A Crack in the Porcelain
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⚠️ content warning



Forever young. Forever beautiful. Forever hers.

The earliest Madeleine von Schaeffer remembers pulling the wings off of a butterfly… had it been 1896? 1905? It's hard to tell.

She had been married to Christof Nessler, a rich and powerful man — more powerful than the Madeleine of then — with thick limbs, piercing eyes, a crooked and bulbous member, and (the only attractive part of him) a ragged dueling scar. Madeleine did not remember much more of him than that; Christoff held himself in a manner that was hard to recall except by accident.

Madeleine had been sitting — crying? — in the garden. Time had a way of smoothing over the particulars of what she was doing. Was she regarding her horrid reflection in a garden mirror, cursing her sludge-brown hair and splotch-marked skin? Could she have been hiding from Christoff? Playing with a maidservant? Calling to the Violet Queen in silent supplication?

She remembers seeing a beautiful red-white butterfly fluttering about a flowerbed. She remembers watching as it circled through the air in uneasy loops, fighting the wind for nectar. She remembers remembering — though not in detail — her shameful days as a youth, spent menacing the insects of the Schöneberg Estate's gardens.

Madeleine remembers plucking the insect from the sky and tearing its wings off.

Theresa took a drag of her vaporizer, blowing lemon-scented mist into the doll's cavities. It whined, and struggled against its restraints. "Underdosed." Her German was still a bit crude.

Madeleine hummed. "Do take care, darling."

She wished she wouldn't, though. Sure, it was better if Theresa knew what she was doing in the future, but where was the fun in routine? To see her menace doll and patient produced a shameful thrill in Madeleine's chest, smothered the worry at the back of her head with elaborate background fantasy. Why, if she hadn't been dosing herself with the BLACK FLY, Madeleine might almost have fallen in love.

There was, however, the matter of the doll. Theresa was not yet proficient in the application of the BLACK FLY; these dollmaking sessions were one of the few times she'd have the opportunity to witness — and eventually partake in — its application, however tangential it may have been to the process.

Madeleine held her hand out. "Scalpel. You know 'scalpel', no?"

Theresa flinched at some unheard noise, then sighed. "Yes. Yes."

She passed the scalpel, handle first, to Madeleine. Her breath caught in her throat as Madeleine's fingers brushed against hers. Madeleine let them linger for an indulgent second before pulling away, and went back to work on the doll.

The second time Madeleine von Schaeffer remembers pulling the wings off of a butterfly did not, in fact, involve a butterfly.

Christoff was drunk; Madeleine remembers the taste of the whiskey responsible better than the cause. Christoff, his face inflamed, had been yelling through an intoxicated haze over yet another trivial matter. The usual fear — dulled?

Madeleine remembers the way he stumbled through his liquor, how his bulbous features lagged and sputtered under the weight of the alcohol. She remembers his usual attempts at initiating intimacy — and how, somehow, Madeleine resisted them.

The memories are so much clearer after that. How she stumbled back from a thick, grabbing hand, into a dining room table; the grooved cloth of violet over the sharp edge of the table, cutting into her back through her dress; the hand grasping for something, anything, to thrust into the ugly bulk that lurched ever closer; a sleek and silver fork; the feeling of jamming it into the crevice of Christoff's scar; his wonderful, wonderful screaming.

But then his hand came towards her, and the memories are ever so fragmented.

Madeleine von Schaeffer does not think often of her time as Madeleine Nessler, less so of Christoff Nessler, lesser still of his violence. But… but whenever she thinks of pulling the wings from butterflies, the memory of thick extremities, once-piercing eyes, and a crooked, bulbous member occasionally slips itself in.

Theresa was moving onto practical application of the BLACK FLY, and Madeleine couldn't have been prouder. Everything she had predicted of Theresa had come true: she was resourceful, quick to learn, and graceful in the application of what she knew. With enough time — perhaps spent in a new, better body? — Theresa might even have surpassed Madeleine's skill.

It was exciting… well, it should have been.

Madeleine's pride in Theresa's work was a head pride, not a chest pride. Try as she might to appreciate Theresa's impressive work, her basal feelings were a bit more… complex. Was it fear? Disappointment? That uneasy stirring in her bosom, the thought that somehow, Theresa's success was bad for her.

Madeleine smiled on, of course; she was so very good at smiling. From the start, Madeleine had resolved to hide the most unpleasant aspects of her work as they came. It wouldn't have done for her to know…

… Madeleine slunk up to Theresa's flank, resting a hand on her shoulder and looking over. The patient had been provided by Mr. Rass, a scrawny youth who'd assaulted an initiate at a march. Presently, half a head worth of ethereal, pockmarked tissue had been carved out of him, and Theresa was working on another spot when Madeleine had touched her, stopping knife and breath alike.

"Excellent work, darling." Madeleine stroked her shoulder, savoring the shivers that ran down Theresa's spine, that sudden flinching. Despite the slow escalation of touch over the course of their work, Theresa wasn't yet numb to Madeleine's ministrations.

Madeleine shouldn't have been pushing her luck. Theresa was, after all, a ward of Mr. Rass, and it wouldn't do to… slip up. So, as usual, Madeleine pulled away, and let the poor girl continue her work.

And as usual, she smiled on.

In truth, Madeleine von Schaeffer thinks of pulling the wings off of butterflies more than she had the opportunity to do so.

Though she's loathe to compliment the Wiemar years, its precarious nature offered Madeleine a peculiar sort of freedom that continued well into the Fascist years. The turbulence of a dead Kaissereich, dying democracy, and emergent fascism provided Madeleine ample chaos through which she could pursue educational pursuits; that was, of course, before that blundering Hitler lost it all, and the Jews took the Fatherland in a vicegrip.

Madeleine's body is not so weak as those of the dregs, however; age can not, would not touch her. Her capacity to learn, therefore, was preserved through the years, uninterrupted by time. So it was: she's patient. The butterflies come in due time.

What is it about Theresa? What makes her different from the common butterfly, to be pulled apart and left in a snow-white cellar? Madeleine thinks often of her, ever since she'd seen her reduced to a sobbing mess at the hands of KeeLee. She had never been more beautiful.

