Nix curls up in bed, glaring at Sola’s sleeping form on the opposite side. She’d only been conscious for barely three days since her arrival, yet at every opportunity the damn bush insisted on digging into her deepest insecurities. Today would doubtless be the same, some new event to ‘help’ her adjust to life on board this vestle. Which she had STILL never been given the name of, and then more of Sola helping her with every little thing. As if Nix couldn’t be trusted to do so much as feed herself, without the affini’s intervention.
Now to get to sleep… somehow, and even if she does deal with the dreams. She takes a deep breath, debating whether it would be worth it to wake Sola to get more class Z’s to help her avoid the nightmares.
No, no that would just be giving Sola another inch. She’d let the bush do it once, and now Sola acts like she’s even more needy than at first, just shut your eyes, and fall asleep!
Nix’s eyes open, she’s in the jump room. A tool box dumped on the floor in front of her, as she shakely looks around she feels her gun in her hands. Cold metal against her fingertips, as she closes her eyes, and prays to the stars for the affini to arrive, before that door gets opened up.
Almost on que there’s a bangging on the door. “OPEN UP PLANT FUCKER! YOU SOLD US OUT!” The captain’s voice rings out through what feels like the entire universe, the sound of saboteurs trying to break through the locked door, adding onto the stress of the situation. Through all of this, loud thumps and shifts signifying an affini vessel latching onto the Free Spirit. “We may be going down, but I REFUSE to give you what you want!”
The world shifts around Nix, sending her tumbling to the side, her breath hitching for a moment, as she feels her mask shift on her face. Quickly readjusting it, she looks back to the doorway, nestling deeper into her corner as she aims at the trap she’d set, getting ready to fire the moment that door opens up. “Fuck… just… just please go away, I didn’t want this.” She chokes out, as she checks to make sure the safety isn’t on.
The door sparks before being forced open, the captain charging in flanked by a number of security personnel. None of them holding their guns, instead all carrying various blunt instruments. “Your time is up plant fucker, I promise I will see you in hell when this is all over!” The captain is the first to raise his weapon, and begin to take a swing at Nix, a pinkish gas beginning to flood the ship, and gunfire from down the halls echoing.
Nix closes her eyes, pulling the trigger as she shoots the pipes that she’d rigged up in advance. Explosions rocking the entire room as shrapnel shoots out, stabbing into everyone. Including Nix, who due to the captain's position in front of her, and the fact she’s prone on the ground, the worst of it is a large chunk of metal breaking through her mask. Planting itself into her eye socket, she collapses fully onto the ground, the sounds of the crew screaming ringing in her ears.
After a minute, there’s the sound of boots stomping in, and a scream of rage. “CAPTAIN!” is heard, but soon it focuses on Nix. “You plant fucker bitch, you not only sold us out, but you did all this!” A boot swings firmly into her face, knocking the girl to the side. “Traitors like you deserve to suffer. Too bad I don’t have time to drag you to an airlock myself!” The boot’s next target was to kick into Nix’s neck, and then her exposed spine several times, seeming to get harder with each swing. Once he seemed satisfied, Nix could hear a gun cocking as the cold metal presses into her temple “At least I can make sure you don’t get your happy ending.”
Soon the gun was pulled away, accompanied with the sounds of a struggle before a loud ‘bang’ was heard, some screaming and various shocked sounds coming from above Nix. Soon a much softer feminine voice comes to her ears. “Oh you poor thing.” Something sounding like foliage rustling filled the room. “I need emergency medical to my position. We have six dead, one via a backfiring overclocked weapon, and one critically wounded. I can’t dare to move her in this condition.”
Nix’s eye shoots open, and she screams. Flailing around in bed, and grabbing her chest, feeling her heart pounding its way almost entirely out of her. “HELP ME! HELP, HELP! I don’t wanna die!” She sobs out, not entirely sure if she was awake or not, as she squirms her way into the corner of their bed, kicking and punching between sobs.
Vines flare out, and quickly surround Nix. “You are alright Nix, you are alive and safe!” Sola slowly pulls back, keeping the vines to just holding Nix close, so as to avoid scaring her further. “We forgot your class Z’s, I’m so sorry. I’m right here, I won’t let anyone hurt you like that again.”
Nix chokes and sobs, flailing around in Sola’s vines. For a moment thinking it was her old crew holding her down, to kill her, having a hard time processing what is or isn’t reality, eventually she comes down just enough to realize she wasn’t back there, and grips onto the vines to cry into them. “I’m so sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Please, don’t hurt me.” She shudders, as she takes another half an hour to pull herself back together, and look up at Sola. Her eye bloodshot from crying.
