The next two days repeated the same beats as the first. I'd sleep in only to wake up in a panic believing I was late for school/work/navy stuff. I'd drink a bit of water. If I felt light headed I'd have a ration. I’d inspect my flawless prison for any escape points, give up, cuddle the fox, chew on the chew toy, and of course get hassled by the affini.
It'd complain I wasn't eating enough, or eating healthy, or drinking enough water. I knew it just wanted me to be fattened up so I could end up on an affini dinner plate. I maybe cried thinking about the entire crew of the Astral Tempest being already devoured. Well almost all.
He, or as the affini referred to my crewmate, it was still around. Unfortunately, he wasn't quiet. Fortunately, during my inspections I found my cell had a noise canceling shade thing. I just had to tap it and it'd seal me off so I could relax in silence. No more yelling turned to bleating or miaowing or whatever animal noise it was for the day.
Of course the drugs, or xenodrugs, made everything weirder… Gah! I was too relaxed and cuddly when I needed to escape! I needed to think. The xenodrugs stole my focus and rebel spirit.
I broke out of my rut to ask my fox for more help. Thoughts came easier when I was talking to the fox. "Hey uh, so like what am I even supposed to do?!" My words didn't come clearly. The relaxing xenodrugs made my mouth bits a little slow.
The fox did its best fox thoughts. It was really good at fox thoughts. It wanted me to process that whole euphoria at being called a good girl thing…
"Fox!" I whined. "I-I need to escape, not think about gender again… I'm clearly a guy."
The fox was having none of it. Its adorable beady eyes bore into my soul.
"Just because I like being called Vivian and a girl doesn't make me one! Plenty of guys want to be women." I retorted. It was giving me sass. Foxes were sassy, but the fox was supposed to be my friend. Friends didn't make friends think about gender stuff. Especially not while said friend was a prisoner of war.
"Yes, I know that's like a really eggy thing to say." "No, I don't like being a guy…" "Look, are we going to break out of here or not?" "I'm not deflecting you're deflecting!"
The fox was staring me down. It really wouldn't let this whole gender thing go. The sound of the door opening cut our talk short. The affini's arrival saved me from my cellmate.
Glancing out to catch the sight of my jailor who I still needed to 'befriend', I instead spotted a woman. A catgirl. She wore a very pretty dress, had a fuzzy tail, and was snacking on… French fries? There was also a black band around her throat.
She gave a lazy slow wave while her unfocused eyes looked my way. "Hi!" she chirped. The happiness radiating from her shocked me. An almost terran just casually strolling in here alone. Like, why wasn't she in the mines, or being eaten? Do affini not like cats? A million questions attempted to run through my floaty mind.
Angry bleating reminded me that I was supposed to be social and respond to hellos. I waved back. "H-Hey."
She munched on another fry. "Have you seen Mxtress? I thought they'd be in here right now."
"Who?" Admittedly, I couldn't follow conversations when not doped up on alien drugs. On them I could barely focus. Like I got in trouble a lot for not following orders because I didn't hear them. Asking an officer to repeat themselves was a big no no in the Cosmic Navy. Especially after the third time. I didn't exactly get much in the way of training. I was desperate and the navy didn't have time to run recruits through boot camp so I was just thrown on a ship with a uniform. That wasn't even mentioning the civilian conscripts.
Oh stars, she was talking and I entirely missed what it was about. "Anyway, I'll just wait here for Mxtress to get back." She held up the container of fries towards the cage. "Want a fry?"
My mouth was watering just thinking about it. The affini hounded me enough on the rations that I was starting to feel hungry again from eating so much. It wanted me to eat every day! Multiple times even. "Uh… sure."
The mystery catgirl blinked before realizing I was not close enough to grab it. It took me a bit too. She wandered over and I plucked one fry through the cage and ate it. The fry tasted better than I remembered them tasting. It had a really satisfying crunch. If I had a crate of them I'd eat myself into a coma.
It was only after swallowing it that my mind finally remembered that it could have been poisoned. The fry was gone. I doomed myself for a single French fry. I glared at the fox for not stopping me. If it hadn't put all those gender feels in my head I would have remembered!