In idle moments, Madeleine's thoughts have a tendency to wander back to Theresa. She thinks of how her breath catches when Madeleine's skin meets hers; the plum purple of her bruises; even the way she shivers whenever she stares too long into Madeleine's eyes. Madeleine loves it all, every bit of Theresa that can be scarred, wrinkled, contorted, and inflamed.

Eventually, Theresa will have to be transferred to a new, more resilient body, and the very thought fills Madeleine with a nauseous warmth.

KeeLee: Hey, sister! Do you think we could talk?

Madeleine was… not accustomed to the computer. Its history was rife with degenerates of all stripes, sodomites and bastards and loose women. She was also uniquely challenged by the keyboard: not only was it needlessly complex, Madeleine's fingers had a tendency to punch through weaker models. Unfortunately, KeeLee's condition necessitated digital communication. If the Violet Queen was to rule once more, Madeleine would have to learn.

Sighing, Madeleine put down her book and made her way to the nearest screen.

BENEFACTOR: Guten morgen, Ms. Auburn. How may I help you?

KeeLee: Love it when you do that, darling.

KeeLee: So, I think it's time! Terry says my speech has gotten "realistic", so it might be time to ditch the paper and go digital.

BENEFACTOR: Theresa told you this?

KeeLee: Yep! Gosh, I'm so excited! ❤

That was peculiar. Theresa was bright and devoted; she was not, however, of an authoritative class. It had been only nine months since she'd started working for Just Girly Things, and barely five since her arrival in Europe. She had not known KeeLee as Madeleine had, had not talked to her as Madeleine had, had not fixed her.

BENEFACTOR: I still fear that it might be smidgen early.

KeeLee: You're no fun, Maddy.

<KeeLee uploaded an image - [BLOCKED BY AEGIS]>

KeeLee: That's disappointing. I was hoping I'd get you that time~.

KeeLee was in no state to expand her reach. She wasn't beautiful enough for the outside world, not yet. Neither was her affect cohesive enough to pull the weight of her project; Theresa, who interacted with KeeLee on a near-daily basis, should have been able to see this. Why, then—

Theresa was knocking at the front door.

Standing from her seat, Madeleine began the long trek from the East Wing to the front.


Theresa was smoking her vaporizer when Madeleine answered the door. She wasn't making eye contact — this was normal, even when she wasn't smoking — but neither did she look frightened. "Hey."

"…hello, darling." Madeleine looked her over again. Theresa had begun wearing her growing hair in a messy bob; today, however, she wore it in a bun. She wore the polkadot dress Madeleine and KeeLee had given her, complete with her usual red belt, though she wore a baby blue cardigan over it. And…

Madeleine blinked. Theresa was wearing boots again.

Taking one last drag from her vaporizer, Theresa finally made eye contact with Madeleine. "I am going to…" She swallowed, as if it might help her find her words. "I will be going to America, for a bit." She pursed her lips. "Two weeks."

Theresa took another drag of her vaporizer, breaking eye contact shortly thereafter. She was hiding something.

"Darling," Madeleine put a hand on Theresa's shoulder, brushing her thumb against her neck. "You really should have told me about this." She let her thumbnail protract the slightest bit, gently sliding it over Theresa's skin. "We do have work to do, dear."

Theresa flinched suddenly, her eyes traced Madeleine's arm from shoulder to forearm — but she did not speak. She would not even breathe.

Madeleine tutted. "Mm, I can't stay mad at you." She removed her hand from Theresa's neck, allowing the poor girl a much needed breath. "We will need to talk about your enabling of KeeLee, when you have the time. For now," she giggled. "Come inside, darling." Turning away, Madeleine guided Theresa back into the cellar; she did not, however, stop looking at her. The various mirrors around the estate provided ample opportunity to discretely read her face.

Her face was beautiful, contorted in that artistic worry.

There was, unfortunately, not much for either of them to do in the cellar. Orvo was busy with some business in America, Lror wasn't "in the mood", and 4R's Berlin activities were minimal at present. Sure, Madeleine could bring out the practice dummies, but Theresa was beyond the point where they'd be of much use. If only—

"Do you…" Theresa had stopped at the threshold of the cellar; when Madeleine looked back, she was staring right at her. "…have you heard of…" Her tongue fumbled around her lips. "…sorry, Elder Rockwell?"

Madeleine blinked. She had, in fact, heard of him.

Madeleine spends little time unconscious. An hour per month is sufficient to keep her well-rested, and while she could sleep for longer, she's… rather content with the waking world, thank you very much.

The waking world affords Madeleine significant control within her means. She is, after all, the caretaker of the Schöneberg Estate, and influential enough upon brainmad Reinhardt to exercise its associated wealth. Even the Schaeffer family name, deprecated as it was by the constitutions of '19 and '49, carries power among the Violet Diaspora. This is to say nothing of her dealings with Mr. Rass and the Covenants.

Sleep is another matter.

Madeleine's dreams are strange, unsettling, difficult. Tonight is no different. She's trapped in a dollhouse, her perfect porcelain replaced with repugnant flesh, and outside that house is her darling Theresa and that disgusting crypto-Jew, Elder Rockwell.

They're arguing, and Madeleine can feel her body disintegrating with every word. Theresa is asserting that beautiful little dominance play; Madeleine wants nothing more than to take her in her arms, to tell her what a bad girl she's been, to assure her that Madeleine will be there to break her into place. She can't, however, because stone-skinned Rockwell is out there, and frail Madeleine is in here.

He laughs, takes her in his arms and throws fragile little Theresa against the wall. Her skin cracks like a doll's, and Madeleine can hear her crying as Rockwell hoists her back up, choking the mascara-colored tears out of her eyes.

Madeleine's body begins to fall apart.

Rockwell flips her over, tearing off her dress. She's nude beneath, her perfect pale skin decorated with a spider web of cracks that only grows as Rockwell begins thrusting into her, desecrating what should have been Madeleine's, what was rightfully Madeleine's, Madeleine's Madeleine's Madeleine's!

Theresa moans, and Madeleine tells herself it's in pain — prays it's in pain — because the only thought worse than Theresa's rape is the idea that, somehow, it was never rape.

That Theresa wanted this.

And then Madeleine woke up.

There was something different about Theresa, the day she came back.

She dressed the same, talked the same, looked the same. Had the same grasp on German she had when she'd left, that same low-brow Canadian twang she tried so hard to suppress, those same teeth that bit down on her lip whenever she hurt herself in a lab accident. Same green eyes that went wide with excitement whenever they looked upon a patient.

