Author: Chris Cook
Throughout history, conquest and espionage have gone hand-in-hand. By the time armies march to war, elite men and women have already been engaged in fierce battles in the shadows, defending a populace that regards them as little more than exaggerated modern-day fairy tales. But they are very real, and victory for them is for those they guard to remain blissfully unaware of their existence.
But wars are fought over more than land and resources, and with weapons other than guns and bombs. There are those who will go to the most extreme lengths to conquer the minds of others, to enforce their views, their standards, to tell the general public what is acceptable and what is evil. And in this war, too, we are defended by an elite group of secret agents.
(And if they seem a bit eccentric, well, consider their line of work...)
100 Nautical Miles South of Hawaii
Searchlights played fitfully across the surging ocean. Spray from the giant waves washed over the sides of the relay station, squatting in the featureless water like a dwarf oil rig. To anyone observing from the surface, the station consisted solely of a single habitat dome, barely a dozen metres across, surrounded by exposed walkways linking the dome to a collection of antennae and automated watchtowers.
Beneath the waves, though, stretching down from the hydro-traction pods that kept the station afloat, and stable in spite of the raging storm, a massive tail stretched down into the pitch black water. Far below, on the ocean floor, it connected to a thick, armoured conduit containing millions of fibre-optic bundles. If data were light, the darkness of the deep ocean bed would have been as bright as the surface of the sun - fully one third of the world's internet traffic rushed back and forth, through the pacific backbone conduit.
Back on the surface in the station's habitat module, surrounded by workstations monitoring and maintaining the vast flux of information, a villain was gloating - which, in terms of being an oxymoron, is akin to saying the ocean outside was a bit damp. Gloating is a sure sign of a villain with a plan that is, so far, working without a hitch, and this was the case in Deep Sea Station #3 - though it must be said, the most committed to their villainy will continue to gloat no matter how much goes wrong.
"At last! So many years of work, of planning, and now, success is within my grasp! Wonderful!" The maniacally-grinning figure turned to his wetsuit-clad henchwoman, who was lounging in one of the workstation chairs, looking bored so far as could be told with night-vision goggles covering her eyes.
"Soon, my dear," he went on, oblivious to her quiet, long-suffering sigh, "very soon my retrovirus program will be unleashed upon the world. It will spread like a cleansing flame, reaching into millions of homes, scouring hard drives, erasing all manner of vile pornography, erotica, smut! No longer will the people of the world be able to indulge their wicked imaginations with all this unwholesome claptrap, oh no. I warned them, time and again - reject it, I said, turn away from this unclean entertainment, but no, they wouldn't listen. So if they won't save themselves, it's up to me to do it for them! I, Richard Wilkins III, will save the souls of the world!"
"So do it already," the henchwoman complained.
"Now now," Wilkins chastised her gently, "patience is a virtue."
The calm of the dome's interior vanished as the main doorway swung open, admitting the howling wind and driving rain, and a water-soaked figure.
"Not for you it's not," said the newcomer. She wore heavy black leather boots, skin-tight black leather pants slung low on her waist, and a very brief top - yes, also black leather - that only just covered her impressive bust.
"Faith!" Wilkins spat in distaste.
"You shoulda stayed in your little redneck town," the woman smiled casually, swaying her hips as she sauntered into the dome. "All your local yokels appreciated the whole 'nothing more than a G-rating' thing. The wider world, not so much."
"There's nothing you can do, Faith," Wilkins gloated - see? - backing towards the control console behind him. "My retrovirus is already in the system, all I have to do is activate this workstation and it'll be locked in, and you'll never be able to get rid of it!"
"This workstation?" asked a voice from behind Wilkins. He spun around in alarm to see another young woman perched atop the console, twiddling its disconnected power cable idly. Like Faith she was soaking wet, having crawled in from the open maintenance hatch behind her, and wore, incongruously, a brightly-coloured cheerleader's costume.
"Buffy!" Wilkins yelled in astonishment.
"My cue to leave," Wilkins' henchwoman noted to herself, launching out of her chair at Faith, while at the same time Wilkins himself charged towards the workstation, grappling for the power cable.
"Give me that you half-dressed streetwalker!" he roared, crashing into the console and sending himself, Buffy and the workstation to the floor in a chaotic mess. Faith blocked a kick from the henchwoman and, with an angry glance at her as she turned and fled out the doorway, ran to help her companion.
"Hey B," she joked, grabbing Wilkins by his collar and hauling him off her companion, "no messing around while we're on duty."
"Oh very funny," Buffy frowned back, getting to her feet and facing Wilkins.
"It doesn't matter," he snarled, "even without being locked into the system, the damage my program will do to your smutty deviance will be-"
"Ah shut up," Buffy said, knocking him out with a straight left to the jaw. He slumped in Faith's hold, and she let him fall to the deck. Buffy flexed her fingers after the punch, then touched a control on her tiny radio earpiece.
