The next three days are a quiet loop, Crimson waking up. Starting to squirm around, trying to get out of Azalia’s vines, and being quickly dragged back into her caretaker's embrace. Each time tighter than the last attempt.
This loop lasts until the evening of the third day, which is the first bandage swap, and lesson on how to use her new lines.
Azalia slips a large headset with pink flower decals on the side. Over Crimson’s head, having to hold the girl's head down so she won't try to thrash around, and knock it off failing several times as keeping her still enough to put the headset on properly. Eventually being forced to relent, walking over to the compiler and having it cobble together beeple antennae attachments, gluing them onto the top of the headset.
Once those are attached, handling Crim goes from trying to keep a cat in a bathtub filled with ice water, to excited buzzing, and wiggling. As she awaits her newest accessory with baited breath.
“Good girl, good bee, time for your exercises.” Azalia gives Crim’s arms all some support, wrapping vines all the way around each of them, making sure there will be little to no strain in Crim, before guiding her through several motions. “Just let the visor guide you, and soon we will have some help with out of visor practice.”
Crimson’s eyes curiously flick around while the headset displays each of the movements. Ending up far more focused on how pretty her new arms look, than the guidance of her caretaker. While the headset keeps her at the very least slightly focused on her task.
Getting a look at them, without the bandages Crim’s arms are covered in little stripes of yellow and black fluff. Ending in a set of entirely new hands, that are much more simplistic in their purpose, having lost a decent amount of their movement abilities.
As Azalia runs her vines down Crimson’s arms. Crim giggles, opening and closing all four of her palms over and over, just enjoying her ability to do so before the bandages are inevitably reapplied.
“Good job my little beeple, just keep practicing like that.” Azalia rubs Crim’s wrists lightly, guiding her through twisting them slowly, making sure Crim can see the backs of her hands. “Keep going, keep watching as your cute little fingers move exactly like you want.” She slowly turns Crim’s wrists back so her palms are up.
Crim watches herself open, and close each hand individually, before moving and slowly wrapping all three fingers on her top set of hands around one of Azalia’s provided vines, tapping lightly along the different folds. Her bottom set of arms gently pressing themselves down against the couch, practicing keeping in sync with the top set without needing to be physically holding onto a vine themselves. “Bzzzt!”
“You are doing so well! I’m so proud of you.” A few vines playfully poke Crim’s tummy, before returning to her arms. “Alright, we shouldn’t go too long without bandages on you, but just one more good stretch, then we put them back on.” Azalia guides Crim to gently stretch her arms, before returning them to a resting position.
Crim lets out a little yawn as Azalia starts to more firmly hold her arms in place. Slowly reapplying new bandaging around each, before laying her back down into her little nest of blankets.
The cycle of stretches, and headset education, continues for another few days. Raven comes out once or twice, before quickly falling back asleep. More than happy to just be cuddled, and dotted on endlessly, giving Azalia a much needed break from Crim’s constant squirming.
At the end of the week, there’s a gentle chime from the front door to Azalia’s hab. Alerting her to Anemone’s arrival, to both hopefully provide Cim a substitute to vaping, and also to give her a shot to wean her back off of the class J’s.
Azalia gets off her couch, keeping Crim cradled in her vines, as she walks over to the door. Watching it slowly slide open, she scratches behind Crim’s ears. “Hello Anemone, has your week been going alright?” She steps aside, letting her friend in and starting to walk back over to the couch.
“Well I’ve been as busy as ever, especially with your few requests.” Anemone chuckles lightly, looking down at Crim, who’s peacefully napping in Azalia’s vines. All four of her bandaged limbs rested comfortably at her sides. “But I do have some good news for Crimson’s access to xenodrugs, and it looks to me like she’s been healing well.”
Walking over to the couch, Anemone pulls a small hexagonal container out of her chest, before sitting down and patting next to her. “While vaping isn’t something that can be done with a majority of the airborne xenodrugs Crim is on. Whether it be for effectiveness, or to ensure there’s no improper dosing.” She pops the lid of the canister off, revealing what looks like three different colored inhalers. “This seemed like an appropriate substitute, each providing a different dose, while allowing her to experience what she wants.”
She pulls the red one out first. “This one is her Class C’s to inhibit bonding responses, alongside some light class F’s to assist with her anxiety in public.” Next she taps on the one with a blue outer lining. “This has a nice hefty mix of A and E’s, one hit will be enough to last an hour or two, before slowly tapering off.”
“Finally we have a little surprise one I picked out.” Anemone picks up the final of the trio, handing it over to Azalia. “This one has class C’s, along with class A’s. To increase sensation and bonding response, while I have no idea if she will ever choose to use this one. I imagined this would be an easy way to allow her to make her own subtle choice about if she wants to stay with any particular affini permanently, or not.”
Azalia gives Anemone a small hug. “Thank you for doing all of this. It is her choice of course, but I also know this will make Crim really happy.” She brushes Crim’s hair, before rubbing a little bit behind her ears. “Crim, Raven, it’s time to get up. Your vet is here to check on you.”
Crimson’s eyes slowly flutter open, gazing hazily over at Anemone. “Meh?” She arches her back slightly, all four arms pressing up against Azalia’s vines, doing a small push up as she slowly, and clumsily crawls towards their guest. Once she’s made her way fully out of Azalia’s lap, Crimson pulls her legs in under her, sitting up and looking more directly at Anemone. “Hi!”
Anemone chuckles lightly, putting the three inhalers away, before reaching out, and plucking Crim up into her vines. “Hello there petal, I see you’re adjusting well to everything!” She gently slides a vine up against Crim’s thigh, giving the girl a quick injection to start the ramp down process from the class J’s. “Now let’s get you out of those bandages shall we?”
Crim winces at the little prick, before nodding rapidly. Moving each of her arms in time with Aneomone’s vines to allow her to more easily remove each of the bandages.
