The world slowly starts coming back to Pearl as she’s sat on the couch, Resin nowhere to be seen as the pleasant quiet of stillness is replaced with a storm of emotions. First indignity, then rage, and then finally regret.
Looking from side to side, she simply allows herself to slump over. Watching as the main character of the show that is on drops her best friend off of a tower. Being pulled to safety at the last moment.
Slowly, her eyes drift shut, not to sleep, but instead to push back the tears. To force her emotions to stop spilling out, that would do nothing for her other than getting the shrub to come back and inject her with those demented drugs once again. Which brought another question to her mind, why had her kidnapper left her alone? Sure she couldn’t move before, but to be gone for so long that the drugs she’d been injected with wore off… something’s wrong.
Using her remaining arm, she claws her way to the edge of the couch. Forcing one eye back open as she looks down at the ground below, unsure if she’d even be able to get down safely without assistance.
A better question is what good it would even do, get to the door to the hab down an arm with no idea where she even is. No, that would just get her drugged again, there has to be a trick… There's no way the bush would believe an immediate change of behavior, especially after not their first few interactions.
Slowly pushing herself over the edge, she dangles her legs as low as she can get them with her arm clinging to the couch. Figuring that no matter what she does come up with, being off of that couch will be an important step.
Inches away from finding her footing, Pearl loses her grip falling backward and onto the soft hab floor. “FUCK!” She groans, slamming her arm against the ground as a small thrumming pain ripples down her back.
Almost immediately after Pearl yells, out from a side room in the hab Resin comes rushing out. Noticing its ward on the ground. “Oh petal, what happened?” It slowly walks over, doing its best not to frighten Pearl. “If you wanted down, all you had to do was call for me.”
“Like I was going to call for you…” Pearl slowly pushes herself off of the ground, eyes locking onto Resin as she tries to get a read on the plants behavior.
Resin shakes its head, kneeling down next to Pearl. “I know, but I just want you to know for next time.” She gently reaches out, watching as Pearl tenses up, but doesn’t attempt to dodge her this time.
Pearl closes her eyes, wincing as Resin’s hand cups her cheek. Starting to gently stroke it. “It’s not my fault I don’t have two arms. I’d be fine if I did.” After allowing Resin more than enough time for contact, Pearl slides backward to break away. Slowly forcing herself to her feet, keeping her arm pressed up against the couch to help with balance.
“I’m sorry I had to leave you for a moment Petal, I was just going to put in the requests for your friend.” Resin lets its body detangle slightly, forming enough vines behind its back to catch or disable Pearl if she’s forced to. “And as I’ve told you, you’ll get your arm as soon as you start calming down.”
Pearl takes a breath, pausing for a moment to build an internal plan of action. What would be a good in between statement to make Resin think she’s starting to come even slightly around. “Alright, then why would I calm down, and trust you if you’re holding my limb hostage as a bargaining chip?”
“Because you will be forced to calm down eventually.” Resin shakes its head, moving around Pearl and sitting down on the couch. “I could start you on the track to get your arm back, but you’d need to be calm enough to interact with an affini besides myself.”
“So what you’re saying is if I can prove that I’m not going to cause problems you’ll give me my arm back?” Pearl raises an eyebrow, taking a few steps away from where Resin had sat down. Not moving far enough to seem like she’s searching for an escape, while still maintaining a level of distance to convey a level of mistrust.
“I suppose that is one way to put it, yes, but it’s a little bit more than that.” Resin shakes its head, watching Pearl’s movements closely. Noticing how instead of the indignity of the previous conversations, it’s more stiff, almost artificial. “Good behavior can only get you so far, you also have to prove to me it’s genuine.”
“How am I meant to prove anything I do is genuine?” Pearl winces, looking over at the door to the hab. Knowing better than to try and make a dash for it, but wishing more than anything for a chance to be given.
“I can tell when you’re being genuine little one, from your posture, to your heart rate being monitored by the collar, you're more or less an open book to me.” Resin leans in pulling a datapad out of her chest. “Alongside that, I’ve seen your files, and there are several… oddities, times where a less clever sophont would have been court martialed.”
A chill runs down Pearl’s spine, forcing her to take a slow shaky breath to try and remain calm. Panicking won’t do her any good, and at this point she’s doubting that anything would. “So you’re just going to keep me armless until you’ve shoved the implant in me?”
“If that’s how long it takes for me to trust that you won’t do something to hurt yourself or others… Yes, I will wait that long to give you your new arm.” Resin slowly scrolls down all the notes on Pearl that she’d been provided with. “Of course if you actually begin behaving, I will allow you to get it sooner, but at the end of the day that will be my decision.”
