The Dream Pills - chapters five and six
Claude was as good as his word. His intentions had been filthy, his desires plainly evident, but at least he wasn't the kind of a man who backed out of a deal. No sooner had they finished their mutual pleasure than he had provided Sarah and Jones with the venue of a meeting he had already arranged for them with Kruger. His intention was to introduce the pair to the drug dealer as his new London contacts.
Sarah eased out of bed, a little embarrassed by her behaviour, but nonetheless feeling really good. Nothing further had happened following Claude's orgasm – Sarah had happily invited him onto the bed with them to indulge in further pleasures, but Claude had reiterated that a deal was a deal, and that business was now more important than pleasure.
She had been surprised by his reaction, given his enthusiasm only moments before. Perhaps he simply wasn't really attracted to her, and it was the event rather than the individuals that he preferred. Or perhaps he just didn't want to get too involved. Either way, with their mutual orgasms, the deal was complete.
Sarah smiled with shyness at Jones, and he held her gaze for a few moments, sliding his fingers through his ruffled hair, tidying it as he slid with some embarrassment out of bed.
It was clear to Sarah that Claude must have already prepared their meeting with Kruger before their performance for him, which obviously suggested that the voyeuristic episode hadn't been at all necessary. Sarah decided not to raise the issue. They now had the introduction they required, and it wasn't as though she hadn't enjoyed the results of his voyeurism.
But everything was suddenly more complicated now. As she picked up her clothes, stretching a little before sliding into her panties, she found herself already fretting about the consequences of her actions. Why did sex introduce such complications? How did other people seem to enjoy it so casually without their heads getting screwed up somewhere along the line? Sarah had never been one for casual sexual encounters, and remaining professional about the potential ramifications of this particular encounter would be tricky for her.
She knew she wanted more, from both of them. It had been a long time since her last, rather hopeless boyfriend, and she had concentrated on her career since then. But now she had been with two men at the same time, both of them almost strangers to her, and she couldn't help but want more. Not that either of them were even slightly suitable on any kind of long term basis. She glanced at them both as she tugged up her panties.
Claude was fascinating but almost certainly a hedonist, probably moving from one filthy encounter to another. Could she trust him for a moment if he was out of her sight? She doubted it.
And then there was Jones – poor, broken Jones, who defended her honour one minute and then fucked her wantonly the next. Was this some rebound thing for him? She wasn't in the mood for fixing anyone. The case was crucial and all of this was just going to get in the way.
And yet she still couldn't help feeling shy as she continued to dress, wondering what Jones really thought about her, wondering if she had really done the right thing. The sex with him had been so intense, so passionate. It had carried her away, taken her far beyond anything she had previously felt.
Did he always fuck like that, so wonderfully, so completely? The touch of him, the feel of his lips against hers, the way they moved together so easily, as though it was the most natural thing in the world. She had never experienced sex like that before. She could still taste him on her lips.
Put it aside, she thought, it's just chemistry. Don't let your body rule your mind. Remember your training.
And then there was the complication of Claude watching them. It had admittedly been fun, but did that cheapen the experience somehow?
As she tugged her silk and velvet finery back on, noting that her panties were still a little wet and enjoying the sensation against her skin, she couldn't help but be curious how they had both looked to Claude, and whether it had been what he wanted. Were the people he watched always satisfying to him, or was he sometimes disappointed? Had they performed to his satisfaction, and had it been intense enough for him?
He had reached orgasm, of course. She blushed a little, remembering how she had taken him into her mouth so readily, suddenly embarrassed by the memory. But how did Claude really judge them? Were they good or not so good? He was giving nothing away, buckling up his trousers and smiling at them politely.
She also wondered whether his interest really had been in watching them both fuck, or whether his real enthusiasm lay in watching her. Each time Sarah had looked at Claude during her time with Jones on the bed, his gaze had seemed entirely fixated upon her. He had shown little or no interest in watching Jones, but had clearly enjoyed seeing what Jones was doing to her. She was still fairly convinced that, had she agreed to go to his hotel room alone with him, he would have just as happily watched her on her own as she masturbated for him.
And, more to the point, he would almost certainly have wanted to fuck her.
