Open on Literotica

Outsiders Pt. 04

Ben Kidder woke up on the floor of his den, in front of his couch. It was Saturday morning and his back was sore from sleeping on the floor for half the night. The many minds connected to his let themselves be known. Felicia was impatient and hungry. Susan was telling her lover in Corporate that she was going to get taken by aliens and the other three girls were still asleep.

Krista was draped over him and Lisa was sleeping on top of Raven on the couch. Her head was pillowed by the blonde's big tits and there looked to be a small line of drool across them, originating from her mouth. All four of them were naked. Ben groaned at the memory of last night. He had tried to set the girls free but they had resisted his efforts in a way that he hadn't quite been able to overcome.

The four of them had spent the night fucking. He had passed out in ecstasy again and again, only to be woken up by a soft pressure on his hardening dick a few hours later. The girls would stroke and suck him to hardness and then one of them would ride him, while another would sit on his face. The third would kneel next to them all and exchange kisses and spanks with the girls while allowing him to fingerbang her. The combined orgasms he felt through the telepathic links to their minds would overwhelm him and send him off to dreamland after he shot his load into a girl's pussy and he'd sleep for a few hours before they'd wake him up again.

He gently rolled Krista off himself and got up, stifling a groan as he stood up and his neck stiffened painfully. He grimaced. Between his stiff back and neck, he was starting to feel like an old man. He didn't worry too much about it, though. He knew that his Regeneration feat was going to rid him of the pains very soon. It was the sole reason he had spent half the night balls deep in pussy and didn't have a sore crotch in the morning. He yawned and shuffled off to the kitchen.

"Hey, Boss," Felicia greeted him. "Why are we back to the keeping the cat food in the cabinets thing again? You do remember that I don't have opposable thumbs, right? I mean, I preffered it when we kept my food out in the open, Boss."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Ben quietly said.

Felicia jumped up on the counter and sat down to give him a good look while he opened up a cabinet and took out a can of cat food. "You dog," she said.

"What was that?"

"I said, 'you dog', Boss. You spent half the night fucking the hotties in your den. Though, you don't look too pleased about it."

"It's just 'cause my back is sore," he said and opened the can of her food.

The cat snorted a laugh and said, "I bet you wish you were a cleric with a bushel of healing spells right about now, Boss!"

"Yeah, I do," Ben said. "At least then I wouldn't have a familiar nagging at me all the time." He cast the Prestidigitation spell to heat up her food and make it taste like steak.

"Pfffft, you know you love me, Boss."

Ben set the can down on the counter and Felicia dug into it with gusto. "Not even a 'thank you'," he asked.

"Thanks, Boss!"

"Much better. Now, tell me what the girls were doing while I slept."

Felicia chewed on a big piece of food and said, "Oh, they were mostly whispering amongst themselves and talking and occasionally groping and kissing, too."

"Whispering," Ben asked. His brow drew down. "I don't like the sound of that. What were they talking about?"

"Well, I spent half the night asleep myself, Boss, but, from what I gathered, they wwere mostly getting to know one another."

"Getting to know one another?"

"Yeah, like where they grew up and what kind of music they liked and stuff like that, Boss. Then they did a little dress-up and fondled one another. It all looked like one big sleepover party, except that they rode you like a bronco, every couple of hours. I gotta tell you, Boss, you've got impressive stamina!"

Ben grunted and said, "Thanks." He poured himself a mug of water, made it steaming hot with the Prestidigitation spell and put in a tea bag. "So, they didn't, you know, plot, or anything like that?"


"Yeah, like, you know," Ben said, "like, how to play me and manipulate me to their own ends. Stuff like that?"

"Yes and no, Boss. While they were playing dress up with Lisa, they talked her into being the lowest on the totem pole and submitting to the other two, sexually, and Krista told Raven that she knows a guy around here that can make a grade-A fake ID for her, complete with background and such."

"Way to bury the lead," Ben said. "Who is this guy? Where do I find him?"

"She didn't say, Boss. What she did say was that he owed her one and that he would probably do his best work for free. Raven was all peace, love and harmony after hearing that and the three of them seemed to start to really get along together before the last time they rode you."

"So, no plotting against me," Ben said.

"No, Boss. None whatsoever."

"Did they act suspicious around you?"

"Nope," Felicia said. "They even played with me a little, some time around midnight. What makes you think that they would be hatching a plot against you?" Ben just shrugged in response. "That's sad, Boss. You know, not every girl is a monster that is out to rob you blind, or contaminate your precious, bodily fluids. Besides, you can always just order them to tell you the truth, Boss."

"Don't be quoting Doctor Strangelove to me, cat," he said. "It's just that I don't want them to think that I'm some kind of lame, weirdo loser that only started to have meaningful experiences with girls four days ago, you know?"

The cat pulled her head out of the can and licked her whiskers. "But, Boss, you are a lame, weirdo loser that only started to have meaningful experiences with girls this week. How can you hope to hide that from them?"

Ben barked out a soft laugh and flicked his finger at the top of her head, playfully. "Shut up, you," he said.

"Look, all kidding aside, Boss, I think that they're good girls, deep down inside. Well, ok, Krista should never be left unsupervised. Like, not even for a second. But the other two seem nice. Well, Lisa does. Raven's a bit iffy, too, if I'm honest, Boss."

"See what I'm dealing with?"

The cat conceded his point with a soft grunt and put her head back into the can. "Could you make this taste like it had hollandaise sauce on it, Boss?" He did and she said, "Thank you!"

Ben stroked her head and left the kitchen to take a shower and shave. By the time he finished, the girls were still sound asleep. He got dressed and went to the kitchen. Felicia was licking her fur. "Hey, did the girls stay up the whole night," Ben asked her.

"Pretty much, yeah," she said. "They finally fell asleep the last time you did, Boss."

Ben nodded. That would mean that they only had three hours of sleep. He decided to let them sleep some more. He went to the den and gently picked up Krista to carry her to his bed. He laid her down and covered her with a sheet. He went back to the den and looked at Lisa sleeping atop Raven. Neither looked very comfortable so he gently picked up Lisa and put her in bed next to Krista. He brought a fresh sheet to cover Raven with.

After that, he quietly made breakfast for himself. A big bowl of oatmeal that he made taste like fillet mignon in gorgonzola sauce. By the time he ate half of it, he changed its taste to that of chocolate cake.

He spent the rest of the morning scouring the newspapers and online adds for a new place to live. He wanted a better place that was closer to the university campus. It also had to be affordable and bigger than the one he lived in. Even if he didn't keep the girls around, he would need the space to host his group's AD&D nights when school started up again.

Nothing caught his eye, without violating his still limited budget, so he switched to rereading the spells of yesterday. He found that he no longer needed to cast Read Magic on himself. The spell had taught him how to read them on his own, without needing to cast it. He double checked his conclusions and sighed. The price of freeform magic was human life. He could tell that sacrificing animals to power it was not possible.

He set aside his frustrating work and paced the kitchen. The girls were still sleeping and softly snoring. He tried to come up with another way to use his limited spells to make money and was deep in thinking about the possible uses of his Stone Shape spell when he felt Raven wake up. She was slow to rouse fully and went to the bathroom to wash the grime of last night off herself. Krista and Lisa soon followed her lead. Ben couldn't help but wear a persistent, glad grin as three nubile, young women paraded around his house wearing nothing but their birthday suits.

The girls complained of being hungry and Ben told them he'd have breakfast ready by the time they got dressed. He made more oatmeal and cast another spell of Prestidigitation. Raven came into the kitchen first, wearing a white wifebeater T-shirt and her customary black boyshorts. She took her seat, wearing a glad grin at seeing Ben's expression and gestured at the door.

Krista walked in, wearing transparent harem pants and a red, silk scarf wrapped around her breasts and neck to serve as a halter top. Ben saw her lacy, red thong and knew that the day was going to be a scorcher, not only because of the air temperature outside. She sat down opposite Raven and Lisa came into the kitchen wearing a mockery of a French maid's uniform. The frilly, black "dress" with the white apron in front of it, was only a few inches long. It came down to the tops of her hips and left her pussy and ass exposed to everyone's eyes. Ben saw that she was freshly shaven. Above her waist, the uniform consisted of two wide strips of black fabric that went over her tits, covering just her nipples, and were then tied off around her throat to look like a choker with a bowtie in front. It took Ben a few moments to spot that she was wearing fishnet stockings, that only came up to mid-thigh, and a pair of black pumps.

Ben gaped at her obscene dress and she blushed visibly, while keeping her eyes down in a submissive posture. Before he could say or do anything, Krista harrumphed and Lisa knelt on the floor. She didn't look very comfortable and Ben focused on his link with her mind. Her knees really hurt her. "Stand up," he said.

Lisa reluctantly did so, keeping her eyes to the floor. "Ben," Krista said, "the servants should be made to kneel."

"Why do your knees hurt you so much," he asked Lisa.

Lisa hesitated before saying, "When I was eleven, some kids threw rocks at me while I was climbing a tree. They hit me and knocked me out of the tree and I landed on my knees. I ended up in splints for a month. I can walk and run and everything, but they really hurt while I'm kneeling."

"New rule in this house," Ben said. "If, and I do say if, we are going to do the whole sex slave harem thing, then all kneeling will be done on cushions. Ok? It is forbidden to kneel without a cushion!"

All three girls agreed. Lisa pulled out the third chair at his kitchen table for him to sit in. Ben smiled and gestured for her to sit down instead. She hesitated and he gestured again, this time with an accompanying nod. She sat down and Ben could feel the texture of the chair's seat against her freshly shaven and very sensitive pussy lips. It made him smile.

He served each girl with a bowl of oatmeal. They all affected insencere smiles and thanked him. "What would you like your breakfast to taste like," he asked them. They raised their eyebrows in confusion and hesitated answering.

"A hot fudge sundae," Krista said at last. Ben made it so and gestured for her to eat her food. She took a mouthful and immediately began to moan in delight. She pulled her spoon out of her mouth to wave around as she moaned some more.

"Ok," Raven said, smiling widely, "can I have mine taste like caviar?" Ben shrugged at her request and made it so.

"I'd like prosciutto and melon, please," Lisa said. Ben made it so and nodded at her.

Raven started making choked up, disgusted noises and looked to be on the verge of vomiting. She looked around and finally spat out her mouthful on the table, next to her own bowl. "Bleh," she said. "What the hell, Ben?! I asked for caviar! This tastes like salted fish shit!"

"Well, yeah," Ben said, confused, "that's pretty much what caviar tastes like. And I did make your food taste like caviar."

"Bullshit," Raven said.

"Have you ever had caviar before," Krista asked.

Raven looked put upon for a moment, but then said, "No."

Krista dipped her spoon into Raven's bowl and took a little bit of her oatmeal to taste. "Yup," she said, "that's caviar."

Raven looked unconvinced as her eyes darted from one face to another. "Oh, come on," she said. "You're pulling my leg! There's no way rich people pay lots of money for something that tastes like this!"

It took Ben, Lisa and Krista a minute to convince her that they weren't pulling a prank on her and she finally said, "Can I have another bowl of oatmeal, please?"

"Sure," Ben said, slightly confused. "Or I can just change the taste of the one you've already got."

"You can do that," Raven asked.

"Yeah," Ben said. "No problem."

"Listen," Raven said, "can you make it taste like strawberries? Just taste like them, nothing else. No actual strawberries, or essence of strawberry in it. Can you do that?"

"Sure," Ben said, smiling. He made it so. "I already did."

Raven tentatively spooned a little bit of oatmeal into her mouth and started to moan ecstatically. "Lemme guess," Krista said. "You're allergic to strawberries?" Raven nodded yes and began to shovel spoonfuls into her mouth, looking incredibly delighted. "And yet you love the taste of those little, red murderberries." Raven shrugged and kept eating. "Ben, could you change mine into Peking duck?"

Ben spent the next ten minutes changing the taste of Krista and Lisa's food, while Raven stuck with the taste of strawberries. By the time Krista was scooping up the last of her oatmeal she said, "You know, this reminds me of a very important issue that we haven't addressed yet." She put her spoon in her mouth. It tasted of millefeuille.

"And what's that," Ben asked while Krista savored her dessert.

"Your magic," she said. "If you're going to go on a quest to hunt down cultists, or whomever, we need to know what you can actually do with your magic."

Ben's brow drew down. "Why would you need to know that," he asked.

"So we can help you with your tactical planning and stuff like that," Krista said. She started counting on her fingers "We need to know if you can heal us if we get hurt, if you can heal yourself, if there are things that can make people immune to your magic, what kinds of spells you can cast, what are their limitations... Any number of things that enter into a tactical equation." Ben looked at her dubiously. "I mean, come on, Ben! You're a badass, but no one makes it big by working all on their own. You need someone to help you, even if it's only with the little things. You can sound off your plans on us and we can give you our honest opinions... Four heads are better than one, you know! Besides, who can you trust if not your slave girls? Am I right, gals?"

Ben sent Krista the order to tell the truth about why she wanted to know the details of his magical ability. She resisted the order unsuccessfully.

"I want to know so I can protect myself against this kind of thing ever happening to me again," she said. " I want to know exactly what kinds of miraculous things you can do for me. I know you can teleport and make me orgasm on command," the other two girls perked up in interest at hearing that, "and I tingle with excitement whenever I wonder what else you've got up your sleeve." She paused, saw Ben's frown and held up her hands. "But I would never use that information against you, Ben! I swear it!"

He sent her the order to tell him the truth about when and how she would use any weakness he told her about. She resisted his order and looked like she was going to bite her tongue before she said, "If you pushed me too far, I'd sidle up next to you, all smiles and sultry stares, and strike hard and fast while you were distracted."

Raven and Lisa gasped in shock. Ben just glared at Krista. She stood up and put her hands on her head in a blind panic. "It would never come to that, Ben," she pleadingly said, "you've got to believe me! You're a good guy and it would never come to that, I swear! I mean, I'm just trying to look out for myself, you know? Shit! This is all coming out wrong! Ben, listen to me, I'm not looking for a way to hurt you. I swear that I'm not looking for any kind of vengeance!"

"Yeah, that," Ben said, "that's enough, Krista."

"Look," Krista said, "you can order me to tell you the truth! Order me now! I'll tell you that I only don't want to feel utterly helpless. That's it. That's all that I want. An illusion of control, of being able to fight back if things went to shit. Or, or to fight for you, if we came across another one like you! You know? I have zero, I repeat, zero intention of ever-" She fell silent when Ben sent her the order to stop talking. Tears were glistening in the corners of her eyes and her lower lip was trembling.

Raven and Lisa looked anxious and worried, too. "See," Ben said, "this is why I hate the idea of keeping you as my slaves. Look at you! All three of you are scared of me. I hate that. I can't imagine ever growing to like that. I just... I think it might be best if we part ways after all."

"No," all three girls exclaimed at the same time. Krista sat back down.

"I'm not leaving your side," Lisa firmly said.

"Ben," Raven said, "I'm not scared of you, I'm scared of what others might do to me if you send me away from you! I swear! Order me to tell you the truth! I know you wouldn't hurt me! You had me over the barrel already and you proved what you're made of. You could have used the spell that was meant to turn me back to blackmail me into obedience and you didn't. You just wiped it off me. I trust you, Ben. You can only scare me by sending me away from you."

She stood up and took his hand. She brought it up to her mouth and kissed it. "And for the record," she said, "I don't want to know any more about your magic than what you are willing to share or you decide that I should know. I mean it. If you don't want me to know anything, I'm perfectly fine with that. I trust you and your judgement."

"Me, too," Lisa said.

Ben could feel that she was not afraid of him and that gave him comfort. He looked over at Krista and concentrated on his link to her mind. He felt that she was afraid of him sending her away. His calm expression was again praying upon her nerves. He knew that she couldn't actually find anything to fight his magic with, only another caster that was able to cast antimagic field would be capable of doing that, but the matter-of-fact way she said she'd sidle up to him, smile and strike still unnerved him. He imagined that there were very few underhanded moves under the Sun that she didn't have experience with.

"Ok," he said. "I'll tell you about my magic when it becomes neccessary. If it becomes neccessary. Not before." The three girls relaxed and he pulled out of his links to Lisa and Krista's minds. "I will, however, reveal one thing to you right now." He used his Prestidigitation spell to clean up all the dishes in a flash. "There is no need to clean while I'm around." He stood next to Krista. "If that fact can sway your mind over whether or not to strike."

Krista choked back a sob and he went into his den. Raven and Lisa put their hands on her shoulders and whispered comforting words.

He sat down at his desk and put all the spell drawings he had into a drawer. The girls slowly shuffled into the den to sit on the couch. Raven sat closest to him, while Krista sat farthest away. "So," Ben said, "now that we've had that awkward confession, shall we talk about this arrangement of ours?" All three girls looked hesitant. "I'll start. I'm not comfortable with the idea of keeping sex slaves, as I've already told you. However, I am inclined towards letting the three of you stay with me for some time. At least until the spells of domination end. Now, what were you girls talking about last night, while I was asleep?"
Raven told him that the three of them had a nice chat and got to know one another better. She also told him that they came to an understanding about how they were to share his affections and not get into any more pissing matches over him. She blushed when she told him that Krista and she talked Lisa into being everyone's sex slave, including theirs.

"Would you like a demonstration," she asked.

"What," Ben said.

"Lisa," Raven said and slid down in her seat to spread her thighs, "take off my panties and eat my pussy for me!"

Lisa got up, took her couch cushion and set it down on the floor, between Raven's long, shapely legs. She knelt on it and nuzzled the blonde's crotch. Raven squirmed in her seat and gasped in delight. Ben couldn't tear his eyes away from the sight of Lisa slowly rolling Raven's undies down her thighs and legs until Raven lifted her legs high and Lisa pulled the garment off to toss it aside. She dove back down into the pussy that was presented to her. Raven threw her head back and began to gasp out encouragements to the girl.

"You're turned on by this," Krista said to Ben. "Admit it." He shot her a look. His erection was straining at his pants, making his arousal already obvious. "We make you hard. On our own," she gestured to herself, "or combined." She gestured at Lisa eating Raven's pussy. "So why the hesitation?"

Ben cleared his throat and looked away from the box munching to shoot Krista another look. "It makes me feel like I'm exploiting you. Like I was an abuser."

"Order Lisa to tell you what she wants most in the world in this moment," Krista said. "Go on! Order her!"

He sent Lisa the order to do so. She gave Raven's pussy a long lick before lifting her head just long enough to say, "I want a hard dick to plow my defenseless pussy, please!" Raven tangled her fingers in the brunette's hair and pulled her face back down into her pussy.

"Well," Krista asked of Ben, while Raven resumed her moaning.

Ben got up, took off his utility belt and undid his pants. He knelt behind Lisa and put his hands on her hips. He could plainly see that her pussy lips were engorged as they peeked out from under her "dress". He could smell pussy juice and he was sure it wasn't from Raven. Hers looked to be very quickly gathered up by Lisa. The angle was wrong so he sent Krista the order to give him her seat cushion. She did and he sent Lisa the order to stand up for a moment. She stood with her face still pressed into Raven's pussy and he placed the second cushion atop the first.

When Lisa knelt again, her pussy was perfectly aligned with his hard cock. He grabbed her hips to hold them steady and hilted himself inside her in one hard thrust. He focused on his links to Raven and Lisa's minds and allowed their pleasure to guide him. He plowed Lisa, stoking her orgasm and she moaned into Raven's pussy. This was enough to send the blonde over the edge and she came, screaming out her ecstasy.

