She began to wake and noticed her mind was filled with a soft, cloudy buzz. Wherever she was sleeping was also very soft, so she did not bother to wake any further. Instead, she moved slightly just to feel the sensation of the softness below her a bit more. Some voice in her mind told her to find out why everything was so soft, but she was too sleepy for that. The soft world did not take long with lulling her back asleep.
When she began to wake again it felt like a warm comfortable blanket had wrapped itself around her mind. She felt more awake than last time and the buzz had become quiet, muffled by the blanket. Out of curiosity, she moved her arms a bit in the self-imposed darkness, and they touched something soft. Her arms grabbed around it and held the soft thing tight in her embrace. Everything felt so soft and friendly and after lying there for a bit she fell asleep once again.
The third time she woke it was not out of her own body’s agency. She heard a familiar voice “Cleo, it is time to wake up.” The words were so warm, so loving, it reminded her of someone important, the name the voice had used….Cleo…..that was her name…yes, yes it was. Something smooth, warm, and nice began to move over her head and gently scratched her scalp. It felt so nice….perhaps she could just lie here and not have to do anything else.
The words tried to coax her out of the warm embrace of slumber once again “Cleo, you have to wake up, you need to eat.” No, she didn’t, she could just lie here and enjoy how soft and comfortable everything was. She gently shook her head and pressed the softness in her embrace a bit harder. The voice made some soft cooing notices “awwww, you are so precious….I guess I can bring the food here.” Something moved and then….the head scratches stopped!
Cleo opened her eyes and made a very unsatisfied noise, the beautiful figure that had just begun to move away stopped and turned around. The figure looked a bit surprised. “Is there something wrong?” Cleo felt the need for head scratches increase, she looked up at the figure with pleading eyes. Its flowers and vines bristled for a moment. “I can’t tell what is wrong if you don’t say anything, now can I?” That was unfair.
Cleo was still too sleepy to try to speak, she could use her hands….but that would mean not squeezing the soft thing in her arms as much. She forced herself a bit more awake “head...pats.” The words were a bit lazy, but the need in her voice should carry the importance of her getting more head pats. The wonderful figure made some more cooing noises and smiled with amusement.
It came back “awwww, did you want more? Well, then you need to wake up.” That was so unfair…it was so nice to be sleepy, but head pats were also very important…..and here this figure was making her choose between them. The need from her freshly stimulated scalp was so pressing, but if she woke up she would have to get out of her pink and soft bed….this was an impossible choice. The figure came closer, its eyes were so mesmerizing “you look a bit conflicted….I think I have the solution.” That sounded much better, Cleo nodded.
A few gentle vines coiled underneath her and then lifted her out of the bed. Feeling the comfort slip away Cleo made a dissatisfied mewl, but then she was placed in a bed of vines that were just as soft. Her mewl died down and then a vine began giving her pets again, she purred slightly and rubbed her head against the vine. The vine intensified the pets and her purrs intensified as well, the difficulty of the choice drifting away as her mind settled in to accept the affection and scratches.
The figure moved while petting her and suddenly, as she was distracted by the wonderful sensation of the head pats, a vine tapped her on the cheeks. Immediately she opened her mouth and something fluffy and sweet was put in her mouth. The vine then tapped underneath her chin, and she closed her mouth. Another vine told her to chew, and she did, whatever was in her mouth tasted amazing, she made a slight moan in pure joy. A final vine made her swallow but before she could be disappointed that the amazing taste was gone, another piece was fed to her.
Cleo could feel the happiness from the figure as it continued to feed her mouthful after mouthful of amazing, fluffy sweetness “I thought I was only right to start off your vacation with something extra good, you like it?” Despite her mind being so distracted by the pets and food, she knew that the question was completely unnecessary. The figure that was so good to her still deserved an answer, so she made some extra pleased sounds the next couple of mouthfuls.
After a far too short blissful eternity, the mouthfuls stopped coming, and that was perhaps good as she was very full. She nuzzled into the vines and purred as she received more pets. Now that she had eaten she could go back to sleep, and the smooth and harmonious music that came from the figure was the perfect lullaby. Then the petting stopped again…..the figure was being really unfair.
She pouted and looked up, the figure was clearly amused at her reaction “is that the only way I am going to get your attention? Such a needy and sleepy girl.” The figure then looked a bit inquisitive “I wonder… Do you remember what your name is?” That question was easy!
