Crimson Sevinta has a problem, it’s not the fact that the affini have been in control for three years now. Not that her job as an apiarist is almost entirely obsolete, not even the inconveniently large furniture in her hab unit. It’s that she met a beeple personally, as a part of one of the many wellness checks she’d been subjected to.
The tiny thing buzzing happily around its owner, being fawned over constantly, of course the domestication part of the exchange gave her little to no enjoyment. After all, if she’s domesticated, who would take care of her hives? Obvious question, all the affini who’ve basically taken over the apiary in the first place would.
No no no, it’s meeting a living being able to physically exist as a bee. Ever since that moment everything has felt off, even caring for her tiny friends, having lost a little bit of its previously ever present spark. The invisible level of distance that she’d never believed there to be an answer for, having now been shoved in front of her.
This of course was not helped by her roommate’s behavior, who holds very different opinions in regards to her capabilities. Particularly regarding her ability to live alone, without finding a way to bypass all the affini safeties, and accidentally burning the hab down.
Luckily today is going to change all of that, the EquaBloom is finally accepting visitors after its arrival a week prior. And through her research, she’s found that on board is a very capable xenovetrinarian, who might be able to give her what she wants. Waiting for a good ship to arrive, alongside a slot to be open was torture, but today will finally make every inch of the last year of waiting worth it.
Taking a step out of her hab, she pats down her bright white bee keepers outfit, little patches of bees dancing around the exterior. An incredibly extraneous upgrade to her clothing no doubt, but one she’d never dare part with.
While it is virtually guaranteed to get her some weird looks, it always does. It also mercifully hides the majority of her appearance, even without the hood on. Leaving only her spiky brown hair, and dirty hazel green eyes observable to the public.
Walking through the still relatively new affini district of town is quiet as ever. Torturously there’s no beeple for her to adore during her walk, simply the same groups of florets and their owners as always. With the only thing of particular note being one what looks to be half-lizard floret, who has gotten away from her colossal pair of fused affini. Leading the pair to haplessly chase her around, one of the many renovated parks in the area. And even that was only noticed due to the floret in question having beeple neck fluff.
Looking over her datapad, she starts to pick up the pace. While being late to an appointment with an affini isn’t the end of the world in her experience, this topic was not something that she’d be taking any risks with. After all, looking like a mess doesn’t get you refused care, it gets more shoveled onto you, and that’s not something she’s in the mood for during her first meeting with her new vet.
After another half an hour of half walking, half sprinting, she arrives at the closest mag-rail station, taking a deep breath. She wills herself to step on board, even if the idea of people seeing her face is making her incredibly anxious.
After a short ride, holding onto a pole, and looking around the room. Getting a few odd looks from all of the terrans surrounding her, and one or two from the very few affini onboard as well, the train stops inside the shuttle platform.
Right as the doors open up, Crim hops out as quickly as she can manage. Making sure to be the first one in the group to be out and on her way to avoid the risk of conversation.
Walking up to the shuttles, rather than the earlier density of terrans, there are now all shapes and sizes affini walking around her. A few taking notice of the lone terran, and giving her little waves, before continuing on with their day. The vast majority in the area sporting a floret who’s attached to them at the hip, or well… vine.
“Alright… just gotta get onto that massive ship.” Crim reaches into her pocket, pulling out her datapad once again. Double checking to make sure she’s headed to the right shuttle. While asking an affini could speed the process up, the far more realistic outcome would be them slowing her down, after she arrives aboard the Equabloom. Asking questions, and inevitably trying to get to know her. She shudders at the thought.
After a little bit of trial and error, she steps up next to several affini. Finding herself to be unsurprisingly in her eyes, the only non-floret sophont in this boarding group. After getting a few glances from different affini, she reaches around. Pulling the hood on her beekeeper's outfit on, and zipping it up. Figuring some light prodding from an affini for seeming anxious, would still be better than the dysphoria her body causes her.
As she’s caught up inside her own head, one of the affini gently rubs Crim’s shoulder. “Hey, are you alright little one? Do you need any help?” They are quite a bit larger than any other affini that she’s personally met, and coated in pink flower petals reminiscent of cherry blossoms, the petals dancing over her shoulders, and around their chest, to frame their body and give them a particularly soft, approachable look. “Is this your first time boarding a vessel like the Equabloom?”
