Cleo woke up, it felt like her mind was full of fog. She was lying in her ordinary bed at home, the fog in her mind was beginning to lift, and for a moment she held her breath.
The memories of the last three days flowed gently in….and her mind embraced them, there was no conflict this time. The joy and the love in each of the moments remained, no iron fist to tear them apart appeared. Some of the memories were perhaps a bit embarrassing, but that could not compare to how much joy they contained.
She breathed out and dried away a few tears of relief that had begun to trail down her cheeks.
The test had been an enormous success, her mind no longer rejected the happiness. As for its quality as a vacation, her mind and body had never felt lighter and more relaxed. She got out of the bed and stretched a bit, letting out a long yawn in the process. Her body was definitely overcompensating for a life with too little sleep, it only took a moderately comfortable position for her to nod off these days. The constant naps and long bouts of sleep probably helped with her recovery, and it was not like she had to be productive or something.
Ending The Game had done a lot for her psyche, that fact was clear. The underlying purpose that had made her repress so much and focus so single-mindedly on work was falling away. Not instantaneously, but it was losing its hold more and more as time passed. It was a massive relief, but also offered a problem: what was she to do now?
Her second objective, to become happy and well-adjusted was approaching completion faster than she had anticipated. While simply existing with Misst-….Mertha was enjoyable beyond accurate description, she still felt like she needed something more. Something greater, something more grandiose….
A flash of burning buildings, destroyed streets, and a red sky filled Cleo’s vision for a moment. She sat down on the bed, fear was suddenly clouding her mind….why did she want something greater? Was a life of joy and happiness not good enough?..... Why wasn’t it good enough? Had she become this addicted to power? The thought scared her, perhaps best to not think about it right now. She got up to the closet, quickly picked out some random clothes, and put them on before walking out into the living room
Mertha was reading another old Terra book. The affini put it down and in the process revealed a smile that quickly turned surprised. Mertha did not disclose whatever had surprised her, so it was probably nothing important. Cleo climbed up on her chair and smiled at her warden “good morning…or at least I hope it is morning.” Constant naps and sleep had made time a bit difficult to keep track of.
Mertha smiled warmly again, the slight surprise had turned to amusement “closing in on noon, but still morning in my book. How do you feel? Had a good vacation?” There was a delightful and slightly predatory energy to her words.
Cleo made sure to keep a straight face “I feel wonderful! I remember only a bit from the last three days and based on that I will have to assume it was a nice vacation.” It was a lie, of course, Cleo remembered everything. It was still a bit fuzzy and would need some work to sort out, but she remembered.…there was no need for Mistre-no! that was not her name. There was no need for Mertha to know that, it would be too embarrassing by far.
Mertha looked a bit thoughtful before the playful glint returned to her eyes “you need to eat, here I prepared some pizza…though I must say, that is an interesting choice of clothes.” Cleo was momentarily distracted by the food that had just been placed on the table to fully absorb the comment…what was wrong with her clot…oh.
She was wearing a companion dress, and a very cute one at that “well…it is comfortable…don’t give me that look, it is just clothes. Get over yourself, I am not your floret.” Her mind also reminded her that it was very practical for getting cuddles and when she was carried around and…okay that was enough of that.
Mertha just smiled wider “okay, what about this then?” Her hand reached across the table and flicked something beneath her chin, it made a soft *pling* sound……wait…Was she still wearing the collar? The collar she had begged for….oh no. Cleo felt a large blush appear on her face, she had expected to do some rather humiliating things while on class-J….but begging? For a collar?!
Mertha’s smile turned full-on predatory in a way only an affini could “a bit tongue-tied? Do you want me to remove it?” Her blush only reddened, Mertha was playing with her, she had to stop this before it was too late.
With titanic effort, Cleo got herself together. It made perfect sense to remove the collar, she was not a floret….so why did she want to keep it on?....Best to just rationalize and handwave it “oh, I didn’t recognize that I had it on…. I can keep it on, it is practical…the name tag means I won’t have to repeat my name.” The fact she had managed to say that with a straight face was the result of a decade of experience in telling complete lies in a convincing manner. Something she was very thankful for at this moment.
Mertha however, did not look convinced “Have you ever had to repeat your name to someone? You are a very memorable person.” That was true…..she needed a better excuse…a *pling* from Mertha’s chest interrupted the conversation. Thank the stars!
Mertha took out the data pad from her shoulder area and made what Cleo could only describe as a groaning noise. Cleo raised an eyebrow, best to direct the conversation to the source of Mertha’s frustration “something the matter?” Mertha groaned a bit again.