Sola just holds Nix, and gently brushes her hair, quietly talking and giving Nix positive little affirmations, and soothing words. Holding back on giving Nix anything, only out of a desire to not lose the little trust she’d worked to build up. “You are safe, they cannot hurt such a wonderful girl anymore. I’m here, I’m right here.” This would continue until Nix is somewhat calm, Sola slowly loosening her grip. “Nix, you are safe, and loved. If you need anything, I am right here to get it for you.”
“I just.” Nix takes a long deep breath, leaning into Sola’s side. “I had another dream about when you found me. At least I think it was you…” She tenses her arms, unsure if she should continue to explain this dream. “T-thank you… for staying with me, while I was dying.”
Sola smiles gently, nodding while she pulls Nix against her. “I will admit, I was there, lost a few of my vines when that weapon went off.” She rubs one of her ‘arms’ of vines. “I did what I could to stabilize you, and called for back up. It was honestly my first time ever going out, and I prefer to help those in need.”
Sola gently brushes some of Nix’s hair back, before flicking a vine out for a small towel, patting Nix’s forehead to soak up some of the sweat. “I was so scared you were going to die… and I was determined to… if we couldn’t save you, at least make you as comfortable as possible.” She frowns, pulling Nix as close as possible.
“I wish I could have gotten there even 30 seconds sooner, maybe you wouldn’t be hurt as bad… maybe if we had gotten on board the Free Spirit a minute sooner, we could have kept you and your crewmates from being injured in the first place.” Sola sets the towel down. “But… focusing on what ifs doesn’t help what is happening now. I am devoted to getting to a point where you’re happy and healthy, and whatever happens after that is up to you, and the higher ups.”
“Yeah, it’s up to that.” Nix frowns, shaking her head as she pulls away from Sola slightly. “I might… we should maybe talk to Cel again about all of this. If I have to deal with these memories either way, I might as well make sure your documentation is accurate.” She lightly stims on her pajama pants, trying to force her way into a more helpful mindset about her situation.
After all, at this point, the affini finding out exactly what happened is inevitable, she’d said too much, and they knew the explosion wasn’t a complete accident. So might as well get ahead of the story, make sure they can’t play it as worse than it was.
And what even was it, she’d been scared and hurting. If she’d not fired she’d be dead right now, but she did do it to kill them… she could have made it less dangerous, set up less shrapnel, but she didn’t, she made it as horrific as she could. Out of desperation? Spite? Not even she could say at this point…
Sola begins to message Celosia, soon getting a message back. “Alright, would you prefer to go into the xenobureaucracy branch again, or would you like Cel to come by, and talk to you here? Either option is alright and totally up to you Nix.”
“I’d prefer to just… let her come over here. I don’t think I can handle going out today.” Nix shakes her head, trying to push away the heavy fog of her emotions. “But having a guest to spend time with… wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.”
“Cel can be here in about twenty minutes, how about we go to the couch and watch some TV? Just something to relax while we wait.” Sola stands up, and keeps holding Nix, making sure to grab the cane, and water bottle, as she moves them out of the bedroom. Knowing better than to take Nix away from her safety objects while she’s this upset.
Once on the couch, she gently rubs Nix’s back, handing over her cane and cup, as she looks over what shows they have to enjoy. “If you see something that seems interesting, just speak up.”
After a few minutes of running through the different programming, ignoring the propaganda videos this time, and quickly rushing past a show on how to up your bath time game with your floret, Nix taps on Sola’s vines a few times before pointing at the screen, recognizing one of the floret edited cartoons from old terra.- .... .. ... / .--. .-.. . .- ... . (this please).
“Alright sweetie, I was thinking this looks fun too.” Sola lets herself try and relax with the show, continuing to hold Nix, simply letting the show provide background noise. Every little thing that seemed to get Nix excited, also elects a little bounce from Sola, who can’t help but be overjoyed about Nix at least for now, being so open to her care.
