Answering the door was a mistake today, you think.
You manage to stammer out an "Oh!… oh..." in response.
You've seen them before, but never in person. The more generous depictions are from the propaganda videos, those intense owner-pet pairs that demonstrate their love for one another; stories about happy rehabilitations, about bodies being transformed for the better, about feeling a sense of belonging in the Compact. All this fantastical wish fulfillment magic and also drugs that these Affini use to make the galaxy a warmer, softer place. It was almost a little kitschy, if kind of hot; you figure the propaganda must be doing something right if you start fantasizing about it happening to you. But that was exactly what made it so scary, right?
On Terran galactic news sites, every caster and commentator had no qualms discussing how gruesome and terrifying they truly were. But… the news networks didn't say anything about the Affini arriving here! Not on this planet, they said. The Terran propaganda machine continually reminded everyone about Linyu X's state-of-the-art orbital defense grid. Linyu would not fall, they said. Not with that bad boy of a system.
The giant plant woman at least twice your height standing outside of your apartment building seems to be the most obvious clue that the Rebels may have been exaggerating. Just a little.
"H-hi! How… did you get here?" You finally manage.
The affini gives a maternal, patronizing smile, one that sends a tingling through your spine and stomach. Her voice sounds tender, like the soft melody of cattails in Linyu summers, and though she opens her mouth to speak, it's clear that her entire body vibrates whenever she says anything.
"I walked from my ship, which I left just outside where you store your landstriding vehicles. The name is Bonnia Zyphae, Second Bloom. May I come in?"
You pause to think. Not only is this plant lady not pulling you out of your window screaming, but she seems quite kindly. Polite. More earnest than you were expecting. You realize very quickly that the affini probably have the raw strength to tear you limb from limb (hot and fucked up), but she is consciously choosing to ask you for permission to enter anyway. It's a strange, absurd combination that makes it very difficult for you to concentrate on much.
You glance out the door, to make sure no one else is out and about. It seems like anyone left in the apartment complex has locked their doors, probably checking their peepholes to make sure that an imperialist alien isn't standing outside, and certainly not letting them in the moment they come knocking. You know, doing the smart thing.
Thankfully you're all alone, so you sort of nod weakly, standing aside to allow Bonnia to hunch herself to squeeze through your apartment door.
"Sorry it's a mess…" you apologize meekly, as though that would matter to an advanced alien race.
The affini straightens up until her head almost touches the ceiling. Seeing her in her full profile in your room puts into perspective how large she is… and how small you are. She takes up a good fourth of your tiny little foyer/living room/kitchen, and when she goes to sit on your couch (currently piled with clothes you'll never get around to washing and have just subjected to the sedimentary approach) it makes a creaking sound that makes you wonder if you should have spent more money on furniture just for this one time you've ever had a guest.
"That is okay," she replies to you, not seeming to recognize that she has rested herself on a month's worth of neglected laundry. "This will serve our needs well for now."
It's an odd feeling, feeling trapped in your apartment. Ever since arriving in-system a few years ago in a fleeing rebel vessel, a large part of your existence has been figuring out ways to decorate whatever personal interior you were allotted. All that ended up coming out of your ambitions has been the bare minimum, surviving with whatever was most affordable. To be fair to yourself, there probably isn't a single Terran on Linyu equipped for a house call like this. Except for the doomsday preppers, and those people are cringeworthy even by rebel standards.
You try to math out how the hell you're supposed to play host to an intergalactic species prone to domesticating everything in its wake. Serve her needs? What did she want? Wait, why was this your job? Why didn't the Linyu Rebellion dispatch diplomats? Oh, right, because fascist states don't have those. Or at least competent ones.
You mentally slap yourself. Now is not the time for speculation. Now is the time to do literally anything useful.
"Um… would you like coffee or tea-" you catch yourself with the sudden realization that both of these drinks are made from plants and — seriously! What is your problem?!
You try refocusing yourself. "S-sorry about that… I don't know how the Affini feel about, you know… boiling leaves and all that…"
"Tea is fine," she affirms with a smile.
...just roll with it, you tell yourself.
As you make your way into the kitchen, you start begrudging that the Rebellion never offered classes on the proper decorum of hosting alien lifeforms. Mandatory laser gun seminars — while cool at first — is probably the least useful class you’ve ever taken for this situation. You shake the thought and start up the kettle.
Ah. Aaaaaah. Why is she calling you out like this? Was it some weird alien taboo you don't know anything about?
You reply with a stammer. "I don't mean to! I'm… I'm sorry… it's just a weird human thing that happens sometimes when we're embarrassed–"
"Oh, I'm aware."
The burning across your face gets worse.
