Negotiations on shaky vines

Chapter 31- Punishment and cute counterattack

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

Nothing much to say for this chapter. Hope you enjoy it and hope you have a good day!

The walk of shame felt like it took forever. Cleo was once again happy that the streets were empty so no one could observe this. In truth though, a human on a leash would probably not generate any interest at all. It would just look like Mertha was walking her floret, something that was embarrassing enough in Cleo’s mind.
Another problem was that Mertha was walking too fast, she could only barely keep up. She knew she could not ask Mertha to slow down, at least not with words. She could get her attention with a noise….this was unbearable. Her only other option would be to tug on the vine or stop moving, but her body and mind did not want to anger Mertha again. 
She almost stumbled when the distance between her and Mertha got dangerously wide. Half in defeat, half in instinct she tried to speak. The pathetic mewling sound got Mertha’s attention who slowed down until she could walk right next to her. In some ways, the ‘noises’ were still a form of communication, far less eloquent than words of course but it was not like she was mute.
Walking next to Mertha was almost worse than trailing behind her. She did not have to try to keep up, instead, she could feel Mertha’s emotions well out from the affini like an aura.  It was the closest Cleo could get to recognizing legitime anger and disappointment from their warden, perhaps except for the catastrophic confrontation in the office right before everything had fallen apart. That memory stung, how could Mertha not understand that a person capable of saying such things was not good enough for her?
Finally, the elevator to the hab came into sight, Cleo realized that their hab must be built very close to the hull. That would explain the window in her room, at first she had imagined it to be a mere recording from some other point in the ship. She did not know a lot about ship construction, but would it not be dangerous to have habitation sectors right next to the hull? In that case, the affini must be certain that their hull could never, ever be breached. A tug from the vine forced her to move again and they were soon in the elevator. 
As soon as the door to the hab closed Cleo felt her embarrassment develop into anger. She took up her arm and rolled up her sleeve, she did not have words, but her intention was clear: counteragent now! Mertha took up a syringe and injected the content into her arm, the affini still looked scary but Cleo’s anger was beyond such silly considerations as self-perseverance. 
She waited a few seconds, to make sure the counter agent had done its work. She felt her tongue and throat regain their unified elegance “how dare you!?” Mertha flinched but only by a little. 
Mertha towered over her but that did not matter “the leash was uncalled for and using class-W on me is totally unacceptable! I will not have you treat me like I’m some common floret!” The words did not seem to have any effect on the affini, in fact, her expression only turned sterner. 
Mertha crossed her arms “Cleo, calm down or I will make you.” Cleo did not have any wish to calm down, but she would, if only a bit so her fury could last without affini intervention. 
Cleo took a performative breath “in what universe would that sort of treatment of me be conducive to a productive relationship?” Even while ‘calm’, she could make her anger known. 
Mertha leaned down “I have allowed you to develop a dangerous misconception of what our relationship is. I will rectify that now, you are my ward. That means that I have the responsibility to take care of you, whether you want it or not. The way I treated you was in line with how wards can be treated. Perhaps I should do such things more often, to make you understand.” The threat hang in the air. Cleo knew that Mertha could act upon it, and she would have no way to stop her. 
Mertha uncoiled the vine from the collar and moved to the sofa “now sit, we have something to talk about.” Cle knew that she had no choice, this feeling of powerlessness was true despair. 
She sat down and glared at Mertha who sat on the chair opposite. Mertha’s expression softened if only a bit “what is this about? you should know you make me happy, why would you ever say I would be better of with some other sophont?” Cleo felt sadness well up and could not quite push it down.
She tried to keep her voice calm “don’t you think I see how worried I make you? How sad? I’m a wreck, a mess of a person.” Mertha’s expression softened even more.
Mertha sounded so damn compassionate “Cleo, you are not a wreck or a mess. You just have a lot of problems to work through right now.” 
Cleo almost laughed sarcastically “that is what a wreck is, Mertha. My health might be better, but my mind is on life support.” She looked down at the floor “Every step towards being a better person is a painful battle that only ends well because you are here. I know that you would be much happier with some human that is not fighting themself to be happy. Heck, if you travel down to Centhia all you would have to help the lucky person you find is the damage I have done to them. You are such a wonderful person, Mertha….you deserve someone better than me…” Mertha looked pained, Cleo knew she was right. 
Mertha sighed sadly “why did you not tell me about this?” Cleo looked up at her warden.