“Of course it will…” Pearl glances up at the datapad, maybe getting a hold on that could help her… “It’s just surprising ya know, for all your talk about making me my best self, you won’t even allow me to have something as simple as my own arm back.”
“It’s because I don’t believe you’re in a state where you’d be receptive to learning about how to use it. It is going to take training and physical therapy to replace, not just sticking it in.” Resin slides a few inches closer to Pearl. “So what do you say we eat dinner, and then I’ll get you tucked into bed?”
Pearl takes a step forward, suppressing the urge to grin ever so slightly. “Sure, I could use some actual sleep… as long as you promise not to use those fucked drugs of yours again.” She awkwardly puts out her hand, as an offer of a truce.
Resin hums, shaking its head from side to side. “Well… alright, but in exchange I will be sleeping in bed with you. I don’t want you trying to run off in the middle of the night and hurting yourself.” She puts her hand out, shaking Pearl’s lightly. “Alright then, what would you like for dinner?”
Pearl tries to pull her hand away, only to find it stuck in Resin’s grip. Stumbling forward and against the affini’s side as she nearly loses balance. “I’d take a burger or something?” No reason not to ask for something she’d actually enjoy, after all if this affini is as arrogant as it seems after that deal it won't try to drug her unprompted.
“Alrighty then.” Resin swoops down, plucking Pearl up into its arms as she walks over to the kitchen. “I’ll put you down on your chair, and then I’ll be cooking for a little bit. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me, it’s nice to see you a little calmer by the way.”
Pearl is plopped down on yet another chair too high up to get off safely with only one arm. Groaning, she flops down onto the table, glancing over at Resin repeatedly. If she’s going to get into that tablet, she’s going to need the password, and opportunity.
Getting the tablet will be easy enough, suck up long enough to have Resin fall asleep first, and then slide it out of that chest cavity. The password will be much more difficult, maybe getting Resin to open it several times in front of her, but memorization hasn’t been her forte.
After a few minutes of sitting quietly, the sound of light sizzling comes from ahead of her. Resin happily preparing Pearl’s meal for the night. “So Pearl, you have now experienced class M’s twice now. How would you describe the experience from your perspective?”
“Absolutely demeaning, I mean how else could I describe… that kind of treatment?” Pearl starts to run her fingers around the table, dragging her nails across the wood. “It felt like everything I am was being shut down in exchange for silence.”
“Really now?” Resin flips the patty over, watching the sizzling carefully and making sure not to turn back to face Pearl. “Because if you would rather, I could get you high on some class A’s, maybe some C’s and E’s to help the bonding response? The blend of M’s I use for you, are only to help bring you some peace.”
“Nevermind I guess!” Pearl throws her arm up, repressing a growl. “I’d much rather have the stupid silence as oposed to my brain being melted into a mush!”
“I’m glad that you see it my way.” Resin nods slightly, finishing up the patty as she slides it over onto a pair of buns and adds some cheese on top. “It’s no fun if I cheat your adorable little mind, I want to earn your trust and help you.” She slides the meal in front of Pearl, grabbing a cup of water and placing it down as well.
“Oh yes, and the best way to earn my trust is admitting how easy it would be to forsake it.” Pearl grabs the burger, having to slide her hand from side to side for a moment to get a good one handed grip. “But yes, I will take your mercy of having me on those M’s, over the other horrific concoctions that you described.” She takes a large bite out of the burger, making sure to chew and swallow slowly enough not to cause her captor to see a need to intervene.
“Well I do personally believe that you being aware of what I can do. Will allow you to understand the type of affini I am, because I wont.” Resin shakes its head, placing a nutrient mix on the table, and dipping vines into it.
“Ah yes, such an effective intimidation tactic.” Pearl takes another bite, fumbling a bit with the burger as she finishes forcing it down onto the plate. “Or are you just self-aware enough to know that you’re all monsters.”
“I’m self aware enough to understand you believe me to be a monster.” Resin smiles softly, the mixture in its bowl being quickly absorbed into its roots. “So I am doing everything in my power to show you the lie of having that perception of me.”
“Nice phrasing you’ve got there.” Pearl hastily snatches the water, taking a long sip of it as she keeps her eyes locked on the affini sitting across from her. While she can understand her change in strategy, understanding the reason for Resin’s proves far more difficult. Perhaps it’s an attempt to placate her by being less physical, maybe it’s simple arrogance thinking that their previous interactions has already proved its point.
