Nora and Darla were cuddling after a long night of games and fun. When Serla wasn't home they could truly let loose the emotions for the game they were playing, as the affini had a tendency to decide they were too adorable and begin cuddling with them. Not that cuddling with Serla was bad, not at all; however, finishing a game of tension and drama was also nice.
Nora had won the game this evening and carried a blushing Darla in her arms during a triumph march before they collapsed into a pile of kisses and cuddles. With all their energy spent, they finally formed into a nice cuddle with Nora as the big spoon; it made sense as she was the largest and strongest.
As they lay there in peaceful silence Nora’s mind began to wander to Hendrik. Serla had told her last evening that Hendrik had exerted herself and needed to be on xenodrugs to recover; it made Nora anxious. Was Hendrik really recovering or was Serla just trying to keep her calm?
Darla turned her head “Are you okay? You look worried.” Nora didn't want Darla to be weighed down by her concern.
She pressed a bit closer to her girlfriend “It’s ok, nothing to worry about.” Nora hoped that was convincing enough.
Darla turned around fully and sat up a bit “You’re thinking about Hendrik again, aren’t you? You need to understand that she isn’t your responsibility. Worrying about something you can’t do anything about won’t help anyone.” Nora knew that Darla was right, her mind just wouldn’t accept it.
She sat up as well “but she was my responsibility…and I failed. I’m the last one she has left…all the others she was close to…are gone. I know that Mertha is taking care of her but…that’s different.”
Darla put a hand on her shoulder “Nora…”
Nora felt her chest tighten “I know she might not want me to be her friend or even to be close to her…after what I did. I just…I just wish I could see her…see that she is fine! When I saw her last…” The words wouldn’t come out. The memories of that night were tearing through her mind; she couldn’t stop them.
Nora could feel the vibrations of the soldiers coming down the corridor “Behind us! 3 of them are coming around the corner!” Mertha snapped around.
The three Terran rebel soldiers rounded the corner just in time for three separate clusters of vines to knock them into a wall and restrain them. Nora lowered the readied rifle in her hands. She ran forward and grabbed the uniform of the soldier that was still conscious.
She dragged out a knife and pinned it to the desperate soldier's throat “Where is he!? Where is the president? Speak!” The soldier’s breathing and heartbeat were getting frantic, she could hear it.
Nora felt that Mertha was moving up behind her as the soldier spoke “He is in the cells, he is in the cells! Please don’t…” Nora pulled her knife back and let the solder go. With an unfounded sense of safety, the soldier’s bravado returned “All...all you’ll find is a corpse! Heh, that plant fucker gets what he deserves, gave him a few nicks myself. Terra will be free onc-“
Just before Nora could end the soldier’s life, a flower moved forward on a vine and the soldier fell unconscious in a second, succumbing to some type of spores. A vine turned her around “Nora, we need to move. Leave this misguided sophont. He is not worth it.”
Right! They had a mission, now was not the time to get carried away by anger. She nodded and lowered her visor. She and Mertha rushed down the corridors of the presidential residences. The few soldiers they met were easily dispatched. The elevators were disabled so the staircases would have to do.
Down and down into the depths, with every floor, Nora felt her anxiety and worry grow. She could not be too late! The soldier looked surprised as she turned the corner, she had known he was there by his loud breathing and stark shadow from the red alarm lights. She knocked him out with a single blow from the butt of her rifle, leaving the man on the ground, and continued to run as Mertha hastily followed.
The polished marble floor was replaced with simple concrete and archive rooms, then with metal as the lower floors gave way to the prison complex underneath the building. She and Mertha ran past countless empty cells, the alarms and red light bludgeoning against her senses like a hammer.
She couldn’t hear Hendrik perhaps the soldier had lied. Perhaps he was dead, or on a spaceship leaving the system this very minute. She should have stayed with him!
