Ellie awoke to the friendly yet ominous sound of a door closing. For some reason she expected her head to feel groggy and wobbly but she was… fine? What was the last thing she could remember? She had been aboard the Andromeda’s Terror, fighting the good fight for Terran liberation. There had been an alarm. She had rushed for her gas mask but… nothing. She couldn’t remember what happened next, but she could hazard a guess. The weeds.
But that did not explain what was going on here. She was supposed to be tied to a bed somewhere, with a collar wrapped around her neck and an alien weed whispering sweet lies into her ears before she destroyed her mind.
But instead she was here. Still wearing her Navy uniform and no contract to be found. Where was here anyway? She decided to look around.
There were plants everywhere. Vines crawled up every wall, flowers of all colors were everywhere and while there was definitely something not entirely organic underneath it was all entirely overgrown. This place had been overgrown, and Ellie had a sinking feeling it had been done entirely on purpose and that somewhere in that forest was an apex predator.
She needed to get out of here. A door rested behind her but there seemed to be no way to get it open. A big, friendly looking pad clung to the wall beside of the door, but Ellie stayed away from it. There had to be some kind of safety release. They wouldn’t just lock her in here, right? Of Course they would. They were evil conquerors from another galaxy. At this point she only existed for their entertainment.
Having not found any other way out she finally approached the pad and put her palm against it.
“I am sorry cutie, it’s not safe for you to leave the hab alone. Better go find your owner!” An obnoxiously cheery voice declared from somewhere between the obscuring plant matter.
“I’m not owned.” Ellie grumbled to herself.
“Sure you are, cutie!” The cheery voice was obviously not aware that Ellie had not been talking to it.
“Besides, there is nobody else here!” This time Ellie was talking to the overly cheery hab.
“Sure there is, I’m here, and so is your mistress!” That reveal made Ellie shiver. Somewhere in this was a creature that supposedly owned her.
But Ellie wasn’t one to run and hide. She was a proud free Terran and would not back down from a fucking weed. “Oh, the plant is here is it?” She took a step towards the dim overgrowth. “Hey! Weed! Why are you hiding? Afraid of a little terran rebel? I thought you overgrown petunias were supposed to be alien overlords. Come out then, face me!” There was nothing. No answer from anywhere.
Ellie soon sank into boredom from waiting and slumped back down against the thoroughly locked door.
“Hey! Cheery disembodied voice! There is no food around here!” Ellie whined an unknown amount of time later.
“Sure there is cutie! You just have to ask!” The obnoxious voice responded from dirt knows where.
“Then give me some ration bars.”
“What’s the magic wooooord?”
Ellie slumped back against the door, with an annoyed grumble. There was no way she would sink so low as to beg whatever that voice was for food.
Her tummy disagreed with a rumbling of hunger.
Growing steadily louder.
“Please! Can I have my ration bars?” She finally yelled, after what she considered to be an appropriate time of resisting but in actuality was just a few minutes.
“Good girl!” A vine slowly came down from the roof, with a bright red berry on the tip.
“I’m not a good girl, and what is this? I asked nicely, can I please have my ration bars now?” Ellie was getting seriously fed up with this place and that voice.
“No!” The voice had definitely not been happier to say anything ever.
Ellie just groaned in frustration.
“A terran Navy ration bar does not make a proper meal, cutie, now enjoy your treat. Dinner will be ready soon.”
Ellie snagged the berry from the vine, more out of frustration than anything else, and aggressively popped it in her mouth and chewed down.
It definitely wasn’t the most amazing thing she had ever tasted.
It did not take long before a wonderful smell hit Ellies nostrils. It wasn’t something she recognized, having grown up on the cheapest meals available and lived off navy rations since she was old enough to sign up, but her brain immediately recognized it.
She also knew where the smell was coming from, down there, deeper into the forest.
But she couldn’t. Somewhere in there lurked the weed, the giant plant that kept her imprisoned here.
“DInner’s ready!” The entirely unnecessary and overly chipper voice chimed in.
“I know. I can smell it.” Ellie grunted back at it.
“Then go eat silly!” She could hear the smile and utter happiness in the sourceless voice. Ellie looked down the hall, looking more like a dark overgrown cave than anywhere someone would live. There was plant life everywhere. A lot of vines, with flowers growing from them, but despite the low light Ellie could see the dirt on the floor once she left the landing she had been hiding out on, and she couldn’ even imagine what was growing from it.