As each of her arms are freed from their restraints, Crim starts to open and close her new palms rapidly. Taking part in what has by far become her favorite part of her daily physical therapy.
Azalia laughs, and reaching over to give Crim some pets. “Those won’t need to go back on sweetie, so you can look at your hands all you want.” She then focuses back on Anemone. “Alright, what kinds of things would you like us to be doing until her next round of body mods? I already am going to be doing some physical therapy with Solosia to help Crim get further along.”
“Well then it seems like you’re good to go on that front, just make sure to be there for Crimson, I can very easily see her feeling… out of her element with the reduced reach.” Anemone chuckles lightly, patting Crim a few times, and watching as the girl flops down onto her side. “She should come up over the next two or so hours, so is there anything you’d like to do until then? I’ve actually managed to clear my schedule for the day in order to be here.”
“Well, I’ve been doing a lot of work on Crim’s room to make things more fun for her, with safety taken into account as well.” Azalia smiles, and begins to lead the way. “I got some advice about what all beeple hands are good at, and climbing and holding on are two of the primary things, so I got some little climbing stations set up, lots of soft things at the bottom of course.”
“Oh that sounds absolutely precious.” Anemone gently plucks Crim up from off the couch, setting the girl on her feet, and leaving a vine for her to hold onto as Azalia leads the way towards the bedroom. “This way, little one.”
Crim nods, wrapping her right two arms around the vines, taking slow steps behind her affini leaders. A little wobbly due to the new balance of weight on her body, but maintaining her footing thanks to the assistance of Anemone’s vines.
Azalia has to bite back a squeal over how cute Crim’s posture is, before opening the door to Crim’s bedroom, turning her focu back onto showing off.
“So, we have several different sets of climbing equipment here. None of them go very high, though if Crim likes them, I’ll get taller ones with a wider variety of safety gear.” Looking around Crim’s room aside from her bed and a small walking area reserved as a path to the honeycomb bed, it looks more like a bee hive themed climbing area, with appropriately sized rock walls, and several different obstacles to climb across. A set of vines installed as a part of railing on the ceiling that can slide along while holding onto Crim in case she falls.
little platforms at the top of each one that would have previously been big enough to be a shelf, but served well for little rest spots, and each has a pole installed on the side to slide down to the ground, where several landing pads have been set up.
"Dirt, this is absolutely precious." Anemone grins, gently pressing a vine up against Crim’s back. Watching as the girl takes a few steps in front of the pair, looking over the area curiously. Having missed the entire installation of these upgrades due to her propensity for napping all day.
Once she gets to the first ladder that is leaned up against her bed area. She slowly wraps her hands around each step, having to reposition her hands a few times to get a more balanced grip. "Mrrr…" She slowly reaches up to the next rung, her top right and bottom right moving in time with one another, before the opposite set follow their lead.
“Thank you, I found a chat room with beeple owners, and they shared a lot of what they have set up, which helped me a lot in setting everything up over the week. Of course I kept things scaled down, but there is plenty of room for add ons as Crim becomes more confident and capable.”
As soon as she’s confident in her grip, Crimson quickly scampers up the ladder. Flopping down off of the top, and on top of her bedding area, noticing that several of the honeycomb plushies that she’d gotten from Resin are placed around the first platform.
Electing to simply flop down into the pile of them, her bottom set of arms wrapping around the first one she can get her hands on, as she looks over at the affini. Only barely on eye level with the pair thanks to the height of her honeycomb beds frame.
“Indeed, there will be plenty of time for Crimson to increase her confidence around climbing.” Anemone reaches out, patting Crim on the head to congratulate her for getting all the way up. “Speaking of, I’ll be doing her wings during the next set of mods, so just make sure to keep her laying on her stomach at all times when healing from that. They will be very tender, and quite fragile at that base at first.”
“I understand, that makes sense.” Azalia raises one of her flowered vines to playfully brush against Crim. “She has some beeple friends who I’ll go about asking their owners if they can help teach Crim when she is healed, outside of visor learning and PT.”
“Oh I have no doubt about that, I went and talked to clover when I was figuring out how to do the inhalers.” Anemone laughs lightly, taking a seat on the ground and watching as Crim starts to slowly make her way towards another set of bars to climb across. “She was just the sweetest, and was so curious about when Crim would be back to visit again.”
Crim gives Azalia’s vine a slight nuzzle, before dropping the honeycomb plush that she’s holding. Looking at a set of monkey bars, and reaching out to grab onto them, having to use the tips of her toes to reach and grab on fully.
Using the reduced amount of gravity to swing herself forward and have her bottom set of arms grab onto the next bars. Starting to slowly climb across the gap to another one of her raised resting areas, as is becoming all too common with Crim for Azalia, ignoring the fact that she’s still high, and not buckled in, so she could accidentally hurt herself if Azalia wasn’t here to catch her.
Azalia’s vines drift under Crim during all of her climbing. “I’ll need to let clover know that Crim will be back to visit very soon, that and bramble will be excited to have his cuddle buddy back too. Depending on how aware she is and how she is feeling, I’ll take her out tomorrow or the next day.”
Crim barely manages to crawl all the way across, before exhaling sharply and flopping down. Landing on the little platform, and rolling all the way over on top of the other honeycomb plushies, noticing the blue beeple plush that had been put up here and clinging to it.
“Yeah, she should be coming down, in just a little bit longer, but I’d recommend dedicating the rest of the day to having her rest, and more deeply explaining everything about her limbs once she’s fully detoxed.” Anemone grins, watching as Crim cuddles up in the plushy pile. “Although I must admit, I’m curious how long it’s going to be before you set a desk up in here, so you can work, and keep an eye on her while she’s climbing.”
Azalia laughs a little bit, reaching over and running her vines down the base of Crim’s back. “On one vine, I want it to be her space, but on the other I do need to watch over her climbing. I think that I’ll discuss that with her after she has come down, so we can work out what setup would make her most comfortable.”