Ben barely managed to stop himself from cumming as well while he experienced her pleasure and pounded Lisa's wet, hot pussy. He felt Lisa's delight at being so mercilessly used and was surprised with how strong her arousal was. When a finger penetrated her ass, she started to soar towards a massive orgasm. Ben peeked with one eye and saw Krista's finger playing with Lisa's asshole. Lisa climaxed and the rush of ecstasy he felt in her mind, combined with the clenching of her pussy, fired him into the stratosphere. He barely even perceived Raven's second orgasm as all thought was pushed out of his awareness and replaced with pleasure.

When he came to, he was gulping air and lying atop Lisa with his softening cock slowly slipping out of her. When it did, they both shivered as one. He summoned the strength to lift himself off her and, feeling her desire for it, gave her a commendatory spank on her ass. She giggled and shot him a smile.

He got up to sit in his chair and Krista helped Lisa sit back on the couch after replacing the cushions.

"I think I know how to solve your problem, Ben," Krista said. "We shall have orgies directed by rolling your dice. We will roll dice to determine who does what to whom and everyone shall have an equal chance of getting eaten out, reamed or licking someone's ass. It'll be just like when I rolled your die on Wednesday, only this time, it'll be a long list of pleasurable things."

"Why does it always have to be about sex with you," Ben said, still gasping for air.

"I only started having sex six days ago," Raven said. "I spent twenty-two years wishing for it and, now that I'm hot, I intend to have sex as often as I can. Particularly with you!"

"Me, too," Lisa said. "I mean, I've only started having orgasms in the past few days and I want so many more. Orgasms are great!"

"Passion is what makes life worth living, Ben," Krista said. "And we won't be all about sex, naturally. We'll do other stuff together, too. Just having sex all the time would get pretty boring, pretty quickly. Not to mention sore! But these two girls have a passion for it at this point in their lives and... Well, let's face it! You love giving it to them. Don't you?" Ben nodded. "Passion comes first."

After Ben caught his breath, he came to a decision, influenced by the sight of two climax-flushed young hotties before him. "Alright," he said, "this is how it's going to work. All three of you are welcome to stay with me for as long as you like and we'll have sex whenever we wish. Krista, you'll get your friend to make a new identity for Raven and we're all going to find a lawyer and psychiatrist to get Lisa off the hook as far as mental hospitals are concerned. And we need to get her some proper clothes." The girls' jaws dropped at hearing him know about Krista's friend.

He looked away and did some mental math. He had only ten thousand dollars of disposable income, the rest was earmarked for his college tuitions. He'd dip into that, if he needed to, but he would prefer having a plan to make more money on hand before going that far. "Though the shark and shrink would have to be cheap," he said. "I'm not exactly loaded right now."

"I have more than sixteen thousand dollars in the bank," Lisa said.

"Yeah, but your account is most likely monitored," Krista said, "what with you being both a fugitive and an escaped loony. It's best if you don't even check your balance in the near future."

Ben suddenly had a brainwave. "I got it! I know how to make money fast! Express air freight!" The girls looked at him blankly. "I can cast a spell of teleportation and instantaneously appear anywhere in the world. But it's not limited to just me! I can bring up to six other people and as much as they can carry. I can carry a hundred and seventy five pounds before being overencumbered and I'm guessing each of you could carry at least seventy more."

The girls shot each other dubious glances. "All right," Ben said, "let's round it down to three hundred and fifty pounds of cargo we can bring with us when we teleport. I can cast that spell sixteen times a day, if I use up all my high level slots. We can transport more than two and a half tons a day between us."

The girls just looked at him expectantly. "Don't you get it? We advertise that we're an express air freight service and pick up the goods and take them to a warehouse. Then I teleport them to a quiet place near their destination and then we wait a few hours and deliver the goods as if they've been flown there. We can charge thousands of dollars while incurring only the expense of renting the trucks to make the initial pickup and final delivery."

The girls all opened their mouth and ooohed at the same time.

"That's such a good con," Krista said.

"But we'd actually deliver the goods, Krista," Ben said.

"No, no, no, I get that," Krista said. "I get it, I'm on board. I'm just saying... Great idea!" Lisa and Raven nodded along with her. "However..." Krista held up a finger. "We will only go along with your venture and double your payload under one condition."

Lisa and Raven both looked at her like she was mad. Their eyes darted between her on one end of the couch and Ben sitting by the other end, like there was going to be trouble.

"And what would that condition be," Ben asked.

Krista smiled, winked at the worried girls and said, "The conditio sine qua non is... After we make our delivery, we spend each day in the destination, taking in the sights and enjoying the local culture."

Everyone's eyebrows rose in surprise. At last, Ben spread his arms and said, "I'm down with that. You girls down with that?"

"Yes, please," Raven and Lisa cried out in one voice.

"Alright, then," he said. "It's settled! We're starting an air freight delivery service! First order of business is coming up with a name."

"Already got it," Krista said. "Get ready!" She put her hands up and slowly spread them like she was revealing a marquee in mid air. "Fearsome Foursome Flying Freight!"

The others wrinkled their noses at her suggestion. "Can't have fear and flying in the same breath," Ben said. Lisa and Raven nodded in agreement.

"Yeah, whatever," Krista said. "Sounded way better in my head, anyway. Hey! Why's everyone so glum? We've just embarked on an adventure! A business venture! We need to celebrate! Break out the booze, Ben!" Ben got up and then stopped.

"What's wrong," Krista asked.

"I don't have any booze in the house, actually," he said.

"Never mind," she said, "let's go out and get some, then!" Lisa and Raven cheered and got up. "And we'll first stop by my friend's place so he can whip up Raven an ID that says she's twenty two." Everyone paused and gave her a look. "So she can buy the booze for us all." Everyone nodded and smiled.

"And we'll get our little slave girl a couple more cute outfits," Raven said, hugging Lisa close to her. Ben rolled his eyes. He was definitely going to go broke if he didn't do the air freight thing. As soon as the girls changed into street clothes and dressed Lisa in some of Krista's clothes, that hung unstylishly on her petite frame, they all got in Ben's car and drove off.

Krista's friend had professional gear and worked quickly to make Raven's new ID. He chatted a little with Krista, but made it clear right at the beginning that he had someplace to be and little time to waste. Ben didn't mind the rush. From the tone of their voices, he could tell that they were very close friends. As he watched Krista smile at her pal and play with her hair, he imagined that he could see that the two of them had also been lovers. That thought made him feel jealous and then surprised at his jealousy. He made no comment and took no action, just quietly explored the small studio until the ID was finished. He sent Krista the order to not tell her friend where they were staying and she told him that she was between locations at the moment and that they'd talk soon.

After the liquor store and the mall, where they bought a cellphone for each of the girls, they stopped off for some more groceries at Raven's request. "I'm going to make a late lunch for us all," she said.

"You can cook," Krista asked.

"Yeah," Raven sadly said. "No one ever took me out for a meal, so I got a lot of practice."

"What, no one ever," Ben asked. "Not even I? The day before yesterday?"

"Oh, well," Raven said with a smile, "I didn't count that."

Ben made a small, insulted noise. "You wound me, madam," he said in his best melodramatic voice. The girls laughed and he said, "Seriously, never mind the groceries. I'm taking you out to lunch, all three of you. And dinner after that! Sound good?"

After lunch at a fancy restaurant, they retired to Ben's place to stow their latest shopping. Krista and Lisa went to the bedroom to force some order into the piles of boxes containing clothes that were taking up almost half the room. Raven put away all the groceries and other purchases and Ben settled in the den to see if there was anything on TV. There wasn't so he switched it to the local news to wait for the weather forecast, hoping to hear about the heat wave ending soon.

He went online to check up on his friends and how their summers were going. Just as he was commenting on a photo of Jake getting hit in the face by a soccer ball, the girls cleared their throats in the doorway. He looked up and gasped.

Lisa was wearing her slutty, French maid's "outfit". Krista was wearing some transparent shawls, tied off to make her look like a slutty jinn. Raven was wearing orange shorts, pantyhose and a white, sleeveless shirt, which made her look like a Hooters waitress. Ben usualy considered the Hooters uniform to be far more ridiculous than sexy, but Raven changed his mind at first glance.

"Master," Krista said, "how may your servants serve you today?" Ben was too busy eating up their costumes to answer her. "Perhaps you would like a drink? Something to nibble on?"

Ben nodded, absentmindedly, and Lisa and Raven left the room. Krista walked to stand in front of the TV and said, "Master, what is thy bidding?"

Ben smiled, opened his mouth and then noticed Raven's face on the screen behind her. "Move to the side," he said and picked up the remote. He turned the sound back on as Krista turned around to face the screen and stepped back. "Raven, get in here, now!" On the screen were DMV photos of Simon and a very ugly person of indeterminate gender and right next to them was a still of Raven, obviously pulled from a store surveillance camera. Simon's name was listed as Simon Eustace Thorpe and the third person's name was listed as Clarice Morrow.

"...still wanted for questioning by the police in relation to the explosion at their address and the three unknown men that were murdered at the location," the news anchor said. "The once quiet suburb of-"

"Oh my God," Raven exclaimed, seeing what was on the screen.

"Who's Clarice Morrow," Ben asked.

"I am," Raven said. "I was. Before my transformation. I mean... Just call me Raven!"

"Seriously," Krista barked out in disbelief. "You looked like that?! I've seen prettier chimpanzees!" Ben could plainly see the effect her comment had on Raven. "Damn, you were ugly! If I had been born-" She shut up when Ben sent her the order to apologize to Raven. "I'm sorry, Raven. I didn't mean to hurt, or insult you. Please, accept my sincere apology."

Before Raven could say anything, the news anchor said, "We go back now live to the army base where our very own Marty Feldman reported from, just minutes ago. Marty, what is happening?"

The picture switched to a scared, middle aged man, crouching behind a short, brick wall. Everyone in the den turned to look at the screen, drawn by the obvious panic on the man's face. "Something's gone wrong," he said. "There are bullets flying everywhere! It's a war zone out here!" He flinched and ducked lower as an explosion was heard in the background. The camera dared to peek out over the wall, showing uniformed men sprinting across the base green from left to right. The sound of machine gun fire was heard and the soldiers all fell down as one, their bodies nearly ripped apart by the automatic fire.

Everyone in Ben's den gasped in shock, but Lisa continued into a scream. "It's them," she yelled. "It's the symbols! There's a spell there, on the lawn!"

"What," Ben asked. "Are you sure?!"

"Yes," Lisa said, "It's right there, swirling behind them! They're all gonna die!"

"Duck," a voice close to the camera yelled out on the TV. The beginning of a loud noise was heard and then the picture froze and became a pixellated mess of static and misaligned frames. Within a second, they cut back to the shocked news anchor who stared off screen with his mouth hanging wide open.

"You have to go there, Ben," Lisa said. "You have to save those people!"

Ben was way ahead of her as he pulled out his eyelash in gum arabic. "Did you see the whole spell," he asked her.

"No," Lisa said, "it was on the lawn, in the distance. I couldn't make out the individual symbols from the low angle."

He cast the spell of Greater Invisibility on himself and said, "Then you're staying here! Put some clothes on! I'll come back to get you to take a look as soon as I've neutralized the enemy." He replaced his material focus and pulled out another, his piece of turtle shell. He cast the Protection from Arrows spell on himself. It negated a hundred hit points of damage from any ranged weapon, but the effect was limited to only ten points of damage being negated per shot. He knew, from the Dungeon Master's Guide's section on modern and futuristic weapons, that a machine gun's bullets did either 2d6 or 2d8 of damage, depending on caliber. A consistent barrage of concentrated fire could wind up killing him despite his preparation. He set his jaw and decided to proceed, anyway.

"You have to hurry," Lisa said.

"Wait a minute," Krista said. "That's a war zone! You can't go in there with nothing but invisibility to protect you! There's bullets flying everywhere!"

"Don't worry," Ben said. "I know what I'm doing." Despite his words, he had to concede her point. Teleporting into the base was likely going to get him shot. He replaced his piece of turtle shell and pulled out his feather. As soon as he felt his magic flow again, he cast the Fly spell on himself.

"Ben, what are you doing," Krista asked.

"What are you going to do," Lisa asked.

Ben sent Raven the order to tell him truthfully if she knew anything about what was going on at that army base. "I don't know anything except what they just showed on the TV," she said.

"Be careful," Lisa said.

"I don't think this is a good idea," Raven said.

"Ben, talk to us," Krista said. "Don't just rush off all willy-nilly, ok? Tell us how we can help!"

Ben pictured the base's lawn in his mind. When his magic flowed again, he spoke the word of Greater Teleport and materialized, invisible, two hundred feet in the air above the lawn. The first thing he felt was the acrid smoke filling up his nostrils. There were wisps of it rising up from half the buildings of the base. He looked down at the base green and saw that there were dozens of uniformed bodies strewn across it. A burning tank was tipped over on its side in the distance.

A blast shook one of the buildings and Ben saw a tracked vehicle emerge from behind the building. It was smaller than a shopping cart and it carried machine guns and cameras on it. Ben looked around it and soon spotted ten other robotic vehicles driving around the base in a tight formation. The biggest was smaller than a golf cart. He was still trying to figure out where this attack had come from and who was responsible when he saw one of the vehicles train its rocket launcher on a building and fire at it. A group of dazed soldiers stumbled out of the smoking hole and two other vehicles mercilessly gunned them down before they could either look for cover or run away.

Ben heard a rumbling noise and a tank exited a hangar, ripping through its doors effortlessly. It trained its main gun on the cluster of robotic vehicles. Before it could fire, the robots trained their barrels at it and fired themselves. The tank's armor sparked with bouncing bullets. Three small rockets hit it in the exact same spot on its turret in quick succession. The first explosion was big, the second small and the third made the armored behemoth disappear in a massive explosion as its ammunition store was detonated.

The blast snapped Ben out of his shock at seeing all the carnage. He drew his patch of fur and piece of amber from his utility belt and began rubbing them together. The robotic vehicles were grouped together and he judged that they were all within thirty feet of the rocket launching robot. He touched eleven of the nineteen silver pins on the back of his utility belt and cast the spell of Chain Lightning down upon the robots.
The first bolt struck the rocket-launching vehicle in the center of the group and smashed it into smithereens. From the remains leapt a secondary bolt of lightning and struck the target of Ben's choice with half the force of the original bolt, which was still enough to fry all of its electric and electronic parts. From each struck vehicle a bolt leapt up to strike the next one Ben targeted until all eleven vehicles were struck. All the strikes happened in the same second. The robots were destroyed and the smell of burning metal, with a hint of ozone, rose up to invade Ben's nostrils.

He cast a spell of Invisibility on himself and flew above the base, doing two passes while surveying it for any sign of hostile activity. All that he saw were fires and dead men. Some soldiers were crawling out of their hiding places and staring shell-shocked at the carnage. NCOs began barking out orders, trying to assemble the survivors into rescue teams. The soldiers slowly responded to the barked orders and began gathering first aid kits and examining bodies. The looks on their faces told Ben all that he needed to know. The robots had killed all who were out in the open, or could be flushed out.

Ben flew back to where he recognized the reporter had been. The entire building was leveled and a lot of casualties in civilian clothes were strewn about. He saw cameras and microphones and guessed they had been journalists. He focused on his link with Lisa's mind and let himself see his den through her eyes. He quietly spoke the word of Greater Teleport and appeared there, invisible.

"Lisa," he softly said, making all three girls jump and scream. "Sorry." The girls, who had changed into everyday outfits during his absence, waved their outstretched arms around, trying to feel where he was. "You two, stay here!"

"Which two," Raven asked.

Ben pulled out his eyelash in gum arabic and touched Lisa's shoulder as he cast the spell of Invisibility on her.

"Oh," Krista said in response to Lisa vanishing before her very eyes. "Us two."

Ben sent Lisa the order to close her eyes and accept his teleportation. When his magic resumed flowing, he grasped her firmly and spoke the word of Greater Teleport while envisioning the place where she said the spell was.

They appeared twenty feet in the air above that part of the base's green. Ben had a hard time keeping them aloft with his Fly spell, but he managed. Lisa weighed less than his maximum carrying capacity was. He looked around and confirmed the placement of the bodies in the vicinity before sending Lisa the order to face straight down. He sent her the order to cover her eyes with her fingers so her field of vision was extremely limited. He sent her the order to peek at the grass under them.

He felt that she was only seeing the green of the grass under them, without any symbols, or anything else. He flew them slowly around, being careful not to fly near any bodies that she might see. When he felt her finally see a symbol, he flew them over the round spell until he felt that she had seen all of it. He focused on his den and spoke the word of Greater Teleport. The two of them found themselves in the den.

He sent Lisa the order to perfectly recall the spell she saw on the lawn and draw it exactly. Raven and Krista both yelled in fright when the desk chair moved back on its own. "We're back," Ben calmly said. He ended his spell of Invisibility and appeared in the den.

"Where's Lisa," Raven asked.

Ben pointed at the drawers on his desk opening. "She's drawing for me," he said.

"What happened," Raven asked.

"I don't know, exactly," Ben said. "A bunch of remotely controlled combat robots were used to shoot up the whole base."

"Who could have done that," Krista asked.

"I don't know," Ben said. "That's for the army, or the FBI, or whoever to find out. What I need to know is what this spell has to do with anything."

He ended Lisa's invisibility and went into the kitchen to pour himself a stiff drink. He picked Scotch and downed it to steady his nerves. He had only seen real blood and gore once before, when Simon had been killed before his eyes. The base massacre was much worse than that. He felt glad that he had managed to keep Lisa from seeing it. He poured himself another shot of Scotch and let the smoky aroma hang on his tongue this time, to distract him from what he had seen.

He stifled his sobs and blinked away his tears when Lisa finished the drawing. He took out his small prism and cast the Read Magic spell on himself to examine this new calamity. He sat down to read while the girls hugged Lisa and tried to offer her comfort. Lisa insisted that she hadn't seen anything and the girls believed her after a while. They all looked at Ben with worry on their faces and waited for him to finish.

The central symbol of the spell told Ben where to start reading it and he quickly realized the spell itself was meant to draw the power of nearby human sacrifices and focus it into constructing something. Something that was a very small part of a very great whole and it wasn't the final part. Ben bit his lip in frustration. He was in possession of too small a piece of the puzzle to be able to figure out anything more than the rough scale of what was going on.

As he read on, he was reminded of Schrödinger's psi equation that described the behavior of electrons in their clouds. He had once seen how the equation was solved and the symbols inscribed along the inner edge of the spell reminded him of that. He sighed and shook his head as he cleared his mind of all thoughts of quantum mechanics. "I'm dealing with deranged cultists, here," he reminded himself, "not post grad physicists."

As he skipped that part and read on, he saw that the spell had a runoff valve. If the energy reaped by the sacrifices around the spell exceeded the amount required for the construction of its product, it would keep gathering the energy and funnel it towards the caster.

"Lisa," he called out to the girl that was standing over his shoulder. They both flinched. "Sorry. Can you remember how the symbols were swirling along the outer rim, just inside the circle?"

"Yeah," Lisa said. "They were swirling counterclockwise, unlike the rest of them." She indicated the runoff lines of the spell with a finger. "It was these lines, I think."

Ben's fists tightened. The spell was a success and whatever it was meant to build had been built. The excess loss of life was funneled to the caster. It looked like the bad guys had won. He stood up, pulled out his eyelash in gum arabic and cast the spell of Greater Invisibility on himself.

"What are you doing," Krista asked.