It was simple, and had quite a few things edited to ensure no harmful messages were getting out, but at the end of the episode Nix had closed her eye. Leaning into Sola’s vines, and for the first time since her arrival genuinely giving the affini a chance to comfort her, on her level. Giving another few taps as the next episode starts. - .... .- -. -.- / -.-- --- ..- (thank you)
“You're very welcome Nix, I had a lot of fun with the show, and I will always do what I can to help you, through thick and thin.” Sola looks towards the TV, only to be rudely interrupted by a ding ringing out through their hab unit. “That must be Cal… I was kind of hoping she would take longer.” She pets Nix some more, and clicks a button on her datapad. “There, that will save where we were for watching later.” She slowly lets go of Nix, tucking her into the corner of the couch, before walking over to open the door for Celosia herself.
Celosia walks in with a wide smile. Looking between the pair, and immediately noticing the tension in the room. “Hey, so there is more to talk about?” She waves gently at Nix. “So Nix, do you want to do this at the kitchen table? On the couch? Wherever you are most comfortable is alright with me.”
Nix looks over at the affini, giving her a small wave, before curling back up into the corner of the couch, and pointing next to her. “You can… sit there.” Nix pauses for a moment, stealing herself, for what she’s about to talk about. “B-but… can it just be you, and me? I… don’t wanna talk about this, in front of Sola.”
Sola nods, putting her datapad down by Nix. “If you need me at all, just press this icon right here. I will go on a short walk to give you all the privacy you want, but I will keep relatively close to our hab. I hope everything goes well.” She quickly checks on Nix’s water, making sure it is full, before slowly pulling back away, and giving Celosia a look that Nix couldn’t quite read, before leaving the hab.
Nix takes the cups in her hands, starting to tap on the sides of it. “So… ya know how yesterday I yelled at you that I couldn’t remember? That I kept pushing down those memories, well it seems like the more I did, the worse my nightmares got.” She leans in, taking a small sip from her drink, voice quivering as she ramps up towards the explanation. Like walking up to the edge of a cliff that she didn’t know had spikes, or pillows at the bottom. “Well I had a nightmare last night… Sola had to hold me for an hour to calm down, but… I think I did it. I think I pulled the trigger and killed-” The last word was barely choked out, as she leans in and starts hastily drinking the water.
The cool flow of liquid acting as the only barrier between the affini next to hers reaction, and her own internal guilt. She clung to this safe haven until… the unpleasant sound of a straw without water fills the room. Her net is gone, and she can feel the couch shaking. Whether it’s her or the affini, she doesn’t know… and really doesn’t want to find out.
Celosia takes out her datapad, and begins to type on it, adding to her notes. “Alright, this is the important part. Did you do it with the intent to stop them, or the intent to kill them? Both could be done under the intent to protect yourself… but it is very important what your overriding intent for what to happen to them was. If you don’t remember the intent, we can wait again to see if you remember, but it is important for my report.”
"I just remember being scared, angry. I knew how much I had set up, I probably could have just wounded them… but I chose not to, I put in as much as I could because if they came in I." Nix shakes her head, looking at her trembling hands as she gently places the cup down. "I wanted them to die… and I wanted myself to live… I tried to tell them to stay out… I told them I didn’t want this, but they didn’t listen."
Celosia nods, looking over the terrans shivering and shaking form. "I see…there is a chance this could swing the independent decision towards domestication, but I'll write in how scared you were, that can swing things in a good way for what you want." She reaches out gently petting Nix, if only once. "Please, just keep me updated on anything else you remember."
“I will… thank you ma’am.” Nix looks down at the corner of the couch, eye drifting up a few times to look at the work out equipment littering the corners of the room. “Do you know if Sola hates me? I dropped into her life, got her hurt… I yell at her for stupid shit constantly, but she’s just always so damn nice.” She grips the side of the couch, her middle finger clawing against the fabric, as an attempt to not scratch herself instead. “Why hasn’t she gotten annoyed, yelled at me… why does she keep treating me this way… I, I don’t deserve it.”
Celosia smiles, shaking her head. "Well, Sola… We’ve known each other a while, I can't say too much, but I know she likes helping. She sees good in everyone. and wants to nurture it. I know she is very interested in you, but she also will not force you to do anything you genuinely don't want to." she wiggles a little closer, not quite invading Nix’s personal close, but getting close to. "As for the annoyed and such, I think she is more annoyed at herself, as you lashing out she probably sees as her failing on some level, to take care of your needs." She nods to herself again. "If this all finishes up with you healed, independent, and genuinely not wanting to see her again, Sola would be sad, but happy that you are happy."
