Day after day ticks by, Nix only growing more reserved, and quiet with each of their passing. Seemingly refusing to speak even without her class W’s, switching entirely to squeaks for reasons not even she could place.
Completing her newest art piece seems to be the only thing that could drag the floret out of her depression, unless she’s on copious amounts of xenodrugs.
The day before her implantation, Nix is curled up in Sola’s lap. Watching some random painting show that had been turned on for her, stimming on Sola’s vines, as one rests in her mouth to nip at. All of this, still only barely managing to keep her mind off of the one topic that would seemingly never go away, no matter how many ways Celosia, and Sola, try to crush it. Her crippling need to be independent, her left hand in particular still bandaged, from a burn she’d given herself while trying to make tea on her own again. Despite being on higher xenodrug doses, and being far clumsier as a result.
Sola sighs, and looks down at the bandaged hand. “Nix, I know you want to have your independent moments, and we will give you them, but right now you are not in a state for anything like that. We love the tea that you make, but we don’t want you hurting yourself for us.” She pets Nix gently the whole time she is talking. “We love you, and we want you safe, healthy, and happy. It won’t be too much longer, and I think that you would be happier just letting go for now, enjoying life, rather than pushing harder.”
Nix curls up a bit more, grumbling as she presses her head down against Sola’s lap. Her fidgeting becoming more active, rather than passive. Even with her burnt hand, trying to grip tighter, frustrated with herself, for being able to accept that Sola is correct, while at the same time not feeling any better. Like the mere act of failing at making that tea, proves her ineptitude, the last thing she tried to do before losing all the memories, and it’s just another failure.
Sola smiles lightly, using her vines to turn Nix around to face her. “Nix, I am just going to remind you, that you are just losing your memories of the navy, and this will probably lead to you having different outlooks and all, but Nix is Nix, I want you to think about how you felt before the navy. Really focus on how you were then. You will be picking up from then, but also with your memories starting here. Sure some of the navy biases will be gone, and I am pretty sure that Celosia will be limiting what you remember from the trial, given how tied into your navy memories all that was, but I don’t want you thinking about this being an end, but more of a new beginning.”
Nix shakes her head, pulling away from Sola a bit. Of course she doesn’t understand that none of this is about the memories being taken. “Mnnn.” She carefully crawls out of Sola’s lap, slow enough to not make Sola think she’s running off, but making it obvious she doesn’t wanna be touched anymore. “It’s not about the memories… I don’t care about them, I care about being…” She pauses, unsure about saying anything more. Both so she won't upset herself, and so Sola wont see fit to have her on some harder class A’s.
This is quickly stopped by remembering her contract, she will be made to tell the truth. One way or another, so it’s for the best to just get it over with on her terms, that way she won't prove herself to be even more. “Useless…”
Sola puts Nix down, but kneels so she is on level with Nix as well. “Nix, you are not useless, not at all. I understand that you may be feeling like that, but in order for the implant to go in well, you are on a very high dose of xenodrugs which are impairing your abilities. I think you are very capable of accomplishing so much, and I know that you will continue to be a very capable floret, especially once you are able to be off of the ramp up.”
“I get that, but this has been around since before the doses went up.” Nix pulls back, deeper into the corner of the couch. Both looking, and feeling, like a cornered animal. Every word coming out of her mouth causing a mix of pain, and immediate regret. “I’ve always been just… not enough, I’ll never be enough. That’s what’s on my mind every day.”
“Nix, not enough for what? For who?” Sola leans in to give Nix a hug. “Can you explain more of this feeling? I want to know how I can help you, but I can’t help without knowing more. I think you are amazing, and worth so much, and knowing that something is causing you this pain hurts me deep down.”
“This! I’m not good enough for any of this, your patience, Celosia’s affection. Pearl, Jason, any spec of it.” Nix curls up as Sola hugs around her, starting to choke out little sobs, as she cries into the couch. “I keep doing things wrong, I can’t even do the most simple of commands, without getting angry at myself! I’m…” She hits her head against the couch. “I’m horrible, okay? I killed a room full of people, I continuously fought for something I didn’t really want. I inconvenience everyone I meet, and no matter what, every morning when I wake up, the first thing that passes through my mind is that I wish I’d bled out on that damn ship, I am a waste of everyone's time!”