She tried to smile “because you are too nice of a person to believe me…when the wardship period is over, no matter the result, I can get out of your way.” Mertha looked down, perhaps...
Mertha’s voice was low “I understand….” She did?! Mertha looked up, her expression was stern again “I understand that I need to be far more persuasive. I will not allow you to think such things, hold still, this will only take a moment.” Mertha stood up and moved towards her with a thorned vine slowly extending like a snake ready to strike.
Cleo recoiled back in the chair “what, so you are going to ‘fix’ it? Why stop there? Why don’t you just fix all the rest of the broken parts of my mind? That works well for me, you can get a person to make you happy and I can take a nice permanent vacation.” Mertha stopped for a moment…
Then she moved forward again “very well, I won’t change your mind directly.” The vine hit her neck and the cold and soothing class-H spread into her body. The tension in her body was ripped away, her limbs went limp just in time for them to be entangled in vines that lifted her up. 
Cleo tried to resist the numbness that was now spreading into her mind, her senses she could not control but her mind was her fortress. She clawed onto concertation, remembering ciphers, activation codes for the shadow division, and any complex set of data that her mind could grasp. To her surprise, it worked. The numbness was kept at bay, though the fortress was crumbling slightly. Bit by bit the information was more difficult to remember, less coherent, and meaningful. Still, she held on, keeping her eyes closed in defense. 
Then a single word was uttered, not with precision or care, but with brute force. Her eyes opened despite her protest. She was only centimeters apart from Mehta’s face and she saw them, the eyes. The fortress, her resistance was reduced to nothing within a second as her mind was drawn into their beauty. They looked like swirling galaxies full of light and wonder, they were so close and their presence so all-consuming. Their fluctuating and forceful blue light was more beautiful than anything she had seen before.
Her resistance was all but forgotten, she wanted to be drawn into the eyes. To see their beauty, their cascading wonder, the wonderful light that filled her mind. Despite her thought having no chance of forming, she recognized that the eyes were more powerful this time, more focused and forceful. Cleo wanted that, to let the eyes fill her every thought and observation. Her mind did not just surrender, it embraced the eyes for all that they would bring and do. How could she not when they were so warm, so loving, so beautiful that they defied description?
Then the words entered her mind as well. Just like the eyes, they were more forceful, they did not caress her mind like before. They plunged in with loving force, at first they searched for something. Cleo obeyed and led the words to where they wanted to go. Then the words began to mold her mind into what they wanted. The serene music was in the words, and in her mind. She had missed the melody, her mind craved it and held onto every rhythm and tone. It was like a tide as it flooded her mind, leaving it even more open, ready for the changes that the words wanted, that she now also wanted. 
The words, the eyes, and the music had done their first change. It solidified in her mind. She was a good girl, she made Mertha? Owner? Happy, she was loved, she deserved that love. It was imprinted like a truth in her mind even when her mind could hardly recognize what itself was thinking. The nature of the change was not important, the words had made them, that is what mattered. 
The words moved in her mind, finding the next part that it would shape. The eyes changed direction in their spin, and the stars that danced within them became brighter. The music hummed loudly as it pushed against her mind, a mind that offered no resistance if it could even understand the concept of resistance at this point. 
The next change was coming into place, a keyhole to her mind. that part of her mind she suppressed, wanted to keep hidden. She knew there was a key, she heard its name but did not remember it. The key could open all of those things she wanted to keep hidden, all those feelings she wanted to control and suppress. The words made sure the door was safe and the keyhole could only answer to a single key, the words were safe, the eyes were beautiful, and the music was everywhere. 
With another change done the words moved once more. It found her anger, her pride, her fear, and her despair. The eyes shined with blue light as they priced into her mind with loving force. The music coiled around the emotions, those that wanted to control her. They were chained and bound in by the words and the music. Like a collar around them, they would obey, just like they should. There was a leash to the collar, it extended beyond her mind and into the eyes. 
The words were done with another piece of her mind and slowly began to pull back, the eyes glowed softer and the music became gentler. For a moment she wanted to grab onto them before the wonderful sensation left before she was left alone in her mind once more. The eyes continued to shine, and she relaxed again. Her mind became slow and heavy, the words pulled gently through her mind like gentle fingers through her hair. The music was still there, it slowed and hummed like an engine. She felt at peace, safe, and loved. There was nothing that she needed to do or think about. She let the words tell her what to think, the music tell her what to feel, and the eyes show her the beauty of the world.
