Negotiations on shaky vines

Chapter 34- Tired

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

CW: talking about semi-suicidal thoughts.

Well, I could not be kept away for long, hope you enjoy this chapter!
Nora heard mistress and Cleo arrive outside the hab, she recognized the footsteps and vines moving across the ground. Her head shot up from the pillows and looked towards the door, Darla noticed and laughed. They both walked up to the door while holding hands, ready to greet their owner. As soon as the door opened Darla ran forward and jumped into Serla’s expecting vines “welcome back mistress!” The affini showered the girl with pets. 
Mistress walked forward and lifted Nora up as well, she was soon right next to Darla being mercilessly papered with vines “such good pets I have, waiting for me to return so eagerly.” Nora hugged her owner and was rewarded with more pets “now then, we have a guest today. Cleo agreed to stay here until Mertha returned from work so please make her feel at home.” Nora leaned back and saw Cleo, still standing right outside the door frame scanning the hab with cautious eyes. Cleo looked similar to yesterday but the clothes she wore were far more….soft and cute in nature. 
Cleo finally stepped past the doorframe and into the hab “hello Nora, hello Darla, nice place you have here.” The seasoned bureaucrat and powerholder sounded more than a bit awkward. Nora and Darla were let down, and Cleo stretched out a hand in greeting. A hand that Darla obliviously ignored in favor of a hug that caught Cleo unprepared, just as it had Nora the first time. 
As Cleo still looked to be in utter surprise, Darla introduced herself “Hi I’m Darla! but you knew that…Did mistress tell you or have we met before…I feel like we have met before.” Cleo looked supremely uncomfortable.
The hug was broken up, and Cleo was blushing a bit “No, I don't think so” Cleo was flustered but not enough for Nora’s taste.
Nora walked forward and before Cleo could even step back she gave her a big, strong hug “good to see you again Cleo!” She leaned down and whispered, “I hope you’re okay after yesterday, it was for your own good, but I hope it wasn’t too bad.” Despite mistress's attempt she still felt a bit guilty for outing Cleo. 
Cleo whispered back “don’t worry, I’m fine….is everyone here going to hug me, for the rest of my life?” The girl was clearly not pleased with the prospect. 
Nora hugged Cleo harder “yes, better get used to it. No more handshakes for you.” Cleo mumbled something about insanity under her breath. After making sure that a rapid heartbeat of Cleo indicated enough of a blush, she let go. 
Nora heard mistress move behind them and the vines that moved through the air to ruffle their hair. While she and Darla accepted the pets with glee, Cleo managed to avoid the vine only to be pet by the second vine mistress had sent towards her. Mistress smiled “I need to do some work and make you cuties some food. Cleo, I expect you to behave yourself and have fun.” There was a brief tension between Serla and Cleo as they stared at each other. 
Darla, totally oblivious, smiled with excitement “it's good you came now, it is time for game night!” The tension was broken as Cleo looked confused. 
Nora wrapped an arm around Cleo’s shoulder, the girl was so much shorter now “Darla is really into video games, so we have game night almost every other day.” Cleo’s heartbeat increased by a few fractions.
Cleo smiled but Nora knew it was fake, the girl was nervous “that sounds…fun, I have most certainly not played whatever game you two have chosen but I’m pretty good on the uptake.” The fact that a person who had always radiated such confidence and competence was now nervous about playing video games was deeply amusing. Teasing Cleo had always been fun, but now it would be hilarious. 
Serla smiled, seemingly also a bit amused “have fun girls, I'll make sure to give a proper reward to the winner. I was thinking chicken noodles for lunch, how does that sound?” Darla gave an enthusiastic but dorky thumbs-up, Nora herself nodded and Cleo just stood there.
When the affini had left she and Darla led Cleo to the pillow ocean where they played. Cleo stopped for a moment “you don’t have chair-“ Nora simply and lightly pushed Cleo into the ocean and watched as the girl was submerged in the soft pillows and plushies. 
