Negotiations on shaky vines

Chapter 42- Proof for a old 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

CW: mentions of violence

Hope you enjoy the chapter!
There was a small sting in her arm, and Cleo felt awareness begin to flood in. Vonzin stood over her, there was a gentle look in her eyes “it’s time to wake up Cleo.” Cleo sat up, she looked around the room, right she was at the clinic….it would not be long now. 
Vonzin handed her a plate with a few pizza slices “here, you should eat…it is compiled, sorry about that. I am not such a great cook.” Cleo realized that she was in fact quite hungry and began eating the pizza, it still tasted very good. 
Vonzin sat down next to her, the affini looked conflicted “I have received word from Mertha a few minutes ago. Her meeting with the captain was interrupted but….she could not convince them, I’m sorry.” Cleo just nodded, she had not allowed herself to consider it a real possibility. Vonzin smiled gently “The captain did however tell Mertha that once the moratorium is over they will make sure that she becomes your owner… least that is something, right?” Cleo felt her heart become a bit lighter, that was far more than just ‘something’. 
Mertha would have stronger obligations to make sure she was happy, but she would never do anything too drastic with her mind. And if she did it was probably necessary, Mertha would take care of her better than anyone. This whole forceful domestication thing did not seem that bad anymore, what did she really have to fear at this point? That she would no longer be able to pursue self-destructive behavior? The fact that she would spend the rest of her life happy, with the person she loved the most?
A small part of her resisted this thought process. She would no longer have any power and control. Her ambition would be at the mercy of someone who, while she trusted, did not always share her opinion of what was necessary. It was the last thought of who she had once been, the dying remnants of the president. Discarded relics of a worse time, when she had to be something horrible to survive and do her duty. Cleo found that the thought could be ignored without much issue, soon they would no longer be necessary at all. 
Cleo stood up “I’m ready, no point in waiting any further.” Vonzin smiled carefully and led her out of the waiting room. They walked down a few corridors, the clinic was larger than she had first assumed. Vonzin stopped and entered a door to the left, Cleo felt a bit of apprehension before stepping in herself. 
The room was almost completely white, but it was a gentle kind of white, not the far too bright kind. There was an operating table in the middle of the room, it was flat and looked moderately comfortable. Where there would usually be a headrest or a pillow there was instead a round hole with cushions around it, she was supposed to have something implanted in her spine after all.  
On one of the tables in the room, there was a class container, inside a small green cluster. It had to be the implant, it looked alien but rather innocent for something that was about to change her life. Vonzin was tapping away at several of the machines that were collected around the table.
 For a second Cleo was reminded of the facility at Plastech Cybermedical. Probably the corp with the most advanced enhancement tech, perhaps with the exception of some facilities on terra itself. It was in one of those facilities that Nora had been enhanced. It was also three that the liquidators had gone from regular assassins to machines of death, how she had survived 3 of them was anyone’s guess. Plastech’s worst crime was the creation of the shadow division, a project in collaboration with OCNI decades in the making. At least Plastech was dissolved and soon those tortured souls would be scattered amongst the stars, never to be used as weapons ever again. 
Vonzin walked up behind her “are you sure you feel ready?” the affini broke her out of those meaningless thoughts. She had probably looked worried or scared, best to show some confidence. 
Cleo smiled “yeah I’m alright, just got lost in thought for a moment, can we begin?” Vonzin guided her to the operating table. Cleo got up on it and was about to lie down “you are sure it won’t hurt?” She knew the answer, why was she delaying this?
Vonzin’s voice was reassuring and confident “not at all, in fact, it will probably be quite the pleasurable experience. There is no need to fear, everything will be alright.” Of course it would, she just had to force herself to take the last step, just one more. 
She lay down with her back up, the place her head was resting was adjusted. The bed was quite comfortable, though not as comfortable as Mertha’s vines….though she could soon return to that. That was not entirely right, she first had to stay at that adoption café. Hopefully, the affini reinforcements were not long away and she would not have to stay there long. It would probably not be so bad either, her time on class-J had been nice. Mertha and the others could visit, she could relax and recover fully. All in all, it was just an early vacation, one she probably deserved at this point. 