I punished the fox with an extra tight suffocating hug. It was really huggable.
The cat girl looked between me and her fries. "Do you want more?"
Well if they were poisoned, eating more would be super dangerous, if they weren't then I would be stealing food from this adorable woman trapped by vile plant monsters. "Uh, n-no…" The temptation still haunted me.
"You sure?" Her hand held them up to me still.
"Maybe?" Like I definitely wanted to eat them. They were so much better than the rations, and they weren't weird plant food. Still I had to make sure I wasn't getting poisoned or anything. "Are they poisoned?"
No creature in all the stars could rival the look of sheer confusion I witnessed on her face. It was really embarrassing. I was a prisoner of war captured by evil plant aliens. Why would it be weird to wonder if they were poisoned? Instead of saying no, she ate a few fries. "I don't taste any poison. Want some?"
I reached out and grabbed some. I munched on them.
"Gosh, Vivian, the way you nibble on those is super cute." She knew my name?! Wait, that's not my name at all! Aaaa! The affini kept calling me Vivian and now it was stuck in my head. I couldn't even ask the fox because it'd be really smug about the gender stuff.
I blushed and hid my face behind the traitorous fox. "H-How did you know that's my- I mean that's what the affini calls me?"
"Cause it says it right here." And she pointed at something I couldn't see cause I was stuck in a cage. "Also, I'm Anya she/her! It's really cool to meet you even if you'll be leaving soon."
Right, I was being shipped off to the mines… Wait, I thought I was going to be eaten. Hmmm. I didn't trust the fox to focus on the actually important stuff.
The plan was to befriend others and she was like, not even an affini. Except she constantly sawyed to an unseen tune. Her voice had this weird alien rhythm to it. Still, she was friend shaped. "It's uh nice to meet you too. Can you let me out of here?"
"Nope!" she chirped. "Mxtress forbid me from letting sophonts out after last time." It sounded like there was a story there…
I was really bored. "What happened?"
The cat's mood brightened. "Oh, well I made friends with one of the pets about to be mailed off like you and then I got convinced to let them out so we could hug! Turns out she wasn't a broken pet so she got all mean and took me hostage and Mxtress had to save me… I really liked her…" And by the end of it she looked kinda sad.
Oh no! I made a cute girl sad, aaaah. "Uh, i-it’s okay. s-sorry for asking and stuff." I wanted to curl up and cease to exist. My chest managed to tighten enough through the xenodrugs to hurt a bit. My breathing went a bit forced, and my eyes started to water. Why couldn't I just say the right thing?
"You're good! I wasn't in any danger or anything! Mxtress would never let anything bad happen to me, but I do only play with broken pets now."
I was too lost in my own cycle of beating myself up over having messed up a social interaction. Opening my mouth never worked right, why did I even bother? I was a failure of a person. This was why I didn't have friends.
I hugged the fox close and its presence reminded me I had one friend… an inanimate object. I sniffled a bit.
Anya poked me through the cage. I never moved away from the bars. Her finger making contact with my skin sent a ripple of dopey pleasure through me. A tiny one. "Ahhh Viv, you seem really nice. Uh, if you lean over I'll give you head pats until Mxtress gets back!"
Head pats… like what the affini did. I sniffled then leaned my head over and felt her hand start playing with my hair. My emotions shut up as I melted into the touch. Every ruffle of my hair, every finger massaging my scalp drown me in xenodrug fueled bliss.
"Good girl." My sense of self practically imploded. The praise mixed in with the euphoria.
Everything got cut short when the door opened again. "Aww, well aren't you two being positively adorable." The affini's voice ripped me out of the head space. I pulled away from the touch, my cheeks flush and my face hidden by a fox plush.
I heard the sound of a verbalized extra dramatic kiss. My peeking eye spotted the affini picking up Anya and kissing her repeatedly on the face. The woman giggled even as the thorny maw of the creature pressed against her. It ended with them hugging while the vile plant was ready to like, hurt her at any moment or something.
The creatures rippling green eyes caught me peeking. "I didn't forget about you little one." A vine snaked its way in faster than my doped up limbs could react. It petted me on the head sending familiar shivers down my spine. "Good girl."