Crimson shudders slightly at the pat, glancing up through the dark mesh of her outfit to get a look at the affini. “Yes it is, the outfit is mostly so people don’t see my body… I’m heading to one of your ‘vets’ to see about body mods.” She shrugs slightly, trying to keep a calm enough demeanor. Accidentally attracting an overly concerned affini was not a new experience to her, and this always proved to be the best way to get them to leave her alone at the end of the day.
“Really? What kinds of body mods are you interested in?” She smiles and shifts a bit, blocking off vision from most of the transport of Crim. “There we go, you seemed to be anxious from all the attention. Anyway, will you need help getting to the vet of your choice?”
“How about this, I hear you affini like ‘playful games’, so.” Crimson takes a step forward as the shuttle doors open. Letting the affini guide her over to one of the seats, to start getting outfitted for the trip up. “If you can guess what type of mods I want, I’ll let you take me over there.”
“Well, your outfit seems to be like that of terran aparist. So I would bet that you are looking into something bee related. Your terran bees are so cute, their little hives are so like a little beeple hive moon. And the way apiarist's care for them is like a rudimentary relationship between an owner, and their floret.”
“That’s actually correct, I am looking into beeple body mods.” Crimson gestures at the seat next to her. “So I guess you can take a seat next to me, my name is Crimson Sevinta, but most call me Crim.” She leans back, buckling herself into place.
The affini sits down with a smile, buckling herself down. “My name is Azalia Quist, Sixth Bloom, She/Her. It is nice to meet you Crim. I’ve mostly read about different old terran occupations, but being a ‘beekeeper’ always sounded very interesting to me. I assume that is what you do, and maintaining that, despite the work changes implemented, would imply that it is something you genuinely enjoy.”
“I’ve always felt more connected to my little friends than other people.” Crim nods, pulling up a few pictures of her many inherited hives. “That, and when your invasion started way back when, the riots swept through, and I was the only one who stuck around to care for them. Always figured that plant people would appreciate me taking care of bees, and I was unsurprisingly correct.”
“Well of course, all pollinators are important to the well being of nature on every planet that can maintain life. Even more than just planets, they feed into supporting all animals as well in the cycle of life.” Azalia smiles, before turning her focus back onto Crim. “Sorry for getting wistful, just because I am a xenolinguistics major, doesn’t change the fact that I really enjoy researching a lot of random things in my spare time, particularly from the various sophonts we interact with. Also your hives look very well taken care of. Being able to produce that much honey is impressive.”
“Ironically it’s one of the only places Terra struggled to exploit the workers. Given getting the bees to produce naturally good tasting honey, required actually treating them well.” Crim smiles softly, running her finger over one of the pictures. Not entertaining the obvious bragging from the affini, figuring it’s probably just an attempt at flirting. “When y’all took over, I met a few affini who’ve agreed to take care of them for a while. Or permanently if need be.”
Azalia giggles, and rubs Crim’s shoulder a little bit. “Well, I cannot personally back up these reports, but I have heard a few on Beeple interacting with terran bees. Once you have gotten your body mods, you may want to give some connecting with your old hives a try.”
Crim tenses up at the light rubbing along her back. “I’ll keep that in mind.” Just as she’s looking for any distraction, over the intercom comes the announcement that they’re about to be taking off, and to make sure to buckle up, and that if they need help, remember to ask.
“I’m going to see Anemone Agalia, fifth bloom, if you happen to know her.” Crim tenses up as the shuttle takes off, feeling more than a little unnatural being off of dirt for the first time in her life. The weight of takeoff hitting her all at once, and causing her to pause until it lets up. “She’s apparently an expert who is known for her work with independents.”
“Oh, I actually do know Anemone, she’s been helping me with my papers on communication between terrans and affini, and actually mentioned having an interesting appointment today, and I’d say bee body mods are interesting. Once we are on the ship, I can get you to her faster than a beeple can flap its wings.” Azalia’s vines give Crim a gentle hug, trying to help her feel secure in her seat. “It seems like this is your first time taking off in a shuttle. It will be alright, just pick something to focus on, and you will feel more comfortable soon.”