Vonzin’s vines moved to her neck and there was a soft snap as the collar was removed, her neck suddenly felt vulnerable. Her right arm was lifted a bit to the side, and she felt a slight sting as something was connected. She couldn’t see anything and Vonzin must have realized that “now I have connected you to a machine that I will first use to make sure that everything is fine. After that it will inject the anesthetics, I’ll warn you before that starts. You will probably wake a few times when you recover but next time that you are fully awake you will be on class-J and well taken care of.” Cleo gave a thumbs up. 
The next moments went by in silence, was time really moving as slowly as it felt? Either way, it would soon finally be over. There would be no more work, no more duty to uphold, no struggle, no sacrifice, she had given enough. She had finally taken the last required steps and could be carried from this point forward. The only irritating thing was that she would have to admit to Serla that she had been right. In the end, The Game had not managed to reach her, and she had not managed to reach it. Now if this could just begin, she would no longer have to fear that. 
Vonzin’s voice was calm and professional “everything here is good, we will begin in a few moments. The anesthetics will be quite strong so just remember to breathe slowly. I will prepare it now.” Only a few moments, perhaps only seconds left.
<STOP!> an unfamiliar voice rang out as the door opened. Cleo wanted to see but her head was still stuck.  
Vonzin sounded a mix between shocked and insulted <are you mad?! I’m about to perform surgery!>
The other voice did not seem taken aback by the comment <is the patient sedated?>  What was going on?
Vonzin's voice became calm, almost a bit hopeful <no. Has the decision been overturned?> But the captain had refused. Part of her wanted to tell Vonzin to continue, she had been so close…
The voice was laced with worry <that will depend, I need to talk to Cleo.> Something was wrong, something had happened, something did not want her to let go. 
Her head was released and Vonzin gently helped her into a sitting position. The affini in front of her looked disheveled and stressed, there was still an air of determination around it. There were blue flowers all around its form but some of them looked wilted or dying. 
The affini spoke “hi Cleo, I am Trexal Terinax, 6th Bloom, they/them. I am also the captain of this vessel.” There was something in the affini’s eyes that reminded Cleo of herself.
She felt something begin to coil around her mind “hi, what do you want? I’m a bit busy here.” Voices that she had worked so hard to silence began to grow louder and louder.
Trexal did not appreciate the joke, they took out a data pad and showed her an image “Could you explain this?” Cleo felt the affini inspect her while she looked at the picture. 
It was Elikar, dead at his desk. The wound obviously indicated a liquidator’s method. She looked up “he has been killed by a liquidator.” The affini nodded and tapped a vine a bit lower on the picture. There was a form, an elimination form, with her old signature, a copy from the constitution signature. The implications struck her like rapid blows, the affini might think she actually ordered this, the bureaucracy would definitely think she did this….and if the information got out. her eyes snapped up to the captain “do people know?” 
The affini took the data pad away “this image was sent all across the overnet before we could shut it down.” Ice filled her veins, there would be riots, and massive protests all over the planet. The people who did this probably wanted to exploit the chaos, if the affini could not keep this under control then it would spiral into a terrible crisis. 
Trexal sighed “I take it by your reaction that you did not order this?” What an absolutely ridiculous notion, this was crude and wasteful. Had she been in the capacity to do this she would have done something way smoother and more efficient. 
Vonzin spoke up “so, she did not do this. What does that mean?” It meant that they had another reason for being here. 
Trexal straightened up “Cleo, I will not lie. The situation on the surface and in the sector, in general, has deteriorated and is worsening fast.” She knew the question that was about to come, she had to say no, or she would never escape. The affini smiled a bit “your talent and knowledge of Centhia could prove invaluable. I do not say this lightly, but would you help us get the situation under control?” Her mind rejoiced, finally a way back. 
Finally, she could take back control, and rebuild what she had lost-No! she did not want that, she could not say yes. If she did then neither the affini nor herself could stop her from exploiting the situation. Every bit of power and knowledge that she gained, she would use to gain more. she would dig herself down back into The Game until nothing could stop her. If she was allowed to return to The Game she would destroy herself once more.