They found another staircase with a locked door, the chip in her arm gave them access. As they moved down the staircase she heard voices “…All I’m saying is that the knife was a bit much. If he ends up dying before we get the signal, then we will both be in a shit ton of trouble.” Hendrik was still alive! Nora dropped her rifle and ran as fast as she could, her armor suddenly feeling weightless.
Another voice responded “Those weeds took everything from us, it’s only right that he suffers until we can end his miserable life. We will get the signal soon, so don’t worry! Almost feels bad that we can’t give that traitor more- wait! Did you hear th-Stop right there!” Nora felt a few bullets hit her armor before she hit the soldier with the force of a moving truck.
The man hit the metal wall with a crunch, his ribs shattering into splinters. Nora spun around, and her fist hit the second soldier in the stomach, he screamed and crumpled to the floor. Both would survive. She moved up to the huge metal door. Mertha securing the soldiers behind her was a blur she didn’t care to recognize, she just needed to get past this door!
She lifted up her arm and activated her chip. A low-pitched beep noise and red light of refusal responded. Fuck! She was so close! She tried again, another beep of refusal. She looked at the door, large, thick, and extremely well reinforced. She couldn’t knock it down “Mertha!” The affini understood and the full force of the alien vines hit the door. It bent, before crumpling inwards and flying into the room.
Nora rushed into the final cell chamber, he had to be here! She heard a groan from the corner of the cell.
Hendrik stood there, leaning against the wall. His suit was in tatters, with large burn marks covering his body. There was a large knife stuck in his side. Blood was flowing, tainting the suit with a growing red taint. His face was filled with large marks from strikes and beatings. She could hear his heartbeat was frantic. Broken bones scraped against each other in his leg. All of this was her fault, how could she have let this happen?
His eyes were still focused, clear, determined, and perhaps relieved. When he saw the affini, his eyes changed. They became hate-filled, confused, hurt, and desperate. Henrik stood up and shouted something, but Nora couldn’t hear the words. The blaring of the alarms felt deafening, this wasn’t right….
Someone was shaking her “Nora! Nora!” before the vision could move onto its worst stage, it began to fade. She was hyperventilating and shaking. Darla was holding her tight “Nora, you need to snap out of it!” Nora began to slow down her breathing, matching it to Darla’s.
Slowly she felt the energy and tension in her body cease and be replaced by an intense sadness. She began to cry, Darla held her and kept her company as the vision slowly faded from her mind, bit by bit.
Darla held her until her tears went dry “it’s late, we should get some sleep. It will be easier in the morning, talk with Serla then. I love you.” Darla gave her a tight hug and a kiss, it helped.
She tried at a smile “ok-...okay, I’ll do that. Love you.” They both laid down and within a few moments, Darla was asleep. Nora couldn’t, her mind kept her awake with questions. After half an hour, the door to the hab opened near-silently, but naturally, Nora still heard it.
Nora carefully pried herself from Darla and sneaked out to the exit. There she saw Serla smiling and holding several bags of groceries; Serla noticed her and gave her a wide smile. Before the affini could speak, Nora did “we need to talk, now!” Serla noticed she was upset and nodded silently.
They both headed into the kitchen where they would not wake Darla. While Serla placed away the groceries she spoke “what is it you wanted to talk about? Did something happen?”
Nora climbed up onto one of the chairs “first you need to promise to tell the truth. I can handle it and I deserve it.” Serla left the groceries and sat down on the other side of the table.
She looked at Nora with beautiful, concerned eyes “you have my word, now what is it?”
Nora stared back at the affini “how is Hendrik really doing? I need the truth.” She needed it more than anything, and she needed it to be good news.
Serla gave a soft smile “at the moment she is doing quite well, but as I said she is quite...influenced by xenodrugs. She overexerted herself due to some petty want to show self-reliance. She will recover, but it will take some time. You will be glad to know that she had the plant cast removed. While she still can’t move her fingers, her hand will soon be fully healed.” That was good news, but Nora still felt unsure.
Nora knew the answer, yet she still had to ask, “do you think I can meet her?”
