Helena Stanford looked outside the portside window of the shuttle she was on. This was it, she thought. After all this time, after all the fighting, it was time to lay down the arms. What could they possibly do against such an overwhelming enemy? They were foolish to even think they could get out of this. She had enough. The tall blonde girl couldn’t keep fighting anymore. She just didn’t have the will, nor the strength. It was too much. Too many of her comrades had been snatched away by these plant-like aliens who called themselves the Affini. Saviors of all Terrans, or so they said. The propaganda broadcasted everywhere showed their pets elated with praises for their owners. What a farce, she thought at first. But the more she thought about it, the more she just figured it was better than the constant anxiety of war. Hunting for resources, trying to stay alive…this was not a life. This was surviving, always on edge. It would all be over soon.
The shuttle docked with the Affini Command ship Integrifolia. A loud thump could be heard from where Helena was sitting. In just a few moments, she would be handed over to an Affini and her domestication would begin. She wondered just how much of herself would be left once they were done. She’d heard stories of humans turning into mindless, drooling hulks without any other purpose but to be their Affini’s plaything. But that was better than the alternative…wasn’t it?
“Come on, Helena. It’s a little late for these kinds of thoughts!”, she thought to herself. She got up from her seat and straightened her Cosmic Navy uniform. Her days as a jump drive engineer were over, but she would be damned if she didn’t present herself with pride, for the last time. As she stepped into the airlock, her mind drifted to the ship she served on. So many of her shipmates would sooner have her dead, call her a traitor to her own. Maybe she was, after all. She knew enough about Terran jump drives the Affini could learn about every vulnerability of every ship in the fleet if they so wanted. From what Helena saw, they didn’t have anything that could remotely match anything the Affini has.
As the doors in the airlock opened, Helena could smell so many aromas. She was used to the smell of engine fluids, metals, and artificial atmosphere. This was entirely different! It smelled so pure, fresh, and full of life. She walked outside and reached a large…room? Was it a room? It was so large! The walls were lined with vines and flowers the like Helena had never seen before. And right there, a few meters from her, stood a tall plant-like humanoid form. She had heard of Affini being able to take such a form to lull others in a sense of security. All along its body were plants and flowers, most in various shades of red and pink. It sort of waved at Helena, beckoning her over. It must be the Affini she was in contact with regarding her surrender. She walked over, seemingly unsure of proper etiquette in this situation.
“Former Ensign Helena Stanford, reporting as…” The Affini did not give her time to finish that sentence.
“Oh! None of that with me, little one! Come, come! Welcome aboard the Integrifolia! Oh stars! Aren’t you just the cutest little Terran ever!”
Helena was startled by the Affini’s enthusiasm. Are they all like that? she thought. “Uh…thank you, I guess? Are you Filino?”
“Filino Merremia, Third Bloom She/Her. I’m so happy to meet a cutie such as you!”
“It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, ma’am.” Helena figured if she were respectful with her captors, she might be treated better? Maybe she wouldn’t be eaten from the inside out like the rebel news broadcasts said?
“Aren’t you the sweetest little thing ever! No need to be so formal about everything, dear. You’re safe now, away from all that nasty violence.” Said the tall creature in front of her.
“Oh…okay then. So, uh…what’s next now?” said Helena, looking around and taking in her surroundings, her new reality.
“Well first, I thought I would just take you home and then have a proper meal before I just take you over and drain all that free will from your cute little mind and make you mine.” Said Filino, with a large grin on what Helena could only perceive as being the Affini’s attempt at reproducing a face.
She stared at her welcoming committee with shock and disbelief. Was that her fate? She regretted making the trip there. She started looking around for means of escape, when the Affini made a loud, explosive even, sound that could only be described as laughter.
“Oh cutie, if only you could see the look on your face! I won’t do any of that to you, sweetie. Don’t you worry. Well, except the proper meal. I am pretty sure you could use one after all these ration packs you had on the ship. As for the discarding of your will, don’t you worry. We don’t do so unless you are found to be a danger to yourself or others. Or if you are into that sort of thing, really. Some humans have very interesting practices when it comes to intimacy!”
“You mean…why would you even joke about something like this?” Helena couldn’t believe how casually she said that. She really was going to be tortured after all.
“Intriguing, I thought Terrans were sophonts familiar with humor. Well, no matter! To answer your question, first I would like to put these bracelets on you. They will monitor your vitals, while you are under my care for assessment. It will allow me to intervene should your health ever be in jeopardy.”
“Assessment? For what, exactly?” Helena offered her wrists so Filino could attach the bracelets to them.
“Do determine if you qualify to be an independent sophont, little flower! If you prove to be a danger to yourself or others, then we may have to evaluate the needs for forced domestication. But you, little one, hardly seem like a threat to anyone, aren’t you? You’re so adorable!”
Why did I even come here? Is this really what I want? To become a….plantfucker? Of all things? There was no way to win this war, was there? It was silly to even entertain the idea of freedom at this point. But she said I could be independent? What does that even mean, with Affini at every corner, watching our every move?
The bracelets around her wrists started to make beeping sounds. Helena was about to question Filino on the subject when she felt a small prick on the skin of her left wrist, followed by a sudden sense of calm and peace. She didn’t know what seemed to have her so worked up, and frankly didn’t care right now. She felt very good and planned to enjoy it.
“Oh, I’m sorry dear. I forgot to tell you the bracelets can administer low dosages of xenodrugs to help stabilize you if deemed necessary. You seemed about to go into a panic attack and the bracelets injected you with a low dose of a class E xenodrug. Your sudden increase in blood pressure triggered the self-care protocol of the bracelets.”
"Yeah...ooookaaaay. So if this happens, you drug me?"
"For your own safety, we will administer xenodrugs when needed, yes. Or, if you ask nicely!" The Affini had a wide smirk on her face.
"Okay, whatever." Helena seemed lost in thought for a moment, her head slightly tilted to the left, then gasped. "Wait...are you hitting on me?"
"Mayyyyybe...is it working?" said Filino with a grin.
"You have to be the most irritating captor I've ever hard of."
"Not captor, little one! I am your guardian. And, should you decide so, will guide you in finding an owner of your own! Your broadcast seemed to hint that you were thinking of being a floret. Is that true?"
Helena blushed. Aren't all Terrans in the Compact made into florets? Isn't this how it works?
"Do I even have a choice? I surrendered. I'm an enemy combatant! Why are you being so nice to me?" This didn't make any sense. She helped the navy by keeping her ship functional. She was a conspirator, and yet, this Affini was treating her like she was innocent! She had blood on her hands!
The thoughts didn't stay for much longer as she was pricked by a tiny needle yet again.
"Nghhh..." Helena whimpered as her body became limp and she feel forward, just in time for Filino to catch her in her vines.
"Poor flower, you have endured so much to make it here. You are safe now. You're not alone." Those were the last words Helena could hear before she drifted unconscious.