“Makes sense to me, I’ve got no doubt that she’ll remember most of this conversation. Might be a little hazy about the last few days, but on the bright side it seems like the headset’s training, and your help has gotten the instincts solidly in her.” Anemone watches Azalia relax, and start to casually pet Crimson, taking a moment to simply enjoy having some free time to actually spend with her friend again. “Have you started teaching her affini yet? Or is that going to be a project for later?”
“We have done a little bit, although I’ve refrained from too much the couple of times she has been on Class Js. It seemed like a bad time to try, especially when she was fully into cuddling and being cute. I’ll probably focus on teaching her more whenever we aren’t out visiting her friends.”
“Well that’s good, the last thing I’d want would be a crime to have little Crim struggling to communicate with everyone once we arrive! Even if you've got concerns about them staying, the time she does spend there. I hope to be as painless as possible.” Anemone sighs, shaking her head and pulling out her datapad. “I’ve actually got a few things to show you if you’d like. I sent Crim’s updated file to the xenoburicratic wing. Apparently there are a few records about ‘Raven’ from before the accord fell. Given she’s chosen you as her caretaker, it would probably be for the best for you to see it.”
“Thank you, and I would like to see anything that is on file for Crim and Raven.” Azalia looks at Crim cutely cuddling her plush before focusing on Anemone’s datapad, though she still kept a vine near Crim, giving little pets and brushes through her neck fluff.
The most notable thing on screen is immediately the fact that Raven was actually the one who officially worked for the bee farm on record. Crimson herself seems to be the one who simply spontaneously appeared during the affini’s take over of the planet.
Anemone decides to switch over to speaking in affini due to Crim’s increasing lucidity. "I spoke with the affini who found Crimson on world. Who confirmed that Crim never spoke about Raven, or showed any indication of hiding her existence."
Anemone sighs, shaking her head and flicking over to medical readouts. "I believe the lack of honesty was simply skepticism around how we would treat a sophont with multiple personalities. This wouldn't matter that much, aside from being a sign of clumsily handling information about how we treat poliburious soponts, but with how you've recorded their behavior over the last few weeks, I have concerns about their health as a system. Given their very different goals, and needs, do they seem to fight to you? Or is there any resentment? Because from what I can see, Crimson basically 'replaced' Raven during our take over."
Azalia pauses, as she looks over the records that Anemone is showing off for her. Her face locking up slightly in a forced smile to avoid accidentally worrying Crim. “The two…don’t seem to like each other the most. Crim believes Raven is a bit stuck up about her capabilities, while Raven believes that Crim couldn’t last, and I quote ‘5 minutes without oversight’. Crim is basically all play, and focuses on bee and bee adjacent things, while Raven likes bees, but I would almost call her a recovering workaholic.”
"I couldn't agree more, expanding on that, I also dug back up the records of their employment for the local bee farms… and well the Seventa family was quite renowned beekeepers on Helios for several generations. Running a vast majority of the hives that the company they worked for owned." Anemone's vines rustle slightly, frowning as she glances over at Crim.
"And, well… Crim, and Raven, seem to be the last living members of their family, and by the records they were working on the hives, and collecting honey, for 18 hours a day, every day, for the last six years. When we first arrived, the affini who went to the gardens found her sleeping next to nearly three miles worth of hives. She stated she didn't have a home, due to needing to take care of all of the bees on her own. Given the rest of the company attempted to simply abandon the hives when we arrived. Leaving her there as the lone caretaker."
Anemone flicks over to pictures of the hive infrastructure, to give Azalia a better idea of just how many bees this girl was actually taking care of. Rows and rows of hives of all sizes, bees on mass flying around and buzzing. Each of the hives built into part of a massive rocky outcropping, with one massive garden running alongside them. "Even after we took over operations, she'd come in and chide those affini present about doing small innocuous things that she saw as slights against her bees."
Flicking to another picture, Anemone shows off a barren hab, the main room nearly empty, while the bedroom has a bee themed bed and a single tiny beeple plush on top of it. "It took forcing her to realize if she kept overworking, she'd be domesticated, for her safety to actually get Crimson to stop spending those same 18 hour days at the hives."
Anemone puts down the datapad, leaning back slightly as she looks over at Azalia. "Despite the past three years of time, up until she came up onto the Equabloom, she'd still spend three to four hours a day with the hives. Terrans will packbond with anything, and I believe Crim due to her situation, views bees as the closest thing to family she's got left."
Azalia frowns, quietly watching Crim. “I’m going to ask if anyone can check Crim’s old home, see if there is anything that could be important left behind. Then I’ll see about trying to get her some more therapy sessions, because she seemed very eager to leave, regardless of how much she wanted to become a bee.”
"Luckily, everything in her hab has been rounded up, and is going to be delivered here via cube ship, in the next few days." Anemone nods, tucking her datapad back into her chest. Taking note of how Crim had simply elected to nap as soon as she was no longer able to understand the affini. "And of course I'd recommend getting her to a vet to talk about all this. She has records of going to one during the few months of wellness checks, but stopped soon after they ended. So I have no doubt that she's going to have a lot to talk about with all this change going on."
“I’ll schedule an appointment with a specialist when we are done. I won’t have Crim or Raven skipping out on things that will help them be happier in the long run, even if they will be sour on the idea at first.” Azalia reaches some vines out for Anemone’s, giving her a little squeeze. “I’ll also see about getting some more files on Crim and Raven, from before the compact. I would like to know everything about how best to help them.”
"I'd recommend trying to get the rest of it from her personally, after all you wouldn't want them thinking you're going behind their back, to figure all this out." Anemone gently squeezes Azalia’s vines back, electing to fully lean in and give her fiend a hug.
