Soren Stinson angled his craft aside, narrowly avoiding the tractor beam. His comms, meanwhile, crackled and buzzed with the incoming message of his pursuers;
“You have nowhere to run, and the full might of the Talerian Empire is about to be brought down upon you!” the unfriendly voice filled his cockpit.
“Just...give up!”, it added.
“I don’t think I will,” Stinson shot back, gripping his speaker. “You wouldn’t dare fire on me, not with what I have on board.” The smuggler, grinning at his advantage, began warming his dimensional drive, preparing to leave the hapless imperial in the dust for good. The drive had cost him a fortune in black market credit.
The frigate in pursuit, clad in the Talerian crimson and gold, began to deploy its response.
“You asked for it,” a man at the helm declared.
“Cast the ‘net’!” Stinson’s craft began to disappear from the local existence, as the captain cried again, “he’s getting away!”
As Stinson clambered through the hole he dug in reality, he saw a flash.
Soren Stinson, who’d happily relieve people of their belongings for the right price, had established a comfort zone a long time ago. He knew the dimensional corridors he traveled well, and made a tidy profit fencing items that didn’t belong to him to many of the unsavory (albeit wealthy) patrons of the multiverse. Why his current client wanted the Imperial Seal of Taleriana so badly, he wasn’t paid to ask. But it certainly wasn’t the riskiest job he’d taken. His dimensional hole should, based on his planned route, take him all the way to his client.
So when he was dropped midway, with one of his many displays (he was proud to be able to have kept his field of view uncluttered, but this screen suddenly was blocking his vision) blaring “DIMENSIONAL TRANSITION INTERRUPTED,” he was a bit taken aback.
He hung his head on the dashboard. “Of all the times for this thing to break down…”
The comms came to life once again.
“You’ll find that that was by design, smuggler. You’re stuck in our ‘net’ now, and won’t be making any jumps like that anytime soon.” As the comms quieted once more, Stinson raised his head to see the Talerian vessel in front of him. Another red and gold craft emerged beside it. Swearing to himself, Stinson shut off his comms.
“Voice Command. Plot and execute a path to the nearest accessible planet.” A screen on his left displayed a message in response “Enemies detected, employing defensive travel routines. Plotting a course to E(Uc)-721-X”
“Alrighty, that’ll do,” Stinson told his ship's computer. E(Uc) meant a mirror Earth, but one that was populated by...unknowns? He’d just have to risk it, with the state of his drives. The X meant restricted, however. Hopefully, it wouldn’t matter too much, the thief pondered, as his craft’s conventional warp drive activated. Hopefully the locals would be able to undo whatever those damned imperials did to his D-drive.
Space unfolded to reveal a planet under blockade. Countless supercruisers among smaller vessels littered the exosphere and beyond. To Soren’s relief, none of the various liveries were Talerian. A number of different sigils and standards were represented, all with a unifying factor.
“Federation, huh...wonder why they’re here,” the loner captain mused. There was no time to ponder it, however, as his IFF pinged the two Talerian frigates that were suddenly flanking him. He weaved around Talerian attempts to disable his craft, half-hearted laser beams fired by people carefully attempting to disable but not destroy him. No time to hail the feds, and his comms weren’t even on. Stinson would just have to hope he could out maneuver capital ship fire if they didn’t take kindly to him running the blockade.
“Shit’s just getting worse, isn’t it?”
Heavy laser fire did not, to his pleasant surprise, erupt around him, but his comms did. His ship’s receivers overwhelmed, Stinson could only make out fragments as Fed48 signals bombarded his speakers.
“...Stop at once!”
“...one way trip!”
So, he might die. But the Talerians had stopped amongst the blockade, and his ship was already plotting atmospheric entry.
“One way indeed,” Soren Stinson sighed.
Atmospheric entry had knocked him out. It usually did. He came to, still in his cockpit, luckily, looking across an open field. He glanced around, checking the systems.
“Primary engine’s shot…’course it is. Guess I better get comfortable. Outside to his left, a subatmospheric VTOL craft landed.
“That must be the welcoming party.”
Two figures exited the plane, and Stinson craned his neck to examine. One was armed, which wasn’t too much of a surprise. He was a stranger in their land, he supposed. Stinson decided to take his chances and step out of the ship. The welcoming party made his heart skip a beat. They were both women -- not too unusual, Soren reminded himself -- who wore some sort of skin-tight military uniform. Plenty of outfits, including Soren’s own, had trended towards being on the tightly revealing side, mainly due to easy compatibility with ship interfaces. But these uniforms hugged curves, he noted. Very... generous...curves. And it didn’t help that, as they got closer, their features revealed a striking beauty. The taller woman’s outfit failed to conceal an incredible pair of breasts, Soren tiredly observed. Is that where his mind was immediately headed today? She wore some sort of captain’s hat.