Her affini was clearly not happy “I have been called in to do some bureaucratic work again.” Hmmm, clearly even the Innax was not enough to allow the affini to return to their utopian work practices. It made sense, going from stabilization to domestication of a whole sector was a huge shift in workload.
Mertha looked thoughtful “Serla is taking care of Nora and Darla as they recover, I know Vonzin is swamped with getting sophonts out of the life support pods and Ida is helping her. I guess that means I don’t have anyone to pet-sit…” Cleo raised a vindictive eyebrow “…or take care of you if you prefer I say it like that. Will you be okay on your own?” It was a rather silly question, of course, she would be fine on her own….alone…..
This was ridiculous, she had been alone for most of her life. From the library at the academy to the crowded but solitary cubicle of the bureaucracy to the calm and quiet presidential office…She had been alone since the before the idea of ‘her’ as a person even existed. What was this? One afternoon alone? She could do that, spend some time alone…perhaps she could do some work….
Mertha interupted her thoughts “Cleo? Are you alright? It’s okay if you don’t want to be alone, I can set you off at the daycare before I go to work.” There was a deep amount of concern and compassion in Mertha’s voice.
Daycare? With a bunch of florets? “No, it's fine…” It was fine….right? She suddenly got an idea “or perhaps I could come with you?” That sounded so much better.
Mertha looked a bit confused “what do you mean?” Was that not obvious?
Cleo took a pizza slice “I can come with you to the bureaucracy. Was it not you who said that it would improve morale if there were a few, and I quote: ‘cuties like me around’?. Based on your reaction I can only imagine that you will need a morale boost or two.” She bit into the pizza and smiled, Mertha looked won over.
Her warden smiled but turned a bit stern “okay, you can come, but you are not there to work okay? Also, I can’t promise that it will be too exciting, actually, I can promise that it will be very boring” Bureaucracy, boring? Mertha was out of her mind.
After she was done eating, Cleo felt ready to leave, Mertha stopped her with a vine before she could exit the door “are you leaving…looking like that?” oh right, she was looking like a total floret, wasn’t she? engaging in any further conversation would only dig her deeper into the hole she was already in. She just needed to figure out why she wanted to wear this beautiful damn collar and then take steps to regain her independence.
For now, deflection was the best answer “don’t pretend you don’t like it, now let’s go. You have work to do and the sooner we get home the sooner we can cuddle.” A perfect deflection, her independence was secure. She did not need to care how the other affini looked at her, they assumed all sophonts were florets either way.
Mertha made some sort of noise but let her go, soon they were on their way to the rail station. It was nice to see so many more people in the streets, even if almost all of them were affini. More than a few gave her the ‘affini adoring a floret like it was the first one they had ever seen’ eyes but she survived. Cleo was used to being looked at and had to admit that the affinis’ endless adoration was better than the fear her human compatriots had displayed.
They got on the tram as it entered the station and Mertha lifted her up into one of the human seats, could they just not make ladders for these things? At least she could watch the infrastructure and architecture of the rings as the tram moved at lightning speed.
Once the tram stopped at the bureaucracy end station, Mertha lifted her down and they disembarked. Mertha signaled what way to go, and Cleo followed…..hold on…..signaled….with the vine that acted as a leash…that was attached to her collar. How had she not noticed it before? The class-J vacation had obviously left some remnants that she had to clean up. Not only that but Mertha had also gotten far too used to treating her like a floret these past three days, it would have to be corrected.
She would not react, for now, the affini could think whatever they wanted, and it was not like a floret on a leash was uncommon….That last part of her conclusion might not be the most productive for her independence, but for now, she would play along with Mertha’s possessive tendencies.
They both entered a large room full of desks of different sizes and types. Most of the desks were occupied by an affini of some sort, going through stacks of paperwork. A great wave of nostalgia hit Cleo, there was something so sublime and beautiful about it. The nostalgia was soon replaced with a realization….her bureaucracy, the one she had spent over 7 years building would soon come to an end. Perhaps it was for the best, but she had worked hard shaping it….the fact it would soon no longer exist filled her with a sense of melancholy.
Mertha led her to a desk that was yet to be occupied, a moderate stack of documents was there, ready to be processed. Mertha sat down in the chair for the desk and used her vines to create one for her. Cleo’s eyes immediately traced to the documents, despite the fact she had worked here a bit she had very little knowledge of the specifics of affini bureaucracy.
Mertha sighed “I am going to have to focus on this so don’t distract me too much, just pull a vine if you need to be let down.” Her affini took the top document and one of the many pens on the desk and began to work. Cleo leaned back in the throne of vines, she was not here to work….not here to work…not here to work….but perhaps she could just take a quick look at one of the documents.