Just as her mind began to become too slow to be considered asleep she heard a voice. It did not hold the power of the words but all of their love and warmth “I love you.” She did not need the words to tell her that was true.
Cleo woke due to a small sting in her arm, the fog in her mind cleared in seconds. She was still on the sofa, Mertha was standing over her. She checked her mind, was there something different? Would she even know? was she the same person that woke up this morning? 
She needed answers “what did you do to me?” Mertha smiled warmly
The affini sat next to her on the sofa “I did what I had to do, but don’t worry you’re still the same person.” Was that true?
Cleo looked up at the affini, the feelings of guilt for making Mertha worry about her were still there.
Suddenly without any warning she sneezed, was she sick? That was not important!
If Mertha had not changed her feelings towards her, then what had she done?
The uncertainty was almost worse than an answer “I don’t feel any different…”
Mertha looked at her “Cleo, speak the truth.” What? 
Cleo was confused “it’s true, I don’t feel any different and the uncertainty of you having done something to me out of my control is scary.” That had perhaps been a bit too open but it was true, she sat up.
Mertha smiled “I understand it can be scary to give up control. But no matter how much control you give up, you will always be perfectly safe.” Of course, she had made Mertha worry about her almost soon as she woke up. 
Cleo sneezed again, it did not feel like she was sick. 
She had more important things to deal with now “I don’t even know If I like control, but I need it. if I don’t have it and something bad happens then I can’t stop it.” Okay, that was far more personal than she had planned, was the xenodrugs still affecting her mind?
Mertha patted her on the head “nothing bad will happen to you, and if something tried then I would protect you. I know you don’t really want all that silly control, it is so much pressure. But you have given so much already. Such a good girl.” The last two words hit her mind with incredible force.
An overwhelming sense of warmth spread from her heart. It was like an injection of pure happiness straight into her brain. She was a good girl, she made Mertha happy! She deserved to be loved for how much of a good girl she was. A pure and uncontrolled smile formed on her face, and her hands wiggled in pure joy.
The feeling faded a few seconds later leaving behind a warm trace of unfamiliar happiness. What had just happened? That was not how her mind was supposed to work, or at least she had ever felt anything like that before. In confusion, she looked up at Mertha.
The affini was smiling in delight, “good girl.” The feeling hit again like a pure wave of euphoria. It was like a rush of pure concentrated happiness that she could not deny. She made Mertha happy! She was a good girl! She deserved to be loved! The statements were filled with such unimaginable joy that she could not deny them. Her face broke into a smile once more and her hands wiggled again.
Then It was gone again, she breathed in. What was happening? It was clearly not natural, Mertha must be doing something to her. 
Mertha smiled with unrelenting happiness “do you like when I call you that? How did it feel?” She was right, Mertha had done something. This must be part of the hypnosis, she did not like it 
She was ready to throw this manipulation back in Mertha’s face “yes I did like it despite the fact it makes me embarrassed. It felt amazing and I want it to happen again.” What? What had she just said?! She clasped her hands in front of her mouth in shock, that’s not what she had intended to say! What she had said was not true, was it? Why had she said that? 
Mertha smiled mischievously “aww it's so nice to hear that it is working properly. And of course, I’ll say it again, you are after all a very good girl.” The feeling burst through her one more time. she felt so happy! It was wonderful to be a good girl! She was making Mertha so happy by being a good girl! 
Cleo jumped from the couch “what have you done to me?! Why am I telling you my feelings and being overwhelmed with happiness when you call me… ’that’?”  her cheeks were flushed with embarrassment.
Mertha smiled “you didn’t want me to change anything directly, so I did some things to help me, help you, long term.  First of all, I made sure that I can make you talk honestly about your feelings.” So that is why she had said all those, totally not true, things.
Mertha continued “Secondly I made a trigger for me to remind you what you mean to me. That happiness you feel is the same as the one I feel every time I see you smile or laugh. If I am ever worried about you it is because I want to see you happy, and that is a task I take on gratefully. Because seeing the joy in your eyes or the smile on your face is more than enough to make anything worth it. I will allow nothing to take that task away from me.” But would she still be happier wit-
Cleo sneezed again, what was up with that?
Mertha frowned  “I guess it will take some time for you to understand, but we have plenty. Good girl.” The feeling shocked her again, there was no hope in resisting it. Of course, she was a good girl! Of course, she made Mertha happy, she deserved to be cared for. The feeling washed over her, it was no less intense than before. 