It was an interesting idea, and there was a definite frisson in being the object of such easy lust. Claude was a charming rogue, but Sarah simply couldn't muster the same interest in him. She had enjoyed watching him come, feeling his cum splashing against her lips, onto her face. But that was just lust, pure and simple.
As she brushed her hair in the dressing table mirror, she glanced at Jones behind her, buttoning up his tie. He was looking back at her, not realising that she could see him. Suddenly noticing her reflection in the mirror, he smiled and his face reddened, turning away.
* * * *
With Claude eager to report back by telegraph to his own French Service, Sarah gave him a polite kiss on the cheek and watched him depart, and then left the hotel with Jones, who had offered to see her home. Sarah had gently protested, reassuring Jones that she was more than capable of finding her own way back to her apartment, but he had insisted, taking her hand and accompanying her through the late afternoon streets and back towards Covent Garden.
He smiled at Sarah as they walked, her arm tucked in his. The late afternoon sunshine was still beaming down as they made their way past the British Museum.
The traffic was increasing and many of the daytime workers were now heading home. The roads were filled with a wheezing, tooting parade of coaches, omnibuses and steambikes, and the occasional buzz of an ornithopter whirred overhead as they walked.
The Museum was dazzling in the afternoon light, crowds coming and going through the huge black gates and swarming around the portico, the people weaving in and out of each other, excitable and curious.
“I suppose you think that I indulge in such escapades on a regular basis,” Jones began, breaking the silence. He sounded charmingly shy and hesitant, as though this were some first date rather than the aftermath of their intense almost-threesome.
“Well, it's true that you do have a certain reputation in The Organisation.” Sarah squeezed his hand softly, offering him a sly smile.
There was a wonderful scent in the air of baked goods and sweetmeats, of spices and tea. Various shopping stalls spilled halfway out into the road to tempt the tourists, the scent of their food teasing the passers-by. Sarah could feel her stomach rumbling. Their adventure in bed had increased her appetite.
“It comes with the position,” he said, strolling with her towards the stalls. “There's no truth to it. You'll get that more yourself as you work there longer. The job gives us a certain glamour and mystique, what with the uniforms and the machines and the gadgets and the constant globe-trotting and stuff. Along with all of that seems to come an assumption that we must be fucking our way across Europe, jumping into bed with other agents at every opportunity. Sadly the truth is usually far less glamorous. Mostly I'm just talking to people I really dislike and eating far too many chips.”
Sarah grinned. “Chips can be good.”
“I do like chips. If I could go back in time and meet whoever it was who invented them, I'd give them a big hug. 'Thanks for the chips,' I'd say.”
Sarah smiled. “It's true that there are all kinds of stories, I guess. Not all about you, obviously. But most people think that the life of a Steam Agent involves all manner of filthy sexual indiscretions. It's something that was mentioned to me when I was first offered the promotion – that I should be ready to jump into bed with someone if it looked as though that would be the only way to get information. I've managed not to have to do that so far. Well, y'know, until today.”
Jones paused at a hot roasted nuts stall on the corner of the street, buying himself a bag and offering the same to Sarah, which she politely refused.
“That's okay, I'll share yours.”
“If you're sure.” Jones held the bag open as Sarah fished out a handful of nuts, nibbling on them as they resumed their walk.
“I suppose that might be more true for female agents. I'm not sure,” he said. “But today was... unusual. Not something I've ever had to do before. I personally feel that it's an unsubtle and rather deceitful way to do business. Claude is just a kinky swine, basically.” He laughed, squeezing her hand. “I dunno, I'm maybe too locked into the old way of doing things. In my experience there are lots of ways to get what you need, and virtually none of these methods require sex. It's really about hard work and dedication, not about who's best in the sack. Perhaps I'm an old traditionalist, I don't know.”
He laughed quietly and took another munch.
“It's been a while for you, hasn't it?” Sarah asked, wary that she might be poking her nose into something that wasn't really her business. “Since you enjoyed yourself that freely, I mean?”
“Yes, I suppose it has,” he replied.
He went quiet for a few moments, strolling next to her. Sarah couldn't help but notice that he looked rather sad. She hoped that she hadn't just opened an old wound for him.