"I'm going back to the base to find whoever cast the spell and I'm going to go medieval on their behinds," Ben calmly said. He felt his magic resume flowing and cast the spell of Greater Teleport while envisioning the base's lawn.

Simon stood by the base's outer wall and grimly watched the useless, little insects running around like chickens with their heads cut off. His spell had been a success and the element of Air had been constructed, bringing his work on the portal one quarter of the way to being finished. The excess power reaped was inside him, awaiting his disposal, yet he was not happy.

Someone, or something, had destroyed the murder machines with lightning that came out of nowhere and then jumped around from robot to robot. The robots had been supposed to kill everyone on the base, right in front of the news cameras that had been invited there to the presentation of the future of warfare, before leaving the base and going into the city to reap its inhabitants. The distance of the robots from the spell's original location didn't matter, they were consecrated by it and all souls they reaped would be drawn to him.

He forced himself to not dwell on the loss of all that power. He had power inside of himself and it was enough for him to continue his work. He was tempted to reenter the base and use some of it to kill more people as his spell was still there to reap them and draw their energy to him.

He looked at the armed, angry soldiers the base was lousy with and decided against it. Fighting them would likely cost him all the power he had reaped today and there was also that unknown that fried the robots to consider. He guessed it was probably the work of Ben Kidder and he was impressed by the young man's magical prowess. His decision to stay away from him was proving to be a smart one, regardless of how much it bruised his ego. "Besides," he told himself, "he'll fall alongside everyone else as soon as I complete and activate the portal."

He ended the spell and used some of his power to draw a veil of unnoticeability around himself. He changed into Daniel's civilian clothing to better blend in. He decided he would continue his work someplace else. Someplace far away from here.

Ben materialized forty feet above the ground and looked around. There was no sign of any bad guys twirling their mustaches. He cast the Dispel Magic spell on the lawn where Lisa had seen the sacrificial spell. He didn't want the energy of any soldiers that were dying to be drawn to its caster.

He took a photo of the lawn with his cellphone and sent it to Lisa's phone, asking her to confirm that he had dispelled it. She texted him back that the photo was clear, with no symbols on it.

Ben put away his phone and used his still lasting Fly spell to scour the whole base, looking for any kind of clue. He sprinkled his silver powder and talc mixture in the air and cast the spell of See Invisibility on himself, but he saw no one and nothing invisible on the base.

Down on the ground, paramedics, firemen and soldiers were running around, desperate to find survivors or a clue as to what had happened. Ben overflew them, recasting his spells of invisibility and flight until he had methodically scoured the entire base. He did a single sweep of the base's surroundings before running out of spell slots above level one. He stopped by everyone who was talking on the phone to eavesdrop, but no one was reporting on the success of their mission, or saying anything suspicious. He used his very last ninth level spell slot to cast Greater Teleport and go back home.

Ben materialized at home and poured himself another Scotch. He had seen so much death and it was getting to him. When his invisibility ended, the girls heard him weeping and went into the kitchen to see him bent over the bottle. They quickly intervened and dragged him to the bedroom. Raven hugged his head to her bosom and the girls rubbed his back and shushed him like a baby while he cried.

He stopped crying only when he was utterly exhausted so the girls fed him some fruit and got him to drink some water before putting him to bed. Numb from all the death he had seen, he lay in his bed for half the night, listening to the girls' worried whispers in the hall outside his bedroom. He only truly fell asleep when Felicia came to his bed and asked him if he wanted to talk about it. He wordlessly declined her offer and she curled up on his chest and purred. The soft purring finally sent him to dreamland.

On Sunday, every TV station in the country was reporting on the robotic rampage. The Secretary of Defence gave a press conference in which he expressed his condolences to the families of the slain soldiers and announced that the government was cancelling all research into the military use of robots. Journalists asked about airborne drones, but the secretary deflected their questions and the conference ended quickly after that.

Ben got what he needed from the conference. Army Criminal Investigations Division was going to take lead in investigating what happened at the base. He planned to observe their efforts and find out who really killed all those people. Whoever they were, they were still human and left human traces behind for forensic investigators to discover.

The girls gently probed him for answers about what happened at the base and he told them that someone had killed all those soldiers, but he let them believe that was the sole purpose of the spell Lisa had seen. He didn't trust them to have the strength to handle the truth. He asked the girls to keep one eye on the twenty-four hour news cycle at all times and look for anything else suspicious.

"I want to catch those crazy bastards," he said, "and end their threat to humanity, once and for all."

The girls agreed and at least one of them was awake at any time, surfing the web and news stations, looking for anything out of the ordinary. Ben used his magic to teleport into the Army CID headquarters invisible and spy on their investigation. He knew they were hopelessly in the dark going in, but he was surprised to see them actively avoiding doing any actual investigative work. They were careful about meticulously gathering up all possible evidence and then boxing it up for storage without even giving it a cursory glance. He had hoped their approach to things would change on Monday, with the start of a proper work week, but it didn't. It only got worse.

Their efforts were concentrated on hounding the friends and relatives of the only ROV operator that hadn't been shot or blown up. His autopsy report showed that he had died of idiopathic cardiac tamponade and that he had a tear in his airway, near his heart. Ben knew the same person that had killed the three zealots was responsible for the massacre. He wrote on the lead investigator's own notepad that he needed to read the autopsy reports of the three men, but the investigator just ripped that piece of paper off after reading it and threw it away in the trash. He had already decided, or been ordered to decide, that the operator was at fault and that he had been a domestic, lone wolf terrorist.

Ben snuck orders into Army CID's internal lines of communication for lower ranking officer to go and dig up those autopsy reports, but his efforts resulted solely in those records being seized and hidden away under the authority of the Patriot Act.

Ben teleported invisibly to the local robbery/homicide division of the police department and was shocked to learn that they had been ordered to stop investigating the three dead zealots and that the cops gladly obeyed that order. He couldn't believe that all those people who were paid to investigate crimes were so glad to just clean up the immediate mess, do the paperwork on it and then ignore all the evidence that would likely lead them to the actual perpetrator. He hadn't expected to find Team Gibbs working the case, but the level of incompetence, disinterest and outright sabotage he encountered while spying on the investigations genuinely disturbed him.

On Tuesday, after his girls made love to him to cheer him up, Ben invisibly teleported photos of the autopsy reports and some select Army CID orders to one respected journalist in each of the city's three premier newspapers. On Wednesday, after the girls finished fucking Ben's brains out and he recovered from it, he saw that not a single one of those newspapers reported anything about it and one of the three journalists announced quitting his job with the publication to join the Army's public relations office.

Consumed with wrath, Ben teleported invisibly into that man's house and used his home computer to publish the photos of the autopsy reports and select memos online.

On Thursday, the journalist was quietly arrested and no major news outlet picked up on the truth of the story, even though they were all still reporting on the base massacre. Instead of telling the public about the investigative coverup, they were all pumping the airwaves with a carefully coordinated character assasination of the ROV operator that had actually been an innocent victim and probably the first to be killed on Sunday. Only crackpot conspiracy sites picked up on the photos and republished them, thus rendering their credibility null and void.

Ben punched a hole in the den wall out of frustration.

"Calm down, Ben," Krista quietly said.

"Calm down?! How!? How do I calm down!? The whole world has conspired to hide the truth about what's happened and they're all enabling the bad guys to get away with it! And I know that they'll strike again! I've told you that already."

"Ben, they don't know the real truth," Krista said.

"They're all spreading lies that they know are lies," Ben yelled at her. He stopped himself and took a deep breath to try and calm down. Even his enhanced wisdom was being tested by recent events.

"The authorities have to project the illusion of being in control," Krista said, "regardless of whether they are on top of things, or not."

"Do you need ice for that," Raven asked, indicating Ben's hand. The skin over his knucles was broken.

"No, it'll be fine," he said. "I just need to pour some rubbing alcohol on it. But get me a bandage, would you?" Raven nodded and went to the bathroom.

Krista took his chin in her hands and gently urged him to meet her concerned eyes. "Ben, there's nothing you can do about the media," she said. "Now, is there?" Ben reluctantly shook his head in agreement with her statement. "So why don't you concentrate on what you can do, hm?"

"Like what," Ben asked. "What can I do?"

"Well," Krista said and nodded around them, "the quarters are close. Not that any of us girls are complaining! We like being so close to you, but the morning wait to use the toilet is a little annoying, don't you think?"

Raven came into the room and handed Ben the bottle of rubbing alcohol. He opened it and said, "And what do you want me to do about it, Krista? I don't have the cash to afford anything bigger right now."

"We were going to start an air freight business," Krista said.

Ben poured the disinfectant over his cuts and grimaced at the burning pain. He held his hand out for Raven to bandage it up. "I can't spare the spell slots," he said. "At any moment, we might spot a new massacre brewing," he nodded at Lisa surfing the news channels, "and I need to be able to get in there at a moment's notice and intervene. Bring these bastards to justice."

Krista looked to have something to say, but she bit it back. She smiled instead and said, "You have all the answers, Ben. I know you do. You just need to relax so they can come to you. And I know how to relax you." She winked at him and smiled as she pulled a cushion off the couch and knelt on it, right in front of him. She worked his zipper open and reached in to squeeze his flaccid cock. "Raven, darling, show him your tits!"

Raven set aside the medical supplies and pulled her shirt off. Ben's dick started to harden as soon as her pale pink areolas were revealed. Krista pulled it out and gently stroked it to full hardness before she started to lick at his glans. Ben lifted his hands and grabbed Raven's tits. He massaged them just the way he knew she liked and the blonde soon had to hold on to the back of a chair, lest she lose her balance in her arousal.

Krista's wet mouth engulfed the head of his cock while her hand pumped his shaft. Her other hand reached out to gently tickle his balls and he started to gasp out loud. He groaned as he climaxed into Krista's eager mouth. Krista swallowed his load and licked him clean. She stood up and looked him in the eye as she said, "Raven and Lisa need a lover, Ben. Why don't you take them into your bed and give them what they need, hm?" She gave his still hard cock a gentle tug to illustrate her point. "I'll man the post."

Raven took him by the hand and led him to his bed. Lisa followed. He had Raven take off her panties, sit on his bed and spread her legs. He resumed worshipping her tits and sent Lisa the order to eat her out. He concentrated on his link to her mind and enjoyed the pleasure he and Lisa were giving her. Raven squirmed under the onslaught of their mouths and soon came, wailing and thrashing about.
Her orgasm reinvigorated Ben and he focused on his link with Lisa. He grinned and shook his head to himself. Very rare were the occasions when he couldn't feel himself inspire her desire to be bent over and roughly fucked and this wasn't one of them. Lisa kept on licking at Raven's folds while he positioned himself behind her. He slid her thong off and probed her pussy with a finger. She was wet and started squirming at the contact.

He aimed his dick with one hand and steadied her hips with the other. He slid into her, feeling her delight at being filled up and used. Consumed by the pleasure he felt in both their minds, he pumped her like a maniac until he blew his wad and came, setting off her orgasm. Raven came as well when Lisa screamed out her pleasure with her mouth pressed hard against the blonde's pussy.

Ben barely had the strength to climb up on his bed. He passed out and had a relaxing nap. He woke up half an hour later and smelled something delicious. He got up and dressed before making his way to the kitchen. Raven was running all four burners on the stove and had every available surface in the kitchen covered with chopped up ingredients. "You go and sit in the den, Ben," Raven said. "Dinner will be ready in five minutes."

He went to the den and saw that the kitchen table had been moved there, in front of the couch, and set for three people. Lisa smiled, wearing her extremely brief French maid's "uniform", and curtsied at Ben.

"Lisa, I need your help," Raven said loudly from the kitchen. Lisa went to aid her.

Ben sat down next to Krista on the couch. She was keeping one eye on his laptop in her lap and the other on the news channels she was surfing. "Hey," she said. "Had a nice fuck and nap?"

"Yeah, it was ok," he said.

"Good," she said, "you're up just in time for dinner."

Raven came and sat down at the table and urged Krista and Ben to sit at the table as well. Lisa served their food for them and Ben finally recognized the fact that Raven's boasts of culinary prowess were in no way exaggerated.

"Aren't you going to eat," Ben asked of Lisa.

"She will," Raven said and took off her shirt, revealing her massive mammaries. She cut a piece of meat, stabbed it with her fork and dipped it into a lot of sauce. She then held the fork up until the sauce dripped down on her tits. Then she put her fork in her mouth and chewed her food, moaning at the taste. After she swallowed, she said, "Lisa, clean up my spill!" Lisa bent over and slowly licked the sauce off Raven's tit, making her moan. "Good girl! You get a treat. Open wide!" She stabbed another piece of meat with her fork, dipped it in sauce and held it up for Lisa to bite off.

Lisa's brief costume left her pussy exposed and Ben could see and smell that the humiliating treatment was arousing her. Her inner lips were peeking through her outer ones and he twice caught sight of small beads of moisture that were sliding down the insides of her thighs. He focused on his telepathic link to her mind and found himself envying the single-minded arousal her submission and humiliation were making her experience. Her arousal would make her embarrassed and the embarrassment would increase her arousal, locking her into a vicious cycle that threatened to consume her sanity.

Lisa continued to serve them, clearing away their plates and bringing new ones and they fed her small bites of food as rewards for every service they asked of her. Krista asked for a shoulder rub during the second course. Raven asked for her to hold her breasts up in lieu of a bra during the third course. The dinner consisted of seven courses, each a novel taste experience for Ben. On the fourth course, he joined in on the action, asking for Lisa to put her head in his lap for her fanned out hair to act as a napkin.

He smiled an evil smile as he felt the frustration his order gave her. She had hoped she would be ordered to blow him, but his cock was denied to her lips by his pants and boxers. He could feel her drooling with desire and swallowing her saliva repeatedly, lest she leave a wet mark on the front of her master's pants. Ben found himself admiring and envying her rich imagination. It seemed that no matter what they ordered her to do, she would find a way to make it sexually arousing for her.

When they were finished with the fourth course, he had her stand up and purse her lips. He stabbed the last piece of his beef on his fork and slowly ran it in and out of her mouth, dragging the soft meat across her lips. She closed her eyes and swayed in place. He saw in her mind that his repeated penetration of her mouth was making her go mad with the desire to suck on his cock. She imagined it was his cock being driven in and out, ever so slowly tickling her lips, and she started licking at the piece of meat, tasting the rich sauce.

"Bite it," Ben said.

Lisa bit into the meat and it came off his fork to stay in her mouth. She chewed on it slowly, feeling it yield to her teeth. In her mind, eating the piece of meat became the equivalent of sex and she lovingly formed a solid mass with her tongue before swallowing it down as if it were her master's seed. She nearly came as she swallowed it down.

"You may serve the next course," Ben said.

Lisa opened her eyes and looked at him uncomprehending for a moment. "Oh, right! Right, right!" She looked lost and confused, as if she had forgotten where she was, but then cleared the table and served the fifth course.

"What's this," Ben asked of Raven.

"Sushi," she said. "Don't worry, no exotic fish in it, just fowl."

Ben considered his roll and said, "Sushi should taste of fish. Lisa, turn your back to me and bend over to grab your ankles with your legs straight!"

Lisa looked confused for a moment and then slowly, hesitantly, did exactly what he asked. Her pussy and ass were now mere inches from the table at about the same height. Ben took his roll and slowly rubbed it across her pussy lips. He felt Lisa shudder in anticipation as her arousal mounted. Her pussy lips seemed to throb and part as he teased on. Raven and Krista watched with rapt attention. Lisa was just getting to enjoy the strange touch on her genitals when Ben pushed his roll inside of her and used it to gather up her juices. As soon as he felt her shock subside and give way to pleasure, he pulled his roll out of her pussy and bit into it.

He moaned in delight and said, "Now, that's more like it! You girls should try it, too!"

Raven and Krista took their rolls and stood by Lisa. Krista went first and smiled at Lisa's embarrasment and pleasure that she could see on her upturned face. Ben enjoyed those emotions consuming her awareness. When Krista bit into her roll and moaned in appreciation, Lisa's knees nearly buckled. They could all see her juices slowly welling up out of her engorged pussy. Raven gathered them up without penetrating the maid and bit into her roll, moaning appreciatively.

Each took another stab at tormenting Lisa by sticking the other end of their rolls inside her for juicing and Ben could feel her losing grip on reality. Her face was red from both the blushing and the blood rushing into her head. Ben had her slowly stand up straight and caught her as she lost her balance. Her limbs shook and shuddered. He held her up and pressed her close to himself. The powerful swirl of emotions in her mind was getting to him, as well.

He took two cushions of the couch and put then down on the floor. He lowered Lisa to kneel on them and bent her over. He released his hard cock and knelt behind her. Lisa's head picked up when she felt his glans teasing her pussy and she screamed in ecstasy when he hilted himself in one swift thrust. He let her pussy milk his cock as he enjoyed her orgasm. He was on the very verge of cumming himself.

Lisa's orgasm went on for more than a minute and she lost all strength in its wake. Ben started pumping her and she gasped and grunted in rhythm with his thrusts. He could feel that she was very sensitive and that his cock was making her experience pleasure and pain in equal amounts. Crazed by the teasing and the draining orgasm, she had no ability to complain to the treatment. He could feel her thoroughly enjoying her helplessness and his rough treatment.

Her renewed arousal fired Ben's lust to maddening levels. He let his basest instincts take over and he slammed into her with an increasing rhythm, making their hips slap loudly with each contact. Their mutual pleasure was coming up slowly, but steadily, and the two of them crested that final peak in lockstep, screaming out their ecstasy.

His limbs lost all strength and he collapsed on top of her. His lungs heaved for breath, but sleep was calling him. He passed out atop the ragged doll that was Lisa.

He was woken by Raven and Krista not half an hour later. "Ben," Krista said, "Lisa needs to go to the toilet. Wake up, Ben!"

He backed off Lisa and the girls helped her to the bathroom. He got up and saw a delicious looking, half-eaten cake on the table. A clean plate and dessert fork were next to it. He took the bandage off his unmarked hand and cut a big slice of cake for himself. He ate it with gusto. A little sugar rush seemed to be just what the doctor ordered as it brought quiet into his trembling muscles.

The girls were taking their time in the bathroom so he concentrated on the links to their minds. Lisa was evacuating her bowels, sitting down and bending forward on the toilet, while Krista and Raven were rubbing her back and holding her hands. They were praising her for "making boom-boom like a big girl," and Ben could feel that the humiliation of two people witnessing her taking a dump and praising her for it with the most childishly inane words was sending her deeper into a strange state of mind. He wondered if it was the fabled subspace he had heard about that submissives enjoyed. Lisa certainly enjoyed it and even he found himself appreciating the way it cleared her mind of all self doubts and worries and left her open to receive and experience everything in its purest form.

"She's definitely a tweaked one, that Lisa," he thought. Now that he had seen the effect submission and humiliation had on Lisa's mind, he was beginning to like the idea of being her master and providing her with a safe environment in which she could enjoy it as much as she wanted to.

When Lisa said she was finished, Krista and Raven bent her over even further, took some toilet paper each and wiped her bottom for her. Lisa nearly exploded in orgasm as they roughly rubbed her anus. Her legs lost all their strength all over again and the girls had to flush the toilet for her and help her stand up. Once her pleasure subsided, Ben could feel the bad feelings linger and gain strength in her mind. She was feeling humiliated and weak. He sent Krista and then Raven the order to comfort Lisa and assure her that she was brave for allowing herself to have that experience. He felt their tender words of praise disperse the clouds of doubt in Lisa's mind.