But she smelled the food, and her stomach was growling. It smelled better than anything she had smelled in her entire life. She had lived in space for 10 years, living off ration bars and the occasional energy snack, but this brought back something from her childhood, before her parents sent her away.
She wasn’t fully aware of having made the decision by the time she snuck down the hallway. The weed was here, somewhere, but so was the food. An obvious trap, that was obvious, but she had to find food somewhere. See, totally reasonable.
The cave felt surprisingly long, turning and twisting around. Her shoes left footprints in the soft dirt. An instinctual part of her wanted to hide them, not give the predator lurking somewhere in whatever this place was a track to follow. But she had no good way of doing that and her rational brain reasoned the creature would find her if it wanted to. When it wanted to.
She didn’t get too long to think about it though. The smell of food growing stronger soon led her out on the other side of the cave, into an almost but not quite circular room. A room filled with… were those trees? Ellie was in no way an expert on botanical definitions but scattered haphazardly about the room and reaching up to her shoulders stood what she would describe as relatively small trees. In their shadows grew flowers in deep shades of magenta amongst the natural looking grass that carpeted the entire floor, shaded from the soft, natural seeming light coming from somewhere above. All along the edge of the room sat soft and friendly looking bushes. Hers was the only entrance or exit, but she didn’t have time to worry before her attention was pulled elsewhere.
At the center of the meadow sat what could only be described as a carefully cultivated altar to some long forgotten god of nature, formed from vines wood, decorate with flowers and on top of it she saw~
She approached slowly, looking around for the weed that had captured her, locked her inside this strange place. But there was no sign of her hunter, just a weird, soothing noise, almost like wind through leaves, but that couldn’t be possible. The food was placed on just the right height for her to grab, the bowl round and smooth, made from some unidentifiable but no doubt organic material. But it was the contents that interested Ellie. Root vegetables, swimming in a delicious thick broth and was that… real meat?
She hadn’t seen meat for years, not even the unconvincing lab meat they insisted tasted just the same, but this, it looked and smelled and… Ellie reached a hand in and grabbed a handful of stew, stuffing her face. She didn’t care. She probably looked like a wild woman, but there was nobody to see her.
“Hello cuties! And welcome! As new citizens of the Affini compact and the terran protectorate I am sure you have many questions, but don’t worry! I am here to tell you everything you need to know.”
Ellie twisted around as she heard the sudden voice start to talk, she was spotted, she had to escape, back the way she came.
The cave was gone, only heavy vines in its place. How could she not have noticed? The excited and enticing voice was still talking, where did she come from.
Ellie twisted around and the source became obvious. But she had no idea how she missed it. A giant screen, held in place by vines and a weed smiling down at her from it, still rambling on.
“As a valued Sophont under the care of the Affini Compact your needs will all be taken care of, food, housing, medical service. Everyone gets it! Do you want to learn a new skill? Pick up a new hobby? Whatever makes you feel fulfilled, we got you covered!”
Ellie grunted, was that supposed to be her owner? She had no idea. The weed on the screen stood in front of boxes and barrels overflowing with food and was perhaps the most generic affini Ellie could imagine. Covered in colorful flowers, mimicking the form of a human but no doubt twice as tall, at least!
“And don’t worry, all our meat is grown in a lab, so you can enjoy to your omnivorous heart's content as much or as little as you wish with a clean conscience!”
Ellie wasn’t sure if she bought that last part. They had already proved themselves liars with the housing part, trapping her in this weird miniature biome. She saw no way for her to learn new skills or pick up new hobbies. If she could, she would look into bomb making, maybe weedkiller production. Not that she cared, the stew was amazing, so she sauntered over to one of the tiny trees and sat down in its shadow, facing away from the screen as the affini blabbered on about their free vet service, superior medecine, cosmetic surgeries, technology. It was insufferable, but Ellie had to begrudgingly admit it was better than being left with her own thoughts over dinner.
The bowl was empty, Ellie’s tummy was full, and the TV seemed done providing her with ‘mealtime entertainment.’ That probably meant she should be looking for somewhere to go, to do something productive.
