Negotiations on shaky vines

Chapter 27- Proof for a new purpose

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

Hope you are having a good day!

I failed to resist the temptation to write more, good for you. At least I managed to read a lot before the temptation became too much.
Henrik felt a small sting in her arm and then awareness flooded her mind. she was still restrained in the bed, how much time had passed? She looked to the side and saw Mertha, she was sitting down in the chair. The nightstand had been moved slightly so it was close to the chair, on it was a tall stack of paper. 
From the apparent evidence, it was clear that Mertha had read the documents. The fact that she had woken her meant that she was probably going to inform her of her imminent domestication. Hendrik did not want this to be the truth, but it was the only logical conclusion. There was frighteningly and calmingly little she could do about it. 
At least now Mertha, Serla, Nora, and the people of Centhia, could all go about their lives without her disrupting them.  It was almost poetic in a childish sort of way. This was how most of the stories of old terra ended. The tyrant was deposed and punished for their crimes. All in all, domestication was far from the worst way to go. Death by an assassin or in that cell would have been much worse.
Despite her inability to change her fate she still wished for information “what happens now? The intel I have on domestication is not that complete.” If Hendrik was completely honest she knew almost nothing about the process, the results had been her main concern. She expected there to be some sort of conditioning using xenodrugs. She had heard rumors of bio-enhancement-based surgery and the like as well. 

Mertha smiled with confidence that Hendrik did not expect “I think you misunderstand, little one. You are not being forcefully domesticated, not if I can’t help it. What is going to happen now? We are going to talk.” Oh, so she hadn’t read the documents. Wonderful, this had been a huge waste of time. 
Henrik would not tolerate this farce any longer “I told you we have nothing to talk about until you have read the documents. Now go, leave me be.” Mertha let out a light chuckle. 
The affini continued to smile “I have read the documents little one, they are what we are going to talk about. if you stay calm I will remove the restraints, I want you to read some of the documents as we talk. Give you the ‘empirical proof’ as you called it.” Hendrik was confused, Mertha had read the documents and was still here? That made no sense at all, it broke with every logical premise. 
Hendrik needed to understand “empirical proof for what, exactly?” The way Mertha had said it made it even more confusing. 
Mertha undid the restraints so she could sit up “the proof for what I have known about you since we first met on Centhia.” Hendriks’s confusion spiraled even deeper. What was she talking about? had she read the wrong documents? 
Mertha noticed her confusion “I think you might understand what I am talking about as we go through the evidence. Why don’t we start with this one?” Mertha picked up the first dozen papers on the top of the pile. They were stapled together, after looking over it briefly Martha handed it to her.
Mertha’s voice was full of…pride? “The prison reforms of 2548, enacted by you while the permanent secretary of the ministry of safety. A large overhaul to prison guidelines that prohibited all forms of prison labor, added recreational minimum standards, and started a reform program operated by the ministry.” Mertha looked at her like she had delivered some coherent point.
Hendrik was still just as confused “I don’t understand, what exactly does this prove?” 
Mertha smiled even wider “why did you do it?” Hendrik was befuddled for a moment.
She scanned through the document “oh here it is, the practices that were done by the private prison complex created in essence a slave class of people. The work was unsafe, not paid, and gave prisoners no opportunity to return to life after their sentence was over.” As she looked up she saw a playful glint in Mertha’s eyes
Mertha composed herself “so what you are saying is that you abolished a form of slavery for…86 million people. Does that strike you as a good thing to do?” 
Hendrik sighed “it has nothing to do with ‘good’ or ‘bad’, the system was bad for the economy. Not only was the system terribly inefficient but it also created unemployment by undervaluing ‘voluntary’ labor.”
Mertha looked playful again “oh so you also helped people get work…still seems like a good thing to me. You can’t convince me that a ‘good economy’ was your main goal. How did doing this help you?” 
Hendrik looked through the documents further “okay here, Odin security who owned most of the private prisons at the time lost about half of their yearly profits. An enemy severely weakened, that’s your reason.” 