Was it her affect? There was a peculiar pep in her step… had it always been there? Had Madeleine simply never noticed? Was it the cruelty she visited upon her test patients? Madeleine had freed her hand once before, and perhaps America had freed it further. Could it have been her smile? She had a lovely smile.

Such a lovely smile.

Madeleine found herself circling the operating table more than necessary, as much to record Theresa's progress as to look at her face. It was a vain hope, the idea that Theresa might accidentally smile at Madeleine, that she might see her smile from the front, that Madeleine might catch Theresa at a point of emotional vulnerability. What she'd have given for such a miracle.

But no, she was too busy with the patient.

Theresa was good. She was worryingly good. In a few weeks time, there might be nothing more for Madeleine to teach her. What then? Would they ever see each other again? What if Mr. Rass—


Theresa was holding her hand out, asking for one of the artisanal tools. She had something in mind for the patient. She…

… she doesn't need your help anymore.

Madeleine forced a smile, relaxed the skin of her neck just long enough to nod. Of course. That could be arranged. Theresa could have a scalpel, wherever she wanted it.

Circling around the room to the toolbox, Madeleine gingerly lifted the handle and opened the box, to see everything in its agonizingly proper place, the kind of order that left no excuse to dawdle about. Not that Madeleine would dawdle about, it wasn't as she was devastated in her darling Theresa's progress. Oh, and she even kept the blade sharp! Madeleine almost wished it worked on her skin, but a patient's would have to do.


Right, Theresa was waiting! Madeleine walked over and dropped it in Theresa's hand. "Of course, darling."

Theresa flinched, turning to face Madeleine with an expression of annoyance. "Careful. You could have…"

She trailed off, and the annoyance on her face gradually faded into an an uneasy confusion. It was so beautiful, that growing apprehension on Theresa's face, that it took Madeleine a while to realize how unusually close she was to her student.

Theresa took a breath as if she was about to say something. She was wearing a light face of makeup today, just enough to accentuate her natural beauty while masking the imperfections of her skin. Madeleine thought of how beautiful she might become, a figure cast in porcelain and silicon, fingers forever graceful, face forever smooth, lips forever soft.

Would Theresa's breath still catch when Madeleine's skin brushed against hers? Might she still go stiff as a deer in the road? Would her skin run nearly so hot as it did now, Madeleine's lips inches away from—

Theresa's scalpel clattered to the floor, and Madeleine found herself entirely too close to Theresa, staring into those verdant eyes with a hand on her cheek, lips inches away from her own.

Madeleine blinked, and pulled away. "A-apologies, darling. You had… something on your face."

It took Theresa a little while longer to regain her composure. She almost responded, only to turn back and throw herself into her work.

No matter Madeleine's attempts to initiate, Theresa would not speak for the rest of the night.

Bath. BLACK FLY. Thirty minutes to herself. The image of Lorian de Mallet touching Madeleine in all the places Christoff and Fernand couldn't have named.

Madeleine is normal again.

It was three months before Madeleine next saw Theresa, and not for lack of trying. Madeleine had messaged her several times, had ensured KeeLee did the same, had even ensured KeeLee's subordinates did the same, and still she heard nothing. She had begun to contemplate kidnapping and stuffing her when, on a late August 1 AM, Theresa showed up at Madeleine's door with a laptop and a sour expression.

Madeleine had smiled, said "Hello again, dar—" but Theresa was storming into the mansion before she could finish, forcing her to follow.

Theresa hurried over to the nearest table, unceremoniously setting the laptop down and flipping it up to a fullscreen browser, the kind the came up when one accidentally pressed the F11 key. It was some kind of video streaming site, its color scheme purple and yellow, and on its screen was a girl, short and swarthy, dressed like an English hipster. Not the sort of content Theresa usually consumed.

"See that?" Theresa pointed to the girl onscreen. "'Sara Miriam Yarkoni'." She spat, as if she had swallowed something foul. "KeeLee wants to take her on, thinks she can blackmail the fucking whore."

"I don't believe I taught you that, darling."

Theresa cackled without mirth. "What she is."

Madeleine found herself smiling, moving closer to her beloved protege. "Well, I don't imagine KeeLee has much use for a whore."

"Funny thing." Theresa opened her purse, fishing around for her vaporizer. "Yarkoni's a whore who builds websites. KeeLee found a contract off LinkEndor. Quick background check, and when she's not blowing her jew money on kerosene and adderall she's whoring out to the highest bidder." When she found it, she took a long drag, and blew so violently Madeleine feared the screen might break. "Revolting slut."

An unremarkable meter on the screen filled up, and Ms. Yarkoni blinked in apparent alert. "BlackHanbok, thank you so much! Now…" She blew a kiss to the screen, then stood up and leaned forward, slowing pulling the zipper of her jacket down. It was…

"I need you to do something for me" Theresa's expression was one of unflinching disgust, stuck on Ms. Yarkoni as if she were the moon in a starless sky. "KeeLee needs… blackmail material, and you're going to get it. So whenever that whore does something she wouldn't show her parents, you save that and send it to me."

Ms. Yarkoni's jacket was off now, revealing a sleeveless top that showed off her toned arms.

"… you know, and I need to say this in English." Theresa pocketed her vaporizer. "I don't care that she's a kike. I don't care that she's a faggot. I don't even care that she's a degenerate bucktee. It's the brilliance. I care that she's a brilliant fucking programmer, and all she can think to do with it is whore around."

Theresa scowled, and for a second it almost seemed as if she was scowling at Madeleine.

"… I can't stand to look at her anymore. Goodbye." Theresa turned back and stormed out of the mansion.

"One second, darling.", but Theresa was already gone.

Madeleine looked back to the stream, where Ms. Yarkoni was talking about electrical concepts wholly unrelated to her particular line of work. She thought of Theresa's scowl.

Madeleine forgets to sleep that night. She almost steals an hour before dawn, until the hypnagogic voices start imitating Theresa.

It's fine. She'll sleep tomorrow.


Madeleine looked to the clock on her wall. 2:17 AM. She had plenty of time to work with, and Ms. Yarkoni's streams were always a bit slow at the start.

