The club was dim and loud and smoky, just like Gita liked it. She smiled as she stepped in time to the deep bass techno beat that thrummed through the whole structure. All around her, the flow of beautiful and lithe young men and women, dressed to kill, gyrating and swaying to the beat, filled the air with a sensual energy. Although every cock in the club was rock hard and every woman flush with warmth, the atmosphere was not necessarily purely sexual, just folks escaping the pressures of the world through music and movement, losing themselves to the rhythm and flow. Of course, such a club was also a great place to go and meet a fling.
In the Sex Mage World, any woman could snatch up any man with almost a mere thought, but in the Cosway Queendom in the former Indonesia, such barbaric notions were kept in moderation. Women were free to tease at will, of course, but only to a point. They didn’t just grab men willy-nilly, and haul them to bed without consent. However, fifteen years of Sex Magic had eased men into the idea of being open for women’s pleasure and use on whim. Still, if industry and society were to continue, men couldn’t just be snatched up at a moment’s notice, whatever they were in the middle of. To strike a balance between society maintaining its relative fairness and stability, and satiating the sensual sadism that the Magic coaxed, places like the clubs had made good business providing such a “hunting ground” for pleasure on the citizen’s own terms. Here, any man was ripe for picking, so long as they were not already being claimed.
Gita cruised through the crowd, weaving through the dance floor, and looking over at the tables. Most people in the floor were already pairing off, and most at the table were either sets of girls, or men already being seduced. She sent out the mystic feelers, seeking a man who was still waiting to be claimed. There were a few, but as it so happened, she swept her senses and eyes over the bar, and she blinked in surprise.
There, sitting alone at the bar, sipping a small snifter of scotch, was a man in a clean white suit, with a fiery red shirt and black tie. Even in the dim light of the club, he was clearly Caucasian, with the sharp features of an Eastern European. He had shaved his head bald, was tall and fit, and there was an air of confidence in his bearing. His age was difficult to guess. He had a smooth and youthful countenance, and yet as Gita looked at his eyes, there was a strange intensity to his gaze that possibly belayed an older state of mind. Of course, thanks to Sex Magic, even women in their eighties could look forty with enough effort and frequent use of magic.
However, what arrested Gita’s attention was what she couldn’t sense about him. Even as she looked right at him, saw that he was clearly male, she sensed no trace of his sexual being. She could not detect his cock, could not see even the surface notions of attraction as he watched the dark-skinned beauties around him writhe in time to the music. He just sat there, sipping his drink, with a pleasant smile.
No wonder the other ladies were shying away from him. But Gita was feeling adventurous tonight, and this strange man intrigued her. Her first thought, of course, was that he was probably actually a woman who had shape shifted herself into the body of a male. Even with a male form, penis and all, a woman was still immune to other women by default. But then, why would a transsexual woman come to a club like this, in that form, and not drop her defenses? Such women did exist, wishing to be taken and dominated by others, in ways no man could truly perform. If this was a woman, why even take the form is she wasn’t looking to be taken?
Gita stepped up to the “man.” She smiled at him, in that sultry way that made horny young men’s hearts race and their cocks throb. “Hey there,” she said. She was uncertain what he spoke, so defaulted to English, though he accent was rather thick.
The man’s eyes settled on her. He gave her a bold once-over, sizing her up with a slow pan up and down her form, but his smile remained blandly pleasant. Gita felt slightly uncomfortable all of a sudden. Most men were not so obviously brazen. And there was something very unnerving about a man looking at her in such a way, and her not sensing even a glimmer of his thoughts.
“So, you seem a bit lonely,” said Gita, shaking off her unease. She smiled a bit more broadly, and sat down on the stool next to him.
The man chuckled. “I seem a little imposing, I suppose. You’re the first to speak to me.” He motioned to the barman. “Other than him, of course.”
“Well, you are dressed a little strangely for this scene,” said Gita, motioning to the crowd. Most everyone else was in ripped grunge and punk outfits, slutty night walking dresses, or at most, slacks and a Hawaiian shirt. “You look like you just got out of the office.”
The man shrugged. “I just like the look.” He extended his hand. “I’m Sal. If you prefer, I can speak Malay or Javanese.” He switched smoothly to Malay, saying, “I’ve lived in this Queendom a little while, so I’m not just a tourist.” He switched to Javense, adding, “Although I did recently move to this town, for what that’s worth.”