"Hey Will," she asked, "did you KO the Mayor's virus?"
"All taken care of," came the answer over the radio, "it never even got into the backbone. Hot sauciness remains safe for another day."
"Nice work Red," Faith put in, "the hench-wench got away, but we've got Wilkins. Wanna bring the chopper around so we can load him on get out of this dump?"
"Will do," was the cheerful reply. Faith nodded and looked Buffy up and down.
"Do you have to wear that cheerleader thing?" she asked. "I mean, here? It's blowing a gale and pouring out there."
"It's my shtick and I'm shticking to it," Buffy joked. "Anyway, what about you - do you even have any clothes that aren't black leather?"
"It looks good on me," Faith protested. She took a moment to study Buffy's outfit more closely, noting the way the soaked skirt was clinging to her thighs, and her top had gone almost transparent from the rain.
"It'd look better off you," Buffy prompted with a grin.
"You read my mind," Faith smiled. She gave a quick glance at Wilkins' prone form, kicked him in the side to ensure he was still unconscious, then advanced on Buffy, pinning her to the dome's wall.
"Let's get you out of those wet things," she murmured. Her hands quickly went to work, pulling Buffy's top up over her head, then tugging at her skirt, fumbling with the damp material for a moment before giving up and simply tearing it down one side.
"Yeah, go baby," Buffy grinned, "see... I had it all planned out... mmmMM!" Faith interrupted her by seizing her bottom in both hands, lifting her up against the wall, and lowering her head to nibble hungrily on the blonde's hard nipples.
"Plan?" she said between licks.
"Uh-huh..." Buffy panted, "get in here... kick slime-ball's ass... then you'd... heat me up..." She trailed off blissfully as Faith nipped lightly at one breast, then the other, her head bobbing back and forth between them.
"That's what I like about you, B," she said, lifting her head for a moment, "you've always got a plan."
"Is that all you like about me?" Buffy teased, wrapping her legs around Faith's waist.
"Me," Faith grinned, "I'm all live-in-the-moment... whatever seems like a good idea at the time."
"And what seems like a good idea now?" Buffy asked in a mock-innocent tone, tightening her legs' grip on Faith and pressing her heated centre against her partner's bare stomach. Faith's eyes closed for a moment, then opened again, predatory.
"I," she said, pinning Buffy to the wall with her body, freeing her arms to lift Buffy's legs up over her shoulders, "am going," her fingertips stroked Buffy's dripping folds, "to fuck you..." she paused, on the edge of entering Buffy's sex, "...wild."
Buffy gave an exultant yell as Faith thrust into her, from teasing her entrance to reaching fully into her welcoming depths in one powerful motion. She opened her eyes to find Faith staring at her, a satisfied smirk on her lips.
"I-is that," the blonde managed between panting breaths, "the... best... you got?" Faith raised an eyebrow, then leaned in to kiss Buffy, easily parting her lips, their tongues caressing each other. She pulled back a fraction, and added a third finger to the two thrusting into Buffy's core, earning a gasping groan in return.
"Just gettin' started, B," she breathed. She dipped her head briefly, flattening her tongue against Buffy's neck and running it all the way up under her jaw, then dropped to her knees, leaving the trembling blonde flat against the wall with her legs draped leisurely over Faith's shoulders, her feet resting on the cool metal floor.
"Oh god yeah!" Buffy yelled as Faith nibbled the folds her fingers were plunging between, her tongue snaking out to gather the copious juices coating her sex, her thighs, Faith's own hand. The fingers within her began curling inward, stroking roughly over Buffy's g-spot with each thrust. Buffy lost her recently-regained footing and collapsed into Faith's grasp, her free arm around the blonde's waist to keep her from falling. Faith withdrew her fingers, leaving Buffy's centre empty, pulsing before her eyes. She slid her soaked fingers backward, between the blonde's ass cheeks, as she nestled her head comfortably into the apex of her thighs.
"Faithy needs her supper," she grinned, "wanna give it to me?" Without waiting for a reply she pulled Buffy down, firmly onto her mouth as her lips opened wide and her tongue reached deep inside her. At the same time she straightened two fingers and worked them quickly into Buffy's ass, twisting back and forth against the tight ring of muscle.
"Oh fuck!" Buffy screamed. "Yeah I'm gonna give it to you! God! Eat up baby, eat up... gonna come for you baby, yeah, oh god, Faith, yes! YES!"
In one smooth motion she pushed herself away from the wall, propelling Faith onto her back, cushioning her landing by holding her partner's head tightly between her thighs as Faith's tongue never ceased its voracious exploration. Buffy released her death-grip on Faith's head and spread her knees wide, wantonly thrusting herself down against the brunette's eager mouth and tongue and fingers.