Why did that phrase keep setting me off? Fox thoughts chimed in. I knew why… I just wasn't ready to face it yet.
A small whimper may have escaped my lips when the vine withdrew. Probably not. I misheard things all the time. Aaaaa! It was those stupid drugs messing with my head! I-I wasn't some doped up slave to the plants.
"Sorry flower, but I need to get little Belle here ready for transport." The plant apologized. I didn't need an apology, I needed my freedom!
The affini also placed Anya on the ground. It left my field of view to visit the other prisoner. Bleats of anger and fear filled the room as the vile plant pulled the entire prison cell for my crewmate out of its slot to carry. "It's okay Belle, you're just getting shipped out to your new owner! He even requested you be unbroken, so I'm sure you'll enjoy that."
Broken. Anya and now the affini kept mentioning that. Did that mean like they'd break people's limbs so they couldn't escape? Or maybe their spines? That must be how they devoured us! Cracking us open and sucking the marrow from our bones like vampires, but not the sexy kind of vampires, the kind from that one movie that dramatized that outbreak on Hydra minor.
The affini grabbed a folder of documents and carried my crewmate off. I was now the last surviving member of the Astral Tempest. That thought sobered me up… well not truly sober I was still on like three alien medications. They all made my mind go fuzzy and had me making embarrassing noises.
With Anya following the man-eater out, I was left alone. At least I had the fox with me. I really needed to not be alone right now. I closed the sound membrane and curled up in my pet bed with the fox.
I whispered to the plushie. "W-What if I don't escape in time? Fox, I'm scared and-and I'm not a big tough rebel like all the others. I'm just somebody they handed a wrench and a gun, and threw on a ship."
The plushie was silent. The fox never really spoke. It couldn't give me an answer if there wasn't a distant corner of my mind that had one. I remained in silence, the only comfort being the feel and scent of the plushie. For all the evils of the affini, they made really good plushies.
An hour later the affini returned with the woman sitting on its leafy shoulder. There wasn't even the hint of fear that she'd fall from that height. We were in some sort of gravity and that meant a fall like that could kill her. Anya was too drugged up to care and that only made it more dangerous. I wished I could save her.
They walked off towards the desk part of the room where I couldn't see, especially not from the back of my cell. A moment later the red affini returned alone. "With little Belle getting shipped off to her new home, I've got you all to myself, flower. Anya told me you wanted time out of your carrier. Want to come out and play?"
I almost told it no and a number of expletives, but then remembered the fox in my arms. I needed to pretend to be nice. "Uh, sure."
The affini opened the bars of the cage, They wiggled, stretched and parted to let the terror in. Its vines stretched all the way to the back of the cage and wrapped me up. I forgot to not resist for a moment. It set me on the smooth floor that wasn't nearly as cold as a floor should be.
Anya stood nearby in front of the affini's desk. She eyed me with a hint of mischief on her face. Something was happening and the cat was in on it. I smelled a conspiracy brewing.
I remained held by the vines. The jailor placed me on my own two feet but supported my body. "I-I can walk on my own!" Gah! I was a terran. A rebel! I knew how to walk.
"Vivian, when was the last time you stood on two legs in gravity?" That was a dumb question. The affini I was supposed to be 'friendly' with was asking ridiculous questions.
I squeezed the fox in my arms. My thoughts going back days… weeks… months… Oh. OH. "Uh, n-nine months…"
The affini patted me on the head and made me go weak in the knees. "Nine months in microgravity atrophied your muscles. More so than any other terran aboard your ship. Flower, you didn't exercise properly, did you?" First it humiliates me, then it man handles me, then it tries to poison me, and-and now it's calling me out for not exercising?! I didn't need my life choices called out by an evil space plant. How dare it! Who gave it the right?
I gave it my most displeased and rebellious pout. "I didn't want to." Sure, I wasn’t fit, but I wasn’t that bad… Okay, I did get tired from crawling around in my cell really fast but I had been in microgravity for a while. That’s normal! Except my legs were struggling even with the support of the vines…
The shaking of its leaves seemed a bit laugh-like. "That's okay flower, but you do need to be able to walk properly. How else are you going to pull off your daring escape?"
