--------------------------Centhia, East New Bergen, Melius district, 09.02.2555, 16:33--------------------------------
Rosa was walking at an extra brisk pace, there were too many curious and adoring eyes upon her already. The Melius District was perhaps one of the areas with the greatest affini density in the entirety of New Bergen. At the moment she was keeping her distance from the surrounding affini to avoid the pats and doting she would surely receive if they came too close. While the affini had no problems living in any part of the city, most of them settled down in districts such as these.
While most of the city had only a few affini structures mixed along the concrete ones built by the old regime, this area was entirely dominated by vast and colorful buildings. This district along with a few others had been almost entirely destroyed during the Centhian Catastrophe, the old order's last struggle against the inevitable. The aliens had spent little time rebuilding the areas into their own design. In some ways it made sense for them to live in areas that were built for them, Echina did have a point that most human infrastructure was simply too small.
While the affini at the outreach center had been slightly irksome and condescending, she had at least gotten an address. The fact that Veronica had been relocated to live with the affini worried her. Veronica had enough anxiety as it was, moving places had been very difficult for her before…hopefully she was fine. In comparison, her taking a stroll through affini-filled streets was a mere annoyance.
The affini city planning was as efficient and predictable as the rest of the city, it did not take long to find the building. Outside one could at least pretend that things were normal, once you got inside one of the affini buildings that illusion was quickly shattered. Trying to ignore the sense of smallness she felt, Rosa took the elevator up to the habitation unit.
Floor 23…elevator D…door nr.5…finally. There was an immediate problem, she did not reach up to the doorbell….or at least not the affini doorbell. There was also one at her level, decorated with some cutesy imagery and the text “welcome little flower!” Rosa groaned and knocked on the door and waited…..nothing happened. Curse the affini and their excellent soundproofing. She was not pressing the lower button, that was unacceptable.
Rosa took a few steps back, ran forward, and jumped. The tip of her fingers managed to hit the top button with just barely enough force to press it down. A friendly voice could be heard “Myrtaca, you got a visitor!” She did not have to wait long for the door to be opened.
The affini who emerged looked around confused for a moment, before looking down “hi! Almost didn’t see you there. Hold on, one moment dear.” The affini looked slightly befuddled as they pressed the lower button.
The voice rang out again “Myrtaca, there is a cutie who wants to see you!” The two buttons had different sounds? By the stars the affini were hopeless!
Myrtaca shrugged “so it works…strange. Oh, forgive my manners, come in, come in.” Rosa pressed her irritation down and smiled as she walked inside. The room and its affini-sized furniture immediately made her feel even smaller. The affini looked down at her with the signature affini adoration “I am Myrtaca Celia, 3rd bloom, she/her. You must be Veronica’s friend, it’s so nice of you to stop by.”
The mention of Veronica brought her thoughts back on track “yes, indeed. How is she? I would like to talk with her.” Exchanging pleasantries with some affini social worker was not why she was here.
The affini tilted her head to the side, the leaves that flowed along its ‘limbs’ moving gently “she has it better now, but her emotional state is still precarious. While your worry is understandable, I can assure you that she is taken care of to the best of my abilities.” It almost sounded like she was more concerned for her than Veronica.
She looked up, straight into Myrtaca's eyes “I don’t doubt it, but I would still like to talk to her. It is not the first time…this situation has occurred, I know how to handle it.” The affini seemed to hesitate for a brief moment before guiding her to one of the doors.
A vine separated from the rest and knocked on the door “Dear, there is a friend here to see you.” After waiting for a few seconds, the door opened. Veronica was standing in the opening, looking better than she had expected. It looked like she had gotten a good deal of sleep, food, and even had the energy to brush her hair. For a moment her heart got warmed slightly before she realized it was probably Myrtaca’s doing.
As usual, the girl was fidgeting with the ends of her hair while looking down at the ground “oh, hi Rosa…sorry I… haven’t come to any me-“ She was almost inaudible with how much she mumbled.
Rosa took a few steps forward, interrupting the apology “Hey, that’s fine, nothing to worry about at all. How is it going?” She made sure to express no pity, condescension, or condemnation, just confidence, and reassurance.
Veronica looked up at her “ummm….not great….” A few tears had already started to form in the edges of her eyes. Her breathing was still normal, no anxiety so far.
