The Girl Who Fell From The Sky -- An Earth 721 Story

Chapter 2

by AngelMoon__

Tags: #cw:noncon #cw:sexual_assault #f/f #forced_feminization #lamia #maid #mind_control #scifi #accidental_conditioning #but_also_angst #clothing #conditioning #did_I_mention_monstergirls #Earth721 #feminization #fluffy #hurt/comfort #imperialism #maid_is_a_condition_now #maidification #monstergirl #more_cw_tags_later #transformation #whoops_my_tags_are_out_of_order

Enter the Love Interest(tm)!

Sierra fell into a rhythm. The city spread outward below her. The task was at hand, and she knew what she must do.

The windows must be cleaned. It was imperative. 

One arm made the motions as Sierra gazed out at the buildings below. Morgan had described the architecture as “neoneobaroque” before getting distracted by a passing bird. Neon seemed to be in fashion, but not to an absurd degree. Advertisements and notices flitted about gaily on intangible display screens.

The women in the Customs and Hospitality Department had the maid doing various maid tasks. Sierra realized she was enjoying the cleaning. It took her mind off of things.

“Maid Sierra.”

“Ma’am,” Sierra stood at attention. Ms. Sophie Capet, a colleague of Ms. Luxe and a tall, white-haired woman with fox ears, addressed the maid, handing her a transponder.

“We’ve decided you should get the chance to explore a bit. Do not leave city limits, and use this device to have us pick you up before 10 tonight. That will be your curfew. Do not lose it, or you’ll get in trouble. It has a tracker that we can cross examine with another tracker in your clothes, so we’ll know.”

Sierra looked at the windows and then back at her superior. Still so much work to be done, but it couldn’t be helped.

“Yes ma’am. Thank you ma’am. I’ll be sure to stay out of trouble,” the former outlaw said. She curtsied, and turned towards the elevator. It was two p.m. now, and the rest of the day was hers. It was so kind of her masters to bestow free time on her like this! Sierra walked on air, a bit overwhelmed by the possibilities.

Sierra left the gleaming tower behind, casting a glance at it before heading off. There were three flags at varying heights -- one had some variety of a black eagle on a yellow background. The other two bore combinations of colored bars -- one had four colors, while the other had five rows with an additional white column bracing at the innermost section.

Sierra marveled at the people travelling about. All sorts of colors and sizes. Was that what the flags represented? Passerby flitted by to and from various destinations, unconcerned by one more maid wandering the busy streets. She occasionally locked eyes with others clad in frilly black and white dresses, who smiled shyly at her before hurrying along. Members occupying the same caste in this strange world. She grinned demurely back at them.

Sierra continued on, looking around. She saw large...glass balls? Filled with water, in the middle of an open, cobblestone-laden city square. Their purpose was quickly made evident -- she watched a young woman with grey skin and a shark’s fin peeking her head out of one of the bubbles as she talked to a woman with slick fur like an otter. Two more girls stood close by -- they looked to be as *traditionally* human as Sierra, but they wore bizarre and colorful sci-fi outfits with glowing neon markings and small hovering extremities like wings. The maid privately wondered how they floated. Elsewhere a girl with four legs and four arms seemed to be remarkably invested in an ice cream cone. Another person that stuck out was the woman with gigantic feathery wings, who draped them around her like a cloak.

The off-duty cleaning woman felt a rumble in her gut. She hadn’t eaten, she realized, not since she had learned this morning that she was actually a pretty good cook (or good at following basic recipes, at least). That had been around nine in the morning. Sierra ducked into the first restaurant she saw, an adorable little cafe with flower pots in the windowsills. 

“What can the fair maidens of Cafe Gelatina do for you today, miss?” the woman behind the counter looked directly at Sierra with eyes that might not actually be eyes. They were the same uniform vermilion color as the rest of her. She had the appearance of the Venus of Willendorf, if the Venus of Willendorf had been carved out of jell-o. Sierra stared at the gooey shopkeeper before blushing at her own impoliteness.

