The Golden Dawn
Iris settled into the seat. "So, how much starch do they pump into these things?"
Eclair smiled. "Not too much. The budget only spends 5% on starch."
"Oh, great. So, that's enough to dust Lumina for fingerprints."
"Hush. They're about to show the introduction video. You only get to see this once a year."
Iris huffed and watched the screen. The lights in the showroom dimmed and the screen lit.
For a moment, darkness; it faded in on a young woman in a Golden Dawn secretary's uniform. Glancing down, her eyes darted up to meet the camera. She lit up like a halogen bulb.
"Oh, pleased to meet you!" she said. "Congratulations on your acceptance into the Golden Dawn--98 years and still going strong! If you're watching this, you're among the Elite, the brave few who wrangle against darkness in all its forms!"
The image faded to a black-and-white photo of three men, two standing next to ornate Victorian gynoids. "The Golden Dawn was founded by three top mages and scientists of 1887, Dr. William Robert Woodman, Nikolai Tesla, and Samuel Liddel MacGregor Mathers. The goal of the institute was to promote magical study and scientific research into the gynoid condition. Four years after its inception, Tesla discovered his Tesla coil--and one year later, with the help of his fantastic power source and the aid of his friends, the world was beholden to the birth of Eclair Tesla, the Golden Dawn's oldest and most prominent gynoid."
Iris giggled at the old photo of Eclair.
"You look like a 12-year-old!"
"I've updated my shell a few times..."
"Shortly after Eclair's creation, the Golden Dawn added a new goal: the capture and rehabilitation or destruction of supernatural or gynoid threats. Early missions were levelled against all manner of tyrranical foes, most prominently Vlad Dracul, Silent Amon, and the entity ensnared in Sunken R'lyeh.
"It wasn't until 1908 and the Tunguska blast that the full extent of the Golden Dawn's research was discovered. In a single instant, the manitou birthed under the forst of Tunguska was laid to waste by energies channeled through Eclair Tesla. The attack, mounted in orbit, nearly ended in disaster when an exhausted Eclair drifted into the atmosphere. It was the intervention of a powerful telekinetic--Yuri Shiku, current psionic operative--that saved her, though Eclair received a new shell shortly afterward."
"What'd I tell you?" Eclair whispered.
"Shush. It's getting interesting."
"Since Tunguska, the Golden Dawn have been working to improve the fusion of magic and technology. You see it every day in the mass cultivation of lumimoss, spellsteel frames, and the OxyGens used on the lunar and Martian surfaces. Now you are welcome to join in the legacy! Times couldn't be better--on April 25th, the Golden Dawn will supervise the opening of the first Tesla-coil power plant north of Kiev in Russia. A year later, the Golden Dawn will celebrate its first century of action!"
A montage of gynoid mancers and artificers paraded across the screen.
"You're really going through with it?" Iris asked. "That'd be awesome!"
"The implications are amazing. Imagine artificial lights and mecha that can function in a dead magic zone. Every Waste Land will be open to us."
"Man... I feel out of my league. I mean, here you are, saving the world, and I'm just a dancer out of her league."
"At least you weren't a twelve-year-old once. No whush. This is the important part."
The announcer changed to an even-toned male.
"The Golden Dawn is not without its adversaries. Here is a brief primer on the foes that stand against us:
"Most prominent are rogue gynoids, human sorcerers, and mass-produced aberrations. Besetting us with sorcery and crude violence, they are the most immediate threat and one you'll have to prepare for. Variations in design and function are common; you must be ready for anything against these canny and diverse foes.
"As dangerous but less common, manitou, or vile spirits, are lingering impressions of hate or fear left on the Luminous Ether. Intelligent and powerful, manitou are only destructable through obscure, arcane methoods, war magic, or ether blasters. Due to their astonishing age and infamously long-lived grudges, it is reccomended that a manitou be destroyed the first time it is encountered.
"Monsters are the least common and arguably the most dangerous. Many are nearly immortal and posess great patience and power. Encountering a monster will likely press you to your limits. Remember--you are not alone. Do not enguage a monster single-handedly unless its combat prowess has been ascertained beforehand! Report all monster sightings to the Main Office.
"Though aliens have become more frequent, they have not yet made agressive actions against mankind. It is believed they are observers and scientists and, though quick to evade detection, have seemed to acknowledge our knowledge and, astonishingly, seem to be willing to let us observe their craft from a distance. Make no hostile action toward any xenomorph or xenomorphic craft unless it displays clearly agressive attidues against you."
"The rest is filler," whispered Eclair.
"What's it got?"
"Layout, sleeping areas. I can point them out to you. Wan' fool a bit?"
"In here? But..."
"The thing goes on for ten more minutes. Nobody opens the door when it goes on. And..."
Iris gasped at the warmth spreading from her neck.
"Ohhhh. You brought that one?"
"But it's... ohhhh..." Eclair gently twisted the Eros key. Iris's arms stretched and shookk, her legs twitched, and her back arched like a cat's. "Oh... please... a little slower..."
"Where's the fun in that?" Eclair said. She turned the key faster. Every joint floated on warm liquid; everything smelled warm and sweet. Her thoughts jumbled, her senses began to meld into each other, tasting bright reds and hearing damp warmth.
She drifted on a cloud of jumbled thoughts; time flew. She found herself on the recieving end of a white blast of mixed feeling, an orgasmic cloudburst, and suddenly she felt herself being moved.
"The movie's over. Straighten up."
"Hm. Ok, just act like you're winding down."
"Keep it up, you're doing great."