The figure had reminded her of her name several times already “Cleo!” she chirped the answer proudly.
The figure made a sort of chuckling noise “that’s right! Now then, do you remember my name?” oh, that was more difficult…..had the figure used a name for itself…no it had not.
She would have to remember on her own….she had a lot of memories of the figure, but most of them were so complicated, her mind could not fully grasp them. There were memories that were a bit easier to grasp, but even they were blurry. From one of the easy-to-grasp memories she knew she had figured out the name before….but what was it? Cleo could not remember….but she did remember how she had figured it out!
Cleo still remembered the pyramid, such a solid and impressive construction was hard to forget. She just had to make sure it was still true. She had slept in her wonderful bed and the figure was taking such good care of her. And the most important part, her hands moved up to her throat…and found nothing. There was nothing there, she looked confused at the figure.
It smiled, its voice was filled with pride “me and Vonzin decided that you no longer need it. struggling with the question?” but if she did not have a collar…then the rest of the pyramid did not work. Everyone could sleep in a nice bed or be pampered, but only pets wore collars….and if she was not a pet….Then she was a person, and a person had to make all those difficult choices.
Her mind did not like that, choices were scary, too easy to get wrong, she did not want that. It was far better for the figure to decide but it couldn’t do that if she was a person…..
The figure must have noticed that she was upset “Cleo, are you okay? It's fine if you can’t remember, I promise.” The figure was nice, but if she was not a pet then she did not know what to call the figure, and that felt wrong.
She looked up at the figure, a few tears clouded her vision “can I have it back?” She needed the collar for the pyramid to be true.
The figure looked surprised and then looked over at the food-maker “it’s gone…” No, it could not be gone! The figure suddenly went from looking surprised and perhaps a bit worried, to having a large predatory smile on its face “but I do have something else, if you want it that is.” Something else? Cleo nodded, and the figure smiled even wider.
The figure carried her into its own room, the mystical grotto was filled with glowing flowers and the sound of running water. The figure sat her down on the mossy grass and moved towards some large plant-like container on the other side of the room. The branches and vines of the container opened, and the figure began to rummage through it. Cleo was still nervous, she wanted the pyramid to be true again, and also more pets.
Cleo tried to see past the figure and spot what was in the container. There were some pictures, one of her in a pink and flowing dress, one of her looking completely dazed while being smothered by vines, one of her eating…no there were several pictures of her eating, and also several more of her in different cute outfits. There were also a few books, a beautiful flower in a jar that seemed very similar to the one in the figure’s hair, and a stack of white paper with the top one had red writing on it.
The figure picked something out and closed the container, they then walked up to her. They dangled something from a vine straight in front of her face “is this what you want?” it took a bit of time for her eyes to focus, it was velvet and gold, the first thing she could clearly see was a name tag “Cleo”. It was a collar, her collar! She nodded excitedly, the figure moved to put it on her, and then…
They pulled back “are you sure you want this, to be my pet?” Cleo nodded again, the figure smiled triumphantly “then beg.”
Cleo stopped, beg? “Please?” The figure merely continued to smile but did not give up the collar.
It caressed a vine up her exposed throat and tilted her face upwards so she looked the figure straight into their eyes “oh, I know you can do better than that. Also, while owner is sweet…I would like for you to call me mistress. Now, beg.” The figure did not only want her to ask nicely, but they also wanted her to submit……she was not very used to that.
The figure dangled the collar so tantalizingly close, and she needed it. if she did not have the collar that not only meant she might have to make all those scary choices, but also that she would need to build a new logic pyramid and that was hard work. If she was to become the figure's pet again it only made sense to beg, so why did she feel so embarrassed?
The figure slowly began to move the collar away, no….. “Please….can I please have the collar? Please…mistress…can I please be your pet.” It became a bit easier the more she spoke “Please, can you collar me?...Please! I want to be your pet, can you please be my mistress! Please collar me. Please mistress!” a single vine silenced her by touching her lips, the figure looked very pleased.
Using their hands, the figure wrapped the collar around her neck with a satisfying *click*. Cleo touched the collar, it felt right, the pyramid was finally right again. Mistress smiled “such a well-behaved pet. Such a good girl!” Mistress then began to pet her ruthlessly and muttered a bit to herself <can’t wait for you to say that for real.> Cleo was too busy being a good girl and happy pet to fully catch that.
