Keep going, that was the only choice, to keep going no matter what. Luis breathed slowly as he continued to write on the data pad, building up the web that would keep the crew distracted from desperation. Another hunger pang shot through his body, his stomach churning like an engine that was consuming itself now that all fuel was gone. Keep going, keep going…he had lasted this long, tomorrow he could eat again. The thought of the half ration brought another pang of hunger, fueling the exhaustive desperation.
It was becoming harder and harder to concentrate, focus stretched further than it ever should have. The only blessing was that he had filled out enough work orders to be able to do it in his sleep…sleep would be nice. It had come reluctantly last night, more so than usual, maybe Selma had some sleeping meds? Didn’t matter if there was any left, it had to go to the crew. With some renewed strength Luis completed another task, putting it aside with a stable right hand.
1639, it was soon dinner, something he had no need to attend. Was there not something else? The report from Alyssum! Fuck he was already late. Luis popped out of the chair and grabbed the jacket, taking note of the cracks and breaks that Ageratu had left on the desk a day prior. What a bloody mess — or at least close to one, to let his hunger-induced temper control him like that had been foolish. The ceasefire was only intact as a matter of luck, he had planned to rectify it somewhat with an apology, but Ageratu was still avoiding him as far as he could tell.
Before putting on the jacket and hat, Luis decided to splash some water on his face, to get back some of that strained focus the hunger was siphoning away every moment. As he looked up, into the cloth-covered mirror over the sink, morbid curiosity entered his mind as a noxious miasma. It could not be so bad to just take on look….
The cloth fell away and revealed the thing, that logic dictated was his own reflection. For most the lack of the right arm would be the most apparent, the thin and hollow simulacrum not a pleasant one to look at, the place where it joined at the shoulder even less so. Without the uniform’s provided bulk, the body looked frail, the ribs countable and the left arm not much more alive than the right.
The face was both better and so much worse. The ravages of micro-gravity were not present, it looked almost natural had it not been his face. The part, beyond the general repulsive state of the body, that really caught his eyes was the lower parts of his face. Black tiny hairs had sprouted out the last couple of days, framing the face in a way that was both jagged and crude. He was usually very diligent with shaving, but the situation had thrown that habit to the curb. Luis lifted a hand to touch it, the thing mimicked his movements. As they both reached the cheek, the texture alone was enough to send a shiver through his body. He didn’t want it there, yet it never stayed away for more than a few hours. Selma had talked about solutions one time, tempting solutions he could afford….
This was idiotic, it could never happen, it was that simple. Focusing on the problem was the reason it felt so bad. Maybe he should let the beard grow, perhaps the only solution to the problem was to bury it so deep he would forget it existed. Luis put on the jacket and hat. The thing that stared back was solid, orderly, reliable, and in command, what the crew needed. What more could he ask for? For some reason, the sight looked familiar…
He didn’t have time for this pointless melancholy. Done wasting time Luis rushed orderly towards the bridge, the chatter of the crew done with their tasks and eagerly awaiting their meal sung in his ears. There was worry and hunger present in the voices but hope and confidence as well. Before he could reach the meeting he was now quite late for, rapid footsteps behind alerted him “Captain! Could I have a word?” Ari was slightly flushed in the face, the sub-lieutenant must have run to reach him.
Luis put on his most convincing and professional smile “of course, what’s on your mind?”
Ari nodded and hesitated, something very unusual for her to do. Aria was not the easiest crewmember he had ever had the pleasure of knowing, yet she was brilliant in her own way. Speaking her mind, no matter the consequences was one of the two edges she possessed. “I heard…that the blue affini broke into your office yesterday. I and Madelaine saw her rush through the corridor, and she looked vicious. Is everything alright?”
Saying yes would be a stretch, and saying no would be a disaster “we had some minor disagreements that we managed to resolve, no harm done.” A blatant lie, best to change the subject “how is the squad doing? I apologize that we have not had any staff meetings in a while.”
“Fine I suppose, Emanuel is a bit grumpy that he can’t sit behind the navigation console all day, but he is getting around to the concept of doing actual work. Hunger ain’t nice, won’t lie about…sorry.” Ari cut herself off, another very uncommon thing for her to do, worry and guilt overshadowing her initiative “suppose you know that better than all of us…”
Sympathy was part of the reason he had chosen to do this, it was necessary…and it felt cruel “leave the worrying to me, okay? That’s my job and I do not want anyone encroaching on it.”
Ari chuckled uncomfortably “if you say so….one last question,” please don’t… “are you sure we can trust the affini?” Stars damn it, was it that hard to understand?