Sola shudders, her expression turning to abject horror, before hardening. Both out of worry, but also of pure rage, anger that Nix had managed to be hurt badly enough to still be incapable of believing her own worth. “NIX! You are a living being, you did what you had to to survive. Do I wish I’d gotten there earlier, to save you, and the room full of people? OF COURSE! But that didn’t happen. You are alive now, and I know you keep blaming yourself, and claiming you are not worth it, but that will be taken care of tomorrow. As for being worth it or not, I don’t like telling you what you can’t do, but dirt! You don’t get to make the choice on if you are worth it, those of us who give you worth determine that.” She wraps a vine around Nix’s cheeks, forcing the girl to look in her eyes. “You are my pet, and I will not, ever allow my pet to lie to herself like this.”
Nix shakes as Sola pins her down on the couch, keeping her perfectly still. Not so much as allowing her head to have an inch to move to the side. “I don’t want to, I just can’t… I can’t believe it, okay?! I just want this to be over. I wish I could disappear.”
“Nix Farin-Verse, you will never disappear.” Sola carefully looks over Nix’s form. Only withholding giving the girl a heavy dose, due to the restrictions on what Nix can have the day before the implantation. “I will make sure of it, and we will ensure that you understand your own importance as well.”
After a few minutes of quiet tension, the door to the hab slides open. Celosia standing there, a look of deep concern on her face, her body wound tight enough to burst, as she holds her datapad against her chest, having seen Nix’s vitals skyrocket and not go back down. "Sola what happened?" She very slowly walks into the hab, carefully observing Nix.
"I… asked Nix about what has been on her mind these last few days." Sola carefully pulls Nix around, holding the shaking girl against her chest. "Shhhh… it's okay, you did a good job telling me about this. Just take a nap petal." She gently doses Nix with some class Zs.
Nix only manages to weakly reach out for Celosia, as her eyes fall shut. Her heart rate being pulled back down to a more stable place.
Once Nix is down, Sola’s form relaxes ever so slightly. Getting up off of the couch, and going to grab Nix’s plush lizard from the bed. Slipping it into her florets arms, and placing her within her cubby to rest. "While we were aware of the need to remove these memories…" She puts a vine on top of Nix’s head. "Today was worse than I'd ever seen her."
Celosia shakes her head, reaching in to pet Nix as well. "It is the day before… but this is partially what I was expecting, I went out for the first time today, to test how she'd behave around only you." She carefully leads Sola to sit down on the couch. "This makes me sure, she's been subconsciously trying to hide her deeper feelings from me. While she will still allow herself to be fully open, when it's only you."
"Because she expects me to be softer on her I assume." Sola frowns, her form rustling with dissatisfaction. "But that's not what she got today, I just, I couldn't take seeing her insult, and devalue herself so viciously."
"I'm sure that must have been difficult." Celosia leans up against Sola's side, intermingling her vines with her partner's. "I'm proud of you for handling it without me here, and not freezing up." She looks down at Nix. "The good news is, her implant is ready for tomorrow morning. All of the memories that need to be removed are set to be, so when she wakes up we'll get to see a Nix free of those shackles."
Sola hugs Celosia tightly, shuddering with her own pent up emotions. "I know, getting to see Nix in a better state will take a load of worry off of me, and I know off of you too. It just hurts to know how horribly Nix considers the value of her life. No matter how much we all have tried to show her that we all value her, it's like she can't understand what we all see."
Celosia nods, looking down, and over her notes on Nix. "I desperately want to see her smile, and accept that she has worth, waiting while she recovers is going to be the most nerve-wracking experience in over a bloom." She chuckles solemnly to herself, giving Nix a few light pets.
