Pet rolled around in her bed, she was tired but not sleepy. It didn’t entirely make sense, sleep was something she did when she was tired, was it not? Still, she couldn’t sleep anymore, and she was getting bored. She looked at her bed, and one of the plushies grabbed her attention. It was rather large, yellow, and black with big round black eyes. It was very cute, so she decided to hug it. it was also very soft and for a while, she snuggled with it contently.
The plushie was both cute and soft, good for cuddles….hold on. That was her job! She considered for a moment if the plushie was a threat to her position. But no, this plushie could never be a good girl or a good pet, merely a good plushie. Having decided that the plushie was harmless she continued to snuggle with it until she got bored of that as well.
She decided to inspect her right hand, she was supposed to use it for something important….What that was she did not know, there was also the fact that it was encased in some green plant stuff. It was annoying, perhaps…Pet tried to bite on the green casing that trapped her important hand. Ewww, it tasted bitter and gross. She spit out the little plant matter she had bitten off.
With that matter unsatisfactorily ended, Pet looked around the room. Owner was sitting in the large round chair again. Pet wondered what Owner was doing, and if she could get pats. Pet’s legs still felt sore, so she had to crawl out of bed and towards Owner. Leaving the bed was uncomfortable but she was determined to get pets and attention.
Part of her wondered why she didn’t just ask Owner with her voice. But that was not how pets were supposed to do it and there was also a feeling of…the feeling drifted away. She made it to the chair, now would be a good time to make a sound. There was that feeling again….nope, gone.
Pets’ attention was drawn towards a few of the loose vines spilling over the back of the chair. They were moving back and forth rhythmically. Pet felt a strange temptation, she followed one of the vines carefully with her eyes. She prepared herself and lowered into a better stance. She only had one hand so she would have to be clever, luckily she was a very smart pet.
Pet waited until the vine was at the lowest point in its movement and then pounced. She landed on the vine and with her hand, she held the tip while using the rest of her weight to keep the vine down. her prey moved erratically at first, trying to get out of her grip. Pet almost slipped but held on tight until the vine went limp. Victory!
Pet looked at the limp vine with pride and a bit of disappointment, she had hoped it would have put up more of a fight. She looked up, Owner was looking down at her “Hendrik? What are you….” Pet looked at Owner as she stopped mid-sentence.
‘Hendrik’…there was something familiar about it, why did Owner say it so often? If she didn’t know the answer then Owner probably did “who is Hendrik?” Owner flowers shuddered a bit before the vines underneath her came alive. She was picked up like she weighed nothing and put down on Owner’s lap. It felt very comfortable, so she laid down.
Owner began to stroke her hair with one of her vines, this was the best. Her owner scratched her back “do you know who Hendrik is?” Pet looked up into the eyes of her owner, was she supposed to know? Each time she tried to think about it her feelings just floated away. She shook her head, she hoped that didn’t make her a bad pet.
Owner started to scratch further up her back “that ok, what is your name?”
That was a question she could answer “I’m Pet!” Pet looked happily up at her Owner, they did not seem as impressed as she had hoped. In retrospect ‘pet’ was more a title or description of her being… “is that a bad name?” she felt like she was disappointing Owner.
The petting intensified “not at all! I think it’s a wonderful name. If you want to find something else sometime, I can help you.” Pet purred with joy, not only was she not disappointing Owner, but she also had a wonderful name. Also, Owner had said she could help Pet with something, being helped was the best.
Owner smothered her with pets for a few glorious moments, Pet just lay there and allowed the bliss and affection to drown out the rest of her thoughts. After those moments she was picked up and put on the desk “just stay there for a second, I need to get something.” Owner seemed really happy, this made Pet very happy, she was doing her job as a pet.
While Pet waited for her Owner to return, she inspected the desk. There were a few open books, they looked old. The one that was positioned in such a way to be the one Mertha was reading had a map on it. The map depicted human settlement around a large river that carved itself through a desert and ended in a delta formation. The main settlements were around this delta probably because of the fertile soil that could be found there.
There were also blocks, lines, and arrows: battle plans. Based on the arrow’s movement and the spread of the settlements this conflict was very primitive. Perhaps this was a war that had taken place on Terra before….
Pet realized she was having very un-pet-like thoughts. Was that bad? Was fulfilling her function as a pet, making Owner happy, enough? Or could she be a bad pet through her thoughts as well? Pet considered this for a moment, luckily Owner returned before she could come to any wrong conclusion.