“We need their help to survive, simple as that. Cooperate with them when asked and let me handle any disagreements.” He could have done better in his talks with the affini, but Ari could do much worse “and when possible stay away from them, you have stepped over the line before, and I don’t want to see it again. Understood?” The question was dragged past clenched teeth.
“Ye-yes captain. Got it.” Ari froze, his sudden edge having caught her off guard.
He could have been gentler with that message, though he did not have the patience for that at the moment “good, a fight with them would be catastrophic and I can’t pull your ass out of the fire this time. Now I need to get to a meeting, dismissed.” With a nod, he turned around and made his way to the bridge once more.
Entering the abandoned nerve cluster of the ship about twenty minutes too late, Luis found Alyssum waiting patiently “sorry for the delay, do you have the report I asked for?” A loud growl from his stomach abruptly dashed any hope that this meeting could be concluded without affini worry.
In contrast to his peers, Alyssum was a spot more retrained, not that the discomfort present in the affini’s form was any less apparent. Vines moving erratically at their edges, parts of the form contorting and loosening, and eyes that looked at him like he was a wounded animal “report?....Oh yes, here you go.” A vine presented him with a data pad he eagerly snatched and began reading “The repairs are coming along smoothly if a bit slower than I had hoped. We have had to improvise on certain parts, the extra use of our technology should when applied correctly, be more than adequate.” The report agreed, soon they might actually be able to send that vital message.
All good news, it made it easy to ignore the affini’s troubled tone “when do you think the relay will be ready?” Yesterday had been terrible, this morning not much better, this was exactly what he needed to get his mind on better tracks.
Alyssum considered the question, counting on his hands and several assisting vines going up and down “I would say…..maybe three…to four days. So long as we don’t run into any unforeseen problems that is.” They were going to make it…before the feeling of hope could properly take root another brutal pang of hunger tore it away. His face must have contorted for Alyssum’s reaction was instant, wines moving towards him. Halting in midair, and then slowly pulling back. It had happened so fast that Luis had not even had time to flinch.
A frustrated groan left the affini, the usual harmony splicing apart into a thousand painful resonances “please, if we can’t convince you to eat could I at least help with the pain?” Like with Ageratu yesterday some sort of feral energy had captured Alyssum’s voice.
Help with the pain? The right thing to do was dismiss the proposal out of hand but…“how would you do that?” Temptation? Desperation? At least one of those emotions needed to hear the affini out.
Two vines extended from Alyssum’s form, one with a white flower, the other with a yellow one “I can either give you some class-Z that will put you to sleep” the white one moved slightly “or some class-E that will dull the pain.” The yellow one bloomed to reveal a needle.
They wanted to drug him?! “No, I need to oversee the ship, sober and very much awake.” Did they seriously think he would accept that? “I am fine, and none of you are responsible for my welfare, so stop acting like it.” The revealed vines trembled before slowly slinking back and disappearing within the puffy mass of white flowers.
Alyssum shook his head “don’t lie to me, I can sense your pain as clearly as you are feeling it.” Oh….
That explained a great deal…fuck “we can take the rest of the meeting over the ship’s intercoms if that-“
The affini form imitated a sigh “you don’t understand at all….you are in pain, that in itself is unacceptable. The fact that we can’t help you in the way that is needed is intolerable…why do you obstruct us from helping in even the tiniest way?” Alyssum was genuinely distraught, several white petals falling from his form.
There was something naturally tragic about the sight…still, there was only one answer “the crew. I owe them to keep my duty….could we move on to the meeting?”
Alyssum relented and gave a confirming nod “I am beginning to wonder if you terrans’ propensity to pack bond is too potent. Seeing as Ageratu did not manage to convince you yesterday I doubt I will have any more luck, we can discuss the repot…” He did not sound happy in the slightest, yet the doomsday clock of affini takeover had refused to move.
The rest of the meeting went by without any further issues. Though each time the hunger would make itself painfully apparent Luis noticed a slight flinch from Alyssum. Once it was over and Luis left the bridge the change in atmosphere was like getting the ventilation back online. Somehow the air on the bridge had felt…jittery, nervous, and frustrated. 1748, dinner was soon over…There were only a few more hours before he could attempt to sleep and then, tomorrow…food.
For now, he had more work to do…something about…he would remember once he got to the office. The edges of his vision had begun to become blurry and unfocused, exhaustion filling every limb like iron. The offer of class Z, the sleeping drug sounded far too tempting now. Maybe he should have accepted it, a few extra hours of sleep couldn’t hurt. The pull between getting some rest and ignoring the hunger dragged against worry. What if something happened? staying awake was worth it in the end.