Jones took a deep breath. “I was on a tough case in Madagascar for the past six months,” he began. “It took a toll on me. I know you've heard about it back at the office, you said as much. It was a big case. Very important to The Organisation. I had to put a few personal things aside, not necessarily voluntarily. These things... well, you know these things can happen sometimes, you'll come to understand that. It's the way of the world, I suppose, and we're all aware of it when we do this job.”
He hesitated for a moment, and then squeezed her hand softly. It felt as though it were for reassurance.
“Something happened to me,” he continued. “It's why I requested something a little lighter on my return to London. Something less emotionally taxing, you know? Accompanying you on your meeting with Claude, and then maybe mentoring you for a while, well it seemed the ideal opportunity to relax and take things easier. I thought it would be a simple exchange of information, and I know that's what Grandfather assumed too. I don't want you to think that I anticipated how the meeting would turn. I had no idea he had anything like that on his mind.”
“To be fair, I don't think that Claude had anticipated that either,” said Sarah, smiling as she stole a couple more nuts from his bag. “I think he came up with that little event rather spontaneously. Do you regret it?” Sarah bit her lip, wishing she hadn't asked the question.
Jones stopped her on the street and faced her, his hands on her shoulders, smiling softly down at her. “Not for one moment,” he replied. “If I'm being honest, I was attracted to you from the first moment I saw you. Claude was right in recognising that. For what it's worth.”
Sarah reached up to him, pulled his face gently down to hers and kissed him softly.
“And if I'm being honest,” she said, “I wanted you from that first moment that you walked into the room.”
* * * *
Sarah was strongly tempted to invite Jones into her apartment, but she resisted the temptation and gave him a soft kiss on her doorstep.
She didn't want to get overly involved with him, after all. She reminded herself that nothing that had taken place in that hotel room was real. It was lovely that Jones was attracted to her - he seemed to be a good man and the sex, however brief, had been wonderful. But it was still a part of the job, a business arrangement to satisfy Claude. To read any more into it was a mistake. She wasn't a teenager any more. She needed to try to be professional.
And she was still wondering to herself whether the whole thing hadn't been a terrible mistake. Jones was still broken from whatever had happened in Madagascar. Would this have made matters worse for him?
She settled back alone into her apartment, made herself a steaming-hot cup of tea and sat down on her leather sofa. With a sigh she tugged the lever on the side of her coffee table. The monitor screen raised up with a soft hiss.
The screen was small and bulky, with various pipes and power cords leading to a small input at the side of the machine. She picked up a piece of coal from the fireside, popped it into the door at the back of the screen and closed it. She sparked up the pilot light until the coal was gently aflame, glowing behind the screen. Slowly the monitor came to life: a rush of static followed by a grainy image of Grandfather's office.
“Hello, Grandfather? It's Sarah Chance, I'm reporting in after the meeting with Claude Benoit.”
Grandfather's face slowly came into view, puffing on a large pipe, clearly pleased to see her.
“Sarah, how delightful, I was hoping you'd report in this afternoon. How did the meeting go?”
“Very well, thank you, Grandfather.” Sarah thought it best to remain discreet about the nature of the deal they had struck. It had no effect on the case they were pursuing, after all, so there seemed no need to give him the gruesome details. “The French Service have been very forthcoming in relation to a case they had been pursuing in Paris. They're concerned that the operation has now moved to London, so we've been given an opportunity to work undercover with the group to find out more.”
“And this group would be the criminal organisation supposedly headed by Oswald Kruger?”
“Yes, Sir, that's the one.”
“We've been forwarded the information by your Monsieur Benoit. I'm not sure about this one, Sarah. He seems to be suggesting that you and Jones join his group as London liaisons. Sorting out identities for you is no problem, but I'm not convinced that it's safe. You are aware, I'm guessing, of the dangers inherent in working undercover in this manner?”
“Of course, Sir,” she replied. “I've been trained very thoroughly for such eventualities. I'm keen to get on with it, if you're happy to give us your blessing.”
“I'm not sure, Sarah. I don't like the look of the psychotropic drug his group are manufacturing. It's almost certain that both you and Jones will be encouraged to try the drug for yourselves, and that concerns me greatly.”
“I appreciate that, Sir,” Sarah replied. “I can assure you that neither Jones or myself will be taking those pills. We've already been given a warning by Monsieur Benoit of the dangers inherent in the drugs, so we'll be avoiding them at all costs.”