Mertha was quite absorbed by her work, so Cleo silently took one of the documents from the stack and looked it over. It seemed like a pretty simple documentation form, elegantly set up and self-explanatory. Based on the simplistic nature of these forms and the small stack Mertha had to process this would not take long at all…Cleo put back the document and leaned back once more….a bit more time passed, Cleo looked over at Mertha…..wait, had she only completed one document? A feeling of domestic dread sat in…this would take forever.
Cleo felt the minutes begin to drag…Mertha had been right, bureaucracy could indeed be boring, but only when you did not have the ability to do it. Cleo could only stand it for so long, the wait was too boring, the temptation too great. Perhaps she could solve just one…that was acceptable, right? She silently took a document and one of the surplus pens, then began silently working on the document. She leaned a bit on the table, creating a screen between Mertha and the document she was hiding.
The document in itself might be in a language she was only half fluent in, and in a code and structure that she had never operated with. But she could feel the logic and structure in the affini glyphs, figuring out how to fill the form and the structure of the affini codes was not too difficult. It was bureaucracy and its purpose was universal no matter where in the universe one looked. The document was completed faster than she would have liked….so she grabbed another one and began working on that one as well.
Cleo began to feel how much she had missed it, just filling out forms. No grand decision that would impact millions or billions of people, no potential for massive mistakes, just filling out forms that needed some non-computer oversight. Figuring out the affini system was a delightful puzzle that gave her ample fulfillment to solve. Each document was perfect in its logic, and each new code to be cracked brought a smile to her face. Coming here had definitely been the right choice….oh this document was a bit trickier.
Cleo was stuck for a bit, solving it probably required knowledge she simply did not possess. That meant she had to get help, before she could ask Mertha she looked over at the now substantial stack of papers that she had processed without Mertha’s permission….perhaps it was best to ask someone else and not attract Mertha’s ire.
She hid the document that she needed help with behind her back and pulled on the vine Mertha had provided “okay, don’t be too long now.” Mertha answered and let her down without looking up from the document. Her affini might not be too skilled at this, but she was trying her best. Now to find some assistance.
Cleo looked around, she did not want to ask more than one person so best to find the most resourceful of the affini bureaucrats. Her eyes immediately caught one affini that was solving documents at an almost frightening speed…but based on the number of pen strokes per document the forms were not very complex. After a bit more gazing she found her target, a large barked affini that was using several vines to solve at least three documents at once, their eyes darted between the documents at a frightening speed.
She walked up carefully and stood for a moment in silence next to the chair of the busy affini, then she made her move “hello?” She made her voice as innocent and adorable as possible, perhaps even sounding a bit lost. The affini was probably quite focused on the documents so she would need a bit of cute force to break through to them.
The large affini stopped and looked down a bit confused “oh hi there…..is there something you need? Are you lost?” good, she had their attention.
Cleo smiled and pulled out the document “I was wondering if you could help me fill this one out, there are a few parts I don’t understand…please?” She blinked a few times and tried to look nervous, cuteness and displays of weakness were the best way into the affini mind.
The affini looked a bit conflicted and smiled apologetically “I’m sorry little one, I am quite busy…” The bureaucrat’s dedication to their work was admirable, but not what Cleo needed right now.
She would have to use a bit more potent ammunition “well….you look tired, perhaps you should take a small break, so you don’t make any mistakes I mean. I was thinking you could pet me while you explained?” The affini was taken a bit aback, looked over their documents, and back at her, Cleo could see in their eyes that she had won.
The affini smiled “such a considerate floret…okay, I can take a small break.” These affini were too easy, as she began to get pets she pointed to the several points on the document where she had difficulties. Not only did the affini give pretty good pets but also seemed to delight in giving advice “that part is determined by the requisition codes of the compiled item, and this needs to match the items category of both origin and type.” Cleo nodded, that made sense.
Over the next few minutes, she had filled the form and gained a much greater understanding of the affini compiling database. The affini sounded both impressed and proud “such a talented little flower, who do you belong to?” right, her current outfit did suggest that she had an owner…
Cleo smiled and pulled a bit back “I belong to myself, thanks for the help. Good luck with your work.” The affini looked a bit dumbstruck as she walked back to Mertha’s desk. She silently got back on the chair of vines and then began working again.
With her understanding expanded, the rest of the documents fell in short and pleasing order. She was just about to be done with another one when she felt eyes bore into her “Cleo?” The tone was a mix of confused and threatening. Cleo looked at Mertha, her vine still reaching for the now non-existent stack of papers that needed processing, her eyes looking at the stack of papers that she had completed.
