Zoe darted down the hotel hallway, her bare feet soundless against the plush carpet. As many times as she repeated Yvain’s words to herself, that the difficult, dangerous part of her mission was over with, she couldn’t quite believe it. She was still on the top floor of a hotel frequented by high-ups in the secret police, and she still had to make her way down to ground level. Doing so in nothing but a towel would have been bad enough, but now she had to do it naked.
Her chest rising and falling with her breath, Zoe reminded herself of how much she’d already been through tonight. She had also been naked when she beat up that officer, and when she infiltrated Heinrich’s computer. Most importantly, she’d been naked when she entered this hotel, and the lady at the front had paid her no mind. All she needed to do now was get back down there and exit the building as inconspicuously as a naked woman could.
The elevator was too dangerous, she decided. If she bumped into someone now, they would certainly have questions for her. Should she cling to the cover story of being a Public Service girl, someone might request her service, and she would have no choice but to assent, which would waste valuable time.
That was her rational reason for seeking out the fire escape, and the one she communicated to Yvain. Her irrational reason was that she was fucking naked and would rather die than let even more see her like this! She’d already showed her body to too many people tonight.
The fire escape was dimly lit, and the metal steps creaked and clanged under Zoe’s feet. She had barely gone two flights down when she heard a door open below her.
Biting her lip, Zoe darted back up a couple of stairs, putting a wall between herself and the eyes of whoever was shuffling through the door that had just opened. Hardly daring to breathe, she pressed her back up against the wall and instinctively clutched her breasts and crotch.
The footsteps of the other person on the fire escape became fainter, indicating that they were going down.
<Whoa,> thought Yvain, projecting a mixture of feelings Zoe recognized from her shower, but more intense. It was then that she realized she was still sharing her sense of touch with him.
Blushing furiously, Zoe yanked her hands away from her crotch and breasts. <Omigod!> she thought. <Sense of touch revoked!>
<G—good, now I don’t have to feel the cold anymore,> Yvain replied, clearly disappointed.
Zoe continued down the stairs, her arms awkwardly hovering in the air. It was okay to cover herself up again, but she couldn’t get the sensation of Yvain’s reaction to feeling her most intimate parts out of her mind. At the same time, walking without covering herself made her feel even more exposed. But she couldn’t touch any part of herself without feeling like someone else’s hands were there. Someone who really, really wanted her.
<I—I’m going to take it as a compliment,> Zoe thought.
<Permission to speak unprofessionally for a moment, Fighter Zoe?> Yvain appeared to have regained his usual cool and collected demeanour.
<You’ve got an extremely sexy body.>
Zoe smiled and reminded herself that she had given him her sense of touch in the first place. This had been surprising and unexpected, but he’d done nothing wrong, really. Better for him to react than to keep quiet about it.
She already knew he thought she was sexy and sincerely meant it, but it was nice that he put it into words. It made her feel a bit more confident. <Thank you.>
The rest of Zoe’s descent was uneventful. The person below her had reentered the main building without noticing the naked woman above them, and nobody else came through the fire escape while she was there.
Now that they were past the awkwardness of the unexpected touch, Zoe and Yvain’s mental conversation resumed its normal tone. <Have you heard anything from Manuel’s people yet? Is he aware of the trap?> Zoe asked.
<No,> thought Yvain, not hiding his frustration. <It’s been complete radio silence. They are known for being difficult to get anything out of though. And we’ve got a while to go before Violet’s plan kicks into action.>
<I hope he’s received the message,> Zoe thought back. <And that he believes it. Violet is not pretty enough to be worth destroying the Resistance over.>
<I prefer brunettes.>
Finally, Zoe reached the bottom of the stairwell. The door to the ground floor stood a few feet away from her. She pressed her ear against it. Silence. Then she opened it just a crack and peeked through.
The hotel lobby was as empty as it had been when she had come in—that is, Sylvia the receptionist was still there, sitting behind her desk wearing a blank expression.
The thought of purposefully exposing herself to someone made Zoe’s heart drop into her feet, even though Sylvia had already seen her and not reacted at all. Would she behave differently now that Zoe was on her own, unaccompanied by a party high-up? Would she be suspicious? Would she be mean?
Maybe she would be both, but for Zoe’s part, she would give Sylvia as little reason as possible to do either. She took a few deep breaths, shook some of the tension out of her limbs, put a smile on her face and told herself she was sexy. Then she pushed open the fire escape door and walked out.