“I have a hard time imagining that, with an affini three times my size crushing me!” Crim wiggles around under the embrace, sure she wasn’t entirely certain that she’d not just float away now. But the discomfort from physical contact with anyone, far outweighs any benefits she can possibly imagine.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” Azalia slowly removes her vines from around Crim. “I did not mean for contact like that to be overwhelming, please continue to tell me if I do things, that are a bit too much.” She smiles before pulling out her datapad, pulling up a few pictures of beeple hanging out around the Equabloom. “So, have you thought about specific looks, or what you want to do, after getting your mods?”
“Well to say I want bee mods wasn’t entirely correct, I want beeple mods at the base of it. So I plan on getting mods that can allow me to be as close to that as possible.” Crim glances down at the beeple pictures, wincing at the slight stinging in her chest. “Also it’s fine, I just don’t like being touched, especially while sober, because it reminds me I still have a distressingly terran body.”
Azalia grins a little but nods, keeping her vines to herself. “I understand, I’ve helped a few sophonts with directions on taking care of dysphoria in my time. If you are so interested in beeple, have you looked into our hive satellites much? They are largely just beeple there with occasional affini to check on data, and oversee all the little cuties. I wouldn’t recommend a sophont go unless they really want to go on a trip, but beeple mods should make it more reasonable.”
Crim blinks a few times, taking a moment to consider the possibility of going to an actual beeple hive. "I guess that's something to add to the list of future goals." Once they break the atmosphere, she starts to wiggle around slightly.
Experimenting with the feeling of weightlessness even under her restraints. "That and probably learning at least basic affini to be able to communicate while I'm there."
“Well I’d be willing to teach you that, but I do need to warn you, it will take a lot of work. This isn’t something you can just pick up and learn in two weeks or so.” Azalia giggles a little bit, enjoying the show of Crim experiencing flight for the first time. “We have different organs, or well to be specific… no organs, so even with body mods, it will be quite a bit different to really learn. But if you want to push through with lessons, I have made classes, and would love to observe how the learning process of basic affini is for a sophont. See how I can improve it for future courses!”
"Well I don't figure there's a hive satellite sitting above the planet right now, so I'm sure it'll be fine." Crim flashes Azalia a small smile through her mesh. Happy to finally get a chance to directly learn how to speak affini, other than the absolute most basic scripts that she’d learned to get around over the years. "I'm not the quickest learner, buuuut if you're promising me a chance to interact with a massive hive of beeple, I can't ignore that, even if it's an incredibly roundabout way of you trying to flirt with me."
Azalia tilts her head to the side as she looks down at Crim, before shrugging. “I’ll be honest, I am just trying to be helpful, although we as a species are very flirty in the first place, it is a key part of our culture!” She laughs gently, shaking her head. “Really, I initiated our conversation because it looked like you were having a bit of a hard time, and I thought you could use a little distraction.”
"Suuuure you aren't, and sure you did." Crim rolls her eyes at the fact that she's dangerously close to being lectured by another affini who believes she was in distress about the affini propensity for flirting. "You're doing a good enough job of keeping my mind off of the appointment, but maybe work on, or cut out the culture speech. I promise everyone who comes out of their house at least once a month, has heard it by now, and even compared to the normal, you're sounding a little stilted."
Azalia shrugs, keeping a small polite smile. “Fine fine, I’ll do my best to not bring it up again. Still though, I’m glad I am helping you all the same.” She glances out the window. “You may want to take this opportunity to see your planet from space. Too much longer and we will turn and not have as good of a view.
Crim shakes her head, looking explicitly away from the window. “I’m sure I’ll get a decent enough view once we’re on board, or better yet, I won’t have to see it.” She starts to run her fingers along the little bee patterns on her outfit, enjoying the stimulation as a way to get around the bubbling anxiety in her chest. The idea of leaving her hives possibly permanently, or at the very least for several years running through her head. The fact that her queens and hives will have entirely changed before her return in all likelihood.
Azalia quietly sits, letting Crim do whatever feels right as far as occupying herself for the time being. She stares out the window, smiling down at the planet they have left before slowly entering a docking bay on the Equabloom.