And so what? people were dying! How could she put her comfort and happiness over so many others? People she had already hurt before, did she not have an obligation to help them? To do everything that she could? If she backed down now how could she ever live with herself? There was so much blood on her hands, how could she stand by and let more blood flow. 
The door flew open and Mertha entered the room “you get away from her right this instant!” her affini’s voice was loud, angry, and threatening. Trexal took a step back, Mertha moved forward, enraged “you will not drag her back into that! I will not allow it!” Mertha’s voice was raw and filled with emotion. 
Trexal stood their ground “She is not your floret or even your ward. it is her choice to make.” Mertha did not seem to care for that sentiment one bit. 
Mertha’s form began to unwind a bit “I. Don’t. Care! She has suffered far too much, she almost died!  And now you want to send her into that again?!” Mertha’s form suddenly had far more needles and thorns showing than Cleo had ever seen before. This was not the Mertha who lovingly made her food, this was a monster that could carve through a garrison platoon in less than a minute. 
Trexal walked forward, their form also showing its weapons “people are dying, Mertha! I will do anything to make sure that we save as many as possible. Cleo has a choice and if she does not want to, then that is fine. But if I have a chance to save more of them I will take it!” Suddenly a shadow began to grow on the wall. 
Vonzin had unwound into an enormous size, she dwarfed the two other affini “you will both calm down this instant! You are scaring my patient. If you don’t I will throw you both out!” The vet’s voice was booming, the two affini shrunk a bit and the tension dissipated. 
Mertha redid her form and looked at her with pleading eyes “please, Cleo. You don’t have to do this.” All of the affini eyes in the room landed upon her.
She had to say no, she had to escape The Game…but she couldn’t “I’m sorry Mertha. I have to.” She had to, it was what she was, what she owed the people that she had caused to suffer. But seeing the despair fill Mertha’s eyes was too much. She looked up at the captain “I’ll help you, whatever you need.” The gears in her mind were humming along, the iron fist pressed down on the sadness. She had a job to do now. 
Trexal did not look happy “thank you, the committee’s decision has been overturned. For all intents and purposes, you are now considered independent. An emergency meeting is already underway, you can be updated there.” And with that information, she could give advice, and with that advice, she could gain a bit of power, and with that bit of power….
Cleo got down from the operating table, she could not look at Mertha, her heart hurt too much. She looked down at the ground as she followed the captain, Mertha seemed to be stuck to the spot. Cleo could not just leave “I’m, sorry Mertha but I have to do this. I’ll see you at home later….” Then she could take it no more and walked out the door. 
They began to walk down the corridor, each step bringing her further and further away from the rest she so desperately wanted but could not justify. Hopefully, the meeting will go well.
“1.2 million?!” it had to be a joke, it could not possibly be true!
Another of the affini looked down at a report “it's actually closer to 900 000, we had to send affini to the rest of the sector as well.” Cleo felt her yaw clench, this was utter madness.
She could not believe it “you invaded a planet of 12 billion, heavily armed, people with 900 000 soldiers?” how by the stars had they kept it together, it made no sense. 
Trexal spoke up from the other side of the long table “it was either that or watch the planet tear itself apart. If we estimate based on your documents then the deaths would be in the tens of millions, perhaps even more. Until today we managed to keep that number to 0.” It was an incredible feat, the affini were more dangerous than she had estimated. But the situation was now far from under control. 
They needed more affini “What about reinforcements?” There was no way the affini would allow this to continue. 
Trexal sighed “two scout ships, the Ocul and the Linum, will arrive over the course of the next 2 days. They have a limited crew but will allow us to stop the ferals’ attack on the other colonies. The Innexa has been redirected to help, but it will take at least 10 days. While it has depleted much of its crew securing the worlds around terra it still has around 120 million affini.” That number might as well be 120 billion, when it arrived the affini would have control. 
It was still too late “by then millions will have died. We need to crush this revolt now!” 
One of the dozen affini around the table spoke “we are not going to crush anything. The whole point is to stop you cuties from getting hurt.” Perhaps ‘crush’ had not been the best word to use.