The girls helped her walk out of the bathroom. "Ben, I think she's had enough," Krista said. Lisa turned her head towards her and bent it down to kiss the hand she was using to prop her up with. Ben could feel her relief and gratitude.

"Yeah," he said, "I also think she's done for the day. As a matter of fact, I'm beat, too. Come over here, girls! Let's talk about tomorrow!"

Raven and Krista walked Lisa over to the couch and replaced the cushions for the three of them to sit on. Ben bowed low to take Lisa's hand and kiss the back of it, like a gentleman. He said, "Thank you for allowing us to play with you like that." She blushed and nodded. He winked at her and then sat at the table.

"What's tomorrow," Raven asked.

"You mean, besides the Fourth of July," Krista asked.

"Oh, right," Raven said.

"Tomorrow is the day that I go home and visit my folks," Ben said. The girls gasped at his words. "I know it seems like a last minute announcement-"

"Cause it is," Krista said.

"I was actually going to tell you all about it back on Sunday, when we were having the discussion about our arrangement," he said. "I just got interrupted by the massacre happening and then I got caught up in the mess that followed it. Anyway, I'm telling you now."

"So you're going home," Raven said.

"Yes," he said, "I will be teleporting to my home town around seven thirty in the morning so it will appear as if I've made it there by mundane means. I will meet my father at the bus station not long after that."

"You're leaving us all alone," Lisa asked.

"Not for long," he said. "I'll be back before you know it. Plus, I'm only a phonecall away at all times. You each have a phone with my number on speed dial. One push of a button and I'm here in under a minute."

"But," Krista said, "the search for the crazy cultist or cultists?"

"I trust the three of you to continue it with all due attention," he said. "I'll rejoin the hunt as soon as I spend some quality time with my folks back home."

"I don't understand," Raven said. "If you want to spend time with your folks, why wait until morning? You can be there at any moment you want. You could be there right now."

"It's complicated," he said.

"Your parents don't know that you have magic," Krista said. Ben nodded. "And you don't want them to know, either."

"That's right," he said.

"It's not uncommon for college students to spend their whole summers with their parents," Raven said. "How come you're not doing that?"

"Well," he said and paused. "It's a long story. It starts with Krista stealing my family's money from me this winter and me having to get a job to make up for the loss in time to pay next semester's tuition. My parents wanted me to come spend the summer with them but I needed to stay here and work if I was to scrounge up the cash. Just two weeks ago, I finally managed to get them to accept that we'll only spend three weekends together this summer and if I go back on that now, my mother will start asking questions.

"And none of you know what my mother is like when she starts asking questions. She is relentless. I don't want her to find out about the theft, the magic, or you girls. So, in the interest of keeping the peace on the home front, I will only be making short visits there this summer. I'll make it up after classes start. Somehow."

He could feel Lisa be touched by his tone of voice as he spoke about his home. "You miss your family," she said, "don't you?" Ben nodded. "I know what that's like."

"Anyway," Ben said, "I'll only be gone for the weekend. I'll be teleporting back here late on Sunday afternoon and I'll expect the three of you to have found me a lead by then. Understood?"

"Understood," the girls said in one voice.

"Good," he said. "I'm feeling a little tired and I've got an early start tomorrow so I'll just magic the dishes clean and turn in. You girls will sleep in the sleeping bags, here in the den tonight!"

The girls nodded yes and he cast the Prestidigitation spell to clean the dishes in the kitchen before going to bed. He set his alarm clock, whispered to Felicia to make sure he was up before seven and fell asleep in less than a minute of lying down.

Felicia woke him up at half past six in the morning and he got up and paid the bathroom a visit. He could feel the girls were still asleep so he took pains to be as quiet as possible. After he dressed, he packed a small bag with three changes of clothes and said to Felicia, "You keep an eye on the girls for me, ok?"

"You got it, Boss," the cat said.

He pulled out his eyelash in gum arabic and cast Invisibility upon himself. He imagined the bus depot in his home town and spoke the word of Greater Teleport.

He materialized there and looked around until he found a spot where no one would see him. He ended his spell of Invisibility and walked out of the terminal. He bought a pastry at the bakery and was munching on it when he saw the family car, an old, blue Ford Fiesta station wagon, pull up next to him. His father got out of the car and the two of them hugged tightly.

"Oh, Ben, my boy," his dad said, "I've missed you so much."

"I missed you, too, Dad," Ben said.

They patted each other on the back a few times before breaking their hug. His dad pushed him away at arm's length and said, "Let me look at you! You look good, Son. You look good."

Ben smiled and said, "Thanks, Dad! You look good, too."

"Come on! Your mom's waiting for you at home! This all your luggage?"

"Yeah, I'm only here for the weekend," Ben said.

"Ah! We were hoping you'd change your mind."

Ben grimaced and said, "It's not up to me."

The two of them got into the car and Ben's dad drove them home. His mom's eyes watered when she saw him and their hug lasted longer than Ben was comfortable with, but the family reunion was a pleasant affair, all in all. They talked about a million little things and Ben kept asking about their lives and local news to keep from having to lie to their faces about his job. His mom served him his favorite pie that she had baked in anticipation of his arrival and the morning just flew by.

His parents revealed that they were all invited to a barbecue at a neighbor's house that afternoon and they skipped lunch in anticipation of it. The couple that hosted the barbecue was almost a decade older than Ben's parents and were close to retirement age, but that didn't stop them from being very cheerful. Aside from Ben's family, they also invited a few other couples, none of whom were more than acquaintances to Ben's parents.

The conversation was pleasant, the music old and the food great as they spent the day there. After dark fell, drinks flowed more liberally, though Ben was not served anything with alcohol in it, and they all enjoyed a great view of the town's fireworks from the back yard. Ben and his parents offered to help with the cleanup but were shooed away with the other guests when it was time to leave. They walked back home, played a board game together, watched some TV and went to bed.

Ben got in bed and took a long look at his childhood room. It had been his home for almost all his life, yet now those happy, childhood days seemed like distant memories to him. He closed his eyes and let himself enjoy the illusion that he was still a child in his parental home and that there were no crazy magicians running around, planning to slaughter people.

A faint noise outside his window caught his attention. He opened his eyes and looked out at the night sky. The stars were twinkling and the big oak tree behind the house was suddenly illuminated from behind as another rocket was launched to ignite in the sky. The multicolored explosion outlined the tree house his father and he had built.

Just the sight of his childhood fortress made him smile, even though the lights behind it clearly shined through it in too many places. That shoddy, wooden box had been the bridge of his space ship, the throne room of his castle, the captain's cabin of his pirate ship and the secret gambling club where no one was allowed without the right password. He had enjoyed many adventures in it, though most had been solo endeavours. He sighed as he reminisced about some of them. He fell asleep to dream of being a knight that rescued princesses.

He woke up in his bed and the sight of the dilapidated treehouse outside his window made him smile. Felicia was way out of range for him to feel, but the rest of the minds linked to his made themselves known. Susan was at home, having a fight with her husband. He was angry that she had lost her job and she was even angrier that he hadn't alien-proofed their home per her requests. Ben felt a little bad for her current situation. It was his doing, after all.

Krista, Lisa and Raven were all in their rental car, feeling annoyed that they were driving down Cedar Lane instead of Cedar Avenue. Their annoyance was greatly enhanced by the incessantly chattering young man that they had picked up because he had told them he knew the way to Ben's house on Cedar Avenue.
Ben shot up in his bed and inhaled his own spit, making himself choke and cough. The girls were in his home town, driving around, looking for his house. He struggled to catch his breath and contain his panic. A million scenarios ran through his mind, each more grim than the last. He paced his bedroom nervously, still unsure if he was awake or having a really bad dream, until he focused on his links with the three girls.

Just as he finished waking up and engaging all his mental faculties, he realized, listening to the man's incessant speech through the link, that the girls must have picked up none other than Buddy Pierson. He sent Raven the order to not say another word to the man. He then sent that order to Lisa and Krista, too.

He sent Krista the order to pull over and get Buddy to leave the car. She did and Ben spied on her futile attempts to get the man to leave the car. He sent the order to get Buddy out of their car to Raven and then Lisa. Even after they opened the door and started pushing him out, Buddy wouldn't take a hint and kept commenting on their actions.

Krista finally pulled a candy bar out of her purse and gave it to Lisa who was standing by the car and trying to pull Buddy out. When Lisa held the candy bar in her hand, away from the car, and offered it to Buddy, he finally got out of the car to take it. Lisa let him take it while she slammed the door shut behind him. Raven locked it and Lisa ran around the car to get in the front seat.

The girls drove away and Ben saw through Krista's eyes in the rearview mirror that Buddy got on the sidewalk and walked after them, talking and unwrapping his candy bar at the same time.

Ben sent Raven the order to tell him exactly who the man in the car had been. He heard her say, "Buddy Pierson," through all their ears and winced. He had earnestly hoped it had been someone, anyone else. He sent Raven the order to say out loud everything the three of them had told Buddy. He listened to her say that they told him their names and that they were his friends who were looking for his house to come and pay him a visit. After that, Buddy took over the talking and they only managed to say that they all lived in the same city where Ben was attending college.

Ben sighed in relief. Anything anyone told Buddy and everything he overheard was quickly repeated by him in front of everyone he came across for the next few days. If the girls had told him that any one of them had so much as hugged him, his mother would learn of it before the weekend was over.

He sent Raven the order to say aloud what the three of them were doing there. He overheard her say that they were on their way to his house to surprise him, meet his parents and see where he grew up. He huffed in frustration. The last thing he needed was for his three slave girls to show up on his parents' doorstep.

He wanted to send them the order to turn around and go back, but realized that he couldn't. They had already told Buddy that they were here to visit him. He had no doubt that his mom was going to hear about that, most likely before the day was over. If the girls didn't show up, she'd call the sheriff's department to look for them. If she didn't get to meet them, she'd pester him about hiding them from her until the day he died.

He growled low and clenched his fists. The girls turned onto Cedar Avenue and he sent Raven the order to say, "Ben said to tell you that all three of us are in great, big trouble. We will all be punished for this." He felt the girls dismiss those words and punched a fist against his palm in anger. Lisa spotted his house number and pointed it out to Krista, who drove up to his house and parked right in front of it.

Ben put on a T-shirt and sweatpants and rushed out of his room to intercept them at the front door.

"Where's the fire," his dad said when he whizzed by him in the hallway.

"Nowhere," Ben said. "Where's Mom?"

"Went out earlier to buy you those rolls from Weston's that you like so much. She's gonna be here at any moment with them. Fresh from the oven. Mm-hm-mm!"

Ben turned towards the front door and his hopes were dashed when he felt that the girls were intercepted by a woman carrying big, paper bags right in front of his house. He swallowed against the dryness in his throat and walked down the stairs like a convict on death row. He winced when he felt the girls realize that him mom was unimpressed by their cover story. She had identified their car as a rental from the airport where her friend worked in the TSA and asked them why they would fly there, rent a car and then drive here for more than two hours if their destination was someplace else. She asked them why they wouldn't simply fly to their destination in the first place.

He felt the girls flounder as they tried to come up with a way to uphold his order to pretend they were just passing through. He sent Krista the order to disregard that order and tell his mom a story that would deflect all of her suspicions. While he was sending first Raven and then Lisa the order to go along with Krista's new story, he overheard her spin a yarn to his mother about how they came here on purpose to get his help on a very important work project. She then started to appologize profusely for intruding on their family time and he was floored when he felt them hear his mom say that she was ok with it.

"I'll brew some tea, Son," his dad said, startling him as he passed behing him on his way to the kitchen.

"Yeah," Ben mumbled, "thanks, Dad."

He heard his mother invite the girls in with his own ears and sudenly felt like he was five years old again, caught climbing on top of the kitchen cabinets to get to the cookie jar. His mom unlocked the door and stepped inside. "Speak of the devil," she said. "We were just talking about you!"

"Who's we, Mom," Ben said, feigning ignorance.

"Oh, I believe you know these young ladies, Ben," she said and threw the door wide open to invite his girls in.

"Hello, Lisa, Raven, Krista," he said while glaring daggers at each girl in turn.

"Who's Raven," his mom asked.

"What," Ben asked.

"I am, Mrs. Kidder," Raven said. "Raven is just a nickname the folks at work gave me."

"Oh, I see," Ben's mom said. She sounded unconvinced as she gave Raven's golden hair and creamy skin a critical eye. "Please, come on in! Don't be shy!" She waved them in. "Ben will get you settled in, won't you dear? How long will you be staying here?"

"Just today and tomorrow," Krista said, before Ben could answer the question. He pressed his lips together and promised himself to make her suffer for the insolence.

Ben's mother bade the girls to sit down and relax and started asking them questions.

He observed her interrogation procedure through his link with Krista's mind and it told him a lot. He felt Krista recognize and admire patterns in his mom's questioning. She would alternate between asking individual girls a question and posing a question to them all to avoid any one of them feeling singled out or probed. The nature of her questions varied, as well. One question would be a polite inquiry as to what she could offer them, befitting an attentive hostess relaxing her guests, then she'd bring them their beverage, ask a personal question to throw them off balance, and follow it up with a seemingly innocuous question about Ben's habits, inspiring the girls to gladly give up the info.

When he felt Krista's certainty that his mom's circumspect questions were intended to paint a clear picture of his behavior in the big city and anything he might be hiding, he sent Krista the order to intervene and put an end to the interrogation.

"Thank you so much for your hospitality, Mrs. Kidder," she said, consulting her wristwatch, "but I'm afraid that we must steal Ben away from you at this time for a consultation. We must submit a rough project draft before noon."

"Oh, alright," his mom said. "I wouldn't want to keep you from anything important." The girls got up to follow Ben. "Where are you all going?"

"To my room," Ben said. "To work on the project."

"The four of you squeezing into that tiny room upstairs," his mom asked. "Nonsense! You'll stay right here and use the table for your work! I'll be in the kitchen and Ben's dad won't trouble you at all. Now, you just sit down and I'll get you some more refreshments!"

Reluctantly, Ben sat back down and the girls followed his lead. "Now what," Krista whispered.

Ben shrugged and whispered, "I have no idea. I guess we pretend to do some work." He snapped his fingers and made a face as if he had had a sudden brainwave. "Or you could tell me how the search for the cultists is going. You know, since it's the thing I told you to be doing in my absence."

They all sat up straight and smiled as his mom brought a tray with glasses and a pitcher of orange juice. Ben sent each girl in turn the order to whip out a prop to make it look like they were doing some work. Krista pulled out his laptop and turned it on. Lisa produced his sketch pad and a pencil. Raven looked to be on the verge of panic. She began rummaging through her bag, looking for anything that might help her. Ben rolled his eyes and sent her the order to join him in looking over Krista's shoulder.

As soon as his mom went back into the kitchen, he whispered to Krista, "What did you tell my mom to make her ok with you taking up our precious time together?"

"I just played on her maternal pride," she whispered. "Mothers will buy any BS, so long as it makes them feel like their sons are important and needed. Trust me, the cash I've conned out of dozens of women whose sons had been shipped off to the Middle East would make a..." She trailed off when she noticed the angry look in Ben's eyes.

"We'll talk about those poor women later," he whispered. "First, I want to know where do the three of you get off barging in here, intruding on my family time and risking my mom finding out that her little boy is keeping sex slaves."

"We didn't mean to intrude," Raven whispered. "We just wanted to find out more about you."

"And how did you get here," he whispered.

Raven and Lisa shot Krista a look. She shrugged and smiled, self-consciously. Ben closed his eyes in frustration and whispered, "How much did the redeye tickets and rent-a-car set me back?" He growled at the price and said, "I'm teleporting you back."

"Did you say something, dear," his mom said from the kitchen door.

"Nothing, Mom," he said.

"I'm very sorry, Mrs. Kidder," Krista said, "but the matters we're discussing are business secrets and if any of this got out, we'd all be fired, including Ben. We should really retire to a more private setting. You mentioned you had a room," she asked Ben.

Ben gestured upstairs, but his mom beat him to the punch saying, "I'm afraid that I can't allow three strange women cloistering themselves up in my son's bedroom with him. I'm sure you can understand that. I must ask you to remain here to do your work and refrain from implying in the future that I, or Ben's father, might be engaging in corporate espionage to our own son's detriment, thank you very much!"

She glared at them with teary eyes for almost a full, uncomfortable minute more. When it became painfully clear that no one was going to contradict her demand, she turned around and went back into the kitchen.

"So, she can be quite determined," Lisa said.

"Why is she so dead set against us being alone with you," Raven asked. "Does she think we'll hold an orgy upstairs?"

"Look," Ben heatedly whispered. The doorbell rang before he could continue his sentence. There was continuous knocking on the door and the bell kept on ringing. Ben grimaced. Buddy must have ran all the way over.

Ben's mom came out of the kitchen with a despondent look on her face. "Buddy followed the girls here," Ben said.

"Oh, dear," his mom said and wilted. "Well, there's nothing for it, then. I'll call his mother and keep him here until she comes for him. You'll just have to take your colleagues someplace else where you can do your work project. Do you have your phone with you?" Ben nodded. "I'll call you when the coast is clear." Ben and the girls started packing. "Get dressed, Ben! You can't go out in public like that!"

"It'll be fine, Mom," he said. "I'm not going to the opera."

"Where will you be," his mother asked.

"In the park," Ben said.

"You most certainly will not," his mother sternly said, making him stop dead in his tracks. "You will take these young ladies to the diner and work on your project there." She gave the girls a determined look. "No one will spy on you." She shooed them away with a wave of her hand as Ben's dad was heard talking to Buddy outside the front door. "Go now!"

Ben nodded and led the girls out the back door. They followed him as he jogged away from the house and through the back yards of the fenceless neighborhood. He led them to a long plank, laid down over a creek, and ordered each one to follow him across, one at a time. After feeling their disgust with the creek's water and the idea of falling into it, he pulled out of his links to their minds. Once on the other bank, they walked through an empty soccer field.

"What's going on," Krista finally asked.

"We are going to the diner to sit there and wait for my mom to call us back home," he said.

"Yes, I gathered that much already," Krista said, "but why?"

"Because Buddy Pierson is," Ben said and paused, searching for the right words.

"Crazy," Raven offered.

"Different," Ben corrected her. "And annoying. He has a very low IQ and absolutely no filter between his head and his big mouth. Everything that he sees, hears, or thinks, he speaks out loud."

"Yeah, we noticed," Krista said.

"It's not his fault," Ben said. "He was born that way."

"But why are we running away," Lisa asked. "Isn't his mother coming to get him?"

"Whenever Buddy sees someone new, he fixates on them," Ben said. "We'd never be able to get him to stop following you around. So long as he has a clue where you are, he will keep finding you until he tells you his entire life story and then some. As for his mother... The poor woman is exhausted from taking care of him. She will drag her feet coming to get him. That is, if she doesn't blow my mom off completely and go run errands, or something." They crossed the field and walked down the street. "The diner is this way. Just a block away."

"Why do you hate him," Krista asked.

"I don't hate him," Ben said. When Krista kept looking at him expectantly, he drew a big breath and slowly let it out. "There was a girl in my class that got pregnant and had an abortion in her senior year. No one knew about it, of course. She was eighteen and took care of things on her own. One day, she confided to her friend, who was Buddy's cousin. Somehow, Buddy overheard this and the entire town knew in less than a day."

"She was ostracized and shamed by the whole town, wasn't she," Lisa said.

Ben nodded and quietly said, "But not for long."