“Ah fuck, I guess I *did* die.” Soren hopped out of his craft. They were pretty awe-inspiring, up close. It was some sort of genetic modification, he decided, that gave them their spellbinding looks.
The lost spacer continued to gawk until the woman with the captain’s hat broke the silence.
“Um...welcome traveller, to...ahm...our humble planet. You may have noticed the blockade, and..uh...we don’t get many visitors…” her companion, who was shorter, and more interestingly, purple skinned, piped up.
“I’ll be perfectly honest, traveller. Your circumstances are unusual --”
“Ha ha. Hahaha!” Stinson snickered, and then chortled, and then guffawed. The two women looked at each other. The spacer ran his hand across hair no longer than a centimeter. He had a cocky grin on his face.
“Naaah, I figured it out - I got it nooow! Weird fuckin’ timing though! I’m still knocked out in the cockpit of my ship! It’s...a dream. All a dream! Oh man, I always wake up before...yknow...” Stinson caught his breath before looking specifically at the girl with the hat, planted on voluminous blonde hair. His gaze zeroed in on the part of her uniform that tented over her assets. This had to be a dream, right? Why would the planet be labeled as uncategorized? Could that even happen? These people were human enough.
Human enough for Soren to find them...very attractive, anyway.
“If I’m dreaming...I better take advantage of this while I’m still lucid, y’know? Don’t worry, dream girl -- I’ll make sure it feels good for yooouuu~” Stinson crooned, before grabbing at both of the girl’s breasts. There was a flash of movement with the girl’s hands.
“Nice job with the pistol whip, Morg. Now let’s wait for this creep to wake back up.”
Soren came to, crumpled on the ground. He sat up, one arm propped down.
“Damn...my head,” he muttered, gingerly cradling the point of impact with his free hand. “Ahaha...girls in my dreams don’t usually do that.” He looked up at both girls. “Shit...you’re real, aren’t you?”
The man started babbling apologies while the violet one cleared her throat.
“If you’re done groping, we can explain the situation, sir,” the lilac warrior huffed. Straight dark hair curtained her face, restricted to the sides by two...horns?...protruding from her forehead.
“Yeesh...Sorry. Sorry, sorry sorry…” Soren quietly regretted several recent decisions. He’d been awake for how long? No rest since the heist, that much was apparent. And now it was showing in...not a lethal way, perhaps, but an embarrassing one. “What would my mother say…” he mumbled.
“Our home has been under strict quarantine since we made first extraterrestrial contact. A disease, they called it…” the purple woman scoffed, parts of her bouncing slightly, before continuing, “Please come with us back to the city so my superior can more ably brief you on your situation. We will ensure your ship and all belongings are safely transferred to you posthaste.”
To her partner she whispered “they’ll never let this poor thing back out, she’s a carrier for sure, see, the changes are already starting…”
There were several alarming things about that sentence, Soren noted, but the captain hat girl nodded at him and they turned back towards their aircraft.
“Please, come along. All will be explained.” Despite the...what were they, military police? Despite the official background, it came across as a request rather than an order.
What was their game?
“Uh, no. Sorry, no. This ship is my lifeline,” Stinson said, resting a hand on the painted hull. The two women looked at each other. “You can run along, I’ll just be going shortly.”
The shorter one whispered something in the taller one’s ear, and then turned back towards the smuggler.
“Alrighty then. Safe journey,” the violet woman rolled her eyes at him. “You, uh, might want to contact someone in the blockade *before* you fly cheerfully into their charged death beams. Let’s go, Morgan…”
“Uh, ok?” the tall one expressed with great confidence. Soren watched the two women trudge back to their suborbital craft, and then looked at his own. The spacer listened to the VTOL’s engines reignite and roar. Soon, he was alone.
“Better find out what’s wrong with the engine.”
It didn’t look good. The Talerian attack that disabled his D-drive seemed to have knocked something loose. The hyperspace jump had exacerbated the problem, and the landing had apparently caused his conventional drive to give out. Not an impossible fix, though, the spacer decided. Just an inconvenient task ahead of him.
The D-drive itself was in much worse shape. Soren noted several errors that were beyond his skill set to fix if he wished to finish his delivery.
