"So you did kidnap me!" Sarah exclaimed, staring up at Kadena with a livid expression.
"To kidnap you would mean to remove you unwillingly from where you belong. Had you still been permitted to live on your own this would have been the case. However, you are now under my care and that makes where you belong right here with me.
“But you can’t do that to me!”
“I can, little one. Under the human domestication treaty you have been deemed a hazard to your own wellbeing and the wellbeing of others. As such you have been placed in my care and I will do everything I can to make sure you are as happy and safe as possible.”
“That basically makes me your slave!”
A stern look crossed Kadena’s face and her leaves rustled. “You said that you would keep your volume and tone civil, little one. Do you need something to calm you down.” She held a vine with a needle end up between them.
Sarah took two steps backwards and did not reply, though the anger did not leave her face.
Kadena lowered the vine. “You are not my slave little one, you are my pet. The difference is a slave is forced to do labor against their will. A pet is something to be cherished and cared for. I can debate this all day with you but again, please know that I only have your best interest at heart. Now, before we go further we have to get you something to eat. Will you please behave so we can get some nutrition in your system?”
Sarah did not trust herself to speak. She understood the words the alien was saying but their meaning did not make sense. Humans were people, not pets. There was no way the terran armada had been defeated so quickly. Were they all killed?
Kadena’s tone indicated that this was not the first time her name had been spoken. She looked back at the plant, a fresh spike of anger tensing her body yet further.
“Are you hungry Sarah? You have been fed only by limited terran medical technology for 5 years and you need something to eat. What is your favorite meal?”
Sarah checked and found that she was very hungry. She did not trust anything that this plant wanted to put in her but she did not have much choice. If she was this hungry then she would soon start to grow weak. There was not anything that looked edible in sight, unless some part of the leafy vegetation around the room was enough to live on.
“Sarah dear, do not let your thoughts get away from you. What do you want to eat?”
Sarah pushed her anger down again and forced herself into a tone that would not upset the alien. “What is there to eat? Just dirt and compost?”
Kadena chuckled. “You can have some if you want but I will not allow you to eat it. You can have any meal you desire as long as it is something humans are meant to eat.”
Sarah limited the mockery in her tone but it was still there. “I want a medium well steak with barbecue sauce, mashed potatoes with gravy, and steamed green beans.” She had never eaten something half as luxurious but it had sounded good when it had been described to her.
“Please wait here for a moment.” She moved towards a device set into the wall on the side of the room.
Sarah looked around from where she stood on the bed. Her options had not really changed. She couldn't fight, she still saw nowhere she could run, and she was really hungry. She would keep the plant happy until she had some food in her system.
Hardly half a minute later the most delicious smell filled the room. Kadena turned around with a large steaming plate and brought it to the bed. She placed it in front of Sarah as the little terrans jaw dropped. In front of her was the exact meal she had just described, apparently cooked to perfection.
“Is this what you wanted, little one?" She sounded excited over something.
Sarah reached out a hand and poked the steak. It was not quite hot enough to burn her and some of the sauce stuck to her finger. She considered it for a moment. Even if this was real the plant would not use this to drug her. It had proven that it could do that at any time. Unless this was all part of some game. She licked her finger and her eyes went even wider as a delightfully tangy flavor filled her mouth. She quickly reached back for the food but then realized she had not been giving a fork. She considered eating with only her hands but resisted, looking up at Kadena.
“Yes, it is real, little one. Would you like to eat this?”
Hunger and craving overpowered everything else in Sarah’s brain at that moment. She nodded, words still not quite ready to catch up with the reality in front of her.
Kadena produced a knife and fork but did not hand them to Sarah. Instead she cut a human sized bit of the stake and offered it to her on the end of a fork. Sarah eyed it then scowled up at the plant. “I can eat by myself.”
Kadena smiled. “I know you can, little one, but I will be the one feeding you. Please open up.”
Sarah hated how this made her feel helpless. Things got bad when she felt helpless. Dark thoughts crossed her mind, muddled further by her low blood sugar. She would either have to fight, concede, or bargain. Bargaining was little more than begging as she had nothing to work with. She could not fight and she would not beg. She leaned forward and took the bite.
The tangy flavor filled her mouth this time, followed closely by the juicy flavor of the meat all but melting in her mouth. Her eyes unfocused a bit as she chewed, lost in the amazing taste.
“It seems you like the flavor, little one. Try some of this with it.” A fork full of mashed potatoes dripping with gravy was offered next, hovering over the edge of the plate where she could easily lean forward and bite it.
Sarah shook. That had tasted so good she was having trouble believing it was real for entirely different reasons. The food on the fork looked similarly delectable. Her inner voice screamed for her to not surrender further but she did not listen.