"What happened," Raven asked. She smiled and gave him a shoulder bump. "Did you stand up for her and make the whole town back down?"

"No," Ben said. "She had herself a nice, little suicide the day after her parents threw her out." The girls gave small gasps at hearing that. "Anyway, it wasn't Buddy's fault. He was the only one blameless in the whole mess." Ben opened the diner's door for the girls to file in. "Cause he was born the way he is."

The girls went into the diner, which was decorated in the style of the fifties, and picked a booth by the front window. Ben walked to a corner booth in the back, behind the counter. He sent each girl the order to follow him and they did.

When they sat down, Raven said, "Aw, but I wanted to look out at your town."

"Well, tough," Ben said. The waitress, a fresh-looking teen that couldn't be out of high school yet, slowly walked over to their booth. She stood there and loudly smacked her lips as she slowly chewed her gum. Ben and the girls gave her their orders and she turned around without even verbally acknowledging them once.

"Someone's not gonna get a tip," Krista said.

"So, how's about we get back to the heart of this matter," Ben said. "What are you doing here and why aren't you looking for the next cultist attack?"

"How would we even know if it was a cultist attack," Raven asked.

"Yeah," Krista said. "I mean, it's not like we've got anything to go on, really. Either Lisa spots strange, shadowy symbols somewhere on the news, or we're completely in the dark about things. Seriously, Ben, we have no way of telling whether it's cultists, someone who has gone postal, or even if terrorists are involved. We were just wasting our time watching the news. And, frankly, that shit is so fucking depressing that we could do with some therapy, right about now."

"Oh," Ben said, with an exaggerated nod of his head. "I get it now! You girls wanted to be the kinds of slaves that only play at being slave girls when it suited them and blew off all of the master's orders that they didn't like. I'm glad we cleared that up now."

"That's not what's going on here," Krista said.

"Really," Ben asked. "Then what is? I mean, you practically begged me to keep you as slaves and the first time I give you orders, you blow them off."

"We have no way of fulfilling your orders," Krista said.

"Well you certainly don't if you quit trying the moment I take my eye off you," he said.

They stopped talking while the waitress brought them their drinks. She transferred them from her tray to the middle of the table and left. Ben and the girls took their drinks and sipped them until she was out of earshot.

"Look, Ben," Krista said, "we want to help you with this quest of yours, but we have to acknowledge the fact that you don't actually have a quest. You don't have a single clue as to who is behind the attack on the base or if, when and where they would strike next. You don't even know what their motives are. We're stumbling around in the dark, here."

The waitress screamed out an ecstatic, "Ritchie," and ran into the arms of the gargantuan, young man that just entered the diner.

They all looked that way for a moment and Ben said, "Oh, no," in exasperated annoyance. He slid down in his seat and held his hand to his face to hide it from the front of the diner.

"What," Raven asked. "What is it?"

"That's Ritchie Falco," Ben said. "He's a local tough guy and petty criminal."

"So what," Krista said. "If you don't slump down like that in your seat, he won't notice you. Sit up straight!"

"No, you don't understand," Ben said. "He's the last guy I ever fought with and I'm the last guy to ever have the courage to fight him. He's had a hard-on for picking on me ever since that day."

"You fought that," Lisa asked, with utter disbelief. Ritchie at the front of the diner picked up the waitress and effortlessly spun her around with such speed that she was level with the floor as she squealed and hung on to him for dear life.

"We were about the same size back in the seventh grade," Ben said. "And he still wound up beating the living crud out of me."

"Why," Lisa asked.

Ben's eyebrows rose and he said, "Well, mainly 'cause he's utterly relentless once the actual fighting starts and I wasn't really all that good at throwing a punch and-"

"No," Lisa said, interrupting him, "I meant why did you fight him?"

Ben shrugged. "We had a school dance and he was very rudely forcing himself on this girl that looked like she would rather kiss a Wookie."

"Was the girl grateful to you afterwards," Raven asked. "Did she tend to your wounds? Kiss them better?"

"No," Ben said. "She spat in my hair and called me a freak right in front of everyone else."

The girls looked at him in disbelief. "You tell us where she is," Krista said, "and we'll casually pass by her home, or work, hanging on your arms like the tastiest of eye candy and show her what a huge mistake she made that day!"
"No," Ben said.

"Oh, come on," Raven said. "It'll be fun!"

"Yeah," Krista said, "you'll just love seeing the look of regret on her face. Trust me on that!"

"No," Ben said.

"Why not," Lisa asked.

Ben shifted uneasily in his seat and said, "Because she killed herself before she graduated high school." The table was silent after that and the diner echoed with the sounds of Ritchie wetly kissing the waitress and sucking on her neck while she laughed.

"Was she the one that," Lisa asked and trailed off. Ben nodded yes.

"Was he the father," Raven asked.

"Yes," Ben said. "Though, if you ask him, she had been sleeping around with everyone in sight and her baby wasn't his." He took a sip of his drink.

"Well, had she," Raven asked.

Ben looked at her in disbelief before heatedly whispering, "No, of course she hadn't been the one that was trying to sleep with the whole town! He was! What's the matter with you?!" Raven hung her face and blushed in shame.

Out front, Ritchie was trying to get the waitress to blow off work and come "hang" with him because the diner was empty. She retorted by waving her arm in their general direction. "They can get their shit from the kitchen on their own," Ritchie yelled at them. When the waitress said something quietly to him, he started walking to Ben's table. "What?! Don't they got legs that work?! Can't they talk?!"

Ben rolled his eyes and said, "Lisa, slide over my lap so I'm sitting where I can stand up!" Lisa slid over to change places with him.

"Hey," Ritchie yelled. "You there!" The chef came out of the kitchen with his hands raised to try and reason with the young man, but Ritchie cut him off by yelling, "You shut the fuck up, Al!" Al, the owner and head chef of the city's premier eatery, backed up without so much as a word.

Ritchie walked around the counter and stopped dead in his tracks. His jaw went slack for a few moments before his face broke into a wide smile. "Well, I'll be damned! If it isn't Ben Kidder, in the flesh!" Ritchie gestured at Ben's booth. "And what the fuck have we here?" He walked over, eating the girls up with his eyes. "Hello, hello, hello! Who might you be, my lovely ladies?"

Lisa and Raven kept their eyes on Ben, but Krista raised hers to Ritchie and said, "Go away."

Ritchie opened his mouth and put his hand on his chest in an offended manner and said, "That is so rude and mean! We don't know each other, so I'll forgive you. Now, allow me to introduce myself! I'm Ritchie Falco and I'm the go-to man for fun in these here parts! Ain't that right, Ben?"

Ritchie smacked his ham sized fist against Ban's shoulder, making the whole bench he was sitting on shake. "Now, you girls seem to be running in some wrong circles," he said. "Hanging with the wrong crowd." He nodded at Ben and flashed a sleazy, self assured smile. "Why don't you come along with me and I'll show you what it's all about."

"Hey," the waitress said from behind him. Ritchie's smile vanished in an instant and he raised a finger at her in warning, without even bothering to look back at her. The girl wilted and shut up. Her demeanor went from insulted to worried in a heartbeat.

"Now, where was I," Ritchie said, after a moment of silence. His smile reappeared. "Ah, yes, you lovely ladies were about to come with me and stop hanging around with this loser."

"Go away, Ritchie," Ben said, sounding weary. "No one wants to talk to you."

Ritchie shook a finger at Ben and menacingly said, "You just shut your fucking piehole, Kidder, or I might have to shut it for you." His smile brightened again. "You know, like the last time you mouthed off to me. Did he tell you about that? I'm guessing he didn't. I'm guessing you fine, young ladies don't know how I made him cry for his mommy."

"Go away," Lisa firmly said. "None of us want to have anything to do with you."

Ritchie barked out an ugly laugh and said, "I guess I'm gonna have to teach you some manners! You might be a pretty, little, wetback whore, but your mouth-"

Ben stood up in a flash, making Ritchie back away on reflex. He looked surprized for an instant and then stepped up to Ben to look down at him. "Oooh, boy's got guts." He smiled and winked at Ben. "Or maybe it's the girls that made you grow a pair?"

"Go away," Ben calmly said.

Ritchie held up a finger to Ben's face and said, "I don't much appreciate you ordering me around." He spread his massive arms. "This is a free country, you know!"

"I am done with repeating myself," Ben said.

"Didn't your mommy and daddy teach you any manners," Ritchie mock-asked. "It looks to me that they hadn't." He pointed one arm towards the girls and put the other over his chest in a wounded gesture. "All I'm trying to do here is talk to these nice, young ladies and you're getting in everybody's way." He reached out to run his fingers through Krista's hair. She shied away from his hand and Ben shoved him backwards with all his might.

"Oh, that does it," Ritchie said, his tone level and deadly. "I'm gonna teach you the last, motherfucking lesson of your life." He finally banished every trace of his smile from his face. "And then I'm gonna have me some fun with them gals you got sitting behind you. And do you know what I'm gonna do after that? I'm gonna go to your house, beat up your wimp of a father and then your mom and me are gonna have ourselves some one on one time, cause she's-"

Ritchie's breath exploded out of his lungs as Ben slammed a fist into his solar plexus with all his might in a blind rage. He followed that up with a series of open handed strikes to Ritchie's head, disorienting the brute and forcing him to step backwards and raise his hands to protect his head. With the six foot nine inch tall behemoth's head protected and out of range, Ben focused on lower targets. He jabbed his knuckles with all his might against Ritchie's lower ribs, making him writhe in agony.

Ben was beyond reason and restraint. The years of insults and being pushed around exploded in his head, overwhelming him.

Ritchie swung his meaty arm in a wild sweep to drive his assailant away and Ben barely dodged it in time. Ritchie jabbed with his right at Ben's face and Ben caught his hand with both of his. Ritchie's other hand grabbed at one of Ben's wrists and the two of them were locked in a struggle. Ben had counted on his enhanced strength to prevail in this fight, but he realized that Ritchie was just as strong as he was. And Ben was much smaller than Ritchie, making him easier to move.

Ritchie's waitress girfriend shrieked, "Get 'im, Ritchie! Show the little fucker who's boss!"

Ritchie roared and pushed back at Ben, slamming him into the wall and knocking the wind out of him. He picked Ben up by the neck and lifted him high to slam him down on the table the girls were still sitting at. The table split apart under the strike and Ben was driven to the floor. Lisa and Raven grunted as the splintering wood struck them painfully across their knees. Krista slid out of the way on time and was standing now. The impact dazed Ben and he barely hung on to consciousness as all thoughts of avenging himself against Ritchie vanished. He wasn't sure what was going on anymore, but there were black dots dancing along the edges of his vision.

"I'm gonna fuckin' kill you," Ritchie roared in Ben's ear, giving him a guideline back to reality. He picked him up from the ruins of the table and slammed him against the wall. Two quick strikes of his huge fists slammed Ben's head against the wall and gave him an invitation to enter a comatose state.

Ben was seriously considering accepting the invitation when Ritchie suddenly roared and dropped him. Ben's legs kept him upright on reflex and he blinked his vision clear when he heard a familiar, female voice cry out in agony. Ritchie was rubbing the side of his knee with one hand and holding Krista aloft with his other around her neck. Raven and Lisa extricated themselves from the ruins of their booth's table and jumped up to beat their tiny fists against the colossus and scream at him to let Krista go.

Ritchie stood up straight and roared, "I'm gonna fuckin' kill you and then rape your corpse, you fucking cunt!" He lifted his fist to smash Krista's face in.

The sight of imminent danger to Krista instantly cleared Ben's mind and flooded his veins with enough adrenaline to fight on. Ben grabbed Ritchie's fist with one hand and slammed his other into Ritchie's eyes with two fingers extended. Ritchie let out an impossibly high-pitched scream and dropped Krista. He put both his palms against the upper half of his face as he screamed in agony. "I'm gonna fuckin' kill you, Kidder! You're dead! You're all dead! You hear me? Dead!"

Raven and Lisa dragged Krista away from the man that was blindly flailing around with his massive limbs, destroying furniture in his attempts to strike Ben again.

A crash of breaking glass was heard from the counter and Ben and the girls turned to see the waitress advancing Ben's way with a broken bottle. Ben squared off against her with a grim expression and she changed her mind. She turned towards the girls that stood up straight and advanced on her. She backed up until she hit the counter and then dropped the bottle and held her hands up in surrender.

Meanwhile, Ritchie was roaring in rage and still swinging his fists around. Ben waited until he turned his back to him and then rushed in to pound away at the man's kidneys. Instead of collapsing in shock, Ritchie howled in pain and spun to deliver a backhanded swing that caught Ben on the shoulder and slammed him to the ground. Ritchie's wild spin toppled him over as well and he smashed his head against the edge of a table before smashing it against the floor, as well. The table wobbled and then fell atop him.

Ben stood up with his fists en garde. Ritchie wasn't moving. He lay still on the cold, checkered tiles. Ben tentatively kicked Ritchie's foot. Ritchie made no move. Ben took a cautious step closer and kicked Ritchie in the ribs. When Ritchie didn't react, Ben's heart sank. He picked up the ruined table and tossed it away. Ritchie's face looked as vacant as ever. Ben knelt over him and pressed three fingers against the side of his neck, trying to feel a pulse, despite not knowing how to do that. When Ben put his finger under Ritchie's nose, he felt his breath and nearly collapsed in relief. Ritchie was alive, if not awake.

"Is he dead," Al asked from behind the counter. Ben looked up and shook his head no, not trusting his voice at the moment. The fight and the adrenaline rush left him shaking all over. "Well, he better not be. That's bad for business."

"So is letting an asshole harrass your customers," Krista said, venomously. "Why didn't you call the cops as soon as you saw him come in?"

"I did," Al replied, sounding a little scared of Krista.

As if on cue, the sheriff's Cavalier pulled up in front of the diner. Krista and the girls huddled around Ben. "What now," Raven whispered.

Ben looked past her and saw a young deputy get out of the car and put his wide brimmed hat on. "That's Pryzbylewski," Ben said. "Don't worry, I got this." Ben straightened up and walked around the counter. He sent each of his girls the order to help him sell the story that Ritchie had attacked him and then tripped and fell down to crack his head all on his own.

The deputy slowly sauntered through the door and said, "What's the emergency, Al?"

"Ritchie," Al said and pointed behind the counter.

The deputy unhooked his gun holster and yelled out, "Ritchie! Show yourself!"

"I'm afraid he isn't able to do that at this moment, deputy Pryzbylewski," Ben said.

The deputy took off his sunglasses and squinted as he looked Ben up and down. "Kidder," he asked. Ben nodded. "I thought you weren't coming back here this summer."

"I'm just here for the weekend," Ben said.

"Uh-huh," the deputy said. "And would you mind telling me why exactly mister Falco wouldn't be answering me?"

"Because he fell over and knocked himself unconscious," Ben said.

The deputy looked surprized and just stared at Ben for a few moments. "Bull," he said at last.

"It's true, officer," Raven said, in a distressed voice. "That young man over there just walked in here and started to make a ruckus. He wanted to drag me away and violate me. When Ben told him to leave us all alone, he attacked him and beat him to the ground. After that, he tripped and fell over and hit his head and... well, there he is, lying over there, unconscious."

The deputy couldn't quite stop himself from staring at Raven's ample assets. Even though she was dressed conservatively, her beauty couldn't be obscured. Between Raven's good looks and Ben's silver tongue, the deputy quickly agreed that everyone but Ritchie was completely blameless in the matter. Al backed up the story and even the waitress, that had been sitting with Krista in the corner, whispering, suddenly spoke up in support of Ben's story.

The deputy at last managed to tear himself away from Raven just long enough to walk over to where Ritchie was lying unconscious. There was a small pool of blood next to Ritchie's head and the deputy grabbed his radio and called for the paramedics to come quick. "What the hell happened here," he asked right after he called it in.

Ben rolled his eyes and repeated the whole story for the deputy while they waited for the ambulance to arrive. Ben and the deputy had to both help the fire department's paramedics put Ritchie's considerable bulk on the gurney. They rushed him into their ambulance vehicle and drove off with sirens blaring and lights flashing.

"Alright," the deputy said, still huffing from the effort of lifting Ritchie, "I'm gonna need sworn statements from each and every one of you!"

"No, you don't, deputy," Ben said. "A fine gentleman such as yourself does not need nor want to keep these distressed ladies here for even a second longer than necessary." Raven, Lisa and Krista affected sad, little smiles and pleaded with the deputy with their big eyes.

"Well," the deputy said and hesitated. "Alright. You ladies can go, I guess." The girls thanked him and he scratched his beard before turning around after them and saying, "But I'm gonna need a way to get in touch with you so you can come to the station later and give your statements there." He took off his hat and shrugged apologetically. "It's the law. You have to do it. I promise you it won't hurt."

The girls looked at Ben who nodded for them to leave. They shuffled out the doors and the deputy turned to Al. "Now, Al. Tell me what happened here, in your own words!"

Ben heard a siren approaching and turned around to look out the front window. The girls ran back in and pointed out the window. Before they could say anything, the ambulance drove across Al's parking lot and smashed into the sheriff's Cavalier.

"What in the hell," the deputy said.

The siren noise stopped and the ambulance rocked for a few seconds before the rear door opened and the first paramedic went flying out to fall down on the asphalt. He quickly rolled, got up and ran away. Ritchie exited the ambulance van next, holding the struggling second paramedic aloft with one arm. He punched the paramedic with his free hand and the man went as slack as a rag doll in his grip. He dropped him and bellowed, "I'm gonna kill you, Kidder!" He wiped his hands over his eyes repeatedly and looked around. He felt his way towards the sheriff's car and opened the front door. He reached in, felt around and finally pulled out the shotgun from its mount.

"Quick," Al shouted, "this way!" He ran into his kitchen. The waitress followed him at once and Ben gave his girls the nod to follow as well.

"Ben," Raven said.

"Go," he said.

Ritchie pumped the shotgun, ejecting a shell, and fired it into the air. The girls screamed and ran into the kitchen.

"Deputy," Ben calmly said, "would you like to do something about the crazed man wielding your service weapon out there?"

The deputy looked over at Ben, licked his upper lip nervously twice and then feebly said, "Yes. Sure. Sure I would." He picked up his radio to call for help. Before he could say anything, Ritchie shot at the diner, shattering its front window into a million pieces. The deputy and Ben took cover behind the counter. The deputy crouched behind the keg of soda and Ben hid behind the ice cream chest.

"I'm gonna fucking kill all ya cunts in there," Ritchie screamed. Ben could tell he was getting closer to the door. He reached for his material focus and realized too late that his utility belt was back at the house, in his bag. Without the material foci, he couldn't cast half his spells, including all the ones he could use to defuse this situation inconspicuously. His only recourse was to use his Silent Spell and Still Spell feats to discreetly cast the spell of Baleful Polymorph upon Ritchie and claim that he dropped his gun and clothes and ran away.

Ritchie screamed, "Ya hear me?! I'm gonna kill all y'all in there, motherfuckers!" Ben winced. Ritchie was almost at the door.

Ben was just about to start casting when the deputy jumped up, pointed his gun at Ritchie and said, "Drop it, Ritchie!"

Ritchie, still partly blinded by Ben nearly poking his eyes out, fired wildly at the sound of the deputy's voice, hitting the counter right next to him. Deputy Pryzbylewski fired his gun four times. Ben heard the sound of a shotgun falling to the floor, quickly followed by the thud of a body dropping and he peeked out from behind the counter. Ritchie was lying motionless in the doorway. Blood was slowly spreading from four holes in the front of his shirt.

