I was carried across town. There weren't many people out and about since uh… invasion. But there were some. I also noticed these like techy drones that looked rather bee-like. Just patrolling. Some people managed to like step outside and were just nervously going about their business.
Abies took me to a shuttle landing site to uh take me up to the ship to meet some terran pets and like a doctor. He also blatantly told the affini there that I liked receiving pets which while sort of true was also something I never said… He kept trying to make me feel all pet-like and-and- internal screaming. My defensive curled up position couldn't even protect me because the top of my head was still exposed to petting.
As I rode the shuttle up to the ship the Cordifolia, I was beginning to think affini culture was just like entirely based around trying to fluster me. What else could explain the giant leaf hearts on their ship? Those couldn't be functionally necessary. Could excessive kindness be considered evil? Maybe… I was going with maybe. The affini didn't seem to be hiding anything, rather they all seemed to be trying to shove the message down everyone's throats. They could do whatever they wanted and what they wanted was to turn people into pets. Yea that felt evil, but like not terran evil… I needed a new word for benevolent power flexing. I felt like there had to be a word for what they were doing, but I blanked on it.
Humiliatingly, my self-designated affini caretaker had me on their lap the whole ride up. Like yup this was power flexing. I could get down, but if Abies wanted to stop me, I'd be restrained and kept in place. Also, getting up would be super awkward. It's like when I got trapped in proximity of a conversation and like I wasn't even really a part of it but it felt weird to just walk away unprompted, and without like a goodbye. I couldn't like say goodbye because I wasn't even a part of the conversation! I'd be humiliating myself, so I'd just stay in that weird liminal space between not a part of things, but also maybe a part of things. I was a mess. Also, I never got out of their lap.
The fuzzy vined evergreen affini had to rub salt in the wound. "I called you a seed, but with how pet-like you are, it seems ill fitting. You're already so naturally tame." Before I could protest, Abies used a single finger to scratch under my chin. I had been silenced. "Are you sure you wouldn't like to be my pet? I'd take very good care of you~"
Oh my stars, that sounded like I was being hit on… Wait. "Ar-Are you hitting on me? Is this like a romance thing because like I'm not attracted to masculine uh, entities? Sophonts?" My mind then immediately began the trek of regretting and becoming physically painfully ashamed of my words. I should have just stayed silent. I never say shameful things when I'm silent. I still think them.
Abies cut me off before I could start deeply spiraling. "Oh, you just figured it out? Hmmm, it is a shame you aren't attracted to me, but don't worry flower. I know plenty of non-masculine entities that’d love to own you. Perhaps a feminine one might be better for you?"
"afgdjdsgakjlagsbdhgkljgasjlkdladkgjslagkdjbsgbkjladsbkgjaldsglbadjkslbjgkadslbkjgadsjlkbgdaslbjkgdasbkjlgdasjlkbgdasjklbgdsaljkbgdjbkgdbjkgdsbjklgdsblkgdsbkljgdasblkjgdasblkjgdsa" The curled up ball known as Evie had been eviscerated. Emotionally devastated. Overwhelmed to the point of mentally shutting down. Hands flapped to just gfdvaljkdshg.
"Here, I know a little trick my friend uses to help her floret." The entity self-labeled as Evie Price was then tucked into a small cozy soft warm isolated spot in the affini's tangle of fuzzy vines. A small realm of plush. A cubby. No one was watching. Just-just-just-just-just-just warm and soft. Warm and soft. Snug. Snugness was had.
My thinking slowly rebooted around the time I could hear voices outside. They were speaking in a different language. I-I didn't know which. There were two feminine affini voices conversing with Abies. They were outside the space. I was in a soft dark place of comfort and the voices were on the scary outside.
The giant that had me curled up inside it then spoke. Quiet and directly to me. The sound felt like it came from around me. "Hey little, petal, when you feel up to coming out and saying hello, just paw on my vines okay? You're a very good girl~" A few vines pet me into submission.
I didn't know how long it took to finally request an exit. It could have been a couple minutes, it could have been a day. However long it was, eventually I sort of uh, patted the vines to let me out. I didn't really understand pawing… The vines didn't part until I curled my hand up and did my best cat pawing impression.
Vines gently helped me out onto the lap of Abies. We were in an oversized living room and sitting across from us were two affini feminine entities.
One had a few of these big pink flowers with a bunch of petals in layers radiating out from the center. Her leaves were pointy and she had a cascade of hair like leafy vines. Her face was viney green with those same rippling eyes that all affini had. Her woven form resembled that of a shapely terran woman.
The other… didn't resemble a person so much as a mass of unraveled affini vines. Four glowing dangerous eyes came from deep within the thicket, Five violet petaled flowers with little white freckles were small and everywhere on the mass.