Gita’s eyebrows raised a bit. He had spoken both languages without a hint of accent. Switching to Malay, she took his hand and shook it. “Well, then, I’m impressed! Call me Gita.” She let go of his hand, nothing that even with direct contact, her senses still hadn’t detected anything about him. “Sal’s a nice name. Short for Salvador?”
“Almost,” he said, continuing in Malay. His smile remained unchanged, as he looked her over.
Gita shifted a little bit, not really sure what to say. Sal seemed content to wait for her to add more to their conversation. This exchange was suddenly a lot more formal than any she’d had at the club.
“Uh… so…” she said.
She leaned forward a bit. “Are you a woman?”
Sal chuckled, breaking his expression for the first time. Gita found it relieving. “No, although you’re the tenth person to ask me that this week alone. All male, I’m afraid.” He smirked. “Well, not so afraid.”
“I see,” said Gita. She held a hand out towards him, as if trying to feel some warmth from his body. In a way she was, opening her senses fully, trying to detect anything at all. But her sexual senses were telling her there was no one there at all, even as she could see and hear him perfectly fine. “That’s so weird. If you were just guarded by another woman’s shield spell, even a very powerful fun, I’d be able to feel some kind of resistance or interference.”
“Perhaps you’re not looking in the right places?” said Sal. He leaned forward a bit and let her hand press against his chest. “Or perhaps, not the right approach?” Gita blinked, pulling away from his advance. Sal frowned, and backed away as well. He held up a hand and frowned. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you. I forget the women here like to be the hunters.”
Gita felt a twinge of regret at the sight of his frown. “No, no, it, uh, it’s just really weird.” She smiled. “But who knows? Maybe it could be fun!”
Sal smiled again, warmly this time. “I wouldn’t mind giving it a shot.”
Gita looked him over. He wasn’t quite to her taste appearance wise, but he was certainly intriguing. There was a nervousness she felt that she hadn’t with other men. A sense of risk that she found was surprisingly exciting. His initial awkwardness was probably just due to other women reacting weirdly to him. She couldn’t blame them, but she couldn’t put the fault on him, either. Perhaps he was a Glitch? She’d never heard of a male whose lust energies acted strangely, but the world was full of strange things.
“Well, then,” she said, grasping his arm. “Your place or mine?”
Sal smiled warmly again. “I do live fairly close, but if you’d be more comfortable in your own place, I am happy to go there.”
Gita nodded. The man was certainly sensible. Knowing his own intimidation factor, he was willing to put himself in unfamiliar territory, leave himself vulnerable in other ways. If she needed help, the neighbors in the apartment complex would have no trouble hearing her scream, and run to her aid.
“Alright then,” she said, pulling him up and guiding him away from the bar. When the bartender saw them leave, he opened his mouth to protest, but Gita waved him off. “Put it on my tab! Your tip, too!”
“Thank you very much,” said Sal.
“Consider it an advance for services to be rendered,” said Gita, grinning.
The walk back to her apartment was pleasant in the slightly cool autumn breeze. They walked with arms linked to show he’d been claimed. Thus attached, no one gave Sal any mind, passing women not noticing his lack of signals. They made idle small talk, Sal saying how he’d moved to Indonesia to just before the Megami had taken over the world and formed the Queendoms. Ironically, he’d been fleeing the onset of a vicious takeover by the Hands of Syraine cult in Wales, where he’d been doing work as a writer. After getting stuck in Indonesia he’d managed to get a job as a translator, and moved frequently to accommodate new contracts. Gita told him how she was still studying engineering at a local trade school, and doing car repair work on the side.
They reached her apartment, coming up to the main entrance, and Gita pulled him to her. She was so used to having guys buzzing with arousal, and gaining strength from the energy of their lust, she was a little surprised she had to put some effort into it. Nonetheless, she pulled him close for a kiss, and he responded in kind.
She pulled away feeling a strange, slight tingling on her lips. She licked them and came away with very slight smoky taste. Perhaps a hint of whatever drink he’d been having. She led him into the building, pausing to kiss him several times as they went up the stairs. She pressed himself fully against him a couple times, but noticed with a bit of alarm that he wasn’t hard. She hoped his lack of signals wasn’t some sign of impotence! Oh, well, if it was, then there were other parts of him she could enjoy. She just wasn’t sure she’d be able to return the favor. His loss, she supposed.