Not to mention actually getting home.
The smuggler surveyed his surroundings. E(Uc)-721-X. These planets desperately needed better names -- at least Taleria got that part right.
The weather was pleasant. He tossed his jacket on the seat of his cockpit, playfully imagining the two soldiers hiding in a bush somewhere and ogling the dashing rogue in the skintight space suit.
“Maybe not if I keep making such lousy first impressions,” he said to nobody. He stood in the middle of a tranquil meadow, which showed no signs of human civilization. Soren felt a pleasant breeze as he listened to birdsong. A forest arose in the distance, green trees of spring. The sun was high in the sky, which made sense -- he hadn’t landed on the dark side. He looked at his ramshackle craft, bigger than a strike fighter but smaller than a corvette. It looked like it could have carried pulse bombs in a past life, before he’d gutted various parts of it to make more room for custom installations and cargo space. Would he ever come up with a good name for it?
“Better contact the blockade, see what’s up.” Soren clambered into the cockpit, which was higher off the ground than he remembered. He probably needed to recalibrate the landing shocks. Pushing his hair out of his eyes, the pilot tapped into his comms. “Hello. Hellooooo…”
“Yeah?” a bored voice drawled back. “This is the receiver for FSMS Distant Thunder. Are you contacting us from the surface?”
“Ye-ah,” Soren responded. His voice cracked somewhat. How embarrassing. “Establishing contact before I leave planetside.” Distant Thunder. Soren scoffed. What a self-important name.
“That’s a negative on that request, ma’am. Earth 721 is under an inviolable quarantine. We tracked your movements -- you rushed down to the surface and ignored every warning. That backwater is your new home now, congratulations.” Soren shook his head and chuckled.
“I’ll get off this rock one way or another. I’ve got some experience in that regard. And by the way, don’t let my youthful good looks fool you. I’m a man.”
“Whatever you say,” the bored operator replied. “I wouldn’t take your chances though, if I were you. We’ve got a bead on your ship at this very moment.”
Did they now. Time to test that theory.
“What am I doing right now, then?” Soren grinned. He knew military types, especially Fed ones. The bravado would crumble if challenged.
“You’re standing in the cockpit of your little bomber and raising your middle finger to the sky, “sir”. Now you’re sitting back down. Be careful punching your dashboard like that. Aww, now you have your head in your hands.”
Soren shutoff the comms.
“Voice command. Tell me about where I am now. Like, stuff about this planet.” His ship’s computer sprung into action, and brought up an info page off the multinet.
“Earth 721 is a civilized planet under a single unaffiliated government. It is currently subject to a blockade and quarantine by the Federation of 48 Planets, due to a highly infectious condition shared by its inhabitants. This condition will invariably affect anyone who lands on the planet or comes into contact with one of its denizens.”
Check, and check. He’d landed on a leper colony. Resigned, Soren continued reading.
“Inhabitants are, due to the condition, all female, albeit with genital variation which allows for reproduction. Every culture and society on Earth 721 centers at least somewhat on “The Transformation”, a change that every girl undergoes when she turns eighteen. An infected adult will undergo the changes regardless of sex, oftentimes resulting in dramatic physical changes. It is unknown how these changes work, but the Federation has warned that they are a danger to any reckless individuals who may consider themselves to be tourists.”
Shit. Shit shit shit shit shit. Stinson looked at his arms and hands. They looked willowy and smooth. The skin of his hand was soft to the touch. He leaned back, unbelieving. His head landed several inches below the headrest. His hair was growing like a weed.
How much longer would he remain a he? No, this is stupid, Soren thought. If there was body altering tech of this caliber on some planet in the middle of nowhere, why hadn’t it been studied? Reproduced? Even so, Soren couldn’t ignore what his own eyes told him. Something was wrong...
“The Federation has stated that they remain committed to containing the infectious nature of transformations the inhabitants of Earth 721 are affected by, citing the social upheaval that could erupt if it broke containment. Except under special circumstances, travellers who have landed on Earth 721 are quickly declared dead for the sake of bureaucratic simplicity.”
Stinson stopped reading, and ran a hand over his face. Maybe the changes had stopped. He hadn’t been around those girls for very long, right? Perhaps he would simply live out his life as a smaller and softer pretty boy. There were worse fates, right? The spacer hopped out of his ship and yelped at the longer drop than he’d anticipated. He searched for some distraction from his fate. Rummaging through storage, he found the camping supplies he’d tucked away; two synthlogs, a deployable fire stand, and an ancient lawn chair. Stinson placed the stand and watched as something emerged from the tripod and shaped itself into a decidedly fireproof dish. He placed the synthlogs, a bit heavier than they’d used to be, onto the sconce, and unceremoniously shot at it with his blaster on the weakest setting. The synthlogs erupted into flames.