Oh dirt “ah, yes….I was just thinking that I would be faster if I helped a bit…” The fact that her stack was three times as large as Mertha’s was best ignored. Mertha did not look pleased in the slightest, Cleo grabbed her stack and jumped of the vine chair before it could constrict her “I will just go and deliver this and then….” She managed to snatch Mertha’s pile before getting out of reach of her vines “...we can go home and relax.” Mertha had no time to stop her without creating a scene, Cleo quickly made her way to the head office door.
This may be an alien bureaucracy, but the papers still had to be delivered to the same place. While she moved she could feel Mertha stare into her back. Hopefully, her warden would be calmer when she came back. She knocked on the door and a voice inside responded affirmatively, opening the door while carrying the documents would be a hassle had she not done it a thousand times before.
She entered and closed the door behind her, the affini behind the quite ordinary desk in what seemed to be a very ordinary office, was working on some documents. Several towers of paper made the illusion of a tiny high-rise city on the desk. the affini did not spot her right away “come in, what do you…oh, hi there little petal. Are you lost?” Was every single floret glued to their owner at all times? Most likely, but the constant question was beginning to get annoying.
Cleo reached up and deposited the documents on the desk “no, I am here delivering some documents for Mertha Verina. They should be in order.” The affini seemed surprised and then began to look over the documents, probably just some low-bar quality control. Cleo climbed up in one of the chairs and waited for the affini to be done. There was a small name display on the desk ‘Hepatica Perdana, 6th bloom’. The affini was like most of these plants very beautiful, with a myriad of tiny purple flowers covering their vines and form.
Hepatica looked up “This all looks good…” the affini looked at her neck “…Cleo.” Take that Mertha! It was practical. The purple affini pulled out one of the documents “I am curious though, did you fill this one?” Her glyph handwriting could still use some work, that much was obvious. It was far from illegible but not as skilled as her human writing.
Cleo smiled innocently “yes, but Mertha helped me. I have done a lot of bureaucratic work before, so it was actually quite nice.” The last thing she needed now was more affini worrying about her. The part about Mertha might be a lie but the rest was true, it had been nice to do some form filling again….maybe….
Cleo got an idea “you know…Mertha does not enjoy doing this kind of work, but I do. With a bit of help, I can also be very efficient….Perhaps you could call me in for work instead of her?” The affini looked at her quizzingly.
They seemed a bit hesitant “it is true that Mertha is a bit strange in that way….and I am not opposed to some more help. But are you sure you will be fine without your mistress to accompany you?” Well, that was an easy problem to solve.
Cleo dismissed the concern with a hand wave “I am only her ward, despite the clothes. I might need some more…accommodating furniture though.” Hepatica looked both confused and also more convinced.
Hepatica gave a cursory glance at the documents “Well as long as she agrees to it and you think you can handle yourself, I don’t see too much of a problem.” A small lie now, and she would have her prize.
Cleo smiled reassuringly “Mertha is all for it, at least on most days I would reckon. How will you contact me?” Moving the conversation to practical matters instead of Mertha’s agreement on this was prudent.
Hepatica smiled, they were convinced “I can just send a message to Mertha, I will find you a workstation and some introductory material. Hope to see you here soon.” A large hand stretched out and Cleo shook it. With that, she got out of the chair and waved the affini goodbye.
She got out of the main office and smiled, she had done it! Now all that was required was convincing Mertha, something that would have to be done delicat-
A vine forcefully coiled itself onto her collar “Did you two have an interesting conversation?” Mertha had been standing right next to the door, waiting for her to exit. This was not good…..Mertha seemed to be in a very foul mood.
Tugging on the collar, Mertha forced her to follow as they moved out of the office and then into an empty meeting room close by. The affini turned around and looked at her sternly “I told you explicitly that you were not here to work, and what do you do? You go behind my back and work anyway.” Mertha’s vines were moving in what had to be the affini equivalent of frustratingly tapping one’s feet.
Cleo swallowed but held her ground “Things were very boring, and the documents looked interesting, so I took a look, and then I wanted to know if I could fill one out, and I could. One thing led to another and I kind of got lost in the whole thing. For what it is worth, It was very nice and relaxing, you can hardly even call it work.” Mertha did not look satisfied in the slightest.
The affini’s eyes had a dangerous red glint in them “really, you would not consider this work?” She would have to speak carefully.