Sola quietly nods, giving Nix a few pets of her own. "I agree, I am desperate to see Nix's genuine smile." She looks down, and frowns. "I hate that I lost my temper, but, I think on some level, Nix wouldn't change her mind regardless of how I talked. I'm just happy she opened up at all."
"Agreed, this will actually probably act as a good important core memory, to assuage the remaining fears after she wakes up." Celosia nuzzles Sola gently, before pulling back and stretching. "But for now, I should get back to work. Given I know you have everything under control."
“Yeah, thank you for checking up on us, it means a lot, and I’m also sure that having me get like that, will help everything sink in for Nix.” Sola nuzzles Celosia back, before she pulls away. “I’m going to just get things cleaned up, and I’ll check the status of our hab paperwork while you are busy.”
“Alright, I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Celosia walks back out of the hab, taking a few cursory glances back at the pair before finally pushing herself to leave.
The next morning Nix rolls over in bed, flopping onto her back, staring up at the ceiling, as she silently contemplates about the fact that this will be the last time this version of her exists. Unable to pull any major emotions out of that knowledge, just a deep cold acceptance. Knowing better than anyone else, that if it isn’t done, she’ll never forgive herself. She’ll be unable to fully accept anyone's positive opinions of her as even remotely the truth.
This lasts a solid half an hour, mostly due to the fact she wasn’t moving. Being pinned down on either side by her owners, feeling their rhythm dancing through her, trying her best to follow it to remain calm, but like always, still feeling like she’s floating on the borders. Spinning around it, rather than being a part of it. Unable to fully become one, in the way she’d seen every other floret around her be oh so tortiously capable of.
Finally Nix lets go of her plush, reaching out and starting to gently tug on Celosia’s vines. Her fingers helplessly tapping alongside each pull, never quite managing to be fully right in her mind. Always a few seconds off, making her feel like a dancer who’d never heard a song before, simply flailing wildly in hopes of it by some miracle lining up with the rhythm.
Celosia stretches a little bit, bringing her vines up to playfully tap on Nix’s arms to the rhythm. “Hey Nix, today is the day. We will be bringing you to the vet, and then you will be asleep for the operation. By the time you wake up, it will all be gone. Is there anything you would like to do before we leave? We want you to be comfortable.”
“Mmmh.” Nix rolls over, nestling up against Celosia’s form. Trying to be quiet enough to not wake Sola up, especially after what she’d done yesterday. “Just something to keep my mind off everything.” She slowly crawls up through the blankets, to get closer to Celosia’s head. “It’s just too much.”
Celosia brushes Nix’s hair a little bit, picking her up and walking out of the bedroom. Once in the living room, she sits on the couch, and rests Nix on her lap. “Nix, Sola got mad because she worries about you, and hearing how you think of yourself, kind of crossed a line for her. We both love you so much, and it is partially why we are pushing forward with removing your memories.”
“Yeah… I get it, it’s just not easy to think about something that you know you’re not going to remember.” Nix chuckles weakly to herself, nestling up against Celosia’s chest. “And I guess, even if I know it’s for my own good. Having the memories removed, kinda feels like admitting that I am a burden, that I’m broken.” She rubs her arm, her hand running under her pajama shirt slightly in order to have more direct access. “And I know it’s not true, but my brain just… keeps saying it. While I’m high, or with you two, it’s easier to ignore, but it’s always there, lurking in the background… I just, I want this feeling to go away, but like always, I’m too scared to commit to what I know I need.”
Celosia grins, and runs her fingers along the back of Nix’s neck, where the implant will be going soon. “Well then, I guess it is a good thing that you are not going to be the one to make these commitments. Sola and I will, and I believe in many cases, I will be going even a step further. I promise Nix, I will remove that feeling, and we will force you to accept that you are a wonderful girl, who is worth every little bit of effort we put in.”
Nix looks up, a weak smile on her face. Almost relieved to hear this from Celosia, even if it was by no means the first time she’d been reminded of this fact. “Promise?”
Celosia wraps her vines around Nix’s head, to force her to look into her eyes. “This is so much more than a promise, it is a fact. The only things I expect you to make decisions on is your paintings, and what you ask us to bring you to do with Pearl, and or Jason. Beyond that, we will make every single other decision for you Nix, our precious floret.”