“Nice work, Old Riley,” Stinson told his gun as he holstered it. Stinson watched the fire as he dug around for some nutripaks for dinner. Just a nice little camping trip, nothing strange about it! Soren tossed a nutripak on the fire. Wait no, that was stupid. Burning did it no favors.
“Soren Stinson, master chef, at your service,” the spacer exclaimed with a crooked smirk.
Everything was perfectly alright. He just had to ignore the mild pain radiating from his chest, the tightness and sensitivity in his -- manly pecs. And he would definitely pay no mind to the strange feelings emanating from his groin, the new and alien sensations he felt when he squeezed his pleasingly plump thighs together. He tried and failed not to notice the breeze playing across skin which had up until recently been concealed -- at some point the lower part of his space suit had rewoven itself into an abbreviated skirt, which was still taking shape.
Changes across her -- no, his -- body were one thing, but how the hell did that work? Stinson pulled out his pocket display while he still had pockets. Unlike his ship, it was unable to access the multinet in this remote area, and (s)he didn’t feel like climbing back into the cockpit. He settled on a kitschy website accessible on the local internet.
“The Transformations and You -- Advice for Girls Coming of Age”
Yup, that’s *definitely* me, Stinson groaned to himself. Maybe if she/he sat on the firepit they’d wake up. Or maybe they’d just die.
“Turning 18 is a right of passage for everyone, and the changes you’ll undergo will make it a very special one! Everyone’s changes are a little different -- whatever you become is tied to your innermost desires and self image, which make the transformations something to be welcomed. Some people change a little, but some girls change quite a lot! Don’t be surprised if you suddenly look a lot different than your parents and relatives, and don’t worry, either -- they know exactly what you’re going through! We’ve compiled a list of some of the basic archetypes, but many don’t fit into one easily. And that’s ok! Self expression is the key factor...”
Stinson waved the page down somewhat. It might as well have been a full length novel.
“Some transformations go an extra step -- sometimes you’ll notice a change in temperament or personality. Sometimes the clothes you wear will change in accordance with everything else!”
Stinson was learning that last part firsthand. She scrolled some more, as the info page broke down some of the common ways clothes could be affected by changes. Some transformations were incredibly specific -- gynoid, princess, superhero, maid…
Maid. Stinson looked down. His skirt had grown frills on the rim and was spinning a small white apron as she watched. A universally recognized look, even here. Stinson gestured at the word ‘maid’, which brought up a subpage.
“Everyone loves maids! You should count yourself lucky if you join the wonderful sisterhood clad in black and white dresses. Maids are cheerful and sweet, and love to please! They fill an important societal role…”
What the fuck. No. Nonono. Turning into someone’s fetish was one thing, but she was to become a...braindead slave? Stinson dropped her pocketholo and abruptly rose from her chair. Her top had remodeled itself into a frilly black piece with a low and broad neckline. It cradled two growing breasts.
“What the fuck is this place?” She bellowed out to the world. Her voice was lighter and softer -- shouting like that was going to quickly become a challenge. Stinson reeled at feelings bubbling up, shame at having sworn out loud.
“No! I’m not going to...I’m not going to ffffffffff….not going to lose myself!” I am Soooo...Sore…” Her boobs were a bit sore, it was true. This thought emerged from...somewhere. No. Don’t get distracted...her name...what was her freaking name!
“Sora...no, that’s silly. Sarah? No, it wasn’t that common. I was always proud of my uncommon name...what. The. Heck. Was it?” This nightmare had to end. It would be over if she could remember her name...remember her name and this breakdown would be over so she should go back to her properly sweet and demure self.
Was she sweet? Or demure? Something in her mind was repeatedly voicing confirmation, drowning out all the other voices.
“Seeee….Sierra?” The name rolled around on the maid’s tongue. Sierra. Yes, of course...that was her name. Her narrow shoulders dropped as the tension eased. Sierra’s breathing steadied and slowed, and her heart settled back into her chest. Sierra...the maid was grateful to have reclaimed her identity.
Sierra Stinson, ready for service.
Sierra Stinson, who’d smile and curtsy when given an order.
