Negotiations on shaky vines

Chapter 11 - Radio and therapy

by Exhausted_ambition

Tags: #dom:female #f/f #hypnosis #petplay #pov:bottom #scifi #anxiety #CW:dubious_consent #cw:violence #dom:internalized_imperialism #dom:plant #drug_play #Human_Domestication_Guide #ownership_dynamics #sensation_play #sub:capitalism #sub:female #trans_egg #transgender_characters

I’m done with the first out of four exams, so I am rewarding myself by writing more. This chapter got quite a bit longer than I expected. 

As Mertha looked at Hendrik eating the pancakes she had made, she felt her core thrum with joy.  The change from before and after the hypnotic session were night and day. he seemed much more alive, and the focus in his eyes was back. Not only had he allowed her to help him with the dental and hygiene, but he had also even laughed! Seeing him smile and let down his guard had made her prouder than the last weeks of work and negotiations.
She had expected him to put up much more resistance to the therapy question. Part of her was a bit suspicious that he was trying to trick her in some way, as he had before. Well, there would be little chance for him to hurt himself through plotting
when he was here. Seeing Henrik try to hide how much he enjoyed the pancakes was quite adorable, soon she would make him comfortable enough to express his happiness openly. The energy she expended to not smother him with pets and vines was substantial.
After he was done eating she helped him down from the chair “tomorrow is an important day so you should probably get some sleep now.” Hendrik seemed thoughtful, but nodded and followed her close to the bedroom.
“Now I will be sleeping in the room over there, if there is anything don’t hesitate to ask.” She put extra emphasis on the word 'anything'.
“Do you think there would be a possibility of….never mind, it's nothing.” he sounded bashful.
“If there is anything I can do to make your stay more conformable then I want you to tell me, what is it you wanted to ask?” she would not allow him to impose any restriction on what help he deserved.
“Well…..the bed is a bit too soft, but that’s ok… you have a smaller room?” she saw his eyes trace the edges and corners of the room.
“Do you have a fear of open spaces or is it something else that troubles you?” it was the first thing that sprung to her mind, but based on the size of the Presidential residences it wouldn’t make much sense…
“No, it’s not that….its just that there are too many places to hide here. Smaller rooms just feel a bit safer when I’m alone” his voice was a bit uneven and slow, she could see him shivering.
“While you are perfectly safe here I understand that that might take some time to accept. If you wish I can give you a dose of class-Z xenodrugs, it will help you sleep.” She put a hand on his shoulder, and he stopped shivering.
He nodded “you probably have something better than those MENI patches.” Mertha didn’t know what those were but made a note to research them later.
After Hendrik had gotten into bed she extended one of the flowers from her dress “just breathe in gently”. A mall puff of pollen and Hendrik was sleeping deeply.
She walked out and took out a data pad from her chest. She started to message Serla about the day and the fact that Hendrik had accepted therapy. While she was answering a few questions Serla had about Hendriks mental state she was interrupted by another message
[GreatBigCuddler]: hi, I hope the wardship is going well. Could you come into my office tomorrow morning? I wanted to talk a bit about your ward.
It was the captain of the Agraria. She could probably delay it, but it would give Serla and Henrik privacy for their talk. It also meant she wouldn’t have to do it later and leaving Hendrik alone for too long concerned her. She sent back an affirmative message and went to bed.
Hendrik was not feeling any dizziness as he woke, only a slight prick in his left arm. “Good morning dear!” Mertha was looking down at him. “I was supposed to wake you a bit earlier, but you were just too cute to wake!” Mertha's voice was warm and caring.
“Now then, I have an appointment, so I need to leave for a bit. There is breakfast on the table, but if you need anything more just ask the AI to make it for you in the compiler” he was still slightly groggy but heard that she was in a bit of a rush. “Oh, I almost forgot. There is a data pad on the nightstand. You can send me a message if you want me to come back or if you just want to talk. Think you’ll manage on your own for an hour?” if she wasn’t so nice he would have been annoyed by her concern.
Don’t worry, I can take care of myself. I governed a planet, I think I can manage an hour on my own” he tried to sound annoyed and even managed to deflect a vine reaching to ruffle his hair, earning him a slight chuckle from Mertha.