Serla smiled softly “not yet, she is not…lucid enough to fully understand what is going on at the moment. She can’t even remember her own name. I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to meet, not yet. If you did see her, though, you would be delighted. The fact she hasn’t surrendered to be a floret already is beyond me.” Something clicked in Nora’s mind.
It was a striking realization “you have been telling her to become a floret, haven’t you?”
Serla didn’t seem to realize “on a few occasions yes, I think it would be the best for her. Might have teased her a bit as well.”
Nora felt angry “She is a proud, independent and…suspicious person. You don’t think that maybe she did this because she felt that you were trying to push her into something she didn’t want!? You can’t just trample on her pride and self-esteem like that!” Serla could tease her, that was different. For Hendrik however…
Serla looked a bit shocked at her outburst before her form deflatet “dirt….you’re probably right. I only meant it as teasing but…oh frost.” The therapist looked horribly guilty.
Nora still felt a bit of anger “When she wakes up you need to tell her that you are not trying to domesticate her. And! That you are sorry.” The affini leaned defeated back in the chair.
Serla’s form was untangling in a few places “You are right, I will apologize. Agh…I’m sorry Nora. I should do better than this, I will do better.” Nora felt sad at the fact that Serla was sad, but it was necessary.
Nora jumped down from the chair “I think I’m going back to my hab for a little while. It's not because of this…I just have some things I need to process, alone…with some space, you know.”
“Nora….I understand. Take the time you need. Remember that you are always welcome here if you want to talk or just relax.” Nora gave the tall sexy plant lady a hug, and Serla returned it.
As she left Serla gave her one of the grocery bags “you told me you studied art so perhaps you will find some joy in this. I have heard it can be a good way to let out some emotion and process memories.” Nora looked inside the bag. There was paint, canvases, brushes, and all the other tools she knew top-of-the-line painters used.
She smiled “thanks Serla, tell Darla I won’t be gone for long. Goodbye!” as she walked towards her hab, she felt lighter. It was a long time since she had painted. Perhaps she could do it in the large park. With so few people around she was bound to find a peaceful spot. First, however, she needed some sleep.
Pet felt herself slowly but surely beginning to drag herself out of sleep. It was more difficult than before, like another layer of sleep was placed on top of the regular one. It was so heavy, but she pushed on and soon Pet had the energy to open her eyes.
The room that she was in was majestic and alien. She was still in her bed of course, but this was not like any of the other rooms in the hab. The walls and floor were covered in moss, vines, tall grass, and flowers. The flowers felt the most alien; they dotted the vines and spread from the ground. They were lit up in soft bioluminescent light in dozens of different colors.
A small stream was trickling into a pool of water, where she saw Owner. Owner was not in her usual form. Instead, she was spread out to cover most of the surface of the small lake with her vines. In the middle of the water there looked to be a huge unopened lotus flower, from which a white light emanated, soft and relaxing. Looking at it filled Pet with a majestic sort of awe. It was totally alien, but she knew that it was Owner and Owner looked amazing.
Pet felt the weight of sleep drag her down once more. She did not find a good reason to not let it, and she was soon fast asleep. The soft light from the flowers and her Owner danced behind her closed eyes as she slept.
When she woke up next, it was because of Owner lovingly stroking her back. She leaned into the hand and purred softly, refusing to fully let go of sleep. Owner brushed a bit of hair that covered her face away “it's time to wake up Pet. You need to eat.” The sound of food was compelling but so was sleeping in her bed. she turned around and snuggled into a pillow. When Owner tried to lift her with their hand she wiggled out of them, just a few more hours she thought.
A few large vines coiled around her “you leave me no choice Pet.” One of the vines had come close to her mouth and she lazily began to nibble on it. She continued while she was being lifted up from the bed into the air. She heard Owner mumble something, “Is she being this cute on purpose?” They were soon out of the majestic alien room and in the living room instead.