“Be careful to do just that,” said Grandfather, tapping on his pipe. “I need you both to be in complete control of your faculties at all times. You never know when you might need to make a quick getaway. These undercover operations can be rather testy at the best of times.”
“Yes, Sir. So I take it that we have your permission to proceed with the operation?”
“In principle, yes. But I want daily reports sent directly to my office. The moment you need assistance, I'll expect you to call in immediately. It's important that these blighters get put away as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
“Yes, Sir. I'll do my best for the Empire, Sir.”
* * * *
Grandfather tugged the lever and watched as his monitor screen sank back down into his desk, his tea service neatly sliding across the space and clicking firmly into place. He sighed softly and picked up his teacup, took a sip and leaned back into his chair. It gave a satisfying creak as he eased back, and he rocked in it absent-mindedly. He picked up his tobacco from the top of the desk, stuffed some more into his pipe and lit it again, puffing it a couple of times and blowing the smoke out through his nostrils.
This case worried him. Sarah Chance was a novice agent, and this wasn't the kind of scenario he had planned to give to her in these early stages of her training. He'd allowed her to do this job precisely because he figured it would be a simple piece of information exchange, with Jones there to guide her hand if things became a little complex.
And yet now they were being drawn into an undercover operation over which he felt he had no control. It was extremely unusual for such operations to be commenced without detailed groundwork, and he preferred to use his best and most reliable agents. But now, entirely due to the shallowness of this French agent, young Sarah was about to enter a highly dangerous situation with little experience on which to draw.
He wasn't happy about it. Jones would be there of course, but he was hardly all that reliable at the moment.
The situation didn't sit well with him. Grandfather took another puff of his pipe and quietly crossed his fingers.
six: into the crypt
Sarah woke with an ecstatic shout, arching as she came, intense pleasure pulsating from her clit, her body spasming as she bucked and writhed, moaning with pleasure.
“Fuuuuckk... unnhhhhhhh... ohhh my god... ”
Her body was covered in a thin sheen of sweat, her hand pressed firmly between her thighs, still rubbing her clit frantically, her other hand clutching the bedsheet tightly as her orgasm swept through her.
Her legs trembled again as her body arched up higher towards her fingers, chasing the orgasm, desperate for more. The sheets of her bed were scattered about her, some of them half off the bed, others tangled around her body, bathed in her wetness.
“Fucking god yes... wow...”
Sarah caught her breath, her head spinning, her clit still pulsating delightfully. It had been far too long since she'd woken up this way.
Her dreams had been vivid and wonderfully realistic, replaying the events of the previous day. She could remember being fucked again by Jones in her dream, feeling his body moving urgently against her, his cock buried deep inside her cunt, throbbing inside her. It had all felt so real.
In her dream, however, Jones had been far more forceful this time, pressing Sarah down hard against the bed, his grip tight on her wrists, taking her roughly, pounding and pounding deep inside her as she surrendered to his desires. Filthy little phrases had spilled from his lips: “Dirty little fuckslut... fucking little cockwhore... slutty little cunt...” She could still hear those words in her head as she came down from her orgasm, the thought of them spurring her on, making her want more.
And Claude had been there in her dream too, but nowhere near so silent this time. As Jones fucked her with abandon, Claude had been leaning over her, whispering filthy little French phrases into her ear, encouraging her and deliberately exciting her, masturbating eagerly next to them as they fucked, his hand gliding back and forth along his cock, slick wet sounds accompanying each thrust into his hand. At the moment of his orgasm, the dream Claude had shoved his cock in her mouth, spurting his cum onto her tongue, spitting out nasty little words: “Fucking drink it all down, you dirty little bitch...”
Already the details of the dream were drifting away from her as she began to wake, her body still trembling. But certain images and words remained in her head, mixed in with the reality of what had happened the day before.
In her dream everything had been so very much more intense. Not that the event itself hadn't been completely wonderful, but the dream had turned it into something far more wanton, passionate and dirty.
And the image was still there with her as she caught her breath, her fingers still firm between her legs, her sex dripping wet, her orgasm not letting go.
She needed to be fucked like that again. She needed to be taken, to be used by them. She needed to be made to come over and over again.