Ms. Yarkoni, or "BabylonShedim" as she wanted to be known, had brought on a friend today, an oriental-looking man who twitched like Orvo. "Jack", she called him, in-between the donation "gifts" and the waiting. For all her flirty demeanor, Ms. Yarkoni was cautious not to engage too much with Jack. It was if she barely tolerated him, or at least that her affection was limited to transaction.

Not that Madeleine could bear to look at their brief moments of affection, the way Jack dripped with fluid, how Ms. Yarkoni almost seemed to be manipulating him with her fingers. The way he suddenly grabbed at her when the time came to be affectionate. That terrible transactionality to their every interaction.

Ms. Yarkoni deserves better, she almost thought.


When Madeleine doesn't sleep, the line between real and surreal blurs considerably.

The Schaeffer Family secrets provide her body with a highly efficient metabolism; they do not, however, put it in stasis. For as long as flesh remains in her perfect porcelain body, Madeleine would require food, water, and sleep. True, she requires but an hour of the latter every month, but without it…

…what does Madeleine care? She can walk. She can talk. She can allocate the wealth of generations to the return of the Violet Queen. Madeleine will sleep when she sleeps.

Hours are beginning to pass queerly.


Projects were going as projected. It was slow work, but Madeleine had more time than she could possibly fathom. For now, she could work on the task given to her by Theresa.

Ungrateful. Madeleine controls the chain of command, not Theresa.

Madeleine took another sip of coffee. The hypnagogia was beginning to come in stronger, necessitating the use of narcotics. She could have gone to sleep, true, but Madeleine had work to be done, like checking KeeLee's finances, or recording Ms. Yarkoni's every move, or waiting for Theresa to call her back to apologize for her extended absence.

One good aspect of the fatigue was the decreased pressure her hands placed on the keyboard. Madeleine hadn't broken a single key since at least a sunrise ago, and while she certainly had the money for more keyboards, it felt nice not to spend it.

Madeleine blinked, and realized that her internal monologuing had obscured to contents of her novel.

Focus, Madeleine.


Madeleine blinks, and suddenly finds herself in a sitting room.

It's very far off, and her perfect porcelain skin is weathered and dirty. A cracked, baking wasteland stretches outside of her window as far as the eye can see. The radio is on, and it plays the music she used to love.

Sitting across from her is Lorian de Mallet, skin as beautiful as her pre-widowed fantasies, dressed in a fine silk suit. A woman, about his age, has her arm around his. Her body is perfect porcelain, what Madeleine's had once been before time's ruination wrought havoc upon it. She has gold-blonde hair and a vial of black gas around her neck.

Lorian opens his mouth to speak, and Madeleine forces herself awake before he can drive her brainmad.


Madeleine took another sip of espresso, and focused on the task at hand.

It was one of Ms. Yarkoni's streams, the usual mix between personalized well-wishes and stripping as her tip goals were met. Madeleine had only just learned of tip goals. She had learned quite a bit of camgirl lingo in the process of fulfilling Theresa's task.

Her PrintScreen key nearly cracked. Why was Madeleine doing Theresa's work? Women of class weren't supposed to work as digital plumbers, they were supposed to be homemakers and housewives and pretty little dolls with skin that bloomed purple under her ministrations. A women so quick to undermine that sanctity was unworthy of the dignity she'd been afforded, fit to be stripped open and bound and…

Ms. Yarkoni last stream, extensively documented in no small part by Madeleine, was seeping into her head.

Madeleine needed rest.


—call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't that uppity slattern call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't her beloved call? Why won't she call? Why won't she call? Why won't—


Madeleine was too tired to sleep. Fatigue gave way to an unnatural lucidity, a hyperawareness of her clock among the swirl of everything else. How long had she been in bed? Had she stolen even a second of sleep? Had she stolen hours?

She blinked, and she was standing in her powder room, rummaging through her dresser for that secret compartment.

Madeleine stood against a mirror. Under her reflection's tongue, a blue crystal dissolved.

Clarity returned.

Madeleine felt her body over. She was… fine, strictly speaking. Whatever the restlessness was doing to her, it hadn't affected her physical body. Perfect, perfect porcelain.

For as long as Madeleine was under the spell of her blue lightning, she would not be going back to sleep. Her hands were quivering too much, which precluded dollmaking, business dealings, or cooking. She thought of calling Theresa, but felt a cold jolt of electricity as she approached the phone. With that in mind, Madeleine elected to go back to Theresa's laptop, to see what Ms. Yarkoni was doing with herself.

The clock on the bottom-right read 1:58. Ms. Yarkoni had already been stripped nude by her chat, a black wire going from her computer to her abused slit, and appeared to be talking of the device it was attached to. Madeleine took a picture, and found herself watching idly.

Someone donated 200 "tokens" to Ms. Yarkoni, and she seized in apparent pleasure. That went in the folder.

Why did Madeleine spend so much time documenting Ms. Yarkoni's humiliation? She had everything she needed. Certainly, it wouldn't matter if there were five minutes, fifty, or five hundred, as long as her parents saw what she got up to.

100 tokens. Five seconds of Yarkoni yanked out of clarity. 20 tokens to a second, then.

Madeleine's stomach curled. She should have been looking away, should have closed her computer, steeled her nerves, called Theresa to report that she was done, and climbed into her bed. Every second spent gawking at this disgusting sideshow was a second lost to a lowly trollop who didn't deserve it.

20 tokens. A sudden gasp.

What a sickening little thing, this Yarkoni girl. Hooked up to a machine, putting herself at the mercy of degenerates for scraps. It was a degradation unbecoming of even a Jew.

1000 tokens. Rapturous moaning, mixed with cries of what Madeleine could only assume was soreness.

Something needed to be done.

Madeleine scrolled off of the video, towards purchase icon. If Yarkoni wanted to whore out her misery to the world, then let her drown in it. Let it chain her to her own disgusting hell.

Madeleine's wrath only grew as she glanced over the price of tokens. 100 tokens was €8,50. €8,50. Yarkoni was selling herself out to the dregs of the world, debasing herself for the debased. It was bottom-feeding of the absolute lowest caliber. It was a miracle the highest donations tended towards the low thousands, that her putrid bluff hadn't yet been called.

200.000 tokens was nothing to Madeleine; let Yarkoni see if ten thousand seconds was nothing to her.

Madeleine confirmed the expenditure, and…

… nothing happened?