Owner was holding a bowl that contained lots of small and round red objects. Owner put the bowl on the table before lifting Pet up and letting her rest in the lap again. Using a vine, Owner picked up one of the red objects and held it in front of Pet's face “you have been such a good girl, you deserve a treat. I didn’t have the time…or the courage to give you this before. I think you are going to like it.” Owner sounded happy and Pet was a good girl!
This was reward enough, but the red thing was fascinating. Pet leaned forward to smell it, odorless…a vine tapped her on the cheek, and she automatically opened her mouth. The thing was placed in her mouth, it was quite tasteless as well. A vine taped her underneath her chin and she chewed down. The treat ruptured and indescribably, perfectly sweet juices filled her mouth. Pet's entire body shuddered as her tastebuds tried to capture the whole indescribable experience.
Owner started to pet her again just as her body was beginning to calm down from the experience “was that tasty, pet?” Pet began to purr as loudly as she could in response, it was very tasty. This made Owner give her even more pets.
Pet continued to rest in Owner’s lap, receiving a constant stream of pets and sometimes a tasty berry. Pet knew that she was distracting Owner from reading, but she was receiving affection so that didn’t matter a lot. The feelings of joy and contentment that Pet felt rushing from Owner was like a tidal wave, one she was more than happy to be engulfed in. Pet continued to purr and give small moans of approval and bliss, words were inadequate to describe how she was feeling. Being a pet was truly the best thing one could be.
To Pet's everlasting disappointment, she fell asleep far too soon. she was awoken by the sound of a new voice “hi cutie, you got a visitor!” The voice was very cute, she liked it. Based on how she was feeling Owner had not stopped petting her even while she slept.
Owner lifted her up into her arms and stood up “a bit earlier than I expected, let’s go Pet.” Pet did not have to go anywhere, she just stayed in her owners’ arms. Owner carried her lovingly into the living room and towards the door, a second later the door opened.
“Serla, what brings you so early? I thought you and Vonzin were coming in half an hour or so.” The new figure was a bit shorter than Owner and had a lot of colorful flowers on her. Pet was filled with a feeling of…annoyance?
The new figure spoke “I just want to make sure that you are both okay. You know, before we pump even more xenodrugs into her. Where is she? Sleeping?” The new voice was familiar…and definitely made her feel annoyed.
Owner lifted some vines to reveal her fully “oh there she is…awwww she looks at how wonderful. I think that is the cutest and most peaceful I have ever seen her. Hendrik, how are you feeling?” Pet continued to receive pets from Owner, so she did not care much about the conversation.
Owner stroked her hair carefully “um…she doesn’t respond to her name anymore.” There was a brief silence as the new figure looked at Owner with surprise and curiosity. “Pet? Serla here was wondering how you were feeling.” Upon hearing her name, she perked up and looked at Owner with a smile “I feel amazing!” her chirp received an ‘aww’ from both Owner and the other one.
The other voice sounded fascinated “you can’t be serious…I knew class-j was strong but, how did you-?”
Owner carried her towards the sofa and sat down, so she could rest on the lap again “it wasn’t me. This morning while I washed her, she noticed the monitoring collar. She then explained that based on that, how I was treating her and her new bed that she must be a pet. After that, she logically concluded that I must be her owner.” Owner sounded proud of her, Pet was a very smart pet.
The other figure bristled as it sat down “amazing. How are you resisting collaring her when she seems to throw herself at you in this capacity?” Owner shuddered a bit as the pets stopped for a moment.
Owner sounded conflicted “Please, the temptation is strong enough. I do not need reminding.” The pets continued and Pet gave a purr in gratitude.
There was another round of aww’ing at her cuteness “I’m just saying that any other affini would have smothered them in affection until they couldn’t think, before then domesticating them. Your willpower is impressive.” That did sound nice, and yes Owner was amazing.
Owner smiled down at her “you are talking like I do not intend to do the first part, I very much do, for the next week or so.” Pet received a few scratches on the back of her neck, she curved her neck to give Owner better access.
The other figure spoke, this time a bit more seriously “I must admit I expected to find you in a much worse state of mind. you usually beat yourself quite thoroughly up after something like this.” Owner was still happy, Pet could feel it.
Owner’s voice was filled with a pure sort of joy “I was, but how can I be sad when I have this cute bundle in my lap? I love her so much, what would I ever do without you little kitten?” Owner leaned down and gave Pet a small kiss on the forehead.
Pet gave a surprised “mwa!” and purred lightly. She loved Owner just as much.
There was a bit of silence before the other figure spoke again “do you think I can pet her? She is just too much, so utterly adorable.” Getting pet was nice and the figure was acknowledging the fact that she was adorable…but….
Pet could answer for herself “no. you’re annoying.” Pet may be a pet, bus she still had standards.