Already she was regretting not inviting Jones in with her last night. She needed his cock right now. She needed to be fucked. Jones had sparked something inside her, more than just lust, more than just need. She couldn't get enough of him. What was it about him that was making her feel this way?
Her sex was slick against her fingers as she continued to caress herself, the sheets damp underneath her, her thighs splayed obscenely wide as her mind replayed the dream in her head.
That rhythmic, intense pounding of Jones's cock deep inside her... she knew she wanted more of it. The way his hips moved as he drove into her cunt, his body hard between her legs, hard enough to break her.
And Claude's voice was still in her head, goading her on, pushing her closer and closer to orgasm. Without even thinking she slid her fingers back inside her soaking wet cunt, needing to feel something inside her, needing to be filled thoroughly. It had been so long since someone had fucked her that way, taken her so passionately. She needed to come again. She was craving it.
“Fuck... fuck this feels good...”
She spread her thighs wider, surrendering to it, indulging herself, masturbating more urgently. A groan escaped her lips, her fingers pushing deeper into her cunt, finger-fucking herself vigorously, her other hand working at her clit, rubbing and stroking, pushing herself further.
Wet sounds splashed from her cunt as her fingers penetrated deeper, her body tense, her breath more frantic, needing this orgasm, not wanting to wait.
And suddenly in her imagination Claude was there again, masturbating right over her face as Jones fucked her harder. She wanted them both to come, wanted to feel Jones fill her with his cum, wanted to feel his cock surging inside her, wanted to feel that sudden, ecstatic release as his cum started to spurt inside her.
Sarah moaned again with pleasure. Just the thought of it was taking her closer to orgasm, her fingers moving urgently around her clit, her other hand deep inside her cunt, fucking herself, thinking about him coming inside her, remembering how good it had felt, his hands gripping tightly onto her, his cock ramming so deep into her cunt, taking her as his filthy little girl, his cum pouring inside her.
“Ohhh god...” she whispered, as though he were right there with her, “fuck me... fuck me...”
She remembered how her dream had ended again: Claude was groaning intensely, calling her nasty little names, stroking his cock hard and fast over her face, crying out with pleasure as he started to come in hot wet spurts, splashing his cum over her lips, over her cheek... shoving his spurting cock into her mouth... and then Jones forced his cock into her cunt, coming right at the same moment, shooting his cum deep inside her... again... and again...
“Dirty little fuckslut... fucking little cockwhore... slutty little cunt...”
“Fucking drink it all down, you dirty little bitch...”
“Fuck... ohhhhh FUCK yes...”
And suddenly Sarah couldn't take it any more, her orgasm overtaking her, flooding through her, crying out with pleasure:
“Ohhh now.... NOW... UUUUUUNNNNNHHHH! Fuck... UNNNNNNNNNNHHHHH! NNHH! NNHHH! UNNHHH!”
Sarah came hard, her body arching up from the bed, her fingers thrusting deep inside her cunt, a wet gush of her juices spilling over her fingertips as her second orgasm pulsated through her, screaming with pleasure, riding the orgasm, never wanting it to end.
* * * *
Sarah parked her ornithopter at King's Cross Ornidome, locking the machine and stowing it in the racks. The Ornidome was packed with crowds of people milling back and forth, some using their own machines, others heading for the huge, stately airships that would carry them across the ocean. Sarah peeled off her goggles and packed them in her belt, threading her way through the people and making her way to the street.
She was wearing her Steam Agent leathers again and was starting to feel a little more comfortable in them. Maybe it had been the lack of sex over recent months that had dulled her confidence, but since her fun with Jones she was definitely feeling more glamorous.
But she still couldn't decide what to do about Jones, wondering if she had made a mistake, allowing him that intimacy. She could have solved it by telegraphing him and asking him, but decided that it was better to wait and to talk to him properly. The case was the most important thing here, and she had to stop allowing herself to become distracted from it.
She also needed a good long talk with Jones about the Madagascar incident. Something had happened to him there, something that had stripped him bare and exposed him, something that had impacted upon his emotions fundamentally. She needed to know that she could rely on him, and that those memories weren't re-awoken by what had happened between them in the hotel room with Claude.