Luis entered the office and collapsed into the chair, some tea would have been nice about now. He looked towards the side table where it usually resided and found it empty. It had been a good idea to give it away, drinking rust had to be distasteful if not a downright painful process. His finger trailed over the cracks in the desk that Ageratu had left…They were also suffering, that much was clear. There had to be some way he could help them, but how? Their only current wish was to have him stop doing what needed to be done for the crew that, enemies or not, they were a part of now. Why could they not accept that he was the one responsible for people’s welfare, theirs included?
This would all soon be over, the……His hand clutched painfully around the data pad he had retrieved, the pain in the hand distracting from the hunger as the pang subsided. It had not been this bad last time, should it not be easier with one less arm to feed? It didn’t matter, the pain was fleeting in long-term consideration. The letters on the data pad were getting harder and harder to focus on…it was fine, he just needed to keep going.
There was a knock on the door, breaking Luis of his single-minded focus. 1902…he didn’t have any meetings, briefings, or reports scheduled. Unless the hunger was starting to affect his memory as well. If this was Selma or one of the affini…at least the door had not been forced open. “Come in.” He unlocked the door and the let automatic hinges open it. Natalia peered inside, more than a little nervous. What the frost was she doing here?
She took a few steps inside, showcasing a small bag “s-sorry if I’m interrupting, Duran asked me to ask you what to do with this garbage.” Garbage?
Luis’s mind staggered for a moment, had he heard that correctly? “I…I don’t…shoot it into space like the rest I assume.” He had never known Duran to be into practical jokes “is there something special about it?” Could it be affini tech? No, there was no way they were wasting anything like that, an affini toaster could probably outmatch all terran heating technology by itself.
Natalia placed the bag on the desk “I don’t know, Duran told me to ask you about it.” Feeling his limited patience beginning to run out Luis opened the bag to get a look…food, it was food. Inside the bag was a grey mass of small shaven-off synthcubes, at least two whole cubes worth.
“Where did this come from?” What was going on? His body had gone still at the sight, there was a reason he had not gone to dinner…
The engineer shrugged, though even through the haze of hunger Luis notices there were something performative about it “leftovers from the last few meals, how so?” Leftovers?! Bullshit, they had…they had…
Luis closed the bag, the sight was enticing to the point of nausea “I-I…I can’t accept this. You are the people doing actual work, I am just sitting here doing paperwork.” He could only imagine what it must have required to give up even the tiniest morsel.
Natalia shrugged again “I think Selma would be pretty mad if I or anyone else started to eat literal garbage.” Of course, that accursed doctor had put them up to this and Duran was likely more than willing to help. “Should I leave it with you or take it to the airlock?” Bastards….
They had left him no choice “no, I will ‘dispose’ of it.” Natalia grinned and began to walk towards the door “wait. Wait one moment.” She stopped “please make the rounds and tell everyone that their ‘garbage’ is very much appreciated.”
Her grin grew wider “yes, captain.” Throwing a mock salute before exiting the office.
Luis tentatively opened the bag and took out a handful, staring at it for a moment…what had he ever done to deserve such a crew? The taste was bland, the consistency that of dry cheese, it could have been gourmet mutton for all that he cared. He made sure to eat slowly, and with every handful, the hunger receded more and more.
Tears of relief and pride ran down his cheek, sometimes seasoning the next portion with just a smidge of salt. There were moments when being the captain was a burden, and then there were moments like this that made everything more than worth it. He doubted the affini could ever understand, admittedly nor did most captains.
He mostly emptied the bag over the course of what must have been hours, sparing some for the night should the hunger pangs return. With its immediate need fulfilled to a degree of satisfaction, his body began to feel incredibly sleepy. 2213, he could take an early night as soon as he was done with this last acquisition request.
There was a knock on the door. This late? Luis smiled “come in.” Worst case it was one of the affini, ending the day with rectifying the frozen relations would make it nigh perfect.
Verek walked in with his usual smile “good evening captain, I have something I would like to discuss.” Right, the affini were far from the worst case.
Though even the shady quartermaster did not have the power to bring his mood down completely “what is it you want?” Verek strode up and sat down in the chair on the other side. For fuck’s sake “It is too late for any long-winded meetings, we take it tomorrow.”
Verek smiled and placed a small device on the desk…some sort of speaker “oh I am afraid this can’t wait till tomorrow dear captain. This recording is from a bit over an hour ago, please listen carefully.” He pressed a button and the speaker sparked to life.
There was some sort of whooshing noise in the background, the voice slightly distant “Ari, could you please stop pacing? You have been doing that for hours.” Madelaine, Ari’s girlfriend sounded worried.