Well, that's not entirely true. The purchase flashed over the screen, complete with a celebratory jingle. Yarkoni certainly stopped her coding monologue to glance at the screen, and absolutely did a double take at the amount. But whatever it was that had Yarkoni moaning, the 200.000 tokens hadn't activated it.

Madeleine's innards went alternately cold and hot, and she almost didn't notice Yarkoni rushing to her computer. "Uh, fuck, Dunst_Amherst, thank you for the… christ." She tapped at her keyboard, and a blurb Madeleine's eyes had passed over flicked off of the screen. "Fuck, okay. Wow. Uh… like, one sec."

A private call request. A one-on-one with the degenerate she'd seen inside-out over the course of who knows how long. A chance to know what went wrong.

Madeleine accepted, and drafted her first message so quickly that her keyboard almost immediately broke. A button that wasn't there before asked for permission to use her camera; Madeleine's insides churned as she realized it might be her only chance to know what went wrong. Of course she accepted, who wouldn't?

Yarkoni audibly gasped as Madeleine was forced on-screen. "Holy shit, man. I—"

"Why didn't it work?"

Yarkoni blinked. "Wwwwhat do you mean?"

"The… the payment. The device." Madeleine's finger found itself tapping the table. "Why didn't it work?"

"What do you… oh! The vibrator." Yarkoni chuckled. It was too soft for someone so disgusting as her. "Okay, like… so the maximum for that is six thousand. Any more than that and it would've told ya. Of course, you gotta donate to that specifically, or else it's just a donation. I was actually, you know, messaging to ask about that. See if you didn't want some other service."

The churning in Madeleine's stomach threatened to rise in a heave, or burst like a boil. It was so very hard to tell.

"So," why was that wretched tart smiling? "There's a lot we can do with 200k. We could do a private show for the rest of night, just you and me." Yarkoni mock-stretched, reclining in her chair like she was worth anything more than a boot to her neck. "If you've got any costumes you wanna see, I'd be more than happy to put 'em on."

"A muzzle.", Madeleine let slip out of her mouth.

"Mall garb?" She giggled again. "You got a thing for alt girls? I'll let you in on a secret: so do I." Yarkoni winked at the camera, smile burning in Madeleine's insides. "It's gonna be, like, an hour to get some good mall goth makeup. Lemme know if you wanna skip that, or maybe watch me put it on. You did pay like, ten thousand bucks."

No, Madeleine had paid much more than—

And that's when Madeleine von Schaeffer realized she'd paid over eleven thousand Euros to the woman she'd been denigrating for weeks.

"… uh, you okay, Dunst? It looks like—"

Madeleine clicked off the stream, and went for the phone.


When Theresa arrived to pick up her laptop, Madeleine almost couldn't believe it, and not just because her grasp on clarity was slipping through her fingers.

Theresa was modest, most of the time; the only short-sleeved dresses she owned were those bought for her by Madeleine, and she often wore them with cardigans. With that in mind, the lovely navy sundress she wore was… unusually flattering, especially for the weather. It didn't help that she was done up like she was prepping for a headshot.

Madeleine's fingers twitched.

"So you got the blackmail." Theresa didn't bother to explain her unusual dress. "Took long enough. She's been needling KeeLee about Cora, and I doubt a link's going to reign her in."

She'd look good with a few bruises. Just a few spots where Madeleine's fingers squeezed a little too hard for a little too long.

Theresa made her way in without another word, to the foyer table Madeleine had left her laptop upon. "The keys are broken." She turned back, visibly unimpressed. "Did you break the keys, Madeleine?"

Madeleine smiled, and suppressed the thought of dragging her to the cellar. "I apologize, darling. You know how I can get."

"… are you drunk?" Theresa furrowed her brow, and an acute rage bloomed in Madeleine's bosom. Who gave Theresa the right to condescend Madeleine? Who was it that plucked a dead-end art piggy off of the streets of New York to be anything other than a lukewarm handmaiden? "Is… is everything alright, Madeleine?" Theresa pursed her lips; Madeleine's expression must have given her away.

Madeleine smiled again, and tried to think of things that weren't Theresa. "You'll have to excuse me, darling, I'm…" thinking of tying you to a table and ████████ ██ ███████ ███████ █ ████ ██ ████ █████. "…quite tired."

Theresa blinked, once, twice. Tilted her head to the side and squinted just the tiniest bit. She had such lovely eyes.

Madeleine found herself moving closer to Theresa. For as recalcitrant as that rotten brat was, she was still dreadfully beautiful. How much can Madeline tear before she stops being beautiful? Would she ever stop? Every maim upon her imaginary body only makes the thoughts sweeter.

Theresa studied her, flinched once, and Madeleine realized she'd hardly noticed the closeness. She reached a hand out, and—

And that's when Theresa blinked, and her expression soured to one of utter contempt. Without another word, she stepped out from under Madeleine, storming out of the mansion as fast as she seemingly could.

Madeleine blinked—


—and found herself in the attic.

Madeleine had the Schöneberg Estate mostly to herself; the help had been too lobotomized to pry, and guests typically went where Madeleine directed them. Even so, however, there was one place in the Estate Madeleine had never taken a living soul, and that was the attic.

This was not to say the attic was bereft of souls, however.

The problem with Madeleine's doll-making was a problem of storage. Some dolls were pleasing decor; Madeleine kept them around the estate. Some dolls were beautiful; Madeleine kept them in her private rooms. Some dolls were in danger of molding over, or otherwise bored Madeleine; Madeleine handed them over to the Jailors. But, then there were the dolls for which such fates were too merciful. Perhaps they'd spent their lives as the footsoldiers of organized Jewry; perhaps they'd been handmaidens to degeneracy; perhaps they were simply ugly, and always had been. For those dolls, only the attic would suffice.

It was an unpleasant attic, the Schöneberg Estate's. A little too hot in the summer, a little too cold in the winter, a little too humid in the spring and autumn, always perfumed with a choking air both cloying and bitter. No light shone through its warped wooden walls, and whatever wept along its claustrophobic shelves wept silently. There was no hope of escape, except slow disintegration as the attic air blackened its prisoners in mold.

This was where Madeleine kept one Hellen Martinez.