Ben looked up at the dazed deputy. A siren was heard outside, coming closer. The deputy slowly lowered his gun and holstered it. The sheriff drove up to the diner in his jeep and got out, brandishing his shotgun. "It's alright, sheriff," the deputy called out. "I got 'im!"

Ben sent his girls the order to go to the soccer field they passed earlier and to sit on one of the nearby benches and wait for him there. The sheriff and his deputy took Ben's statement and let him go before calling the county coroner to come pick up the deceased. Ben walked up the street to where the girls were waiting for him.

As much as Ben had hated Ritchie for all that the bully had ever done, seeing his lifeless corpse still made him sick to his stomach. He slowly walked up to the girls and they rushed to ask him what happened and if he was alright. He sat down on the bench and told them what had happened. When he burried his face in his hands, the girls repeatedly told him that Ritchie had every intention of doing them wrong and that he hadn't made Ritchie grab the shotgun and start shooting the place up.

Ben was only half listening to them. Now that Ritchie was dead, he couldn't help but wonder how he could have handled the situation differently. "Maybe," he thought, "if I had quipped that he was a dickless, impotent freak, instead of swinging at him when he mentioned my mother, maybe he'd still be alive. Oh, I should have tried to just ignore him until he got bored and went away."

The girls' attempts to cheer him up and provide him with some perspective continued for a while before his mother phoned him. She gave him the all clear to return home with his colleagues and he stood up to robotically lead the girls back to his house. All he wanted to do was curl up in bed and cry.

As soon as he set foot in the house, his mother asked, "Ben, darling, what's wrong? You're as white as a sheet!"

Ben walked in and sat mutely on the living room couch. The girls told his concerned parents what had happened. His mother gasped and cried out at hearing every other sentence, while his father was more subdued in his reactions. Krista made a point out of stressing that Ben had gotten the three of them out to safety and how brave and chivalrous he had been.
"Brave," his mother yelled. "Chivalrous?! A young man is dead! You call that bravery? Shame on you. Shame on you, girls! With your, your, your... Did you cheer him on while he beat up that boy? Is that why my son became a murderer? Because you egged him on?!"

The girls were stunned speechless by her outburst. Her husband hugged her and whispered into her ear, "Ben didn't kill anyone, dear, he acted in self-defense."

"Self-defense does not allow you to get anyone killed," Ben's mother said, shrugging off her husband's hug. She pointed a finger at Ben and said, "Shame on you. Shame on you!" She turned and ran crying out of the room and up the stairs.

Ben's dad looked terribly uncomfortable for a few moments and then put a hand over Ben's on his knee. "Are you going to be all right, Son," he gently asked. Ben nodded, even though he felt dead inside. "I'll just go and see to your mother, then. Alright? Girls, please, help yourself to some iced tea and cookies from the kitchen!"

He nodded at Ben and the girls nodded back, getting his unspoken message to keep an eye on his son while he went upstairs. Krista sent Raven into the kitchen to get the drinks and snacks and sat down next to Ben. Lisa sat on his other side, put her arm around his shoulder and said, "It's not your fault."

"I just broke my mother's heart," he said. "How can it not be my fault?"

"You didn't do anything wrong, Ben," Lisa said.

Ben put his head back and closed his eyes. He had acted rashly, wanting to display his manliness before his women and started a fight which escalated and then ended in death. The first attack had been his. The blame lay at his feet. A tear rolled down the side of his face as he sniffled. Raven brought a tray of refreshments and served them to all, though Ben didn't reach up and take his proffered glass.

"Ben, I don't know how to say this to you, but, uh," Krista said and faltered. Ben heard some genuine dismay in her voice and he opened one eye to look at her face. Krista swallowed heavily, set her jaw and said, "I think that your mother might be a rape victim."

Ben sat up and frowned. He sent Krista the order to tell him the truth of what she had meant to say with her last statement. "I've had some experience with rape victims," she said and quickly added, "none of whom I've ever conned! Nor tried to con! What I meant to say was that your mother's behavior reminds me of the way a few women I knew behaved. The one thing those women had in common was that they were rape victims who had never reported their assault. And they never recovered from it, either."

Ben sent Krista the order to keep her mouth shut from then on. "I'm not gonna listen to you telling lies about my mother," he said. "My mother was not raped. You are a lying, conniving con artist bitch who used to cheat the mothers of deployed young soldiers out of their money. You best be keeping your wagging tongue firmly behind your teeth from now on. I got a man killed today, or haven't you heard?" He stood up to pace the room.

"Ben," Lisa quietly said, "I think she might be right."

Ben rounded on Lisa and said, "What?!"

"The way you mother didn't want you to be with us alone made me think that she was afraid of either you raping us, or us wrongly accusing you of raping us," Lisa said. "And, when you think about it rationally, her reaction to what happened today was-"

Ben cut her off by sending her the order to shut up from then on. "I've had a bad day," he said, "which is exclusively your fault." He pointed an accusing finger at each girl in turn and then finally wagged it at Raven. "What have you got to add to this theory?"

"Nothing," Raven said.

"If you three hadn't come here today," Ben started saying and then choked back a strangled sob. He wiped the tears from his eyes and went to his room. The girls remained seated in the living room, too frightened of his fury to even move.

By dusk, Ben's mom showed up downstairs and walked into the kitchen to start cooking. The girls sat still and Lisa and Krista wrote down instructions to Raven to speak for them all and say that they caught a bad case of laryngitis and couldn't speak anymore. Raven tried to get them to get in the car and leave, but they refused and insisted that the three of them had to stay put and give Ben their support.

Ben came down the stairs when he heard his mom banging the pots and pans. He looked at the girls and sent each the order to get out of his house. They stood up and left to go sit in their car.

Ben entered the kitchen and said, "Mom, I know that I've disappointed you so, and that you tried to raise me better than that. I can only say that I'm sorry. I'm sorry for what happened and I'm sorry for my part in it."

She gave no indication of having heard his words and continued chopping up vegetables. Just as Ben was about to leave, she said, "It wasn't your fault. You couldn't help yourself. You're a man now and all men are animals."

"Mom," Ben exclaimed in distress.

"It was those girls," she said. "If they hadn't been there, you wouldn't have picked a fight with Ritchie and he wouldn't be dead right now. This whole mess happened because the three of them were there. They provoked him into making a nuisance of himself and then you did the wrong thing because your baser urges commanded you to."

She turned around and shook her head at him. Her eyes were welling up with tears. "I raised you to be better than that," she said. "To not fall into temptation and act like... Like an animal." Ben was stunned by her betrayed tone of voice. "All violence and rutting. And you throw it all back in my face. I should have..." She trailed off and turned around to continue making dinner. "Those little harlots aren't welcome to stay in my house. They can go stir up trouble someplace else."

Ben was so shocked by her words that they broke the cycle of guilt and self-recriminations that was running through his head on a continuous loop ever since he had seen Ritchie's lifeless corpse.

"How," he asked.

His mother kept stirring the dinner for a few more moments, before saying, "How what?"

"How did the girls provoke him into harrassing them?"

His mother spun around to look at him like he was daft. "I don't know! I wasn't there! But I'm sure they did something, because-"

"Because what? Because you don't believe me when I tell you that Ritchie was pestering them and tried to get them to come with him against their will?"

"They must have led him on," she said, raising her knife to emphasize her point.

"How did they lead him on?"

"With the way they looked, or acted. Or something... I don't know."

"That's right," Ben said, nodding. "You don't know. I know. The girls know. Yet you throw away all that they told you and supplant it with your own version of events. Events that you hadn't witnessed. Why is that, Mother?"

Speaking those simple questions aloud completely cooled him off and restored his emotional balance. He was now painfully aware that the only person whose actions were wrong today was his own mother. He began to wonder if there wasn't any truth to what Krista and Lisa claimed about her.

She opened her mouth twice to reply to him and bit back her words both times. Finally, she set her jaw firmly and said, "You know what you did was wrong." She turned around to continue making dinner.

"What I did was righteous," Ben said, with quiet determination. She spun around and looked afraid. Her knife was half-raised, as if it was to be used against him. "I'm proud of what I did today." She shook her head in silent denial as her eyes watered all over again. "I threw the first punch." She gasped in shock and raised her knife. "I threw the first seven punches, Mother. And I am very proud of doing so."

"No! No!" Tears were flowing freely down her cheeks.

"Ritchie was a subhuman piece of filth that deserved what he got," Ben calmly said. "My only regret is that he didn't suffer enough. He passed out immediately after the deputy shot him and his wounds stopped bleeding in under a minute. In fact, I take back what I said. Ritchie deserved much, much worse than what he got. He didn't spend a day of his wasted existence on this earth without making someone else's life miserable. He enjoyed only one thing, and that was the suffering of others!"

"That didn't give you the right to kill him!"

"I didn't kill him, Mother," Ben said. "The deputy did. After he had shot at him. Was the deputy supposed to allow Ritchie to kill him? And then me next? And the girls, too? Do you know what Ritchie said to make me start hitting him? He said that he'd beat me to death, then rape the girls before coming here to beat up Dad and have his way with you."

His mother let out a quiet shriek and started shivering. She slashed her knife through the air as if she was trying to fend him off, though he was standing more than five feet away from her and posing no threat. Ben felt his throat close up and tears flow down his cheeks as he realized his mother had indeed been raped at some point and that it had been the single most important identity-shaping event of her life. He couldn't remember her ever being any different, or changing her behavior, so he concluded that it must have happened when he was very little, or even before he was born. The thought of his mother suffering in silence for all those years nearly broke his heart.

"Do you understand now, Mom? Do you understand how he provoked me into attacking him?" She kept silently weeping and holding the knife aloft. Ben wiped the tears from his face and softened his voice. "Put down the knife, Mommy. It's me, Ben. I'm not gonna hurt you. I'm not gonna let anyone hurt you. Never again."

His mother gasped aloud and started drawing deep, deliberate breaths. She wiped the tears from her own face and set the knife down on the counter behind herself. Within a few heartbeats, his mother went from an angry, emotional wreck, to the level-headed and gentle woman that raised him. She calmed down and affected a smile that Ben didn't find to be very sincere.

"What do you mean, Ben," she softly said, "when you say, 'again'?"

"Mom," Ben said, barely keeping his raging emotions in check, "I know."

"Know what, sweetie?"

"I know that you... were assaulted. A long time ago."

His mother cocked her head at him and made the face she sometimes did, when he had been a misbehaved boy and needed a talking to. "Stop making silly things up," she said, "and go inform your father that dinner will be ready in twenty minutes!" She turned around and resumed cooking as if nothing happened.

"Mom," Ben exclaimed, disturbed at his mother's sudden and complete emotional reversal.

"I asked you to do something for me, Ben," she said, in a sing-song voice that she only used when she was losing her patience.

Ben wanted to hug her close and tell her everything will always be all right, but the way she had looked at him and waved the knife a minute ago made him reconsider. "You can talk to me, Mom," he quietly said and turned around to leave the kitchen. He paused in the doorway. "I'll always love you, no matter what."

She kept working on dinner without facing him. After a few moments, she said, "I love you, too, Son. Now, go and tell your father about dinner!"

Ben left the kitchen to slowly shuffle through the living room. He wiped the fresh tears from his eyes and cleared his throat a few times. There was no way he was going to leave things at that. He needed answers. He decided to go find his dad and try a little bluffing, AD&D style.

A brief search revealed that his dad wasn't in the house, so he stepped outside to check. He shot his girls an angry look as they sat in their rental car. He heard the clinking of tools against metal coming from the open garage and he went there.

He was surprised to see a vintage muscle car in the garage, taking up the spot usually reserved for the Fiesta. "What's this?"

His dad popped out from behind the car and said, "Oh! I didn't see you there!" He wiped his hands on an oily cloth and stepped around the car to stand next to Ben. He flourished his hand at the dirty, rusty old car and proudly announced, "This is a Dodge Challenger! It's the car Kowalski was delivering in 'Vanishing Point'."

Ben's eyebrows shot up in surprise as he said, "Really? The exact, same one?"

"Oh, no, no, no, no, no," his dad said, waving his arms. "Not the exact same car from the movie, but the same kind of car."

"Oh," Ben said.

"I mean, God, I wish I could afford that one," Ben's dad said and laughed. "No, but I had dreamed about this car ever since I first saw that movie. And I can finally afford it now!"

Ben glossed over the fact that his dad all but said his very existence had stopped him from realizing his own dreams and said, "That's great, Dad." He gave the car a dubious look. "Does it run?"

"Well," his dad said and paused, as if searching for the right words to express himself, "not just yet, it doesn't."

"Ah," Ben said, nodding.

"But it will! Very soon! I'm gonna restore this baby to mint condition and just tear it up!"

"That's great, Dad," Ben said. "I'm glad you're getting to fulfill your childhood dream. Maybe you can help me with fulfilling one of mine!" His dad raised his eyebrows at him. "The dream where my parents treat me like a grownup and tell me the truth." His dad searched Ben's eyes, uncertain of how to proceed. "Mom told me about the assault," Ben quietly said.

His dad looked away and bit his lip, considering. "I don't really have anything to add to that particular bit of the story," he said at last. "I hope this doesn't change anything between us, Ben. I've always considered you my son and I always will."

Ben's blood curdled in his veins as the implications of his dad's statement struck him like a hammer to the face. He wasn't his father's son. Worse than that, it was beginning to sound to him like he might just be the product of his mother's rape. He couldn't even begin to imagine what his parents must have gone through raising him. He struggled to hide the fact the ground just vanished out from under his feet and adopted as blank an expression as he could.

"You're my dad," Ben said, "and I'm your son. Nothing can change that."

Ben's dad put a hand on his shoulder and said, "I would have told you the truth earlier, but... I was afraid that it might change things between us. You know? I loved you as my own, ever since your mom first introduced you to me. Plus, there was your mother to consider. She insisted you never be told about... the manner of your conception and I agreed." Ben struggled to keep his head together as his father told him he was the product of his mother's rape. "I couldn't bear to tell you something as terrible as that."

Ben gave his dad a sad grin and shrugged. "Thanks, Dad," he said, at a loss for words.

Ben's dad nodded and squeezed his shoulder before letting it go. "What you need now is a stiff drink, my boy," he said and turned around to open a drawer of his workbench and rummage through it. "In a way, I'm glad it's out in the open, now. You're a man, Ben, and you can handle these sorts of things." He stood up and turned around holding a fifth of Scotch. "You know, you never know how much you can handle until it's been thrown at you and you come out the other side alright." He poured the Scotch into two cups and handed one to Ben. "You are going to be alright, Son. I promise you that."

His dad held up his cup and Ben reluctantly knocked his against it before they downed their drinks. The tasty liquid burned going down and Ben told himself to stop drinking Scotch after shocking events, lest it become his emotional crutch. He declined his dad's offer of a refill and said, "Mom didn't go into details. Obviously, I didn't press for them." His dad grunted. "Can you tell me anything more?"

Just as he finished asking that, Ben realized that he could work out when the rape had happened. He just had to subtract nine months from his birth date. While his dad sipped at his second cup of Scotch, Ben worked out that the rape had happened during the one semester of college his mom had taken before dropping out. Her brief college experience was the one part of her life she had never, ever talked about, even when Ben had specifically asked her about it before he went off to college himself. The rape and the pregnancy must have been the reasons why she had dropped out.

"I honestly don't know much myself," his dad said. "She never told me the details and I never pressed her for them."

Ben was about to ask if she had reported it, but then remembered what Krista had said. "Did she confide in anyone at the time," he asked instead.

His dad nodded and said, "The reverend." He sighed heavily and shook his head. "I don't know what that man told her, but she quit going to church right after that. We only got married at the Town Hall. Her parents, God rest their souls, wanted a big, church wedding, but she said no and stuck by it no matter how much they insisted. It finally got to the point where she didn't even talk to them for the first three years of our marriage."

Ben nodded, only half-listening to the story of how the rift was finally patched. He was working out his leads. The reverend knew the story and he was going to go pay him a visit and get it out of him. He wasn't going to be gentle about it, neither. The man had obviously upset his mother to the point where she gave up on her faith over it. No, Ben was going to take the gloves off when dealing with the cleric. And if that didn't work out, he was going to pay a visit to each and every college student of mom's class. He was going to find the rapist and avenge his mother. Something his dad said broke through his concentration and he said, "Hm?"

"Well, he apparently learned that the reason we stopped going to church was because of a spat with his predecessor and he tried to get us to come back to the flock," his dad said and then shrugged. "Your mom refused, I didn't much care either way, and that's why you were never baptized. If you ever meet a nice girl and she insists on having a church wedding, you're going to have to get baptized first." He chuckled. "Don't worry, they don't make you wear a funny robe for it."

"So, the, um," Ben stammered, still working out what he had half-heard, "the previous reverend was the one that mom had confided in?"

"That's right."

"Where can I find him," Ben casually asked.

"At the cemetery. He retired when you were little and he died a few years ago."

Ben barely suppressed an eyeroll. "Of course he's dead," he thought. "Whoever can tell me anything important dies before I even learn of their existence."

"What about any of mom's friends back then," Ben asked his dad. "Did she confide in any of them?"

"Oh, no, no, no! Definitely not! She never told a living soul, except me, the dead preacher, and now you. Listen, Ben! We'd both appreciate it if you kept this to yourself and never told anyone. Not ever."

His dad shot him a look and Ben earnestly nodded. He crossed his heart and held up two fingers in promise. His dad nodded in silent appreciation. He looked away for a moment and Ben caught an expression on his face.

"I'm glad," his dad slowly said, still looking away into the distance. "I'm glad Ritchie's dead." He looked Ben in the eye and nodded. "That rotten S.O.B. has been coming into the store the past three years and taking whatever he wanted. Without paying. The first time, I told him he had to pay and he... Well, he told me he'd kill me and do unspeakable things to your mother and you if I called the cops on him. I couldn't tell mister Whiting, he'd fire me for facilitating shoplifting. I had to pay for Ritchie's little home improvement projects out of my own pocket if I was to keep my job at the hardware store." He let out a short, bitter laugh. "Well that's not gonna happen anymore, now is it?" He poured another shot of Scotch for them both and raised his cup. "Here's to deputy Prez and his good aim!"
Ben raised his own cup and drank it down. They both let out the exact same hoot as the liquid burned their throats. They looked at each other with teary eyes and laughed at the similar behavior, despite not being blood related. The two men shared a moment of understanding that was quickly turning uncomfortable.

"Mom actually sent me here to tell you that dinner will be ready in twenty minutes."

"That still gives us ten minutes before we have to go wash up," his dad said and wiped the tears from his eyes with his sleeve. "Wanna help your old dad check under the hood?"

"Yeah, sure," Ben said and then paused. "Wait! You haven't checked under the hood, yet? When did you buy this thing?"

"They only delivered it the day before yesterday, but I've been holding off on jumping into things until after your visit."

Ben nodded and his dad popped open the hood. Their faces fell as they witnessed the utter disrepair of the engine compartment. Ben could tell, from just a glance at the man's face, that his dad was very disappointed.

"It doesn't look so bad," Ben offered. His dad nodded and went to go look for a clean rag to use to wipe off some of the grime so they could get a better look at things. While he was rummaging through boxes in the back of the garage, Ben quietly cast over a dozen Mending spells and fixed the leaking hoses and gaskets, as well as the frayed cables. He would have fixed the whole engine, but he was limited to parts that weighed under a pound.