Cleo reemerged “that was uncalled for, don’t push me.” Nora handed Cleo a data pad before she and Darla also laid down on the soft cloud. 
Nora chuckled “It was too tempting, and also you looked very cute.” Cleo blushed again and grumbled some incoherent words. 
Darla was far too excited to pay to notice Cleo’s embracement “the game we decided to play is a sort of production and trading simulator. You build factories and mine and such things to produce more and more complicated products or materials, after a certain amount of turns the one with the most points wins.” Nora started up her game, Darla was quite good at this one, but she would win today. 
She looked over at Cleo, the girl’s eyes were focused as she rapidly moved to read the text on the pad “ok, I think I understand the premise.” Nora suddenly got a bit weary, this might be her first time, but Cleo was shrewd. 
Darla smiled and patted Cleo on the shoulder “it’s your first time so don’t worry if you don’t do so well. I can give you some tips along the way if you want.” Darla had no idea what Cleo was capable of, something she would probably exploit. 
Cleo smiled warmly back “I think I will try without advice for now. But thank you for the offer, I might need it.” they started their first turn, Nora had a strategy that she had been refining. The goal was to rush for the bunny-bots and let their production bonus help her into the late game. 
After a few turns, it was clear that Darla was pulling ahead, she had secured some early tech deposits and gained a great advantage. Nora was doing fine however, the game was far from over. Cleo on the other hand was still stuck on the first tier of resources, she was far down in points. Sometimes they would comment on the luck of certain events in the game or compare production but were mostly focused on the game.
They were about a third of the way into the game and while she and Darla were ramping up their production, Cleo had just expanded to take almost all the base resources on the map. Darla broke the silence “Cleo, you need to produce more advanced stuff, or you are never going to get a good score. Look at your DP, you have around a third of mine.” Cleo looked befuddled.
Almost looked a bit embarrassed “oh your right, I just got a bit distracted by my mining and harvesting. I’ll try to do more advanced stuff. I’m very good at mining so If I could buy your mines I could produce more stuff and sell it to you at a very cheap price…as thanks for the advice.” Cleo smiled warmly and the deal was soon made. Nora felt suspicious, she doubted that Cleo had no plan, but at the same time, she and Darla were so far ahead. 
Cleo turned to her “your base resource production is already connected to my road network, I could buy it from you too and sell it to you for cheap.” She did not know what but doing what Cleo said was probably a bad idea. 
She shook her head “no thank you, I don’t trust you.” Cleo faked an over-performative expression of hurt. They continued the game and Nora was finally seeing her production rise exponentially. Cleo was still far behind while it was becoming obvious that Darla was going to win, cursed random tech rewards!
It was around 20 turns later, halfway into the game when Darla’s expression of smug satisfaction was replaced by shock “Cleo! Why did the price for steel just jump by over 15 times? Did you make a mistake in pricing? We had a deal.” Cleo’s soft smile turned into a grin, Nora knew this was going to happen. 
Cleo spoke matter-of-factly “I have a monopoly on steel and almost all other base resources now, that is simply the price that I decide it is worth. The deal is no longer in my interest, so I canceled it. I guess I can lower it a bit for you if you share some of your high-end techs.” Darla had no choice, if she did not have steel, then her production would be impossible. 
Cleo turned to her, smirking a bit “also, I will cease all transport of your base resources to your factories. Unless you give me 500 of your bunny bots and 10% of all further production.” Nora thanked herself that she had expected something like that.
Nora smirked back, her victory was assured “I don’t need your transport, I’ll just use one of the AI transport companies.” Cleo's smirk turned even more obnoxious, was she missing something? Hold on…she checked quickly, no! All the ai companies on this side of the map were subsidiaries of Cleo. She could get it back, but she would lose at least 10 turns of production “fine, you….I should have known you would do this.” The game continued.