"Evie, meet Paeonia and Dianthus Glacialis, Third and Fifth Blooms respectively. Both are she/her, with Dianthus also being they/them and it/its. Paeonia and Dianthus meet the little cutie I told you about before. Evie Price she/her." Abies introduced us. I managed a silent wave.
Both of the affini women had their vines intertwined. The pink one, Paeonia spoke. "Hello flower, it's lovely to meet you after all the adorable things Abies told us." Dianthus was eyeing me more scarily. As if she were waiting to pounce me and uh… something bad?
No words came from me. I had fallen silent as I had the time before. My hands moved in little repetitive back and forth motions. I needed something to hold and tinker with. There were two new sophonts here and I felt very very seen in a manner where I was expected to social. I-I wanted to go crawl back into the cubby.
A hand made contact with my head and I leaned into it. "Oh, is the little petal still having trouble?" Asked the owner of the hand. I remained silent. My hands were too busy moving to signal and my head was in contact with a petting.
Paeonia chirped up. "Here I'll go get her a fidget toy." A bit later a rounded cube was placed in my hands and I just focused on it. I continued receiving pets while I fidgeted with it. "She seems adorably autistic like our little Nilla."
Autistic… yea, I had been diagnosed with that. Nothing came of it. The therapist just handed me a label and I never really knew what to do with it. Back in the long long ago when affording therapy was a possibility. Unfortunately, it never really helped.
Abies responded, "Her medical records were being sorted out last I checked, but I assume so. The neurodivergent ones are always extra adorable."
"They are! Also, the trans ones! Do you think we should bring in Nilla and Synna, yet? They'd probably all get along so well." She was talking like I was a pet. They all did. I-I wasn't a pet. Nobody owned me. I was my own independent woman who just had issues and stuff. No weird alien romantic ownership stuff was needed or wanted. Even if Paeonia was kind of visually attractive. They already had two pets. I hoped they weren't the kind of pet owners to just take a bunch of pets in and then barely care for them. Those people were the worst… Wait, they owned people not pets. Ahhh! This weird terrans as pets stuff was weird and messing with my head.
"Go ahead, I'll put her back into my nest if she gets overwhelmed again." Abies's nest… I guess it was kinda a nest. Still, they kept making decisions for me as if I wasn't right here. Sure, I was just sort of stimming with this cube thing while my eyes stimmed by moving back and forth angled down and away from the pretty affini lady and the intimidating bush woman, but I was still here. The affini were robbing me of my agency… Okay, it was more like I wasn't asserting my agency because existence was hard and overwhelming but uh still… Also, this cube thing was rather satisfying to mess with.
The pink affini returned. "Nilla, Synna, say hello to Evie."
"Hello!" Two female voices hit my ear. I turned my head to face them and uh… one was like a deer person? Like cute nubby little antlers, soft spotted fur but like human-esque hands and deer hooves. Adorable and utterly inhuman. The other was like a… a succubus… sexy red skinned demon lady with a spaded heart shaped tail. She winked at me and blew me a kiss… asjkghksajhgkasjdghkasdgflaskjdghlas!
I buried my face in Abies. Too much attention too soon. The affini who held me pet my hair. "Flower, do you want to ask them what being a pet is like?" It took me more than a bit to pull myself together enough to respond with a nod. "Would you like them to just tell you so you don't have to talk?" I nodded again which I realized was also just rubbing my head against him.
The demoness spoke first. "Well, being a pet is literally the best thing that’s ever happened to me. The drugs, the cuddles, the sex, and everything is taken care of. Our Mistresses love us, and uh yea it's great. Be a pet."
That was like the worst sales pitch I'd ever heard. Be a pet, you get drugs and sex! Like who would go yeah that sounds great? It sounded like something a rich frat guy would want. I mean the cuddling sounded good. So did the part about being loved and cared for, but I didn't deserve any of it. Being a burden was bad, and I was already being a huge burden on Abies and now these four and-and I couldn't even pretend to not be weird. I was doing the thing where I'm like a weird creepy awful thing and they were going to hate me like everyone else and I should just run away and disappear so they don't have to deal with me anymore.
Abies held me tight. "Shhhh, little one it's okay. It's okay. You're a good girl and we're all very proud of you for being here." Four voices rang out with four agreements. I started crying again. They were all being too nice to me. I didn't deserve this. I didn't. "Shhhh, you're safe and cared for. Everything's going to be good and fine. You're a good girl, and you've done nothing wrong." But I did! I existed and bothered them and-and I-I-I-I-I. "Good girl~" They petted me and repeated that to me over and over. "Good girl~ such a good wonderful girl~ Good little Evie is so cute and cared for~ Good girl~ Good Evie~ An amazing little sophont, a wonderful little sophont~ Good girl~ You deserve all the love and happiness and you will most certainly receive it. Good little Evie~ Good Girl~"
Emotions burned like a bonfire until a smoldering mess was left. Abies kept going the whole time, and I was just there taking up space crying in some strangers home. The evergreen affini then asked me, "Little one, would you like something to cheer you up? Paeonia has a class-A that won't aggravate your dysphoria." I shook my head. N-Not that. Not again. No more xenodrugs, except the HRT ones. "I promise it won't be like last time." I still shook my head. "Okay Evie." They said with a head pat.