"WHAT?!" H-How did it know?! I always made sure to be extra whispery quiet when I asked the fox for advice. It shouldn't know about the escape plan. Gah! It should be fooled by my fox-like cunning!
"Vivian, I know you're a good little rebel, and all the good little rebels think about escaping. Of course there's also those adorable whispers to your little friend. It's okay. I'm going to help. First any good escape attempt needs the escapee to be able to make a run for it. That means we need to get you fit enough to outrun an affini." The creature snaked its vines out to grasp every segment of my limbs. The thing was toying with me like I was a plushie.
My face glowed like a red star. It knew. Worse, it gave good escaping advice. I did need to be able to run to escape. If I couldn't even walk properly I'd never get out of here. This was a trap. It had to be. My jailor helping train me to escape made zero sense. Also, it was overhearing my private conversations with the fox. Did it bug my cell? Did it bug the fox?
"B-But why would you help me?" My voice barely above a whisper.
"Because I care about you! Flower, you were in the worst shape of all the rebels we captured aboard that vessel save for the one whose rifle misfired. We had to implant you with this-" A vine poked the torso flower. "-because your heart and lungs were ready to give out."
M-My heart was about to fail? I mean I did get light headed easily and my chest hurt often, and my family had a long line of heart failure… Gah! It was trying to use facts and logic to trick me into believing that a man-eating plant cared about me. Clearly, I was just a meal they needed to have nice plump and meaty so they could devour.
"Now flower, it's time to do some physical therapy. I'm going to guide your adorable little limbs through some exercises." The entity puppetting my limbs turned to the cat girl. "Would you be a good little kitten and be little Vivian's exercise partner?"
Anya nodded enthusiastically. Doing an excited dance before standing right beside me. My body threatened to curl up into nothing with how embarrassing this all was. The affini was one thing but like the woman was nice and cheerful and-and I couldn't embarrass myself in front of a cute girl!
First, it started walking me through some stretches. The xenodrugs left my muscles so limp and relaxed they didn't resist the movement at all. My limbs danced to the tune of the affini. It pried my arms from around the plushie. Thankfully, vines held my fox against me. I didn't know what I'd do without it.
We switched movements after every little set. It treated me like a puppet. I felt like one. Completely incapable of even standing on my own. My limbs lacked the strength to resist the movements. Aaaaaaah! How was I supposed to rebel and escape like this?!
"Now flower, you really do need to eat more. Exercise is going to burn-" Its words were cut off by a very loud groan from me. This was like the millionth time I'd been harassed for not eating enough. The affini made a throat clearing noise and spoke over my groan. "- a lot of little calories. You need to eat, flower, otherwise it might stunt your second puberty. Not to mention you won't get strong enough to escape."
Stunt my second puberty… Oh stars, it was serious about me being on HRT. I didn't want to end up halfway transitioned. I mean I wasn't a woman so I didn't want to get transformed into one, but if I did then I'd need to gain weight to like, grow boobs and hips and stuff. Actually I might be too old for the hips. The accord really never did good research on transitioning even after centuries and centuries of it being a known thing.
Anya, doing the same jumping jacks as I was, piped up. "Yea! Class-Gs made me a lot hungrier, but that's also because I grew boobs really fast. And the hips! Stars, I looked so different when I met Mxtress."
The plant patted her on the head with a spare vine coming from its living cloak. "That you were, kitten." The affini then reiterated. "You're going to get light headed faster. That's why I've been trying to get you to eat more and better. I've been giving you plenty to eat. Including the rations you requested. So please flower, eat a bit more."
They ganged up on me! And sure the class-G thing made sense… except for the part where I definitely wasn't on space HRT, but also the affini left out a crucial detail. A detail that'd win me the argument! The rebel in me needed the win. "But even if I wanted to eat more you only gave me like 10 rations! If I ate twenty days of food as fast as you wanted me too I'd run out and starve."
My body was run through some squats. My limbs already ached and my heart felt like it was racing. It had been like two minutes of rigorous exercise. I needed a nap.
