Sander awoke with a jerk, almost knocking Mara’s head from its perch on his shoulder. He screwed his eyes shut against the daylight that flooded the room; the clouds had covered the window opposite him, transforming the sunlight into sinister grey illumination. The room was painted in dark shadows and monochromatic twilight. How appropriate.

It didn’t take Sander long to remember why it was that he and Mara were sleeping in the corner; the bed was… ruined. Both hands swept up to his hair as he sighed and leaned his head against the wall. His eyes slid to Mara’s still sleeping form, regarding her with a surge of conflicting emotion. He doubted that he would ever see her the same way again, after last night. What had happened to her? What had happened to him?

The single image, burned into his mind: Mara in the moonlight. Turning toward him, every contour of her body wreathed in grey light. Her eyes, so blue, burning like the hearts of stars…

His fingers tightened in his hair unconsciously, making him wince. Shit…

She looked so peaceful with those fiery eyes closed, a tiny smile tightening her lips. Unbidden, he reached out and stroked her cheek, his eyes narrowing as the rational part of his mind struggled in vain to figure her out. Had she been holding all that back from him? It was like a different person had taken up residence in Mara’s body. She had been a storm, sweeping up everything around her without a second thought.

Her eyes flicked open, ice blue gaze on his own; he actually pulled away, just slightly. Her smile broadened, ‘Hmm. I was having such a nice dream…’ She said quietly.

Sander turned his head away, ‘Was I in it?’

‘No. Someone far more attractive was, boss,’ She grinned wolfishly as she said the last word, stressing it with teasing, malicious irony. She stretched, long legs sliding languorously across the cool floor. She took Sander’s hand in her own, holding it against her face, ‘Aww, how sweet…’

‘Okay!’ Sander murmured, standing quickly. He stretched a few kinks from his back and walked into the kitchen, his gaze never returning to Mara.

‘Hey, did I scare you last night or something?’ Mara yawned, sliding lower down the wall.

‘A little,’ Sander understated. She was still a little scary, having apparently switched back to normal Mara sometime during the morning. What was worse was that Sander had enjoyed himself last night, far more than he wished to admit.

He shook his head to dislodge the though. Hell, he had crossed all kinds of lines in the last several days, what was one more? His eyes moved inexorably to Amy, still sleeping on the floor, curled up with her back to Mara. He was in no doubt: That one line had meant a lot to her, he was sure. How could it not?

Mara stood finally, crossed the floor in a few long strides. Her hands reached up, entwined themselves in Sander’s hair, pulled him down and pressed her lips against his. Sander’s mind drifted back; She’d been acting like that for a while now. She had kissed him in the moonlight, pressing him against the wall, pressing herself against him. It wasn’t attraction to him, specifically, that was making her act this way, just a kind of vague, powerful feeling that welled up in her. He knew it was there; this close, it was like she was passing it to him. He had felt, in the heat of the night, the undirected anger edging her every movement.

Yes, that was it; Amy should never have tried to attack her. It had made Mara angry, genuinely angry. That must have been a new feeling for her. Sander didn’t think that there was much in Mara’s life to make her angry.

Sander’s reminiscence faded as Mara pulled away, her eyes searching his, ‘Are you alright? You seem off, somehow,’ she said, her dangerous, deep eyes narrowing slightly.

‘I’m fine,’ He sighed, closing his own eyes. ‘Are you? What the hell was that whole deal last night? That came out of nowhere!’

Mara smiled again, her expression bright and amused, ‘Really? Really, Sander? There’s nothing in our past interactions to indicate that I was capable of all that?’ She turned with a laugh, and her expression turned dark, ‘Maybe she’ll learn to watch her fuckin’ manners, next time.’

‘There’s such a thing as excess, Mara.’

She paused, ‘Not with me there isn’t,’ She growled.

‘Change the subject,’ Sander said quietly, shifting his weight from foot to foot.

‘So, how long do we have this place for anyway?’ She turned back to him and leaned against the counter, her features having completely shifted gear back to happiness.

‘We need to be out by tonight,’ He said, cracking open the fridge. ‘I guess these rooms are always booked up. Anyway, that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to leave Theros yet.’