Paeonia then said. "I remember when Nilla had her anxious spirals, and I want you to know that no one here is bothered by you. This is a safe place for little cuties like you to express your emotions without judgment. You did nothing wrong. Your feelings are valid, and with your permission we'd all love to help more. I would like to hug you, may I?"
I-I couldn't say no, she wanted to hug me but I-I didn't know if I could say yes. I wanted to reply yes but that'd be making me her problem, but saying no would be disappointing her… I gave the tiniest slightest nod. One so small they shouldn't have seen, but Abies felt it and handed me over.
Her hands took me in and pulled me snug against her large leafy bosom. They were warm and soft and… fajsdhaskljdhg N-No inappropriate thoughts about nice sophonts. Bad Evie. I was being bad and-and--- Her words cut in, "What an adorable little cutie in my arms. Cute little Evie, so in need of love. Oh, how much I'd love to dig into your little mind and rip all the trauma out by the roots. You deserve so much love and happiness." Her finger lifted my head until I was looking up at her eyes. "Would you be our little pet?" S-She was trying to use her hypno eyes on me! I closed my eyes in response and shook my head, but I basically nuzzled her plant breast in the process.
"Abies told you about our eyes, didn't he?" I nodded. "For such a docile little terran, you've got a little fight left in you."
Without missing a beat Dianthus finally chimed in. "So perfect for breaking into a happy pet. It always works best with a little resistance. Don't worry you're tiny head over it. We'll take that fight from you. We'll break you. Make you better. You'll love every second of it, little doe~"
I shook my head, but Paeonia wouldn't let me get up yet so it was still against her chest. Dianthus scared me. Terrified me. Something about the way she spoke made me feel like prey in the jaws of a beast. I wanted to run and run, only I knew she'd catch me. Dianthus wouldn't let me escape, not truly. She'd toy with me, until I was unable to run further before she gripped me in her clutches and-and…
All I could do was keep my eyes shut and shake my head. I was too powerless to do anything more. A helpless mess. I-I-I didn't want to be a pet. I wanted to be alo- No, I didn't want to be alone. Being alone was the problem, but being with someone was another problem. Evie didn't deserve happiness and love. Evie was a bad selfish sophont who didn't deserve either.
"Well, if you won't be ours, I'd still love to have you over. You're wonderful and seeing you again would make our days." Paeonia was too nice. I-I was awful. How could showing up make anyone's day better? "Will you come over again?"
I hadn't spoken in a while, and I didn't want to but my voice was sort of back even if it was awful. "Y-You just want to make me a pet."
"I want to spend time with you. The only way you'll end up a pet is if you voluntarily sign up for it, or become a danger to yourself or others. And we all know that won't happen. So rest assured, you have complete control over whether or not you become a pet." She couldn't make me? I-I'd have to sign papers. So as long as I was careful with what I signed, no one could trick me. "Would you please visit again?"
"But like why? You uh, asked before I ever said a single word here. You don't know me, so why would you think that I'm like wonderful?" I wasn't wonderful, but she kept saying I was.
The affini that held me in her cleavage took a deep steady breath. "You don't need to speak to convey things about yourself, petal. Your face dances to the tune of your thoughts. And now that you're speaking I'm fairly certain as to a few thoughts that plague you. You think that you aren't wonderful, that you don't deserve good things. Your self-image is distorted to the point you can't see yourself clearly. And now you're wondering how I know, and it's simple. You aren't the first little terran I've met plagued with those issues."
The deer girl in the cute dress came out of a cubby inside of Dianthus. There was something off about the way she spoke. It sounded similar to the weird tone thing the affini used. "Hi, I'm Nilla if you didn't remember. When I met Mistress Paeonia a year ago, I also had a lot of negative thoughts but she fixed them. I'm sure she can help you with yours even if you probably think that you don't deserve help. That's the bad thought cycle trying to trap you and you shouldn't listen to them. Listen to the affini they are knowledgeable and are exceedingly nice! That being said, you should visit! I'm sure you're really cool."
Nilla was nice, but that… I mean, that made sense and stuff but… it didn't apply to me. I'm sure that for others that's true but I'm actually a terrible sophont. If she knew how awful and bad I was she'd never invite me back here.
The doe-eyed girl pleaded. "Please please please? I want to be your friend."
