Chapter 4: Cherry Blossom

by Doeposting

Tags: #cw:noncon #accidental_conditioning #caregiving #Human_Domestication_Guide #initial_self_destructive_drug_use #mindbreak #nonverbal #actually_I've_decided_this_involves #because_furry #bondage #deer #does_this_count_as_bimbofication? #dom:female #f/f #humiliation #hypnosis #scifi #sub:female

Brief CW: mention of possible permanent injury during medical evaluation

Laria restlessly stewed in her seat outside of the doctor’s office. She busied herself with her thumbs, twiddling them and spending some effort to restrain her fungal pods from exploding in anxiety. Her eyes flicked between a painting over at the other side of the wall (titled “Flight of the Danu”, depicting two crane-type avian creatures circling one another in a courting ritual), and the sign above the office door: “Dr. Lesly Ozier, 5th Bloom. He/Him.

“What’s making you so nervous?”

The scout sighed. Meiple had decided on a whim to join Laria in waiting for the analysis, despite Laria’s repeated insistence on not needing any company. Though her feather-brained personality suggested otherwise, Meiple apparently was quite perceptive. The desk worker stood beside the door, expectantly waiting for an answer, so Laria finally conceded.

“Well,” the short affini explained, “I was hoping that bringing her here would resolve this issue as quickly as possible. All of these mysteries continue to delay Kiki from being reunited with her owner. The sooner this situation resolves, the better off she will be, and the sooner I can get back out into the field and continue my operations.”

Meiple squinted a bit. “You really love your job that much, huh.”

Laria felt her fungal pods bristle.

“As a matter of fact, I do,” she insisted. “You, on the other hand, just absconded from your post.”

The slender receptionist shook her head defiantly, sending a few more feather-seeds twirling. 

“I did not! I’m taking my break, and choosing to spend it waiting for you and Kiki.”

Meiple turned her chin up with a dramatic scoff. “If anything, I’m just being responsible. I want to know how someone managed to put her on Class-Js when there aren’t any shipments recorded, and certainly haven't compiled any on-site.”

“Or,” Laria retorted, “perhaps you’re here to shower affection all over Kiki the moment she exits the door.”

“Well, that too!” Meiple let out a bubbly giggle, dropping her disdainful facade. “She’s so cuuuuute! If she didn't already have an owner I'd file an application immediately.”

A pang of jealousy washed over the scout, which only frustrated her even more. Why was she envious? Kiki wasn't even her pet… She looked away, hoping it would disengage the conversation. Even as her eyes were fixed on the painting across the way, she could hear Meiple grinning as she teased.

"...underneath all that professional attitude, I bet you want her too, huh."

Laria’s cheeks flared, and she crossed her arms. "I have standards, Ms. Zossix! I will not be goaded into speaking out of line."

" know, that is a funny thing, now that I think about it…" Meiple tapped a pen to her chin. "...for a domesticated sophont, she sure is making you feel territorial. Her previous owner definitely never completed their biorhythmic bond together."

That was an understatement if Laria ever heard one. The best way she could describe that drugged-up pet was an analogy that humans liked to use: cats to catnip. Kiki was almost the ideal pet; docile and sweet, curious and shy. With all the Class-Cs running through her, Kiki likely had no qualms packbonding with a rock if it looked personable enough. She certainly had attracted Meiple's attention. 

Underneath all of that medication, however, there was an answer to this mystery. Somewhere, through the haze of possibly illicitly acquired drugs, there was a personality, a functional mind. Laria just hoped that Dr. Ozier might be able to bring some of that back, and soon.

Just as she was about to defend herself, the door opened. Laria stood up, both her and Meiple at attention. The doctor, lab coat and spectacles, had a muted expression upon his face.

“Ms. Xylon. You and your friend ought to come in.” Dr. Ozier’s words were measured, with some amount of weight indicating something was the matter. Laria and Meiple exchanged a glance, then Laria acquiesced without a word, walking into the office and allowing Meiple to follow suit.

“Cherry blossommmmmm…” 

Kiki happily mumbled as her hips swayed back and forth. She was resting on her elbows and knees, laying atop the examination table with a blankly blissful expression.

Dr. Lesly Ozier, hands on his waist, raised an eyebrow. “As you can see, we did manage to find an antidote for her induced aphasia and extrasensitivity. But the test results aren’t exactly encouraging. Whoever did this to her must have been attempting to improvise a dose of Class-Os. I can’t think of another explanation for what we’re seeing here.”

A sense of despair pulsed through Laria’s body.

“You can’t be serious,” she mumbled.

The doctor snorted. “Quite. Your initial analysis was close, but ran short. A full neurochemical workup has been made, but the main issue can be traced to this.” 

A digital chart projected itself in front of the trio of affini assembled through the room. Dr. Ozier extended a long root to point at the valleys and peaks of the infographic.