“Um...what do you recommend, ma’am? I’m a bit of a foreigner in these parts.”

“Ahaha, you’re just too cute!” the slime bubbled. “Our humble restaurant’s specialty would definitely be my lovely wife’s omelettes!” the woman directed a pseudopod at another googirl working in the room behind her.

“Elssasser art,” she added.

“That would be perfect, thank you ma’am.” Sierra fished in her purse for a moment. Ah, there it was. Sierra fished a bill out of her bag, part of the allowance her impromptu hosts had given her. She placed the paper money into the slimy woman’s outstretched ‘hand’, where it melted into her body before rematerializing out of another of her ‘hands’ in front of an open cash register. It had been a long time since Sierra had handled any sort of tangible currency. Holocredit held no sway here, it seemed. Or maybe it did. But not exclusively. Several coins dropped out of the cashier’s palm and fell into Sierra’s.

“Discount for your service, sweetheart.” Indeed, Sierra noticed a sign on the menu that said, “Maids Get a %20 Discount!!!”. Several of the tables, the girl noticed, were in fact populated by a number of frilly-dressed individuals. It drew business, it seemed. Sierra smiled and curtsied, still quietly shocked at how nice everyone was to her, before finding a table. She had never been a welcome face in...in...um...her old life. She was just a necessary factor in a deal. Here she...was in a subservient class, it seemed, but a valued one. A random memory surfaced; all the times Sierra had to make a bed in her ship’s cargo bay because public places could attract the wrong people. Here they’d just given her a room.

For free!

Sierra was broken from her reverie by the arrival of her meal. She examined the eggy mass, flecked with bits of ham, onion, and basil. It tasted like the life she’d been missing out on -- the comfort she’d always deprived herself of while running stolen goods. Why did she never treat herself with the profits she had made? Sierra took another emphatic bite. Hopefully no one would notice the girl in the corner, tears welling in her eyes over an omelette. 

Refreshed, Sierra continued to wander the streets for a while. It was hard to get lost -- the government building she was living in was a sleek superstructure that dwarfed its surroundings. It was a grand tower that Sierra imagined could probably be seen from any part of the city. She eventually came to a park, and planted herself on a bench. She watched some children, playing some game only they knew the rules for. The children looked...oddly normal. Normal little girls, wearing normal clothes. A far cry from what the adults wore. Some of the adults, anyway. Everyone seemed to have something eye catching, but some women Sierra had seen donned a more modest version of weird. Like the person in a feathery black long coat supervising the kids, or the woman in the voluminous ball gown next to her. At least some people wouldn’t freeze to death when the winter came.

Sierra shifted in her seat, and realized she needed to pee. A squat building near the center of the park held what she needed. Sierra gawked at the bathrooms, for which there were four doors. The first one had a venus symbol, nothing strange. The second had the same symbol, but with the mars arrow emerging from it as well. The third door opened, and a black haired girl...slithered out of it. The woman had no legs, somewhat like the owners of the cafe she’d gone to, but the similarities ended there. Instead her lower body was that of a giant snake, like the Lamia of myth. 

The snake woman ruffled Sierra’s hair as she passed.

“Eh?” Had this girl patted her head right after leaving the bathroom? Sierra’s face reddened.

“Ah, sorry...I do stuff without thinking sometimes,” the snake announced. Sierra had expected her to hold the S’s in her speech, but the Lamia-girl had no such accent.

“You just looked so cute gawking dumbly at the bathrooms like that.” This snake certainly had no problems speaking her mind. Sierra thought about glaring at her, but that seemed too confrontational.

“I-I’ll j-just be going…” Sierra stuttered, fleeing through the first door. The snake coiled in place, evidently waiting for her prey to return.