H-How was I supposed to say no when a cute girl begged me? "O-Okay…"
The doe girl then came up and Paeonia let go so I could get tackle hugged by a deer girl. "Yes!"
"A-Ah!!" I-I-I-I didn't know what to do! What does one do when hugged by a cute girl?! I didn't want to gross her out by like hugging her back. The pink flowered busty affini woman wrapped her vines around my arms and forced me to hug Nilla back. I tried to scoot away so I didn't like come into contact with her b-but I was given no quarter or respite. "sajldgjsdagshdahdsgalldgsfldsgflksdlkhds"
Finally, I was released and looked to Abies to save me from them.
"Are you sure you don't want to stay with Paeonia, Dianthus, and their florets? I thought you were attracted to feminine entities." That giant fuzzy plant was being mean! Oh course I was attracted to them, but that didn't mean they liked me or that I was allowed to be with them. Abies finally gave in and scooped me up. "I suppose you do have a vet appointment soon. Say goodbye to everyone."
I gave a little wave while looking down and away. It was then that I noticed I still had the fidget thing. The toy belonged to them and I needed to give it back. "I uh you can have this back…"
Paeonia replied immediately with a soft smile. "Keep it, it's a gift."
I would have protested but that'd have been rude and an evergreen vine forced me to pull back my outstretched arm and continue holding the thing. They were all so… too kind but in like an oppressive way. Oppressive kindness. Tyrannical benevolence. That was the Affini Compact, just one big tyrannical forceful benevolent kindness.
Abies took me out of the hab unit. I was finally alone… except they were here too. I mean I was finally not surrounded by lots of sophonts acknowledging my existence. The sole remaining source of acknowledgement commented, "They are a lovely group, don't you think?"
"M-Maybe, b-but Dianthus scares me and they were both really forceful about making me a pet."
"Flower, while direct, that was very tame. If they wanted to break you forcefully into a happy pet, they'd already have you collared and signing away your rights. Voluntarily." He got me to look up at him. That literally made no sense. Or… I guess they would have hypnotized me but that wouldn't be voluntary.
It threw me for a loop until I just asked. "How? If they made me, it wouldn't be voluntary."
"Evie, I don't know how to tell you this, but you're excessively obedient. It would not take long at all for those two, of all affini, to learn how to press your buttons into doing whatever they want. Plenty of affini could. They both certainly have experience in the art of breaking adorable little neurodivergent trans women… Remember Nilla and Synna?" The words took a second to click for me. Abies was saying that those two were neurodivergent trans women… The pink one did say that Nilla was autistic too.
"What species are they?" I didn't know much about neurodivergent demons and deer. Especially alien demons and deer. It was probably different for neurodivergent trans aliens.
Abies was taking us through the rather large ship which was a city of its own except full of sophonts. Affini were walking with and carrying collared terrans and a small assortment of other species. It was rather odd seeing the diversity of species. There was a bee person on an affini's shoulder. A beeple! I had only heard about the Rinans before the Affini. "Nilla is a deer and Synna is a terran." He answered.
A deer? That visually looked almost right but deer weren't sapient as far as I knew. There also weren't many deer left. "But deer don’t talk and stuff."
A vine ruffled my very frazzled hair. "Remember when I told you that we have extensive means to change what you are? Look around you there are a few examples even here. Some find the species they were assigned when they came into being rather limiting, and find themselves drawn to being something else entirely. It's something true of every sophont species we've encountered, including our own."
"So that bee person used to look like a terran?" My question received a hearty laugh reminding me I'm dumb and should never talk again.
"No, the beeple evolved alongside us on our shared home world, but I'm sure there's a beeple that transitioned into that form somewhere. The Compact is far too large to not have a sophont like that." We were approaching another very large affini sized building. "Have you given any thought towards what you'd like to be?"
I nodded. Lots of thought and the answer was girl. Evie was a girl. Something that was easy to figure out and very very difficult to internalize. I was Evie and that meant I got to be a girl, and because I was a girl, that meant liking other girls was very gay. All of my identity issues were solved then and the only reason I still felt bad about stuff was definitely because transitioning was slow and not exactly thorough. Yup, that was it. One complete identity.
Abies pet me more and replied, "Good." They then walked us into the nice cozy office with big comfy seating and lots of decorations. "Hi, this little one had an appointment under the name Evie Price."
The eager collared woman behind the front desk chirped. "Yup, Miss Sanctia is waiting to see her!" Abies followed the lady’s directions, but right before we got past her she added, "Your pet's really cute!"
"She is, isn't she?"
"afgkjhkaskjasgdjadsgadsgfjadsg;klhasdgfjkl;adsgkjadsgjkagdsjkagdsjkagdsjkadgsjkgdajkslgkadjsladjkgsh" I wasn't a pet!!!