"Here it comes baby," she whispered, grinding her hips down, around and around. "Here it... fuck... COMES!" she finished with an ecstatic shout, arching her back violently, her arms flung out behind her, head lolled backwards as her body shook and trembled and disgorged its bounty of sweet nectar into Faith's waiting mouth. For a good half a minute Buffy remained there, unable to move of her own volition, only to shudder and twitch as Faith gleefully sought out every last drop of her essence, and the fingers in her rear passage gently withdrew.
At last, with a great, shuddering breath the blonde managed to rein in her body, and slowly righted herself and leaned forward. Faith craned her neck, reaching after the retreating prize as Buffy slid her hips down her body, to crouch over her and gently lick the traces of moisture from her face.
"Love ya, baby," Faith whispered dreamily.
"I know," Buffy grinned, reaching down to undo the buttons on Faith's pants, "and you know what? Now I'm really going to give it to you..." Faith's eyes lit up, but at the same moment there was a roar of air and engines from the dome's doorway, a winch harness swung into view, and a voice emerged from their earpieces:
"Hey guys, ready to go?"
Buffy let her head fall forward, connecting with Faith's forehead with a gentle thunk.
"Sure Will," she said with a rueful grin, "just give us a moment to... uh, secure the prisoner..." she improvised, casting a glance at Wilkins' still-unconscious form.
"You mean get your clothes back on?" came the reply.
"We're not admitting to anything," Faith said, shaking her head in amusement.
The Ministry, as it was simply known, was an impressive, imposing building that stood alone on the northern bank of the river Thames, isolated on either side by stretches of well-cultivated greenery. Even late at night there were always lit office windows, reflected in the river - the Ministry never slept.
One of these lights, alone at the top of the modern-day fortress, silhouetted a shapely female figure in a tailored business suit, staring out at the city. Though the discreet plaque on her desk read 'Lilah Morgan', she was known to everyone who worked for her - from top agents to the lowliest of office clerks - as 'M', the Ministry's commander, with absolute authority over its operations, answerable only to the Prime Minister and the Queen.
Willow Rosenberg was nervous in her presence, but that was to be expected - when M, who rumour had it had been everywhere and done everything in her time as an agent, called a junior field technician to her office, it generally wasn't simply for idly chat. Willow tried not to fidget.
"We do a very important job, Agent Rosenberg," M said at last, after an uncomfortable period of silent window-staring, with her back to Willow.
"Yes Ma'am," Willow replied promptly, wondering whether this was a prelude to a demotion for some reason.
"Out there," M went on, still staring at the city, "are billions of people all over the world, each with their own personal likes and dislikes. Out there somewhere, someone is ogling a woman with large breasts, or a man with a toned backside. Someone is feeling handcuffs close around their wrists, having been blindfolded by their lover. Someone is fantasising about their teacher, or their boss, or their neighbour, or the cute young girl or boy who delivers their pizza. Someone is busily writing a story or filming a video which would scandalise the majority of the population, yet just as easily will bring great pleasure to those whose tastes it caters to. Everyone has their own tastes."
"Yes Ma'am," Willow said again. She couldn't keep her eyes from darting to the wall behind M's desk, where - like an old-fashioned display of swords - a pair of riding crops hung. Office rumour had it that Director Wyndam-Pryce, the head of counter-intelligence at the Ministry, was a frequent eager visitor to his superior's office, and not at all for the purposes of business. And sat down gingerly, if at all, for some time afterwards.
Willow's eyes snapped back to M as she turned around. 'Did she see me looking at the crops?' she wondered frantically, hoping they didn't have disciplinary purposes as well.
"The important thing," M said, either oblivious to or disregarding Willow's private panic, "is choice. A person may choose to explore, or ignore, whatever they please. However, there is a definite tendency among certain people to want to make that choice not just for themselves, but for everyone else as well. The Ministry's task is to ensure that all mature adults have the ability to make their own choices."
"Yes Ma'am," Willow said once more, wondering whether M was going to get irritated at having to carry on the entire conversation by herself, but not being able to come up with anything better to say.
"I know you know this," M went on, fixing Willow with a calculating stare, "your performance as an information intelligence expert and field technician has been exemplary. Your latest mission with Agents Leather-Bunny and Cheerleader-Bunny was exceptional. But I want to impress on you the importance of what we do. For a lot of people in this building, this is just a job - and that's fine, in the positions they hold. But for some, it must be more. This must be a calling, a duty, not just to your superiors, but to humanity itself."
She paused, and walked behind her desk before addressing Willow again.