“I’ve got to be careful with my words around a sophont as clever as yourself after all.” Resin leans back slightly, interweaving its vines as it watches Pearl continue her meal. “It’s written on your face every moment you’re off your M’s. You are thinking at a mile a minute aren’t you little doll?”
Pearl’s hairs shoot on end as she finishes the burger, finishing her last bite with a resounding gulp. “What about it, wouldn’t anyones be, when they’ve been ‘relocated’ against their will.”
“I guess you’re correct about that, I have seen quite a few newly rescued sophonts respond similarly to you during the early days of their wardship.” Resin lets out a rustling sigh, glancing over at the show that had been left on. “So, did you at least enjoy the show that I’d left on for you?”
“I don’t really relate to the main character, I like the blond one though.” Pearl shrugs, deciding to allow the topic to be shifted away. After all, this is a better chance to try and endear herself to her warden. “She’s clever, doesn’t constantly endanger herself for others.”
“Well I’m glad you’re enjoying it at all. It was a recommendation from a friend of mine, so I was worried it would bore you.” Resin slowly comes around the table, putting its arms out for Pearl. “Now I’m just going to help you down and then I’ll walk with you to the bedroom, okay?”
Pearl glances down at the drop, before looking at Resin’s arms. Begrudgingly edging herself to the edge of her seat, allowing Resin to pick her up willingly. “Fine, but no more than that.”
Resin nods, slowly wrapping its arms around Pearl, scooping the girl off of the chair, and kneeling all the way down to the ground to let her out. “There, no more unless I find you need it.”
Pearl groans, shaking her head as she starts to walk ahead of Resin. While this plan would require sleeping in the monster's vines, that doesn’t mean she was going to just give it any more chances to get under her skin than absolutely necessary. “Thank you.”
“Of course my precious Pearl.” Resin walks a few paces behind Pearl. Feeling more confident about this route with Pearl, even if the girl’s behavior is disingenuous now, it’s still better behavior and a pathway towards obedience. “You wouldn’t mind me repeating my question about a stuffed animal you would like would you?”
“If it will get you to stop asking, I’ll take something fluffy?” Pearl shrugs as she gets into the bedroom, the shadow of Resin looming over her making her feel even smaller than usual. “Big enough to hug without being rough to hold with only one arm, if that’s not too much of an ask for your all mighty powers.”
“Oh no, I have the perfect idea.” Resin walks over to the dresser past Pearl. “I’ll make sure to have it ready tomorrow, but for now let’s get you changed.” She grabs a set of black and purple pajamas that have imitations of its flowers on the front. “Now do you want some help getting changed? I understand it may be difficult while down an arm.”
“I will do it myself, it’s best to adjust now if I’m going to be without an arm for an extended period.” Pearl puts her hand out, allowing the outfit to be dropped down into it. The fabric is just as soft and fluffy as everything else she’d experienced in this new jail of hers. Perfectly crafted to make someone feel comfortable, docile, it’s a rather engenius trap the more she considers it.
Pearl reaches down, grabbing the hem of the dress she’d been put in. Grabbing it at the hem and tossing it over her head, slowly pulling it off.
“Good job doll.” Resin plucks the dress out of Pearl’s hand, folding it and putting it away to be cleaned later. “Is there anything in particular on your mind, before we go to sleep for the night? Perhaps some requests to help you stay comfortable?”
“I guess I’ve got some buzzing in my ears, I tend to sleep better if I have something to listen to.” Pearl slips the pajama pants on first, mulling over the thought of rebels being lured in by the promises of comfort, only to have their indivtiaulity stripped away for the sake of having ‘cute’ slaves to dote on.
“Thank you for telling me. It would be a crime to have you be uncomfortable because of something like that.” Resin sits on its bed, starting to slowly tap its passcode into the datapad. “Is there anything in particular you’d like to listen to?”
“You could just turn on that show from earlier again, I wouldn’t really process it but something familiar would help.” Pearl watches each of Resin’s movements carefully, upper left, middle right, center center… and she’s staring instead of getting dressed. She turns a light flush, blinking several times and shaking her head, foolish! What if Resin catches onto what she was doing…
“Awww, don’t stop on my account, I find your absentminded gaze quite adorable.” Resin places the datapad down on the bed next to her. “But I can leave that little show on if you want, now one last thing before bedtime!” She hops up, starting to happily walk towards the bathroom. “Brushing your teeth!”
Pearl groans, looking over at the datapad… it’s still on. “Ah yeah…” She pulls on the pajama shirt, looking at the massively raised bed. Groaning as she realizes that with one arm there’s absolutely no way for her to get up to it without being noticed. “I’m right behind you.”