Pet decided that she was not yet ready for food, she was still too sleepy. She began to nuzzle into Owner’s side and squirm lightly in their arms. When Owner tried to let her go she grabbed onto one of their arms with her Paws. It wasn’t very effective, as she could not actually grab anything with them. However, it must have looked adorable as Owner relented and allowed her a few more moments to enjoy being held.
All things must end though, and Owner finally built up the self-restraint to put her into a chair. Despite her temporary victory she had still not fully succeeded. Pet decided that she had to improve her cuteness techniques so she could stay longer in Owner's arms.
Pet looked down at the plate. It was filled with raw fish encased in rice. She looked at her paws; they were very cute. And also completely impractical, the likelihood of her being able to use the two thin wooden sticks to eat was nil. Luckily, she was a pet and did not have to concern herself with silly things like that. A vine tapped her cheek and she opened obediently, Pet loved being fed. She allowed herself to drift off and enjoy the food while Owner fed them, piece by delicious piece.
After the sublime breakfast, she was carried to the bath. The pool was already filled with warm water. “Now then, just be still and I can wash you quickly.” Pet was still for a moment as she floated in the relaxing water. Owner carefully washing her was almost like being petted. The water looked very tempting, though, and Pet felt the temptation grow until she decided to follow through. Wiggling out of Owner’s grasp, she dived fully into the water.
It felt so nice to be weightless and able to move so easily. She basked in the water for a few moments while Owner looked at her. The freedom of the water felt liberating and fun. Pet finally calmed down and just rested in the water, then looked at her large paws and got an idea. Owner stepped forward with the swamp she used to clean her “Pet, you need to be clea-“ The sound of Pets paw hitting the water made a large splash as a burst of water splashed over Owner.
Owner was dripping with water “Hendrik!?.....a bit of a mischievous pet today, aren’t you?” Owner’s eyes had narrowed a bit as she looked down at her.
Pet returned a mischievous smile “..perhaps.” Pet didn’t notice the vines that had extended under the water until it was too late; she was dragged forward and into Owner’s strong grasp.
Owner began to scrub her again “guess I need to be a bit more strict with you then.” Pet was not very concerned with Owner being stricter…In fact, it didn’t sound bad at all. After she was washed Owner carried her out while the water began to drain. Pet decided that next time she would try to convince Owner to let her play in the water for a bit longer.
Owner had laid out three different outfits for her. Pet inspected them carefully, they were…boring. She turned to Owner “I want something else!” Owner looked a bit befuddled.
Owner picked up one of the outfits; it was dark gray and constrained in design: boring! Owner held it up to her “are you sure? I tried to pick something more to your taste this time.”
Pet pouted and crossed her arms “not good enough, I want something else!” Owner looked at her a bit concerned before picking her up.
Owner carried her to the food maker in the kitchen “I guess we can compile something else, just say stop when you see something you like.” Owner began to scroll through hundreds of options on the screen above the food maker.
There were a lot of nice options, but Pet needed the best. Three minutes later Pet saw the perfect outfit “stop, that one! I want that one.” She pointed with her paw. The dress was long with blue and white pastel colors. All over it was cute pink cat faces and paw prints. The outfit also had thigh-highs in the same color and design. It was the cutest!
Owner sounded confused “you want that one?” Owner pointed to the outfit next to it, another boring choice. Pet guessed that her large paws were not the most precise pointers. Pet took action into her own paws and pressed the perfect pet outfit on the screen. The machine hummed and a second later the dress and thigh-highs were laying inside.
Pet managed to fish them out with one of her paws and Owner put her down. Owner sounded distressed, “you want to wear that? Are you absolutely, 100% sure?” Pet nodded enthusiastically, being cute was her job as a pet.
When Pet finally got the dress past her cute paws and put on the thigh-highs she did a twirl. She looked like the perfect pet. However, her legs were still unstable, so she fell gently on her behind. She looked up at Owner and gave them her most adorable smile.