“Well then, I hope to hear how it went with you and Serla later. Take care!” She left the room and shortly after the double swish of the front door signaled her leaving.
He got up from the bed, there was a new glass of water on the nightstand. He drank it as he headed out to the living room. On the table there was a delicious-looking omelet with ham, his mouth watered at the sight.
Henrik paused for a moment, the room was completely quiet. No AC systems during, no sound of guard patrols, no clicks from computers or scribbling of pens. He was alone.
Yesterday was a bit of a blur. He remembered that he had panicked at breakfast. The question still gnawed at the back of his mind, but it was calm, for now. Other than that, he had eaten some good food and gotten washed.
He realized with a shock he had made no plans or effort to rectify his situation. Had he spent his first day awake just mulling about? He had spent 13 days asleep, 13 days! And he had wasted another day getting nothing done.
He looked up at the omelet with disgust. The comfort had been more threatening than he had expected. Well, no more! “AI assistant, where is the compiler?” he needed some food he could eat that would not drag him further down.
“Over here cutie!” the voice broke the silence and something that looked like an empty glass shelf lit up with a blinking green light.
He went up and inspected it, he wasn’t sure how it worked but hopefully, it could prepare what he needed. “Could you create a nutrient bar with extra-protein?” The compiler lit up for a brief second.
As the light faded he saw the familiar nutrient bar on a small plate “here you go, sweetie.” Ignoring its comment, he took out the plate and took a bite. At first, his tongue wanted to reject the bland cardboard taste, but he forced it down.
Now then, he needed a plan. While eating Hendrik began to contemplate his situation. He was a prisoner on an affini ship. He did not know the situation on Centhia and with each passing moment, his power there would surely wain. The affini were also a problem, their plans for him were still not apparent. Mertha most likely spoke the truth but the other affini might have different plans.
The Conclusion was simple: he needed information. But he was stuck here, his chance of contacting anyone planet side was null.
He got an idea, the data pad. He swallowed the last of the nutrient bar and walked back to his room. Just as Mertha had said there was a data pad lying on the second shelf of the nightstand.
He lifted it and managed to find a way to operate it with his left hand while pressing it against the plant cast of his right. The design was clearly affini in nature and the UI was almost offensively simple. He found his way to one of the few applications on the pad: a chat application.
The first thing that greeted him was a new message.
[RestlessAnnoyance]: hi Hendrik. I’m sorry I left you so quickly, but I was already running late. When I come back I would like to make you some good food. Do you have any suggestions?
-Mertha Veri, second bloom ❤️
He felt a strange urge to respond but pushed it away. He had a job to do. After closing the message, he was greeted by an error warning.
{seems like this device has had its message function disabled 😅. You can still message your friends (contacts). Contact your owner if this is not intentional.}
Yeah, like it would have been that easy. Even with that option out of the proverbial window, there might still be information to be collected here. Not like he had many other options for gathering intel.
After browsing for a few minutes, he found some sort of radio application. At first, there were just a collection of affini propaganda broadcasts. That was until he found a function to enter frequencies manually.
The frequencies to contact the shadow division or garrison were too complicated for the device but he remembered one that should work. he entered the frequency and the device sparked with sound.
“—thanks to the ‘Queerios’ for that wonderful performance” the voice was faintly familiar. “Hi there to all our listeners, this is Centhia Planetary News, and I am your host Alexandra.” yes, he remembered her, she was on the committee of information. She had always seemed apprehensive when he was present in the committee meetings. Perhaps she was more satisfied with making propaganda for the affini than for him.
“Now then, I have a message from our affini allies: Good day to everyone! Remember to drink water, sleep enough and take your meds. If any of you have any problems be sure to contact the affini outreach center near you. It might take some time until we can help but we will get to your problem as fast as we can. If your problem is really serious be sure to call the emergency number and we will help you right away.” There was a few more points to the human broadcast affini message but nothing of that could rival what he had just learned.
Hendrik felt a grin spread across his mouth. They were overextended! It made sense, it was probably the reason they had agreed to negotiations, to begin with. If his estimates and intel were correct the Agraria was pacifying a fringe core world when it had jumped to occupy Centhia.