Nix chuckles to herself, a deep mixing pain from both her acceptance, and simultaneous doubt sitting firmly in her chest. “Thank you Mistress…” She shakes her head, turning to look at the bedroom as Sola is standing there.
Sola watches Nix being held in Celosia’s vines, her form loose to the point where only her head, and a cloak of yellow and orange petals acting as shoulders, are the only humanoid thing about her appearance. “Good morning you two, just another few minutes, then we can head out.”
Celosia smiles over at Sola, as she clutches Nix. “Alright Sola, thanks for keeping an eye on the time.” She then glances down at Nix. Making sure to keep a comforting demeanor. “So, we will let you curl up in your cubby, for the trip to the vet, but you will be coming out once we are there, do you understand?”
“Yeah, I got it.” Nix nods slightly, slowly realizing that she’s feeling significantly more clear headed than she has since the beginning of her official adoption. “I’m not going to cause any problems, I promise.”
Sola smiles softly, nodding and walking up to Nix. Making her cubby to be slightly larger than normal. Alongside having Nix’s salamander plush held within it. “Good girl.” She leans down, giving a very soft kiss on Nix’s forehead, as Celosia slips their floret into her cubby.
Nix immediately grabs her plush back, expecting the vines to close up in front of her. Only to be surprised by Sola, and Celosia, starting to walk out of the hab with her still fully able to be viewed.
Celosia giggles a little bit as they walk out as a family, entangling her vines with Sola’s. “It is a beautiful day today, I bet plenty of affini are walking their florets. Oh, we should make a game out of seeing how many cute ones we see.”
“It’s exactly the same type of beauty it is every day? We’re on a ship.” Nix looks around, squirming a bit as a few of Sola’s vines come down to ruffle her hair. Trying to ignore how patronizing this game the pair have made up on the spot is.
“Well I can certainly say there’s at least one cute one.” Sola boops Nix’s nose, as she exaggeratedly starts to look around for other florets to point out in this little game.
“Oh no, Sola has taken the lead with one point. Hey, I think I see another cute one over there.” Celosia points out a terran who has several cat features, cuddling up to an affini who looks to have her leaves be catnip.
“This is absolutely humiliating.” Nix grumbles, looking over and noticing the class J cafe that is just barely opening for the day. Several different species of sophont crawling to their favorite lounging spots. “Well… I guess I’m going to point out all the pets in there? That’s fair game right? I think I see at least twelve up so far.”
Sola claps, and a vine comes down to relentlessly pet Nix. One for each floret spotted. “I’d say that you do have 12 points now, and they are all adorable too.”
Celosia shakes her head a little bit. “That one was too easy, but I will relent, and let Nix have that score, it just means we need to work harder to overtake her.”
“Indeed, since we are both her owners, it would only make sense for us to combine points.” Sola nods to herself, continuing to pet Nix relentlessly. Mostly in order to distract the girl, while they walk through the ship, pointing out each and every floret they see before Nix even has a chance to speak up.
“I get it, all florets are absolutely adorable!” Nix curls up, hugging her legs, as her plushy rests against her chest. By the time she’s done pouting, Nix feels herself being plucked out of Sola’s cubby, and placed into the pair’s laps.
“Indeed they are, but look at that. We’re already here!” Sola grins down at Nix, watching as the girl slowly realizes the game was simply a way to keep her from getting caught up in her head during the trip.
“Rot.” Nix turns around in the pair’s lap, switching her train of thought to wondering who she’s going to actually have doing her implantation.
As Nix is thinking to herself, Dinaea walks out from down the hall. A small coy smile on her face, as she looks over the group. “Good morning you three, I’m glad to see you’ve made it here safe.” She leans down to be on Nix’s level. “And it’s always a pleasure to see you again little Nix.”