Bonnia smiles again. There's a flash of something predatory there — observing and watching you go through the motions of making a few cups of hot leaf juice that's just triggering a flight-or-fight response in your gut.
"You're not gonna eat me right" tumbles right out of your mouth before you can control yourself.
You idiot! You can't just ask aliens if they eat people!!! What is WRONG with you—
You hear a soft giggle from Bonnia, which is… reassuring? "I have no intentions of causing you physical harm if you are cooperative."
"So does that preclude me from jumping out the window the first chance I get?" You can't help yourself; words are just forcing their way out of your head, stream of consciousness now.
You hear the telltale creaking of your couch as Bonnia gets up. "I will also prevent you from causing physical harm to yourself, if need be."
The implication drips from her words as you realize she has never once considered you a threat, but simultaneously has a profound desire to keep you safe. "But wait, why would you do that? Why…"
A thought dawns, surges to the front of your mind, as ridiculous and silly and insane as it is… she's treating you like some kind of stray dog or something. You do the mental calculus.
She just wanted permission to enter so she could corner and capture you silently.
Bonnia is starting to approach the kitchen area you're busying yourself in, and fight-flight kicks into overdrive, adrenaline pushing itself through your veins. All you manage to do is grab a kitchen fork and back yourself into a dusty corner.
"Wait wait wait isn't this happening a little too fast-" you try to say, but Bonnia is so close that you can't even summon up words. Useless sounds come out of your mouth, and you are suddenly reminded of the third automatic human response… fight, flight, and fawn.
You find yourself dazed, looking up at the alien lady, half-heartedly pointing your utensil. Your heart crashes against your chest. Bonnia takes a knee to bring herself closer to your head level. She seems… genuinely concerned, and you find a few moments to breathe.
"Poor thing. Apologies, I am a little ‘green’ when it comes to these assignments. You seem panicked. Would you like some sedatives?"
Xenodrugs. Oh no. She's been offering the one thing you've been so intrigued about the domestication experience. You freeze. If you take her medicine everything'll just cascade from there.
"I… I appreciate the offer…" you pant. "I just… shouldn't we have tea first?"
The kettle of the kitchen begins to whistle, and relief pours through you. A break in the tension. Bonnia raises herself back up to full posture.
"Perhaps we should. I'll take care of things from here, starlet. Take a seat on your cushions, and I'll be there shortly."
That's the second time she's called you that nickname since she knocked upon your door. Starlet. It's clearly a term of endearment, but you're really not sure about the particulars… and part of you doesn't want to consider them too hard.
Bonnia has begun to attend to your kitchen, customarily tidying up with a slew of vines while also searching for your cups. She has her back turned to you. She really isn't afraid of you at all. You stand up from your corner of the kitchen. No reaction. No mountain of teeth to gnaw you into a million pieces (hot) or needles puncturing your entire body all over until you've entered a mindless obedient haze (hot and fucked up… but also hot). Okaaaaaay.
Even though a fork isn't the best utensil to drink tea with, you clutch at your improvised culinary weapon anyway. You walk as normally as you can to the couch, and take a seat beside the depression Bonnia left in the used-clothes section of the furniture.
The alien returns to the living room part of this urban amalgamation of an apartment carrying two vessels — one of your beloved mugs, and a glass bowl, both filled with tea.
"May I?" Bonnia gestures to where she was previously seated, and you nervously nod. She brings a saucer with your mug and places it on the coffee table which sits just in front. It's an absurd, if intimate moment, watching the affini sip tea from the bowl you've regularly made instant ramen noodles in. There's a clear cultural divide here, and you wonder if the affini are used to wandering into human homes and adjusting to the Terran size of life.
There’s a period of silence, where you and Bonnia just sip from your drinks… without exchanging a single word.
“This is good tea…” you say, dumbly.
Bonnia replies softly. “Thank you.”
It’s starting to get awkward.
Say something, dammit! you think to yourself.
"So… are you here to make me into a pet?" you finally blurt.
Bonnia's soft face blinks, making a slight crinkling sound as she does. "Is that your interest?"
You realize you're being presumptuous and backpedal as quickly as you can.
"Wait wait wait, you're saying there's a choice here?" you mutter, trying to distract from the way you framed your previous question.
The affini nods. "For sophonts who are not engaged in active rebellion, you are certainly given the option to live freely under the Compact, with certain limitations. I had intended to brief you on the status of your colony's government first, but if you've already made up your mind—"
"Oh no no no!" You assert through the million intrusive thoughts dancing around in your head. "This is a misunderstanding. I just…"
You take a deep breath, refocus. "That's what they told us would happen if we surrendered. We'd all be made into slaves, eaten, treated worse than death. And like… you're just here. In front of me. And like, not doing any of that? I don't know, this is all so much to take in..."