Rosa took another few steps forward and gently put a hand on her shoulder “hey, that’s fine. Everything will be a bit easier after you have told me all about it…Also, I want to see your new room, it looks fancier than mine.” Her chuckle got a genuine smile out of Veronica, and her shoulders finally seemed to relax.
Veronica looked beyond her, up at the affini staring down at them both “is it fine if I talk to Rosa in private?” She had to ask for permission?!
Luckily Myrtaca simply smiled and nodded “of course little one, I will be out here ready to help if there is anything you two cuties need.” It required some concentration to keep a straight face, but at least the affini would stay out.
She and Veronica entered the room, when the door finally closed she felt a strong need to comment on the ridiculous nature of the situation…but that would only make Veronica more anxious “The bed looks comfortable, mind if I rest my legs a bit?” Not long after they were both sitting on the edge of the far too large bed.
Veronica looked moderately calm, and they were in a comfortable position “so…want to tell me what has happened the last month? I haven’t seen you since you moved.” There was a small bile of guilt in the back of her mind, she should have visited earlier before all of this happened.
The girl began to fidget again “I…There was…Everything just…” she moved her arm and Veronica leaned into her “sorry…it’s just…After I moved, everything started to fall apart. First I couldn’t sleep and then I didn’t have the energy to make food…I forgot my hormones and class-E…” Rosa began to stroke her hand over Veronica’s hair in long soothing motions “All my routines got so fucked up….and all I did was lie in bed….like always.”
It was about what she had expected, it still hurt to hear “stuff like that happens, don’t beat yourself up about it. You have gotten up from this before and you will do so now as well, I know you will. All we need to do is set up some new routines, create a safe space and you will be fine.” It was not going to be easy, but it would work.
Veronica looked down at her lap “I don’t know….There is always something that fucks it up…I am so tired of this…all of this.” The frustration was mixed with desperation…
Rosa cautiously took her hand and pressed it softly “It will be different this time, things are different now. You won’t have complications with your meds, The class-G won’t have any side effects, and you won’t need to work some shitty job, or deal with that horrible landlord. Moving was the last big hurdle, I think there will only be small ones from now on.” She really hoped that was true, Veronica had gone through far more than enough already.
Her friend’s eyes moved to the door “….if I get the chance…They are going to domesticate me, aren’t they?” She wasn’t sure it was fear or something else, but it still disturbed her.
She wanted to look Veronica straight in the eyes and say no… “I don’t know…I am going to talk to them on your behalf. Hopefully, they will understand that you just need some time. For now, focus on yourself, okay?” The affini would have to understand….
Veronica twitched uncomfortably “You don’t need to do this….I already fucked up with taking responsibility in the RDM that I couldn’t handle…You shouldn’t be dragged into my problems every time.” The guilt was not unexpected.
But it was unacceptable, she stared into the fidgeting girl’s eyes “The only reason why I am here is that I want to help, not because I feel I have to. The member list is already fixed so don’t worry about that, you need to focus on yourself, okay?” She held eye contact until Veronica nodded “good, now I know how to cheer you up. Some nice noodle soup should do the trick. Just relax here and I will have it ready in 15 min.” Rosa stood up from the bed and landed on her feet, giving one last reassuring smile to Veronica before exiting the room.
Myrtaca was sitting in a large chair reading something from a datapad, but looked up the moment the door closed “how did it go?” There was a cheerful optimism in her tone.
Rosa walked up to the replicator “I have seen her in far worse states, she will be fine. Is it okay if I use your kitchen to make her some food?” Already her mind was layering with the arguments she would need to convince the affini.
The affini moved up to her, her voice uncertain and befuddled “I suppose…what are you making?” After getting permission Rosa began to compile the ingredients she would need…including a trap stool for her to stand on.
Honey, soy sauce, meat, noodles, ginger, garlic, spices; everything needed for a comfort meal “A noodle soup with marinated meat, it always cheers her up in times like this. You can help if you want.” The moment she grabbed a knife from one of the drawers, Myrtaca became visibly uncomfortable. “Don’t worry, I know how to use it. Practice makes perfect, and I have had a lot of practice.” It was a knife, not a gun.
Myrtaca walked up next to her and began cutting the garlic “you have made this meal often?” The affini continued to give some nervous glances down at her hands.