The Agraria was huge but was probably operating with a skeleton crew or at least a reduced one. Centhia was large and had one of the highest populations of any human colony. If the affini did not have complete control then that meant he still had a chance.
Not to remove the affini, that would never work. But if he was clever he might manage to find a position of power solid enough that he could begin building up again. Ruler of the sector, perhaps not. A person of substantial power might be a possibility.
Hendrik continued to plan with the radio in the background. The Chentian planetary news had been one of his main propaganda tools. With the affini in charge, they had now begun to play music. To his satisfaction, it was not some soulless corp-auto-generated music but rather something made by humans. It was quite nice to listen to, though never something he would have time for.
After a song about dying stars, Alexandra moved on to a new segment “before the next song we have a caller that had some questions about the affini.” He was a bit surprised, a caller?
Probably someone there to ask prepared questions that Alexandra could answer to convince the population. He still might be something to learn about the situation on the ground.
The voice was slightly mixed with static “am I on? Is this CPN?” the voice was quite gruff… and angry?
Alexandra did not seem to notice “yes, you are! Would you like to tell us your name?”
“How long are you going to keep repeating their lies?! The affini are not here to help us they are here to take over!” wait…what? Had they allowed a dissenter airtime on a planetary news platform? Not even a screening of the individual first?
Alexandra was clearly surprised, but years of media training came through. She remained calm “it’s not lies. The affini are here as part of the agreement our president signed.” Technically the truth, he should have negotiated that condition away to avoid this scenario, another fatal mistake.
The caller was working themselves up now “yeah, our president! And has anyone even seen him since the battle? Not that I have heard! The affini probably have him prisoner on that ship of theirs or maybe they even killed him.”
“That’s ridiculous, the affini saved him and us from the Terran rebels. You sound just like one of them, trying to create conspiracy and conflict where there is none.” Alexandra was letting her emotions get the better of her. He was surprised the affini hadn’t shut down or interrupted the broadcast.
“Let me be totally clear with you….I am not some Terran fanatic. I’m from Centhia! If you have proof that our president is fine, why don’t you share it with the rest of us?!”  the caller’s voice was becoming quiet and threatening.
Suddenly, a new song interrupted the charade of a broadcast and left Hendrik to his thoughts.
If that caller represented a portion of Cinthia’s population they might be just the tool he needed. If he could spark a few dozen violent demonstrations the affini might be forced to re-instate him as a sort of figurehead until their reinforcements came. That could give him plenty of time to………….
Why was he doing this? His veins felt like they were full of ice. The question that had remained dormant now filled his mind.
For a second he considered calling Mertha for help, she would help. No! he could deal with this the old fashion way, he ran to the compiler.
“One dose of Emotional-suppressant 4c”, he had no work, Mertha wasn’t here, at least these never failed him. He was not looking forward to the sickness and exhaustion that would come later but that mattered little now.
The Hab-Ai sounded apologetic “Sorry cutie but that is restricted for sophonts like you” what? How dare this voice deny him!
“You sound upset, do you want me to contact your owner?” the pre-recorded voice actually sounded concerned.
he needed to be quick “no!.... I mean no, I was just curious”. Hendrik felt his heartbeat increase, it was getting more difficult to breathe.
Why would his mind just not be silent? He didn’t need a reason to do the things he had to do………… But did he have to do it?
A ping from the data pad snapped him out of his spiraling thoughts. A message, from someone new?
[ComfortVoice]: hi Henrik. Just wanted you to know that I will be arriving soon. Hope you are ready for your first therapy session.
Right…therapy. Supposedly to make him get better, no doubt a hidden motive in there somewhere. Of the three affini in the delegation, Serla was by far the most dangerous. What was she after?
His mind sprung back to the conversation with Mertha about his wardship. The two options the affini had for him were independence or domestication, to be property. That was most certainly it. They wanted to make him a pet.
As an independent, he would always be a potential threat, but if he was the mindless property of some affini, he could be controlled. Serla was here to find any sign so that they could justify domestication. He was sure of it.