"You seem disquieted about this." Bonnia offers an empathetic smile. "I apologize on behalf of the Compact that you've had to endure such awful lies about our kind for so long."
Those words strike you with some kind of patronizing deference, implying some kind of power to wholly obviate negative opinions about the Compact… which isn't, honestly, that far off from the way the rebels described the Affini. Part of you is highly intrigued by that statement.
"So… you and the Compact are running some kind of paradise then?" you mumble. "Something so wonderful that us rebels have to actively suppress the truth to not lose power? That's… ridiculous!"
Bonnia gives you a curious glance. "Although I'd argue there are many things the Compact may yet improve upon, I believe the standard of living in Compact-aligned worlds far surpasses those of the former Accords. If you would like me to give you documentation, we can go through the galactic archival records together and compare."
Although you get the sense that Bonnia is trying to earnestly appeal to your sense of curiosity, the conceit of a galactic record is already flexing a bureaucratic force light-years beyond anything the Accord ever managed. You can't wrap your head around managing the logistics of a single planet, let alone thousands of systems brimming with life.
"Um, maybe someday..." you reply, a little sheepish, "but honestly, that doesn't tell me anything about… you know, the process of all of this. You said there's been a status change to the colony's government?"
The affini nods. "Correct. As of three days ago, Terran weapons and defense systems across the planet have been rounded up and dismantled, and the military arm of the colony has been dissolved."
She cocks her head, curious. "Did you not catch the broadcasts on your news device?"
You shake your head. "There's been a brownout in the building for the last few days, so we had to ration power… Also I might have also gotten up late…"
You scratch your chin idly with the fork. "I figured something was going on since there was so much commotion, but… I'm not really close to anybody in the colony, so nobody went to find me. Forced relocation. I'm just… staying here for now… on my own."
When you put it like this, it makes you feel a little sour. The entire colony was subjugated three days ago and nobody even bothered to tell you? Talk about FOMO.
"This seems quite unacceptable…" Bonnia tsks. "We'll need to have a chat with your… what do you call it? Landlord?"
"Yep, that's it," you shrug.
The affini grumbles, downing the rest of her bowl of tea, before setting it down upon the coffee table. "Unacceptable. 'Landlord.' How primitive. Some humans really ought to get off their high porches."
You giggle a little. "I think you mean high horses, but yeah. I agree."
"Ah…" Bonnia contemplates this new information with a sigh. "I will have to correct my coworkers then."
The thought of these aliens somehow managing to dominate entire galaxies while confidently butchering common idioms was almost laughable. The whole affair is just too absurd to believe.
"So, little starlet…" there it was again, that cute pet word from her mouth… "since you don't really have a place to go, would you like to come with me?"
You're sure that from the Affini's perspective, this seems like a logical thing to say, but the thought of staying with Bonnia makes you recoil.
"You can't be serious."
The affini replies with a deadpan expression. "Quite."
"There's— there's gotta be some kind of catch," you stammer. "The domestication for instance. You Affini convert people into pets, right?"
Once again, Bonnia answers earnestly. "Domestication is a large part of our culture, yes. There's generally two clusters of processes that we use for domestication. The first cluster is those who are voluntary, where the owner and pet-to-be sign a mutual contract to be upheld by the Compact. The second cluster involves involuntary approaches, and sometimes full subjectivity overrides to prevent resistance. You do not qualify for the latter variant of this process…"
She casts a glance down at the fork you've kept in your hand before returning to meet your eyes, causing you to squirm. "...but the former certainly is an option for you to take."
You choke a little.
That wasn't particularly subtle. Now you know she's propositioning you. Even you, ignorant as you are about social cues, can put this one together.
Unfortunately, being able to recognize her invitation does not give you the wherewithal to stop a cobbled mess of words from spewing out your babbling mouth. "Uh! Yeah! But that's like… signing away all of my rights! My independence! And I wouldn't want that! I mean! Why would I?"
Part of you wonders if you meant what you just said. The other part of you raises your fork up in defiance.
The corner of Bonnia's lips turn up a little more, before her soft husky voice responds to your facade of resistance. "May I initiate physical contact with you?"
"Yes." You answer immediately, stupidly.
A hand reaches out and before you realize it, she's petting you.
It feels good.
It feels really good.
The soft texture of her hand is a little unexpected with the barky surface which wraps around her whole form, but… oh goodness… oh stars… she's ruffling your hair, scritching along your neck. It sends shivers of pleasure down your spine, causes you to squirm even more intensely than before. You're feeling a joy that you haven't felt in years!
"So noisy, too."