Nix shrugs, shaking her head again, the painfully cloudy feeling starting to come back to the forefront of her mind. “Yeah, I guess that makes sense? I’m sorry if my questions, and responses have been scattered. I just don’t know how to view affini. All my years of being fed propaganda scream that the second I do something you dislike. You’ll erase me, take away who I am, and make it safe… but now, I’m just… here? I’ve screamed, kicked cursed, and overall been horrible to everyone around me… and you still give me a chance! It just… it doesn’t feel fair, it doesn’t feel like I deserve it. I don’t deserve your kindness.”
Celosia places a hand on Nix’s shoulder. "Everyone deserves to have a chance to voice their minds, and be themselves. Propaganda does a lot to psychology, so that will be in the back of your head for a while. As for the erasure, the closest thing we have to that is Class-Os, and those are restricted to the most extreme cases, and I’d say you are far from that." She giggles a little bit. "We do have temporary methods that feel similar, if cuties want it. Between hypnosis, and other classes of xenodrugs, we can allow sophonts, and florets, to have fun in a safe and controlled environment."
Nix simply nods, reaching over and grabbing the tablet that Sola had left for her. Starting to tap on the button she’d been given to call the affini back repeatedly, rapidly losing her ability to verbalize her feelings.
Beep a warning from her collar that she needs to pull herself back together, or else they will. That’s been the only thing she’s been faced with the whole time, if she fails to fix herself, they will, and they’ll have her thank them for it. But maybe not Sola, she’s the only one who seemed to pause and pull back when Nix demanded it, so she needs to be here right now. Or else she’s going to break, and someone else is going to see. Then she’ll get thrown to an affini as a floret faster than you could say, stars.
A message pops up ‘I’m on my way, 45 seconds!’
Celosia leans back, relaxing into the couch. “Well, I think that is about all we are going to get today, you look like you need a break. This was a lot of help though.” She pauses for a moment, as she’s about to start to talk some more, Sola pops back inside.
“Hello, I got a feeling like you were finished up.” Sola smiles at Celosia. Stepping inside, and walking in front of Nix, wanting to give the girl a sense of security. “You are done right?”
“Yeah, I am… I just realized if this was caused by waking up from a nightmare, both of you must be rather tired, I should leave, and let you get back to resting.” Celosia gets up, and holds her datapad against her chest. “I’ll put in my up to date report, feel free to call me with more.” She begins to leave the hab unit.
Once Celosia is gone, Sola turns on a dime kneeling down next to Nix. Her head hovering inches away from Nix’s face, eyes tracing over every inch of the girl’s body language. “Hey sweetie, I’m here, it is just us. What do you need? What can I get to help?”
Nix shakes her head, gripping her newly attained tablet a little tighter as she burrows herself even deeper into the couch. “Can you just refill my drink, and then we can watch more tv? I… don’t really feel good right now, and my stomach is churning, so I doubt I can eat.”
Sola takes the water bottle, and goes to refill it, coming back and handing it to Nix, before sitting down, and setting the TV to continue where they left off. She sits close enough that Nix can reach over, and grab a vine if she wants, while giving Nix a little space if she needs it. “I’m here for you Nix, whatever you need I will respect.”
Of course she will, of course she’ll never push further than prompted. Two days ago it would have felt foolish to trust Sola at her word, but at this point, after everything she couldn’t help but believe it’s true. “Just… When I sleep next, can you go talk to Cel. I told them about a lot of stuff that I wouldn’t really feel comfortable saying out loud around you… I don’t want you to feel like I’m hiding from you anymore.”
“Of course Nix. I understand that saying some… hard things can actually be easier to say, to someone not as close. I thank you for trusting me to go, and ask for what you have told her, but just know, I won’t ever think less of you for anything.” Sola reaches over, and gently rubs Nix’s shoulder before laying her vine next to, but not touching, Nix so as to not push her too hard. “If you fall asleep, would you like me to give you some class Zs? And would you like to stay on the couch, or be moved to the bed?”
“Please, class Z’s. Now that this is all… out, I don’t want to deal with those dreams anymore, and if that means having a little more xenodrugs alongside my class G’s, then so be it. I’m already on a weird cocktail of them, because of this, I’m sure.” Nix sighs, slowly running a hand down her own back. Feeling the lump of plant matter, that would likely be with her for the rest of her life.
Sola smiles, and nods. “Alright, I’ll chase all those bad dreams away.” She produces a needle, and very gently lets her vine with it rub Nix’s flower, injecting it before pulling away. “There, now just relax, I’ll watch over you Nix. Sleep well.” She lets her vines drift closer, while also putting up a ‘railing’ so Nix can’t fall off the couch.