Mertha shook her head “this was your first interaction with them, there is no good sign here why you would naturally treat them as enemies. In fact, the report ends by stating that they were probably responsible for sending an assassin after you, the 6th attempt on your life so far. In fact, this alienated you from many corporations as a potential ally, while seemingly gaining you no strategic advantage.”
What Mertha was saying concurred with the document “it’s so long ago. I’m sure I had some reason, I just can’t remember what it was at the moment.” 
Mertha chuckled a bit to herself and took up another stack of papers “Perhaps you remember if we look at some more evidence….this one is quite grim but still important. it’s a collection of statistics of public and secret executions during the last 5 governors, including your ‘reign’.” Mertha clearly looked uncomfortable while reading up the document “I won’t go into specifics, but it ranged from around 80-120 thousand each year, your predecessor governor Shivar had an average of 96 thousand per year. And then it comes to you and it’s a nice round 0. Now, can I ask why you stopped the practice?” 
Hendrik had a reply “the death penalty is a wasteful and pointless practice. Born of Terran sentimentality, it has no purpose.”   
Mertha looked puzzled “what about fear? Is that not quite valuable?” it was a good question…
Henrik felt a bit shocked by Mertha’s words but tried to respond “there…there are other, more efficient ways of producing that result. I don’t see what this is supposed to mean. Could you get to the point already?” Hendrik was still no closer to whatever Mertha was trying to ‘prove’.
Mertha nodded “I guess those 500 000 people you saved don’t understand either. we can move on to the next piece. I think this is my favorite” Mertha plucked up another stack of papers, this one was large and heavy.
Mertha handed it to her “The Gracchi reforms of 2551 to 2553, a huge undertaking. Massive infrastructure and housing projects, removal of slums through economic emancipation and job programs, a new set of labor laws, and free education programs, I can go on. The results? A drop in poverty, and here I mean the real rate you made them record, not the fake one that was published, from 47,37% to 21,3%. An increase in expected living age of around 14 years and violent crime being cut in half.” Mertha finally finished talking.
Hendrik had tried to interject but Mertha was too enthusiastic “I ask again, what is your point? It was a huge success. I won't deny that. But what has that to do with me being whatever you thought I was?” 
Mertha faked a confused look “huge success? Hendrik, this was a colossal failure. You alienated all the corporations and the criminal families. Because of the tariff that you placed on Terra goods, the Terran loyalist faction became your sworn enemies. Over the course of the project, you survived 9 different assassination attempts, 2 minor uprisings, and a gang war against the government. it all culminated in the garrison trying to overthrow the bureaucracy a year later, an effort that almost succeeded. You can argue the aftermath cemented your power somewhat, but so little power for so much risk. How can you justify calling it a huge success?”  Hendrik was flabbergasted, not only did Mertha show a detailed understanding of Centhian politics, but she was also completely right. 
For once Henrik had no words. She could remember it clearly, but she still could not remember why she had done it. Or understand how, even now she didn’t regret it for a moment. 
Mertha smiled “I can see that you are stuck again, so I’ll answer for you.” A vine reached forward and taped Hendrik on the chest “you Hendrik, are a good person who wants to help other people. That is the answer.” Mertha’s words were beyond absurd, almost to the line of hilarity. 
Hendrik could not accept it “so all the people I hurt for my gain, all the people who I let suffer. It’s all okay because some benefited as a byproduct?” Mertha was trying to justify it again.
Mertha shook her head again “that is not what I am saying. But can you name one person or group that would have been better while still remaining in power?” it was a wild question, of course, she knew someone. The red union party…no, a Terran fleet would have smashed them in seconds. Perhaps the agrarian movement…no, their squabbling had left them paralyzed before they could spread from Cebrex.
Hendrik had an answer “you, the affini.” It was a simple but unquestionable fact.