Raven’s eyes ever so slightly crack open, her lazily gaze crossing over the bedroom, and spotting the two affini chatting with one another on the opposite end.
Slowly she pushes off of the ground, her bottom set of arms movements a bit uncertain as she pushes herself over to the edge of the platform. Looking down at the five foot drop that she'd face to get down from here. "Uhhhh, Azalia Ma'am can you help me down please!"
Azalia looks over, and smiles before coming over. “Of course Raven.” She slides her vines around her ward before pulling her into a hug, carrying her back over to Anemone. “So, I am sure I know what Crim will say, but how are you feeling? Anything feel off?”
"Balance feels a little bit wonky, like I'm physically being forced to lean forward slightly, due to the weight." Raven wraps her bottom set of arms around her waist in a hug. Helping herself balance a little better, as she nuzzles up against Azalia’s chest. "Thank you for taking care of us, I know Crim won't say it, but it's really appreciated."
“Any time Petal, any time.” Azalia rocks Raven lightly pressing her up against a patch of soft petals. “So, Anemone managed to get your meds set up in inhaler form, and while it isn’t quite the same as vaping, it is a pretty close middle ground to getting to enjoy vaping time with your beeple friends. That, and tomorrow we will start your physical therapy with Solosia.” She gently brushes Raven’s hair, before shifting her a little bit. “Later tonight, there is something I want to ask you, but that can wait."
Raven nods slightly, flashing Azalia a small smile as she's pulled up closer. "Well I'm more than happy to talk to you any time, especially given how… limited my commentary has been this last week."
Anemone nods, reaching out and patting Raven on the head a few times. "Alright you two, as loathe as I am to lose the sight of this adorable cuddling. I think it's about time for me to head on out, but if either of you need anything I'm always just a message away." She slowly stands up, taking a step away from the duo, figuring that giving the pair time together in private will be the best given Raven’s condition.
Azalia waves lightly at Anemone. “Thank you for making this hab visit, we’ll keep in touch, and let you know if anything happens.” Once Anemone leaves, she pulls Raven up to plant a small kiss on her forehead. “So, one of the things Anemone checked on for me was yours and Crim’s paperwork, and she managed to find out a bit of how things were before the compact. I just want you both to know that I am here for you, and I would like it if you could share with me how things were. Nothing will be held against you, I am just curious, and looking out for you.”
Raven winces at the comment, turning her head away from Azalia. "There ain't much to be said, we did a lot to keep our hives in line, and once y'all took over we relaxed a bit." Her bottom set of hands tap along her arms anxiously, starting to involuntarily squirm around from the burgeoning knots in her chest. "Maybe you could show me those inhalers or something. I really don't wanna think about this."
Azalia nods, and brushes Raven’s hair. “Of course, and I’m sorry for bringing it up. I just learned about it, and I didn’t want it to come up later, and make it seem like I was hiding what I learned.” She reaches over to grab the case, before pulling it close. “Alright, this red one inhibits bonding responses, and will assist with public anxiety, a blend of C’s and F’s. This blue one is a mix of A and E, this is mostly to help you relax. Then this little yellow one is very special, and it is one hundred percent yours and Crim’s choice. It has C’s and A’s, and is designed to increase sensation, and bonding responses.” She sets all three back in their hexagonal case, before resting it in front of Raven.
Raven picks the third inhaler up, starting to twirl it around very slowly in her three fingers. Struggling to get a decent flow with the decreased dexterity at her command. "Let me guess, this is the 'domesticate me now' button." She laughs lightly at the fact that it's yellow and black like a bee. "Clever wrapping it in something that Crimson is bound to get curious about."
Azalia giggles a little bit, and pets Raven. “Well, I’m pretty sure you don’t need it, but would like it. I’d take it more as you being curious, and wanting me to be a bit more lovey and touchy, just to really take advantage of that increased bonding response. And who knows, maybe it will lead to domestication, but I do know that would be something for all three of us to get into.” She brushes a few vines through Raven’s neck fluff while they talk.
Raven scrunches her neck up slightly as Azalia runs her vine over it. The soft fluff tickling slightly against her chin. "Yeah, well good luck with Crim I guess then. She's probably gonna be really grumpy about this one." She reaches out, putting the yellow inhaler down in the container, before sighing and shaking her head. "Sooooo, new arms and physical therapy? Who are we gonna be doing it with."
“Well, Solosia is a specialist in physical therapy, they will be helping us get through your exercises as well as putting together an at home routine. And as for Crim, I’ll be steadily working with her towards some stronger connection between us. Especially since to make sure you both have somewhere safe to retreat, I can move my work to the hive moon as well.”
“Huh.” Raven nods slightly, wiggling around as she unwraps her bottom set of arms, and starts to slowly climb her way down Azalia, and down to the ground. “Well I for one will be happy to have you with us for the trip, and I guess meetin another new affini won’t be the worst thing in the world. Especially if it means getting better with only having three fingers.”
Azalia giggles, and pets Raven a little bit. “Of course, I will also be there in case either of you feel too overwhelmed or uncomfortable. I’m afraid of Crim liking it, but you hating it, and I won’t let either of you be uncomfortable.” She kneels down next to Raven. “Also, I’m going to be scheduling you and Crim for therapy with a specialist vet, I think it would help both of you a lot.”
Raven groans, flopping her head to the side. “But I don’t wanna, we’ve already dealt with two years of talking to a affini about our problems.” Her fluff bristles slightly as she starts to walk out into the living room. Swinging each arm of her arms in time with one another to make sure they don’t mess up her balance. “As for the hive moon sucking for me, I don’t know what will happen once we arrive, but it can’t be that bad could it? I mean why would you let a sophont in one if it’s actually dangerous right?”