How had Verek obtained this? Before he could ask the quartermaster held up his hand, a sign to be quiet. There was the sound of a door being closed, and then being locked “okay but nothing I’m about to say leaves this room, got it?...I overheard the captain talking to one of the affini, the white flowery one.” Ari sounded more nervous than he had ever heard her before “they talked about dismantling the weapons array to fix that damned communication relay, you know what the captain said? ‘we can’t do that, the crew would get suspicious’.” Fuck…
Emanuel, the ship's helmsman sounded more confused than anything else “you sure that’s what he said, what would we be suspicious of?” The rest of Ari’s squad was probably also there, the recording had to be from the squad’s quarters.
A sinking feeling had begun to grow in his gut “that we’d catch on. When you woke up after the jump, the only two other people on the bridge were the captain and that blue affini, right?”
“Yeah, but what does…oh fuck, you don’t think…” No, no, no. There was tension in the room, a knife edge being pressed against his mind, it knew what was coming.
The sound of Ari pacing up and down created a macabre rhythm “exactly, and then after the briefing he goes and has a meeting with the affini, alone. You all know that blue affini basically broke into his office yesterday, well apparently they only had a ‘minor’ disagreement.” There was a dramatic pause “Do I need to spell it out for you? They got him! Luis is being mind-controlled by the fucking weeds, for all we know they could have one of their parasites inside him already.” The knife went in, a hollow space opening up within him.
The world had begun to feel very distant, but the audio was clear as void “slow down, he doesn’t have any of those scars on the back of the neck. Maybe we can talk to him, make him understand what’s going on?” Philip, one of the newly promoted engineers interjected. Please listen to him…please…
“They can fucking shapeshift and construct kilometer-wide ships, I think they can hide one measly scar. Also, if the affini figure out we are on to them they’ll scramble our brains, we need to be careful.” Ari continued “what we need to do is figure out who is mind controlled or not and explain to them what is going on. We also need to destroy the communication relay.” What? Why by terra’s sunken cities would they do that?
Philp was just as confused “I worked hard on that thing, why the hell do you want to destroy it?”
Madelaine answered “because that is how they win. We don’t need the relay but if we get to the station then the affini are screwed. Their only hope is to call for help, that’s why we have been stripping the ship bare for parts to get it online and the affini working on it non-stop.” The knife sunk a bit deeper before twisting in place.
There was an audible sound of two people kissing “I knew there was a reason I loved you,” Ari’s voice got calmer and more serious “I suggest we keep an eye out for any suspicious activity, so far I think that Natalia and Selma might be compromised. We can meet during lunch tomorrow and plan our next move, Duran unmistakably hates the weeds so he might be a good person to tell first-“ The audio cut out, leaving the office quiet except for his own rapid breathing.
These were the first sparks of mutiny, it had to be stopped “I’ll talk to them, make them see reason.” He could do that, he had known Ari and Madelaine for years.
Verek shook his head “I would strongly advise against that. Unless you have some indubitable proof that you are indeed not mind controlled all you would accomplish would be to force them to move early, hastening the onset of mutiny drastically.” He was right, anything he could say to convince them could just as easily be seen as a manipulation by the affini.
“What do you want me to do then?” Verek was the one who had brought the audio to him, what motive did he have?…that the snake had installed listing devices on the ship could not be dealt with now.
“From their viewpoint, and the viewpoint of most of the crew their logic is solid and convincing. You know as well as I that this has to be halted before it can be allowed to grow, or very unfortunate situations will follow. Should you wish to deal with them discreetly I can arrange for an accident on their next shift before they-“ Luis’s right hand grabbed around the quartermaster’s shirt and pulled him out of the chair.
Searing, hot rage flowed through him “you want me to kill them?! Give me one good reason that I should not throw you out the airlock!” He never should have let this worm onto the ship in the first place.
Verek did not even flinch, his smile the same as always “should I die, the unfortunate truth of the base’s nonexistent nature will become public knowledge. Should you find an alternative solution to the problem that does not require my involvement or does not end in the mutineer’s death that will be more than satisfactory. All I suggested was merely that whereas you have experience, I have expertise in the matter.”
Suddenly, before Luis had fully realized what had happened Verek bent his arm back, releasing the grip with a surprising amount of force. Verek dusted off the shirt with an absentminded hand “I am sad to see that my aid has once again been cast as villainy. Should the result be beneficial, I suppose it matters little. I shall leave you to find an adequate solution to this unfortunate conundrum, I have every confidence that you will be successful.”
