Elize had never been a very social girl. In all honesty, she had never been much of anything. She never left her room, and she never really spoke to anybody outside of work. She hadn’t seen the sun of a single star system since she boarded her latest ship. What was its name again? Something that started with ‘Val’ perhaps. She had been cooped up in her room for the past week and a half, subsisting off of her shitty rations and some leftovers from whoever's birthday it had been the week before last. It worked for her, and since she didn't really care much for the flavors of what they fed her she never really had to seek out anything better. Just some shitty nutrient bars to snack on whenever she felt the need to eat, and maybe a piece of whatever they considered to be meat around this dump. Thank god the captain let her maintain the ship from the dark depths of her room. Her computer setup was likely better than whatever was running this damn ship anyways. It wasn't a very big room, but it had a fridge and something that could pass for a bed. Her back would get angry at her for it someday, but she was still young enough to not have to worry about such trivial matters.
It was late into night on ship time when she noticed a bright white alert pop up in the corner of her screen, then another, and another, and soon to follow were a plethora of alarms and sirens on the ship. The discordant cacophony of klaxons and sounds of creaking metal cascaded against her ears as whatever had caused the alerts on her system began to tear her precious home asunder. She knew that it wouldn't be long before whatever had caused the alarms to go off reached her room. She usually kept everything on the ship under her tight control, but whatever had caused this problem wasn't brought to her attention until it was much too late. She wasn't quite sure what had happened, but this far out into empty space there wasn't much to cause you problems, which means that it was either something from her own ship, which was quite impossible, or it was another interstellar craft like the one in which she resided. She quickly realized what that meant, and she knew that she was fucked. The captain of the ship, Tivaran, didn't exactly have the permits to be hauling whatever slew of illegal cargo around under the old terran rule, let alone the ability to do so under the new compact laws. There was nothing to do but wait for her inevitable doom. Elize huddled up in the corner, clutching at her comfort animal for dear life. She tried her best not to pay attention to her surroundings as she retreated to the depths of her mind, leaving her surroundings and falling backwards into the pitch black of her own subconscious, willing her conscious self to fade to black, and her body to fall into a pseudo-slumber.
Her body felt many sensations as she was taken from her home. Mostly unpleasant, but the occasional pat on her head or rustling hug to alleviate her unconscious anxieties. She was fully unaware of the things going on around her as her life as the system manager of the Valerian was taken from her, though deep down somewhere she knew what must have been happening. She tried her best not to think, and not to cry, as she pictured herself hidden under the covers of her old college bed. Space was tight back then, so the dorm was never quite quiet, though in such a situation the thoughts of her old roommates throwing parties was soothing to her panicked mind.
Elize was jolted back to consciousness after what felt like forever, and after a moment to adjust her eyes, realized that she was face to face with what was essentially a talking bush. She stared blankly at the creature, waiting for something to happen. She hardly even noticed as it snapped a couple of times, trying to get her attention, before opening its mouth to speak. “Did you hear what I said, Dear?”
Elize continued to stare back, unable to fully grasp her situation. How in the vast expanse of space did she end up face to face with the damn Affini. Stars and stones, she must be one of the most unlucky girls in space. Caught by an Affini scout vessel while hauling some illegal bullshit just so that she could make enough money to support herself and continue her transition. It was quite incredible really, just how unlikely it must have been to run into another vessel on their charted course into deep space. She kept staring blankly, starting to run some numbers in head before she was quite rudely interrupted by a light pricking sensation against her neck, followed by the feeling of reality coming back into focus. Elize really didn't like being pulled out of her head like that. It had always felt unnatural when somebody pulled her away from her thoughts, and she prepared for it to leave a sour taste in her mouth. It never came though, and she quickly forgot about all thoughts of probability and luck. The Affini snapped a few more times, each time taking more and more of her attention away from her thoughts and redirecting it onto paying attention to the pretty little bush in front of her.
“Darling, I need your help to get your information down so we can begin the intake process. Now, you aren't classified as a rebel, although your pretty little ship was carrying some quite destructive cargo. We made sure to decompile all of that along with the ship itself though, so there's no need to worry your pretty little head over anybody getting hurt.” The bush continued to ramble on about details that seemed to elude her active train of thought. The only thing she could feel was panic over the things that were being said. Intake process? What in the stars would that entail, and if they had taken her things that would mean-
“Where's my shark?” Elize blurted out, hardly thinking before she spoke, her thoughts fueled by panic and desperation. “I need my shark. Where's my shark?” she quickly curled up into a ball, beginning to cry while muttering the same phrase over and over as the realization that her most cherished possession had just been taken away from her and most likely decompiled, whatever that meant. She could hardly see straight by the time she felt another pinprick on her neck, unable to fight against whatever had just been done to her. The panic that had set in began to slowly fade, and with it her tears slowly stopped, leaving her face a damp mess. She looked back up at the bush, not really expecting much, though as her vision began to refocus, she saw what was in its hands, and her tears returned as she saw what was held in the arms of the thing before her. Elize quickly jumped up to grab her beloved shark plush from its grasp. It was unmistakably hers. No change, not even a scratch. Just as musty as it had always been, slightly smelling of home and covered in a plethora of stains that were washed out to the best of her ability.
She once again began to cry, though tears of joy this time. She heard the bush rustling around beyond her gaze as she clutched her beloved Bruce as tight as she could. “The darlings that pulled you out of your ship found you clutching this for dear life. They had to take it from you to check a few things, mandatory medical stuff of course, but we would never let such a precious little thing lose their favorite friend” the bush hummed. Elize couldn't quite tell which one of those things was her, and which was Bruce, although that didn't really matter much to her. She had been reunited with her only true friend, and now felt like she could face the world. The shrub looked up at Elize with a kind look in its eyes, and she met its gaze head on. “Now dear, how about we get your personal details down”