Azalia rubs Raven’s shoulder, keeping a solid grip to make sure that she doesn’t fall over if her balance is tipped. “Well, Crim has been very evasive in her own sessions, though it may be good for you to keep attending therapy. As for the hive moon, it has some effects on sophonts, and especially beeple as buzzing so much buzzing all at once is very similar to the effects of an affini’s biorhythm, except for being much stronger in intensity as the number of wings in the corus increases. While Crim will likely love losing herself to it, allowing herself to be guided to where she needs to be, but I feel like you won’t like it. It isn’t dangerous, but everyone who experiences it has wildly different opinions as they slip in, and out, of complete individuality.”
Raven blinks a few times, considering what drifting out of individuality would even entail. The very real possibility of losing who she currently is, for the first time crossing her mind. “I… uh…” She shudders, scampering over to the couch to try and pull herself up onto it, and ignores the lingering dread that Azalia’s comment has sparked in her chest. “Yeah, you shouldn’t leave us then…”
Azalia’s feet slowly unfurl into vines, the vines sliding under the soles of Raven’s feet and giving her a quick boost. “Sophonts always come back when in special noise dampening rooms on hive moons, but think of it as heavy hypnosis telling you exactly what to do, and you feel compelled to follow it. It’s not for everyone, and with how you and Crim are, I think special consideration is needed. Of course I would like to give Crim the chance, and see if you do end up enjoying it, but I promise you, I will be there, and if you need it, I will take us all out of there.”
Raven groans, flopping forward onto the couch. “Azalia, I appreciate you encouraging me about the possibilities, but oh boy. Does everything suddenly feel a lot more intimidating now.” She rubs her face lightly, while her bottom set of arms thump against the couch. “I mean I already worked enough for one lifetime, I don’t wanna be dragged into something like that again.”
Azalia wraps her arms around Raven and holds her close. “That is actually part of my worries from what I heard. Everything was in your name, and with my experience with you, I know that you would like nothing more than to not work any more like that.” She rubs down Raven’s back lightly. “I want you to understand what everything is going forward, and I will make sure you are comfortable.”
“Indeed it was…” Raven leans up, glancing over at Azalia. “I’m gonna… be honest.” She bites her lip, looking down at herself. “When the war started, I was at the hives, everyone slowly abandoning ship because why bother caring for bees when massive plants are invading.” She starts to tap across her chest, pretending two people were walking down a field. “I was alone, working for hours and hours, sometimes blacking out, waking up with… work done I didn’t remember.” She exhales sharply. “Then one day, I wake up to realize that the affini are here, not only are they here, they have no idea who I am. They call me Crimson.”
“I see, that explains a little bit of what I was going to ask you actually. That also is part of why you need more therapy. Plural systems are sometimes formed from intense stressors, and your own obviously developed or at the very least, was revealed to you, due to being left alone to work with your bees.” Azalia rubs a few of her vines against Raven’s hands. “Raven, what do you want? With life, yourself, everything.”
“I want to rest, it’s all I’ve wanted for my entire life.” Raven’s hands wrap around each of the vines, her head tilting up to look nearly into Azalia’s eyes, tracing along the periphery if only to avoid being lost in them. “I do really love bees, but I’ve felt like one my entire life, collecting flora and fauna, taking care of the hive, sleeping, repeating. Ignore that everyone around you is dying, ignore that you’re pushing yourself too hard, take care of the bees.” She sighs. “Then you all showed up, and we were promised a way out, to rest and relax, but Crimson became so paranoid about you not taking care of our hives properly… well you can see how that ended in our file I assume.”
“I saw, Anemone found it when she was pulling up your files to make sure we could make these inhalers.” Azalia gives Raven’s cheek a little rub. “I’ll tell you what, I still want you to do healthy amounts of physical activity, but outside of that, I’m going to help you get exactly what you want. I know you liked the Js of course, but is there anything you want added to your room for comfort? Or just anything added around the hab?”
Raven blinks a few times, her head nuzzling ever so slightly up against the vine, before shrugging and looking around. "I dunno, some soft spots for me to curl up, and nap, whenever we are just hanging out around the hab. Most of my entertainment comes from using my datapad anyway, so having spots where I can flop down without being in your lap sounds great."
“Alright then, I’ll make sure to get some more perches, plush piles, and bean bags put in. I’ll also get more blankets too.” Azalia lets out a rush of air that sounds like an excited squeal. “Oh I can get the perches set up to look like large flowers, I bet that would be so adorable!” She laughs, starting to more intimately pet Raven, running her hand over the girls head and down the back of her neck.
“Well that’s at least one way to get Crim not to complain about using them.” Raven grins, allowing Azalia to heap pets onto her as she stretches her body out. Each of her arms shifting ever so slightly to cuddle the affini more openly, appreciating the distraction from her memories. “But that sounds absolutely heavenly, especially for when we’re just hanging out, and letting you teach us about speaking affini.”
Azalia smiles a few of her vines splitting away from her chest, taking her datapad out and starting to handle the ordering process. “I’ll put in the order now, then we can have them all set up fairly quickly.” She wraps a few vines around Raven, picking her up and holding her close. “Of course if you ever want to perch up on me, I wouldn’t mind. It is super cute having you able to be this bundled in my vines.”
Raven lets out a small, nearly inaudible buzz of satisfaction. “Well I’m more than happy to ride you around too ma’am.” She intermingles her arms with the vines that are focusing more intentionally on smothering her. Her fingers tapping along each as she’s placed even deeper within Azalia’s mass.
Azalia gently holds Raven over the bundle protecting her core, letting her listen to her rhythm. “As long as you are happy, so am I. Just make sure if you get uncomfortable with anything to let me know. That way I can fix it, and keep you comfortably relaxing. Also I’ve been told that some things from your old place have been gathered up, and will be sent up here. Is there anything in particular that Crim may have left behind that you are missing?”
“We have a few trinkets from before we moved in, stuff from our family and the like.” Raven shakes her head, relaxing her head down closer to the rhythm. “That and Crim’s favorite plush, it was the first thing we were given when moving into our hab unit. Other than that, there’s nothing else we really got all that attached to before.”