Rosa stifled a groan of irritation “yes, I have made this one and a couple of other meals for some friends quite a few times. Comfort food and talk is the first step to getting the energy for improvement….but I suppose you already know that.” Giving an affini social worker tips on how to help people? Now, who was condescending?
Myrtaca did not seem to notice at all, but she did seem worried “so you help a lot of your friends?” the way she spoke almost sounded like an accusation.
An accusation she could accept “I have it pretty easy, all things considered, so yeah, I help them out when I can.” Who else was going to do it? Plus, she was already looking forward to seeing Veronica eat the meal. Rosa refocused her mind “I was told there is a committee that is going to determine if she is going to be forcefully domesticated or not…Be honest, how does it look?” She started to cut the onion as she spoke.
There was a period of silence before Myrtaca spoke “From our records, this is not the first time Veronica has suffered from acute executive dysfunction. One of the main problems is that she has difficulty getting help when that transpires. I visited her four times for wellness checks and only on the last time would she let me in. She has also seemed receptive to the structure and order an owner would bring her.” She knew what was next “so all in all, domestication seems like the best alternative for her wellbeing.” How could she say it so casually?
Sure, Veronica might struggle with stuff from time to time….but removing her freedom, making her a floret? It was far too drastic. Capitalism was gone, there was ver- “Fuck!” Her hand slipped and she cut one of her fingers with the knife.
The affini was immediately upon her “oh dear! Are you okay? I was worried thi-”
“I’m fine! Please…it’s not serious.” Rosa sucked the wound, it tasted iron. While Myrtaca looked at her like she had lopped the finger straight off, she went to the replicator and got a plaster. As soon as it was applied the minor pain subsided, it would heal within the hour. The pain was minor compared to the damage the cut had done to her pride, proving the over-concerned affini right had not been on her wish list.
Best to change the subject back on track “If there is a committee meeting, I would like to attend. I have known Veronica for over five years now and helped her through a good deal of struggles. My knowledge should at least be considered.” There was also the fact she would provide every argument against domestication that could be found, she had a suspicion the bias was already leaning the other way, and balancing the scales was only fair.
To her genuine surprise, Myrtaca smiled “that sounds like a good idea, I can send you the info you need later.” Rosa was already dreading the paperwork she would need to do. She could appreciate good bureaucracy, but the affini took it way too far.
At least she would be able to help. “Good, now let's get this meal ready.” With any luck, the affini would be convinced in the end.
--------------------------Centhia, North New Bergen, Hyacinthia park, 11.02.2555, 18:06---------------------------
Rosa’s heart was filled with pride, the slightly embarrassing situation only a result of success. There had simply been too many people for their old meeting place to accommodate. Luckily the weather was good, and the local park had made for an excellent replacement. Already they had begun to occupy a great deal of the nearby tables, she thanked herself for choosing to set the meeting later in the day. If it had been 11 o’clock they would not have enough free space.
At the edge of her vision, she saw something pinkish red. Tearing her eyes from the impressive attendance she saw Echina and three other affini coming towards the meeting. More affini, that was a boon but would likely require some handling. She strode forward to meet them, to her delight Echina had not seemed to hold a grudge or even be upset when they last met. It was refreshing to meet an affini who was so ready to meet her as an equal, and not some helpless thing to be coddled.
The three newcomers looked curious, Rosa put on her most welcoming smile “hello, welcome! I hope you did not have too much struggle finding the place.”
Echina smiled back “not at all, and what a wonderful idea to have it outside today.” The flowers that grew on her form bloomed fully “allow me to introduce my friends: Alberta, Spirea, and Saccharu.” The last referenced affini was holding a set of containers in her vines.
Saccharu opened one of them, it was full of brownies “~I see you have noticed my little gift~. I run a bakery not too far from here and when I heard that there was a critical lack of trea-, food during your gatherings ~I just couldn’t help myself~.” Her voice was almost intoxicatedly sweet and cheerful.
Intoxication….Rosa looked at the brownies with a sudden suspicion “there are no mind-altering chemicals in those, right?” No matter what some people said, class-A brownies were not a productive way to get good ideas.
The reeds on the affini bent and curled in amusement “~only sugar, but they are not as sweet as you~” Wait, what?! As she felt her face redden from the outrageously cheesy flirt, she saw Echina pull on one of the reeds of the offending affini “Oh sorry, I forgot you did not like being talked to like that. My deepest apologies.”