Cleo adjusted herself a bit in the seat “of course, what is the state of the bureaucracy and garrison? Both need to be mobilized immediately.” A tense silence developed around the table. 
A rose-colored affini took out a paper “around 16% of the workers in the central bureaucracy have not fled from their offices and have been accounted for. The garrison….around 64% of the stations have not reported in. There are also a good number of reports concerning desertion.” It was obvious that far more people were scared of possibly being against her, than they were of being against the affini. 
Cleo sighed “at least we still have control over the prisons….right?” 
Trexal spoke, “we shut down the prisons and moved all the humans that were dangerous into wardships across the planet.” Hopefully, the affini benevolence did not backfire. 
She had to be sure “There were at least 1.8 million fireside mercenaries in those prisons, are they still secure?” If those people got loose, then… would not be pretty. 
The rose-colored affini spoke again “yes they are, how so?” 
If anyone wanted to set Centhia to the torch then they would want that army “those people are very dangerous and could cause terrible damage. I suggest that we put extra security around them if we have any to spare.” She remembered the Phenix brotherhood's attack on the red union party in 49, the entire city district had been destroyed. 
Trexal nodded “that would likely be wise, thank you, Cleo. Now, we need a general strategy for containing the violence.” The captain looked around the table. Cleo would wait, she did not want to give more advice than she needed to right away. 
 A bushy affini moved its vines descriptively “I suggest we fall back to certain permitters that we can hold stable. Then we can begin to safeguard more areas. Right now, we are spread too thin to secure any location.” Cleo had seen what happened when the garrison pulled back during a battle against the families 2 years ago. 
The plan was unacceptable “no, if you pull back it will only embolden everyone that is fighting against you. More importantly, they might begin to fight each other, it will be a bloodbath. Affini and armored garrison troops are far sturdier targets than humans. We need to push forward, not pull back.” 
The bushy affini looked at her, “that is ridiculous, we don’t have enough people to do that.” The affini were not seeing the larger picture 
Cleo folded her hands “yes we do, we have plenty of people. They might not be affini but if we bring back the bureaucracy and the garrison to full force, then we can begin to stabilize.” A dozen plans had begun to form in her mind, this situation was far more familiar than most had been the last month. 
Trexal looked intrigued. “How are you suggesting we do that?” The affini would not like to hear what she had to say and neither did she. 
Best to give them a chance first “I have a few plans, but first I would like to hear your suggestions.” Was she being too apprehensive? She knew her plans would work, but hopefully, the affini had something better.
The affini that sat closest to her smiled warmly at her “well, our first plan was for you and Trexal to give an announcement together. That should put most people at ease.” Cleo looked at the affini in a bit of disbelief. 
Cleo gestured towards her face and body “I look and sound very, very different from what I did before. You showcase that change on the air and we will not have a revolt, we will have a full-on uprising on our hands.” It would not look like a commitment to an alliance, it would look like proof of subjugation. 
The affini looked a bit miffed before smiling again “we can edit your voice and how you look afterward, I don’t think that will be much of a problem.” The affini seemed confident enough, Cleo was not so sure. 
It could also not be a joint announcement “if you can do that in a way no one will figure out then find. But I will have to make the announcement on my own. For it to have any effect there needs to be some hint that I am not just your brainwashed prisoner.” Something, ironically, she had been until now.
The announcement would not be enough “empty words will not satiate anyone, people will need proof that I support you. they need action to be taken, actions only I would do.” It was a painful truth, but it was the only way. 
One of the affini stood up “absolutely not, your actions have already hurt enough w-“
The captain interrupted, “before we pass judgment perhaps we should hear what she has to say.” Cleo gave a tankful nod to the captain. 
She would have to word herself carefully “thank you. The first issue is propaganda, the current campaigns are not sufficient or efficient. You can continue your type, but I will organize a new one.” 
The rose affini frowned “what is the problem with our broadcasts?” The easy answer was that they didn’t lie enough but that would not go over well. 
This was much easier when she could just order, not have to explain “your propaganda only offers a bright new future, a solution to all problems. There are several issues with this, firstly you make people suspicious. Secondly, you don’t give them what people truly need: purpose. Humans crave a greater purpose than any material good. That is what my propaganda will provide.” A few of the affini murmured in agreement or interest, good. 