Resin nods slightly, walking over to the bathroom counter and sitting down in front of Pearl. “Alright, now I’ll try to minimize my involvement, and only act as a step stool for you.” She grins slightly, having its vines detangle and shift into a small staircase.
Pearl winces at the steps of vines in front of her, trying not to imagine all the ways that it could collapse in on her from all angles. “Alright then…” She takes a few shaky steps forward, her bare feet coming in contact with the surprisingly plush vines. Feeling almost like a very firm carpet under her feet as she walks upward, ending up on eye level with Resin.
Resin casually points towards a white toothbrush and some toothpaste next to it. “Now if you experience any discomfort with this, I’ll add that to the docket during your next vet appointment.”
Pearl represses a shudder as she grabs the brush. Quickly preparing it, and shoving it into her mouth. Forcing herself to ignore the possibility of this being drugged, if only because this was going to happen one way or another, and resisting now would only jeopardize the very weak plan that she’s managed to put together.
The taste is minty, almost unbearably so as she starts to shove the brush around as quickly as possible. Closing her eyes and simply focusing on the tingling feeling coming off of her teeth, doing this on board was enough of a pain as it was, doing this while under a scrutinizing gaze proving all the more uncomfortable and nerve wracking.
“No need to rush, little doll, you can take all the time that you need.” Resin gently places a vine on Pearl’s back, to give the bare minimum amount of help to its floret while also testing if the boundaries are lowering any.
Pearl tenses up, closing her eyes as the vine rubs up and down her spine. Forcing herself to continue brushing for another minute, before leaning forward and spitting out a red and white clump. “Bleh, there I’m done.” She takes a step away from the sink. Letting Resin deal with cleaning the blood out of it.
“Alright, and I’m also adding teeth to your vet appointment.” Resin shakes its head, waiting for Pearl to get off of it before standing back up and washing the sink out.
Pearl shrugs, walking towards the bedroom. “Alright, I guess there’s no harm in getting my teeth fixed up.” After all, it will serve purposes, reducing discomfort, and hopefully earning her more respect from Resin.
Resin walks in, scooping Pearl up onto the bed and grabbing the tablet. “Alright I’ll turn on your show, and if you have any issues falling asleep just tell me.” She slowly shifts its form around, untangling and creating a nest of vines for Pearl to sleep within.
Pearl nods slightly, begrudgingly nestling her way into the same edge of the nest as where the datapad is. Not making a move to touch it, as she positions her head to be lined up with the screen. “Got it.”
“Good doll.” Resin gently pets the back of Pearl’s head twice, watching as its floret shudders slightly at the touch, before starting up the videos and leaning back to rest. Simply draping a single vine over Pearl’s left leg in case its pet decides to do something rash while it’s sleeping.
“Don’t call me that…” Pearl grumbles, watching as the second season of the show starts up. At the very least this should be a good distraction while she waits for the creature to fall asleep.
Pearl cracks her eyes open, waiting through six or so episodes hadn’t been the worst thing in the world, to the point she’d delayed her plan for another fifteen minutes to watch another episode with the blond in it instead.
Testing the waters, she sticks her arm out and taps the tablet. Seeing the player appear she glances up at Resin’s face a few times, the affini’s eyes both dim most likely meaning that its more than likely asleep.
Rather than trying to pull the tablet out of the vine prison, she starts flicking around with the app. Trying to figure out how to escape it, and find her way to disable her collar and cuffs.
With a few lucky swipes she finds herself on the main page of the tablet. Now dead in the water thanks to her complete lack of understanding anything related to affini script. “Shit.” She bites her lip, trying to make any sense of all the different symbols.
After a minute of swiping from page to page, she finds an app with flower patterns similar to Resin as the logo. Clicking on it, she’s met with an almost entirely unreadable app. With the only distinction that hints at the apps use being the heart rate monitor that it’d mentioned earlier in the day.
Pearl grins, tracing her eyes over the options, trying to find one that will disable her restraints. Not to use now of course, she still needs to find the controls to the door… or be given them, before she can make any use of this.
After a few more minutes of fiddling around, Pearl manages to switch it over to the show again. Clicking play and letting the season continue, best not to risk any extra suspicion with how risky this play has been for her already.
After another episode, she forces her eyes shut, clinging to the sound of the show to drown out her own thought processes. Now she has a plan, and a way to execute it, best not to overcomplicate things that only makes it more likely for her to trip up, and blow her cover.