Well then if she was searching for weakness she would find none. He put away the data pad and looked over at the living room. There were 4 chairs and one sofa all around a coffee table. They were all affini size but one of the chairs stood out. It was made of hard plastic and the back sloped back at a strange angle. Probably some old Terran design chair but it suited his needs perfectly.
After a great deal of struggling to get onto the chair, had his arms always been this weak? The size meant he had no back support as long as he stayed at the edge. Keeping his back straight and the hard surface would make sure he kept his concentration. He needed a plan.
As Mertha quickened her pace through the wide corridors of the Agraria she felt guilty. She should have given Hendrik the counteragent way earlier, that way she could make sure he ate breakfast and was ready for therapy. But instead, every time she had moved to wake him she had instead just watched him for a few minutes before putting it off. The fact that he was adorable was not a good excuse, when she got back she would make him a great meal.
She finally made it to the bridge where she first gave the floret that acted as a secretary a pet on the head. “So, for once it's them calling you instead of you baring straight in” the secretary teased.
She silenced the sophont by scratching her under the cheek, the sophont tilted her head upward to give Mertha better access. “Perhaps they finally understand that interacting with human culture is important, are they ready?” the human answered by giving only the slightest nod, trying to prolong the scritches for as long as possible. After continuing for a few seconds more Mertha relented and entered the captain’s office.
The captain was looking through three different data pads as she entered, several others were strewn across the desk. They looked up and smiled “Mertha, good to see you. I heard that the president is finally awake. How is he doing?”
Mertha was slightly annoyed, the title brought a sour taste to her roots. “Well Hendrik is still recovering, but has made excellent progress so far.” She tried to put as much emphasis on his name as possible.
The captain seemed relieved by her answer “that is excellent to hear! You see, I have a few things I wanted to talk to you ward about.”
“What did you want to ask him about? He still needs a lot of rest, so I hope it’s nothing demanding.” there was something in the captain's voice that she didn’t like.
The captain did not seem to take the hint “well I would like for him to make a speech, just something minor to show that he is alive and calm the humans down.” The captain sighed ”there has been a terrible rumor spreading that we killed him, are holding him prisoner or something equally grim. For now, it’s only making it harder for some humans to trust us, but it could escalate into something quite serious.”
Mertha stood up in anger. That type of work almost left Hendrik dead! And now the captain wanted to throw him right into it again. Her vines and flowers were brislings “no. I will not allow it.” she hoped that the firm answer would make the captain back off.
“I wouldn’t ask for this if it was not for the fact that we are seriously overstretched.” It was true that the Agraria was unsettlingly empty. “In about 7 weeks we will have reinforcements from the Innax but meanwhi-“
“I am responsible for Hendriks well-being and health, my answer is no. I will not allow him to take on that responsibility again.” Hendrik needed to heal and find out who he was, not be used. “Was there anything more that you wanted to talk about?” The captain shook his head.
Without another word she stormed out of the office.  
The Hab voice rang out “hey cutie, you got a visitor!” The overly upbeat voice and word use was really getting on his nerves.
He would have to maintain his authority “Come in.” his voice sounded weak and underused. The door opened and the ever-colorful Serla walked in. she held a data pad wrapped in one of her vines.
“Hi Hendrik, good to see that you’re finally awake. How are you feeling?” She walked confidently into the hab and sat down on the sofa opposite him.
“I’m doing fine, feeling much better already” This was going to be a total waste of time.
“Well then, while I see that you are eager to start I also see that you have not eaten your breakfast. You need to eat if you are to recover” she sounded far more serious than he felt was justified.
He had forgotten to remove the uneaten omelet from the table, he was getting far too sloppy. “I didn’t feel like eating an omelet, so I had the compiler make something else” A perfectly normal and casual response, it wasn’t even a lie.
Serla looked unconvinced while she studied him, he hated how she did that. “Well, may I ask what you ate instead?” She noticed his hesitation “if I think you're lying to me I will just check the compiler request history.” The affini had him cornered, she almost sounded amused.
If she did check, she would see the request for emotional suppressants, which would not be good. “If you really need to know I ate a nutrient bar, not a crime as far as I am aware.” Not even a minute in and she was already trying to find something to enslave him for.