Owner was bristling, their eyes filling with an exciting spark “I...I can’t do this…it’s too much…this is torture….” Owner was muttering to herself again.
Pet tilted her head, was she doing a poor job? She needed to know “am I not cute enough?” Pet tried to think as hard as she could, what more could she do? Her job was to be cute for Owner. Pet was a good pet, she would accept nothing but perfection.
Owner moved back “by the Everbloom you are cute. Far, far too cute. Are you doing this on purpose? Why?” It sounded like Owner was very conflicted.
Pet was happy but confused “well it's my job to be cute, I want to do well at my job…should I be cuter? Please tell me how I can be cuter!” Pet looked up at Owner with begging eyes, she needed to know!
Owner moved almost frighteningly fast forward and leaned down “Please Pet, there is only so much self-restraint I can manage.” Their eyes were filled with barely restrained passion.
Pet pushed her right paw into Owner’s face “bop! Why do you need self-restraint? I’m your pet, silly.” Pet giggled and saw the last of the restraint in her Owner’s eyes disappear.
Pet felt excited, Owner sighed “Hendrik...please forgive me.” A hundred vines engulfed Pet in the flash of an eye.
They moved across her body like wildfire; stroking, petting, and squishing every part of her. It was pure and all-consuming bliss. Pet let herself be totally limp as Owner played with her body as they wished. In only a few intense seconds her mind melted into an empty and content puddle.
Pet’s puddle of a mind was assaulted for a small eternity by the intense sensations. In those few moments where a thought managed to form she felt pride. She was cute and she made Owner happy; she was a good pet! With her purpose fulfilled, Pet allowed herself to enjoy the reward of her hard work.
Pet was aware that Owner was speaking to her, but she was far too gone to have any hope of understanding. They just washed over her like an affirming wave, the words were indecipherable, but the meaning was clear. She was a good girl and a good pet. At some point, a berry was inserted into her mouth and her body shuddered with joy.
Pet knew that she was making noises in return, but she didn’t need to think about it. She simply allowed her body to respond however it saw fit. There was no need for her to think in any capacity, as Owner could do that for her. Pet’s only task was to stay awake to enjoy her utopia as long as a pet possibly could be expected to.
Pet awoke in her bed, this time in the living room. Her skin and brain were still tingling from her victory earlier. She had no frame of reference for how long it had lasted, though. The fact that she had fallen asleep was a sad inevitability for a sleepy pet like her. She stretched in her bed and snuggled her favorite plushie.
The smell of prepared meat began to fill the air along with a sweet scent. Pet perked up and looked towards the kitchen. Owner was humming some melody while preparing her food, and they looked very happy. Pet was happy as well and let out a loud purr. This got Owner’s attention who soon strode over to her with two plates in their vines. One of their vines petted Pet’s head gently “how are you doing?”
Pet was still a bit of a puddle so she merely purred louder and leaned into the vine “I guess I have to take that as a good sign. Vonzin and Ida are coming over soon so you should eat, think you can stand?” Pet tried to move up, but her body was too stimulated and tender.
Owner gently picked her up and sat her on their lap “that’s okay, I might…have gone slightly too far. You can eat here.” Owner began to feed her while still in their lap. Pet felt so close to Owner, it was a different kind of bliss than before. Not as intense or passionate, it was instead domestic and comforting.
As she finished the steak that Owner had made, she began to be fed dessert. It was a sort of cake, white and flat, it had a crunchy outside and a wonderfully soft inside. It was very sweet, and the pieces melted in her mouth. After Owner was done feeding her they just sat there together in calm, relaxing happiness.
Their perfect owner-pet time was interrupted by the cute voice “hi cutie, you got a visitor!”
Owner said something in people's language and the door opened, the tall figure and pet from yesterday walked in. As they saw her and Owner, they both exclaimed ‘awww’s and “that’s adorable!” respectively.