Once they touch down, Crim slowly starts to unbuckle themself, reaching out and grabbing onto Azalia’s vines due to the lack of gravity. “Hey, can you just carry me the rest of the way inside? Because I really do not feel like fumbling my way around, without any gravity to work with.”
Azalia nods, and wraps a few of her smaller vines around Crim, holding her close, but minimizing contact that may make the girl uncomfortable. “Alright, I’ll get you to Anemone’s office as quickly as I can. Also I have to ask, do you have any hab set up to stay in through your body mod sessions. Also you will likely need pretty hefty xenodrug doses to be ready for the body mods, so do you have someone to check on you during all of this?” She begins to walk out as the shuttle opens the doors to let everyone out.
“Look, this was just set up to be a consultation, I figured that I’d be assigned someone to stay with for the process.” Crim shrugs as Azalia’s vines dance around the area. Moving them far more rapidly than if she was just walking. “What are you offering?”
As the pair talk, Azalia walks into the first available on board shuttle to head into the central habitation ring. Crim glances around occasionally, not really bothering with pretending to be uncomfortable in the affini’s grip. After all, a free ride is a free ride, and less affini thinking she’s ‘available’ is always a good thing.
“If you have no plans, you will be set up with a wardship for the duration of your changes. This could be either living with an affini, or having one who does set wellness checks. I figured that if you want to learn basic affini, I could play that part for you. Depending on your comfort, we could go either route. The hab I’ll be using is fairly close to Anemone’s vet.”
“Then I’ll just stay with you, given my friend Raven has insisted I would find a way to burn any hab I’m in alone, down.” Crim sighs as they get on the shuttle, hopping down out of Azalia’s vines, and starting to simply look around. Interested in getting a glimpse inside what an affini vessel is actually like now that they’re out of the docking bay. “And no that’s not an admittance that I’m a danger to myself, my friend is just mean.”
Azalia chuckles a little bit. “I get it, a lot of terran translations I did early on showed me that in casual settings, it is not out of the ordinary for friends to ‘poke fun at’, and jokingly blow small things out of proportion.” Her smile brightens ever so slightly. Her vines rolling around one another, making the petals that form her silhouette appear more lively. “It may seem a little strange. Also during our time together, I may ask for context to some terran phrases that I am still working on understanding.”
"Hey I get it, everywhere has different slang, and when you're traveling from place to place, you're bound to miss something eventually." Crim watches as the ship seems to bend and warp around them, revealing bustling parks lit by artificial skies, and a seemingly never ending row of all shapes and sizes of shops. Only taking note of one that looks to have a massive display filled with beeple plushies. "And in exchange you can show me around here if you don't mind, maybe bring me over to that plush shop to get a beeple plush… for research."
Azalia grins slightly, turning her head to see the shop that Crimson is pointing out. "Of course, how about after your consultation we go and 'research' those beeple plushies?" She looks out over the ship, before taking note of the small beeple hive on board in one of the parks. "Then tomorrow, how about we go and meet some beeple."
“I… yeah that sounds nice.” Crim grabs onto her left arm, trying to stop herself from wiggling it around. In her internal excitement to actually speak to a beeple, mostly independently, for the first time. Rather than simply spending several hours a day watching videos of them being cute, and reminiscing on the one she’d been introduced to.
“I thought you would like that. I’d have us go today, but I figure we need to settle into my hab, and I have no idea how long Anemone will keep you with the consultation. Unless she needs you to start something tomorrow though, we could reasonably spend most of the day with the beeple on board.”
After a moment the shuttle slows down. The door sliding open to allow everyone to get in or out at their leisure, a rough approximation of gravity thanks to the rings rotation having taken over.
Crim stretches, hopping down from Azalia’s vines as they head out into the streets of the Equabloom. Struggling to contain her excitement, as she contemplates attempting a mad dash to the vet to get now only the second most exciting part of this trip over with. "Well then we better get there quickly."
Azalia begins to lead the way, letting Crim make her own choices regarding interaction. “Of course, I don’t think we will be held up too long, then after investigating the plushies, if you see any furniture that looks good, I’ll fill out the paperwork to have it delivered. Thinking about that, we will at least want to get you a terran sized bed today, unless you’re really in the mood to share a bed.”