Cleo smiled a bit “yeah, there are no large decisions or choices, I am just filling out sublime and logically organized forms. Doing some low-level clerk work is honestly very refreshing and fun.” Mertha’s expression softened a bit “I can’t stay cooped up in the hab forever either, this will be a nice change of pace.” The expression turned suspicious in an instant, she should not have said that last part.
Mertha moved a bit closer “what do you mean by ‘change of pace’, are you planning on coming back here?” Something about Mertha’s biorhythm made her both more open and more nervous than she had any reason to be.
Best just to get it out and see where the chips fall. “When I talked to Hepatica I may have suggested that…perhaps….maybe...I could take over for your bureaucratic work….” Martha's expression darkened significantly.
The affini was now towering over her “you did what?” Despite feeling far too small Cleo still stood her ground.
She was getting a bit frustrated. “You clearly hate it. I find great enjoyment in it, and it means we can spend more time together; it is an obvious solution. You have given me so much, is it not okay that I help you? even in this tiny, insignificant way.” Mertha looked at her more understandingly, perhaps this could work.
Cleo continued “Hepatica Was perfectly fine with it, as long as you allow it...something I may have insinuated that you do….”….Saying that might have been a mistake.
Mertha seemed to collect herself, Cleo could feel the barely hidden frustration in her biorhythm “okay. Despite how you have chosen to go ahead with this, I will allow you to do some work here. When and only when Hepatica requests it. If you genuinely do find this fulfilling then it might not be such a bad idea.” Cleo felt a bit of relief but knew that something was coming.
Mertha looked larger, almost downright intimidating “But let me make two things very clear. First of all, I decide if and for how long you are allowed to work. If you begin to do this in an unhealthy way, then it is over. Is that understood?” Cleo gave a weak nod, she could accept that.
Mertha’s voice was stern as iron “Secondly, your behavior today has been completely unacceptable. You have gone against my wishes, knowingly done something I prohibited you to do, manipulated and lied to get your way. This will not repeat itself! Is. That. Understood?” Understood, perhaps…accepted, not by a long shot.
Cleo crossed her arms “Unacceptable behavior for a floret perhaps, but unless you have forgotten, I am not your floret.” It was not like anyone had gotten harmed in any way, in fact, her actions had markedly improved things for all parties involved.
Mertha rolled her eyes “really? Well then, you won’t need this.” before she could react a vine had detached her collar. She tried to grab it, but the collar was already out of reach.
Cleo tried to reach for it “give it back!” Mertha continued to hold it up far above her.
Her affini was practically taunting her “why?” It was an excellent question, one that she had no intentions or way of answering at this moment. She needed that collar and Mertha would not stop her, there was only one solution.
Cleo shifted her expression, suddenly being unsure and sad “I thought you wanted people to think that I was your floret…..” She looked up with uncertain and vulnerable eyes “I thought I made you proud…” She took a few weak steps forward.
Mertha was taken completely aback by the change and moved backward “Cleo…..” The surprise in her voice was mixed with a warning. The affini knew what she was doing and knew what the result would be.
Cleo would not be deterred, she took another step forward “can I please have the collar back….or do you not want me as your flo-“ She was interrupted by a vine with white flowers shooting forward and injecting class-W into her arm.
Mertha was shaking, she had almost got it “Cleo! Your speaking privileges have been revoked, do not attempt that again.” If Mertha thought a lack of words would stop her then she was wrong.
Cleo took a few more steps towards the affini and hugged her leg, she looked up and let out a desperate and adorable mewl. Mertha shook, vines and rhythm in complete disarray, and dropped the collar “fine, fine! take it.” Cleo snatched it before it fell to the ground and with a victorious smile put it on.
Did these affini really think they could control her when they were this easy to manipulate? As she was gloating, her primal instincts, something she usually never listened to, told her she was in danger.
Mertha’s huge shadow covered her, the affini was smiling with predatory intent “you are right, I would proudly parade you around as my pet, but not in this state. You are acting spoiled and disobedient, I think it is clear that some discipline is in order.” Now it was Cleo’s turn to take a step back, she realized far too late that she had pushed Mertha way too far.
Before she could take another step a vine coiled around her collar and pulled her forward instead “And here I thought you had come so far, seems like you have much further to go. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt at all. In fact, it will be very much the opposite.” A vine moved forward and injected something into her leg.
Over the course of the next few seconds, as the xenodrug spread, her limbs became incredibly relaxed and then went entirely limp. Vines thankfully caught her before she could fall, what was going on? The only part of her that responded to her commands was her face. The vines moved her like she was some sort of puppet, she had no way of resisting at all.