“Although human brain stems do not match one-to-one with concentric ring systems by which affini samples can be taken, the longitudinal data I have gathered indicates that there was never a ramp up into the dosage Kiki here received. For one or two of these, that would be fine… but we're looking at a bulk dose. Those levels of Class-C and Js peak and start to decline right here."

"As a result…" Lesly continued, presenting a separate projection showing a scan of Kiki's frontal cortex, "many of her neural pathways have been severely damaged, others deactivated entirely. She seems to get nauseous when she stands up on two legs, so I've let her be… well, like this."

Kiki, still on all fours, let out a soft, unassuming bray. The doctor shook his head. 

"I've put in an order with the surgical team to add her to the list of sophonts in need of chest implants, so treatment will be smoother going forward. For now I've administered a slow release low-level Class-C so her human bonding instincts aren't further compromised. It’s a wonder that her mind is still intact. Humans truly are resilient things, but she might need supervision for many years, possibly the rest of her life.”

"Supervisssssin…" Kiki let out a hiccup, sounding quite unbothered by the news. "Rest of my lifffffe… goooooood…"

Meiple cast a concerned look in the pet’s direction. “But why? Why would someone do something like this to their pet?”

The doctor rubbed his chin in contemplation. “Where did you say you found this sophont?”

“In an intelligence hive…” Laria retraced her steps. “Some tertiary base an hour’s flight magnetic south of here. Our scans didn’t penetrate beyond the outer layer, but previous sweeps indicated no signs of life.”

She paused. “I… I heard her calling for help. Behind some metal door.”

“Rather than domestication, this could conceivably be a case of self-defense,” Dr. Ozier postulated. “You did find her in a volatile sector of the planet. Under most circumstances a member of the Compact would be restrained in their incapacitation of a Terran rebel. But in an emergency, with a personal reserve of drugs not listed on any official manifest…"

Laria clenched a fist. "They could cause harm. Permanent harm."

She was already running down a list of possible scenarios… although as far as she knew, the scout team she was working for hadn't suffered any fatalities, and those injured by laser weaponry had all received treatment. She'd have to check in with the other offices to gather more information on—

"Hold on just a moment!" 

Meiple's voice interrupted Laria's thought process. "What even makes you think it was an affini that did this? Like Laria said, the sweeps never picked up anything below ground. Surely we would have heard if one of us had gone missing. Besides, I heard that the front line workers are all veterans!"

The doctor replied with an arrogant huff. "Are you suggesting a fellow Terran somehow drugged her? Preposterous! Not once in my years have I seen a credible case of rebels obtaining our own drug mixtures for their benefit. And even if they had, any attempt to wield them against us would be ineffectual. They certainly should know that by now.”

“It was just an idea…” Meiple shot back, looking hurt. “You don’t have to be so dismissive about it.”

“Please, Meiple.” Ozier crossed his arms and turned his projections off.

“I’ve traveled across this galaxy and participated in several domestication campaigns. A scenario like the one you are describing simply has never come up!” 

“Cherry blossommmm!” Kiki piped up happily.

“Yes yes, cherry blossom,” the doctor waved his hand dismissively. “At any rate, the evidence is simply lacking. You might as well blindly speculate that she injected those chemicals into herself!”

The pet’s outburst aroused Laria’s attention, and the scout approached Kiki for the first time since she had entered the room. 

“You said that before, Kiki,” she spoke softly. “What do you mean when you say that?”

Kiki's eyes focused for a moment, and Laria watched her struggle to put the pieces together. 

Kiki liked the way speaking felt, pushing words through her lips. The plant doctor had poked and prodded throughout her body earlier. Maybe it was something he had done (maybe the poke that hurt a bit), but once it had gone through, a rush of instincts flooded back into her body. It was all she could do to organize her thoughts though, so the words used to describe that smell that wafted into her nose every so often were the first ones out of her mouth.

It was the "ch" followed by the "mmmmm" that just was so natural. Every so often the doctor would ask her questions, and she appended a "cherry blossom" when responding. 

She only began to examine her fixation when the Laria asked her what that phrase meant. She cocked her head confusedly, and tried to see if she had any other words to say.

Finally, she coaxed a sentence out of her throat. "Smell. Very strong smell… cherry smell!"

She felt very proud of herself for speaking so eloquently, and expected to be rewarded in pats. When none came, she started to get a little concerned, and let out a tiny whine.

"Oh no… she's so darling…" there was that tall tree lady from the huge desk. Why was she here?

"May I?"

"The examination is over. Go ahead."

Before Kiki knew what was going on, an auburn hand extended to ruffle her hair, and she let out an appeased bleat. Goodness! That still felt wonderful, even though it wasn't as intense as before. 

The Laria also began to make her way to Kiki, and she suddenly realized it might be possible to have two plant ladies petting her at the same time. The thought filled her with excitement. She made eye contact with the Laria, hoping that she'd join in. The plant lady exchanged a look of… it wasn't happy or sad. It was something more complicated. 