“Sounds good to me.” Crim looks around the pathway, astounded by how many different shops and parks are aboard this one segment of the ship. While the excess the Affini had introduced planetside had become easily processable, seeing this much in something that she’d believed to be a war vessel, boggles her mind. “After all, if I’m staying up here we might as well make things as comfortable as possible.”
“My thoughts exactly, my hab up here does have a spare room, but I wasn’t initially planning on having a sophont staying with me, so we will need to get some furniture you are happy with. Either that or something like a step stool, so you can comfortably use my furniture whenever I am not around.” Azalia takes a few turns, keeping what’s a normal stride for her, but quite quick for Crim’s standards. Able to see the excitement in Crim’s body language even under the suit.
“Smart, especially considering that I’m going to get shorter over time, not taller.” Crim pauses behind Azalia as they arrive at the vet’s office. Taking a look around at the lobby, eyes glazing over as there are several florets with their owners, but not a single beeple in sight. “And while I’m sure having wings will feel amazing, even if I don’t anticipate being able to fly once everything is over with.”
Crim pulls her datapad out, stepping in front of Azalia as they head up to the welcome counter. Seeing an affini with dark green vines, and a bunch of fly traps across its chest in a rainbow pattern sitting there. “Um, hello, I’m Crimson here for an appointment with Anemone Agalia?”
They smile, and look down at Crim. Leaning back in their seat ever so slightly as they look over the screen of Crim’s datapad. “I see, well you’ve come to the right place, you can head on back cutie. And hello there Azalia, are you accompanying Crimson here?”
Azalia smiles, and nods. “I am Dianaea, I’ll be watching over Crim during her body mods, so if you could get the paperwork together for that, I would really appreciate it.”
Dinaea flashes a small grin at Azalia, taking a step to the side. To let both of them get to their appointment on time. “Of course, you know where Anemone’s office is already, so why don’t you lead Crimson back there.”
Crim sighs, looking between the affini who’d broken off into their own conversation about her instead of with her. “Don’t read too deeply into it, this was just a happy accident.” She follows behind Azalia as they head deeper into the vet’s office, accepting a pat from Dinaea without flinching as they walk past. Biting back from grumbling for the sake of being polite.
After passing by a few doors, the pair arrive out front of Anemone’s office. Crim pushes herself further in front, as she pulls up the simulation of what she wants her mods to look like up on her datapad. “You don’t have to come in if you don’t want Azalia. Either way, I appreciate you helping bring me this far.”
Azalia smiles, and nods to a chair a few steps down the hall. “I’ll wait right here, I should pull up some wardship paperwork, and I can begin filling that out, while you talk with Anemone. If you need any help though, I'll be able to come right in.” She gets settled in the chair, pulling out her datapad. “Also I’ll figure out a good place to start our language training.”
“Thanks, I’ll see you on the other side!” Crim takes a step inside the office. Looking up at Anemone to quickly appraise the third new affini of the day, black and white petals running up her body making her look like a massive chess board. Jet black eyes, and white petals of hair that drape down the left side of her head. “Hello Miss Agalia, thank you for finding time to fit me in, given I don’t live on your ship.”
She casually walks up to the desk, eyeing the oversized chair on her side before jumping up, and pulling herself on top of the seat. Astounded at how much lighter she feels in comparison to the gravity of her home planet.
“You are welcome Crimson, I am happy you asked for me regarding your body mods.” Anemone leans forward a little. “Have you been picking out the kind of mods you want on the app I suggested? And do you have any unique requests that the app may not have had?”
Crim squirms a bit in her seat, holding the datapad out, and letting Anemone pick it up out of her hands. “The app was pretty extensive, but I honestly kept wanting more.” She laughs lightly, gesturing at the simulation. Which to say she was unrecognizable would be an understatement, it’d taken several hours to fight the app to give her every change she wanted. “Basically I’ve always wanted to bee closer to my bees, and when I saw one of your beeple for the first time I…” She takes a sharp breath. “Became incredibly insecure about my appearance, the small itch that I used to have, becoming well… you can see that I came here in my apiarist outfit, just to avoid having my body seen.”