She waved her hand dismissively, trying to play it off “apology accepted…oh, one last thing. I would kindly ask that none of you speak affini during the meeting.” Even Echina raised an eyebrow “none of us humans have had time to learn the language and it would therefore be a very exclusionary practice.” The group nodded reluctantly, good, with that handled it was time to start the meeting.
She had already organized the humans into study groups, so all that was left was to distribute the affini amongst them, remind the affini and some of her fellow humans that no type of drugs was allowed at party meetings, and get the discussions started. The different questions and topics had been prepared and after all the groups were live with debate she retreated to a bench only a few paces away. She casually enjoyed one of the brownies while noting that Kevin and Saccharu were really hitting it off, the easily scared man finally coming out of his shell a little.
A few clouds were gathering but the sun still shone brightly on the park. There had to be at least 80 people, if she included the affini, in attendance. Only two months ago she would be happy if there were more than eight. If growth continued at this pace then a reformative meeting would be necessary, just to keep things organized. Rosa took another bite out of the brownie, damn they were good…perhaps slightly too sweet but still, very, very good.
Echina had left her group and moved towards her, the affini looked a bit concerned “what is the matter? Tired?” She motioned for the affini to sit down next to her.
It would honestly be nice to talk to Echina, just the two of them “no, I’m fine. But by being the most senior member and first secretary I do have a lot of informal power. If the discussion works fine without my involvement, then it is best to lean back and let them have at it without instinctively looking at me for every answer.” The affini might not realize it, but Rosa knew her intensity and passion could be intimidating, especially for the newer members.
Echina sat down “Interesting, how are you doing? You seem a bit sleep deprived.” Darn, she should have hid the black bags under her eyes with some makeup, if she ever had the energy to use that stuff.
Rosa waved the concern away “I’m fine, just have a lot of paperwork to do because of a friend I’m helping….Echina, could I ask you a rather strange question? I know you are a scholarly person so perhaps you know.” The affini nodded, a glint of excitement in her eyes “okay…has an affini ever been domesticated?”
Echina stared at her in astonishment “The compact has over a hundred millennia of history, spanning over several galaxies. Therefore, it is almost impossible to rule out any occurrence with certainty, except for this instance. No, what a ridiculous idea.” The affini chuckled in a beautiful and melodic way.
She frowned slightly “Humans being domesticated would sound just as ridiculous only a couple of years ago. If domestication is to safeguard sophonts wellbeing and happiness then why are affini excluded from its arrangement? Unless you would claim that all affini have good mental health, something I hope you will admit is not true.” The chuckling stopped as the affini realized she was being serious.
Echina frowned her brow in thought, or at least that was what she expected the expression to emulate “I won't claim that all affini are in a perfect or even good mental state, but there is a difference. We affini are far less fragile both mentally and physically than other sophonts. In addition, the Haustoric implant could never be operated into an affini. Domestication does simply not work that way.” The arguments were not invalid, but not enough either.
There was another angle of attack “alright, but what about the other way around? Has a non-affini sophont ever domesticated another sophont?”
Her sparring partner thought about the question “Maybe in a cultural or personal way, but legally? No. Only affini are allowed to have florets. Non-affini can still take care of others, perhaps even approaching the same extent as an owner-floret dynamic. But it can never become as complete or as formal.” There was an obvious follow-up question.
“Why? If a sophont could prove they had the expertise, mental health, and ability; why should they not be able to get a floret?” Part of her wanted to argue that no one should have the right to ‘get’ a floret, they were people, not objects.
Once again it took some time before the answer arrived “We affini have several advantages that make us the perfect caretakers. Our ability to carry xenodrugs wherever we go, the fact that we can sense other sophonts' biorhythms and figure out their mental state based on it, our ability to affect non-affini minds with our biorhythm or eyes, our almost eternal lifespans. All of these factors allow us to care for each and every sophont in a way that non-affini simply can’t emulate. Not to speak of the fact that only an affini core can be the basis of implants. We affini feel a need to care for sophonts on more than just a cultural need, it is instinctual. We are the caretakers of the universe, and every part of our society and individual being is for that purpose.” Those were some good arguments, Rosa could not deny that. At the same time, it felt like there was still an undercurrent of cultural indoctrination in those words.