She took a deep breath and headed towards the Steamrail platforms. Today they would be meeting Oswald Kruger, so she had deliberately dressed in her leathers, aware that Kruger would appreciate how good she looked in them. Smiling to herself, she tugged the zip down to her belly, fully exposing her cleavage. All men loved that.
As she made her way down to the Steamrail concourse she could see Jones waiting for her. His longcoat was black and trimmed, his shoes were shined and pointed, his shirt was crimson silk and he wore a purple velvet necktie. He looked stunning. Sarah suddenly felt distinctly under-dressed in her catsuit.
As she approached him, Jones smiled, clearly pleased to see her.
“I've bought tickets for the Steamrail to St Paul's,” he said, passing her a ticket and slipping his own into his pocket. “We're travelling second class, hope that's okay with you. Helps to keep us incognito.”
“Like proper spies, you mean?” Sarah grinned at him. “Maybe we'll get embroiled in some devious murder plot on the train. Muscled goons chasing us, a fight on top of the train, mistaken identities, all kinds of shenanigans.”
Jones raised his eyebrow and smiled. “Let's hope not. We could do without the aggro, quite frankly. If you don't mind me saying so, by the way, you're looking terrific. That catsuit fits you like a glove.”
Sarah tugged at the crotch. It was riding up again. “You think so? I feel kind of naked in it.”
“If you were naked I'd definitely notice.” Jones smiled again and led the way down the platform. Sarah followed him, only momentarily glancing at his bottom as they walked. She'd need to keep those impulses under control for a short while. They were going undercover.
* * * *
They were met outside St Paul's Cathedral by Claude. He arrived moments after them, dismounting from a rented steambike and pushing his goggles up over his head, greeting them both with a broad smile and a brief nod of the head.
Sarah put her morning sexual fantasy to the back of her mind as he led them both into the Cathedral. There was no need for Claude to know that she had been thinking again about their meeting. It was likely that they were being observed by Kruger's men, so there could be no room for any slip-ups.
A mixture of tourists and locals were filling the Cathedral, pouring in to enjoy the architecture and to take in the breathtaking views inside the building. This was the first time that Sarah had been inside the place and she couldn't help but be impressed by the scale of the building. It dwarfed them, their footsteps and whispers echoing through the galleries, the ceiling impossibly far overhead.
As they made their way through the crowds, Sarah noticed Claude nod at a gentleman standing by a nondescript doorway. The man looked each way to make sure that no-one was paying them any attention and then opened a battered old wooden door behind him.
The three agents slipped through the doorway, hearing the gentleman quickly close it behind them. A stone spiral staircase opened ahead, dimly lit and heading down.
“I'll be taking you down into the crypts,” said Claude, anticipating their question. “Kruger uses them as an occasional meeting place. They're very private and we won't be disturbed.”
Sarah could feel her nerves twitching as they made their way down the old stone staircase towards the crypt. They would be completely on their own down here, with no back-up likely to come to their rescue, so it was crucial that Kruger believed their story. If anyone made a mistake at this stage it could be very dangerous for all three of them.
The bottom of the staircase opened up into a cavernous underground crypt area, dimly lit with scattered pools of gaslight. Dust was gathered in dark corners, the vast space unkempt and unloved.
As they walked by the large tombs, Sarah picked out the names of Lord Nelson, Florence Nightingale, William Blake, Lawrence of Arabia... this looked as though it was once a very fashionable place to be brought to rest.
Sarah's footsteps echoed as she made her way through the large columns and grimy stone footpaths. She was sure that she could hear rats skittering around the nooks and crannies of the crypt. Jones and Claude strolled quietly behind her.
At the far end of the crypt, waiting next to a large tomb in honour of Sir Christopher Wren, Kruger and his aides awaited them. The gaslight flickered over their faces, casting long, deep shadows across the vaulted ceilings.
“Mister Kruger.” Claude broke the silence and nodded at Kruger as they approached.
Kruger was accompanied by two aides, both of them female, and both clearly up for a fight if necessary. Sarah looked the two women up and down, not showing them any sign of nervousness. She checked where their weapons might be concealed, working out whether or not she'd be able to take them on should circumstances force it.