Mertha nodded “but we were not here. Also, it’s another good example. You did not attack us or aid the ferals more than you had to. You invited us here and let us help the population through your knowledge of the sector.” That was not entirely accurate
Hendrik felt like she was losing the discussion “under false pretenses, you should know by now that the mortality rates on the documents I let you find in ‘my’ database were fake. I used the population as a hostage so I could use you to destroy my enemies. How is that good?” 
Mertha’s voice was filled with pride again “yes I know that the documents are fake, you are a very clever little human. Funnily enough, your original plans had death tolls that exceeded what we affini can accept. The exaggerated numbers only made us suspicious that you were up to something.” That was a bit embarrassing.
Mertha frowned a bit “You did deceive us, which was bad, but the end result was quite positive. While our takeover was not planned on your end it was far easier because you had eliminated those that would doubtless have fought us. And right now, your administration is helping us keep the peace until reinforcements can arrive.” There was a feeling welling up in her chest, a mix of relief, sadness, and a slight bit of hope. 
Mertha leaned down and looked her straight in the eyes “I will be honest, I do not care much for all the politics. What I care about is the person I see behind all these documents. A person, who under more stress, pressure, and danger than most humans or affini ever experience still tried to do the right thing” Henrik began to cry, the tears welled up and dripped down on the paper in her hands.
It didn’t feel right, it didn’t sound fair. But she wanted it to be right, for the words to be true. More than anything else. 
Mertha’s eyes were full of love “I see a person that, under all that repression and guilt, is a wonderful and loving girl with so much to give to the world. Cleo is still in there, the most tender part of you is still there.” Mertha patted the stack of papers “if you could do this alone while trapped in that horrible ‘game’, then imagine what you can do with the help and support of those that care for you here. I know that you can be happy Hendrik, just please don’t give up.” Hendrik was crying, she wanted it to be true, but was it? 
Mertha stood up and walked to the door “there will be dinner in an hour, please come eat it with me.” The door closed and Hendrik felt the paper turn to wet mush under her relieved, confused, and happy tears. 
It took a good 20 minutes before Hendrik stopped crying and began to analyze the situation. The flow of conversation and its conclusion had broken with every logical premise that she had beforehand. The strategy of having Mertha realize what kind of person she was by reading the documents, with the result of having Mertha leave her, had failed miserably. If anything, the affini seemed even more endeared with her now.
Not only that but Mertha had also thrown doubt on what Hendrik had believed she was. Despite all the reasoning and skepticism she had thrown at Mertha’s words, she had yet to find a good or even just decent counterargument. Had she not tried to believe the same thing when she first read the documents? She was feeling an unfamiliar sensation of hope, the hope hurt.
If Mertha and the hope she had was right, it meant that she had suppressed that part of herself so far that she could no longer sense it. In some ways, that was worse than it being gone. If it was gone then there was nothing she could do. But if it was there, deep inside, then should she try not to uncover it, let it breathe?
Even if she decided she did not deserve it herself, did she not owe Mertha to at least try? Mertha had accepted so much of her, done so much. Was it fair that she should give up on herself when Mertha had not? Sometimes, especially now, it seemed that Mertha knew her better than she knew herself. If that was the case, was she not a better judge of character and potential?
Hendrik felt a growing sense of frustration with her own behavior. While Mertha and the others had desperately been trying to help her, she was just wallowing in self-pity. And what was the risk? That she would be domesticated later? Was it not better to go down fighting, trying to get her independence?  Ever since she got on the ship she had been acting despondent and hopeless. That was unacceptable behavior for someone in her position. Should she not at least try?
The doubt was still at large in her mind, even if she wanted to try, how would she ever succeed? At the moment her mind wanted to reject even the most basic of comfort and happiness. When she was struggling to eat normal food, how was she going to become a happier and better person? She had no knowledge of how to even be happy. No path forward, just a long slide downwards waiting to take her. 
Stars, she could not even convince herself that she should be happy. How? How? Perhaps she wasn’t even capable of it anym- no! that was the thinking that had got her to this point. She needed something to grab onto, something to help her forward.