‘Do you have any ideas, Sander?’

‘A couple,’ He shrugged. ‘There are specialists we can see, Y’know, if we want to end our vacation with a bang. Possibly more than one,’ He grinned, but it felt weak. Something in him wouldn’t let go of the new Mara, some undeniable attraction. Like a moth to a flame, though…

‘Oh, do go on, Mr. Hackett,’ Mara said. ‘And get me something liquid out of that thing, yeah? I suddenly find myself parched.’

Sander threw a bottle over his shoulder without reading the label. It wasn’t like it mattered; everything had some florid and vaguely unsettling name anyway, ‘See for yourself; it’s all in the system index.’

Mara looked surprised, as though this thought hadn’t occurred to her yet, and rushed off to the large screen mounted on the wall. The room lit up with an electronic glow, and soon Mara began making little impressed noises. Sander smiled; anything to get her mind off punishment.

He stared. She seemed so… what was the word? Not innocent, never innocent…

She seemed so… Mara now, just like usual. The same Mara he had lived with for eleven years. But she wasn’t, not anymore. His mind kept slipping back…


Mara in the moonlight. The thin, slicing sound of the crop scything through the air. Amy screams. Again. Jerks in her restraints. Another red welt on pale skin, virulent in the dim light. That one will leave a bruise.

‘Mara, enough!’ Male voice. His? It sounds alien, constricted somehow. Unfamiliar.

‘Don’t interfere!’ Her voice fills the air, fills the entire available space, like she’s beating the room with a crowbar. Those eyes, Mara’s eyes, turn to him, incandescent with rage and, below it all, barely visible, joy. Glee. One hand plays across the bare skin of her hip, fingers one minute stroking, the next taut and clawing.

‘I know exactly how far to go…’


Did it even matter?  That she had done that? After everything Sander had done, was this even worth dwelling on?

Yes… Yes it was. That had been the Mara that Sander had always assumed was hiding deep down within her; he had seen it once before, when someone from her past had approached her while they had been acquiring parts for a machine. He hadn’t heard what they had talked about, but he had definitely seen her break his arm like it was glass.

She had always been one to watch. A person as mercurial as she was, it was inevitable that she was holding something darker in check. But that was something they shared. If Sander wanted to compare sicknesses, he was probably in the wrong place to do it. He just… Needed to be careful around Mara in the future. Yes.

Besides, he had joined her, in the end. He had participated. She had been in the driver’s seat, of course she had, but he had helped. Something in her darkness was infectious, and she had passed it to him effortlessly. When she ordered him to do something, he had done it. When she had praised him, joked with him, she had lit up his world…

Like a moth to a fucking flame…

Amy was stirring, waking to the sounds of life resuming its normal pace. She winced as her eyes opened, gingerly lifting herself into a sitting position. Sander couldn’t imagine how she was feeling, but the dark, defiant look in her eyes was a big hint. There was a strangled, desperate edge to her expression that she was trying unsuccessfully to hide behind her anger. Simultaneously, both broke eye contact and turned their heads elsewhere. Sander felt vaguely awkward around her after last night…


‘Sander… Come here,’ Her voice like iron. Impossible to resist. He moved. Of course he did.

‘What is it?’ His voice again, trepidation layered over a deep core of fascination. Something in her was calling to him…

Amy had fallen limp in her chains, head low, long gasping sobs torn from her heaving chest. Mara reached over, lifted her chin with a firm, unyielding grip. Amy’s eyes were frantic, fearful. Tears streamed down her flustered red face. Her lower lip trembled.

‘She wants it, Sander. You simply must not deny her that,’ She toyed with the crop in her free hand. It seemed like an idle gesture, but her eyes burned into Amy’s and said otherwise, ‘Tell him, slave.’

Amy shuddered. Her mouth opened. Words came pouring out; her voice shaking, cracking, high and reedy. She gabbled rapidly, stammering and tripping over her words. Her voice rose higher, almost a scream of fear.

Begging, desperately.


‘Try the 08 directory,’ Sander pushed the memory down and walked over to Mara and pointing at an as yet unexplored quadrant of the screen. ‘I think that’s where I saw it.’