Sylvia’s attention was immediately captured by the naked woman walking out of the fire escape. She looked at her steadily, only the faintest hint of a blush rising to her cheeks. “Good night, comrade,” she said evenly. “There was no need to take the fire escape. The elevator is in perfect working condition.”
Zoe smiled sweetly and thought quickly. “Gotta keep this in tip-top shape,” she said, gesturing at her body.
“Indeed,” Sylvia said coldly. Her cold gray eyes looked Zoe up and down from behind steel-rimmed spectacles. “We must all do our part for the Revolution.”
Zoe immediately regretted calling attention to her naked body, heroically forcing down a blush. Sylvia would be suspicious if the naked Public Service girl suddenly became self-conscious. “Good night, Comrade Sylvia,” she said, turning and walking briskly to the exit. She could feel the woman’s disapproving look against her bare, shifting buttocks. I’m not normally like this, she wanted to say.
Back out on the dark city streets, Yvain directed Zoe to turn left, and she hurried down the road and away from the hotel. <The safehouse isn’t far from here. Just walk quickly, keep your head down, and don’t run into any more police.>
<Got it. Don’t run into any—shit.> As Zoe’s eyes swept across the street ahead of her, they came to rest in direct contact with a pair of brilliant green eyes framed by dark lashes and a bouncy blonde haircut. <How is she still here?!>
Violet looked just as surprised to see Zoe as Zoe was to see Violet. Their eyes mirrored each other in size, and both stood frozen. The flames of panic erupted across Zoe’s mind, but were doused by a torrent of calm from Yvain. <At least we know she hasn’t met up with Manuel yet. Calm down Zoe, she hasn’t ever seen you before. Just act natural.>
<I’m acting too natural, that’s the problem!> As much of a relief as it was to know that Violet had no reason to attack or try to arrest Zoe, there was still the matter of her being a relative stranger, who was staring wide-eyed at Zoe’s naked body in the middle of the City.
“Comrade!” Violet cried, her expression softening at once to one of deep sympathy. She started at once towards Zoe, the soles of her boots clacking loudly on the road. “What happened to you? You must be cold!”
“I-it’s a warm night,” Zoe replied, cringing. The nonchalant facade she’d put up for Sylvia’s benefit was quickly cracking. There was a hard limit to the number of people she could tolerate seeing her naked in one night, and she was running right up against it.
“Here,” Violet said, shrugging off her elegant, full-length leather coat. “Please, put this on. I will escort you back to your quarters.”
Zoe stared at the coat with a mixture of longing and dread. <What should I tell her? Do I keep up the Public Service story?>
<Put on the coat.>
<Wait, what?> Zoe couldn’t believe that Yvain had just instructed her to put on a coat that was certainly microchipped, and the property of a spy no less. But there was no way to mishear thoughts.
<I still haven’t gotten through to Manuel’s people, so we’re going to have to go with Plan B. The mission just got extended, Fighter Zoe.>
Zoe fought to keep the flood of conflicting feelings from showing on her face as she gratefully accepted the coat from Violet and draped it over her shoulders. The leather was sleek and cool against her skin, and she was grateful to hide her most intimate parts from the world as she tied the belt at the front.
Violet was wearing a form-fitting, shoulderless red dress that flared out at the bottom and ended just above her ankle-length brown boots. Sheer stockings covered her legs. Having transferred her coat to Zoe, they were now both showing similar amounts of skin. “Show me where your quarters are, comrade,” she said, touching Zoe’s leather-clad elbow.
<Lead her along the path I give you,> Yvain commanded. <And be ready for action.>
Zoe gulped. She couldn’t believe what Yvain was asking her to do—take down a high-ranking regime spy as part of her first mission! Things just kept getting crazier. Still, it had all gone well enough so far.
She led Violet down the quiet street, following Yvain’s directions. As they walked, Zoe thanked Violet profusely for her kindness, and gave her a fake name and story. As Violet had not seen Zoe emerge from the hotel, she and Yvain thought it better to reuse Justine Trask, the nude sleepwalker.
“Does this happen to you a lot?” Violet asked.
“Oh no, I don’t usually sleepwalk this far!” Zoe answered. “But I think I will have to start wearing pajamas again.”