It was getting colder, and though the rain hadn't seeped through the roofing, its steady pitter-patter was hardly muffled as Madeleine made her way to the lights. They clicked on with a buzz, and the newer inhabitants groaned. She should have berated them.

Hellen was waiting at the back of the attic, faced against the wall. She was the newest of the attics inhabitants, not quite molding after a year inside but certainly getting there, and disgustingly beautiful. That Madeleine was somehow proud of her work on Hellen made it all the more intolerable.

"Wake up." Madeleine grabbed Hellen and forced her around; she squealed in response. "We need to talk."

Even face-to-face with her captor, Hellen Martinez has that dumb livestock look to her, as if she wants to preempt Madeleine's accusations with simple ignorance. It was beyond sickening to see her use the face she'd been given for such degeneracy.

"Look at you. How could you ever have hoped to have Theresa to yourself?"

Hellen went silent.

Madeleine's face nearly cracked open as her jaw threatened a scowl. "You don't even know the half of what you've done. You couldn't, could you?"

Hellen's head fell to the side in bemusement.

"You think this is funny, don't you?" A chuckle forced itself from Madeleine's throat. "You got your dirty little hands on Theresa, nearly soiled the poor girl, and you think that's funny, don't you?"

Hellen refused to make a single noise. Is it defiance? Pride? A genuine simplicity? It only made Madeleine that much angrier.

"Insolent brat!" Madeleine swiped at Hellen, sending her flying to the far wall with a scream (or a laugh?). Her head was pounding. "You dirtied Theresa and this is how you treat me? After all I've done for you, the beauty and longevity and meaning I gave your pathetic little life, you can't muster a sliver of respect for me."

Hellen laughs again, and struggled to right herself. "She hates you, you know."

"Shut up." The walls seem to closer around Madeleine as she stumbled forward.

"Theresa never loved you." Hellen sits herself up, or it looked as if she did. "Why should she? You're a dead end. A sexual invert too cowardly to let herself be cured." She laughs. "You say you can't trust anyone to fix you, but that's a lie, isn't it? You want this, darling."

"Shut up!" The ground shakes beneath Madeleine's feet. "Shut! Up! I will not by condescended by a degenerate negro whore!" She took another step—

—and that's when ground escaped from Madeleine's feet, and she tumbled to the floor.

Madeleine's face flashes with pain. It's hot, wet, unimaginably agonizing. As if in rebound, Madeleine shoots back up to kneeling with a scream, her hands flying to the sudden crack in her face, her face, her perfect face is ruined, ruined ruined RUINED

The attic air swarms in, eating at her joints and wounds. It's waited so long, almost as long as Hellen.

How could you forget Hellen, Madeleine? She's right there, standing to her full height. The dress she'd been given as a doll no longer fits, and she's nude, her curves and proportions a befouled needle in every part of Madeleine's body she couldn't cut away.

Madeleine stumbles back, wet hands nearly giving out in her backwards scramble. She's not fast enough; Hellen only walks, and Madeleine's still not fast enough.

It's starting to fold in. I'm choking around an arm whose hand puppets my every move, and when I try to pull it out of me I feel a tugging, and I know it's me but I can't help but resist my own wicked ministrations, for the redemptive impulse is indistinguishable from the evil I've done.

If there is a God

I hope it hates me, too.

Madeleine woke up, sucking stale air in an attic she could barely remember entering.

Half-formed memories flooded her mind. She remembered Ms. Yarkoni, thanking her for a hefty donation; Theresa, scowling at her with naked disgust; Hellen, screaming — laughing? — at Madeleine's jealous rage. Had it been raining?

With memories of the last — how long had she been asleep? — came a terrible shame. To even attempt its name was terrifying, but the miasma was still there, and though she could not see the trees the forest was dreadfully clear.

She hadn't taken the BLACK FLY in quite a while.

Madeleine peeled herself off of the floor, stumbling down the attic steps and towards the master bathroom. Her body felt dirty. Hot with filth, inside and out. She needed to be clean.

There were three dolls waiting for Madeleine as she fell into the bathroom, and she almost wanted to rip them apart for intruding on her sanctuary. Madeleine was tired, however, and so she simply took them out of the bathroom, to be returned once she was clean. They'd understand.

Madeleine didn't bother to fold her clothes as she stripped out of them, didn't bother to replace the false tile that hid the canister, didn't wait for the water to warm before falling into the tub. She was just too tired.

And so, tub still filling, Madeline put the canister to her nose, held the trigger for a quarter-second, and inhaled.

It hurt, until it didn't.

The world was hazier, now, more malleable. Madeleine knew from experience that this wasn't the case, that she was the only one that could be molded; but gods, what a feeling to run her hands down the various surfaces, pushing and tugging at the world's contours.

The water felt warmer, now. Madeleine nudged the drain closed with her leg, and exulted in the feeling of warm water running down her legs. The BLACK FLY made everything feel that much better. Could this have been what her dolls felt? Madeleine was almost jealous.

Her hand idly found its way between her legs. She was already wet, already ready to work herself into something clean. Her fingers moved almost by themselves, and she sighed, well and truly relaxed for the first time in weeks.

Madeleine thought of Lorian, the way he held her so tenderly against his lithe frame, and let herself forget all about—

—Theresa, crying out in a blend of pain and pleasure as Lorian fucked into her from behind, fingernails cutting into her tits with how hard—

Madeleine forced herself out of the fantasy with a gasp. No. Focus on Lorian. Lorian, beautiful Lorian, the way his skin felt under Madeleine's hands, how—

—pretty Theresa looks bruised and beaten. How might she have looked, held down from the back by Madeleine as Lorian fucked her from the front? Would she flinch and seize up as she always did, or would a good fucking break her out of the spell? Oh, to see it from every angle! To—

A moan escaped Madeleine's gritted teeth. Focus. Focus on something besides—

—Theresa, sat on Madeleine's lap, three fingers working her cunt as Madeleine's free hand carved Daevic love poems into her skin. How wonderful it would be to see her makeup gone runny with tears, to hear her shameful moans and desperate pleas to stop, to know Madeleine had ruined, well and truly ruined Theresa! How delightful, how delightful, how—

"Damn it!" Madeleine growled. Was the thought of Lorian tainted, somehow? Did it bring up—


Madeleine's free hand slapped her face, bringing her to clarity once more.