Sierra Stinson, who was...in the middle of running a priceless stolen artifact to a strange person she’d never met. Sierra Stinson who hadn’t looked like this just a few hours ago! Sierra Stinson who desperately needed to formulate a plan to return some normalcy into her suddenly shattered existence. Sierra Stinson, who was...actually pretty sleepy now that the adrenaline was starting to diminish. Old memories rewrote themselves, while others scuttled out of view to make room for the new her.
Sierra took stock of her situation. A ship was nearby. Her ship? Her ship. Despite everything, she felt like she knew how to pilot it. But the engine was damaged, and she couldn’t leave anyway.
An inoperable spacecraft would not do a maid much good, it seemed. And people. There had been people who’d greeted her...but she’d remained behind. And...Sierra shuddered at the memory of how she’d physically harassed one of the women who’d found her. Unbecoming behavior from anyone, not to mention someone like her. These soldiers were her betters, and she’d shown such blatant disrespect….
No...go to sleep now before this train of thought can continue, she thought.
Sierra awoke to the muffled roar of a descending VTOL.
“So loud,” the girl said, rubbing her scalp. Soft footsteps grew louder and barely audible voices impossible to make out gradually raised in volume. Sierra was alerted by the tap-tap-tapping of knuckles against metal. The girl opened the cargo bay, almost rolling down the extending door, but narrowly catching herself. The two soldiers who’d attempted to abduct her earlier greeted the maid with short waves.
“Bombs away!” The tall one said as Sierra nearly tumbled out of her craft.
“Hello agai...oh my Goddess,” the purple one said, eyes widening as laughter began to escape her lips. Her partner giggled relentlessly, doubled over from the exertion.
“Sooooooooo cute!” the taller blonde exclaimed.
“The world gets another maid! A happy ending for everyone~” The violet woman expressed in a lilting voice.
“Um...hello?” Sierra almost whispered, in a dulcet tone like a light breeze. “I’m very sorry...I seem to have lost my bearings.” Part of her wondered what force had decided to make her sound like some victorian LARPer, but that thought dissipated quickly. The landing. The changes...recollection slowly assaulted her in waves.
“Aren’t you just precious...come with us, sweetie, we’ll take you into the city to get you processed…” The purple one turned to her companion, and said “hey Morg, remember when this adorable little thing attempted to molest you?”
“Suuuuure do!” Both girls erupted into another round of laughter, while Sierra’s cheeks burned with the shame of the memory. The shorter soldier turned back to the maid.
“Relax, you’re all good. We had been trying to figure out just what to do about you. A new arrival can be a difficult situation. But it seems the Changes felt...inspired...with you in particular. Just come along and everything will be fine. You’re going to love it here.”
Sierra Stinson hopped out of her ship, shrugged, and followed. The shorter violet one had a useless pair of wings planted above her splendid rear, along with a decidedly demonic spade-tipped tail. All of these extremities emerged from tactically placed gaps in her outfit. Deeper purple hair cascaded down from her scalp, which was crowned by two bony horns. The girl with the hat was leaner and taller, and had a more natural dusky skin tone, and a similarly voluminous blonde mane. Standards for the appearances of combat personnel seemed to be...different here, if not completely nonexistent. The taller one seemed to be wearing a slight bomber jacket, too short to really keep any part of her warm. That fact didn’t seem to bother her, however. The weather was still beautiful, after all.
The girls clambered aboard their craft, motioning for her to get in the cabin in the back. The girl with the hat exchanged it for a pilot’s helmet up front, while the purple sex demon...er, woman, sat across from Sierra. She looked at the maid, smiling.
“I’m sure you have questions,” she said, looking at her with sympathetic (and also black-scleraed) eyes. “I’ll answer them to the best of my ability, I’m Amelie, by the way. My partner up front is Morgan. She’s an excellent pilot, despite her...mannerisms, don’t worry.”
Sierra’s head swam with half formed questions. Who are you? Where is this? What will you do with my ship? Will the Talerians follow me? Do you even know who they are?
All the former smuggler could do though was utter an “uh.” before putting her head in her hands. She tried to formulate a plan with the last dying remnants of her resistance.
“Maid transformations can be...rough,” Amelie whispered, placing a delicate hand of her own on Stinson’s shoulder.
Sierra said nothing, overwhelmed. She realized she wasn’t sure how to respond to any of this. The natural response, apparently, was for the maid to shudder and hunch over, choking back tears. Where the heck even was she?
“Hey Am, did we really find a real man?” a voice from the pilot’s cabin called. “Like, a reeeaally real man?”