His dad came back and was delighted to discover that the situation was nowhere near as dire as he had thought it was. "I mean, just look at all the hoses and gaskets," he said. "They may as well be brand new! I tell you, Son, this bad boy'll be purring in no time!" Ben smiled. "Tell you what! The situation here is so much better than I expected, and I don't have the things I'll need to start work on the engine, so what do you say to us washing up and getting ready for dinner, hm?"


"And we'll see if we can't get your mother to let those lovely ladies siting in the car over there come in and have a bite, too."

"Um, no," Ben said. "I don't think that's such a good idea."

"Nonsense! They'll have a nice, home cooked meal before they go to the B&B. God knows the food there is inedible!"

"No, they'll be going home tonight, Dad."

"How," his dad asked. "There are no flights to be had at this time of night. No busses, either. It's the weekend. They're not gonna drive all the way back, are they? That's a two day drive! And, even if they do drive, they're not gonna drive at night, are they?"

"No, of course not."

"Well, there you go! Invite the girls in and I'll go talk to your mother about it. We'll even pack them a doggie bag so they don't get tempted to try the 'food' over at the B&B!"

Seeing no way out, Ben said, "Thanks, dad!"

His dad clapped him on the side of the shoulder and went inside. Ben sighed and turned the lights off before shutting the garage door. He walked over to the car. The scared looks on the girls' faces made him feel nauseated, so he just sent each girl the order to have dinner in his house and make pleasant conversation without revealing anything about his magic.

The girls filed out of the car and went inside where they did exactly that. The dinner was a quiet affair with very little conversation that was mostly about how tasty Ben's mom's cooking was.

An hour later, Ben escorted his girls out to their car. "I am disappointed in you girls," he said. "Take the car back to the airport and wait for me there. I'll teleport you back home and mete out your punishment." He sent each girl the order to take his words as an order and they wordlessly got in the car, with Krista driving them to the airport. He hated making them scared of him, but he was still too shaken up to do anything about it.

"Did you warn them about the food at the B&B," his dad asked him when he went back inside.

Ben shook his head and said, "They went to the airport to sleep in the motel there."

"Geez, Ben! That's a two hour drive." His dad checked his wristwatch. "And at this time of night? We should have had them sleep here, if they didn't want to go to the B&B."

"It'll be fine, Dad. They're big girls. Where's Mom?"

"She turned in early," his dad said, nodding upstairs. "I was going to watch 'The Searchers'. My favorite Duke movie. Wanna join me?"

Ben nodded yes. He still had two and a half hours to kill before teleporting the girls back to his place. He sat down on the couch next to his father and they watched the movie, though Ben was distracted by replaying the day's events in his mind.

After the movie ended, they parted ways and retired to their bedrooms. Ben donned his utility belt and cast Invisibility on himself. He focused on his link to Lisa. He could see that they were waiting for him in the lounge. He whispered the word of Greater Teleport and materialized there, right next to them.

"Follow me," he quietly said.

The girls shrieked in surprise and jumped in their chairs, drawing the eyes of both the bored attendants nearby. Ben pulled out of his link with Lisa's mind because sensing her genuine fear of his punishment was damaging his cool. The girls smoothed down their hair and clothes, picked up their luggage and walked towards the sounds of Ben's quiet whistling. He felt like the pied piper of Hamelin as he led the girls outside and across the road to a copse of trees. After ending his invisibility, Ben sent each girl the order to put her arm on his shoulder and accept his teleportation and then imagined his den. He spoke the word of Greater Teleport and they appeared there.

"Alright, girls," he said, "time for your punishment."

"Before you do anything," Raven said, "you need to know that this was all Krista's idea!"

Krista gasped and said, "What?! You dirty, little-"

Ben sent her an order, cutting off her tirade. The order was for her to stand still and silent. He followed it up with the order to continuously orgasm until he snapped his fingers before her eyes.

Felicia ran into the den and said, "Boss! You're back! You found them! Excellent! You got my email, then?" Ben ignored her.

"Who you calling 'little'," Raven demanded, facing Krista.

"Face me," Ben said. He wanted all three girls facing the same way. As soon as Raven turned, he gave her the two orders he had given Krista.

"I don't get it," Lisa quietly said. "What's the punishment?"

Ben sent her the orders and she froze as well. He stood before them and watched the ruby red flush of their faces. Sweat was beading on their brows and their eyes were completely wild. He held up his hand in plain sight of all three of them. Their eyes locked on to it, as if pleading for his fingers to snap. He put his ring finger against the base of his thumb and pressed his middle finger against the top of it. For a few tense seconds, he held his hand, poised to snap his fingers, in front of their faces.

"So, what's their punishment, Boss?" Felicia sniffed at the air. "Whoah! They're creaming in their panties, Boss! What's going on?"

The girls' eyes were flicking wildly between his fingers and his face, as if to silently plead for mercy and the finger snap that would deliver them from their ecstatic hell. Instead of snapping his fingers, he extended his middle finger and flipped them off before leaving the den.

Felicia followed him into the bedroom. "It's really starting to reek of pussy in there, Boss!" She chuckled. "And it ain't me!"

Ben closed the door and said, "Why didn't you warn me that they had gone AWOL?"

"I did, Boss! I sent you an email!"

"Why didn't you call me the minute they left," Ben asked.

Felicia sat down and cocked her head. "Well, two reasons, Boss. One, I don't have thumbs and can't dial properly. And two, I don't have access to a fucking phone, goddamnit!"

"Wait, what freaking email," Ben asked. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and checked to see if there really was an email sent. There was. Ben opened it and frowned. "You opened up an email account under the name feliciathefamiliar?"

"Yup," Felicia said. "Took me twenty minutes, Boss."

"Wait," Ben exclaimed. "How did you open an email account?! My laptop is in Krista's bag in the den! She took it with her when they left."

"The neighbor's kid stayed up late, grinding in a video game so I waited until he fell asleep, snuck in through his window, turned his computer back on and tap-tap-tapped away at the keyboard until the deed was done," Felicia said, sounding very proud of herself.

Ben grunted and said, "Twenty minutes is nothing to feel proud of, cat."

"If you can't use the mouse properly and have to tap the tab key a million times, then it most certainly is, Boss!"

Ben huffed and fiddled with his email account settings until he managed to get it to send him a new email alert on his phone every time feliciathefamiliar sent one.

"While they had still been here, how did they behave," Ben asked.

"Ok, I guess," Felicia said. "They talked a whole hell of a lot."

"About what," Ben asked.

"Mostly about themselves, fashion, how much they liked you, how much they wanted to know you better, the whole watching the news assignment and how pointless it was... That sort of stuff, Boss." She jumped up on a stack of clothing boxes to get a better look at his face. "They did something, didn't they? They pissed you off." Ben sighed. Felicia's whiskers twitched. "Just say the word, Boss, and I'll claw their eyes out. Literally."

Ben reached out to scratch the top of her head, right between her ears and said, "No thanks, cat. Just keep watching them!"

"You got it, Boss!"

He turned around, opened the door and went back into the den. The girls were sweating bullets and trembling from head to toe. The insides of their thighs glistened with fluids flowing down them and the smell of girl cum was thick in the air. They all looked like they were going to collapse at any moment. Their eyes were drooping.

Ben cleared his throat and held up his hand, once again primed for a finger snap. The girls slowly lifted their eyes to it and looked at it like a drowning man might look at a pool of water. He snapped his fingers with a great flourish and the breath exploded from all three girls' lungs at the exact same instant. They collapsed into a boneless heap on the floor, gulping air and letting out hoarse cries of agony mixed with ecstasy.

He envisioned his bedroom at his parents' house and teleported there. He undressed and got in bed.

A million and one questions ran through his head, stopping him from falling asleep. He wondered who he was, deep inside, what the way he was conceived said about him, and who his real father was. He asked himself how his mother must have felt all these years, raising her rapist's child and what had possessed his dad to raise him as his own, even after knowing his provenance. He found himself wishing he had never gotten magic and wondering how things would have been different.

"For starters," he told himself, "the girls wouldn't have been with me and I wouldn't have gone to the diner and gotten Ritchie killed." After reviewing the upside of such a scenario, he reviewed the downside. He'd still be scrounging for tuition money, working under Susan's heel, dreading the fall deadline. In his future, he'd be faced with bleak things: dropping out of college, or pausing it while he tried to persuade his parents to come up with a second mortgage.

"That'd be hard," he thought to himself. His dad was bleeding money whenever Ritchie decided he needed something fixed around his house. He looked even further out into the future and realized he wouldn't have had a good life. His whole life, his parents had drummed courtesy towards women and being mindful of their needs into his head, but they have never, not even for a second, stopped to hint at what those might be. He was still largely uninformed about what made a woman tick, despite having literally been inside the minds of a few of them. His old self would never have been able to make a meaningful connection with a member of the opposite sex.

Thanks to his increased wisdom stat, he recognized the fact that his old, magic-less self would probably have wound up as a twenty-five year old virgin trying to hire a prostitute to finally pop his cherry. Ben grimaced at the thought. Knowing his luck, that hooker would turn out to be an undercover vice cop, just waiting to bust him and have him placed on the sex offenders registry.

He rolled over, punched his pillow a few times to fluff it out and opened his eyes. The moon was illuminating the tree outside his window and the rotting, shoddily built tree house perched precariously on it. "It's time for that thing to come down," he thought to himself. After he decided to remove the collection of planks first thing in the morning, sleep finally crept up on him.

He got up late in the morning and took his customary inventory of minds. Susan was at home, fucking the gardener, and his girls were at his house, fiddling with one another. Ben sat up in his bed surprised. He focused on his mental link with Raven and felt her tits worshipped by both Krista and Lisa. He grabbed his hard cock and gave it a few strokes, before Raven's orgasm exploded through his mind. He barely stopped himself from cumming, too. He grabbed a bunch of tissues and focused on Krista and Lisa's minds as well and was immediately cresting towards an orgasm as Krista was rubbing her pussy and sensitive clit over Raven's smooth thigh.

Ben stroked his erection and came when Krista did, shooting his load into the wad of tissue paper he was clutching. He caught his breath, congratulated himself on his aim and pulled out of his mental links to the girls just before Lisa was fiddled to orgasm by Krista. Obviously, his punishment hadn't damaged the girls. If anything, it made them hornier.

Ben cleaned up and came down for breakfast. His mother had commandeered every surface in the kitchen while she baked a ridiculous amount of pies for him to take with him. He tried to talk her down and point out that he couldn't carry so many pies in a practical fashion, but she wouldn't hear of it. He took his breakfast out into the living room, where his father was sitting and watching television.

"Dad, help me out here, would ya?" His dad raised his hands and indicated he wanted no part of the argument. Ben gave up and said, "Nice going, Dad. How am I supposed to lug all those pies with me?"

His dad shrugged, smiled and said, "The more you leave behind, the more I get to eat."

"You're evil," Ben said, making his dad chuckle. He quickly ate his breakfast. "I'm going to go out back and take down that hideous box that's perched on the tree."

"The tree house," his dad asked. "Why? You used to have so much fun in it!"

"I've outgrown it," Ben said. "I haven't been inside it for five years now and if I tried to, the wood would just give in under my weight. Plus, I don't want it to fall on one of your heads."

"Aw," his dad drawled sadly.

Ben slapped his dad's knee and said, "Time has come. You coming to help me?"

His dad sighed and said, "I suppose I'd better."

The two of them went outside and took down the tree house in just a few minutes. The planks were all rotten and the nails rusty. The next storm to hit town would have blown it off on its own but that didn't stop his dad from looking sad. "It was such a big part of your childhood, Ben," he said. "It's just so sad to see it go."

"I know, Dad," Ben said, "I know. That part of my life is over and done with. It was great fun while it lasted, but now I've got bigger fish to fry."

They cleaned up and went back inside. Ben spent the rest of the day playing chess with his dad and talking before joining him in his attempts to swipe a hot pie from the kitchen, right under his mother's nose. They failed and got a few swipes of a wooden spoon across their knucles for it. Life in his childhood home seemed to be returning to normal, but Ben could recognize the fact that all three of them were just pretending, falling into their old routines for the sake of holding on to something familiar. He had no idea how the revelation that he knows about his mother's assault was going to affect their marriage and he could only hope it wouldn't be detrimental. He knew that he would never be the same again.

After lunch, he again tried to gently prod his mother into talking about it, but she clammed up so fast that he quit and changed the subject.

In the evening, his dad packed the Fiesta full of pies in boxes to drive them all to the bus depot for him. Ben found himself on the spot. If he allowed his dad to drive him to the bus depot, the man would insist on loading them all up for him into the night bus. Ben had no intention of spending the entire night on a bus so he said that the company had sprung for an airline ticket instead, under the pretext that they needed Ben there first thing in the morning.

Ben hugged his mother goodbye, barely suppressing his tears. His dad then insisted on driving him to the airport and loading all the pies on a luggage cart. After that was done, Ben hugged the man and said, "Go back home and take care of Mom, please!"

His dad nodded and said, "Call me!"

They parted ways and Ben pushed his cart down the airport terminal, watching for a spot where the cameras weren't going to record him vanishing. He couldn't help but giggle at the thought of what his actions must look like. A young man who drives up, unloads a bunch of boxes, says an emotional goodbye and then rolls the boxes through an airport while watching for a camera blind spot? He was surprised that a SWAT team, backed up by canine units, hadn't tackled him to the ground yet.

Finally, he found a blind spot and envisioned his den. The smell of his mother's peach cobbler snuck into his nose and he muttered, "Fudge it," before putting his arm around the stacks of pies. He whispered the word of Greater Teleport and found himself in his den, bracing twenty small boxes of pies against his side. He gently lowered them and called out, "I'm back, girls!"

Felicia strolled into the den and said, "Boss, the girls are having yet another orgy."

Ben could hear the cries of pleasure coming from his bedroom. It sounded like all three of them were about to cum at any moment. "Well, I guess I better go join them," Ben said and went to the bedroom. Lisa was lying on the bed and Krista was sitting on her face. Raven was grinding her pussy against Lisa's. Ben focused on his links to their minds and felt that the three of them hadn't heard him call out to them. They were too busy rushing towards a group orgasm.

"It would appear that my punishment didn't have the desired effect," Ben calmly said.

Krista and Raven shrieked in surprise and craned their necks to look at him. He could feel Lisa wanting to do the same, but being unable to move, or speak. None of them stopped what they were doing and Ben sent Krista the order to not cum. She resisted it unsuccessfully, as she was on the verge of exploding, and found herself locked on the cusp of orgasm. Lisa's tongue steadily pushed her higher, but Ben's order stopped her from crossing the line. She growled in frustration.

Ben sent Lisa the order to not orgasm and he could feel the girl's frustration with the order. He sent her the order to keep working at bringing the other two girls to orgasm and she delved into it with all the energy her inability to orgasm afforded her.

Raven held an arm out in invitation and gasped out a breathless, "Join us, Ben! Join us!"

Ben waited a few seconds and sent her the order to not orgasm just as she was about to. Despite not cumming, Raven screamed. He sent her the order to stick her face in Lisa's crotch and make the Latina cum. Raven obeyed and started eagerly lapping away at the girl's labia.
Ben had to undo his zipper and release his hardon from his pants at that point. He breathed a sigh of relief and sent Krista the order to grab ahold of Raven's squirming ass, hold it steady and eat the blonde out until she came. Krista let out a howl reminiscent of a batle cry and slapped both hands firmly against the blonde's perfect rear. She pulled on it until Raven relented and allowed herself to be turned around to face Lisa's feet. Krista then leaned back and bent her head down to eat out the blonde.

The three of them were locked in eating each other out and being unable to cum, while Ben vicariously enjoyed their maddening arousal, stoked by the wet, agile tongues that licked and flickered. He ordered Krista the order to to lie down on her side, following it up with the same order to Raven. The three girls now found themselves lying on their sides, still eating another girl's pussy.

Ben pulled Lisa's head back and stuck his cock in Krista's pussy. Krista wailed at the new sensation and Ben nearly lost his sanity as he felt how overwhelming the sensation of his penetration was to her while she was maddeningly close to cumming. He fucked her like an animal, while Lisa licked away at as much pussy as she could with his dick in the way. Ben quickly came and emptied his balls into Krista. His orgasm washed over him like a tsunami. His whole body burned with pleasure in its wake.

The endless arousal from the three girls made his erection last and he was hard as he pulled out of Krista's wet pussy. He moved to kneel on the bed and fucked Raven, again experiencing an astoundingly strong orgasm while Krista licked his balls in an equal measure as she did Raven's clit.

Amazingly, he was still hard as he pulled out of the blonde. He staggered over to the other side of the bed and felt Lisa's anticipation completely blank her mind. When he penetrated her, she screamed out her frustration at being unable to cum into Krista's pussy. Krista, in turn, screamed into Raven's pussy and Raven screamed while her lips were pressed against the base of his dick in Lisa's pussy. He climaxed without shooting his load and let out a shuddering gasp of pleasure.

As soon as he got his bearings back, he started to plug away at Lisa's pussy with zeal, feeling another orgasm coming on strong. He could feel each of the girls losing her sanity under the relentless onslaught of another girl's tongue on her clit. For Lisa it was even worse with his cock hammering away inside her. When Ben felt his fourth climax apporaching, he pulled out of his links with the girls' minds and sent Raven the order to stop eating pussy and cum.

Raven's head snapped back, brushing hard against Ben's thrusting hip, and she screamed like she was dying, while her whole body was thrashing wildly about. Krista kept a tight grip on the blonde's crotch and kept eating away at her, making the blonde's orgasmic contractions look like a grand mal seizure.

Ben sent Krista the order to stop eating pussy and cum. Krista's ear-piercing shriek drowned out Raven's failing moan of pleasure as a veritable deluge of juices spilled out of her pussy and clit to almost drown poor Lisa whose face was still pressed up against her. Krista's legs flailed wildly about, weakly kicking Lisa and Ben. Finally, Krista collapsed in a boneless heap.

Ben sent Lisa the order to cum and she drew a huge breath and then wailed continuously while her pussy clamped down hard on his dick. He came, spurred on by the hot pressure form all sides. Lisa's whole body undulated as her orgasmic shudders came and went. Ben felt each wave through his dick in her pussy and they enhanced his pleasure, making his whole body mimic her thrashing about. They became one writhing entity of pleasure, joined at the genitals.

Finally, Ben collapsed atop Lisa, utterly spent. Only then did he realize that the girl was still wailing in ecstasy. She kept on wailing until she passed out. Ben lay on the bed between the three motionless girls and realized that each of them had passed out in pleasure. He laughed out loud and passed out himself.

He was rudely awoken at what felt to him to be the exact same instant as when he fell asleep. Felicia was standing over his face, poking his cheek lightly with her extended claws. "Boss, wake up! The cops are gonna tear down the door! Wake up, Boss!" There was a banging noise heard from somewhere.

Ben grumbled and growled out some nonsensical vowels as he swatted the cat away. He rolled out of bed, heedless of the passed out girls, and stumbled to the hallway. The banging noise returned much louder. Ben straightened up and his sleepy brain began the slow process of booting up his faculties. He recognized that someone was banging loudly on his door.

"Open up! Police!"

"Whoah," Ben said and zipped up his pants. He checked that his belt was on with all of his foci. He was swaying on his feet as he ran a hand through his hair and went to the door. He opened it a crack and said, "Yes?"

"Sir," the cop said, "we've received a noise complaint."