Cleo was rapidly expanding with both her bunny bots and Darla’s tech. In only a few turns Cleo had overtaken them both in DP score. Darla locked eyes with her, her pinnate was as always most focused and serious when playing games “girlfriend, we can’t let this beginner beat us. I propose an alliance, we can only win together.” Darla was right, no way she was going to give Cleo the satisfaction of beating her. 
They sat down next to each other and began the merger of their two production lines. Cleo looked at the map and then at them with a spark of interest “so a coalition has formed against me, interesting. A good plan, but it still won’t be enough.” Nora was sure that she and Darla together could beat this menace.
The game was almost over, only a few turns left. they had tried their best but despite their efforts, Cleo had beat them. Cleo smiled, at least she was having fun “I must say I enjoy this game more than I thought I would. What happens when the game ends?” Nora took a last look at the charts, nope, there was no chance now.
Darla pouted “the affini arrive and help everyone, so the game ends. Because you have the most domestication points, you win…and get the reward.” Her girlfriend was obviously not too happy with the result.
Cleo looked a bit less amused than before “right…of course, that's what happens and what DP stands for. What else should I have expected? A simulated death of capitalism for our amusement. Serla did talk about a reward, what is it?” Nora suddenly found the situation very funny, Cleo saw her reaction and her expression turned worried. 
Darla, oblivious to Cleo’s increasing worry still pouted “it means that you get a large dose of class-A later when we cuddle.” Cleo’s expression turned from worry to desperation and Nora could no longer contain her laugh. 
Cleo ignored her “well…..perhaps we can just say that you won Darla. I’m not too keen on that reward, I think you would enjoy it far more.” For a moment Darla looked really happy.
Then she frowned “but that would be lying, that’s bad.” Cleo's fake smile faltered almost completely, perhaps it was bad to laugh but this was too funny.  
Cleo glared at her before looking back at Darla “Think of it more as a mutually beneficial distortion of the truth.  I don’t want the reward so it would be sad to see it go to waste, now wouldn’t it?” Nora heard that Serla was preparing to leave the kitchen, the two others had no idea. 
Darla seemed to consider it “maybe, but I think she would know. I am terrible at not telling the truth.” Nora heard that mistress was coming this way, perhaps she should warn Cleo…the result however would be far too interesting, so she remained silent.
Cleo was completely unaware of the coming danger “don’t worry, the important part to distorting the truth is that you need it to sound like something they want to be true. Try to incorporate part of the truth into the li-“ A vine with white flowers shot through the air and stung Cleo in the neck. Cleo recoiled and probably tried to swear, instead an angry but adorable mewl came out. 
Serla walked over to them, her dominance radiating off her and her biorhythm “Cleo! I will not allow you to teach my florets how to lie. Your speaking privileges have been revoked until you behave.” Cleo made a few more sounds that sounded very cute, even if Cleo’s eyes were filled with indignation. 
Serla closed the rest of the distance “and Nora, you did not try to stop her, why?” Nora smiled mischievously up at her owner. 
She suppressed a laugh “I knew you were coming mistress, so I left it to you.” Cleo sent her a glare of shock and slight anger. 
Mistress ruffled her hair “having fun at Cleo’s expense, are you? perhaps you also deserve a punishment.” Oh no…whatever was she going to do? Serla relented “Perhaps a bit later, the food is ready so we can go and eat.” As they walked to the kitchen Nora heard some familiar clicking sounds. 
Cleo was using presidential morse code {having fun, laughing at my misery?}  Nora chuckled and leaned in so she could whisper “Mistress is right you should not teach Darla to lie, also I was hoping for a fun reaction, and I was not disappointed. You are very cute, even when you are angry.” The clicking of Cleo’s teeth was an unusual way of communication but worked quite well now. 