“What the heck, I didn’t mean… I-” Nix blinks a few times, her eye growing heavier with each blink. “I didn’t… Wanna sleeep yet.” She clumsily reaches out, grabbing onto one of the vines that is acting as a railing. Doing her best to be angry at this action, as her body betrays her. Slumping forward slightly, clearly not well rested in the slightest. “Make it stoo-” A vine gently presses up against her back, holding her in place as the xenodrugs fully kick in. Sending Nix crashing into a genuinely peaceful rest.
Sola carefully picks Nix up. “I’m sorry I misunderstood sweetie, but you really need some sleep.” She slowly pets Nix, grabbing her things, pausing their show, and taking Nix to bed.
Once Nix is tucked in with her cane, and water nearby, Sola leaves a vine wrapped around her waist, walking outside to talk to Celosia about what Nix remembered.
After a few minutes, Celosia walks back into the hab unit. Her posture is far more tense, than the forced calm that she'd taken on while Sola was away. She flashes a small smile, walking over and sitting down next to the other affini. "So… where do you want to start?"
“Nix wants me to know everything that she told you, but she can’t bear to say it to me herself. I understand it may be difficult, but this is something I need to know.” Sola looks at Celosia, before quickly looking back at the kitchen. “Would you like anything before we start? Also… thank you for trying to be gentle with Nix, her emotional state can go between fully on guard, to actually accepting help… I don’t want to push her fully into guard.”
“Indeed, especially given the fact she can’t be given most of the traditional ways of easing this kind of pain, at least until the healing process has finished.” Cel turns her head towards the room Nix is sleeping in. “I don’t need anything though, I just want you to be ready. I know that this is your first time dealing with a feral, but she told me about what happened in that room. I tried to keep her hopes up about becoming an independent, but given what happened… I’m unsure how the counsel will feel about it.”
Sola frowns, and presses a hand over her eyes. “She had… intention to kill with that set up… didn’t she?” Her voice screams that she desperately wants to be told otherwise, but a part of her knew this was the answer. Her flowers wilting slightly, in anticipation of the news.
“She didn’t just have the intent to kill, she openly admitted she made her trap more dangerous than necessary, she was obviously horrified, and just trying to defend herself, but she did want anyone who attacked her to die.” Celosia frowns, placing a hand on Sola’s shoulder.
Sola shudders, her entire form seeming to wilt caving in on her as she looks down. “The fact that she was pushed to that point in the first place, just tears me up.” She looks at Celosia, forcing a bit of resolve into her voice. “I still want Nix to be able to make her choice, if the opportunity is given, but… can you get me the paperwork, if she is deemed either way to require domestication, I would rather keep her with me.”
“Absolutely, I’ve already put a recommendation towards you as permanent owner, in my notes. After reading what you’ve put in about her, I doubt she would respond well to being moved from your care.” Celosia pulls out her tablet, starting to work on Sola’s request. “But this is why we have to get all those precious darlings here, and in our care. Before more are pushed to these extremes, simply to survive.”
Sola nods, internally overjoyed to hear that Celosia trusts her with Nix to this extent. Taking that as the single sweet point of this conversation worth clinging to. “Thank you Celosia, I still wish it didn’t come to this, and if Nix is given the opportunity to choose, I would like to still be able to be her friend, if she happens to choose independence under those conditions. I’m sorry that you have to deal with this… I really wish we could just have things be simple, but it feels like complexity follows so many cases.”
“You’re just used to it, Sola. After all, you’ve been working with virtually exclusively florets who come from troubled backgrounds, while yes there can be a simple case, here and there. When you’re dealing with feral rescues, each one of them is like their own little puzzle that you must solve, to help them piece themselves back together.” Celosia stands up, giving Sola one last reassuring smile. “But I am happy Anthurium recommended you come and help with the capture of the free spirit. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this passionate about a sophont, let alone one who’s yet to undergo domestication.”
“What can I say, I love Nix, and when I get to see under her shell, my core detangles.” Sola wiggles a little bit, a small smile creeping onto her face. “Anyway, can you keep me posted on any decisions made about Nix? I’ll keep you posted if anything else comes up.”
“Of course, just… Now that you know about this, try not to treat her any differently. She was obviously very scared of you hating her, so if she notices your behavior has changed I have no doubt that she’ll backslide.” Cel gives one final light wave, before walking out of Sola’s hab. Leaving the affini alone to stew on what she’d just been told.