What that could involve she had no idea, she knew she was a little thirsty, and felt a little restless, but she was trapped in this room for now and had no idea what to do about it. Where the cave had been was now an impassable mass of vines and there didn’t seem to be any other—
Suddenly Ellies rambling thoughts were cut off by the sound of running water, nearby running water. Ellie stood up. Following her base instincts had worked well for her so far, so leaving the bowl behind in the meadow she turned towards the sound to find a new way out of the room.
Ellie swore the wind sounded almost satisfied as she stepped through the opening. Perhaps that should worry her, but instead she felt in awe at what she saw. The room was any terran’s dream, excluding the weird, out doorsy decoration obviously. The grass grew longer here, and something told her it would feel amazing between her toes. She kicked off her shoes and took another step. Yep, she was right.
There seemed to be multiple areas in the room, not exactly marked off, but flowing between each other very aesthetically. There were no chairs or anything similar, but she noticed some very deliberate piles of leaves and moss that probably served the purpose. Branches coming from the walls formed book covered shelves. real, papery books she could hold. Just like the last room a TV grew from the wall, but this one wasn’t currently blasting Affini propaganda, though she had no doubt it could start at any time. Underneath the TV sat a collection of retro consoles, just like her dad used to have, inherited from grandma.
Her eyes drifted over a collection of workout equipment—including an exercise bike, some weights, and a large yoga mat—all cradled by the forest embracing this peculiar space.
There was more to see, but hidden behind doors of leaves concealed at least some of it, besides Ellie’s attention still clung to that sound of running water. She followed the noise through the forest prison to a very decorative waterfall feeding into a little pond that drained out into a river escaping into the wall. Ellie stood mesmerized by the sight of real, honest to stars running water outside of a bathroom. It wasn’t natural, obviously. As far as Ellie knew they were still in space, but it looked entirely right, like that water had made itself a path into this sanctuary and ran through, providing the fluids she needed before continuing on its way.
Someone had left a bottle by the rocks leading the river, and Ellie picked it up, turning it on its head.
She submerged the bottle into the stream and let it fill, before taking a long chug and topping it off. As the water ran down her throat she had a rapid realization that she had no way to check the water was clean, but then she remembered where she was, the creature lurking had already had a chance to drug her over dinner, and she couldn’t taste anything in the deliciously fresh liquid.
Turning around with her bottle in her grip she found a single stemmed plant, reaching up towards her, on its end, one of those red berries she had earlier. Ellie picked it without thinking, ignoring that voice in her head telling her how weird that was. The berry tasted good, amazing even and now that all her basic needs were taken care of it was time for the favorite, if very rare, part of her life. Distractions!
But what to do? Back on the ship she was very limited unless she wanted to see people and that wasn’t going to happen. Ellie prefered to keep human interaction to a controlled level and marine work already gave her much more than she could ever want, but here she had been provided with obvious options that all appealed to her, games, movies and books!
That selection only increased, she found a VR headset, adult coloring books, sudoku, board games, even a few single player ones and the selection of fiction was fantastic! Ellie enjoyed herself not even doing anything, just browsing her options and marveling at the luxury, entirely ignoring the question in the back of her mind as the sweet sounds of winds remained in the background and the soft smell of flowers and forest kept her calm.
In the end she settled in for a reread of her favorite paranormal YA novel. How whoever out there had known what she liked she had no idea, but it was a comfy read, just what she needed today. Another berry vine stretched from the wall and Ellie accepted it, a satisfied humm as she bit down and felt the juices fill her mouth.
Her survival instinct may have been screaming at her to protect herself, but at the moment she was full, her thirst was sated and the supposed ‘owner’ was nowhere to be seen. She could enjoy herself for now.
She put down the book, halfway through, when she heard a noise. A sound. A series of footfalls nearby as something skulked about somewhere in the walls. The sudden realization of how exposed she was struck her as a shiver down her spine. She needed somewhere to hide, refuge, but a series of quick glances found nothing. Nothing at all! The place was all open! What could she do?
The answer came. But she couldn’t be sure if it was from her own mind, or from the forest itself.
Ellie fled at full speed just as the leafy seat where she had just been lounging was devoured by a mass of plant matter bursting from the vines along the wall. It was moving towards her, and Ellie scrambled, warm grass forgotten under her feet as she dashed back towards the meadow, the mass hot on her heels, rolling forward, expanding, spreading.