Cleo was still fuming {I can’t stand this, Serla is a power-tripping tyrant. Also, lying is an important skill to have.}  Nora laughed a bit more at Cleo's remarks as they walked into the kitchen and got up onto the chairs. She and Darla let mistress carry them up while Cleo climbed up with some moderate difficulty. The soup looked delicious, Nora waited and soon she and Darla were being fed the food by ecstatic and loving vines. Cleo on the other hand ate the food while still glaring at Serla {good food, but Mertha makes it better.} 
Serla took a small pause in feeding them “so how did the game go, who won?” Darla pouted again, she was a really poor loser. 
For a second it looked like Darla was about to lie “ was Cleo, but she tricked me! And she tricked Nora…it’s not fair. She doesn’t even want the reward.” Serla gave Darla some reassuring pats. 
The affini mocked disappointment as she looked at Cleo “Cleo has a tendency to be a bit of a trickster, but she is good at heart. She can however be a bit too smart for her own good. For being such good hosts to her I think you all deserve a generous dose of class-A.” While Darla cheered and hugged mistress, Cleo formed her arms into an X {that is not happening, she can keep her xenodrugs to herself.}
Nora felt a bit bad, it was clear that Cleo still disliked the way that the affini were treating her. After having a domineering and frightful presence for 5 years, it must be quite the shakeup to be treated like this. It was not like Cleo had been happy before, and she seemed to be in a much better place now. What the affini were doing was probably for the best, even if Cleo refused to accept it, for now. 
Mistress looked amused at Cleo “you don’t want to join us for post-game cuddles? It's a great way to relieve the stress from the game. Even if it was through trickery, you still won the game, if you don’t want class-A then I can give you something else. Good girl.”  Cleo’s expression changed entirely, she was smiling with warmth and joy that Nora had not seen since those long nights all those years ago. Cleo’s eyes were soft and happy as they looked at mistress, her hands were even flapping a bit. 
Just as quickly as it had come the expression disappeared and was replaced with frustration {damn weed.}
Nora was still confused but Celo was taking it too far “don’t call her that, it's very mean.” Mistress looked at her, oh…she had spoken out loud. Mistress was waiting for her to explain “umm….Cleo has been communicating using a morse code that I can understand because of my enhanced hearing.” Mistress luckily looked more impressed than disappointed. 
Mistress looked at both of them “undermining your punishment? Very clever. Nora, what has she been saying?” Nora looked at Cleo apologetically.
She had to obey her mistress “she called you…a power-tripping tyrant, said that Mertha made better food than you and also some other things. She is quite frustrated with not being able to speak and whatever you did to her that made her look so…happy?” Serla let out a hearty laugh. 
The affini looked back at Cleo “so much spirit and independence in you today. What am I going to do to make you behave?” Nora heard a vine slither along the floor out of sight “I don’t think that you are really angry, Cleo, just embarrassed. Let me help you out.” The vine shot up from right next to Cleo and the large orange flower at its tip released a small burst of pollen.  
Cleo coughed and made some adorable noises “now then pets, I think that you have waited long enough for cuddles. Cleo, you are free to join us if you want, though I want you to at least be nearby in case you try to get up to anything else.” Nora looked concerned at Cleo who was looking quite confused, what had mistress just done?
While they walked back to the living room Nora felt compelled to ask, “what did you give her?” To her surprise, it was Darla who answered.
Her pinnate sounded excited, but it was likely about the imminent cuddling “it’s a xenodrugie that stops you from being all embarrassed and stuff. Class-D or something like that. I used to take it some time ago, but I don’t need it now.” Oh no, Cleo would despise them later.
Mistress lifted Darla up “the flower I used is only one part of the drug, class-D-e is more accurate. Cleo won’t do something she is not ready for, but won’t let all that pride she got bottled up stop her either.” That sounded at least a bit better, Nora still felt worried. She was about to turn around and talk to Cleo when she was also lifted up “she will be fine my compassionate rose, I have not given you permission to take responsibility for her.” With that, she was carried off until mistress sat down with them in a large chair in the corner. 