Trexal tapped a vine on the table “you need to be more specific, both with content and production.” Had the captain caught on? Maybe but it was still for the best and she would make them understand that. 
She cleared her throat “People are unsure about what’s going on and what their future will be. you can explain the future, what I will focus on is the present. What we need is a unifying enemy for the people to rally against, and we have the perfect target. We will claim that the Terran rebels are the ones that performed the assassination and that they are instigating the protests. It might be true, or it might not be, that is not important. Centhia hates Terra and the rebels already attacked me once before, they are the perfect enemy.” She took a pause, the affini were looking intrigued though but there were a lot of doubts as well. 
No-one stopped her so she continued “for the production, I have talented people within the bureaucracy. If I can contact them and begin directing them then I can see it produced.” That was the key, she needed a hand back on Centhia so she could begin to move the pieces. 
In fact….the gears spun around for a bit and then she found the solution. If she could not be on Centhia then she would bring Centhia to her. The tangled map of bureaucracy poetics was visible in her mind, she knew the groups, the important people, and how they could be pushed and manipulated. A list of people began to form, four to be her power on the planet and one to fall on his sword. 
The affini were still mumbling about her proposal, Cleo raised her voice “I also would like to have some individuals transported here for a meeting, for humans alone. If you allow that I can rebuild the bureaucracy and then later the garrison.” There was a brief silence in the meeting room.
Then the affini who had an outburst before broke it “I knew this was a bad idea, I warned you Trexal. Any person she speaks with and any message she spreads will only be to create fear and spread her power. We should not have let a sophont in this meeting and most definitely not her.” Cleo felt frustration well up, how could they not see that this was required. 
She glared at the affini “If you don’t want my help then you can send me back to the clinic, but the blood of those I could have saved will be on your hands.” The affini glared back at her, it looked at her like she was some disobedient animal. 
The affini smiled condescendingly “I think that is for the best, we can handle this better without distractions. We affini are not like you, we don’t stoop to your lows.” Before Cleo could shout a reply, the door to the room was opened.  
An almost fully white affini stood there <we just got a report that an explosive went off during one of the protests….at least two hundred dead, several hundred injured.> No…another mass of people that had died because of her failures, her mistakes. She could not stand by and no nothing! she would not allow it.
She stood on top of her chair “now, do you understand? Is it not better that they are afraid at home than dead in the street?! Is your moral purity worth more than their lives?!” The affini stood up and was about to say something… 
When the captain interrupted the chaos “enough! Cleo, we are going to talk. The rest of you go through the rest of the agenda.” The anger did not leave her, but she got down from the chair and followed the captain. That had been one bridge too far, she should have kept her mouth shut, been gentler in her language. 
The captain entered an office and Cleo followed them inside, the affini sat down behind it and gestured to the chair on the other side. Cleo climbed up into it, darn affini chairs “so what will it be, domestication or wardship?” best to know her fate now, her usefulness had come to an end. 
The captain sighed, “Neither, I’ll give you what you want.” What? This did not seem possible. Trexal picked up a paper and pen “I understand the necessity for some of the actions you are proposing. I have read your files, so I know you do care, but I also know that you need to be controlled. Any method, plan, or scheme; you run them by me first. If I find that you have acted outside that….well it would certainly demonstrate that you are indeed a threat.” The cogs in her mind hummed with joy, she had found a way in, but she had to be careful.
The affini handed her the paper and pen “first you are going to tell me what you need and then what you have planned. After that you should do the broadcast with Centali, she sat to your right during the meeting. And one last thing, if you are going to help it will not be at the cost of your health. I will only allow this if you take care of yourself, is that understood?”
Cleo nodded, she began to lay forward her plans, what would need to be done, and the likely consequences and risks. Trelax had some questions, some restrictions, and some genuinely helpful advice on how to use the affini resources. The more they spoke the more plans were developed, more patterns seen, and future plots laid. It felt good to finally be back on the job. 

Falling back info old patterns is an easy thing. Have a great day!

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