“Fortunately we live in an age of plenty, where such things are freely available on the basis of need,” Violet replied. “They say that under capitalism, workers owned but a single outfit and were forced to sleep naked. In warm countries, they would labor naked part of the year to prevent their clothes from wearing out.”
Zoe had learned similar things in school. The stories were intended to make students grateful for their scratchy, shapeless overalls and starched underclothing.
<Pure propaganda,> Yvain thought contemptuously. <The City provides you with two pairs of overalls and three sets of underwear, and it wants you to believe that represents abundance.>
As they walked, Zoe’s eyes were continuously drawn to Violet’s dress. She had never been so close to an outfit like this, made for aesthetics rather than mere utility. Of course, she had seen important women in the party wearing such things in the distance, and she had seen Public Service girls wearing ragged, skimpy versions, but in her daily life she rubbed shoulders with mass-manufactured overalls. She had owned a dress, but it was made of the same coarse fabric as her overalls and hardly looked better.
Violet’s leather coat felt better than anything Zoe had ever worn before, and she regretted that it would soon be necessary to discard it.
<Down this alley,> Yvain thought. <Tell her it’s a shortcut.>
“It’s just down here,” Zoe said, ushering Violet down a narrow alley. “I don’t want to wake any of the other girls up, so I’ll take the back entrance.”
As they walked down the alley, Zoe slowed and allowed Violet to walk past her. Violet looked up at the brick walls and steel staircases and asked which one led to Zoe’s quarters. The alley was dark, so Violet didn’t notice Zoe untying the belt of her leather coat.
The sides of the coat slumped apart, exposing Zoe’s front as she pulled the belt out of its loops and gripped it tightly in both hands. With quick and totally silent steps, she positioned herself directly behind Violet, whose attention was still on the walls. “It’s right over… here!”
Zoe flung the belt over Violet and pulled it tight, pinning the blonde woman’s arms to her sides. Before Violet could cry out, a leather sleeve forced itself into her mouth, muffling any sound she could make. Her hands scrambled frantically against her thighs, pulling up the bottom of her dress and revealing the straps of a black garter-belt.
<She’s got a gun!> Yvain directed Zoe’s attention to the large black shape pressed between one strap of the garter and Violet’s milky thigh. <Grab it before she does!>
Still holding the leather belt in place with one hand, Zoe reached for the gun. With a muffled scream, Violet scratched at the back of her hand, her long red nails leaving painful marks across it. Zoe gritted her teeth and headbutted Violet.
The two woman collapsed into a squirming heap, struggling on the asphalt. Zoe’s hand grabbed the gun and managed to wrest it from Violet’s garter. At the same moment, Violet spat out the sleeve of the leather coat. She opened her mouth to scream, but was winded by a knee from Zoe, which was followed by a kick, breaking the struggle apart. Both women came apart and scrambled to their feet, panting.
Violet’s makeup was smeared, her stockings had runs, and her dress was torn, its lower part hiked up to her waist, revealing both lacy black panties and the top of her garter-belt. Her leather coat lay in a heap at her feet, and its former wearer stood naked before her, pointing a gun at her head.
“If you try to scream I’ll shoot,” Zoe said, panting and shaking, but holding the pistol firm in both hands.
<Nice work, Fighter Zoe!> thought Yvain.
Zoe smiled weakly for a second, but her face quickly returned to a hard expression. Blood dripped from where Violet had scratched her, and the wind once against whipped across her bare skin. She was naked again, but there was something about holding a gun that made that feel almost irrelevant. The cold metal brought back memories of her mandatory military service, during which she’d discovered herself to be an excellent shot.
Violet appeared to consider defiance for a moment, but ultimately decided against it. “I have nothing worth stealing,” she whispered. “This dress, perhaps, but it’s ruined now.”
<I think you can cut to the chase here, Zoe.>
“I don’t want your stuff, Violet,” Zoe said. “But you are going to come with me.”
Violet’s eyes widened at the use of her name—she had introduced herself as Kirsten. “C-comrade,” she stammered, “y-you are going to blow my cover!”
A confession, so quickly. “That’s the plan,” Zoe replied. “The Resistance knows all about your true loyalties, Violet. We know what you had planned tonight.”
A brief battle raged across Violet’s countenance, and then flattened itself into a blank expression. “I see,” she said. “You must be a new recruit. I don’t suppose you would consider that I might be double agent.”