“Claude. It's good to see you.” Kruger's quiet voice was laced with a subtle Austrian accent, though his English was very good. His stance was proud and arrogant, his demeanour assured and confident. His head was shaved completely bald, his eyebrows trimmed neatly to a point. “I see you have brought our guests.”
“Allow me to introduce you to Sarah and Jones,” Claude replied, indicating the two agents. “They have been colleagues of mine for some time. I'm certain they have just the right kind of expertise you've been looking for.”
Sarah took a brief look around the room. The crypt was large, and she supposed it was possible that Kruger had other people situated down here, but it seemed as though he had come with only the two female assistants. It would be relatively easy for her to pick up Kruger now and stop his operation before it began, but Claude had specifically advised against this. Kruger had supposedly already built up a network to guarantee supply of his 'dream pills', and snatching him now wouldn't necessarily stop that from happening.
For the moment it was far better to play a waiting game, to allow him to take them into his confidence and use whatever knowledge they were able to gain, in the hope of stopping the shipment before it began to be distributed. With a little luck they should then be able to work their way through his whole network.
“You have excellent taste in working companions.” Kruger smiled. He took Sarah's hand and pulled it gently to his lips, kissing it softly. Sarah nodded and smiled demurely back at him, pushing her breasts out a little further for emphasis.
“It's a pleasure to meet you, Mister Kruger,” she said. “Jones and I have been told a little about your operation by Monsieur Benoit – certainly enough basics to intrigue us. You'll know from our credentials that we're more than capable of helping you to set up the chain of supply and demand that you'll be needing for your new business.”
“You come with high recommendations,” said Kruger, looking her up and down. “And Mister Jones is your assistant?” He glanced across to Jones, who merely smiled and nodded.
“Jones handles the financial side of my operation over here, Mister Kruger,” said Sarah. “He's taken a look at your projected figures and has assured me that if we're able to achieve the numbers you hope to attract, the shipment should be very valuable for both of us.”
“You should consider this first shipment merely the beginning of what this deal can achieve,” said Kruger. “The Dream Pill is a high end treat for the rich and powerful, and it should achieve a healthy income for us both. But it's the implications of the drug that may interest you the most.”
“Tell me more, Mister Kruger, you're intriguing me.”
Sarah flashed Kruger a flirtatious smile and took a seat in one of the chairs he had laid out for them, aware that he was looking at her. She crossed her legs, leaning forward to expose more of her cleavage.
“My Dream Pill is a psychotropic drug, Ms Chance. You'll be aware, I'm sure, that the drug stimulates the imagination centres of the brain, those creative parts of our mind that we use to dream and to fantasise, to enjoy our own thoughts. The drug will take any fantasy that you care to imagine and will make it appear real to you. 'More real than reality', that's our sales pitch.”
“I'm aware of this, of course,” Sarah replied, “and it's clearly a narcotic that would appeal to the richer, more indolent upper classes here in London. Are you suggesting that the drug has other uses?”
“I'm only beginning to explore the potential of the medication,” Kruger replied. “It acts in the same way as basic hypnosis, rendering the user incapable of discerning what is real and what is fantasy, allowing them to manipulate their own dreams, or their more craven sexual fantasies. But far more than this, it renders the user highly susceptible to suggestion if administered in the correct proportions.”
Kruger paced back and forth, clearly eager to discuss the more controversial aspect of his drug, his arms waving demonstrably. “I have still been experimenting with these levels to perfect the dosage, but it is my firm belief that once a person has taken my new drug in the correct dose, I can persuade them to believe anything I choose. They become highly susceptible, you see. So in the right hands, the drug is a means with which to control power, both financially and politically. You understand the potential of such a drug, I'm sure.”
“Mister Kruger,” Sarah purred, smiling at him, “with such a drug you could take over the world.”
“Precisely, Ms Chance.” He whirled and looked her right in the eyes, smiling lizard-like and baring his teeth. “Perhaps now you realise why your involvement in this organisation could be of great benefit to you and your contacts. I believe this could be a particularly good financial deal for you.”
“I think you may be right,” Sarah replied. “Given the circumstances, I'm happy to reach a deal with you right now.”
Sarah nodded to Jones, and he removed a notepad and pen from his jacket pocket, preparing to write.