She leaned back “It strikes me as quite unfair. Why should you affini be the only ones to carry this burden and us non-affini not allowed to share in it?” The separation was not arbitrary, but was it fully justified?
Echina tilted her head to one side while looking down at her “We affini are happy to carry the burden as you call it, to us it is no burden at all. And you non-affini sophonts are happy to be taken care of, that is what millennia upon millennia have shown and proved beyond a doubt.” Historical precedence was no proof that things could not be done better.
Their discussion continued for several more hours until the sun began to lose its grip on the world around them, and a few clouds were beginning to form overhead. They were finally interrupted by Kevin and Saccharu coming up to them, Kevin seemed to be in a very good mood “Rosa, I think it's time to break up the meeting, some people are already beginning to leave.” He was right, the discussion groups were slowly losing members.
She straightened up and yawned “seems I got a bit distracted, have people been having a good time?”
Saccharu answered “~indeed they have, you are a wonderful collection of sophonts~” That was one way to phrase it,
Rosa stood and looked around. “I should head to the office and get the equipment stored, the building will close soon.” Before she could ask Echina for help, Kevin interjected.
The hints of a blush were in his cheeks “Actually, I thought I and Saccharu could do it. You should not have to do the lifting every time.” She was about to protest but remembered that there was still a lot of paperwork to do at home.
Rosa clasped her hand “alright, I’ll head home then. Echina, it's been a pleasure to talk with you.” The affini was smiling and her eyes had taken on a certain glow.
Echina stood up as well, once again towering over her “the pleasure is all mine, you have a wonderfully sharp mind.” Rosa did not care much for compliments on her intelligence, but she felt genuinely happy when hearing that.
She smiled, the last of the sun’s rays warming her face “and you are a wonderful whetstone to sharpen it against. See you all next Tuesday!” With a final wave, Rosa began walking home, it had been a wonderful meeting.
Once again she decided to walk all the way instead of taking the rail. It was a beautiful day, and she was in no hurry to get home to the paperwork. The movement was growing strong, they might not have made any political breakthroughs yet, but it was only a matter of time. The affini had also been strikingly easy to handle; how many of them wanted to become members like Echina was unclear, but their attendance was good enough in its own right.
As Rosa reflected on her and Echina’s discussions she noted that the clouds were beginning to look heavy with rain. A sudden, but harmless, shift in weather was one of the side effects that the affini’s environmental restoration had caused. According to CPN it would not last long and it was a small price to pay to remove the smog that had carpeted the city before. She decided to speed up and take a shortcut through an alleyway, getting drenched would not be pleasant.
In the corner of her eye, she noticed that two men were following her into the alley. They were a good deal behind her, but they seemed familiar….had they been following her from the park? They had, and she had been too deep into fluffy thoughts to notice. Rosa sped up her movement once again, the men did the same.
Fuck! This was not good, an alley such as this was almost always empty, she needed to get to the other side. Quickly! For some reason, the men had not begun to run, had they noticed that she had noticed? Another guy was coming from the other end of the alleyway, if she could get to him and then run she would be safe. Her stalkers seemed strangely relaxed as the distance between them increased…was she just being paranoid?
As Rosa reached the man walking towards her, he spread his arms and blocked the path “where are you going? I and my friends just have some questions about your little meeting in the park.” The words were coated in thinly concealed malice.
She tried to press past him “I don’t have time fo-“ The man pushed her back and towards the wall, the two others had caught up…she was trapped. Rosa stood tall and crossed her arms “what do you want?” this was very, very bad…Hopefully, they were only interested in some verbal harassment.
One of the men who had been trailing her smirked “oh, we were just wondering if you get off from being a dirty plant-fucker, or is every commie faggot like you a traitor by nature?” so they were fascist, ferals, or rebels; whatever you want to call the morons who wanted the accord back.
Indignation welled up in her throat, this was a bad idea “I am far more critical of the compact than you might think, but I really don’t have time to talk with a bunch of pathetic losers wallowing in their own toxic masculinity. Let me go or you will regret it.” The men took a step back in surprise.
The rebels had clearly not expected her to return fire, and for a brief moment, it looked like they might actually leave. Then one of them looked around and grinned “looks like there are none of your Xeno bastard friends to save you. I would take a friendlier tone If I were you, or else we might get…unpredictable.” A friendlier tone might in fact be a good idea, her rational and self-preserving side told her to be afraid.