Ben's brow drew down in confusion. He hadn't lived in this neighborhood for long and he hardly spoke to the neighbors, but the thing they all told him was to not play loud music at night since the cops didn't come round to answer noise complaints. Junkies woken up in the middle of the night, desperate for a fix, did. With a gun. Ben eyed the cops with suspicion. "What do you mean, noise complaint?"

"May we come in, sir," the cop asked and pushed at the door without waiting for an answer.

"No, you may not," Ben said and held the door steady without even trying.

"Sir," the other cop sternly said, "we've received a call about a possible crime in progress at this location! Stand aside, or be moved!"

Ben blinked in suprise and blurted out, "Bullshit. If you had probable cause, you wouldn't have knocked. Now, seriously, what's this all about?"

"Sir, we need you to let us in," the cop commanded in his best you-better-not-fuck-with-me voice.

"No," Ben said and yawned.

"I smell pot," the cop said to his partner. "Do you smell pot?" The other cop nodded.

"I smell a complaint filed with internal affairs," Ben said, mimicking the cop's tone. "Do you smell a harrasment lawsuit settled out of court for more than your salary for the next ten years would amount to?"

The cops looked decidedly nervous at Ben's casual tone. "Sir, is there any particular reason you wouldn't like us to come in," the second cop asked.

"Yes," Ben said, "the house is full of sleeping women who wouldn't like you ogling them in their state of undress. Now, either tell me why you were banging on my door, or go away!"

"We've received a few calls saying that a woman was being brutally murdered at this address," the cop said and winked at his partner. "But I guess you made her scream for a different reason."

"Yeah, very funny," Ben said and yawned again. "Go away!" He slammed the door and shuffled back to the bedroom. It wasn't until after he had taken off his pants and shoes and was in the middle of arranging the girls on the bed into more comfortable sleeping positions that he realized he had just mouthed off to a couple of cops and gotten away with it without a nightstick shaped dent in the top of his head.

A small surge of adrenaline dashed through his veins at the realization that he had just blundered through a dangerous situation half-asleep and come out of it unscathed. "All hail the indomitable power of my mighty charisma," he said to himself. He giggled and grabbed a sheet. He retired to the den to curl up on the couch. The room smelled of his mom's baking. He was too exhausted to worry about the cops and he fell asleep in no time.

He woke up feeling exhausted. He squinted one eye open and judged it was mid-morning, based on how the Sun's rays were slanting through the window. Felicia was asleep in his lap. Susan was pestering a former classmate for a job, or anti alien protection, and the girls were sitting at his kitchen table, sipping tea and chatting.

He sat up and stretched. He carefully moved the ball of orange fur from his lap and then burried his face in his hands. He put his elbows on his knees and sat like that for a few moments while he finished waking up. He stood up and went to the bathroom. The girls stuck their heads out the kitchen door to greet him warmly as he passed it. He grunted in return. After he took a long leak, he had a quick shower and shave.

He put on a clean pair of boxers and joined the girls in the kitchen. They cleared the table for him and bid him sit on one of the chairs while Raven whipped up a breakfast for him.

"Would you like a massage," Lisa said. Ben nodded and her fingers began to work on the knots in his shoulders.

"Would you like a lower massage," Krista said with an impish grin.

Ben wrinkled his nose at her offer. "I thought you'd all be exhausted and sore from last night."

"We were," Krista said. "But, when we woke up, we gently applied lotion to each other's tender parts."

Ben gave a small grunt and said, "Sorry I missed it."

"Would you like me to apply some lotion to your tender parts, Master," Lisa said. Ben could just hear the capital M in the way she spoke his unofficial title. He didn't quite like it, but he let it stand for the time being. He had bigger fish to fry. He shook his head at her offer.

Raven served him a plate of bacon and eggs and quickly turned around to pour some pancake batter in the pan. Ben started eating while Lisa was still massaging him. The eggs tasted heavenly. He moaned in appreciation.

"So, are you feeling any better," Krista asked. "About what happened on Saturday?"

"You mean Ritchie getting shot to death," Ben asked. "Yeah, I'm fine with it." He snorted. "You could almost say that I'm glad it happened."

"Well," Krista said and paused. "You don't look fine, Ben. You look... I don't know... Disturbed?"

Ben finished his eggs and bacon. Raven took the empty plate and replaced it with one that had a short stack of pancakes slathered in syrup on it. "Thanks," Ben said, flashing a smile at the blonde. He took a bite of the pancakes and moaned out his approval of the taste. He pointed his fork at Krista and said, "And thanks for calling me disturbed."

"I didn't call you disturbed," she said. "I just said that you looked disturbed. As in, worried. As in, please, tell us what's wrong and how we can help!"

Ben considered her green eyes for a few seconds before wolfing down the rest of the pancakes. When he stabbed the last piece of pancake with his fork and swirled it around his plate to mop up all the leftover syrup, he said, "What's wrong with me? I'll tell you what's wrong with me."

He put the last piece of pancake in his mouth and savored the taste before chewing it up and swallowing. "I find myself unable to function properly anymore," he said. "That's what's wrong with me."

"What do you mean," Lisa asked, stopping her massage. All three girls were looking at him with worried expressions on their faces.

"What I mean to say is that I can't stop thinking about how someone had raped my mother," he said. "And when I think about that, I can't help but imagine her crying and begging her assailant to stop and him eating up her tears, enjoying her misery." Ben shook his head and let out a nervous, little laugh. "Just the thought that someone out there has violated my mother, ruined her life, made her his victim forever and is probably enjoying the memory of the act and the feeling of power over her, even right now... Well, all that fills me with a ravenous thirst for the blood of rapists."

Ben had said all this in a calm tone of voice, but the pain was obvious in his eyes and it made them worried that he would snap and do something bad. Krista licked her lips nervously. "Ben," she said.

Ben raised his hand to preempt her speech. "I know, I know," he mumbled, wiping his face with his other hand. "Nothing I do will change the past, or help my mom recover. If she hadn't found a way to cope with it after all this time, then I can't find it for her, either." He put his elbows on the table and his face in his hands. "See? That helplessness... the knowledge that neither I nor my magic can do anything to help her... It just makes me so angry."

He shook his head and said, "I've been sitting on this since Saturday night. This, this, terrible feeling of..." He sighed heavily and stared off into the distance. "It's consuming me. Eating away at my sanity. So I've come to a decision. I will exorcise this wrath out of my system!"

The girls winced as they awaited his next words.

"I'm going to go find the habitual rapist that raped you, Lisa, and I'm going to see to it that he never rapes anyone, ever again. Sane, or insane."

"Ben," Raven calmly said and shook her head, "I don't think that's a good idea."

Ben shrugged. "Neither do I," he said. "But I feel that I have to do something, anything, to banish these disgusting feelings of... The best way to get over emotional turmoil, whether it's a breakup, or a death in the family, is to accomplish something. Give yourself a sense of worth and an illusion of being able to affect a change in the world. That's what I'm going to do."

He sent Lisa the order to find the website of the institution the FBI had had her commited in and see if her rapist had a photo online. While she went to the den to do that, Raven and Krista tried to talk some sense into him. He was only half-listening to them and their arguments. Time alone wasn't going to be enough for him to work through his issues. Or, it was, but he didn't have the patience for it. Either way, he ignored them and went to the den to see what Lisa had uncovered.

Plainview Mental Health Hospital didn't have employee photos on its website so Ben said, "We'll do this the old-fashioned way, using the mark one eyeball!" He pulled out his eyelash in gum arabic and cast Invisibility on Lisa and then himself. He sent her the order to accept his teleportation and to identify her rapist for him. He took a good look at the exterior shot of the hospital that was on its website and spoke the word of Greater Teleport.

Lisa and he materialized just in front of the main gate to the facility. A big, red sign proclaimed it to be electrified, but Ben immediately disbelieved it as two blood stained men in white coats were climbing it. Lisa and he gasped and stepped back in surprise. Before either could do anything, a bunch of men in grey sweats charged at the gate and grabbed the white clad men's feet. They dragged them down, despite the men clinging to the gate for dear life, and started to beat them up.

Ben was about to intervene when he heard Lisa gasp and scream, "They're here!" He focused on his link to her mind and sent her the order to speak quietly. "The symbols are painted on the ground in front of the guard tower to your right."

Ben could see the location of the spell on the ground through her eyes and he cast the Dispel Magic spell on it. He was shocked when he felt through her eyes that the spell was unchanged. Whoever had cast it, was a much better caster than Simon had been.

"Is it spinning," Ben asked her. "Are any parts of it spinning?"

"Yes," Lisa said. "The spell itself is spinning." A big cheer was heard from the other side of the gate and Ben could see, out of the corner of his eye, a freshly ripped off head being raised. He sent Lisa the order to keep her gaze away from the gate and stepped forward so she wouldn't have a line of sight of it, even if she did look that way.

"Does it have a runoff valve just inside the outer-"

"Yes," Lisa said, "It just started to spin contrary to the rest of the spell."

Ben grimaced and punched his fist against his palm in frustration. Whatever this spell was set to create, it was created and he had arrived just in time to be too late to stop it. The inmates inside began to climb the gate. "Why isn't it stopping them," Ben asked, referring to the gate. He used his Maximize Spell feat and a ninth level slot to cast the spell of Greater Dispel Magic on the ground next to the tower. He was stunned when he felt Lisa see no change in it. A maximized Greater Dispel Magic spell undid spells of twenty ninth level casters, regardless of what kind of spell they had cast. He couldn't even begin to fathom who could have cast this spell and made it so hardy that it would resist him.

While the inmates were steadily climbing higher, he noticed a trail of blood leading to an access panel off to the side of the tower. It had been jimmied open and then slammed shut. A man in a guard's uniform was lying on the ground next to it. Judging by the amount of blood that had poured out of the open wound atop his head, he was already dead. Ben sent Lisa the order to stay put and keep watching the spell.

He grabbed the panel's door and ripped it open with his bare hands. Inside was a mess of circuit breakers and wires, with two big wires severed. Ben hurriedly cast a Mending spell on one of them and the entire yard began to howl with the sound of the alarm. An inmate clambered down the gate, jumping the last few feet down to freedom, and began running away.

As soon as Ben's magic flowed again, he cast Mending on the other wire. He felt a strange sensation behind him and spun to see all the inmates that were climbing over the gate grip it while they shook and smoked. Before Ben could react, they burst into flames and started to quickly carbonize. "Oh, crud," Ben said. He didn't mean to kill them. He hadn't really thought fixing the other wire would restore power to the gate and, even if it did, he had expected it to just shock them and make them back off, like electrical fences are designed to do.

He grabbed Lisa and dragged her away from the sights, sounds and, above all, smells of human flesh being roasted by high voltage. He picked up and gave her the pair of binoculars the dead guard at the base of the tower had dropped and sent her the order to run to the treeline and hide there to keep a discrete watch on the spinning spell.

The hospital was surrounded by miles of forest and if anyone got over the fence and into the woods, they'd be almost impossible to catch. He took out his feather and cast the spell of Fly on himself. He flew after the fleeing inmate and cast the spell of Greater Invisibility on himself before grabbing him. The man struggled for a few seconds, but was soon paralyzed with fear as invisible hands raised him up into the air.

Ben flew them towards the hospital and dropped the man into the courtyard which he had escaped from, moments earlier. Ben flew higher and was shocked to see the carnage in the courtyard. There were dozens of corpses there. Nearly all of them wore grey sweatsuits and had bullet wounds to the torso, but some wore medical white and sported gruesome wounds inflicted by assailants armed with tooth and nail.

He flew up to the tower and hovered outside the window. He could hear the panicked guard inside yell into the phone. "We need you here twelve minutes ago, goddamnit," hollared the hysterical guard into the receiver. "Because the phones just started working again! We've spent all our ammo and we're cut off from the armory! We can't get more! Everyone's dead! Everyone! The whole staff is gone! The inmates have already killed them all! Listen! Yes, the criminally insane are loose! Listen to me! The rest of the patients are dead! Get everyone you have out here, right now, or they'll get out! The fence's back on line, but we don't know why, or how long it'll hold! Get over here!! Now!!"

Ben floated out of earshot of the hysterical man and gave the hospital another look. He could see people, almost exclusively in inmate grey, running around the courtyard and he could also see motion in some of the windows.
Lisa, in accordance to his earlier order to show him her rapist, would occasionally turn her binoculars towards the hospital and look at the windows on the higher stories. Ben felt her shock as she saw the paramedic that had raped her through her binoculars. He was in one of the upstairs windows, herding a young nurse away from the window.

Ben cast a new spell of Greater Invisibility on himself and flew towards the window where Lisa had seen the rapist paramedic. He smashed it in as he flew through it, feet first. He landed inside, still invisible and looked around. Female corpses were lying around, mutilated and obviously dead. Most wore grey sweats, but a few were in white uniforms. There was no sign of a live nurse and paramedic.

He floated quietly above the debris and glass shards on the floor and listened intently. The alarm was still blaring outside, but it wasn't so loud on the top floor with only one broken window. Ben thought that he could hear something. It took him a few moments to identify the location of the noise. It was a closed door to his right. He hovered over to it and peered through the observation window in the door.

Inside the typical asylum room was the nurse, screaming for help with all her might. Her arms and legs were tied to the four corners of the bed with sheets. The paramedic stood over her, catching his breath with a leering smile. He ripped another piece of sheet and stuffed it into the nurse's mouth, cutting off her screams. He then began to scream at her, mimicking her own sounds of panic.

Ben had enough. He didn't doubt for one second that the paramedic was going to rape the young nurse. He was probably going to kill her after and blame it all on the inmates. Ben seized his piece of cured leather and cast the spell of Mage Armor on himself. An invisible wall of force surrounded him, making him harder to hit. He set his feet firmly on the ground and promised himself to get the diamond dust needed for the spell of Stoneskin ASAP. He raised his foot and kicked in the door.

The paramedic jumped up in fright and looked at the door. Seeing no one, he drew his scalpel and pressed it against the scared nurse's throat. "Who's there," he yelled out.

Ben floated over to him, set his feet on the ground and seized his hand holding the scalpel. He pulled it away from the nurse's throat and wrenched it as hard as he could. He could feel joints popping in his grasp. The paramedic screamed in agony and began to kick at the empty air around him. Ben pulled him hard by the hand and landed a mighty punch on his face.

The paramedic stood in place, stunned, and Ben let go of him. While the man slowly swayed and blinked his eyes to clear his vision and mind, Ben made one last effort to beat back his wrath. Visions of his mother, trussed up and screaming like the nurse next to them, reared up in his mind and the decision was made. He was going to take a life.

He put all his weight and strength in the first punch which landed on the man's jaw and sent him tumbling into the wall behind him. His head literally bounced off it and Ben slammed it back into the unyielding concrete with another mighty punch. Ben's breath exploded in quick, savage gasps as he alternated fists to the man's defenseless face.

All he saw in his vision was the leering smile his mother's rapist must have been wearing. All he heard was his evil laugh. His lungs burned and his hands were numb, but he punched on until the man slid down the wall, his legs no longer supporting him. Ben roared loudly, making the windows rattle and nurse begin screaming anew. He picked up the slack body of the paramedic and turned to look at the scrunched up, fearful face of the nurse. She was screaming through her gag.

Seeing the young woman's blind fear cooled Ben's wrath somewhat. He picked up the scalpel and cut through the bindings around her right wrist, making her scream all the louder. He set the scalpel down on the bed next to her and said, "Don't tell anyone about this, or they'll think you're a loony."

He dragged the paramedic's body out of the room. Before he shut the door, he tossed the paramedic's set of keys to the nurse and said, "Stay here until the police come to rescue you!" He shut the door and cast Mending on the ruined lock, sealing her in where she'd be safe. He dragged the paramedic to the window through which he had entered and dropped his body to the courtyard below. He didn't care if the man was still alive or not.

He flew out the window to land at the base of the tower, next to where this spell was invisibly spinning on the ground. He had no idea how to end it. He didn't know if it could be ended. If a maximized Greater Dispel Magic didn't work on it, then nothing could.

An explosion went off nearby. Ben flinched and looked that way. In the corner of the hospital's courtyard, the fence passed over a building, making it impossible to climb over the building, but it didn't go behind it, making the building's back wall the outer wall of the hospital's perimeter.

Ben flew over there as fast as he could and saw a few grey-clad inmates clambering out of the hole, coughing to clear their lungs of the smoke. Ben growled in anger. He couldn't have them escape so he splayed his hands horizontally, with the thumbs touching, and cast the spell of Burning Hands. A cone of flames shot out from his fingertips for fifteen feet and burned the inmates that were trying to escape. They all hollared and pulled back inside, desperately beating at their burning clothes.

Ben stood watch over the hole for a few more minutes, casting the spell of Burning Hands and driving the inmates back whenever he heard them try to slip out the hole. He felt Lisa see a line of police cars driving up the forest road and sighed happily. He cast another spell of Burning Hands into the hole, eliciting painful screams from within, and then cast Invisibility on himself as soon as he drew his eyelash and his magic resumed flowing.

He flew back to the base of the tower and only then realized that the guards up there could have seen him the whole time he was shooting fire through the hole in the wall. He shrugged and let it go. The day was insane already and, even if anybody did tell anyone about an invisible man saving nurses and shooting fire from his fingertips, no one would ever believe them.

The cops pulled up at the front gate and got out of their cars, brandishing shotguns and assault rifles. They yelled up at the tower and received no answer. Then one of the cops spotted an inmate crawling out the burning hole in the wall and a few of them rushed over there to contain the situation. The cop in charge sent some officers to patrol the perimeter and radioed in for FBI backup.

Ben ignored the proceedings and went to where Lisa was waiting for him. She was still invisible, but he knew what she could see so he soon found her. "Are you ok," they asked each other at the same time.

"Yes," Lisa said in relief.

"No," Ben said at the same time. "Never mind." He needed to see what this spell was all about and figure out a way to undo it. He sent Lisa the order to accept his teleportation. There was something bothering him. Something he had overlooked. He squinted at the hospital building. The nurse was locked in a secure room with the keys inside the room. She had a scalpel to defend herself and that floor was empty. She was as safe as he could make her for the time being. The cops and feds would rescue her soon enough.

But he was missing something. Something was nagging at the edges of his awareness, teasing him like a schoolkid that saw an unnoticed stain on someone else. He searched his memory and looked all around, but he couldn't put his finger on it. Lisa's invisibility expired and he reflexively spoke the word of Greater Teleport.

Lisa appeared in his den to be greeted by a startled Raven and Krista. They peppered her with questions. Ben sent Lisa the order to perfectly recall and draw the spell she had seen. She sat down on the couch to draw and started telling the girls what had happened at the hospital, making them gasp. Ben ended his invisibility, waved off any questions and retired to his bedroom. He sat on his bed, deep in though.

Felicia woke up and stretched. She started purring and said, "Congratulations, Boss!"

"On what," Ben absentmindedly asked.

"On advancing to level twenty," Felicia said. "Seriously, Boss, I didn't think it was even possible. Well done!"

Ben snorted and shook his head at his cat familiar. "This is real life, Felicia, not a game of Dungeons and Dragons," he said. "You don't get experience points for killing things in real life. I didn't advance to level twenty. If I did, I'd have..." His voice trailed off as he realized he now had six ninth level slots, instead of four. And he had spent one to try and dispel the spell on the tower, which meant that he was supposed to have three. The rest of his spell slots didn't add up to his usage of the day and Ben remembered that advancing in level immediately restored all spent spell slots, among other things. He felt at the spells flowing through his body. They were all there, but there was room between them for a forty third spell to start flowing.

Ben's jaw went slack as he realized he had truly become a level twenty sorcerer.
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