The bathroom was a normal bathroom. Sierra finished her business and washed up. The snake girl was still there when she got back outside, leading Sierra’s blush to return as she looked at the ground.

“Hey, I didn’t wanna make you uncomfortable. My name’s Elaine.” The serpentine woman named Elaine reached a hand down towards the maid, an offer of peace.

“I’m Sierra...sorry for running off like that...it was impolite of me. Anyway, I’m kind of new around here.”

“Yeesh, so formal. I forget how you girls are sometimes,” Elaine mused from the throne of her coils. “Y’said you were new, right? I can show you around, if you like. Give you the grand tour. I’ve lived here since I still had legs.”

That brought up several questions Sierra chose to suppress for the moment. She pondered the invitation. Was it wise to follow this stranger? She just got here, after all. It was likely best to politely decline.

“Um...sure thing, ma’am.” 

Or she could do that.

“Really? I mean…” the serpent looked her up and down. “I guess you wouldn’t say no if you didn’t have to. I just don’t have anything better to do, I uh…” she continued, trailing off. She was kind of cute, Sierra had to admit. Well, a lot of people here were, but…

Sierra gave the snake an appraising look of her own. She was medium-dark skinned from the waist up, and had long and straight black hair. It was kind of stringy, and a loose strand draped over her left eye. Below the waist was an endless stream of greenish brown scales, small and closely set, and woven in naturalistic patterns. She had at least a foot on Sierra in her current position. Sierra silently cursed herself, as she realized Elaine was waiting for a follow up response. Well, she’d said yes already...

“I would like to learn more about my surroundings, ma’am. I accept your invitation.” Sierra reinforced her willingness with a curtsy.

Elaine grinned at her, and drew herself up even taller before beginning her preamble.

“We are standing in the Friedengarten --or Peace Park, if you will -- of Neue Aachen. Now, old Aachen was, of course, destroyed in the war…”

Ah yes. The war, which Sierra must have slept through the classes on. She also noticed that her universal translator was lapsing on some of what Elaine was saying, but that tended to happen with names. Detecting silence from the maid looking at her, Elaine continued on.

To our south, we can see the Bundeshalle towering above us, seat of government for the Westrhein Prefecture, which is itself a division of blah-dy blah blaaaah…” Elaine cut the historian voice for the time being.

“So yeah, it’s a city. Capital of this region, soo, where most foreigners end up.” At that, she booped Sierra on the nose. 

“If we continue down this boulevard, you’ll find some of my favorite restaurants...you eaten yet today, Sora?”

“It’s Sierra, ma’am. And yes. I had the most wonderful omelette…”

“Ah, ‘the most wonderful omelette!’ Oh well. Carrying on…”

The two carried on for a while, down winding streets and footpaths.

“Now, are there any questions, class?” Elaine asked, bringing back her historian voice. Sierra had formulated a question during their walking tour, which she was thankful for the opportunity to finally ask.

“Where are all the cars?”

Elaine stopped.

“Caah..oh. Yeah. Ummm. I mean, they exist. North America never completely got rid of them. But most of them are scrap. Personal autos are, as it turns out, not a sustainable thing when your world is cut off from the outside multiverse.” At that, Elaine reached up and waved dismissively at the sky. “We still have buses and stuff...And the government operated taxi service, but those can only travel the roads that the buses already do, so. Yknow.”

“I suppose that makes sense. I just remember them being everywhere where I come from. On the ground, traveling skylanes…”

Elaine whipped around at that, with a look of confusion.

“Sooo...when you said you’re not from around here, what ‘here’ exactly did you mean?”

The maid had once again lowered herself into the hot seat.

“I...crash landed here. From...space. That was a rather strange day, if I’m being honest.”

“Well maids are known for being honest,” the serpent muttered to herself. Her eyes widened at the realization.

“You came. From up there? Through the blockade?”