"Flower, I haven't given you more because you're only halfway through the first set. I'm not going to starve you. I’m attempting to do the exact opposite." The vile red leafed affini admitted it!
"Exactly! You want to fatten me up to eat me and that's why I also can't eat more." I huffed. Mostly huffing because my body was being strained to its limits… Shit, I think I let it know too much. Now it'd know that I knew about its plans. Ah! I needed to keep my mouth shut. This was all the fox's fault. I wouldn't be fraternizing with the enemy if it wasn't for its advice.
Anya laughed like a mad woman. She moved without any heavy breathing or dizziness or like we had exercised at all. "Stars, she's really really silly." What was that supposed to mean?!
The affini moved my limbs into a resting position. "So in your mind I'm attempting to both starve you to death, and fatten you up to eat you."
"Uh… yes." Okay, those were a little bit contradictory and dumb now that it said them out loud like that. Sure yea it couldn't be doing both but like it was doing them… maybe. Definitely?
"What else have you been imagining I'd do to you?" The massive plant towering over me and puppetting my limbs used a tone that made me feel really dumb.
"Uh, you're trying to poison me, and also ship me off to the mines to be a slave?" I thought about it. "But like Anya even said I was going to be shipped off to an owner. And you said I'd have a master too! So I can't be just making this up. You even admit to taking people's freedoms away in your broadcasts!" Yeah! This stuff wasn't all in my head. Admittedly my mind often came up with really weird somewhat paranoid takes, but this one had evidence! Lots and tons of evidence!
The plant patted me on the head. My thoughts stalled. "So I'm attempting to both murder you and keep you alive to enact forced labor?" That also was a one or the other situation. Okay, so maybe I made up the poison thing but they did kill lots of terrans. Like entire colonies. Plus everyone knew about the mines.
"…yes?" My voice felt a bit weaker than normal.
The cat girl shook her head. "Nope, Mxtress would never hurt someone. That's like mean and Mxtress is a massive softie." Looking up at the creature holding me showed… was the affini being embarrassed? What? The drugs seemed to be having me hallucinate now because everything was weird and I think my head was spinning a bit.
'Mxtress' retorted. "I can use force when necessary."
"Uh huh. Sure mx, am I spanking you too hard? I was begging for it! Big softie." Anya was saying more weird stuff.
I was getting that lightheadedness from not eating enough. The forced exercise didn't help at all. My focus was slipping worse when the xenodrugs already made focusing hard. The two kept back and forth arguing about softness or something.
There was silence. A vine tapped my face. "Little one." I looked up at the affini. Voice so full of worry. "Are you tired? Dizzy? Did you not drink enough water?" Lots of questions. Too many questions. "Anya hand me one of your juice packs."
A straw slipped between my lips. "Drink." I sipped on some sort of tangy juice stuff. My mouth was really dry from breathing hard and talking a lot. A vine gently stroked my hair as I greedily consumed the rest. The juice container was then pulled back so I could take a breath. "Good girl~"
The spininess stopped as I was held aloft. Not a single aching muscle was left supporting my own weight. My thoughts reconvened and I realized I drank something that could have been poisonous! I glanced down from the affini to my body and… Aah! I was being held in the creature's arms?! My attempts to scramble free of it were thwarted by my own limbs feeling too heavy to move that much.
"L-Let me go!"
"Flower, I'll set you down if you can honestly tell me you can move on your own right now." That wasn't fair! Of course I couldn't get up on my own after it exhausted my limbs like that. It'd been like twenty minutes, maybe like a whole hour of exercise.
I pouted as I continued my heavier breaths from exhaustion. "I-I can move on my own!" It didn’t matter that I was lying, I didn’t want to be held by the warm soft vines!
The creature very gently set me on the oddly soft floor. My fox sat on top of my chest. "As you say little Vivian. I'll even be nice and not try to stop you if you wish to flee right now." Oh that weed was going to get it… as soon as I rested up a bit.
Anya sat down next to me. She acted like she didn't just do all the same physical activity I did. The cat wasn't even breathing hard like she just did the most intense workout of her life. "You okay Viv?"