Her breathing hastened, as terror clutched her soul. Every affini she’d witnessed before in broadcasts like the earlier one appeared humanoid. They acted like terrans. This thing pursuing her was nothing like that. The roiling mass moved like nothing she’d ever seen before. It moved in an alien way that struck some deep primal fear into her heart. Stars, she couldn’t even be sure it was a single creature!
Something snapped at her ankle and horror overtook her as she tripped, falling forward among the miniature trees. Looking around, pulling away, she noticed it slowing down, toying with her, closing in from almost any side mere breaths away from devouring her into its eldritch mass.
Ellie crawled backwards, away from the vines closing in, shooting out to jab at her, grab at her, but Ellie pulled away. Sweating, horrified, she needed to escape, but there was nowhere to go!
‘Little prey, little pet, little floret.’ Despite knowing the voice wasn’t in her mind, it might as well have been. It came from nowhere and everywhere all at once in a ghostly song upon the wind.
“No! No! No!” Ellie screamed in distress, as the wind itself laughed at her. She tried scrambling back, but the creature closed in from all sides blocking all avenues of escape, while the wall drew nearer. She was trapped but couldn’t stop retreating as the affini rose up into a magnificent, horrifying, indescribable mass of greater being. A goddess made from flowers and vines. Ellie took one more step back, in total awe, and suddenly she was sliding backwards.
It wasn’t a long slide, but it was long enough for Ellies pathetic life to pass before her eyes. Then she came to a stop in a pile of softness.
What had happened? Was she safe? She had ended up in a dimly lit room, surrounded by blankets and pillows. Soft blue fluff coated every wall as safe protective padding..
Not a plant in sight, not a single vine, but she still heard it, the amused chuckle of the wind. But she didn’t care, the weed clearly wasn’t coming inside. Maybe it couldn’t fit. It was gigantic, after all.
She clung to that thought of safety as her breathing calmed, and her muscles slowly untensed. Her eyes slowly stopped darting around in search of potential dangers. It took more than a few moments, but the animalistic fight or flight instinct finally released her from its grasp.
Finally satisfied with her own safety Ellie buried herself in pillows and blankets and quickly let the cozyness take her, trying not to think about the weird feelings the affini was creating in her.
“Hey cutie! Good moooooooorning!”
Ellie groaned frustratingly. The voice from the landing was back, talking over an obnoxiously calm alarm sounds. But this time the sound had a source. A source Ellie could crawl towards. So she did and her hand slapped against something surprisingly hard. The sound stopped.
“You found your pad! Good Girl!” The obnoxious voice however, was still there.
Ellie opened her eyes. She was still in the pillow nest. Her pillow nest, and under her hand, on a little fluffy pillow shelf, right next to her waterbottle was a sleek communication pad.
She swiped it up into her hands, and it came alive , a magical meadow in the background as she was shown a list of apps.
“So not a communication pad then.” Elsa said to herself, and she supposed the voice that was now coming from said pad. This was an entertainment pad, it seemed like. locked down, obviously. There was no overnet browser. No communication app unless that was whatever FloreTalk was. But it seemed to be filled with TV shows, books and entertainment.
Ellie wanted to keep exploring, but as she clicked on the FloretNews button the screen froze and was filled with a message. Of Course, an ad, so much for~
“It’s time for breakfast cutie! You can use your new pad more when you have eaten.” The voice rang out and Ellie realized what the screen said. This was not an ad, it was locked.
‘Eat breakfast to regain access.’ The screen declared in big, friendly letters.
A heartbeat later the smell of familiar food graced her senses, rousing her hunger as delicious scents wafted down from the small hole she tumbled down last night.
‘The affini!’ Ellie thought, looking up to spot the lurking horror that’d chased her, but there was nothing there. No ghostly presence on the wind haunting her. The sounds had returned to the soft calming winds of yesterday and with them followed a sense of calm.
Ellie crawled up and out with her bottle and pad in hand, parting the bushes and emerging into the peaceful meadow. There she spotted her meal, resting upon the altar just like last night's dinner.
Crepes. Grandma always used to make crepes when Ellie went to visit her on the weekend. Three of them were rolled up next to each other on a plate. She approached cautiously, not wanting to take this for granted. The monster remained around here somewhere and that thought left her feeling wary. Anxious. Completely uncertain of what the xeno monster wanted with her..