“I was being chased by some...unfriendly people. I landed here because I thought I could hide --”

“What’ser home planet like? Didja look different before? Didja get shot at while flying down? D’you have a spaceship, still? Why were people chasing you? Are...people out there...like us?” At that last question, the demi-human gestured at herself.

“Please gather yourself, ma’am. I can explain everything.”

Sierra explained everything.

“I...wow.”

Sierra nodded, solemnly.

“Precious space girl! You’ve...seen some shit,” was Elaine’s followup. “And it sounded like you were a badass, too. What happened?”

The girls exchanged looks.

“Ah...yeah, sorry,” Elaine chuckled uncomfortably. “Maybe that was rude.”

“Don’t feel too bad, ma’am. It’s a question I asked myself a number of times. I’ve come to accept what’s happened, though. I...think...I think I can be happy here.” the maid smiled shyly at the serpentine woman. Elaine blushed, for just a moment, before making a response.

“It’s sooooo boring here though! Save for, y’know, the constant existential threat of orbital bombardment once this “Federation” grows bored of us.”

Sierra looked at Elaine, eyes wide, before looking back at the ground.

“I don’t...I don’t want this place to be destroyed. I’m really starting to like it here.” The tears were suddenly back.

“Hey. Heeey! Please, don’t cry. It’ll never happen, right? The Federation is, like, democratic or something, aren’t they? So how d’you explain killing off a whole planet of sapients to your voter base?”

“Genocides have been carried out by nobler causes,” the maid replied, turning away.

“Hm.”

Elaine sat on that one for a moment.

“Look, there’s no reason to worry anyway. The president has said a buncha times that there’s a plan if shit hits the fan (hahey, that rhymes). And you and me can’t do anything about it, right? All we can do is live our lives. I’m sorry….I didn’t mean to get so serious all’uva sudden. Shared existential crises are usually second date material, right?”

Sierra giggled a bit at that, and wiped away her tears. Was this a date?

“Look...so I gotta get home and make myself something to eat. I’m glad I got to meet you.” Following that up, Elaine drew herself up and added in her most dramatic voice, “It’s Been A Pleasure, Sierra!”

“It truly has, ma’am. We’ll meet again soon, I’m sure.” Sierra curtsied and watched the Lamia depart. 

The sun was starting to set, but Sierra still had a couple of hours of free time left. She was alone again, and kind of bored. If she was being honest with herself. Looking around, she was far from the city center where she had started. This area looked to be residential; maybe Elaine lived around here? The Bundeshalle was a blip in the distance, though it still dominated the skyline. Sierra felt around for her metropass. Elaine had taught her that she was never lost as long as she could find the nearest metro station. The one closest to her seemed about two blocks away, if the signs were accurate.
The stations in the city center were almost all underground. This one, in the suburbs, was raised instead. Sierra wondered if Elaine ever had trouble climbing the stairs, and tittered softly as she climbed the stairs herself.

The ride home was uneventful. Sierra’s car was empty, save for some chatty college girls on the way back to their flat. The air reeked of booze as the girls cheerfully discussed their exploits in bed. Sierra didn’t care too much for alcohol -- she’d never been able to hold her liquor well. She felt it was best to leave the drinking to other people. In her...old line of work it inevitably led to violence and stupidity. She could hold her own in a dogfight, but not when drunk. One mishap that robbed her of her life savings at 20, and she had sworn the stuff off for good.

“You’re back early,” Amelie said when they passed each other in the hall. “I was just headed home for the day. You have fun?”

“I made a friend.”

“Ahhh, to wake up and smell the hormones…” Amelie winked at her. Was it the way she’d said it? “Anyway, you should be sure to get some rest. You’re a bit of an oddity, and the girls downstairs wanted to run some tests.”

“Certainly.”

“Thanks for not running and screaming when I said that. You know how it can be.” Seeing Sierra’s expression, Amelie added “kidding, kidding. Have a good night.” The friendly demon disappeared behind the elevator door.