Mistress formed into a nice writhing bed of vines while pushing her and Darla into each other. Two small yellow flowers were presented before them before they burst out a small burst of class-A, Darla breathed into immediately, Nora hesitated for a moment before she did the same. She felt her skin begin to tingle as the drug began to have an effect. Her pinnate began to moan softly and press needily into her, Nora embraced her girlfriend as they began to cuddle. With Darla pressing into her on one side and Serla’s vines on the other she was in a blissful layer of pleasure. Holding her pinnate and being embraced by her mistress was such a beautiful combination of protecting and being cared for. 
Nora continued to engage in the hedonistic joy for as long as she could, until her worry dragged her sight towards where she could hear Cleo breathe. Cleo was sitting on a pillow with her arms around her knees. She was looking into the air, not particularly focused on anything at all. Nora knew it was not her responsibility, but she could not watch Cleo so alone. She tugged on a vine “could I talk to her a bit? she seems so alone.” The vines released her and turned their attention onto Darla instead, Nora had gotten her permission. The vines gently pushed her so she could get out of the chair, one of the vines held out a syringe filled with a clear liquid. She took what she assumed was the antidote to the class-W.
Cleo’s breathing was slightly uneven, she was trying to remain calm “Serla gave me this, do you want me to inject it?” Cleo nodded and rolled up the sleeve to her hoodie and Nora injected the counteragent. 
Nora sat down next to her old patron “are you okay?” She made sure that Cleo had enough personal space. 
Cleo’s voice was uneven “I have been worse. Please don’t let me distract you, it looked like you were having a good time…” Cleo’s eyes drifted towards Darla and mistress, the eyes were a mix of want and fear. 
Nora scooted a bit closer “you can join us if you want, no one will judge you.” Cleo smiled sadly. 
She chuckled before her voice went quiet “I can’t even judge myself for it at the moment. But I still can’t, it feels wrong and….I’m afraid…..Nora, can you keep a secret?” A few tears were beginning to build in Cleo’s eyes. 
Nora came as close as she could without hugging “of course I can, I promise I won't even tell Serla.” Cleo began to cry softly. 
Nora wrapped an arm around her “during the last 4 years…sometimes on the worst kind of days, the days where I didn’t leave my office for so long. When the hours dragged like sandpaper, but each time I looked at the clock another day had passed. Those days when it seemed like everything might finally fall apart and I left the office so exhausted I did not recognize if it was you or someone else that guarded me…” Nora remembered how Cleo had stumbled out of the office, a dead but determined look in their eyes…how had she let that continue for so long? let that happen so many times?
Cleo’s eyes were looking into the past “on those days, I…I sometimes wished that something would go wrong. That a vital plan would fail, that an assassin would find their mark, that something, anything would finally stop me. Did you know that the average time in office for a governor on Centhia is 9 months? The one before me that lasted the longest ruled for 2 years and 3 months before dying of a heart attack. Not me….I kept struggling, kept working, so afraid to die, so afraid to lose…and I kept winning. When I was at my most exhausted….I wanted it to end, to finally be able to stop working, stop moving, I was so…tired. And then? I pushed it down, letting the fear remind me what to do. Just one more step, one more step…” Cleo had begun to shake, and Nora felt terrible. Cleo had thought like that for such a long time…and she had not even noticed. 
Nora hugged Cleo, and she returned it “and then, despite the odds, despite the world, despite even myself: I made it here. A place where I am safe, cared for, were not working for a second more is almost expected….but my mind won’t let go. In every shadow I see shining red eyes waiting to kill me. Behind every face that does not view me with fear or respect, I see a dagger lifted towards my back. In every speck of comfort or moment of happiness, I feel myself being pushed closer to the abyss. I live in paradise and still, my mind screams danger at all that I see.” Nora held her friend as tight as she could, she didn’t know how to make it better.