Cleo looked down and suddenly realized something, she was wearing very boring clothes. A black suit? A tie? These were people's clothes, trying to signal that she was to be taken seriously, something she as a pet was entirely unsuited for. Mistress must have recognized her frustration “not happy with your clothes? Don’t worry, I think we can find something that fits you better for the situation.”
Mistress lifted her up and moved towards her room, and as soon as they got there she was let down to the floor again. Before she could even take more than a step towards the closet a vine coiled around her collar and stopped her. Mistress looked down at her “hmm? You are my pet, so I get to choose what you wear, is that not right?” Mistress was giving her a chance to challenge her.
But she did not want or need to “okay!” Cleo chirped in agreement and Mistress smiled even wider. Making her mistress happy was her job after all, and while she could never fail in that, making her a bit happier was very fulfilling.
Mistress went to the closet and began rummaging through it, and soon she had picked out a very adorable and soft dress. Before she could even begin to take off her clothes a dozen vines did so for her before they helped her with the dress. It was very soft, Cleo did a little twirl and was rewarded for her cute display with a few more pets.
Mistress then brought out a set of paws from the wardrobe “do you want to wear them?” Cleo looked up at her, a bit confused. It took a bit of time for Mistress to understand “you want to make no choices at all? I guess it truly is a vacation for you. Now then, I think you will look very cute with them on.” Mistress then used her vines to elegantly put the paws on, Cleo tested their softness on her arm, they were very soft.
Mistress smiled, “We are going to have to get you some retractable bio-mods soon, you are simply too cute with those.” A vine traced over her head “and perhaps some ears…” Another traced down the bottom of her back “and a tail.” Mistress seemed very happy with her plans. “I can hardly wait!” Cleo did not fully understand what Mistress was talking about. And she did not need to, she was, after all, just a pet.
After she was dressed and properly equipped, Mistress carried her into the living room once again. Mistress seemed to be very intent on carrying her everywhere, and Cleo had no complaints. Mistress carried her over to the couch and then there was a light sting in her arm. Then all the sensations around her became much more vivid, the colors in the room, the sound of Mistress’s music, and most of all, the sensation of the vines on her skin.
Mistress began to cuddle and massage and squeeze and scratch her. Cleo could only, and wanted only, to accept the pleasure in all its forms. It only took a few moments before her mind happily buckled under Mistress’s touch and surrendered to the sensations. Every caress and pat fully demolished any hope of forming coherent thoughts and Cleo began to purr, mewl, and moan in delight. It felt so utterly incredible, and Cleo’s body pressed instinctively towards every vine, attempting to feel even more of it.
Time began to stretch out and Cleo allowed herself to fully embrace the moment and ignore everything else. She knew that Mistress was saying something, but the words could only be translated into affection, not any precise meaning. It was a wonderful feeling to just be loved and have no other care in the world. Soon her mind had become a puddle of need, pleasure, and adoration for her Mistress.
There was another voice “hi cutie, you got a visitor!” and for one terrible, heartbreaking moment the cuddles stopped. There was a small sting in her arm again and the colors began to return to normal. Thankfully the cuddles continued, but they were less intense, slowly bringing Cleo up from her bliss-fueled stupor.
Mistress said something that Cleo did not fully catch, but she soon heard other voices in the room. The vines began to untangle and soon she was seated in Mistress's lap, still feeling a bit woozy. Standing just a bit away, and inspecting her, was a tall and red-haired pet with a tall and….annoying owner. She did not know why the owner was annoying, but something told her that this was true.
The other pet spoke first “oh, my, stars. She is adorable!” the pet raised an eyebrow and looked up at Mistress “but the collar?....did she ask for it? She did, didn’t she?” Cleo felt that Mistress's music became even louder and happier for a moment.
Her voice was filled with pride “oh the collar? She did not just ask for it….she begged for it.” There was a bit of surprise on the guests' faces.
Then the annoying owner began to laugh “at first I thought Nora exaggerated when she said Cleo wanted to go on vacation…but look at those eyes…that vacant smile.” The owner leaned down, looking at her with some slightly mesmerizing eyes “you are just a good little pet, now aren’t you?” the eyes were not as mesmerizing as Mistress’s eyes.