It soon dawned on Sierra that she was alone on her floor. Proceeding to the lobby, Sierra stood in front of a screen, announcing

“Maid Sierra, reporting home for the night.” The screen displayed a thank you message, showing the time of her arrival, before the whole display disappeared back into the floor. Sierra huffed when she realized that reporting in cut her access to the elevator until morning. 

The next morning proceeded much in the same way.

“Report, Maid Sierra,” Ms. Luxe ordered, around 2:00 pm. 

“I have cleaned the main dining hall of the lower level commissary, ma’am!” Sierra was starting to learn the layout of the Customs and Hospitality floor. From the elevators, there were two accessible levels, the upper one reachable from a staircase or an Elaine-friendly ramp. The lower level, to Sierra’s surprise, had basic living amenities, including a kitchen and a cafeteria. An expansive lobby covered both levels as something of a shallow atrium. From the upper area, offices and meeting rooms were accessible.

“Good job,” Ms. Luxe said. Sierra felt a warm feeling in her chest when she said that, perhaps a conditioned response to praise.

Or maybe she was just happy to do a good job?

“You’re free for the rest of the day, just be back by 10; same as yesterday.”

“Thank you, ma’am!”

“Just remember, you are not permitted to leave the city. Have a nice day.”

“Understood, ma’am.”

Sierra found herself in the Friedengarten once more. A different set of children inhabited the playground, under the watchful eyes of a different set of chaperones. In the distance, a girl with fur covered skin and wolf-like features sold passerby ice cream and coffee drinks from a stand. The weather was just as nice as it had been the day before. 

Same time, same place...Sierra couldn’t help but to wonder if Elaine would appear again. Sure enough, Sierra saw her, coiled in a stationary position and checking some sort of pocket display. Sierra gradually started to drift in her direction. Taking notice, Elaine grinned and gave a short wave.

“A person I’ve met before who didn’t immediately head the other direction. A new day is dawning at last…” Elaine put her device away, and stretched her entire body, which was a site to see. “How’re you doing, Sierra?”

“I am well, ma’am, thank you for asking. Are you out to enjoy the weather as well?”

“Ehhh...something like that. My roommate’s gotta school project and that means the world will end if I distract her at all, so I’m...out and about.”

“Do you enjoy visiting the park ma’am?”

“I come here to play a game, y’see. I go to public places and see how well I can avoid people. It’s a pastime…”

Sierra was taken aback.

“Ah...I see then,” she said, turning away.

“Oh...yeah, I guess that sounded pretty bad…” Elaine briefly placed a hand on her forehead. “Uh...got any plans?”

“I am free until 10:00 pm, just as yesterday,” Sierra said. “But I do not wish to interrupt your game, ma’am.”

“Oh c’mon, that was obviously a joke.”

“A joke...I understand now, ma’am. My apologies. I have come to expect jokes to involve humor.” Sierra was momentarily stunned at the words that came out of her mouth. Blatant disrespect towards her better. But Elaine laughed, and kept laughing for a good moment.

“Wow...verbal beatdown from a maid!” she chuckled. “I don’t know what to say...other than…” she continued giggling, as Sierra turned red.

“I’m v-very sorry, ma’am…” she said, giving a low bow.

“No, that was great,” Elaine responded, jubilant. “And I totally deserved it. Wanna grab a bite?”

Sierra...was hungry, she had to admit.

“I would like that, ma’am,” she nodded.

They proceeded along pedestrian streets.

“Let’s *not* go there,” Elaine said, pointing at a vaguely Mediterrenean themed fast food place. “I work there,” she stage-whispered.

“Do you enjoy providing a good meal to people, ma’am?”

“No.” They both chuckled.

Elaine ended up leading them to a combination deli and bakery on a street corner. It was partially connected to what appeared to be a covered alleyway, lined with small shops.

“I hope you’re cool with something...um...pretty basic. I wanna treat you, but I’m also poor,” she chuckled self-consciously.