“Alright, we can still see about putting things to good use, I just wanted to make sure that there wasn’t anything specific to look out for in what is being sent up here. I’ll make sure to set the plushie out on your bed.” Azalia begins to gently trace vines along Raven’s head and back, keeping her little ‘drawings’ simple, and identifiable, as bees and flowers. “So, I know you have mostly let Crim handle becoming ‘friends’ with the beeple, would you like to open up a little more with them? I know bramble would enjoy more cuddle time.”
“I don’t see any harm in it.” Raven shudders as each of the little drawings are completed, flopping over in Azalia’s vines to look over at the door to their hab. “From what I can remember he seemed nice enough, and getting to actually cuddle someone closer to my size could be fun. That, and I bet he could teach me how to best give hugs with my new arms.”
Azalia giggles, and nods a few times. “Alright then, I’ll call and see if he is available to come over.” She flicks off of the ordering app on her data pad, starting to call Ipheon. After a couple rings, the call is answered. “Hi there Ipheon, I hope I’m not interrupting anything, but Raven would like to be fronting for some bramble cuddles, if you wouldn’t mind of course. She has her first set of mods all done, and it is just getting used to them now.”
Ipheon’s face appears on the other line, grinning as she bounces up and down, as she walks through the ship. “Well, me and bramble are just on a walk right now, so let me ask him.” She lightly tugs on one of her vines that’s being dragged around by her buzzing floret, guiding him over to the datapad. “So petal, do you wanna go and meet Raven personally today?”
Raven leans up as far as she can manage, barely getting herself on screen. As she lazily waves her right set of arms, partially to show off, but mostly to be polite.
bramble nods eagerly, buzzing all the way up against the datapads camera to look over it. “yeah, i would really like that! are we meeting somewhere specific?”
Azalia nods, and angles the camera down to show off every inch of Raven’s new mods. “Today we are just relaxing at home, so if you want to come over, I’m sure Raven would love to show off her snuggle perches we already have installed, and I can talk with your Mistress about ideas for other snuggle areas we can add.”
“That sounds like a plan to me, we’ll be there as soon as possible. Also your new arms look adorable Raven.” Ipheon smiles softly, scooping bramble over into her arms, as she hangs up. Starting to hurry along to Azalia’s hab unit.
Raven exhales softly, relieved that even if getting a positive response was inevitable, one was still given nonetheless. “Well, I guess if bramble is going to be over, then can you pass me the normal, feeling nice inhaler? Bees, I’m gonna need to give them all names more catchy than that.”
Azalia grabs the blue one before pressing it into Raven’s hand. “Here you go, I know it is easy to use, but if you feel like your fingers have trouble handling it, just let me know, and I’ll help you.” She pets Raven a few times before making sure she is sitting upright, and able to breathe in easily.
Raven fidgets around with the inhaler, making a triangle with her fingers to hold the two bottom halves, and placing her third finger on top. “I got it… I got itttt.” She slowly presses the end to her lips, before inhaling and pressing the button down.
Inhaling, the taste of inhumanly sweet blueberry floods her mouth, and soon washes over all of her senses. She closes her mouth and pulls the inhaler away, holding it in for a few seconds, before sharply exhaling as she melts into the couch. Which is starting to feel even softer than normal, the world around her going back to being more friendly, and inviting, rather than the unpleasant harshness that she’s all too familiar with.
Azalia giggles, and pets Raven a few times before placing the inhaler back into its case. She then grabs a plush flower that’s tucked into the side of the couch, and places it into Raven’s grip. “There you go, I’m going to put some snacks together for you, and bramble, before they get here.” She leans in to kiss Raven’s forehead, before flicking the TV on to a gardening show.
Raven lets out a little yawn, her little arms wrapping around the flower, and starting to fiddle around with and cuddle it. Basking in how soft the couch and the flower is, looking over to start watching the garden in the show, a massive affini talking about how they produce a bunch of more simple, and safer xenodrugs. “Thank you Missm…”
Azalia giggles, and gives Raven a few parting pets. “You are very welcome pet, and we can keep this just between us until you are fully ready.” She pulls away to begin putting together the simple treats.
About an hour later, a light chime rings through the hab and Azalia’s walks up to answer the door. Watching as bramble buzzes right past her in excitement, leaving her standing with Ipheon.
bramble buzzes up to Raven, his mandibles positioned into as wide a smile as he can manage to fit on his face. Not even noticing he’d completely ignored Azalia. “hi, how are you doing raven?” he settles in next to her, giving Raven a little space so she can initiate physical contact.
Raven chuckles a bit, slowly pushing herself up, only to flop back down next to bramble, and pull him into a massive hug. “I’m feeling really nice.” Slowly, and clumsily each of her four arms dance around, and press up against bramble’s. “The new arms are a little finicky, but I’m still enjoying them a lot.”
Ipheon grins, standing in the doorway as she looks over the pair starting to cuddle. “Oh that is just so precious.” She pulls out her datapad and takes a picture of the pair cuddling, before walking over to go and talk to Azalia, sliding up against the smaller affini’s side and nodding towards Raven. “So how’s that not getting attached thing going, because I want them even more seeing these first mods.”
bramble giggles, and runs his hands down Raven’s, making sure to give her wrists and elbows little rubs. “i know it may be strange, but we can work on grabbing, and using tools… after cuddles.” He buzzes lightly, nuzzling his head up against Raven’s neck.
Azalia rolls her eyes, and huffs. “Failing pretty hard on not getting attached. Raven slips out little muffled ‘mistresses’ from time to time. Crim is still very much ‘not interested’ as she puts it, though I’m going to be lightly bringing up that basically all beeple have owners. It is kind of hard to follow both of their wishes without going over any limits, given how diametrically opposed their wants are.”