When they reached her apartment on the fourth floor, she practically dragged him inside, and ensnared his body like a snake, limbs wrapping around him, kissing him deeply enough that any man would have been breathless even without a hint of magic. Once the door closed, however, he stopped reacting. He pulled away and stood tall. Given the top of her head barely reached his shoulders, she was left hanging.
Gita blinked, looking up at him. He was gazing down at her with a cold look that unnerved her instantly. “H-hey?” she said. “What’s wrong?” She reached down and cupped him. Her eyes widened, however, when she realized she couldn’t feel his genitals. She had sworn she’d felt something before, flaccid perhaps, but maybe she’d been mistaken.
Had he castrated himself? Had a woman stolen his genitals? Is that why she couldn’t sense him? She’d thought such measures couldn’t stop Sex Magic, that men who had chopped their bits off just ended up with women regrowing their parts back. Gita started to pull away, but Sal’s arm ensnared her and pressed her against him with a crushing force. Gita’s eyes widened, and her jaw dropped as she saw his eyes, which had been a dark brown, shift into a brilliant crimson. She tried to draw in breath to scream, but Sal’s grip tightened, and she couldn’t draw enough air to voice her distress. She immediately reached out with her senses drawing on the lustful energy of other men from around the apartment, infusing her body with strength. And yet, even as she felt herself energize, felt the need for air abate, she found she still could not break his grip. His arm held her with uncanny strength, still preventing her from draw in enough air to speak. She tried to struggle, to push him off, to kick him, but both her arms were pinned in his long grip, and she had no space or leverage for a good kick.
“You’ve been wondering why you can’t sense me,” Sal said, his mouth forming a thin, cruel smile. “It’s very simple.” He held up his free arm, extending his index finger down to point at her forehead. “Sex Magic on works on beings one can crossbreed with. In other words, for you, it can only work on other humans. I am not human.” Suddenly, his finger burst into flames, crackling with heat. No, it didn’t just light afire, it became fire. The flesh and bone had been replaced by a painfully hot digit of flame.
“And even if the Magic could effect other beings? It would only be effective against flesh. I am made of pure, living fire. Your magic could never touch me.” His thin smile became a sadistic grin. “But I can touch you.”
Gita pulled as much energy towards her as she could for one last attempt to shove Sal away and scream. She never got the chance, as Sal’s finger instantly elongated into a long needle of flame, spearing her skull straight through. There was flash that lit up her entire head, light pouring through her skin, leaving the silhouette of her skull, as her brain was instantly boiled into vapor. She didn’t even have time for a death rattle.
Sal let her go, returning his flaming digit to a normal, flesh-like finger, and spreading his arms wide. Gita’s body dropped limply to the floor, pink steam erupting from the charred hole in her forehead. As he heard the hiss of the steam, Sal kept his arms spread wide and turned his face to the ceiling. He let out a sigh of ecstasy, his eyes rolled back, and he shivered, as if in climax.
When the burst of steam became a mere sizzle of still-boiling fluid, Sal calmed himself, lowering his arms and taking several slow, steady breaths. He looked at the body, smiling pleasantly, for several long minutes, before holding out his hand once more. A ball of blinding light flickered into being in his palm, then dropped over Gita’s body. There was a flash, and for a moment, a cocoon of light enveloped her. When the light died, her entire body, down to the bone, had been reduced to vapor by a heat so great, not even ash or smoke remained. And yet, so precise was Sal’s control over his fire, that the floor she’d been laying on had not a single burn mark.
Sal let out another sigh of contentment, and turned to leave the apartment. He jerked back as he came face to face with another man, tall, broad shouldered, silver haired, and crimson-eyed. His familiar dark brown long-coat and wide brimmed hat were contrasted by the silvery metal of the high-tech energy rifles stuck to his back.
Sal took another step back as the man, his eyes hidden under the brim of his hat, tilted his head up to reveal a calm, relaxed expression, a pleasant almost-smile on his boyish features. Sal swallowed hard. “Zane,” he said, more softly than he’d intended.
Zane’s almost-smile became a slight one, and he looked to the floor where the woman had been. He let out a small sigh and shook his head, looking back at Sal. “Salamander,” he said. “You really need to stop this.” His voice was a pleasant, melodious baritone, speaking as though giving a child some friendly advice.
Sal wasn’t fooled. He steeled himself and said, “You left me here on this rock to observe. I’ve been observing for five years. There’s nothing to tell. I need to do something so I don’t go mad from the boredom.”