If Mertha was right and Cleo still was a part of her, then she and Cleo had to have at least some things in common. If Hendrik could uncover how Cleo had been happy, maybe she could find it as well.
Hendriks first thought was that it was impossible, that Cleo had just been a result of xenodrugs and physical stimulation. But that was not quite right, Cleo was almost instinctively happy. The Xenodrugs had formed the baseline of where happiness could be built, but could not provide it outright. And while Mertha was certainly a part of the happiness, Cleo has still been happy in those few moments she was alone. What was it that Cleo had that Hendrik did not, what was the essential difference?
The revelation struck her like lightning, Cleo had a different purpose! While the purpose to be a good pet with the subgoal of being cute was utterly and completely ridiculous…Hendrik resisted following where the suddenly conflicting emotions went. She needed to finish this pyramid of truth before her mind tried to tear it down. 
If Cleo could have a different purpose, what was to say that Hendrik could not change her purpose? If there was one thing she was good at, it was her job. If her new job was to get better then it was one she would perform to the best of her abilities and to the letter. But changing her purpose was easier said than done. 
Her mind already railed against the idea. It was a sign of weakness, embracing complacency, unproductive for winning The Game. Hendrik held on to that last part, perhaps The Game had become such a large part of her mind that letting it go would be impossible, at least at this point. But if she truly was a function and her function was to win The Game, then she just needed to break it down. The Game is not one uniform thing, it is a million moments, forming a thousand matches, forming hundreds of smaller games.  
If she was domesticated then The Game would be lost…it was tempting. But no, it was not what she wished for. To avoid being domesticated and be able to return to The Game she had to get better. It was a logical fact that the iron first could not argue against. She was almost there, she could feel it. there was still some lingering, poison doubt. 
She still had no idea of what she was doing. She had not learned how to be happy at the academy or from Shivar, in truth she was completely clueless. Well, the answer was rather simple then, she needed a mentor. For a moment her mind recoiled at the idea, but Hendrik calmed herself.  Mertha would not punish failure with pain or shouting. A supporting vine to get her up, some words of encouragement, perhaps even mandatory ice cream if she was really unlucky. 
The doubt refused to let go, could she really do it? just trying to try to be happy was taking all that she had. She would probably fail, give up again, and then it would be straight to domestication. Was it not easier, perhaps even better, to just give up now? What was the use of struggling if the end result would be the same? 
Slowly and with an ever-growing satisfaction, Hendrik realized that her mind was slowly getting back under her control. The logic she had built was compelling for all parts of her mind, except for two; doubt and guilt.
With the iron fist finally under her command, Hendrik smashed the defeatism with unrelenting arrogance. Fail? she had scored top at the academy without a single bribe! She had climbed the ladder of power and ruled at the top for 5 years! She had defeated her enemies, time and time again despite overwhelming odds! Getting better? That was child play compared to the things she had done. Doubt was unnecessary and unproductive to her new goal. 
The guilt tried to rear its head and Hendrik could not crush it like the doubt. Instead, she did what she had done for all these years. Pushed it down, locked it up, and suppressed it. If there was anything she was good at it was suppressing her emotions. The guilt was not gone, it lingered, wanting to break free and rebel. She would have to deal with it at some point, but not now. Now she had work to do. 
The first stage was clear, she needed a plan and information. Hendrik did not have enough information to make a solid plan so intel would have to come first. Step one would be to talk to Mertha, apologize for her behavior, and then get help. Part of her mind did not want help, help made her vulnerable. That was just a risk she would have to take, also if there was one truth that she knew for certain it was that she could trust Mertha. 
Hendrik stood up and put away the wet papers she had been clenching. Part of her wanted to go through the documents and find out if Mertha was right. That would not help her new goal, it was a distraction. Just before she left she stopped in her tracks, if she left now…she would have to eat one of Mertha’s far too good-tasting meals. That…was good, she would have to become accustomed to comfort. It still felt dangerous, but the alternative was more so. 
Hendrik steeled herself for the work ahead and opened the door.