But her tongue was moving faster than her mind. “If you think threats from a group of fascist cowards are going to scare me, then you are even stupider than you appear.” They did not react by being called stupid, but the word coward made the largest one growl.
He took a step forward “how dare you call us cowards?! We are the warriors of Terra fighting to retake our world from alien invaders. A shit like you know nothing of bravery!” He was enraged, and the two others did not look much calmer.
Rosa also took a step forward, for once glad for her height “bravery? Don’t make me laugh! We all know your fellow morons that had any bravery are already collared and domesticated. The only reason you haven’t shared their fate is that you hid inside during the fighting, just like everybody else. If you were as brave as you were stupid you would be on your knees worshiping an affini, not that any xenodrugs could make you more emptyheaded tha-” The first punch hit her straight in the stomach.
The air disappeared from her lungs and her body instinctively wanted to keel over. A hand slammed her shoulder against the wall and another punch hit her straight in the yaw. She collapsed to the ground, managing to cover her face just in time to block a kick. The next kick hit her in the ribs, the pain flared like fire with every hit. The world was starting to become blurry, and her mouth tasted of iron.
--------------------------Centhia, North New Bergen, Hyacinthia park, 11.02.2555, 21:39---------------------------
After Rosa left she, Saccharu and Kevin talked for a bit. It was nice to see the human so free from social anxiety, Saccharu had a talent for making cute sophonts more comfortable. Not only that but Saccharu seemed to have taken a real liking to the boy, no doubt helped by the fact that he was already breathing in match with her friend’s biorhythm.
Before they separated she noticed that Rosa had forgotten her backpack, that was most unfortunate, the girl probably needed it before the next meeting “Kevin, could you tell me Rosa’s address, it seems she has forgotten something.”
Kevin pointed in the direction that Rosa had left “She lives at 31st, Solum Street. There is a shortcut between it and 4th Hansen Street next to the big café with the purple sign. Just follow the alleyway from there and you might catch up with her…or not, she is frightful quick when walking alone.” Echina was not too worried, having an excuse to visit Rosa and see how she lived sounded nice.
After saying her goodbye to Saccharu and the seed, she followed the direction Kevin had given her. With some slight help from her data pad, she not only found the location of Rosa’s apartment on the map but also the shortcut. It looked like it was going to rain, while her form looked forward to basking in the hydration her mind was not as content as she looked into the alleyway.
Making her way through the alleyway was uncomfortable, her vines had so little space to move, and she practically had to squeeze her form together to not rub against the gray concrete walls. Why had humans built these things so close together? Was space that much of a premium, at the very least they co- “how dare you call us cowards?!...........you know nothing of bravery!” What was that? She could not yet see it but it sounded like some humans were having an argument and a heated one at that.
Another voice echoed from the concrete walls “bravery? Don’t make me laugh!.......” Was that Rosa? “Not that any xenodrugs could make you more emptyheaded tha-“ A loud groan of pain interrupted the words…it was Rosa! Echina felt terror fill her core, was the human injured?! Her form compressed as she rushed forward.
In only a few seconds she saw the scene, three humans were attacking the girl who was lying on the ground. The terror was replaced by a protective rage, how dare they!? One of the humans spotted her, but it was far too late. Echina had closed the distance and pinned the man to the wall before a needle filled with class-Z entered his arm. The two others had a few seconds of warning, not nearly enough.
One of them pushed the other towards her before running away. The sacrifice was subdued within a second and she chased after the last one. He stumbled but her vines had coiled around him before he hit the ground. The feral tried to make a plea but her class-Z had already started to spread from the point in his neck where she had pierced him, he fell asleep before speaking a word.
Carrying the human back she put him on the ground next to the other two, all three of them peacefully sleeping. A soft groan shifted her attention back to Rosa, the anger gone and replaced with a harrowing pain. How could this have happened? Her vines gently picked up the human, soliciting a confused mumble.
Rosa still seemed to be conscious but was clearly in pain. Echina moved a flower with airborne class-E in front of the girl’s face “breathe gently in, you are safe now.” After a few breaths, Rosa relaxed into her vines. She allowed the class-E to take full effect before using her vines to check for injuries. Echina gently pried the curled-up human open, she was too out of it to offer any resistance. Her inspection found some marks on the girl’s stomach, chest, face, and arms; luckily none of them were severe.