Mertha lifted her up and placed her inside a cocoon of vines that then closed around her. Cleo just lay there for a few seconds, she had no way of moving or acting so it was her only choice. Mertha’s voice was all around her “let out one of your adorable little noises if you are uncomfortable.” Her current position was moderately comfortable, but it was not like she would ask Mertha for anything right now.
Mertha’s voice echoed through the cocoon once again “I have injected you with some class-M, it should stop you from moving on your own. One day you might find the lack of agency fun but for now, it has a rather different purpose.” Had her immobility been the result of human drugs she would probably be panicking right now, instead, she felt remarkably calm, but she was still defiant.
What was this supposed to prove? That Mertha could stop her limbs from moving? Discipline was clearly not Mertha’s forte. Suddenly a vine that she could not see, stung her in the neck, and began injecting something. Mertha sounded far too excited “For your own dignity’s sake I would advise you to try to keep quiet until we get home, little kitten.” The slight shift in the vines indicated that they were moving. Cleo realized almost immediately what Mertha had done, it was class-A….A lot of class-A….Far too much Class-A….
Her mind was in total disarray as the xenodrugs flooded her system and mind. The slight colors from the bioluminescent flowers in the cocoon shone and sparkled like fireworks. The sound of each vine contracting, moving, loosening, or touching against another was crisp and distinct. The slightly earthy and sweet smell from the cocoon was far more powerful than she could ever remember. By far the worst was touch, her dress felt like the softest thing that she had ever touched, just the air made her skin feel like it was being caressed all over.
The overwhelming sensations battered against her mind and left her disoriented and confused. Everything was far too vivid, her senses too specific and powerful. It was like she had lived in dim light for her entire life, and someone had just exposed her to a supernova. Cleo managed to force a few thoughts together, why was Mertha doing this? How would this make her behave as the insidious plant wanted her to?
A horrifying realization struck, if Mertha did anything to her now……she would be a begging and obedient puddle in the affini’s vines within a few seconds. The class-J had obviously left far more of a trace in her mind than she had first accepted, in her current state that would only get worse. The sensitivity of her skin and mind meant that Mertha could break her will, maybe she would even consciously and happily accept the leash around her collar. It was a terrifying thought, but almost a bit tempt- no it was not!
Cleo steeled her mind, she would have to resist with all that she had. Would the affini have some sort of effect on her? Certainly. Effects that might even be long-term? Maybe. But if she remained strong she might get another chance to clear her mind and restore her willpower.
That is what she should have done today, worked through the class-J memories and weeded out the tendencies that had remained from the vacation. She should have stayed at home despite her hesitation, how could she remain independent if she could not even be alone for a day? Going here and subverting, then challenging Mertha in such a brazen fashion had been arrogant.
The vines underneath her shifted lightly and the concentration she had fought to maintain was broken in an instant. The sensation of the vines rubbing against her skin, if only for a fraction of a second, was more than her mind could handle. She involuntarily made a pleased mewling sound, Mertha chuckled “don’t worry, kitten. We are soon home.” Soon home? Had it been that long already?
Cleo listened closely and heard the very slight hum of the elevator to their hab, it was soon time. She would have to weather this storm as best she could, and hope that Mertha would show some restraint.
The vines around her opened and the light from the hab shone like stars, luckily her mind was getting a bit more used to the hypersensitive senses she now possessed. Cleo braced herself, then she was gently lifted up, the feeling of being lifted was indescribable. She realized she would have no chance to resist….and then she was put down on the sofa…..Mertha walked over to the kitchen table and collected the book she had read this morning before sitting down in a chair opposite her….what was happening?
Cleo would have liked to ask but that was currently impossible, was Mertha playing with her? That did not fit into her usual behavior….she was missing something. The couch had for a moment sent ripples of bliss through her mind, but her body was getting used to it. Now, all she could do was just sit and wait for Mertha to act…..After what had to be at least 10 minutes Cleo was getting impatient and her skin had begun to tingle with a slight need.
Finally, Mertha stood and moved up to her, the playful glint in her eyes was still there “you look a bit surprised kitten, did you think I would do something to you?'' Was she not? The affini seemed to delight in this, whatever it was “oh, I would never….unless you asked me to, of course. Your eyes indicated that some of the class-A is wearing off, let’s make sure to get you topped off.” A vine slowly moved and then injected more xenodrugs into her neck, the tingling need intensified as the class-A flooded through her.
Cleo realized what Mertha was attempting to do, she wanted her to ask for it, perhaps even beg for it. That would not happen, not in a million years. This need her skin and body wanted could easily be ignored, it had to be ignored. Mertha smiled and sat down to read once more, she was just trying to psyche her out. Mertha would give up far before she would ever ask for cuddles….no! those thoughts would not be allowed.