“I’m happy to pay for myself, ma’am.”

“Nope! Fooooorbidden! You are a guest in MY city,” Elaine exclaimed in a grandiose manner. “I like this place, cuz you can pick whatever meat you want, and other things, too, but it’s also not fast food, y’know? It’s a…” Elaine trailed off, searching for the word. “Help me out here, Sierra…”

“It’s a New York style deli, ma’am?”

“Yeeeeaah, that’s it. Big obnoxious American-sized portions for a decent price. Shall we?”

Sierra made a valiant effort to finish her sandwich, but it seemed she was destined to have leftovers.

“How’s yours?” Elaine asked.

“It’s very good, ma’am,” Sierra replied, nodding enthusiastically. Something about it made her...nostalgic, though her memories remained in a state of flux. 

“It’s in between work and my metro stop, so I’m a pretty frequent customer.” Elaine looked at Sierra suddenly, as if she’d just realized something.

“You should definitely try one of their pastries.”

“I must admit that I’m struggling to finish this sandwich, and I’d hate to spend any more of your money,” Sierra shook her head. Elaine seemed to debate on several responses, for just a moment.

“Fiiiiiine,” she relented. For a while they focused on eating, before Elaine broke the silence once more. “Tell me about your old life,” she said, in a hushed and excited tone.

“My memories have not all returned yet, but I’ll recall what I can.” She poured over what she was able to remember, before continuing. “My father died when I was young. He was...also a smuggler, I believe. It broke my mother’s heart when I announced my plans to follow in his career path. I feel ashamed of it now, but...I was a different person back then. I left, one day, taking my dad’s gun...and not much else.”

“You had a gun? Wait, of course you had a gun…” Elaine asked and answered. “Do you still have a gun?” Sierra considered the question, recalling the reckless maneuver she’d pulled against Ms. Luxe. She shook her head.

“I do not, ma’am. And that is fine with me. I no longer desire such things.” 

Elaine gave her a look, but eventually nodded.

“Fair enough, fair enough…” Elaine waited for a moment, before her eyes lit back up. “Get into any cool space battles?”

“Inevitably, ma’am. My illegal deliveries were frustrated by Federation patrols and other pirates alike. My ship was also my home, so I always had to take the utmost care.” Sierra sighed, wistfully. “It seems like so much risk for not much reward, now…”

“Nah, that’s awesome! This is the kind of stuff you only see in games and shit!”

“I did...horrible things…” Sierra said in a somber tone. “It was not a life to be glorified. I am better off as I am now.” Sierra brightened somewhat. “What about you, ma’am? Where has your life taken you?”

“To a hole in the wall with a cute girl,” Elaine chuckled. Sierra blushed. “In all seriousness? My life’s been boring. Disappointing. Tried college, didn’t work out. My situation is stable for the time being, but I’d really like to go out and see stuff. Other cities and continents. Hell, the Federation stuff we get on tv sometimes makes me wonder what’s really up there, more than anything. I know there are other Earths, but I wanna know what there is besides those, too. I can’t begin to understand the fifth-dimensional transversal stuff they talk about sometimes.”

“My ship could perform dimensional hops, and I don’t completely understand it either.”

“Holy fuck, that’s so cool…” Elaine said, looking at the maid in wonder. “Sucks that you’re trapped here forever.”

“As I said, ma’am, I like it here,” Sierra said, completely sincere. “I’m willing to treat this as a new beginning, a chance to live my life without getting shot at. And I’m happy to already be meeting people.” She smiled at the serpentine woman who was in the process of finishing her sandwich. Elaine cleared her throat.

“An optimist, huh?”

“When it makes sense, ma’am.”

Elaine finally went to pay the bill after they’d talked for awhile longer. 

“Pretty good date, I’d say. No one died, the food was good...an overall positive experience.”

Sierra had no real reason to dispute the “date” part of that statement.

