spike, should we-"
That was as far as she got.
A gout of flame fully three feet in diameter punched outside the southwest side of the warehouse they were floating over and into the warehouse next to it as well. If both hadn’t been deserted there would have been a lot of former human beings doing flawless performances as charcoal. Simultaneously a tornado touched down on the northeast side, reducing that section to splinters. It spun in place for a bit, drilling into the street, and vanished. The amount of damage it did to the street was appalling.
"What the hell was THAT?" Ms. Wythespree knew Censor didn’t have this kind of power. No one did, except Clockwork and even he couldn’t have fired off two spells of this magnitude at once.
"Ma’am..." The agent was flabbergasted, "I don’t know."
Danielle peered at the unconscious RATCHET forms below. At least, they looked unconscious. "Let’s find out, shall we?"
If anyone saw Clockwork arrive at the CCARDS medical wing, no one was talking. Danielle wouldn’t have been surprised if anyone had.
She stood up from the uncomfy chair in the waiting room and nodded as he strode in. "Sir."
"Damn the formality, Danielle, how are they?"
"You’ll have to see that for yourself, sir." She led him to a medical lab where Tina and Emily were resting in between tests. She heard him gasp behind her as they came into view.
She knew how he felt.
Tina and Emily were bellies-first on long table; they were now a Queen of Hearts in fact as well as name. It was like someone had neatly sawed off their hips and legs and then melded their waist-stumps together. Clockwork couldn’t even see a seam.
"Monstrous," he whispered.
Emily and Tina looked up, saw him enter and saluted.
Clockwork put on his best smile. "I understand Censor is not doing well thanks to you two.."
"Yeah." Emily’s voice was flatter than a pancake.
"I suppose." Tina didn’t sound much livelier.
Clockwork could understand their attitudes. There was no cure for their condition; Censor had used too much power. Undoing the curse would kill one of them -- possibly both -- and wouldn’t give the survivor her legs back. He worried they might want to try it anyway. "Well that’s an accomplishment worth crowing about." He already had a plan to snap them out of it. He just hoped it worked. "I just wanted to see how my Personal Agents are doing."
Tina registered their new rank right away. ""What??"
Emily had always been slower on the uptake. "Great. Just peachy. In fact...huh??"
Clockwork beamed at them. "You heard me. Considering the damage the both of you did to that warehouse, I can think of no better job for the two of you than as being responsible for my welfare. So, how long do you think your retraining will last?"
"Well, I...that is..." Tina was at a loss.
Emily bit her lip. "You can use us? I mean, this isn’t a glorified desk job, right?"
"Oh no, my dears. Believe me, there’ll be plenty of non-desk related activities once the two of you are up and about. Is my personal Queen of Hearts up to the challenge?"
He’d chosen that last sentence with care. Neither woman was one to walk way from a challenge. "Yes sir," they answered in unison.
"Excellent!" He leaned forward and gave them each a peck on the forehead. "Carry on then." He noticed Danielle’s rigid posture and decided this would be a good time to fill her in on a few things.
Danielle, to her credit, waited until Clockwork had left the room and returned tot he waiting area. "Sir, you can’t be serious."
"Very." He sat down on one of the chairs. "I’ve read the agent reports of the scene. I have an idea that Tina and Emily have been given certain compensations to make up for their predicament, thanks in part to Censor insuring their curse is unbreakable." He grinned. "That’s the thing with Soul stones, both White and Black. Overkill is never a bright idea."
"Sir I can’t have them continue as CCARDS agents. They’re too distinctive."
"You mean you can’t have them continue as undercover CCARDS agents. As far as their connections to CCARDS are concerned, I shall leave that up to you." He tugged on the rim of his melon hat. "Danielle, if you put those two at a desk -- or worse, retire them -- they’ll be dead in under a year. By their own hands if not from sheer depression. They may be crippled, but they also have power as well. There is no way they could have done that much damage with the devices they had."
"You have a point," Danielle conceeded.
"I’m glad we agree," Clockwork beamed.
"I’m just upset that Censor survived."
Clockwork steepled his hands as he gazed at Danielle. The expression on his face could be considered a smile because his lips were upturned and all his teeth were showing.
"You’d be amazed at what you can live through," he said.