“Just focus on driving sweetie, she’s going to have a lot to work through,” Amelie sounded back, slightly annoyed. A man? Sierra was pretty sure she wasn’t that. Then again, there was a lot she didn’t know right now. About herself, about anything.
It seemed like they were taking her to a higher up, in the city, whatever city that may be. Was it a city she’d recognize from her own version of Earth?
Their leader would have answers. Something resurfaced in the shifting sands of Sierra’s mind. An old instinct. Their leader would have more answers, with Old Riley pointed at her center of mass. Stinson wiped the tears from her eyes with her lovely, delicate hands, and tried to hang on to this newfound resolve. This shred of rebellion was already diminishing under the assault of whatever was trying to rewrite her.
But some part of her managed to hang on.
“We’re heeere! Um, let me help you get down.” Stinson was lifted from her ruminations by this exclamation.
She paused, as if lost for a moment. She was on a rooftop.
Looking around, the girl saw a spider’s web of streets flanked by somewhat old fashioned buildings detailed with more modern looking adornments - the city sprawled around her.
“Come along, dear,” Amelie summoned, pointing to an elevator on the far side of the roof. Stinson followed along, obediently.
Departing the elevator, which had had a glass wall facing the city (very nice!), the maid was led into a hallway.
Morgan broke the silence this time. “How, ah, are you feeling?” the blonde pilot asked.
“Feeling better now, thank you,” Stinson replied, in her soft voice that she wouldn’t have recognized just a short time ago.
“She’s been, like, really quiet,” Morgan said, addressing Amelie.
“Well duuh, she’s becoming a Maid (a cute one, too). They’ll only speak when spoken to. Such is their curse.”
“You’re right, um, sorry. Still kinda freaking out about the fact someone came down from space, and they weren’t even wearing one of those funny suits that covered everything.”
“A hazmat suit?”
The girls reached their destination, a door which read;
“NATALIE LUXE, CUSTOMS AND HOSPITALITY OFFICER”
Natalie, sitting behind an ornate wooden desk and swiping her display to the side, was, unsurprisingly, a shapely and attractive woman. This time, a very short one, barely a meter and a third. And with minty green skin. A messy black bob framed her features.
Natalie’s room was a very ordinary office. A calendar showed the month to be may, with certain days marked off for various purposes.
The government goblin addressed her underlings. “Ms. Rose, Ms. deGaine, welcome back. I presume this is our guest?” Amelie and Morgan stood at attention. Turning to the maid, she added,
“you may sit down, dear. I’ll do my best to set your mind at ease.”
The maid curtsied, one of her new abilities, before lowering into a chair that was just as ornate as the desk.
“To put it bluntly,” the green woman started, “you’ve passed the point of no return. Seems you were meant to serve, judging by how the transformation’s progressed.”
The girl in the chair looked down. She saw two somewhat large breasts cradled by frills, and soft thighs emerging from her even frillier skirt. Lilywhite thighhighs painted the rest of her legs down to her low-heeled, simple black shoes. She tried to hang onto some fragment --
“Unfortunately, if you want to leave, you’ll find it impossible. Pinpoint laser shots from the ships above will simply erase you before you leave the thermosphere. It’s unfair. I know --”
The officer’s words hardly registered.It was time to act. The maid, no, Stinson -- that’s right, she was Ssssssss….Sierra? Stinson! Badass smuggler! -- struggled to her feet, and kicked back the chair. Or tried to, anyway. It may have budged slightly. Morgan let out a short yelp. Reaching into the purse she apparently had now, Stinson pulled out Old Riley, and trained the blaster on Ms. Luxe. The short woman’s eyes widened.
But what now? Her arms quaked like twin aspens and her fingers seemed to petrify on the spot. No way, the distraught maid realized, no way she could pull the trigger. She’d just have to make them think she could, right? But she couldn’t. This was a violation of everything she now stood for, engineered by a person she was no longer.
“Mmp,” she demanded, with no authority whatsoever. It was no good. She couldn’t bring herself to speak out of turn.
“Put the gun down, dear,” Natalie Luxe had regained her composure. Her initial surprise had reshaped into mild amusement. And Morgan, standing behind the rebellious girl, had a laser focus on the situation, prepared to pistol whip her (again) if necessary.
The maid had been given an order. She gradually contracted, arms lowering to the ground. A practiced finger flipped the safety on, and Old Riley landed with a soft thud. Stinson, whoever that was, slumped back in the chair, before pivoting forward to replace her head in her hands. The delicate servant resumed her sobs, and shudders racked her slight frame.