“Whaaaaa…” Nix blushes a bit as she looks over Dinaea’s form. “I- uh, I mean hello Miss Dinaea, it’s nice to see you again too.” She curls up, shrinking away from the significantly older affini. “Are you who’s in charge of my, ya know…”
“Your implant surgery yes, while it’s not what I do most commonly, especially these last two blooms. I do always keep well trained enough to be fully capable of doing it, for any sophont species in the same sector as myself, that and your Mistresses both requested to have.” Dinaea gently pets Nix, chuckling as the girl starts to nestle into it. “So, are you all ready?”
Sola smiles up at Dinaea, and nods. "I think we are, the sooner we get it done, the sooner we can have all of Nix's worry behind us." She pets Nix gently, looking down at her. "Alright Nix, Celosia and I will be right here the whole time, are you ready?"
Nix takes a deep breath, nodding slightly. "Yeah, I'm ready as I'll ever be." She drops her plushy, allowing Sola to catch it, and pull it into her chest. "So let's do it, before I lose my nerves, and freak out."
Dinaea gently plucks Nix out of her owner's lap. “Alright you two, follow me, you will go one room further to the observation room while I work.” She then pets Nix a little bit. “I’ll show you the implant first, and explain it, then we will begin.” She begins leading the way further into the vet, stopping only to give a motion to the observation room, watching the two affini enter it before she goes into the operating room. Once inside, Nix is sat onto the operating table, and a glass case is brought out, showing a little bundle of plant matter. “Here it is Nix, made approximately with a 50/50 blend of Celosia, and Sola’s essence. Do you have any questions?”
Nix’s eyes lock with the floating plant, watching as the beginning of little tendrils wiggle around in the liquid, and oddly to herself, all the tension just disappears. Her hand drifting around to the vine that now assists, and partially comprises her own spine. “Not really… honestly seeing it here, it kinda feels small.” She chuckles lightly, shaking her head. “I mean it’s just another piece of plant tech in me, to help keep me alive after all. When I got my spine, I guess I worked out all that anxious energy about putting things in me.”
Nix shakes her head, allowing herself to be laid down on the operating table, Dinaea starting to put restraints on each of her limbs to keep her still during the operation. “Like sure the concept of what it represents is still big and overwhelming, but the implant in front of me… well I’d be lying if I said I’m scared of putting it in now.” She sighs, watching Dineae quietly prepare the injections that she needs for the surgery. “Thanks for letting me see it, and ramble to myself. Feels like this is the most I’ve spoken in a week.”
“Well, I’ve been told you have been on Ws a lot this past week, and that could lead to a sharp drop in willingness to converse. As for letting you ramble, it is important for your own understanding, and acceptance, to know what is going inside of you.” Dinaea pulls out an injector. “Alright Nix, I am going to give you this, you will pass out, and by the time you wake up, you will basically be on an intense xenodrug trip in a recovery room with your owners. After some observation, they will be taking you home, and I expect you to come down in about two weeks time.”
“I would give you a thumbs up… but I’m kinda stuck.” Nix chuckles to herself, watching as Dineae injects her flower. Shuddering slightly as falling asleep starts to feel even heavier than normal. Her head falling to a resting state as her eyes drift shut.
Nix finds herself floating once again, slowly opening her eyes, and being met with a very peculiar sight. She’s laying on the ground of the Free Spirit, except everything around her is entirely overgrown. Blue and yellow flowers growing off of all of the vines, as she slowly forces herself to her feet.
Taking a few steps forward, she notices that several rooms down the hallway have their doors simply left hanging open. Walking up to the first, she slowly peaks inside, being met with the sight of her hunched over her desk while she was still in college. Relentlessly working on her homework. “What…”
The duplicate glances up at her, before quickly looking back away. Going back to her work without a second thought, the door sliding closed in front of Nix almost knocking her back in the process.
Nix shakes her head, leaning on the wall as she starts to walk her way down. Her hand tracing along all of the vines, using them as both handrails, and a source of safety, and comfort, in this situation.
As she arrives at the second door, Nix takes a deep breath. Trying to prepare herself for whatever she’ll be met with this time. Only to turn to look inside, and be met with the sight of herself laying in a hospital bed. Barely conscious, and in an obvious amount of pain.