“Pleasure before business, Ms Chance,” Kruger replied, waving the notepad away with minor irritation. “I have heard much of you from Claude but I'd like to get to know you a little better myself if we're to commence a business arrangement. I have organised a party for tomorrow evening and I'd very much like you to attend. You can bring along your assistant if you please. I think you'll find the entertainment to your tastes.”
Kruger smiled again, slightly unpleasantly. Sarah suppressed a small shudder.
“I'd be only too delighted to attend, Mister Kruger.”
“Please,” he smiled, “call me Oswald.” He took her hand again and offered it another soft kiss.
“Then I'll see you tomorrow evening, Oswald,” she replied. “Give my assistant the details and I'll very much look forward to seeing you.”
* * * *
Sarah, Jones and Claude emerged out onto the street. St Paul's behind them was still filled with a parade of tourists, the streets alive with afternoon traffic. Steamcars and trams chugged to and fro, puffing and grinding as they rattled past the cathedral. One-person spiderwalkers clanked their way along the road, the multiple limbs of the machines scuttling eccentrically, the pilots of the machines wobbling precariously in their seats, cranking levers and tugging knobs, curls of steam spilling out from the machines and into the street.
A few impatient steamcar drivers honked their horns as they attempted to manoeuvre around the spiderwalkers, complaining loudly at these new-fangled machines. Far above them all, a large quadruped towered over the street, manned by a somewhat nervous-looking policeman, who clearly understood that it wouldn't take a great deal to dislodge him and push the quadruped over should someone feel inclined to give it a try.
Stalls lined the roadsides, overflowing with food, shoes, handbags, jewellery and sports equipment, their cries drifting along the street to attract passers-by.
Blinking against the morning sunlight, Claude watched with quiet curiosity as another spiderwalker lumbered by, the goggled pilot waving nonchalantly from his elevated seat.
“I do believe that went rather well,” Claude said. “Are we all agreed?” He looked over to Sarah and Jones, both of their expressions inscrutable.
“I'm a little concerned, to be honest,” said Jones, brushing a stray hair from his face. “Kruger didn't ask us anything about the business side of our operation and he deferred all of our questioning completely. I'm sure we're still very much under his scrutiny. We're going to need to make a good impression at this party tomorrow if we want to ensure that we're taken into his confidence.”
“I've never been very keen on parties.” Sarah was already dreading a round of small talk and polite conversation. “Do we have any idea what kind of people will be there?”
“Kruger is a hedonist,” said Claude, grinning. “You might have got a hint of that from the way he was looking at you. In common with many people in his position, Kruger is known to have an enthusiastic and deviant attitude to sex. My understanding is that the party is likely to be a smutty affair, to say the least.”
“Smutty in what way?” Sarah certainly had no intention of having sex with Kruger. That was carrying dedication for her country just a step too far.
“I attended a number of his parties in Paris,” said Claude. “They were for the most part highly amusing, but certainly not the kind of party I suspect either of you will be accustomed to. Most of them descend into gratuitous orgies rather quickly. Expect the other attendees to be dressed in somewhat bizarre leather costumes and corsets. There is also likely to be a prevalence of submissive behaviour. It's one of Kruger's favourite little kinks.”
“Sexual submission.” Claude seemed to enjoy the words, tasting them as he spoke. “Bondage and domination, you know the kind of thing.”
“I know of it,” said Sarah, blushing a little, “but it's not something I've ever actually indulged in. Will Kruger expect to have sex with me? With us? That's not something I'm prepared to do. We'll have to find another way.”
Claude laughed softly. “I can tell you with certainty that you're not at all Kruger's type, Sarah. Oswald Kruger is gay. He won't be bothering you in any way, I can assure you.”
“Then perhaps we can attend without getting drawn into the sexual side of the event?”
“It's certainly a possibility,” said Claude, seeming to dismiss the notion as they made their way down the street. “I can't imagine that Kruger will force you into doing anything you wouldn't want to do, particularly as he plans to do business with you. It wouldn't be in his interests. I would, however, urge you to be very careful what you eat and drink at the event. If Kruger has brought any samples of his drug with him, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them circulating at the party. You need to be careful not to take them, for obvious reasons.”
“That means you too, Jones,” said Sarah. “We need to be very cautious at this party.”