"I think you believe in what you do," she said. "Otherwise I wouldn't be about to do what I am about to do. Agent Rosenberg, you are being promoted. As of now, you will no longer be a mere field agent, attached to individual missions as a specialist." She picked up a slim case from her desk, opened it, and slid it across the table, facing away from herself. Willow stared at its contents - a tiny gold badge, a rabbit.
"Congratulations, Agent Rosenberg," M said, "you are now one of the Ministry's elite agents: the Bunnies."
Willow left M's office in something of a daze, glancing down every few seconds to check that her new Bunny badge was still in place on her lapel, and with M's brief instructions repeating over and over in her head.
"You have been specially selected for a critical mission. There will be a briefing in one hour, in A Branch. Your new partner is in the building, I suggest you use the intervening time to become acquainted with her."
"Code-name," Willow murmured to herself, checking her watch and flipping through the file M had given her, "Shy Bunny. Shy Bunny..." She reached the elevators and caught one.
"Location of Agent Shy Bunny," she said clearly to the indicator panel.
"Level three, gymnasium," the electronic voice replied. Willow pushed the appropriate button and paced back and forth in the elevator until the doors opened again.
'Will she be nice?' she worried to herself as she moved through the quiet corridors towards the gym. 'I mean, my first mission... well, there's all the missions with Buffy and Faith, sure, but they were in charge, I was just the 'hired help', to pilot the transports and do the techy stuff... am I ready to be a Bunny? At least I won't be on my own... what if she doesn't like me? What if she resents having to work with a newbie, what if...'
Willow's thoughts trailed off into stupefied silence as she reached the gym, and set eyes on its single occupant. There could be no doubt that she was the one - the building computer had reported Agent Shy Bunny's location as the gym, and there was no-one else in the large workout room. And there was the tiny Bunny badge, attached to the shoulder strap of her exercise gear.
'What if she's the most gorgeous creature on the planet bar none?' Willow finally managed to process.
Her new partner was an enticing sight, clad in a pale blue leotard that left her long arms and legs bare, and displayed an ample cleavage into the bargain with its low-cut neckline. Her long blond hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail, revealing her features - prominent, sculpted cheekbones, full lips, pale blue eyes that were sensuously lidded as she concentrated on her workout. Willow felt her mouth go dry as she studied the woman from head to toe, then received a jolt of arousal as the object of her attention braced her arms against the exercise frame she was using and slowly lifted her legs off the ground, without bending her knees, first holding them straight out in front of her for several seconds, then raising them up vertically, her thighs pressing against her chest.
'God she's strong... oh baby I wanna feel those legs squeeze my waist... and- hey,' she chastised herself, 'getting a little ahead of ourselves? Maybe introduce yourself first? Unless you just want to dash off to the bathroom for some 'private time' thinking about her... tempting... why on earth would someone like that be code-named Shy Bunny? What does she have to be shy about?'
Willow stepped out of the doorway and moved towards the blonde, intending to call out to her when she got close enough. These plans were forestalled, however, by the blonde suddenly uncoiling from her suspended pose and dropping lightly to the ground. Not having seen Willow she half-turned, facing away from her, and leant forward in a standard stretch, touching her toes easily.
'G-string!' Willow's mind yelped, as her eyes cheerfully fixed themselves irrevocably on the smooth, creamy skin of the blonde's ass. The words "Hello? Hi, I'm Willow Rosenberg, your new partner," steadfastly refused to leave Willow's mouth, but her feet continued to carry her forward, from 'in-the-same-room' to 'should-have-introduced-self-already' right up to 'I'm-a-creepy-stalker' territory, barely a metre from the blonde.
"Um, h-hi?" she ventured at last, internally panicking at how close she'd ended up. The blonde jumped and straightened up, taking a step back as she turned, and snatching up a towel from her exercise bag on the floor which she held in front of herself, covering her stomach and thighs.
"I'm sorry," Willow said hastily, "I didn't mean to startle you, I just... sorry?"
"It's alright," the blonde said, her voice quiet and gentle, "I thought I was alone, that's all... um, can I help you?" She still held the towel over her lower body, protectively. 'She is shy,' Willow realised, 'my god, why?!?'
"Willow," she explained, "Agent Willow Rosenberg. Is me. I'm a Bunny. Um, your new partner? They did tell you, right? I only just found out... actually I only just got promoted, up until a little while ago I was just plain old Willow, non-Bunny, but now I'm not, and I am. If you follow me."
"Hello, Willow," the blonde said, a smile appearing through her hesitation. She let the towel drop, and held out her hand.
"Hi," Willow grinned widely, shaking her hand. 'Soft... nimble fingers... naughty thoughts...' "You're Agent Shy Bunny, right? The system said you were here, and seeing as you're the only one here I figured you were you... again, with the not stopping talking."
"That's okay," the blonde smiled, "and you can call me Maclay... Tara Maclay."