Mertha heard the door behind her open and turned around. Hendrik was standing there, her face wet with tears. Her eyes were slightly bloodshot but held a new spark of determination. The human breathed in “Mertha, I’m sorry for acting like such a moron….I want to try but…but I don’t think I can do it on my own. It feels wrong to ask you this when you have already done so much…could you help me try to become happy?” Hendrik looked down to the ground.
Mertha felt the sorrow in her core be washed away by a wave of relief and joy. She walked up to Hendrik, a few of her vines were wiggling in happiness. Mertha was so proud of her “of course I will Hendrik, whatever you need.” Her ward looked up from the ground.
Hendrik looked a bit embarrassed, and they turned her head “um…I…do you think…you could call me Cleo?” Mertha had to stop herself from smothering the girl with her vines.
Cleo had a turbulent reaction history to physical contact “nothing would make me happier Cleo! Can I give you a hug?” Cleo shivered a bit. 
The girl looked up, determined “yes, I think that would be productive.” Mertha decided to ignore the strange words and gave her human a big hug. She made sure that her vines let Cleo feel close and protected, Cleo returned the hug hesitantly at first, but soon pressed her face into Mertha.
Cleo sounded close to crying “I...I’m sorry…” The girl tried to speak more but was clearly still very upset.
Mertha pressed her ward closer “there is nothing to be sorry for, I’m so happy that you haven’t given up. I am very proud of you Cleo, nothing can change that.” Cleo began to cry softly and Mertha used a few vines to comfort the poor sophont. The hug lasted for a long time.
At some point Cleo’s stomach rumbled loudly “let's get you some food, I have some ready.” Cleo slowly let the hug go, she looked embarrassed. Mertha went to the spiced meat on wooden sticks that she had prepared. Mertha warmed the food with the compiler and gave it to Cleo who had gotten up on the chair by herself.   
Mertha saw that Cleo was eyeing the food hungrily “dig up, it's all for you.” Cleo grabbed one of the sticks and held it tentatively.
Her ward was inspecting the meat “it's‘ ‘dig in’, not dig up.” Cleo seemed to hesitate for a few seconds before she took her first bite. A wide smile spread over her face “stars that’s good…how did you become such a good cook?” Mertha had to contain her excitement, any hope to calm her wiggling vines was dashed.  
The genuine compliment filled Mertha with pride “I study sophont culture and food is often an important part of that. You cute little humans have so many different kinds, it's fun to explore and experiment. Seeing your reaction though is the greatest reward I could ever ask for.” Cleo blushed and focused on eating the food. The soft sighs and slight moans of satisfaction made by her ward was music to Mertha’s core. 
When Cleo had eaten every single piece of meat she pushed the plate to the side. Cleo looked up at her with eyes filled with determination “Based on how hard you pushed back there, I expect that my situation is rather grim. How bad is it?” Right…this moment could not last forever. 
Mertha sighed “not good, Vonzin argued for domestication. I managed to convince her to give you a bit more time. That time is almost up, we are to have an appointment with her and Serla later today. They will decide if the wardship should continue or if the committee should reconsider forceful domestication.” Cleo looked remarkably calm. 
She smiled bravely “well then, we have work to do. I have a few plans already, but I need your help and recommendations. Do you have a pen and paper?” Seeing her ward show confidence was reassuring. 
Mertha compiled a small stack of papers and an ink pen. Cleo was looking around thoughtfully “do you have any human-sized workstation? All the tables are either too tall or too short when sitting on a chair for me to use.” Mertha looked around the hab, there were no real alternatives.
Cleo sighed “I guess I can use the coffee table as long as I stand while I write, we don’t have too much time so it will have to do.” Cleo walked up to the coffee table, and Mertha sat down in one of the large and comfy chairs. 
Cleo tested the pen in her hand and then began to write. Mertha tried to see what Cleo was writing, but the angle made it so that only a few letters were legible. After a few moments, Cleo sighed “this is not working, I can’t concentrate like this.” Cleo’s eyes scanned the room before landing on her, there was a small blush and then Cleo shuddered a bit. 