Silence reigned for a short while, in a room that was suddenly too small. Amelie glanced uncomfortably at the crumpled servant and then at her boss. She picked up the blaster, and handed it to her superior. The gun went into a drawer, locked by a small brass key. Natalie looked up to address her guest once more.
“Speak your mind, girl -- but no funny business. I understand desperation, but I won’t be so lenient the second time.”
Stinson blinked red-rimmed eyes and began speaking in dulcet, quivering tones.
“W-what’s happ-pening to m-me? Why am...why is...wasn’t I…” the maid trailed off.
“Your particular transformation can be very intense. If one’s temperament is not already suited to cheerful service, it is rewritten. And these changes are supposed to happen over the course of a few months when the girl turns eighteen -- seems your change felt the need to make up for lost time.”
“I’m...I’m st-still young, though. J-just 23…” she’d been running her Discreet Delivery Service for a little under seven years. But hadn’t it been longer than that? It was hard to say. Her last birthday she turned...twenty-something. Those memories fluttered away, replaced by the fact of her still being in her prime.
“I’m sure. Now lass, I’m sure your memories are a bit hazy right now, but, can you tell me your name?”
“Sierra…” she managed.
“Many girls take on a new name once they transform,” Ms. Luxe said. Amelie grinned self-consciously. The woman at the desk continued. “Seems you already had one picked out. Splendid, I’ll get that in the books. You’ll get your provisional visa in a few days. Now if I may, I’d like to give you some good news. Maids are treated quite well around here, and potential owne -- er, employers, are carefully vetted to make sure you won’t be mistreated. And your kind always enjoys what they do.”
Sierra relaxed somewhat. Her pathetic hostage-taking attempt was starting to seem like a distant and unpleasant memory. Everything was feeling a little more ok, a little more normal. Even if that made no sense.
“Now...if I may, and I believe I may, I have another question for you,” Ms. Luxe began, seriously, looking Sierra directly in the eyes.
“The rare visitor who crashlands on our little world doesn’t do it because she doesn't know the price of her visit. She lands here because she’s running from something. Now I ask you, Sierra, what were you running from?”
Ah, there was the question. Sierra would carefully word her answer, leave out critical details that could land her in more trouble.
“It was the Talerian military, ma’am. I had stolen the Talerian emperor’s own seal for a client who paid half in advance, quite a tidy sum I might add. I was to take the cargo to Terra 223...T(Hu)-223 if you want to get technical, and present it to a local warlord. I am uncertain of his connection, if any, to Talerian nobility. I didn’t ask. Now, emperorship is a mainly ceremonial role in Taleria, but the imperial seal is hugely important to their culture, so stealing it was no mean feat...I planned this heist for weeks…” Sierra trailed off. Her explanation hadn’t gone as planned. The maid looked around sheepishly.
You could hear a pin drop in Ms. Luxe’s office, which seemed even smaller than before. Ms. Luxe had eyes as wide as dinner plates, and looked at Ms. Rose and Ms. deGaine, who were looking at each other, before all three pairs of eyes fell on the maid in the hot seat.
Whoops. Sierra blushed furiously, staring at a random speck on the floor.
“Woow…” Morgan breathed, breaking the silence.
“I love a good diplomatic crisis…” Natalie added.
Sierra felt like she was at the bottom of the ocean. Her cheeks were practically burning from embarrassment and shame. Was she...going to start a war? The realization battered and assaulted her in waves. Had she endangered these people, these people who had been...nothing but nice to her, had shown her mercy after she threatened them…
They’d all been so nice to her…
“I guess some nice men in hazard suits will be coming to rescue their artifact, in any event,” Amelie piped up.
“Y’mean hazmat suits?” Morgan wondered aloud.
“I’m sure it’ll all work out,” Amelie said, placing a hand on the shell-shocked maid’s trembling shoulder.
“How’d ya do it?”
“Not now, Morgan.” The demoness clapped her associate on the back of her head. “We’ll keep you safe, Sierra. Those actions were those of a remorseless outlaw, which you very obviously aren’t. You’re just an innocent maid.”
“As long as concealing the truth doesn’t put us on another multiversal superpower’s bad side,” Ms. Luxe sighed. “Anything to add, Ms. Sierra?”
“Actually ma’am, if I may,” Sierra started. “The Talerian empire doesn’t actually stretch outside of their home planet. They certainly aren’t all-encompassing like the Federation Of 48 is.”