But whatever, the food went down easily and tasted mind meltingly good in a way Ellie could scarcely believe. A moan might have escaped her lips as she sank teeth into the veritable feast, tasting sweet jam upon her tongue.
“Remember sophonts, if you are ever scared, or feel like you are having troubles taking care of yourself, head down to your local domestication center where we can help! Both temporary wardships or domestication are possible depending on your individual needs!”
The screen came to life again. A different affini preached the propaganda this time but the message remained the same. The same old lies. The same promises of help and safety Ellie’s own imprisonment contradicted.
The screen came to life again. A different affini preached the propaganda this time but the message remained the same. The same old lies. The same promises of help and safety Ellie’s own imprisonment contradicted.
Whatever, she sank into the meadow of flowers underneath one of the tiny trees and rested her eyes, biting into the crepe once more and taking a good chug from her water bottle. It tasted as fresh as the day prior.
Finished with the meal, she set the plate aside and took a nice deep breath. The scent of the forest filled her nostrils. The air fresher than the stale recycled air of her former ship and every station it visited upon its interstellar voyages. She could get used to the fragrance of flowers, the gentle breeze, the soft grass beneath her. each one beckoning her into relaxing. She obeyed without thought.
Pulling out the data pad, while cozied beneath small branches, Ellie dove into the digital once more.
Surprisingly enough, she found a lot of really interesting things on the pad beginning with the FloreTalk app. Diving into it, she quickly learned she’d been banned, or perhaps simply muted. Regardless of the block on sending messages, reading messages proved easy. Stars, there was so much to read! Pets of different Affini messaged each other about nearly everything and it honestly overwhelmed the former sailor and introvert.. All these different classes of xenodrugs, stories of going on ‘walkies’, cuddling, being hand fed, giant plushie collections and someone talking about meeting whatever a snuggly is. Seemed like all these Terrans felt entirely happy being doted on by a weed in exchange for letting their ‘owner’ humiliate them on the daily and that led Ellie to one big question.
Where the fuck was her owner?
Not that she wanted that overgrown potted plant around. Ellie had no interest in a controlling plant lording over her life, obviously, but why did all these terrans—some of whom even admitted to being captured rebels—have attentive affini around while she just had the voice from her tablet and a monster chasing her?
That line of thought was exceedingly unproductive, Ellie concluded. She lacked any desire for an attentive plant watching her, controlling her, caring for her. Not a single shred of want. Those ‘florets’ were all fucking traitors as far as she was concerned and she switched apps with frown and a few callous taps on the screen.
She opened the ‘Self creator’ instead, which greeted her with a disturbingly accurate 3D rendering of herself. Ellie cringed, she despised looking at her own form. The shoulders too manly, the slight stubble, a little too much belly fat. She almost exited the app before noticing all the editing options. With a few swipes her shoulders grew smaller, any sign of stubble was gone and her face took a much more feminine form.
Something clicked in her mind. Suddenly so many possibilities opened up and a deep hunger in her soul made itself known as she dove in further. Ellie lost track of time fiddling with the editor. So many changes! She added a bit more growth to her chest, removed the bump on her throat that everyone assured her was barely visible but she couldn’t stand looking at. More than that, she tried to make herself thin in that idealized terran beauty standards way. Especially in regards to weight that she’d spent a lifetime internalizing. For some reason of all the precise controls, the device denied her a flat belly. For some reason the app refused to allow it, stopping at a point where the model still possessed a bit of belly.
But Ellie’s hyperfixated character editing left her no time to ponder that before she discovered the real modifications. Tails, ears, skintones, skin types! Everything and anything she could have ever imagined and so much more! She tried all types of options just for laughs, but in the end reset to her normal human self. Well the improved base human self, at least. They all looked super cool and adventurous, but it just wasn’t her. Except…
Ellie pulled up the body mod section again and followed her heart’s yearning. Eager fingers selected the red fox tail and ears. God they looked good on her, really this entire thing was the coolest avatar she had ever made for herself, much better than all those hours spent in mediocre profile pic creators on the web.
Still, there were many small tweaks that could be made, slight changes to try and Ellie found herself so engrossed in making those changes she failed to notice what happened next.