Fully relaxing into the sofa, she took up the pad and scribbled a little while before she looked up. “Are you comfortable?”
“I’m ready” the answer did not seem to convince Serla, but he cared not.
“I talked with Mertha, and she told me you have had some difficulties adjusting.” Well, that was a bit of an understatement. Also, she had talked with Mertha…he just hoped she had not told too much.
He kept his voice steady and back straight “I guess you could say that. Something about losing everything one has worked for tends to do that.” Serla did not seemed faced by the sarcasm at all.  
“I understand that you are upset. As you are still recovering, I think it is best to take it slow. Do you think you could tell me about your life?” the mix of concern, gentleness, and consideration was almost enough to fool him, almost.
Most of what we would say they could find through the planetary archives so as long as he remained vigilant the plants would get nothing out of it. “I guess I can do that, where do you want me to start?”
“As early as you can, feel free to add as much detail as you feel comfortable with” She leaned further back into the sofa, the therapist would let him steer the conversation.
He organized his thoughts and started “I grew up in a district of east new Hamburg. Middle of the middle class, both my parents worked as fireside clerks. Not much to say." At least not that the plant needed to know.
“How was your relationship with your parents at that time?” Hendrik pondered the question for a moment. That was not something he cared to talk about, especially not with Serla. As he tried to come up with a good excuse for ignoring the question he wrinkled his nose for a second. There had been something sweet was gone now. He looked at Serla, she just smiled back and waited patiently for him to answer.
What was the worst that could happen? “They both cared about me a lot, they almost always had work to do, but had time to help me study.” it felt strange to talk about them. He wondered if things had been different if….
“Was studying important for you and your family?” the question forced him back to reality.
“Yes, they wanted a better life for me, so I had to study hard.” He remembered his mother coming home after 12 hours of work just to help him with his homework. The memory was almost faded…all the details were just a blurry mess.
He forced himself to concentrate “with the money they had saved and with my grades, I managed to get into one of the best schools on Centhia. I think I was about 10 years old” he remembered how proud his father and mother had been, it all seemed very distant now.
“Did you have any friends or hobbies before the academy?” her voice was very soothing
He tried to remember “I don’t think so, at least not I could spend much time on. The entry exams were very important, if I failed all my parent's work would have been for nothing.”
“Did this change when you entered the academy?” there was a tinge of sadness in her voice now.
He let out a sarcastic chuckle “none of the other students wanted anything to do with me unless it was to harass me. They were all upper class, saw me as lower than them.” At least he had showed them who was superior in the end.
“That must have been difficult, how was your life at the academy?” her question spurred his memories forward.
He remembered the many long hours of sitting at the library reading and writing. “I lived at the academy, so I had few opportunities to talk to my parents. it was also a lot of work, but I was dedicated.” He tried to remember as much as he could from those years and suddenly smiled. “It was in the academy I discovered the beauty that is well-done bureaucracy. The solid rules, the impartiality, the efficacy. I became quite obsessed and chose it as my graduating course.”
Serla smiled knowingly “I assumed you did well, the other affini were quite impressed with how you had organized it down there”. The exam had gone well, with excellent results….he felt his muscles tense.
“Is there something wrong? I’m sorry if I reminded you of something hurtful” she sounded so sincere.
He remembered the new broadcasts of the event, the pictures of the offices engulfed in fire. All the images he had buried so deep that they couldn’t hurt him.
The words tumbled out of his mouth “two months… before the exams there was…. an incident. Fireside had been contracted to crack do… down on criminal activity in new Hamburg……. The Families reacted and…and blew up several fireside offices……… parents were among the dead.” His left hand went up to clear his eyes, was he was crying?
Serla sounded genuinely heartbroken “I’m so sorry… you want to take a break?” He gave a nod, “just take all the time you need.” They sat in silence for the next ten minutes as he regained composure, this had not been the way the conversation was supposed to go. 
He hoped he hadn’t said more than he should. This was far more personal than he had planned but talking about it, even with his opponent, lessened the pain. He took a deep breath “I’m ready to continue.”

Next chapter will have more therapy. The chapter might be a bit unpolished as I have work today. Affini please liberate us from capitalism already! There will most likely be a chapter tomorrow as well

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