Fine. Someone else. Orvo, that scoundrel Orvo, he'd do. Madeleine let her hand fall to her bosom, let herself imagine it was Orvo's hand squeezing and pinching—

—as his true head, that shaggy canine muzzle, licked and sucked and maybe bit at Theresa's snatch. How beautifully her shame might mix with her arousal, the climax tainted by the knowledge that a beast brought her to—

—no! No, no, no! Stop thinking of—

—Theresa, newly clad in porcelain and silicon, leashed and kneeling at Madeleine's feet, licking the dirt off of her—

Something was wrong. Theresa was invading her fantasies at Madeleine's most malleable. She had to do something drastic, and now.

Madeleine bit down her shame, and thought of Ms. Yarkoni, how she'd look with a bloody gash over her chest, how she'd—

—handle Theresa with that transactional faux-gentleness, keeping the taller woman pliant with expert kisses and pinching. How might a prude like Theresa feel, stripped nude and played like a cheap whore for all the internet to see?

Something terrible and rapturous was building in Madeleine's core. It was wonderful. It was mortifying.

And what might Hellen have done, had she stolen more than just Theresa's first kiss? No doubt she could have maimed the poor girl, could have ruined her for any man who would've had her. Madeleine won't mind, though. Why, she might even join Hellen.

No. "Yes." No. "Yes." No! Madeleine—

—thinks back to the time KeeLee subdued Theresa for the crime of parasitism. How might it have gone if Madeleine had been there to punish her personally?

Madeleine's fingers were digging into her skin in… shame? Renewed pleasure?

Of course, Madeleine's fingers would be digging into Theresa's skin, tearing through that ugly tomato-stained suit to get at her lovely flesh. She'd struggle, no doubt — they always did — but Madeleine would have Theresa bound in KeeLee's veins all the same.

Oh, all the injuries Madeleine could inflict upon a helpless Theresa. She could go right to beautifying Theresa, of course, making her Madeleine's perfect little porcelain pet. Perhaps Madeleine might taste her first, bite and suck blood from her breast as the Violet Priests of Soronești once did. Or…

Oh, Madeleine knows just what she'd do.

Madeleine would cup the bottom of Theresa's ass with one hand, keeping it firmly in place as her other hand found her respective knee. Then she'd push, dislocating Theresa's hip, and continue pushing until the top of her femur rips through her thigh, nice and bloody. Gods, how she'd scream and cry in blissful agony, so certain she'd never walk again; Madeleine would eventually replace it, of course, but she didn't need to know that.

No, in that moment, Madeleine would lower herself onto the bone, exulting in how Theresa's agony filled her so very well, how her perfect porcelain pussy grinds against its sensitive surface. Madeleine's moans would mix with Theresa's cries would mix with the gentle purr of KeeLee's breath, that sublime cacophony suffused in the very aether as—

—with an earth-ringing moan, Madeleine von Schaeffer came.

Madeleine had climaxed before, many times; never was it this intense, this electrifying, this powerful the waves from core to extremity. Time lost all meaning, and for that bubble of eternity there was nothing but pleasure.

Then, gradually, it subsided into an increasingly uneasy afterglow, and the reality of what she'd done dawned upon her.

Gods, how could she have been so careless? Madeleine had encoded a horrid degeneracy into her being, not merely sexual inversion but an overpowering lust for her brightest pupil. The road to the cure, to perfection was that much harder for her mistake.

… except, when the orgasmic haze finally subsided, she realized that she felt no different than before.

Madeleine was… restless.

Right, that should be qualified. Madeleine, having slept for an estimated 11 hours prior, was "fully rested". Neither were her faculties clouded; Madeleine had subjected herself to a full suite of cognitive tests, and passed every one. It was, indeed, that unfailing clarity that troubled Madeleine so.

Madeleine had performed her reparative exercises hundreds of times. True, they were never as thorough as Madeleine wished, but they'd never failed so much as they did yesterday. Except, what if they had? What if they had, and Madeleine had never noticed? No matter how much Madeleine paced the halls of the Estate, the thoughts wouldn't leave.

Damn it, Aldous assured Madeleine it would work! Had he been as brainmad as Reinhardt? As blindly trusting as Heinrich? As cowardly as Fiona? Had the true recipe for the BLACK FLY been lost, somehow? With the ASCI gone and Olney a gaggle of clowns, of course they'd bungle the recipe.

Maybe she was a degenerate. Maybe Madeleine was just a degenerate, and that was all she'd ever be.

This entire train of thought looped and repeated as ouroboros for uncountable iterations, until, only a few hours after she'd climbed out of the bathtub, someone knocked at the front door.

Madeleine didn't have to check to know who it was.

Theresa stepped into the mansion with a disgusted apprehension. She was back to modesty this time, dressed in an olive jumpsuit and a beige cardigan, with her usual level of makeup and her hair in a bun. Her face bore an expression of disappointed fury. "We need to talk, Ms. Schaeffer."

Madeleine's blood was already cold, but Theresa's address seemed to chill it further. "… don't be so formal, Theresa, I prefer—"

"Don't be a keener." Theresa crossed her arms, one hand resting on the clasp of her bag. "You've been skipping your doses, haven't you?"

The memory of Theresa's scowls flared in Madeleine's mind.

"Listen, darling—"

"You think I'm stupid, don't you?" Theresa snorted without mirth. "You think I don't know how you leer at me, Schaeffer? The way you can't keep your hands off me?" She spat. "You're worse than a man. At least they're deterred by modesty."


"Don't you fucking 'Theresa' me, Schaeffer." Theresa stepped forward, opening the clasp and reaching inside. "I've worked for JGT for a year, and for all the trannies and dykes I've fixed, not one of them has been as big of a creep as you. Even that loony squirt-brain was more respectful than you've been."

Her hand was rooting around for something. The BLACK FLY, perhaps.

Theresa laughed. "Lord, I gave you so many chances, but you're even worse than Hel—"

And that's when Madeleine charged Theresa, knocking her back and pinning her arm to the wall.

Madeleine was right to suspect the BLACK FLY: there, clutched tightly in Theresa's fingers, was a lighter-sized canister with a blackfly printed upon it. She took it with her free hand and set it upon the floor, kicking it out of reach. Theresa was too stuck in that tactile breathlessness to resist.