“I...enjoyed myself too, ma’am.”

“We should do this again, huh?”

“That is a fine proposal. I’d be happy to.” 

Elaine fiddled with her bag, pulling out a small device.

“Hey, uh...you got a contact? Like a phone, holosphere account, anything like that?” 

Sierra frowned. Did she? Back on her ship, maybe...wherever that was. Sierra fiddled through her own bag, but the only thing she had was her tracker, which didn’t seem to have internet access anyway.

“I’m deeply sorry...I don’t believe so,” Sierra said, blushing.

“Well that’s annoying...hmmm…” Elaine grabbed a scrap of paper, and wrote some things down. “Here. When you do, contact me with any of these.” There were a number of contacts, for things ranging from a traditional phone number to whatever that holosphere she’d mentioned was.

“I appreciate it, ma’am.”

“I...ok, gotta say something. The ma’am thing was kind of cute at first, but you don’t have to call me that. Eliane works perfectly well.”

“I understand, ma--” Sierra started giggling. “I mean...maaaaa….”

“We’ll work on it. Anyway, I gotta get going, but I’m glad I was able to see you again. I...like being around you. There...I said it. We’ll keep in touch, ok?”

“Certainly, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm-- Ahem. Yes, certainly.”

Sierra returned to the Bundeshalle after a few more hours of wandering and people watching. 

“Maid Sierra, reporting home for the night.” The display showed the time as being just a little after seven -- the curfew certainly didn’t seem like it was about to become an issue with her current schedule. Sierra seemed to be alone once more on the lower level, at least. She wandered into the lobby.

Not tired yet, the maid sat down on a couch in front of a video screen that was showing the news. Moving her arm up or down in front of the display changed the channel, she quickly realized, and she proceeded to amuse herself by doing that for a few minutes.

“The President has recently said that…”

“Next Week on Interesting Facts About Spidergirls…”

“Are you tired of boring, mundane orgasms?”

“The game now enters its 89th minute with zero goals scored…”

“Officials from the distant Empire of Taleria have…”

Sierra sat up. The screen showed a centuaress of some sort, labelled as a diplomat of something called the World Government, in a virtual meeting room with two military uniformed personnel. They had the crimson and gold crest Sierra had come to dread seeing emblazoned on their shoulders. The headline stated “PRICELESS INTERSTELLAR ARTIFACT REPORTEDLY TAKEN DOWN TO THE SURFACE OF EARTH”. Sierra supposed it made sense that there was only one Earth for most of these people. 

“Talerian officers are demanding justice be served by the fugitive apparently in possession of the artifact, some sort of royal seal. The fugitive was last seen descending to the planet and violating quarantine, allegedly to evade capture. It is assumed that this fugitive, who the Talerians call Soren Stinson, will not be allowed to leave the surface as per the quarantine agreements…”

Soren. Soren? Oh. That was her. She was probably in trouble, she figured, slumping back into the couch. The news report continued on, where a planetside representative was speaking.

“It is our belief that justice has already been served for Ms. Stinson. Indeed, she is being kept under close surveillance, and her days of smuggling are very much over. For all intents and purposes, Ms. Stinson may as well be considered dead by the honorable Talerian Empire, as she will not be interfering with them at any point in the future.”

Yeah, go This Person!

“Both parties are now planning a safe return of the Talerian royal emblem, which the Federation has announced it will mediate.” A man now appeared on screen; that vanishingly rare breed in these parts.

“We fully intend to see this royal seal rightfully returned to the Talerians, but we must figure out how this can be done with no risk of infection. We of the Forty-Eight Planet Federation are in close contact with both...governments, and we are coordinating a plan for the seal’s secure delivery.”

“Debates continue on how the case of Ms. Stinson should be handled. The local government office that has Stinson in custody has not yet reached out for comment.”

Sierra turned the TV off. She suddenly felt very tired.

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