There was a brief silence before the new figure burst out laughing “she remembers me! Perhaps we should give her some class-A, she had no problem with me petting her then.” The figure continued to laugh, Owner was chuckling.
The cute voice rang out again “Hi cutie, you got a visitor!” more people?
The new figure stood up “I’ll get it, don’t want to disturb the little tyrant too much.” The door opened “Hi Vonzin, oh and Ida, here to help your mistress with work?”
There was a lighter voice, more like hers, not like the other people “I always love to help with house visits!” Perhaps from another pet?
Another slightly less but still familiar voice spoke “she is a delight, how is the patient?”
Something in Pet's mind stirred, something bad, the annoying voice spoke “oh why don’t you see for yourself, she is so adorable!”
The new figure moved into the room, next to it was another one like her. Shorter, no vines or flowers, and had a collar around her neck: definitely a fellow pet. The new figure made Pet uneasy, she just hoped it stayed away.
The figure took up some sort of syringe “well it looks like she is adapting well to the class-J. This dose is a bit stronger but there should be very little difference in tota-“ the scary figure moved closer. Pet recoiled, the figure wanted to do something to her.
Her mind screamed of danger, the pet of the dangerous figure moved forward “don’t worry, it won’t hurt.” It could not be trusted, it was probably in cahoots with its owner. She moved back a bit further, almost out of Owners lap.
The figure and their pet moved back a bit <I thought this might happen, Mertha could you give her this?> The figure had begun speaking in a way that she couldn’t understand, perhaps it was people language?
Owner responded <what is it? and are we sure we not giving her too much?> Pet knew that they were talking about her, or perhaps the other pet, most likely her though.
The figure had backed off so that was good <it is class-C-t, it removes innate social suspicion. It should make her trust people. And yes, I need to inspect her. Losing her, let’s say, slight paranoid tendencies will probably be good for her recovery as well.>
The annoying figure interjected <I thought class-J did that on its own?>
The dangerous figure continued to speak <it stifles most fear, anger, sadness, and other negative emotions. While of course making the patient an adorable cuddle-hungry mess. This usually removes most social fear that humans have, but some subjects, like our patient here, have quite strong mental patterns.>
Owner spoke “Pet, can you relax for me? Just like that, very good.” There was a small sting on the back of her neck. The world was blurry for a second and then she could see clearly again. She looked at the newest figure….something was different. Pet was supposed to think something, do an evaluation of the figure of some sort. Another gear in her mind grind to a halt, it felt very strange.
Pet was placed on the carpet and the figure approached carefully. Pet was trying to figure out what was different. She had feelings towards the figure before, now they just seemed silly and floated away. The figure was very close “just hold still for a little bit, there we go. What a good girl!” There was a sting in her arm and then something flowed into her. Pet felt a bit woozy…it was hard to focus.
The figure lightly pushed her down into a lying position “petal, could you help me by distracting her for a moment.” The other pet walked up to her while the large figure was doing something with her right hand.
Pet looked at the other pet, no imitate thoughts came to mind “hi there! I’m Ida, is it okay if I pet you a bit?” Pet felt like she was supposed to or would have said no, but she found no reason. Pet was also a bit dizzy, so she just nodded. “Thanks, you are very cute you know that?” the girl lifted her head and let it rest in her lap. She then began to pet and scratch her under the chin, behind her ear and on the top of her head, it was very calming.
The other pet was very nice “you are just so adorable! perhaps next time we can cuddle as you recover from the dose? I would love to be your friend”…friend? This was not how things usually went. There was supposed to be a reason to say no. that gear in her mind refused to move, it was wrong…but it felt so right. Pet noticed that she had begun to cry a bit, she nuzzled into the nice girl’s lap “I…I would like that.”
Suddenly the figure that Pet had completely forgotten about stood up “there we go, the hand has made an almost full recovery.” in the figure’s vines were the remnants of the plant matter that had been stuck on her right hand. She looked over at her hand, it looked mostly like her left one. It had a few large white scars and it still felt very numb, Pet decided to try to move her fingers a bit.
“No! don’t move it!” the figure was stern, Pet stopped. The figure moved over to the food maker “just wait a second. I had to remove the cast for the hand to heal properly, but the tendons and muscle are still healing.” After a few tense moments, the figure picked out two objects from the food makers and walked over to her.
The objects were larger than her hands and fluffy, one of them was strapped to her right and another to her left. Her fingers were immobilized inside them, but it was comfy and not clammy at all. The figure gave the other pet a pat on the head “good job petal, I think this one needs a bit of sleep, Mertha you can pick her up now.”