"Yes." I grumbled. I really shouldn't compare myself to someone who's clearly like an athlete or something.
"Want me to get you some more juice? Oh! I could go get more fries since you liked those." Stars, she was too nice. I definitely needed to take her with me when I escaped. She shouldn't have to live with evil plants.
The affini chimed in. "Oh she likes fries, does she? Anya would you be a dear, and go fetch her a meal from Jelissa's diner?"
"Yes Mxtress." She hopped up with impossible vigor. Then she paused. "Uh which one?"
A leafy hand patted her on the head. "Is the kitten asking me to make choices for her?"
The creature's golden eyes peered down upon me. The smirk on its lips deviously quirked. "Vivian, do you like chicken tenders?"
They had… Gah! Why did the evil plant keep tempting me with things I liked?! Oh my stars it was trying to do the same thing to me as I was trying to do to it! Lull me in by befriending me and then it'd do its uh… fattening me up to eat me thing. Yea, except I'd also be mailed off… I was delivery food!
The cat poked me. "Want some chicken tendies? Jelissa makes the best tendies."
I pouted. "Yes…"
"Great!" And Anya scampered off to presumably get me delicious unpoisoned food.
I was left lying on the floor before a cross legged affini, while the fox sat on me. My limbs felt too heavy to move. My body wanted to curl up in warm vines… I mean my soft cat bed! Definitely, the bed in my cell. Aaaah!!! I-I didn't enjoy being touched by the affini at all!
I managed to roll over after a bit and cuddle around the fox plushie. The interrogation tactics the affini used were as advanced as their tech. I could barely decipher all the strange things it was doing to break me… Wait, that's what breaking meant! It was trying to get me to turn on my fellow terrans. I'd never break! I'd never work with the plants against humanity.
The fox still sat there adorable as ever. Gosh I loved foxes. How did the affini know I liked foxes? Hmmm, I was supposed to befriend it back as a part of my plan. "How did you know I liked foxes?"
The affini was taken aback at my sudden talkativeness. "Is that a fox? I thought it was a horse. It was purely a coincidence little one… So you like foxes?" A horse? It looked nothing like a horse. It didn't even have wings!
Anyway, the affini asked about my love of foxes and it was evil, so I didn't even feel bad about infodumping fox lore onto it until Anya got back. I had no idea how long that took, but it felt like a while, because the affini had me stop to like, drink a bit of water and breathe every once in a while.
The cat plopped the food down in front of me. A dinner basket of delicious looking chicken tenders, fries, and some ketchup. Stars, I missed terran food. My hand reached out to eat it and then paused. What if it's poisoned? My hand just hovered over the meal tempting me.
"Flower, are you worried it's poisoned, or are you worried about being eaten." Stars, now I was worried about both! The vile plant just had to do this to me. "Because I can assure you that it's not poisoned, and affini don't eat humans. We're plants. We intake water, nutrients, and light."
That… almost made sense. Like plants didn't eat people… except the carnivorous ones that did! "Some plants eat bugs. Heck, like I saw an internet post on man eating plants they found when setting up a new colony!"
The cat bapped me on the face. "Affini don't eat people… okay they eat pussy but that doesn’t count." Eat… pussy…My brain took a minute to unpack that.
The moment I realized that was a sex thing my face flushed and I hid behind the fox. Why would she say that?! Plants eating- Aaaaa!!! Nope, not gonna even think about it. Not at all. Never ever ever.
Actually, if the food was poisoned it'd save me from thinking about that. I just started nibbling on the meal. No questions, no concerns, just not gonna think about- I choked on a piece of chicken.
"Careful flower." The affini's vines wrapped around me and it massaged the food out of my windpipe. "Here I'll handle it myself." The affini restricted my limbs and started feeding me each bite. I couldn't even resist the delicious food. It'd hold up the food to my mouth and I'd eat each bite. The evil plant setting the pace of my eating.
With all of the crispy fried chicken and golden fries consumed. I was done. I needed a nap as my body was too tired and sore. The affini placed me back in my prison cell, right into the plush bed. I was too tired to care. The shade lowered and the soothing music started playing again. I curled up around the fox and took a much needed nap.