"I'm quite disappointed, dear." Madeleine's free hand felt her beloved's pulse, before tightening on either side of her neck in a mock choke. "You were oh so obedient when first we met. What a shame, really."

Madeleine's fingers tightened around Theresa's wrist, breaking her trance just long enough to elicit a scream.

"You really were my brightest pupil, Theresa." Madeleine's other hand let off her neck, sliding aimlessly down the poor girl's delicate body. "Why defy me now, after everything I've done for you? If it hadn't been for me, why, who knows what could have happened to you?" Her fingers found themselves stopping on Theresa's hip, squeezing a quick yelp from the girl for good measure.

Madeleine's fingers released her wrist, retreating back to her forearm, and Theresa took a pained gulp of air. It was beautiful.

Madeleine leaned in, careful not to touch skin again. "I don't want to be cruel, darling. A simple apology should suffice, or at least, it should for now." She grinned. "What do you say?"

Theresa looked at her like a pretty little doe in headlights. Gosh, she looked as beautiful as they day they'd first met, that same false confidence given way to a sublime terror, that sudden flinching she was so very good at. Madeleine supposed Theresa's bullheadedness might not be so bad, if it let her witness that same crumbling—

And then Theresa blinked, and her expression turned to one of inexplicable bemusement. "… you're clicking your tongue."


"The…" Theresa chuckled. "The cracking noise. I've been wondering what you were doing. You were…" Theresa chuckled, louder this time. "You were clicking your tongue."

The tension in Theresa was gone, now, replaced with something considerably more disdainful. Madeleine's hand immediately moved back to her wrist, squeezing once more… except Theresa didn't scream, and though she choked through her next breaths, she was still breathing.

"You, you don't even know you're doing it, do you?" Theresa wheezed with mirth. "Lord, you are so fucking repressed! It's—"

Madeleine's claws protracted into Theresa's hip, and she cut herself off with a scream. "You're being quite disrespectful, darling. Who do you think you're talking to?"

Theresa's scream petered off into a laugh. "You want to fuck me. You want to f-fuck me so bad, freak." Laughter hissed through her teeth. "That's why… you hated Hellen, wasn't it? You were jealous."

"Shut up." Madeleine's claws dug upward, tearing a hole in Theresa's jumpsuit and the undergarment underneath, but all she could hear was more laughter.

"She didn't get half, ack, half as far Rockwell, though." Theresa's free hand found Madeleine's, squeezing with naked contempt. "You know I fucked him?"

"Shut up!"

"Lord, what a man." Theresa cackled, her free hand traveling up Madeleine's arm. "He was honest about it. Told me… he'd put me in a breeding camp after the revolution." Her hand stopped at Madeleine's bicep, squeezing with a peculiar might. "Course, he crumpled like, like paper with enough push. Bowed at my feet, called me mommy." She sneered. "Still more alpha than you'll ever be."

"Shut! Up!" Madeleine's claws dug into Theresa's wrist. "I will not, will not by condescended by a gods-damned hick!"

"You're a coward, Schaeffer. A bigger tenply than Hellen." Theresa purred with contempt. "You want to fuck me so badly, but you're too scared I'll, I'll run off and tell Herr Rass. Tenply to your fucking core, that's all you—"

Madeleine's claws tore a hole from hip to shoulder as they raced to Theresa's face, cupping it and bringing her into a violent kiss.

Gods, was it electrifying! That lemon scent mixed beautifully with the smell of blood, the heat of it all blown down Madeleine's throat with Theresa's screaming. Except, she had but a moment to savor it before she quieted herself, and began running her teeth over Madeleine's rosewood tongue like a dog.

Theresa was sneering as Madeleine pulled back, wild and hateful. "Come on, freak. Can't follow through?"

When Madeleine's hand came up to grab her face, her claws had torn the right side of her outfit, leaving it to hang open like an undone pair of overalls. Madeleine thought back to all the times Theresa came into work in a prairie dress or some tacky cardigan, and then her other claw came down to finish the job.

Theresa's body was bonier than Madeleine had fantasized, hairier, marked intermittently by tiny scars and small splotches of chemical burn. A small "4R" was tattooed over her womb. She smelled of moonblood.

"I bet Hellen wouldn't hesitate." Theresa made no efforts to cover herself as she leaned forward. "You're not far off from her, Schaeffer. Bet you're just as insufferable about your exes as she was about Paul."

"I'll kill you, brat." Madeleine's claws trailed down Theresa's body, peeling off the remains of her outfit. "I'll turn you into a doll."

Theresa made a noise between a giggle and a hiss as Madeleine knelt to pull the rest of her jumpsuit down. "Lord, look at you, kneeling for your little girl-crush. No wonder they had to marry you off, freak. You were probably fucking the help as hard as your husbands fucked you."

Madeleine growled, and almost responded… except, as she tried to slide the remains of Theresa's outfit off, it suddenly occurred to her that she was wearing those steel-toe boots Madeleine had always despised.

And that's when it hit her.

Madeleine screamed, falling back in a white-hot flash of pain, facial nerves contorting to close her right eye against her every command. She'd been kicked.

The bitch had kicked her.

She could hear Theresa clearing her throat. "Pathetic." There was the sound of Theresa fishing around her bag for something, followed by a hacking through cloth. "You wanted something that squirmed, didn't you?"

Madeleine grit her teeth and steadied herself, too angry to respond in kind. Theresa, nude save her blood and boots, paid her as little mind as she possibly could as she continued looking through her bag.

"Mr. Rass may put up with you, Schaeffer, but that doesn't mean I have to take your shit." Finally, Theresa stood up with a wince, holding a bundle of folded polka-dot fabric and that scuffed red belt. "Lord, you have a hard face."

Unfolding the fabric, Theresa dressed herself once more. "You're not worth the trouble. I'm going." And true to her word, Theresa collected her bag and turned away.

'Oh no you don't, rat.', except all that came of Madeleine's second wind was a weak lurch, a pained cry, heartbreaking assurance of the once-unreal.

Theresa spared her no attention as made her way to the entrance, walking away with a gait that almost felt disdainful. It was only once she reached the door that she turned back to Madeleine, her expression cruelly unremarkable, and spoke: "But the next time you touch me, freak? I'm fixing you permanently."

And then, finally, Theresa walked out of Madeleine's life.


Not a doll. Not a painting. Never hers.

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