But she had to try “things are getting better; you can sleep well, you can finally be comfortable, you are no longer as suspicious. You are improving and I know you can be happy because I have seen you be so before.” Cleo pulled away a bit and smiled for a second before the despair reentered her eyes.
Cleo shook her head “I’m not improving though, am I? Those parts of my mind are still there, I can stop them with xenodrugs and conditioning….But if that is removed they will start to act again, I’ll be back to how I was, who I truly am.” Cleo looked even worse than before, Nora could not allow that. 
She shook Cleo “that is not true. You and Mertha have good times together, earlier you had fun while playing with me and Darla. I see that you are so, so much better than how you were. Before, I never saw you smile or even look more than momentarily satisfied. Now I can see you being happy, things are getting better.” Cleo leaned into her arms further, she seemed so small.
Cleo dried some tears away “…maybe you are right…but it all feels so wrong. This should be like a vacation, but I have somehow turned it into a nightmarish struggle. The fear won’t allow me to let go, the gears are still turning in my mind…pushing me forwards into something I don’t want. I’m so…so tired, and tired of being tired, but also scared of not being tired. I feel like I am trapped in that office again…and I…I don’t know what to do, except the thing….I have always done.” Cleo began to sob in her arms, Nora held around her trying to at least make her feel safe in one way. 
Cleo breathed slowly “I would probably not say this if not on xenodrugs, but I don’t care. When I saw you three being so happy, and then denying myself that in a dozen different ways that I feel like I can’t hope to overcome. It felt like just those days in the office…I wanted them to take the struggle from me, to not give me any more chances, to domesticate me. I don’t care how much of me survives the process…I…I just want to………rest.” The girl finally collapsed into heaving sobs, not having the strength to continue. 
Nora held her, how was she supposed to help? She had been afraid and on edge for a week at most. If Cleo and the affini were struggling, then what hope did she have? There was a vine on her shoulder “you are doing well Nora, do you think we can help?” Nora looked at Cleo, perhaps the only thing they could do was let her cry. Nora nodded and Darla was put down on the other side of Cleo, her pinnate embraced Cleo from the other side. Cleo almost did not react, but also did not look uncomfortable. Mistress warped her vines around all of them, holding them tight and secure. Cleo leaned into all of them and cried, Nora felt a few tears roll down her own cheeks.
Nora did not know how long they sat there, she only knew that Cleo fell asleep first before she and Darla dipped off as well.
When they woke it was time for Cleo to leave “Serla, do you think Nora can walk with me home…alone? I know the way, and I have something I want to say to her.” The conversation was supposed to be out of her earshot, but few conversations ever were.
Serla sounded accepting “okay, just make sure that you get there safely. It has been a long day for you, make sure you don’t overextend yourself.” Cleo walked back into regular earshot. 
She looked calm and determined again, there were still some tear trails on her cheeks. Nora smiled “so shall we go? Don’t worry, I might be a floret, but I’ll protect you just the same.” Cleo blushed a bit as she must have realized that Nora had overheard. Cleo said goodbye to Darla and gave a reluctant goodbye to mistress.
They walked together through the empty streets, the ship lighting it up with fake moonlight. Cleo extended a hand and Nora grabbed it, they walked in silence until they eventually reached the elevator to Mertha’s hab. 
Cleo turned around “thanks for listening and comforting me…it helped a lot. I don’t know what part of me is saying this, but I hope that it is both. I won’t give up, ever. I’ll try until I succeed, just as I always do. And when I do…I hope we can go on a vacation somewhere. I think I deserve that.” They embraced one more time. After the hug, they said their goodbyes, and Cleo disappeared into the elevator. 
Nora walked back and found herself smiling. She did not know where yet, but when she took Cleo on vacation it would be the most relaxing, fun, and enjoyable vacation possible. They both deserved that.

They both deserve a real vacation sometime soon. This one was sad to write but also a bit therapeutic.

Next chapter might be out on thursday. hope you enjoyed the chapter and have a nice day!

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