Cleo was still a bit disoriented, but she had been asked a question “yes, I am!” Her answer made both Mistress and the other owner make so soft cooing noises, the other owner gave her a well-deserved head pat.
The other pet looked slightly irritated at her owner “You don’t have to tease her that much. Cleo deserves to rest after all of this without being judged.” The other owner simply began to scratch their pet behind the ears and the irritated look quickly disappeared.
They smiled “Nora, I am not judging her at all. I will however be judging her if she wakes up from this and still refuses to admit it. Cleo may suffer from some self-delusion but that would be taking it too far.” Nora, the name of the other pet, was too busy enjoying the head scratches, so Mistress answered instead.
Mistress pat her gently on the head while speaking “Oh, I am sure she will refuse to admit it, at least for a bit longer. But I have all the time in the world, and for now, I am going to give her a perfect trial of how it is to be a floret in all its aspects.” Mistress sounded very pleased with herself and that made Cleo.
Mistress lifted her down onto the ground, soon face to face with Nora. Cleo tilted her head slightly “we are friends, right?” She hoped she was right, her memory might be spotty but something about the other’s pet smile told her that she was right.
Nora giggled a bit “Of course we are, come here.” The far larger pet engulfed her in a hug, one Cleo embraced instinctively. Nora was much larger and stronger than her, but they were both pets, so it was not like –
Her thoughts were broken off and proved wrong as Nora suddenly moved one of her arms behind her legs and lifted her up into a carrying position. Cleo made an involuntary surprised mewl, only Mistress carried her!
Nora did not seem to care about that and lifted her, as if she weighed nothing, into the pet bed. She then sat down cross-legged on the bed with Cleo still in her arms “I know I’m not Mertha…or Mistress, but can I dote on you a bit?” Cleo nodded softly and blushed a bit, being close to the other pet felt safe and nice. Soon she was in the girl’s lap with her head and legs sticking out on each end, Nora was not as large as Mistress after all.
Nora began to gently stroke fingers through her hair, there was a gentle and very relieved smile on Nora’s face “I’m so happy things turned out fine….In many ways, I feel unbelievably lucky. Cleo, you are going to continue being happy no matter what, right?” Cleo nodded and smiled, that was part of her job as a pet. Nora leaned down and kissed her on the forehead “such a good girl!” Cleo smiled even wider, she was a good girl! She made Nora happy!
Before Nora could pull away, she managed to kiss her on the cheek. Now it was Nora’s turn to blush and they then both embraced in yet another hug. While they continued to cuddle Cleo heard Mistress and the other owner talking.
The other owner seemed very happy <it is so nice that we had time to come before Nora’s appointment, just look at those two….they are so adorable.> Cleo knew it was not pet-like to listen to people's language, but she did so a bit either way.
Mistress looked down on her and Nora <so she is finally getting her implant?> implant? It reminded her of something.
Cleo looked up at Nora “you are getting your implant?” Cleo was a bit confused.
Nora smiled and boop’ed her on the nose “yes I am, so I will also take a vacation soon.” But that did not make sense.
Cleo frowned as much as her happy face could. “But are pets not supposed to have the implant already?” Nora giggled a bit.
Nora traced a finger over the lower part of her neck “you don’t have one either.” Cleo frowned a bit more.
That was different. “I just remembered I was a pet this morning, you have been a pet for far longer.” Nora giggled a bit more before she answered.
Her eyes were full of tenderness “you are right, but I had to make sure that you would be alright. And I have never been more certain that things will be alright, than right now.”
Cleo looked up at Mistress and nodded “I agree.” She trusted Mistress to handle any future difficulty, and there was no way that Mistress would fail. Nora began to smother her in kisses and head pats.
The other owner sounded a tiny bit concerned <what do you think will happen when she wakes up?> wakes up from what?
Mistress did not seem worried <it’s only three days and I am pretty sure she knew it was going to be this way. I think she will be quite embarrassed and a bit bashful, but that is about it.>
The other owner relaxed a bit <you are probably right. I have been wondering, are you going to ask her or are you going to wait for her to do it first?> Asked what?
Mistress smiled with an exciting predatory glint in her eyes <I will wait, it will be her decision, as it has always been…..But I am getting very good at predicting her actions these days, so I don’t think it will be too long. She just has a bit more stuff to figure out, stuff she has time to think about now that awful mess I behind us.> The other owner chuckled for a bit.