The next bite was almost as good as the first. The potatoes were fluffy and almost sweet, complemented by the rich gravy. She hardly processed that she had taken a third bite, this time of the green beans. It was a splash of freshness, enhanced by warm butter glazed over them. All the flavors combined together to make undoubtedly the best meal she had ever tasted.
The next bite of the steak was ready before she could even process that she wanted it. As she was fed until the meal was just over half gone when she could not eat anymore. Feeling her first real meal in over five years fill her up felt so peaceful she had forgotten where she was.
“Very good little one. Did you enjoy the meal?” She seemed delighted at the prospect.
Sarah nodded, feeling tears run down her cheeks.
Tears… That wasn’t right. Sarah shook her head and wiped at her face. She couldn’t show weakness. She started trying to shove her feelings down again. Even the pleasant feeling of the meal hurt in some way. She could not handle it so she ignored it.
“What just happened there, little one?”
Unable to get her neutral mask back in time Sarah covered her feelings with anger. “It’s none of your business.”
The plant was in her face before she took her next breath. It did not touch her but it was only inches away.
“That is not a proper answer, my floret.” her tone was not hostile but it was firm. “Everything about you is my business.”
Sarah turned and scrambled away. Her fear fought with the lethargic feeling of having eaten so much. She only got a few feet before vines wrapped around her ankles and pulled them out from under her. Two more caught her wrist before she could finish falling forward. Her limbs were stretched into an ‘X’ shape as the vines brought her back to be held in the air before Kadena. She struggled but could not get any leverage.
“You need to calm down, my sweet. I can drug you if you insist but I would much rather talk out our problems. I can not have you thinking such things if they make you that upset. Tell me what that thought was so that I can do my best to help you with it.”
Sarah only caught about half the words. This thing could hold her captive but it could not have her mind. It was all she had. It had been all she had for a long time. She stopped struggling but did not respond.
“Please tell me, little one. I will not judge you for anything except to help you with your hurt.”
Sarah ignored her, turning her head to the side. Her next feeling was one of her cuffs tightening and a fuzzy feeling spreading up her arm.
Her mental walls began to fall away. All of her balled up feelings flooded into her brain. It filled her with emotion she was not ready to handle. She wouldn’t. She couldn’t! She screamed, her muscles straining at the vines that held her. It was all too much.
She did not notice that her cuff had tightened again until she felt a cold feeling moving through her arm. It forcibly relaxed her. It didn’t push away the other emotions but it dampened them to the point that she could not even remember what they were. She didn’t feel tired but the effect was as if she were drowsy. She quickly lost the strength to do more than go limp.
“My sweet darling, I am so sorry. It was not supposed to have that kind of effect.”
Sarah felt herself being laid on the bed. Kadena moved away and returned a moment later, at least one vine staying in contact with her. She felt a jab at her arm but the pain did not bother her. Through the forced calm the other feelings retreated. It would be a while before she could get her walls back up but at least nothing hurt anymore. It felt so good to just lay there and not think.
Kadena made sure that her pet’s vitals were normal and her breathing was regular. What had happened? She had administered some class D to help Sarah talk and she had reacted like it hurt her.
She pulled out her tablet and messaged Xocxer.
RoseRunner4: I need your help. Are you available?
The response took less than 30 seconds.
CutieCurer410: I am here. What do you require?
RoseRunner4: I administered some standard class D to my floret and she reacted by screaming as if in pain. What could have caused this?
CutieCurer410: One moment, let me consult my notes. Is she stable?
RoseRunner4: Yes. She is resting with class E but I do not believe she fell asleep.
The next response took several moments.
CutieCurer410: Did she show any signs of repressed emotion?
RoseRunner4: She has. Several times when I thought she would get more agitated then she did she responded by going quiet.
CutieCurer410: That would likely do it. If she has an unhealthy amount of repressed emotion then using class D without proper preparation would result in all those emotions hitting her at once. Given what your poor pet has been though it is likely enough unpleasant emotion that would cause her to scream.
RoseRunner4: That makes sense. I pushed her too hard then. What do you recommend?
CutieCurer410: Talking to a counselor would be the best answer. In the meantime I would keep her on a low dose of class E and A, maybe with a mix of F. I will run the data with the medical record and send you a formula that the compiler can make.
CutieCurer410: Does this solve all your immediate problems?
Not by half doc, she thought to herself.
RoseRunner4: Yes, thank you very much.
She set her table aside and waited, petting Sarah. She fretted over having likely taken a step backwards with her pet. Her tablet beeped several moments later and she found the xenodrug formula that Xocxer had created.
She went to the compiler and created an injector with several ampoules, tucking them away into her vines. She checked Sarah’s vitals again before going to the living room and returning with a book. She allowed herself to literally unwind on the bed, perusing her book and idling stroking her pet. They would get through this. Sarah was counting on her.