Her grip on the vines tightens slightly, only now able to understand how poor her care had actually been. A sharp pain shooting through her chest, as this door as well closes in front of her.
Turning back to the hall, there’s several more doors lining it. Likely all containing some kind of memory, all leading up to the room at the end of the hall. The door to the jumproom, now completely overgrown with the blue and yellow flowers, and vines.
Nix simply walks past several of the doors. Only glancing over to see them close as she walks past, one having her graduation behind it, another her first day aboard the Free Spirit, Nix only getting one thing away from each glance. The fact she’d been alone through all of them.
Finally reaching the end of the hall, Nix reaches out knocking on the jumproom door. Watching as it slowly pulls itself open in front of her, the vines doing most of the work to open it. Causing almost a screeching of the metal trying to keep locked in place.
Within everything is almost exactly the same, except for a single massive flower in the back of the room. Right where she’d been hiding before her rescue, and on top of it, one final version of her. This one completely done with getting all of her body mods, fast asleep on top of the flower.
“Hey there.” Nix chuckles a bit, slowly creeping her way through the room, and over to the double. Her shoes clicking against the harsh steel floors, only adding to the anxiety of the situation.
Nix stops a single step away from the flower. “So… you’re me huh.” Laughs weakly to herself, as she pushes forward climbing up into the flower laying down next to the other version of her. “I hope you don’t mind, but…” She leans up against the sleeping girl’s side. “I just wanna stay with you for a while.”
There’s not a word or sound of response leaving her staring up at the ceiling of the room. A painting sitting there, one she’d never seen before, a small blue ball sitting half way across a larger yellow one. And as she watches it, the paint starts to slowly shift and move. Rolling over the yellow, and leaving streaks of blue behind, showing that it was there.
“Try not to forget about me too fast, yeah?” Nix laughs to herself weakly, putting her hand over her mouth as tears start to fall down her cheeks. “Oh who am I kidding, you’re not going to remember any of this.”
Slowly, the sleeping double reaches out, pulling Nix against her chest. Silently cuddling into the girl. Nix simply allows herself to nestle into the girl’s arms. “Yeah, yeah I know… I’ll miss you too.”
Nix’s eyes drift shut, allowing herself to fully fall asleep for the last time. The petals of the flower simultaneously closing in around the pair, acting as a blanket as Nix drifts away.
Celosia sits on the couch, holding Nix’s sleeping form as she watches their ward. It had almost been the full two weeks at this point, not a single hiccup, yet she couldn’t help but feel concerned.
Not that Nix wasn’t healing properly, Dineae had repeatedly reminded her that everything is healing perfectly, alongside the several times a day she checked its growth using a scanner, which agreed everything had been growing exactly as specified, if not more easily thanks to Nix’s preexisting permanent implants.
None of this was enough for Celosia though, because no matter how well the physical changes go. Her mind is fully set on if she’d managed to do the right level of modifications to Nix’s memories. Desperate to have this tortuous wait, to see the fruits of her labor, end.
Sola quietly enters the room, frowning a little bit before rubbing Celosia’s shoulders. “Nix will wake up soon, I’m sure of it.” She looks down at Nix and brushes a vine over the back of Nix’s neck. “I’m worried too, but I know Nix will pull through, she is a fighter.”
“I know, I’m simply getting impatient, given we can finally pull the doses back tomorrow.” Celosia watches as Nix’s sleeping form weakly shudders, ever so slightly pressing herself against Sola’s vines. “I simply hope that when she comes back down to us, we can finally see her genuinely smile.”
Sola smiles, and sits down next to Celosia, giving her a hug. “We will see her smile, I trust everything you worked towards with Nix.” She giggles a little bit. “That, and I am sure she will be a little confused, given her now altered experiences. What we need to do is be patient, loving, and there for her when she wakes up, no matter what.”
Celosia nods slightly, her vines wrapping around Nix. Tightening enough to be wholly certain that Nix can't so much as twitch without her allowing it. "Indeed."