She was not used to such feelings “please mercy…I’m not used to being this happy…and it is embarrassing to say that.” That first trigger, was it permanent? Fear crept up her back.
Mertha must have noticed “Cleo, speak normally. There, now you can talk without telling me how you are feeling, though I would still like that you do.” Finally, or at least hopefully, she could trust her own words. 
Cleo knew what Mertha was doing “so using positive reinforcement? Training me like I’m some sort of animal?!” Cleo felt the anger rise again, she was a person for stars' sake!
Mertha frowned a bit at her outburst “firstly you are technically an animal, though I do not mean that in a derogatory way. Secondly, you have told me that you conditioned your own mind into something that you are clearly unhappy with. I will condition your mind into something you are happy with instead.” 
Cleo let the rage flow through her voice “that was me, not some alien trying to be my handler! I refuse to be treated like this! I will not-“
Mertha interrupted, “Cleo, behave!” suddenly all the anger and indignation melted away. Cleo felt her shoulders relax as of instinct, she was calm. Why? She had just been angry and rightfully so. But now the emotions would just not come to her. 
Mertha spoke “that was the third trigger, I had hoped to not use it so soon. Your behavior earlier today was not suitable for a sophont. Think of it as a momentary calm button that I can activate. It is for your own good. You are my ward, and you need to listen when I tell you to calm down.” This was insane! At least it was not negative reinforcement, she had gotten enough of that from Shivar.
Cleo felt utterly powerless “this is not fair…” 
Mertha stood up “no it is not, we affini seldom are. But I will remind you that you wanted this. You told me to be stricter and to help you even when it went against your current opinion.” It was true, though she had not intended for this to be what ‘help’ was. 
Cleo felt defeated, at least she could work a bit. She looked towards the coffee table where she had put it last evening, but it was gone “Mertha, where is my data pad? I would like to work.” It was a reasonable request, she had yet to do any work today. Mertha would probably also be happy that she was going to research what domestication actually entailed. Her talk with Nora had revealed how much of a very relevant fate she knew nothing about. Not that she was going to tell Mertha what she was doing, the plant did not need to know.
Mertha shook her head “your behavior earlier today was poor, and you should have told me your feelings a long time ago, so I have confiscated it for now. I had someone help me decorate your room, it was far too empty before. Go and check on that instead, we can change it to your liking so don’t hesitate to ask.” Cleo was about to argue against it, but she knew there was nothing she could do. She might as well go check on her room.
The door opened and just as Mertha had claimed, it was now far less empty. The furniture was from that antique Terran shop they had visited yesterday. The bed was the same but next to it there was a new larger nightstand with a mirror and chair. Next to the nightstand, there was a huge and old, but clean wardrobe that contained her clothes. She spotted the clothes that she had worn while on class-J on a shelf at the top.
The wall opposite the bed had the desk she had used, though with a new and far better-looking chair. She walked up and saw that the pen and paper were there as well. The pen case had a lock on it, underneath it there was a note from Mertha “I will open this soon, but only for 2 hours at a time.” So, the pen was also under lockdown. Her slight hope for being able to at least do some work was dashed. 
Next to the large window into space, there was a table with two chairs opposing each other. On the table, there was a game board. Cleo walked closer and saw that it was an old wooden chess board with pieces. These were exceptionally rare on Centhia though she did spot two mistakes in this version. The horses that were placed in each corner looked like medieval towers, not metal death machines as they should be. The pieces next to the horses, the liquidators that were able to jump past the enemy and assassinate important targets, were instead some mythical abomination. Even if the pieces were wrong the game would still work. Cleo felt no drive to play a game where one sacrifices their allies for some useless victory, it hit too close to home.
The chairs were at least good and comfortable, she sat down and looked at the stars. Centhia must be on the other side of the ship because it was not in view. When she was on Centhia she had held so much power, so much control. Here she had none, the affini held all the cards. She had no connections, no resources, no legal power, she even agreed with the affini in what they were doing. Even if she agreed, the fact that she had no force to counter or just even try to counter the affini with was frightening. 
She needed something, but what could that be? even her words could be taken away if Mertha wished. She thought back to the negotiations on the planet, the things she had discovered there. Most of it was useless or in retrospect wrong. One thing did still hold true: where humans respected a position of strength the affini appreciated the appearance of weakness. But how could she exploit that here?