Owner stood and picked her up into her arms “paws?” Pet was finally back in Owner’s lap.
The figure sat down with her pet also in her lap “the function is on the inside, plus they look cute. Pet do you think they look cute?” Pet looked at the large cat paws that now covered her hands. They had nice blue and white pastel fur and soft beans.
They were cute, “yes!” she chirped. Owner began to pet her again and Pet noticed how tired she was. Her new paws worked very well as pillows and soon she drifted off once again.
Mertha looked down on the absolute tressure that was Hendrik. She had to admit that the paws were cute and her ward's reaction to them had been so as well. Being able to pet Hendrik and see her so happy and relaxed, was not something she knew she could give up now.
Serla interrupted her dangerous train of thought “so Vonzin, why did you want to talk?” right, Mertha looked at the two other affini.
Vonzin was petting Ida “While I have agreed to not put forward a motion to domesticate Hendrik…or Pet. I still need your opinion, what do you think is best for her?” Right…the incident yesterday would only have pushed Hendrik closer to a fate that she could not choose.
Serla looked a bit apologetic at Mertha “I think that she would be best off as a floret. That is my opinion.” The words hurt to hear, especially from a friend.
Mertha needed to challenge that notion “what makes you say that?” She knew she was getting defensive, but someone had to be.
Serla gave a surprising smile “mostly because of how she has reacted to you. When she is with you she manages to get over her struggles, process her trauma and get better. When you are absent, her mind is almost immediately dominated by the thought patterns from ‘The Game’ that has hurt her so.”
Vonzin looked puzzled “The Game?”
Serla explained “it’s what Hendrik calls the constant power struggle she was trapped in on Centhia. A very brutal and traumatizing affair. It has made her thoughts dominated by fear, suspicion, and a very unhealthy attitude towards work and comfort.”
Ida interrupted “Hendrik? Like the governor of Centhia? That’s him…I mean her?” Mertha felt her happiness wain, perhaps Hendrik had been right at the café.
Serla answered before she could “don’t worry, she is completely harmless. Hendrik has just been through a lot.” Ida seemed to calm down a bit, she still looked at the sleeping Hendrik with surprise.
Serla changed the subject “and your opinion Vonzin?” Mertha doubted the answer would be much better.
The vet sounded less conflicted than Serla had been “your account matches mine. The human has almost died twice at my operating table. She seems to be entirely unable to judge her own strength and health. When she arrived here she had more latent chems in her system than any other human I have seen. She had not eaten proper food in several years and her body was dependent on high shocks of adrenaline to even persist in any stressful situation. I don’t think I could make a better case for domestication if I was to make one up.” Perhaps Hendrik had been right to be afraid.
Mertha felt a bit defeated, she had tried her best, hadn’t she? “So, you want to reconvene the committee and reevaluate?” the room was quiet.
After a few tense seconds, Serla broke it “no…at least not at this point. As long as the wardship continues without any other major incidents it can go its course. You have done a wonderful job with her. I just think it’s important for you to know that if she was to be domesticated it would not be a failure on your or her part. A part of her wants it I’m sure, even if she can’t admit it to herself. You don’t throw yourself this hard into the role of floret your first day on class-J unless some part of you craves it.” Mertha was not quite sure how to feel about that.
Vonzin gave her answer “I can accept that. You do need to set stronger boundaries for her. I understand you want to give her the feeling of independence, but she can’t be trusted with it at the moment. Next time if you feel even slightly concerned that she is overexerting herself, take action. Next time something even close to this happens again I will need to put forth a motion to the bureaucracy.” The vet was right, next time she would make sure Hendrik was fine.
Mertha sighed, the fact that she had been able to pet Hendrik all this time had kept her remarkably calm “I understand, at least she gets to enjoy herself now.”
With that matter settled, Serla looked at Vonzin “what will the long-term effects of ‘this’ be?” she gestured to the adorable sleeping human.
Vonzin took a moment to think “you have most likely noticed that she is more malleable than before, but nothing of that will be permeant. And Henrik will remember more or less everything pretty well. There are instances where conclusions or ideas remain when a subject is woken up. But that is quite rare and always, as far as I have heard, to benefit for the sophont.”
Serla chuckled a bit “I do not want to be in the room when she wakes up. that will be something to behold.” Mertha imagined the scenario, Serla was right. That was going to be a challenge no matter how Hendrik reacted.
The three affini talked a bit more about the general state of affairs on the ship and planet before the two xeno-specialists took their leave. Mertha held the still sleeping Hendrik in her arms, her little snores were so very adorable. She decided to move Hendrik’s bed to her chambers for the night. She would not leave her little kitten out of sight for any longer than possible.