Cleo focused on cuddling with Nora again, she had listened far too much to people's language already. Nora seemed to be very protective of her and that was nice, she was just a small and weak pet after all. Sadly, it had to come to an end and after a while, Nora’s owner told them that it was time to go. Cleo and Nora hugged goodbye, Nora tightened the embrace “I love you Cleo!”
Cleo felt a few tears in her eyes “I love you too!” When the hug ended she saw that Nora also had cried a bit. They were happy tears, just like hers.
When the door closed and it was just her and Mistress left, she was picked up. Mistress took up her data pad, read something, and then carried her into her room. “I have something that I want you to see, it should happen any minute now.” That sounded exciting.
Mistress held her and they both looked out of the large window, it was mostly black with a few dots of white. There was also a large gray orb with a bunch of lights on it, looking at it made her feel a whole lot of different emotions.
Then there was a ripple in the blackness and a huge spaceship appeared. It was enormous and almost as soon as it arrived a swarm of tiny white ships began to move towards the gray orb. The swarm was endless and looked like a school of fish. Something then happened with the huge ship, massive vines began to fold out holes in the ship and entwined themself around parts of the hull like an enormous octopus.
The whole scene was as incredible as it was majestic, and for some reason, it filled her with relief. Mistresses gave her more pets as they continued to watch for a few more minutes. Then she looked down at her “I think it is time for lunch and then….I think we can take a walk in the park.” Cleo smiled and nodded, she wanted to pick flowers for Mistress!
Hyacynthia Whitebloom, 76th bloom could finally stretch out her vines and entwine them around the Innax, she had been cooped up for far too long. One of the bureaucrats was in the captain’s office, they probably wanted her attention. She moved her attention there and let her voice fill the room “please tell me that was the last jump, it feels like the ship has been jumping nonstop the last 15 days.”
The bureaucrat smiled and deposited a large stack of documents on the desk “yes, we have arrived. Though the situation is kind of a slight…huge mess. We have received the full reports from the Agraria.” Hyacynthia moved some of the vines she had in the room and looked over the reports, a huge mess was underselling it.
She had seen such messes before, quite a lot of them to be fair. This one was not the worst, but it was up there on the list. Massive planetary instability, drastic workforce shortages, relying on sophont cooperation…..” there was something off here.
The reports detailed that a certain Terran sophont had not only held power alone on the planet but also had held some power during the domestication efforts….Hyacynthia felt a bit curious and also a bit suspicious.
Hyacynthia pointed with a vine on one of the reports “It says here that a Terran sophont was used to maintain control, but not who they are….care to explain?” This was not the usual bureaucratic practice, it was either missing on accident….or on purpose.
The bureaucrat rummaged around the several other stacks of documents they had “….It references ‘the President’ a few times, the sophont who ruled this and several nearby planets…..oh, here it is. One Terran sophont by the name of Hendrik Hansen.” Strange that it would be so hard to find…There was something wrong.
Hyacynthia looked over the document the bureaucrat provided, very interesting…..“I think I would like to meet this sophont, do you know where he is?” The bureaucrat pulled up a data pad…. Hyacynthia noticed this would take a bit of time so moved their focus to another place, a lot of things needed to be coordinated at the moment.
After a few minutes, they put the pad down “no, there is a profile but no information on location or current status.” Hyacynthia returned her focus to the office, she had been right.
As she spoke she stretched her massive vines a bit further around the ship “send a message to Trexal, make them explain themselves.” The bureaucrat did as asked.
A few seconds later they got a reply “they say that….it’s a secret. Apparently, some deal was made with this ‘President’.” The bureaucrat was clearly a bit nervous.
Hyacynthia chuckled a bit and for a moment the ship shook slightly “they have gotten far braver these last 3 blooms. Tell them that I want to meet this sophont, and then I can maybe let it slide.” It had surprised her that Trexal had even wanted to become a captain, but this was quite different from how she remembered the often nervous young-bloom.
The bureaucrat sent and then received a message “the Terran is apparently unavailable at the moment.” Hyacynthia sighed, and a gush of air ran through the overgrown corridors she resided in.
It was perhaps for the best “tell them to send the Terran over when possible.” Her curiosity had been piqued but for now, she had a lot of work to do. The planet needed to be subdued, domesticated, and put under the compact's complete control. This interesting sophont could be examined later.