Cleo walked up to her “could you put me in your lap?” Mertha was taken aback. Cleo had seemed so focused just a second ago, and now she wanted to cuddle? Martha used a few gentle vines and picked her ward up before depositing her in her lap.
Cleo’s voice was still focused, though a bit bashful “you’ll understand soon, could you make a rectangular plate of vines ‘here’? Make sure it is flat and solid.” Mertha was still slightly confused but did as requested. Once she had done so Cleo placed the paper on the ‘plate’ and adjusted it a bit in height, she then adjusted herself in Mertha’s lap. And then began to write “there we go, much better. Now I can concentrate, and you can see what I am writing. Let’s get to work. Our first step should be to identify all the elements of the problem, then we can come up with solutions for each one. So far I have overactive suspicion, fear of comfort, fear of intimacy, and fear of open dark spaces/assassins. Do you have any suggestions?” Cleo looked up at her, cute!
Mertha tried to be serious despite the situation of Cleo sitting in her lap “let’s see, overwork and unhealthy attitude towards work is a large one.” Cleo frowned a bit, she still looked very cute.
Cleo’s tone was dismissive “I might have worked a bit too much on Centhia but it’s not that ba-“
Mertha tapped on the part where the next part was to be written “Cleo. You began to overwork yourself while on class-j. Towards an absolutely adorable goal, but still. I don’t think that has happened in the compact before, ever. Write it down.”
Cleo hesitated a second before writing it down “anything more?” 
Mertha considered the last two weeks with Cleo's “suppression of emotions and unhealthy coping mechanism, as two separate points.” The pen flew across the paper, creating organized, clean letters on an invisible standardized grid. 
Mertha could sense Cleo’s biorhythm thrum with simple joy. Mertha usually didn’t listen to sophonts biorhythm, it felt like an invasion of their privacy. Her view had changed a bit while Cleo was on class-J. the ability to feel the girl’s mood was quite useful and also very pleasing. 
Mertha resisted petting the human “enjoying yourself?” Cleo blushed a bit.
There was a smile on her lips “it's just nice to be able to write again, it’s been far too long. I think those are the main problems, should we move on to solutions?” weren’t they forgetting something? 
Of course, “what about guilt?” Cleo froze up. 
Cleo’s voice was quiet “I don’t know exactly how to feel about it yet, could we deal with it later?” Oh, the poor human. Mertha wanted to remove all those horrible memories and all that guilt from the girl. And she would do so if asked, but for now, perhaps it was best to give Cleo some space. Mertha nodded in approval.  
They then began to discuss possible solutions to the various problems, Cleo had a lot of ideas. Mertha corrected her when she made a wrong assumption about the capabilities of affini technology and gave a suggestion if Cleo was stuck. Mostly however she just let Cleo try to figure it out. 
After a few hours of work, Cleo began to dip off. The girl was obviously quite tired and still recovering. Cleo kept snapping out of almost sleep just to write a bit more and then almost doze off again. Mertha gently took the pen from Cleo’s hand “that’s enough for now, just rest a bit and we can work more later. You also need to be re…awww” Before Mertha was done talking, Cleo had already nuzzled into her chest and begun to sleep. 
Cleo’s change in attitude was very significant but Mertha was not confident it was enough. While she petted the girl and gave her a small blanket of vines and flowers she imagined what would happen if Cleo got domesticated. She would sign up to adopt her immediately, of course, that was not even a question. 
If Cleo became her pet and connected with the implant then Mertha would probably use it to pry open and remove all the pain that Cleo had and build her back up. The girl deserved the choice, but if that was no longer possible then Mertha would not let her human need to work or suffer anymore.
Mertha pet her human and the girl let out a slight purr, the class-j had certainly left some traces.
Therapy through political exposition. With Cleo’s work ethic this will be easy….
I have a bit of things coming up but hopefully I can get a chapter out tomorrow or on Thursday.

Show the comments section (6 comments)

Back to top

Register / Log In