Rain began to fall as she applied some healing sap onto Rosa’s injuries, while at the same time contacting the domestication center so they could pick up the ferals. Guilt and pain still filled her core, it was not right that such a sweet girl had to experience something like this. She formed a close-knit ceiling of vines over Rosa and held her tight in her vines.
At some point, the affini from the domestication center came and collected the ferals, one of them asked her a few questions before turning their attention to Rosa “Perhaps you should take her to the vet, she should not be alone after such a traumatic experience.” Echina had planned to take her to her own hab, but the vet might be better.
The human stirred in her vines “I...I’m fine…” Rosa's voice was slurred, the class-E still present in her system.
The affini from the domestication center looked concerned down at the human “ah…I understand little one….” They looked up at her and spoke in affini <I will leave the matter with you. If she shows any severe signs of short- or long-term trauma please take her to the domestication center so we can help.> After the other affini left Echina began carrying Rosa towards her hab
She had not moved far before Rosa stirred once more “wha…where are you…put me down.” Echina did not want to put the girl down, in fact, every fiber in her form told her to hold onto the girl for as long as the universe permitted.
Sadly, that time had already come to an end. With a great deal of concentration, she placed Rosa down on the ground “how are you feeling?” The girl looked far more lucid now and strangely unaffected.
Rosa looked towards the street that would bring her to her own hab “I’m fine…I don’t mean to sound rude, but I don’t appreciate you giving me xenodrugs or following me.” There was a harsh sternness in her voice.
Echina focused on remaining calm and collected, the human was obviously not going to react well after what had happened “I gave you the class-E as you were in shock from both pain and fear. I followed you because you forgot your backpack.” She retrieved it from within her body and handed it to a shameful-looking Rosa.
The girl looked down at the backpack in her hands “oh….thanks…Thanks for saving me as well….sorry, I….I’ll go home now.” Go home? Alone?
There was no way she was allowing that to happen, Rosa needed to be cared for…It would serve well to be tactful “are you sure? You could come to my hab instead, I can make you some food and-”
Rosa did not even let her finish “no, I’m fine…I just need to get some sleep.” The human had just been attacked and harassed…there was no way she was fine.
At the same time, it did not seem likely she could convince her to come “Okay, mind if I follow you home…for my benefit….and to make sure the xenodrugs have properly left your system.”
After a moment of silence, Rosa shrugged “alright, it's not far, but if you want to….” The human began to walk quickly down the street, Echina followed right behind her. They walked in silence, the rain pelting down on them, neon signs and windows from the tall buildings lighting up the night.
It took them less than 10 minutes to reach the renovated apartment block that housed Rosa’s hab. The roof of the entrance and elevator was tall enough for her to be standing properly. While the building had some aspects from pre domestication times, the renovations had made it an acceptable place to live. Echina had to admit she was excited to see Rosa’s hab, one’s home could tell a lot about a sophont.
A drizzled Rosa spoke as she opened the door “here we are, my base of operations.” Echina lowered herself to look through the doorway.
The hab was remarkably small, even by human standards. The main room was a tiny kitchen with a small place to eat and exactly one chair. An open door on the other side showcased the bedroom, it was not much larger and contained a human-sized bed, a desk filled with paper, and an office chair. The only other door except for the one she was looking through was slightly ajar, she could see a standard bathroom inside. There were few to no decorations except some posters hanging on the white walls in the kitchen.
All in all, the entire hab could fit within her living room, was this where Rosa lived? It looked so empty…she had called it her ‘base of operations’ “oh, you have several habs?” There was nothing wrong with that, maybe she had somewhere more permanent and out of the way.
Rosa looked up at her, clearly confused and very tired. “no…this is my home.” The human looked down at the ground and scratched the back of her head, her voice bashful “sorry for being a jerk back there…. Thanks for following me home, but I am fine now…I need to get some sleep, see you on Tuesday.” Flashing a half-hearted smile the human walked inside.
Every instinct in Echina’s body told her to follow the girl in, make her some food, comfort her…but no. She smiled back at the human “if you have any problems don’t hesitate to send me a message. Good night~” Rosa nodded, though Echina doubted she would receive any messages. Then the door closed, and the hallway went quiet. The rain could still be heard pouring down outside.