‘Saw what?’

‘Just look,’ Sander poked her playfully. Mara switched the directory, and her brow arched with amusement. This was a Mara that Sander knew how to deal with. He began to feel a little more balanced around her.

‘Yeah, that’ll do it. But I’ve read about these guys, it’s not exactly a place that you can just walk into, Sander.’

Sander nodded, and produced a small screen of his own with a magnetic strip running down one side, ‘Sure, but this is my bank balance.’ He thumbed a portion of the screen and showed the resulting number to Mara, who gasped and backed away.

‘Are there even that many zeroes in the world?’ She breathed, slightly horrified that one man could have such wealth.

‘You bet!’ Sander grinned. ‘Most of it’s appropriated from Hackett Industries funds, but since that’s all me anyway, I figure it’s okay.’

‘Alright, that’s cool,’ Mara crossed her arms and frowned. ‘It’s all okay for you, Mr. Fuckin’ Moneybags. Rich folk…’ She mumbled.

‘It’s all trickle down, Mara,’ Sander said. ‘Since I’m paying for all your shit too. Now, you want to go do this thing or not?’

Mara closed her eyes, ‘Good god yes.’ She said emphatically.

‘Then let’s do it,’ Sander said, clapping his hands together.

‘Right on!’ Mara pumped a fist into the air, standing up. Sander didn’t need any more reminding, but he was still stunned at how good Mara looked naked. There was something about her utter lack of modesty that was so alluring, even against conventional logic.

‘Amy!’ Mara clicked her fingers, making the redhead stiffen anxiously and turn her head with a shaky nod. The evidence of her punishment was still present, on her thighs, her bottom, her back, even her neck and stomach. Every movement sent new aches and pains flowing through Amy’s body, and she moved gingerly, stretching each muscle experimentally, gritting her teeth with the pain. Mara laid a hand on top of Amy’s head and petted her gently.

‘Hey now…’ Mara said. ‘You’re flinching away from little old me?’

Sander searched her face, and found not a single trace of irony. He found himself smiling despite himself, looking into Mara’s crystal clear eyes.

‘You go and get dressed, kiddo. We’ve got places to be, right Sander?’

Sander sighed and closed his eyes, ‘Sure, Mara. Whatever you say…’




‘So, where are we going this time?’ Amy sighed, staring dispassionately out of the window. She was finding it hard to look at either of them. Outside, an endless expanse of ocean stretched to the horizon, with not a wave or sign of life to disrupt its perfect, mirror-like surface. Theros had no surface winds to disturb the pristine water, nothing to generate waves and no moon to affect tides. If the planet wasn’t blanketed with ice-clouds, much of the surface would have looked like a giant mirror, reflecting the stars beyond. The view from the shuttle was so desolate, almost like purgatory.

‘Someplace special,’ Mara evaded, leaning back in her seat.

‘Well… Doesn’t that just inspire confidence,’ Amy muttered darkly.

‘You ever met an alien that hadn’t tried to kill you, Amy?’ Sander offered the olive branch.

Amy’s head cocked to one side, thought for a moment. She frowned with dissatisfaction, ‘Now that you mention it, no. Aside from the Doctor, I suppose,’ She almost physically winced at the pang of sadness that welled up merely from mentioning his name. She wondered if she would ever see him again.

‘Well, today that changes,’ Mara grinned wickedly. ‘I guarantee you; the aliens we’re going to see will not try to murder you.’

‘Well, that’s good to know,’ Amy narrowed her eyes. ‘What are they going to do instead? Sander’s paying a lot of money for this, right?’

‘Tell me about it…’ Sander muttered.

‘It’s going to be interesting, Amy,’ Mara said lightly. ‘I hope you’re ready for some intense fun.’

Sander shuddered. That sounded familiar…


Strong hands wound through Amy’s hair, keeping her aloft when the rest of her body wanted to fall to the floor. Leather cuffs still on her wrists and ankles. Mara’s shoulders shook with soundless laughter, her eyes mercifully closed, her head tilted to the ceiling.