Her eyes scanned the room until they landed on the wardrobe. One of the doors was not properly closed from her inspection, there at the top shelf, she found her answer. At first, her mind wanted to discard the idea immediately, it was embarrassing and beneath her dignity. But she had swallowed much more important things than dignity for power before, she would not throw away the only weapon that she had left. And what a weapon it was, the greatest weakness of the affini. 
Cleo walked to the wardrobe, Mertha wanted war? She would get war. She chose nothing too drastic, one of the companion dresses would serve well. She put it on and inspected herself in the nightstand mirror, perhaps Nora was right. Cleo prepared herself mentally, this would be a shift in her usual behavior. Luckily a life of intrigue and deception made such an adjustment easy, she even had some recent experience in this type of behavior that had proven very effective. Mertha would come to regret what she had pushed her to do.
Cleo walked out of her room in a soft and lazy motion, with no tension or worry in her steps. Mertha was reading a book and did not notice her until she was right in front of her. Mertha looked down and recoiled slightly “Cleo….wh..” This would be easier than expected. She made sure to show none of the cold that came with discipline, none of the edges that came with being alert, and none of the seriousness that showed purpose. Those qualities were not useful here, instead, all Mertha would see was something soft, warm, and cute.
Cleo looked up at Mertha with big innocent eyes, she made sure to twirl the dress slightly back and forth while keeping her hands timidly behind her back “could you lift me up please?” She could have climbed up herself but looking helpless was part of the act. Mertha looked a mix between shocked and horrified but did after a brief moment, lift her carefully up to the sofa on a spot next to her. 
Cleo giggled “I meant your lap, silly.” She then crawled onto Mertha’s lap and stretched out into a lying position. The affini’s vines were wiggling and a few of them had broken from her form, this was almost too easy. 
Mertha tried to speak “did…did I make...a mistake with one of the triggers? Cleo, are you okay?” Cleo made sure to roll a bit around on the lap, it was very comfortable, and she deserved it. She looked up at a bewildered Mertha. 
She smiled and hugged one of the large vines on the lap “I’m okay, is this not what you wanted? A soft, helpless little human for you to take care of?” she stood up, making sure to clamber to Mertha as much as possible as she did. Her face was close to Mertha’s now “or do you not find me cute enough?” She laced the words with adorable doubt.
Mertha was shaking, her form was unraveling a bit more “of course….you….what…I don’t unde..” Pet Cleo had done this without much strategy, with no goal, and while being quite naïve. Cleo had a goal to reach for, manipulation skills of a decade, and all the tricks that Pet Cleo never would have imagined to use. She would show Mertha no mercy, just like the affini had only hours before.
Cleo hugged the bewildered affini and leaned into her to whisper “I don’t know if domestication is for me…but if it happens..'' She made sure to let the words wait a bit, to ripen them fully. Then she landed the final strike “...I’m sure you would make a wonderful owner.” She could feel Mertha shudder, the affini from beginning to unravel at a rapid pace.
Mertha looked utterly disoriented “I…wh….I…” Her vocal capabilities were in tatters. The affini did not understand or could fully comprehend what was happening. For a moment Cleo was afraid that the vines she was standing on would disappear.
This was the perfect moment for her to secure her victory. She made sure her voice was as innocent as possible “could I please have my data pad?” A compartment in Mertha’s shoulder opened and Cleo snatched the prize before Mertha realized what was going on. Cleo gave Mertha a kiss on the cheek “thanks!” Then she jumped down from the lap and then the couch. 
With her prize secured she could end the performance. She walked with purpose and confidence back to her room “I’ll go work now, see you at dinner.” As soon as the door closed she allowed herself to grin. Affini might be nigh-invincible in a fight, highly technologically advanced, and have a thousand tools, not at her disposal. But they were just as easily, if not more so, manipulatable as humans. 
So, what if her data pad had limited information? The next affini she saw could be interrogated for all the information she wished. No deceit or violence or threats were necessary, just a cute smile and allowing them to pet her would be more than enough. Mertha was perhaps the affini with most self-restraint when it came to sophonts, if she could fall so easily then imagine the rest. 
She sat down at the desk and opened the data pad, she had some research to do. If Mertha wanted a ‘good girl’ then Cleo would make her feel how it was to regret one’s words. She brought up the files on domestication in the affini language, now to find out what fate might await her if her plan did not succeed.

The weakness of the affini is laid bare, but is the line between the act and domestication that easy to walk?

This was a fun chapter to write, I know a few of you wanted Cleo to give Mertha a heart/coreattack so hope this pleases you.

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