One moment she was looking,eyes fixated on the pad and the next her body was pulled, wrapped against the tree at her back. A flurry of lashing vines coiled around her in the blink of an eye. Each one stronger than the last. The data pad thumped softly against the grass as her hands were pulled behind her, giving her one last look at the adorable fox girl that was still clearly and distinctly her before the vines ripped her gaze away.
Ellie panicked, struggling against the unyielding restraints to no avail. The vines wrapped her hands behind the tree, another vine wrapped treatheningly around her neck. When fighting back turned out to be futile Ellie froze, unable to move even an inch. Not knowing what was about to happen to her. Her heartbeat pounded in her otherwise still body.
The slight tones of the wind, the sounds that had already become a constant part of Ellies existence, shifted. The calm, subtle tones turned heavier, almost predatory, and she swore that she heard, from everywhere and nowhere at the same time, carried on the wind one word.
She struggled to avoid hyperventilation for a moment before a single large leaf moved to create a vacuum tight seal around her mouth, forcing her to pull air in through her nose.
That is when the scent hit her, the most wondrous fragrance of flowers and grass. Her body instantly calmed, if only a bit, and she felt compelled to take another deep breath, if only to experience that smell again.
The wind repeated, but the sting was already gone, replaced with soft, loving possessiveness. Ellie barely noticed as the tendrils eased their way underneath her clothes through every opening they could find, but she still squirmed as they slithered against her oh so sensitive skin. She failed to notice the leaf had freed her mouth, yet she let out a blissful moan all the same before taking another deep sniff of the pollen released into the air. Something placed a single berry upon her tongue while the vines guided her jaw to crush it between her teeth. The sweet taste overwhelmed her taste buds.
The forest insisted, as it wrapped itself around everything she was, overloading Ellie's feeble terran mind with touch, smell, taste, and sound. Ellie couldn’t help but moan and gasp, her mind fully in fawn mode as the creature that had caught her allowed her ward to spiral down, lost in the sensation as the reality of her world all crashed into one point.
A glowing yellow seed, the core of the forest and from it the wind carried a single sentence.
‘You belong to the forest, little fox.’
Ellie emerged slowly from her sleep to the sound of birds singing. Her data pad still on the grass beside her. She felt gross, all sweaty and sticky from her dream.
Nightmare. Yes, that had to be what it had been, all a dream. The sweet taste of berries still left on her tongue must have been from her breakfast, the scent came from the flowers and the mess between her legs…
She would rather not think about that, but she for sure needed a bath. Maybe the waterfall from where she had obtained water yesterday would suffice, but looking around that door was closed.
Ellie snatched up the water bottle and took a long chug, humming as the slightly berry flavored water slid down her throat. Yummy. She eventually spotted another opening in the forest and decided to head that way. Figuring it was as good a place as any to start looking for a place to clean up.
Pushing aside a few vines and bushes on the way, a clear path through the forest opened up. A path slightly out of the way,and slightly obscured as if it wanted to hide something from her. Something she wanted to find.
As a reward for her effort, the path opened up into a clearing, and resting at the center of it, a pond.
A light, warm fog filled the clearing, and it was wondrous. A thick wall of vines covered the back from where the water flowed. To where it went she could not tell. Kneeling by the edge of the pond she dipped in a finger and found the water to be warm and perfect for bathing.
Ellie stripped down, out of her navy uniform, and slid into the water, feeling the remains of her long day and interesting morning slide off. The mist concealed her figure as she allowed herself to relax into the most luxurious bath of her life.
A few moments after she sunk into the water the vines parted, and a plate of leaves sailed through, parting the mist. On it was a little stack of berries, along with soaps, shampoos and balms. She swooped up a berry and bit down, but even while enjoying the taste-orgasm of the juices coating her tongue, she eyed the soaps suspiciously. Was there something in them? perhaps,but on the other hand, how could it make things worse.
Every worry slipped out of Ellie’s little head. The word once more emanated from both all around, and inside her own head. An intrusive thought that set her thoughts on something more important than suspicion and worry, that she needed to clean up properly.
Picking up the bar of soap she started to rub it all over, a happy hum leaving her throat as she slid it over her skin, feeling the layer of chemicals from years of quick showers out in space rub off. It was wondrous. As if it took more than just years of chemical grim off. As if it cleaned the hardship of years in space off her soul leaving her light, calm, and at peace.