Amy whimpered, her own shoulders shaking, though she was afraid. Mara turned, attracted to the sound. She lifted the crop under Amy’s chin, forcing her head up to look at her.

‘Aren’t you having fun, slave? Sander, this is fun, right?’ Her voice was low, almost vicious. Those wildfire eyes drew Sander in like a black hole; filled with such utter, inescapable darkness. A shiver went down his spine as her gaze turned to him. He felt like a small animal in the gaze of a tigress.

‘Yes Mara,’ He said, somewhat quickly. Exhaustion weighed him down. Mara was demanding, and cum was dripping down Amy’s thigh. He had already done so much; unquestioningly, willingly. Eagerly. What was happening here?

‘The consensus is that this is fun, slave,’ Mara said, dipping her head to be closer to her victim. ‘I suppose I’m not trying hard enough…’

The hand in Amy’s hair lifted higher, dragging her up to her feet with a yelp. It was time for the next round to start…


Sander’s physical eyes sent a signal to his brain that interrupted the flow of memory, ‘Hey, shut up,’ Sander motioned to the two women. ‘Check it out.’

Amy and Mara craned their necks to see out of Sander’s window. Their shuttle was horizontally strafing a large building that floated, motionless, on the surface of the glassy, liquid plain. A huge blue dome extended across much of the platform, but a wooden outer deck ringed the structure, expanding out periodically into metal landing pads. From this altitude, it looked like some enormous artificial flower bud floating on the surface of the water.

‘Okay, what is that?’ Amy said, nervousness creeping into her voice. Her hands shifted in her lap, toying with the hem of her simple black skirt. A part of her rejoiced at being able to wear clothes in public again, and a larger part was horrified that she had reached the point where she was happy just to be wearing a shirt.

‘That is called Nirvana, Amy,’ Mara patted her shoulder. ‘And from what I’ve heard, it more than earns that name.’

‘So tell me what happens there!’ Amy exclaimed in frustration.

Sander rose from his seat, walking unsteadily to the pilot’s chair to key in the request for landing priority. Initially hesitant, the Nirvana control room was more than happy to grant Sander permission to land once he showed them the collection of zeroes at the end of his bank statement.

He shot a glance over his shoulder at Mara, and she grinned brightly back at him. Inexorably, his mind slid back yet again; the memories had a kind of gravity that kept drawing him back. Mara winked; she could see the reminiscence in his eyes…


Mara laughed, her voice thrumming with deep satisfaction. Other sounds intruded.

Amy’s ragged, shaking gasps. And Sander’s deep, growling breaths as he speared into her over and over again.

Mara was at his back, the silent pressure of her gaze pushing him onwards. It was impossible to resist.

He knew he should feel bad, using Amy like this. Merely as an instrument for their mutual satisfaction. But Mara had said fuck, and he had asked: How deep? Shameful…

She cried out again, her eyes screwed shut. He was fucking her roughly, probably hurting her, but he didn’t care. Part of him was afraid of what Mara would do if he stopped. A far larger, more bestial part was snarling in primal enjoyment.

He felt Mara’s hand on his back, fingers twisting through the fabric of his shirt. She leaned up over the fevered pace of his thrusting, nibbling at his ear with a throaty giggle of delight.

‘Good boy…’ She whispered. ‘You’re doing well.’

Sander couldn’t hold out any longer. With a deep, thunderous rumble he thrust into Amy’s tender opening as deeply as possible, cumming hard. He emptied himself in her as Amy was overtaken by huge, wracking sobs. His hands tightened on her waist, fingers pressing painfully into her.

His gaze slipped to Mara. He didn’t know why. There was a degree of anxiety and expectation in his eyes.

Mara’s features softened, and she kissed him on the cheek, ‘Very good work, Sander dearest,’ her voice was slick, seductive. Dripping in sex and violence. ‘Excellent.’

He smiled. He didn’t know why, but her approval meant something special. Wrapped in exhaustion, he was barely thinking coherently anymore, but her praise tore all that away. He felt light.



Mara twisted in her seat to regard Amy, grinning wickedly, ‘Why spoil the surprise?’ She said, voice full of ominous bass. Her smile threatened to devour Amy whole.

To be continued…