“Ha. Hahaaa…” the green woman started laughing, which crescendoed towards mania. Regaining composure, she added, “I hope that’s true for your sake, girl. Now let’s have Amelie show you your quarters for the time being, you must be tired.
The maid nodded vigorously.
“My humblest thanks for your hospitality, ma’am.”
“It’s in the name. Enjoy your stay, and don’t shoot anyone. And Ms. deGaine? Please relocate the jet so the rooftop is clear once more...”
Amelie sashayed down the hall, as Sierra plodded after her.
“That went pretty well, I’d say!” Amelie chuckled. Sierra kept her eyes downcast, obediently trailing the lilac girl bouncing along. Amelie’s tail whipped back and forth. Maybe the strangest thing about all this, Sierra mused, was the presence of mundane bureaucracy in this fetish fever dream she was suddenly living. Stranger still that her mind was starting to normalize it. Sierra dully wondered if she should be trying to fight the changes. But despite everything...it felt nice. Had this...transformation...put these thoughts into her head? After everything, she felt relieved. Like she’d found herself after years and years of inward deception, recklessness, and an attitude which had been a continuous danger to her wellbeing.
A distant voice in her head voiced protest. This is fake. These thoughts aren’t yours. They’re messing with your head! Making you into something you’re not! S.….n Stinson bows to no one!
Who bowed to no one? Sierra would bow, if they wanted her to.
“Here we are! We’ll hold onto that seal for you, for the time being. I imagine an extraction team will probably retrieve it. No big deal. Or maybe they’ll get stuck here. I mean, whatever, right? Can’t they just make another one?”
Sierra tried not to think about it. Multidimensional diplomacy was the field of better women than her.
Her room was nice. Plain, white, uncluttered. A full sized bed was tucked in the corner, flanked by a minimally-designed dresser. The dresser contained select items from her ship. She had a ship right? But what would a maid need one for? The dresser also contained panties and other underthings -- that was a relief. She hoped she could figure out how to put a bra on. Or was that something she already knew, now?
Sierra continued looking around. She had a closet across from her bed. It had maid’s dresses hung up. Another wall hosted a desk with a chair placed in front. A single red rose sat in a vase on the desk, breaking up the white somewhat. There was a single poster on the same wall, with a picture of a catgirl hanging onto a branch. It was captioned “Hang in there!”.
Sierra stepped into the attached bathroom, dominated by the same white. It had bathroom stuff; a toilet, a shower, a sink, a mirror.
Time to see the damage, Sierra decided. She had been bracing for this encounter. The maid breathed in, and then out.
She looked...cute. Adorable, even. Sierra tentatively smiled at a face with a button nose, narrow but full lips, and expressive brown eyes. Her hair, she had distant memories of it being cut short, to be out of the way. Now, a neat, medium-blonde, and shoulder length bob framed her face. It came outward slightly, like a bell, before tapering back inward at the end. From the neck down, things got a bit stranger. Part of her was unfamiliar with the generous bosom she now possessed. Another part of her insisted it was bestowed naturally upon her by puberty, and enhanced by her own Change. They were a feature of hers either way, she decided.
Below that, a black corset gave way to a black skirt with white frills and a tiny apron. The skirt barely reached mid-thigh, but was at least layered. It flared out at an angle from her waist. She was the stereotypical maid, all right. In this world of goblins, succubi...Morgan was something closer to normal at least...Sierra was just a regular girl in a pretty dress. A dress with connotations. Would strangers on the street order her around? Sierra attempted to silence the excitement she felt at that prospect, to no avail.
She had a pleasing hourglass of a body underneath her dress, but not the bottom-heavy look Amelie proudly presented. She’d blend in perfectly well. At least until she opened her mouth. But even then, maybe sounding like a bad historical reenactor was a feature of maids in general. No...she sounded fine. Polite, and dignified.
The tired girl strolled back into the bedroom, shucking her clothes, getting into bed, frowning at the pieces she’d left on the floor, getting out of bed, folding her used laundry, placing them tidily into a provided hamper, looking around one last time.
She crawled into bed once more, and fell asleep immediately.
“Open the X-Dim comms. Get me TalGov ground control. Make sure the channel is secure.”
“Yes, sir.” A hologram flickered to life, facing the bridge. A Talerian agent in official dress greeted the shipmaster, who began speaking.
“We have...a situation. Regarding His Majesty’s Seal. Reacquisition may prove to be...difficult.”