Zane nodded, pursuing his lips in thought. “Yeah, no, I get that. But after the Cult Wars, they are more aware of us than ever. Every sudden disappearance you leave behind you, every flagrant display of your power, you bring them a little closer.” As he said this, he took a step closer to Sal.
If the man of fire could sweat, beads would be running down his neck. “I was careful this time. I did it indoors.”
Zane nodded to the side. “In front of a window,” he said. Through the glass, Sal could see their floor was higher than any other building immediately around, so no one had immediate line of sight inside. Nonetheless, with the curtains open, there was no telling who might have seen the flash of his fire.
“I think we’re okay,” Sal said slowly.
Zane shook his head again. “Witnesses saw you leave that bar with her. When she doesn’t show up for classes or work, people will come looking. And they’ll remember the man in the white suit, whose cock could not be sensed.” Zane took another step forward.
This time Sal stood his ground, his frustration mounting. “If you’d give me a task worthy of my being, maybe I wouldn’t be going so stir crazy on this wet rock.”
Zane’s pleasant smile returned. “Worthy of your being? I didn’t know candles could feel hubris.”
Sal grit his teeth, fury overtaking his fear. Flames erupted from his being in a brilliant aura and he stood tall. “I was born of the First Star! I wasn’t created for this bitch work!”
A spark of purple light flashed in Zane’s eyes, and the Salamander was suddenly smashed into the far wall, his flames instantly snuffed out. He let out a pained gasp as he fell to the ground, but before he could even start to stand, the cold, alien metal of Zane’s long-barreled gun slammed into his temple, crushing his skull against the floor. Sal cried out again, feeling pain that his fiery form was not used to. Normally, such a blow would have merely turned his faux-flesh into pure fire, leaving him undamaged while burning whatever had dared to strike him. But Zane, Archangel of Temael, was unhindered by such exotic defenses. His touch imposed mortality on the Salamander, just as the fire elemental’s own touch ignored the protections of Sex Magic.
“Bitch work seems suitable enough for a bitch,” the Archangel said, his expression still pleasant, but his voice tinged with a cold edge that make Sal’s entire body seize up. Zane’s finger lightly touched the trigger on his exotic weapon, small colored notches in the barrel glowing with faint purplish haze.
Sal glared at his superior, and hissed through tightly grit teeth. “Just snuff me. Do it. If this is all I’m good for, and I can’t even have a spark of fun, then what’s the point of it all?”
Zane’s smile broadened and Sal felt ice through his nerves. “The point isn’t for you, little candle. It is for our Great and Wondrous Lord. The one to whom you owe your very existence. How would your Father feel, knowing you would snub the one who saved him, who gave all of you a second chance at being?”
Sal grit his teeth harder and squeezed his eyes as Zane pressed the gun barrel harder against his temple. The elemental’s thoughts seethed hot in his mind. Blasphemies threatened to pass his lips. But after a moment, he forced himself to calm down. He simply could not do it. No matter his frustration, His Great and Wondrous Lord deserved better. Sal let out a long, shuddering sigh, and if could have, he would have wept. He was unworthy to serve his Lord in even this miniscule task. He deserved annihilation, not out of spite, but out of failure.
Zane’s smile widened just a bit more, knowing the thoughts roiling in the elemental’s mind. “You may be right, Salamander. But fortunately, your Lord is forgiving.” He withdrew the gun, placing it against his back, where it stayed in place through a touch of magic. Zane grabbed him by the shoulder and hauled him to his feet as though he were a kitten held aloft by the scruff of his neck.
“Now then,” said Zane, dusting off the man’s suit. “You know the procedure. Keep moving. Observe. Report. Let us know the feel of the citizenry, the practices of the Queendoms.”
“This whole chain of islands seems pretty laid back,” Sal muttered, once he got himself partially composed. “So far anyway.”
“Perhaps,” said Zane. “But even here, dissidents may be found. Even by one as dim as you.” And then suddenly, he was gone, blinking out of existence with no flare or drama.
Sal let out a shaky breath, his whole body trembling. He looked to where he’d dropped the girl, swallowed hard, and tried not to think about the next time he would do this. As with all the men of this world, he was desperate to find some release, and it was increasingly difficult to achieve. Once his legs could work again, he forced the mask of confidence on his expression, resuming his pleasant smile, and walked out of the apartment. Then he turned to the east, and headed for the next Queendom over.