The need continued to grow, had she been able to move she would doubtlessly be writhing. Here the class-M proved to be a benefit, she would hold her composure. No matter how tempting it would be to ask Mertha to just give her a few pets or - no! She had to remain focused, any thoughts like that would just drag her deeper and she had sunken far enough down already.
The tingling developed into a burning need, her body craved touch or any such sensations. Cleo focused on memorizing the affini bureaucratic codes she had discovered, but the need was clawing into her concentration. Mertha had to be on the verge of giving up now, right? Cleo had been focusing on a small crack in the wooden coffee table to keep concentration but now looked up. Mertha was looking at her with an amused smile. Okay, back to looking at the crack and thinking about bureaucracy.
Would it really be that bad to just ask for one small pat on the head? No, even a small slipup would break the dam in her mind. Her body might scream that she needed it, but it had no choice in the matter. Her body was a vessel that would obey her mind, not the other way around. Mertha thought she could discipline her? Cleo would show her the power of self-discipline.
She did not need it, she did not need it, she did not need it! She would not break, even if the temptation was so great….no, focus! The compiling database was ordered by the category and energy required to form it….all energy classes below 4 could be made in a standard atomic compiler…all above required industrial compliers that had their own forms and documents….Mertha would doubtlessly smother her into submissive oblivion if she asked…And that was bad, that was what she needed to avoid. Independence Cleo, that is what you are fighting for!
Mertha’s amused and predatory voice broke through her battleground of a mind “is my little kitten struggling a bit?” what was she talking about….Wait…she was panting, heavily…how humiliating...Cleo met Mertha’s eyes and let out a growl of defiance, it did not sound very convincing. Mertha smiled even wider “such defiance…can’t wait to see it be replaced by docile obedience, I think you need another dose.” No, no, no, no, another vine reached across the table and injected yet another dose into her.
Focusing on any single part of her body was impossible, her skin was like an inferno of need. Her body wanted, craved, and demanded to be touched, no matter the cost. Cleo felt her grip over her mind slipping, but she had to keep it. Mertha would not make her beg again, it was below her dignity…..She had to focus on what she really wanted. She wanted to…cuddle with - no! She wanted…for Mertha to - no! she wanted…she wanted….independence?
Independence from what? Earlier today she had already proved that she was almost addicted to her affini’s presence….but she could overcome that addiction, right? She had to stop these defeatist thoughts, they were just making things worse. She had to focus….She had to focus….maybe, she could….would it be so bad if she….The need was just too much…but she had to….did she have to? What would happen if she didn’t? Could she not ask her for just a bit of relief?
Cleo made a desperately needy whining noise, she was losing control…did she want that control? Mertha looked up, she had been writing something on a piece of paper “awwww, I think my little kitten is ready, just wait a few more moments.” The affini continued to write….no….please….for every moment that passed a bit more of her resistance was swallowed by the ravenous need.
What was Mertha writing? Was it a domestication contract? No, I couldn’t be, they were longer and had to be delivered by the bureaucracy. Also, Mertha did not want to domesticate her….didn’t she?...at least not in this way….so why was she?.....to make her behave…..that was not that bad, right? She could behave…..The last of her focus was slipping, she knew that but there was nothing she could do.
Mertha finally stopped writing and put away the pen “look at you, so little resistance left, so ready to behave.” Yes, she was ready to behave, no! she had to resist…One of Mertha’s vines moved forward and injected something “you can speak now my little kitten, what do you want?” she had only one shot at this…..she had to focus.
Cleo swallowed, trying to collect herself “cou…count…counteragent.” She had done it!
Mertha even looked a bit surprised before the predatory smile returned “impressive, but I think you are lying to me….and that is not good behavior, now is it?” but if she didn’t get the counteragent….then…then “perhaps you just need another dose and 10 more minutes to think.” She could not do that, better to bend now than to break later….if she was not already too late.
The vine reached outwards, a small drop of xenodrugs shone on its needle-like tip “please….wha…What do you…want?” Mertha smiled even wider, the vine retracted and the affini stood up.
Mertha moved so she was standing behind her, out of her field of view “I want you to apologize for your behavior today, then I need to make sure you understand how poor that behavior was. Can you do that for me? Little kitten.” Mertha was not even using her name….but she had no choice. Mertha moved in front of the couch again, standing over her.
She could do this “Merth-“ her warden's eyes glared for a slight moment, and she stopped immediately.
Mertha’s eyes were domineering “you know what to call me…” Cleo would feel humiliated, but the need overshadowed all other emotions.