The affini walked up to her and Owner “looks like you are having a good time. Pet, could you stretch out your arm a bit?” Pet obeyed as a pet should and looked at the bark of the new affini. The patterns on the bark were so complex and fascinating. She got lost in them for a moment and didn’t even notice the sting from the vine. She felt it afterward as a slight sensation of dizziness as sleepiness entered her mind.
The other affini stood up and gave her a pat on the head “such a well-behaved pet! Petal, do you think you can keep this little kitten company while I and Mertha talk?” She was a well-behaved pet!
The other pet walked up, she looked excited “of course mistress. Hi there! Do you want to cuddle?” Pet felt her heart flutter for a bit, she was still unsure if she could speak properly so she just nodded vigorously.
Owner put her down in the pet bed and the other pet joined her. The girl snuggled up behind her and held Pet around the stomach. It felt different than when with Owner, it was a warm calming sensation. The new feeling felt more alien than the room she had woken up in today, but it was just as perfect.
The girl began to scratch her on the back “I’m sorry, but I just have to gush about how cute you are! The dress, the socks, the kittens! The paws! It’s all so much, you’re going to make me ahjks!” Pet didn’t know what ahjks was, but it sounded good.
She decided to tell this other pet about her work “I chose it myself! I have to be as cute as possible for Owner, this one was the best I found.” She was rewarded with a kiss on the back of her neck, her whole body shivering in delight.
The girl squeezed her a bit “of course you did, you look adorable! Mertha is so lucky to have you.” The other pet's affirmation was valued. Pet did not know who ‘Mertha’ was, Pet was slowly realizing that she might be very bad with names.
The girl continued to cuddle her “it looked like you and ‘Owner’ had a very good time today. How are you liking being a pet so far?” Pet felt like there was an undertone of teasing there.
The answer was obvious “being a pet is the best!” A truth that needed no logic or pyramid of evidence. This evoked another squeal from the girl as they continued to cuddle.
The people had begun to talk <looks like both of you are having a wonderful time. I expect there have been no complications.> The other owner sounded happy.
Owner however sounded distressed <you are wrong, there is one massive problem. I don’t think I can survive 5 more days of this.>
The other owner looked perplexed <I don’t understand…she looks and behaves just like adorable sophonts like her should. What is the problem?>
Owner looked down on her <that is the problem, she is just too cute. I can’t control myself. And that is not even the end of it. she is trying to drive me insane, look at that outfit! I have been picking out clothes that I thought were within her comfort zone, but still offered some exploration. Today she wouldn’t even look at them. She used the compiler to make that outfit just so she could be even more gosh darn cute.>
The other owner was more and more confused by the second <I do agree that it is a bit of a strange development, though I don’t see how this is negative in any way; look at her and Ida, it's sublime. Do you know why she has started to act this way?>
Owner looked away from her for a moment <I know why, she told me. In her mind, her job is to be as cute as possible, and you know how Hendrik treated her work.>
The bark-covered affini began to laugh, a wonderful noise <are you telling me…that...that she is overworking being cute for you? Humans, what a wonderful species, amazing. Please tell me why I should be worried and not jealous. Hendrik wants your affection and you can give it to her, I don’t see a downside here.>
Owner looked back at her again, eyes filled with adoration <but what about when she wakes up? I already overstepped today. She can barely move! Hendrik ruled a small sector. With her determination focused on being cute…I fear for what I might do.>
The laugh had lowered to a chuckle <the drugs might be affecting her but it is still her making these decisions. Just lean into it, give her what she wants. Perhaps by the end of this, she will be wishing for more. I don’t have any solutions, but I’m tempted to offer to take care of her myself. I mean, look at how cute those two are together! But I have far less restraint than you, you are the only one who can do this.>
While the people had been talking, Pet had tried to fight the increasing sleepiness that covered her mind. The joy of cuddling with Ida was not something she wanted to give up. She felt herself begin to lose the fight. Ida leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek “good night little kitten.” Pet could fight it no longer and gave up. What a wonderful world.