"...if it's all the same to you two, I'd like to take her with me and continue my investigation. There's a chance that this 'cherry blossom' smell might have been some kind of signature her owner left on her."

Ah. Somehow the Laria was speaking sense into Kiki's brain, and she tried to affirm what the plant lady had said. "Ooooooh. Cherry blossommmmm owner?"

As the tall tree lady continued patting her, her voice rumbled through her fingers into Kiki's scalp. 

"Laria! You're right! We ought to investigate this more thoroughly."

"We?" Kiki's rescuer sounded a little upset for some reason. "Excuse me, Meiple, but this is my responsibility. Both of you have helped us plenty. There's no need to get the entire embassy involved."

This whole conversation was apparently distracting both plant ladies from doing the important work of petting her, and Kiki let out a moan. In moments, two sets of hands were atop her, scritching her head and back. Oh goodness yes. Kiki lay flat against the exam chair, letting the physical sensations wash over her.

"Indeed," the kind doctor spoke. "Until the surgeons are ready to work on her, my role in this is done. I'll send the neurochemical chart your way to peruse at your leisure. In addition, I fabricated a medical collar to stabilize her hormonally… it'll keep her Class-C schedule in check."

Collar? Kiki's ears perked at that, and for the first time, she felt almost bashful. It made sense… she was some kind of pet, right? So a collar was a part of that… but it meant something more. It meant she was owned, like a cat or a dog or something. The thought of being owned felt almost too overwhelming.

"Don't worry, Kiki. It's just temporary. Just relax."

The doctor took out what looked to be a kind of glossy metallic black band, and handed it to the Laria. For some reason her savior also looked a little embarrassed about this. Kiki felt redness enter her cheeks.

"When we find your owner, we can take this off. This isn't a forever collar, okay?"

Kiki nodded, though a part of her felt disappointed. 

Wait, why disappointed? Her brain struggled, words making it easier to put together ideas. She was a human… right? And the plant ladies… they were called "affini". Affini were… alien colonizers… and she was… supposed to be… independent, right—

With a snap, the band locked around her neck, and Kiki let out a startled yelp. It felt cool to the touch, extremely sleek, and a touch erotic, even. Kiki made effortful sounds and scrabbled at the collar with her fists, but it wouldn't come off. Before she could try anything else, Laria was beside her, cuddling her softly, and Kiki stopped.

"Shh shh shh. It's okay, Kiki. Everything's okay. We'll find your owner. I promise."

The Laria used a finger to trace from her neck down her spine, a sensation that caused Kiki to go limp. 

"You'll be just fine."

Kiki found her face smushed into Laria's chest, and tried to not worry about the sudden invasive thoughts that entered her mind. Being just fine would be nice about now.

Meiple seemed to be in a good mood as the three of them left the office, something that was beginning to get on Laria's nerves.

"I'll be off my shift in an hour," the receptionist opined. "Maybe we could grab dinner together, just the three of us!"

The thought of "grabbing dinner" with the immature bloom made Laria blink. Affini didn't need food in the way other sophonts did, which meant Meiple was earnestly suggesting a social engagement between the three of them, the kind that Laria abhorred. Nothing made her want to be out in the field more than some obligation to a "date."

"You've been more than helpful, Meiple," Laria began to reply, "but I doubt that's what we need at the moment. Right, Kiki?"

She looked back at the pet. As if to undermine Laria's words, Kiki's stomach let out a gurgle, and she began to whine. 

"Kiki hungry… dinner sounds good?"

Meiple's pointed look caused Laria to pout.

"We'll find you something to eat," Laria promised begrudgingly, and shot a glare at the desk clerk. "...what time, Ms. Zossix?"

"7:30!" Meiple immediately replied, ignoring the daggers Laria was staring into her. 

With a hum, she tapped out something on her digital itinerary and then made a flicking motion. "Shooooould be in your inbox. See you sooooon!"

With a peal of laughter, she flounced her way back to her post, leaving a grumbling scout and a belly-aching pet at the entrance of the medical centre.

After Laria had finally made peace with her evening plans changing without her consent, she glanced down at the bag the doctor had given her. A set of fancy looking gloves were encased inside, with a set of hastily written instructions.

"Make her wear these for her hands if you don't want to be carrying her for the rest of your investigation."

The affini looked back at Kiki with a resigned expression.  

"How do you feel about walks, little one?"

Wowee! Not only have we been introduced to a cast of new characters, but the investigation has revealed some new insights about Kiki's state! Will Kiki have a chance to find her Cherry Blossom? Will Laria figure out her feelings towards the pet? Will Meiple manage to wedge herself into the dynamic duo successfully?

These questions and more will be answered... hopefully next week! It's a busy time in a doe's life. If not, I'll try and release a chapter two weeks from now. I'm shocked at how many readers I have for this story!

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