“Ooooh sounds tricky.” Ipheon sways playfully from side to side. “Well little bramble has been so excited to see them again, asks almost every day if Crim is going to come to the cafe.” She giggles a little bit, starting to slowly tug Azalia closer to the cuddling duo.
Raven shrugs, nestling her way deeper into brambles embrace. More than happy to cuddle with the beeple, and enjoy the tickling warmth that his fur elicits. “I’m okay with that, Miss Azalia helps me with a lot, and even got us an inhaler so we can have an experience similar to yours for our xenodrugs.” She giggles to herself, rubbing her head into his neck fluff. “I maaay have had some earlier.”
bramble smiles, and nuzzles into raven’s neck fluff. “good, also you need to come to the cafe more, i've been missing you. also it is really good to cuddle while you’re fronting, you hug very differently from crim, both are fun though.”
Azalia allows herself to be guided closer to the duo, quietly pulling out her datapad to start taking pictures. She makes sure to speak in affini. “It really is tricky, but it will be so worth it. At this point it is just getting Crim to lighten up. I could have brought them into the cafe over this past week, but I was being cautious with their recovery from these body mods. I still could have invited you over while they were on their Js.”
“I’m more than happy to visit more, I mean you’re the bees knees after all.” Raven giggles to herself, as her arms wiggle around to more casually support bramble. “That, and me and Crim, both absolutely adore your muffins!”
Ipheon nods, reaching out and starting to run her hands through bramble, and Raven’s hair. “Indeed, but you clearly wanted bonding time, and we do get pretty busy over at the Honey Pot, so the last thing I’d want is the poor girls to get overstimulated while they’re visiting.”
Azalia nods, joining Ipheon and petting wherever her friend isn’t, making sure both Raven and bramble are getting as much attention as possible. “I’ll have to make a point of us coming over during quieter times, because Crim loves it, and Raven does like to get outside from time to time.” She looks around with a smile. “So, I’m thinking of putting up several cuddle perches for Crim and Raven, lots of soft things for them to be cute with, do you have any suggestions or opinions?”
“I’ll make more for you then, more cuddle visits in exchange though. sleeping is always more comfy with a friend, than alone.” bramble reaches up Raven’s back, giving the base little rubs around her shoulder blades, where her wings will end up resting.
Raven wiggles around, giggling lightly as she curls up against bramble’s chest. Each shoulder blade rolling along with the beeple’s massage. “I can’t argue with that, from what I can remember, me and Crim spent all week cuddling with a bunch of the beeple plushies.” She inhales slightly, sighing at the nice flowery scent of bramble’s furr. “But this is way better.”
“Oh I’ve got the perfect idea.” Ipheon flicks through the overnet for a few minutes, eventually pulling up a hab that one room is a complete garden, filled with all different kinds of plants and growths. “You could get her a garden room eventually, teach them how to take care of it, put cuddling spots in it. It’s something I’ve been considering doing with bramble for the last decade or so, but we’ve been more focused on the Honey Pot.”
Azalia gasps, and looks over the garden. “This would be perfect, giving them something to take care of, as well as adding a wonderful place for cuddle spots! Then we could invite all of Crim and Raven’s little friends to help out, and cuddle them.” She looks down at bramble. “Some obviously doing more of one of those than the other.”
bramble lets his antennae playfully bump against Raven’s cheeks. “plushies are fun, but plushies with friends are better.” He looks over at the TV for a little bit. “so do you like gardening? or just paying attention to them talking about xenodrugs?”
“I used to be an apiarist, technically I still am capable of being one, and a big part of that was actually maintaining flower gardens, and providing the bees with enough pollen that they want to stay.” Raven blushes as the antennae rub up and down her cheeks, looking in wonder at the little sparkles held within it. “While Crim loves bees, and not much else, I also appreciate flora, and their assistance towards the echo system.”
“I thought you’d like it.” Ipheon laughs to herself, moving out of the way to let bramble, and Raven start watching the tv again. Continuing to take pictures of the pair cuddling, enjoying how attached Raven and bramble seem to be getting to one another.
Azalia follows Ipheon back a little bit with a smile. “I have to ask, do you have any advice on how to convince Crim to lean into domestication without stepping on her wishes too much? I do want to respect her desires, and right now the only thing I will stop holding back about is if Crim maintains independence up till we get on the hive moon, then if Raven doesn’t like it I will forcibly pull them out.”
“I could tell you, but then again…” Ipheon sways from side to side, humming to herself the whole time. Clearly having fun with her reluctance to explain the trick to getting Crimson to agree to domestication. “It would be very difficult…” Swooning into Azalia’s side Ipheon flashes a wide grin. “After all, you’ll need what I told you the first time I met her, a beeple of your own for her to cuddle with. We both know Crim would never accept an affini without a beeple.”
Azalia groans, and wraps some of her vines around Ipheon. “Yeah, I get that, and while I will not give up on having them myself, I get that you are coming at this with an angle, probably relating to how fond Crim and Raven have been becoming of bramble.” She looks back at the pair and has to bite back a squeal as they have shifted to nuzzling into each other's necks.
“I’ve been very blatant about asking if they were up for adoption since the day you introduced us Azalia, and my interest hasn’t waned in the slightest.” Ipheon laughs to herself, prodding lightly at Azalia’s sides. “But I also am not entirely unsympathetic to your plight, after all it can be so easy to grow attached to a sophont this adorable. I’m simply recommending that if you are truly intent on making Crimson, and Raven your own, you might need to think a little bit outside of the hive moon. Or maybe even inside it~”
“I’ve placed my stake on them, but I’ll keep the advice in mind. If the hive moon doesn’t work out, I think I could handle 2 given how easy Crim and Raven can be when they are given their needs.” Azalia begins looking over their space on her datapad. “In other news, it looks like I have enough back yard to add on a greenhouse, which would be perfect for your earlier suggestion.”
