Tired, Lure slumped into a chair. Many strange utensils were lying around the lab: a bizarre hammer that was swirling in turns, tubes that were emitting orange gas, and some rare specimina, magical beasts to be precise, were caged in reinforced cages.
After pondering what she should do – if she should wait or fight –, Lure visited the captive held in the prison. Lumiere’s folly and hatred had subsided a bit. A little bit. Several times the hero cursed “Barbarians” “Vermin” or “Trash” while madly swinging with her arms, without considering her body’s safety. Not only was she fearlessly fighting against her own captivity – she was bleeding from several places, a remarkable feat as an Empowered – but she held upon an ideal espoused by heroes, prevailing against all odds in the face of adversary.
Her golden, with a divine touch, shinning hair, hadn’t lost her lustre at all and albeit her enforcer uniform looked ragged and tattered, she still carried an air of dignity, even if she behaved like a mad boar.
“This treatment is inhuman,” she said in frenzy, her spit dispersing everywhere.
“I agree,” said Lure.
“And so, you do nothing,” Lumière exclaimed while wrinkling her nose, “Scum will always be scum.”
Lure paused for a moment of contemplation. The dead bodies surged from her memories, reminding her of the injustices that had occurred during the clash between the heroes and the villains. She felt like a hypocrite, yet she did not want to set Lumière free since the B-ranked hero still presented a considerable risk for both herself and the entire hidden dimension where Sinistra will start living with her brother. Freedom and physical intactness were basic rights. Rights meant to be protected. Yet in accepting these standards, she would hurt her interests, Huic and Sinistra which was a price she wasn’t willing to pay.
“I won’t use my ability on you. At least, I further refrain from harming you.”
“Villains and their self-justification,” Lumière grunted. “How refreshing. I feel better again. Thanks a lot.” She snarled and hissed together in a bizarre way.
“I can however help you in a different way.” Lure hugged her powerless enemy.
“Are you showering a prisoner with love? Does your scheme resolve around me developing Stockholm syndrome?”, she said while her body visibly convulsed.
Lure shook her head. “No, I just needed to hug someone and you probably needed someone as well. I’ll speak with you more often in the future.” She broke Lumières's chains.
She looked away from Lumière, whispering as quietly as possible. “Suggestion.” A nudge is all it takes to spin the wheel of fate. She didn’t have any nefarious thoughts towards her prey, but instead, sorrow and pity weighed on her mind, however, those affects weren’t important enough to stop executing her scheme.
Whereas Huic wanted her to embark on the path of power at all cost, she wanted strength, not for the sake of it, but to achieve her goals directed towards the greater good.
A pink bubble, in shape similar to Thibaut’s, expanded out of Lure’s body. She was the only person who could perceive it, she was sure. A pristine, smooth, growing dome. It penetrated every one of her cells without interaction, though somehow her body heated. The rapidly expanding dome started encompassing the whole room and Lumière as well. Then, the bubble burst silently. Shit. Still a long way to C-rank. Mid-rank heroes and villains were able to perform a pseudo-domain engulfing an area with one of their abilities, thus reinforcing their effects.
Determined, Lure channelled her ability again, focusing this time solely on Lumière. A pinkish cloud covered the hero. Lure could swear that the fog smelled and tasted of fresh raspberries.
“Suggestion,” she whispered again while guiding Lumière through the lab, near the compartment where the bedrooms lay. They didn’t speak a single word during their way and tiny sweat drops fell down from Lure’s forehead as she took an enormous risk: letting the untattered hero room around the hideout. She trusted in her own ability, though.
“So, what now?”, asked Lumière with an over-friendly smile on her face and big glowing eyes, her attitude taking a 180° turn in less than fifteen minutes.
Even the villainess couldn’t grasp the situation. Did the fickle woman just change her attitude because of Lure's own ability or because of genuine joy to speak with another woman?
They arrived in front of the bedrooms.
“Well, there are some left. Chose one.” Lure pointed with a wide lunging motion towards several chambers.
Since the bedrooms looked all similar, Lumière first glanced at each room, then chose randomly the one in the middle. They both entered.
“So, and what do we do now?” asked the freed prisoner.
Lure paused. “Hm. I’ll... bring you some magazines, once I’ll come back.” She hadn’t planned any more steps and needed to improvise. Turning for a moment away, she whispered again, “Suggestion,” and continued the conversation, “Sorry, you need to wait in this dimension for the time being.”