Doubt flickered across Zoe’s face for a brief moment. <A likely story!> Yvain scoffed. <What kind of double agent seduces and plots to bring down the leader of the Resistance?>
Zoe didn’t think it was totally impossible, but such a scheme hinted at a web of intrigue beyond her ability or desire to reason out at just that moment. <Manuel’s people still haven’t gotten back to you, have they?>
<Just bring her in,> Yvain continued, clearly sensing Zoe’s doubts and ignoring her question. <If we’re interrupting some kind of five-dimensional chess game Manuel’s playing with the City, I’ll take the fall for it. But just think about how ridiculous that sounds! She’s trying to trick you, Zoe.>
“I don’t believe you,” Zoe said, returning her full attention to the real world and the woman at the other end of the gun. “And I’m not willing to risk Manuel’s life.”
Violet smiled cruelly. “How sweet of you,” she said. “Do you think he’s handsome? Is that why you joined the Resistance? A girlish crush on a criminal?”
Zoe blushed slightly, but kept her aim trained on Violet. “I joined the Resistance to fight against people like you.”
Violet laughed. “And was it your idea to do it naked? Maybe you thought to catch Manuel’s eye?”
“N-no,” Zoe stammered.
Violet made a show of derisively looking up and down Zoe’s body. “Take it from me, sweetheart, he likes curvy blondes.” She cocked a hip haughtily.
<Don’t let her distract you!> Yvain thought.
<I think she’s more likely to distract you, Yvain,> Zoe thought back. <Those panties don’t leave a lot to the imagination.>
“I’m sure you’ve got a handler telling you how full of shit I am right now,” Violet mused. “He—and I know it’s a he—must have also told you some story about microchips in clothing, gotten you to strip off for his pleasure.”
<It’s all true! Remember the videos!> Yvain projected snippets of footage into Zoe’s mind, showing factory workers sewing microchips into overalls. She’d seen the videos before, when Yvain was explaining their initial plan, the one that involved changing clothes on the train.
<I haven’t forgotten,> Zoe thought back.
“I’m sure he even has documentation to back it up,” Violet continued. “They’re very clever, these counter-revolutionaries. They even fooled me, for a while.”
“Shut up!” Zoe hissed.
Violet lowered her voice, but continued speaking. “They’ll take us right back to the days of corporate slavery, you know. You’ve already got a preview of that tonight. The City is not perfect, I will admit that. But these Resistance fighters can’t even provide you with a pair of pants. How do you think they would run our City?”
Zoe’s grip tightened on the pistol. She was getting very tired of listening to Violet talk as though she had the upper hand in this situation, standing there defenseless with her smudged makeup and ruined dress. It seemed like Violet didn’t have a proper appreciation for her current predicament.
Zoe waved the gun menacingly, to remind her who was in control. At the same moment, a breeze sweeping across her nethers made her shiver.
<Zoe, you know how important it is not to be tracked,> Yvain cut in. <Seeing as you’ll be taking Violet here to the rendezvous point, you’re going to have to make sure she’s not tracked as well. If you get my meaning.>
That would take Violet down a peg. Grinning, Zoe gave Violet another command. “Strip. Now.”
Violet gasped, instantly losing her smug expression. For the first time, she appeared genuinely ill at ease, despite having had a gun in her face for the last few minutes. “What—you can’t—”
Zoe adjusted her grip on the pistol. “I can, and I will. Lose the dress.”
Violet scowled, but obediently slipped her fingers under the hem of her dress and slowly began to pull. The dress slid up past the top of her garters, over her soft stomach and hitched for a moment on her breasts. She gave it another pull, and her sizable breasts dropped out the bottom, barely restrained by a lacy and mostly see-through bra.
<Damn, Manuel was in some serious trouble tonight,> thought Yvain, projecting a familiar, hungerlike feeling into Zoe’s mind.
<Hey! Keep your mind the mission, pal,> Zoe snapped back. In a moment of jealousy, she glanced down at her own, smaller breasts, and found herself pleased to sense Yvain’s arousal. Smiling, she looked up again, just in time for Violet to unhook her bra.
The bra fell away, and Zoe begrudgingly admitted to herself that Violet had pretty nice boobs. But what pleased her much more was the increasingly bright shade of red Violet’s face was turning.