“Well then to the victor may go the absolutely adorable spoils.” Ipheon shakes her head, giving Azalia a few more light squeezes. “I will due to your stated attachment. Not attempt to do anything to spoil your chances, or draw her attention away from you, but if she does decide to ask me and bramble, absolutely unprompted. I will tell you now that my answer would be an enthusiastic yes.”
“If they ask you I won’t stop them, but I promise, I will make it very enticing to be with me.” Azalia gives Ipheon a little squeeze. “Although I will be encouraging all the cuddling with their friends too, it is adorable and Crim needs more social interaction.”
“Oh I have no doubt your web of machinations are as vast as your linguistic capacity.” Ipheon shakes her head, untangling her vines from Azalia. “And I’ll even avoid wiggling bramble around in front of Crimson until she can’t think straight, just to get her to say yes, it would obviously feel like cheating.”
Raven snickers to herself, poking bramble lightly on his sides. “What do you think those two are going on about?” She flashes a small grin at the affini. “Because whatever it is, they seem pretty passionate, I’ve not seen Azalia get her vines this wound up since we first moved win with her.”
bramble groans, and lets go enough to shift around, and look at their affini. “probably talking about how cute we are, maybe even how to get crim to be domesticated. Mistress has been really wanting you both for herself, but i know that Miss Azalia won’t give up that easily.” he stretches lightly, and gently boops his nose into Raven’s cheek, his antennae brushing the top of her head.
“Oh no, yeah, if Miss Ipheon is talking about that, no wonder Miss Azalia is getting all worked up.” Raven nods to herself, slowly dragging herself, and bramble, to sit up fully. Pulling the beeple into her lap, as she nuzzles him brazenly. Obviously attempting to put on a display cute enough to distract the affini from their bickering.
Azalia notices the movement for a moment, about to continue the bickering for a few seconds, before letting out a squeal as she notices the pose, and starts to take more pictures of the pair. “You both are so precious! It’s like you just keep getting cuter!” She winds up her vines, before shuddering excitedly as she releases a bit of the tension that they’d built up.
bramble smiles and turns his head so he can kiss Raven’s cheek playfully, cuddling into her, and posing more for his owner and Raven’s caretaker.
Ipheon moves alongside Azalia, taking several pictures of the kiss. “It’s because they do, after all Raven is such a clever girl, and with bramble supporting her keeping our attention away from them is simply impossible.”
Raven rolls her eyes, her cheeks turning flushed as bramble’s mandibles rub up against her cheek during the kiss. “Then this was a successful mission!” She wraps all four of her arms around one another, keeping bramble pinned in her embrace. “We had to stop you two from bickering somehow after all.”
“W-we were not bickering, we were having a heated discussion about who is the most physically capable of caring for more than one floret.” Azalia huffs lightly before cooing over how cute the pair are.
“Well that doesn’t sound like much of an argument to me, I mean Ipheon already has one, and you don’t. So it would be the easiest adjustment for her to add one, than for you to get two.” Raven shrugs slightly, a playful smirk on her face. This of course only lasts a few seconds, as bramble starts giving her little nibbly kisses on the cheek again, and she melts into the affection.
“Well you did walk into that one Azalia, I have been looking for a second for a long time, so I’m more than ready.” Ipheon laughs, reaching out and rustling Raven’s hair appreciatively. Knowing full well the girl is just trying to mess with Azalia. “How about you?”
Azalia huffs a little bit, before grinning down at Raven. “Okay, fine, she may have more experience than I do, but I know that you would be such a good, and easy to care for, girl for me if I had you.” She reaches down, and rubs her fingers over Raven’s cheek lightly. “After all, you already are such an obedient little pet for me without a contract.”
Raven shudders lightly as her head is drawn into Azalia’s palm. Allowing herself to start passively buzzing, and nuzzling up against the affini. “Mmmmaybe…” She looks like she’s about to come up with something to brat with, before one of Azalia’s fingers finds its way into her mouth. Breaking her train of thought entirely.
Ipheon shakes her head, grinning all the while. “Oh I didn’t know you’ve already started to train her, that’s absolutely precious!” She then reaches out to rub Raven’s opposite cheek, watching as the girl’s eyes drift shut due to all the affection.
“Oh just a little bit, she learns so quickly, and given all she really craves is affection, and simplicity. She’s picked up on some more of the simple motion commands without me even explaining them.” Azalia trails her hand a little bit down, and into Raven’s neck fluff.
bramble grins, and plants a few kisses onto Raven’s neck directly, his antennae brushing both affini’s hands, and raven’s cheeks at the same time.
As the trio collapses in on her, all of the different sensations start to mount one after another. The gentle encouraging words from Azalia, the clear interest from Ipheon, the tiny kisses and nibbles from bramble. All of the simple forms of affection that she always wishes never has to end, she simply basks in it. Each of her hands gently grabbing at bramble instinctively, almost massaging the beeples fluff.
“Roots, are you sure I can’t take her home, I mean separating her and bramble just seems cruel Azalia!” Ipheon gives the most adorably sad expression she can muster, continuing to heep pets onto Raven. “Even better idea, while you get your hab renovated, we can have a sleepover!”
Azalia frowns, her body tensing up as if she’d been insulted, before reluctantly nodding. “I would need to oversee renovations, and I do want her to socialize more.” She gently pets Raven, before leaning down. “So, Raven, would you like to have a sleepover, while I get your cuddle perches installed?”
“Yes!” Raven chirps, only to have Ipheon take this as the que to scoop her up into her vines. Quickly bundling up, and crushing her against bramble’s chest.
“Well you heard it here first Azalia, I promise I’ll take super good care of crim, and Raven, while you’re busy.” Ipheon does a few drawn out pets along the back of Raven’s head, before rushing over to the door and rushing out of Azalia’s hab. A melodic laughter coming out as she goes.