“Have you never thought, that I might have family waiting for me? Parents, a sister and a lover, perhaps?” Lumière asked reproachfully, even making a duck face.
“Ehm, I have never meant to harm you. Huic has captured you. His methods are harsh, I know it.” She helplessly tried to defend herself and had to admit that she felt like her guilt had thrown her into a cold bath. “Well, let’s talk – “
A slap on the cheek pushed Lure on the bed. With wide-open eyes and ready to fight, Lure arose as fast as possible.
“That was for my mistreatment during my stay in the prison.” Lumière didn’t look angry, though, resentment yes, however, it seemed to be directed at Huic as she looked not at Lure but gazed off into the distance, through the windows into the void.
Lure started speaking further private stuff with the heroine who answered every question she was asked and in return, the villainess spoke about her family and the events that had happened so far. More than once both started laughing, despite a ten-year age difference. A similar lifestyle helps to bond after all.
They became closer through this little conversation about personal stuff. Lure needed friends, needed allies, and especially, needed a mole in the heroes’ side.
After half an hour, they heard a ‘pling’ sound: the device given by Huic announced that authorized guests had entered the hidden dimension. Lure left Lumière’s bedroom and moved back towards the lab. She was greeted by Coven and Swiftly, the couple she had manipulated in Huic’s illusion realm.
The man, who had coloured his hair green since they last met, looked haggard and ugly: a crooked nose and disproportionate long chin blemished his face. His wife with raven hair had fair white skin and was wearing a dress made out of black scales, compared to her husband, she looked like a beauty, despite being average in Lure’ eyes.
Swiftly shook Lure’s hand and spoke with an enthusiastic smile, “I am pleased to meet you and work with you. Lord Huic had entrusted us to become your aid. That’s my lovely wife Coven.”
He kissed his wife affectionally on the cheeks. Lure didn’t quite know how to respond but regained quickly her composure. “Me too, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” She feared she sounded too formal. “What did Huic say you should exactly do?”
Coven replied with a rather high-pitched voice, “Our job entails protecting you and executing your commands. Moreover, we’ll introduce you to the Banished Diplomats in Lord Huic’s stead.”
Lure wondered once more what Huic had planned, how far had he foreseen certain events and what would he gain from all of this. She knew that the two were under the headmaster’s control, not her own, that’s why she hoped she could win Lumière for her cause. Like a duck granted metal wings by someone, she felt or like a captain of a ship he didn’t own.
“Well, I’ll introduce you to the freed captive.”
Both Swiftly and Lumière glanced at each other and their face turned ugly. “Freed?” Swiftly exclaimed. “She’s quite feral for a hero... I think she resents us.”
Lure started laughing for at least a minute until she had no more breath. Her face had already turned bright red and the couple stood there confused, not understanding what was so funny.
“Come with me. I’ll introduce you to her. Properly, this time.” She smiled, good-humored. "If you treat a human like a cattle, she will behave like one.”
Both nodded as they understood.
Since Lumière had still left the door open, the three villains entered. Lumière was lying on the bed with closed eyes and arose as she heard the noise made by the three. Swiftly may be swift, but his gait was extremely clumsy and boisterous, painting the image of a rhinoceros in a library in Lure’s mind.
Lumière hissed. “You. FILFH.” Her reaction was quite…fierce. Understanding, Lure put her arm in between the couple and the hero lest a fight breaks out.
“Why did you bring them here?” The heroine turned to Lure and bit on her white teeth.
This time Lure regretted, slightly, that her ability ‘Soothe’ had evolved into ‘Awaken’, for this tool may have solved the current situation in the least complicated way. Combat was definitely not an option. Think.
“We should all talk. And yes, I totally understand your distress.”
“Look you’re fifteen or so and still a teenager while under the bad influence of that treacherous hero. However, those two are his minions and they act on his behalf, although they should know better.” The heroine said this, whilst angrily glaring at the couple, her shoulders were upright and her whole posture oozed of combat readiness. If nothing was done to deescalate the situation, she might indeed attack.
Coven understood the perilousness of the circumstances and cautiously said, “You’re right. We shouldn’t have trapped you. However, see it from our side. It’s nothing personal. We don’t hate you. We care for the cause of our villainous organization.”
Lumière took a deep breath and replied, “Yes, it’s true. You were only following orders and treated me rather well. My hatred is more directed towards that Huic bastard.”
The next hour Lure tried to mediate between the two parties and was astonished that Lumière even warmed up to the two villains. Her plan may actually succeed.