Once Ellie felt that last bit of grime and hardship sink into waters, she placed a large dollop from the green bottle into her palm and started to massage it into her hair. The act felt meditative, as if her own gentle touch opened up her mind and soothed her worries and stress, leaving her relaxed and dazed.
The little terran lost herself in the feeling of finally being clean, the smoothness of her skin, and the perfection of the water that stayed impossibly clean despite her rigorous scrubbing. So relaxed was Ellie she failed to notice the single vine that slithered its way up to her and delivered a little sting into her arm before retreating back into the walls along with the little terran’s navy uniform.
Much later Ellie left the pond in a happy,blissful daze, stumbling naked back through the forest, not noticing how it opened up to let her past, how the soft caressing leaves around her dried her off, nor how the wind coaxed her back into her nest. There she collapsed into the mass of pillows, and fell asleep soon after.
Ellie stalked through the hab unit, ears on watch, tail slowly swishing from side to side where it stuck out from underneath her lime green flowing dress as she scouted for her prey. “It’s over there, can you smell it?” Hab whispered from the belt her pad was attached to, playing along, as the fox girl approached her mark, leapt through the air and caught the bunny plushie in a tight hug.
Ellie lost track of time in the forest, perhaps it’d been days? Weeks, months? Years? The days blended together. Each one full of play and hobbies, and obeying the hab’s schedule. The closest she had to a track of time was her collection of critter plushies added to her nest.
There were a lot of plushies in her nest.
“Such a good girl, Ellie! Now how about you and your new friend head for dinner?” While the pad still rested near the food altar, its voice reached the happy fox right as the scent of rabbit stew graced her nose. The combination of scent and suggestion brought the fox girl bounding through the hab towards dinner. Luckily, the plush in her arms abstained from asking for any of the fox’s favorite meal, leaving more for her!
After dinner, which tasted delicious, she placed her plushie in her nest, among his other friends. Then it would usually be bath time over in the pond, but today Ellie had another goal. The monster.
It never returned for her after that first day. Not a single trace of the monster left for the fox girl to find, though Ellie still dreamed of it, of her, of the creature of vines that always bestowed her with orgasmic pleasure only for Ellie to wake up in a messy puddle. The core of the forest. An affini? Probably. But that didn’t matter. Ellie belonged to the forest, and she was the forest.
Ellie needed to meet her.
That was why she took a few minutes out of her busy schedule of eating, hunting, bathing, nesting, and doing hobbies to search for her. Surely she had to be around here somewhere, right?
And Ellie had found clues! A really cool VR pod hidden in the recreation clearing, a waterfall shower near the pond. An adorable bee plushie hidden in a little alcove behind some vines. She knew she must be getting close now, the wind was telling her so.
But before she could figure it out hab chimed in with a very annoying declaration.
“It’s bath time cutie!!!” chirped Hab, startling the busy fox who still found the cheery voice quite odd.
“Ugh, yes hab. Fine!” Ellie grunted, stalking over towards the pond.
“Good girl!” Hab declared, no doubt scaring away any potential prey. Ellie grumbled further until she left the pad on the grass along with her dress and slid into the warm pond for her usual cleaning ritual. First a long soak, then once the soaps arrived a thorough scrub and washing of her hair. The little sting followed, as usual, without Ellie noticing, as usual.
But afterwards, when Ellie was properly wobbly and sleepy, she noticed something. It was just a slight movement, a parting of the vines where the pond slipped into the wall. Her curiosity peaked, Ellie swam over with surprising focus, sliding between the vines and into the darkness beyond.
Ellie found herself in a very viny room. A little bit of pond still stretched and there was a small stream, leading water to it. She climbed onto the shore, and looked around. She was sitting on a slab of stone that a very quiet part of her head insisted was way too soft for a rock.
Mmmmhhhhmmmm, nice soft rock.
It took her mind a couple moments to notice the hole right behind her, it was about the same height as the entrance to her nest, but unlike that hole, that went down and protected her from the loving plant, this hole was leading up. Looked like it went on for a while too.
Her curiosity peaked Ellie started to crawl, upwards and onwards until she emerged into a small meadow of deep purple flowers surrounded by a glass dome. There, for the very first time, a buzzed up and tired terran got a look at where the forest she lived in was located.
She was on a space station, or perhaps a ship in orbit around a planet Ellie had never seen. The last rays of the planet's sun hit her as it disappeared behind the planet and the lights of the station dimmed with it.