You clamp your jaw shut. You weren't making noises just now, were you? You faintly recall that perhaps you were, and that furious heat blossoms across your entire face now. You try withdrawing from the pets, when you realize Bonnia is dangling your fork in front of you. You suddenly realize that while you were lost in a haze, she had absconded with it.
You two share a moment of awareness, as something perceptibly shifts in the affini's eyes. There is no longer any pretense; Bonnia's smile and glare is gaining a sharpness to it, as she gestures with your utensil.
"You asked for a reason. I have provided you with one."
You try saying something, anything, but instead an egregious amount of whimpering leaves your mouth. "N-no…That's not fair…"
The affini draws her height over you until she is looming. Your flight-fight-fawn response kicks in. You freeze.
"What's not fair about this, little one?"
"I… but I… I… you… my… independence…" you can't even think of a reason… a sudden fixation on being petted is making it extremely difficult to think.
Bonnia sets the fork aside and brings a comforting arm around your back. You fight the urge to snuggle into it.
"I was briefed on sophonts like you, you know. Humans who already are so predisposed to domestication that they submit themselves without so much as a touch…" the affini giggles sweetly. "I did not expect my first assignment to be as pliable as this."
Pliable! Predisposed!! You aren't those things! You live on a rebel planet you are are an independent human you know how to shoot gun! Why would—
She reaches out with a hand, caressing your cheek, and you moan audibly this time; you can even hear it through your petspace addled mind. Oh my stars. It's electric how wonderful it feels. You're panting, shivering in pleasure. Part of you is screaming in terror. Why why why can't you control yourself? Why does it feel so good? You're blushing and straining and stars, you're just giving up your independence like this???
"Nooooooo immmmaaa rebelllll…" you try to resist with whatever's left, but the needy whine that punctuates your voice makes it clear how much of a lie that is.
Bonnia is as firm as she is flirtatious. "No. What you're doing is submitting, little one."
The affini's pets are reaching down to rub your belly, an experience that causes you to roll over and pant for her. Wait! No! That's not it. What are you doing???
"You've done nothing but submit to me the whole time I've been here."
"Dhfhfjjdkdksksksk!" A drivel of sounds fall out of you, turning into more whines as she reaches under your shirt to pull it loose, giving her yet more surface area to caress your sensitive skin.
Bonnia tilts your chin up to look her in the eyes. She gives a stern but maternal glare. "Good pets don't lie to their owner, starlet."
Your vision goes blurry, and for a moment you can’t manage to come up with more than single words at a time.
"Pet! Owner! Starlet!" You gasp. "What!"
No it couldn't be— oh goodness oh stars, she's kissing you now. It's sending electricity through every nerve in your body! It's like she knows exactly what parts of you to caress to elicit pants, moans of excitement.
You mewl, squirm, beg. In a manner of seconds she's reduced you to some basic creature! If this is how powerful the affini are, how could anyone resist?
She draws away from your lips.
"Now, will you be a good pet and submit for me, little one?"
You feel your body twitching in pleasure. You feel yourself giving away more ground. You can't stop. It's a natural instinct for humans to give in, you remember hearing on an Affini broadcast once. Everything they said, everything they promised — every single one was true, wasn't it?
"I s-submit!" You wail despite yourself. "I submit please please please… just don't stop... please…"
Bonnia chuckles. “You’re mine, then.”
She squeezes you in an embrace so pleasurable you lose your breath. You melt. In a moment all of your desires become fulfilled… everything is possible… you’re being claimed, being owned. You’re awash with ecstasy at the thought.
"I will bring you such joys, my starlet. You and I will do much together. I promise you nothing but pleasure, for as long as you want it. And I assure you that you will."
The light in your eyes fade away entirely. There's no more fight in you.
"Zyphae, First Floret. How does that sound to you?"
You simply nod uselessly, and she waves a needle in front of your face. You mewl eagerly, already understanding what you're consenting to.
As you feel a prick and a rush of xenodrugs that push you further and further into petspace, one lingering thought remains:
As far as mistakes go, this is the best one you've ever made.
The extra dimensional fawn from beyond this universe clops her hooves together deviously, and cackles to herself.
"Muahahahhaa! I believe I have now beaten everyone else's record speed of domestication, and on the reader character too. I should add this one to the leaderboards. What do you all think?"
Bonnia looks just as confuzzled as you, and you mewl quizzically. There's a speedrun? There's a leaderboard?! What—
"Gay gay homosexual gay"
As soon as you realize what has happened, the fawn has returned to her own realm, leaving behind the distinct sound of galloping hoovies and giddy bleats.
Bonnia raises a protective arm around you, and you wrap yourself around it, quivering in fear.
"...I'll give you a smaller dose next time," your owner finally mutters.
You nod frantically.
"Yep yeah good idea."