Suddenly her mouth felt very dry “mis…Mistress, I…I am sorry for…my bad behavior today….could you..” Mertha’s smile coaxed her forward “could…you…help me…behave?” She forced the words through her heavy panting.
Her affini looked very pleased i “that I can, my little kitten. But before I can help you, you need to tell me what you are.” ‘What she was’? What kind of question was that?
Mertha leaned down and looked at her expectedly, what was she? “a human…” Mertha shook her head “your…your pet?” There was a slight flash in Mertha’s eyes.
Then it disappeared “no, at least not yet. That is your decision to make. Now, what are you?” Mertha expected her to know this….what was she? Oh….
Cleo swallowed again, her lips trembling “y…your…little kitten?” Mertha looked pleased once more, that was good. The need was so strong, she needed….the counteragent, yes, that was what she needed.
Mistress’s voice dripped with domineering satisfaction. “That is right, you are my little kitten and kittens have to follow certain rules.” A vine moved the paper that she had been writing on in front of her face “I want you to read each rule out loud, and accept that as what you have to follow, do you understand?” Cleo nodded before the writing on the paper had even come into focus.
She looked at the top line….no, she couldn’t….but she had to “kittens…listen to and obey…their mistress.” Cleo looked up at Mistress, she nodded for her to continue.
Cleo’s eyes moved down the paper to the next rule “kittens want to…make their mistress proud.” She did want to make her mistress proud…
The next line…no, that was not acceptable, Cleo looked up at Mertha “do I still see a spark of defiance? Perhaps another dose will help.” The vine pierced her neck once again, the need was almost all she could think about…it was too much.
But lying was important, how else…how…it was societally necessary…Cleo tried to summon all the defiance and pride she had left but found nothing…she had to obey “Kittens….don’t….lie” another crack in the dam appeared, there were so many of them now, the pressure was too much for her to handle.
Mistress smiled, “that is right, kittens don’t lie. Now read the next one.” Cleo looked at the next one, it was practically the same.
It was almost easy “kittens…don’t try to manipulate others.” But almost everything could be considered manipulation….was she simply to just accept Mertha’s…mistress’s decision every time? Perhaps…Perhaps she should, another crack appeared.
The next rule was easier than the last “kittens want and are proud to obey.” She was obeying right now, wasn’t she?….that was good…
Just a few more left “kittens don’t speak against their mistress.” She would not speak against her mistress….Each crack let more and more water through, the dam had almost collapsed completely.
One last time, Cleo tried to resist…but it was far too late, she spoke almost without thinking “kittens love to behave.” She…she loved to behave…there was only one rule left.
The dam was still holding but only by a thread, and it could not stop the need “kittens…kittens…love to…belong…to their mistress.” The paper was dropped to the ground, but the rules stayed in her mind.
Mistress lowered herself “ well done…now what are you? and who am I?” Her large hand gripped around her jaw, the sensation was beyond description, Cleo wanted to melt into the hand and the bliss it provided, but mistress kept her focused.
She looked straight into her beautiful eyes “I am your little kitten...and you are my mistress.” Mistress's predatory energy was overwhelming, and Cleo could not help but love it.
Mistress asked her one last question, “what do you want?” She had to say the counteragent, she had to or else….but kittens don’t lie.
The dam broke “can you pet me? cuddle with me? please, mistress! I need it!” Mistress’s expression turned triumphant, victorious.
A vine moved forward and injected something into her neck. “I will, my little kitten, but first I need to make sure that the lesson sticks in your soft and malleable little mind.” Mistress’s eyes suddenly became even more mesmerizing, she stared into them and surrendered completely.
There was no resistance against the eyes or the words or the music, her mind accepted her mistress’s influence without effort. Her mind was like wet clay, the music and the eyes shaped it into their liking, as the words imprinted the rules and the feeling of submission deep into her mind. In almost no time, it was over and the eyes, disappointingly, returned to normal.
Mistress injected her with something again….almost immediately her body began to writhe and move with need. Moving against the couch created overwhelming sensations but was only a tiny relief. Cleo looked up at her mistress with begging eyes “Please mistress! Please, please, please….” Her voice faltered as the need became too much for her to even speak.
Mistress moved her vines towards her “I’m so proud of you, now you deserve your reward.” The fact that mistress was proud of her filled Cleo with joy, just in time for it all to be shattered as the vines picked her up and began moving over her body. In only a few seconds her mind fractured into a million blissful pieces, and she turned into a begging and obedient puddle in her mistress’s arms. Every touch and movement sent shivers down her spine and shockwaves through her mind. The need was finally satisfied, kitten loved to belong to her mistress.