The station was constructed in rings, each stretching on for kilometers upon kilometers surrounding a central hub. But it wasn’t just the size that was so shocking. In place of the tight, industrial tunnels where she had spent most of her life was large open space filled with life, and in place of small cabins were homes of wood and glass. It was stunning. Was this the ship that attacked them? Or was she brought here after her capture.
Ellie realized the answer to that question didn’t matter. Her ship and rebellion had been crushed underneath the same superior technology that had built this miracle in space.
It had all been a big delusion. The war, the rebellion. The final delusion of freedom humanity would ever have, after millenia of gunboat diplomacy the sea had risen and the biggest fish in a small pond had been lovingly wrapped in the vines of the fittest.
Ellie shook her head, clearly getting philosophical as her mind drifted in it’s woozy state. The answer was simple anyway, they never stood a chance to begin with.
Perhaps she should have been horrified at that thought, realizing she was giving up, but no. All she could do was lie down among the flowers with a relaxed sigh, knowing she would never have to fight again.
Ellie slowly woke to sun rays on her skin, shining in between the branches and leaves above her, tickling her sensitive skin. She rolled over with a happy purr, keeping her eyes close and reveling in the sensation of the touch gently caressing her. She ignored the exceedingly quiet voice in her head telling her there were no trees over her when she fell asleep and there shouldn’t be anyone to touch her. Silly voice. She was in the forest. Everything was safe here. With one last frustrated ‘gaaaah!’ The voice threw her hands into the air and left for the last time.
Slowly and finally opening her eyes Ellie looked up at the most gorgeous creature she had ever seen. The beat of the forest core. She could feel it, see it in those infinet eyes, surrounded by a mass of vines and flowers letting in just enough light to warm and tickle her naked skin.
“Hello there my precious. Did you sleep well?” The giant plant asked with the voice of the wind. The voice she had been listening to since the day she arrived here. Ellie felt herself melt into the creature's touch, as her vines slithered in under her and lifted Ellie into the air. Leaning down to place a kiss on her florets forehead.
“Do you know who I am? Pet?” The affini asked. Ellie was about to answer no, she had never met this plant before, but then she realized that part of her did know, something inside her told her the name of her owner.
“You’re Liriope Marginalis, 7th Bloom.” Ellie finally answered, totally in awe of the affini, wondering how she made her know.
Liriope traced a large vine lovingly along the scar at the back of her pet's neck, letting out a long steady hum that Ellie felt herself falling into sync with. “Very good, little seed. What is your name?”
“Ellie Marginalis, 12th Floret!” The fox girl declared with glee. She knew she had never heard the name before, never gone by it or called herself that before. But part of her knew and it felt just right.
“That’s right, Ellie, you are mine. My perfect little fox, to train nurture and love. You belong to the forest, precious, you belong in my domain.” Liriope declared, and Ellie knew it to be true.
“How… How long have I been here, Mistress?” Ellie asked, unable to break eye contact as Liriope allowed her to float in them, entranced by them.
“About a terran month, Ellie. But you spent nearly two weeks of that blissed out after getting your implant and these adorable ears.” Ellie was confused at Liriopes answer, she couldn’t remember getting any implant, and hadn’t her ears always been there?
The fox girl's trail of thought was broken off before it could get too far, her mind telling Ellie not to worry about it and a vine scratching behind her ears making doing so incredibly hard.
“And you did so good, my precious pet. Slowly sinking into my domain, coming under my influence, becoming part of me.”
Ellie purred happily, she was part of this world. Part of the forest. She belonged to Liriope. Never again would she have to pick up a gun, or worry or fight. Mistress would make everything right. She felt a sting in her left shoulder and soon her body was sinking into perfect bliss.
“I have unlocked your pad, little fox, you have access to FloreTalk and the replicator now. Talk to the other florets on the ship, but go at a speed you find comfortable. You are to make friends, but there is no need to rush.” Liriope kept talking, and every word sank in deep. Anchoring themselves in her mind not as instructions, but as laws to follow.
“Such an adorable little floret, willing and desperate to bloom under my care.” The affini pulled her floret close to her body, letting Ellie truly feel the rhythm of her core. Ellie snuggled in, her purr falling into line as she felt the heat of her owner, knowing she would never have to leave the forest embrace again.