“I bet your handler is loving this,” Violet said, hooking her thumbs into the sides of her lacy black panties. She pulled them down quickly, trying not to make a show of it, and then started undoing her garters. Her pussy was hairless, probably shaved especially for the night’s mission of seduction and entrapment. She was a few inches shorter than Zoe, and even more curvy than the dress had advertised. “Tada,” she said flatly.
At Zoe’s instruction, Violet stepped out of her boots and pulled off her stockings, making a disgusted face as she did so. “There, we’re even.”
Zoe made Violet gather all of the discarded clothes together. As much as Zoe wanted to put them on herself so she could be comfortable and warm while she drove the naked traitor ahead of her at gunpoint, the risk of tracking seemed too great. With great reluctance, she ordered Violet to toss the bundle of clothing onto one of the steel staircase landings to their side.
“Now for the other tracker,” said Zoe, stepping towards Violet. Violet squealed but made no real protest as Zoe touched her behind the right ear. There was a spark of electricity, and a low moan from Violet.
<I’ve shut her CMR off,> confirmed Yvain.
“Let’s go,” Zoe said, keeping her gun trained on Violet and motioning towards the entrance to the alley with her chin.
“What, seriously?” Violet protested. “Like this?!” She motioned animatedly at her body, causing it to jiggle in a way Yvain found quite pleasing.
“I can tie you up and leave you here, if you prefer,” Zoe said flatly, glancing at the clothes on the landing above them. “I’m sure your… comrades… would love to find you here.”
Violet gulped and made no further verbal protest. Limbs shaking, body bursting into a blush, she scrambled ahead of Zoe, who, for her part, walked with about as much calm as could be expected. Between the gun in her hand, the extreme embarrassment of her prisoner, and the dulling effect of her hours of exposure, Zoe felt almost confident.
Zoe and Violet kept to the shadows as Yvain led them on a winding path to the rendezvous point. Violet would occasionally whine about being cold or humiliated, and would try every now and then to appeal to Zoe’s own discomfort to get her to abandon the mission, but to no avail.
“Listen to me, Zoe, just block out your handler and turn around. You’re a brilliant, brave woman. The City needs people like you. Turn your back on this Resistance nonsense, and I’ll help you. I’ve got high connections, you know. A life of luxury can be yours.”
“Shut up,” Zoe snapped, forcibly turning her mind away from the memory of cool leather against her skin.
The rest of their walk was uneventful. They passed a couple of patrol drones, but as Zoe’s CMR was hacked and Violet’s was disabled, the drones took no notice of them.
The rendevouz point was behind an unassuming, unmarked door near the edge of the City’s central district. While keeping a firm eye and gun on Violet, Zoe tapped out the complicated knock that Yvain had told her to make. There was no answer.
“It’s three taps there, not two,” said Violet acerbicly, a reminder of her longstanding membership of the Resistance.
Zoe tapped again, and the door instantly fell open. A tall man with a mane of unruly black hair stood behind it, holding a large fur coat. His eyes widened briefly at the two naked women in front of him, but quickly returned to normal. When he spoke, it was with a voice that Zoe had never heard with her ears before, but recognized instantly.
“Welcome to the Resistance, Fighter Zoe,” said Yvain, looking steadily into Zoe’s eyes.
Two more men appeared behind Yvain to seize a scowling, cursing and very embarrassed Violet by both arms, allowing Zoe to relax her gun arm. Both made facial expressions like they’d died and gone to heaven. “Anton! Wexler! Unhand me!” Violet screeched, but it was to no avail as the men dragged her inside.
A smile spread across Zoe’s face as she collapsed into Yvain’s arms, allowing him to envelope her with the large fur coat.
He took the gun from her hand and lobbed it across the street. Then, closing the door in front of them, he said, “We’ve gotta get going, there might have been trackers in that gun. We’ll take the tunnels.”
Zoe’s face whitened. She hadn’t even considered the possibility. “What? Why didn’t you say anything about that?”
“It was more important for you to take in Violet,” Yvain said. “We can get a lot out of her in interrogation.” He glanced down the corridor at Violet’s squirming naked form, being carried out of sight by the two men.
Zoe followed his eyes and made a small sound of displeasure.
“She’s got a nice butt,” said Yvain, “but I like yours better, Fighter Zoe.” One of his arms had somehow ended up inside the coat, against Zoe’s bare back.
“Right answer,” Zoe said, closing her eyes for the kiss.