The simulation is about as close to a beeple a terran can get, several feet cut off of the woman’s height. With beeple fluff and stripes covering her entire body, an additional set of lower arms alongside her own being replaced with tritrical hands similar to a beeples, eyes switched out with those that more closely resemble a bees. Two antennae poking out of the only thing that she’d chosen to even slightly keep, red hair to match her name. A new set of wings, and all the way down to the addition of mandibles that keep just enough inside of the facial fluff, and make it seem like she has an ever present smile. “I understand that this is probably going to take a while to both complete, and adjust to, so I’ve spoken with Azalia Quist, and she’s agreed to let me stay with her, during the process.”
“I see, this really is quite extensive. Normally we would just be making you like a bee, but I may be able to get you closer to a beeple since you seem so passionate about the topic.” Anemone smiles at Crim, before making a few notes, and downloading the simulation. “Getting all these bodymods is possible, but they will be rather draining on you, with a requirement of being on a heavy amount of xenodrugs during the process, as well as needing to do this in a series of surgeries. The first will be your arms, and then each of these will need a couple weeks between major additions, just to make sure you take each of them well.” Her smile widens into a grin. “Azalia will do well watching over you. I’d say by the end, we could have you close enough to a beeple that you will be only barely distinguishable to the untrained eye, maybe more depending on how well you adapt to the high doses, and changes that you’ll be on through the process.”
“That sounds like a plan to me, I already take some xenodrugs to relax, so it’s not like I’m going to shy away from being on higher doses.” Crim grins, vibrating inside of her suit as her eyes remain glued on the sight of her future form. Her voice cracking as she starts talking faster and faster. “But with how long you’re implying that this is going to take, where is the EquaBloom heading next? I know Azalia mentioned that you’re going to be stopping by a hive moon but not where.”
“Well, we are heading towards Nyria, and there is a hive moon set up there.” Anemone smiles, and starts to type a few things out on Crim’s datapad, before handing it back over. “Given how major these changes are going to be, I’m going to prescribe you to a two week ramp up. You will then stay at the high dosage through each phase, and you should become more comfortable with that dosage.” She then takes a moment to get more serious. “I will be honest with you. We will finish in time for getting to Nyria given the stops the Equabloom will be taking on the way. But I will give you a fair warning, living on a hive moon can be very overwhelming. If you are planning to live there, or even visit when we arrive, I’ll be having myself and Azalia making frequent checks on you while we are still in orbit. So until your first mod appointment, I want you to take this time to really think about where you want to end up.”
“Well, if I’m around people that I actually like, then I’m fine with wherever I end up.” Crim smiles softly, reaching around and unzipping her hat. Pulling it off to look as close to Aneomone’s eyes as possible without falling into such a rookie trap. “But Azalia is going to be helping me learn affini, and do research during the process, so I’m sure we’ll have more to talk about closer to our arrival.”
“Alright, I just want you to know that as your vet for these mods, and any problems you may have in the future, I will be perfectly serious with you about what you may experience. I promise, I will not salt cover anything regarding your changes or future wishes. We will be focusing on the most…stressful changes earlier than the later ones, outside of adding your wings.”
“It’s actually honey coating something, salt coating would be making it seem worse than it is, while honey coating would be making it seem better than it is.” Crim chuckles to herself, slipping over to the edge of the chair. “And I appreciate you being up front with me, I figured I’m going to be learning a lot over this next year anyway, so it’s proooobably for the best that I don’t get sanded down information to make it feel more digestible.” She hops down off of the chair, giving a slight flourish. “So, is there anything else we need to do today?”
“Nothing in particular. I would take your time to get settled in, prepare your living space to be something that feels right.” Anemone then sends a few addresses to Crim. “Here are some close by places that make custom furniture, you can get some hive themed things for your room. And this last one is a nice little cafe run by a beeple and their owner, it specializes in honey themed treats.”
“Then I know exactly where we’re going today!” Crim immediately turns on a dime, as if she’d entirely forgotten that the affini was even there. Rushing out of the room, and over to where Azalia is waiting.