Fucked! He was fucked! For several hours, Luis had tried to come up with some magic bullet that would dissolve the situation before it got out of control. Out of desperation, he had considered if the audio was real at all…it was. There was no way Verek had managed to create such a flawless illusion in that amount of time.
Every possible solution was too risky, too likely to fail, and too suspicious. The spark had to be snuffed out before it could spread, had to be silenced before it could reach more ears. He had considered going to Duran first, but the logic of Ari and her squad was solid enough, the crew’s suspicion of the affini so great, that they might believe them no matter what. People were armed, and attempting to imprison them would best case cause injury that they did not have the medicine to heal. Fucked!
A tiny disgusting voice was beginning to consider Verek’s proposal, six casualties were less than what he could expect from the mutiny…No! There had to be some way, but what could he do alone….Ageratu…she had offered to help should something happen. As soon as the thought appeared from somewhere within his mind, it clicked into place.
Why had he not thought about it before? The affini could help—Was he insane? Including the affini in this mess was certain to make it worse—No, they could help…she had offered to do so…—The affini could very well use the information of an imminent mutiny to make their move first—What other choice did he have? murder his own crew?—Because the affini solution would definitely be smooth and without consequence, it was downright betrayal, abandoning the crew to the affini—she could help.
0436, despite every instinct screaming that it was a mistake, Luis made his way towards the quarters where the affini resided. If the right choice was killing Ari and the squad then it was simply a choice he was too weak to make. The first mistake had been to not mutiny the second he got the orders to head to the front lines, should have found a way to slip away, defect or go into hiding…too late for those thoughts now.
The ship was dark and empty, the hum of the ventilation and the rumble beneath his feet somewhat reassuring. This was still his ship…he could make this work…somehow. There was an uncomfortably high likelihood that the affini would scramble his mind as soon as he told them. The only reason the ceasefire existed was because he kept the crew in line, without that bargaining chip…He shuddered slightly.
He stopped in front of Ageratu’s door, lifting his hand to knock…hesitation, was there no other way? She could help…fuck it. The metallic clang rang through the corridor and something massive began shambling behind the door. As it opened Ageratu came through as a majestic mass of blue and green, the amber eyes sparkling in the darkness <excuse…> “oh, what brings you here so late? Can’t sleep?” Oh, stars…focus.
Luis swallowed and looked down “I-I need your help, can we talk about it inside?” there was a second of silence.
Then he felt the weight of a vine on his left shoulder “of course dear, you go inside while I get the others.” The care in her voice was unmistakable as anything else, the vine on his shoulder gently ushered him inside the cabin…no way back now, yet the fear and panic had begun to ebb. He found a spot on the bed to sit, a gruesome and painful feeling had begun to return where the panic had been a minute ago. How had it come to this?…
Ageratu returned, the two other affini in tow. The room was far too small for the three giants to get adequate space, so it got quite cramped. Ageratu sitting right next to him, looked down with a compassionate smile “would you like some tea?” He nodded and soon there was a warm cup in his hands, the smell was awfully relaxing “I am sorry that I have not thanked you for your gift yet, it has been a wonderful comfort. It is late and you should be asleep but take all the time you need to be comfortable before telling us what the problem is. Remember, we only want to help.”
A few sips of the tea later Luis began to explain the situation. How Ari had overheard the conversation, how she had interpreted it, and their plan to not only mutiny but also destroy the communication relay. He felt remarkably at peace while doing so, maybe it was the lack of sleep. He decided to leave Verek out of the story, he needed more time to figure out how to deal with that particular problem.
The affini listened attentively and calmly, with the exception of Betula becoming very fidgety when the squad’s suspicion of Natalia was brought up. Once he was done all he could do was sit and wait for the response. Ageratu sighed solemnly, entwining a vine around his left arm in the process “this is unfortunate, but don’t worry little brood mother, we will help you.”
Alyssum began speaking in affini <I don’t believe we have enough class-Z to keep the terrans asleep for long enough to get the relay online.> oh great…well, sounded like he would have to wait for their judgment…
Ageratu’s vine around his left arm squeezed affirmingly <we should ensure that the brood mother feels in control and comfortable that we are not threatening the brood. Including her in the conversation will help with that> her attention turned to him “I believe we will need to use either xenodrugs or hypnosis, maybe both, to prevent any accidents. Are you okay with that?” That was the methods they had available, the very reason for asking…
Ageratu became slightly less compressed, forcing Luis to be pressed further into the fluffy blue exterior. The relaxing smell of the flowers invited his senses as it had on the bridge days before. There was a real temptation to simply lean into the soft material and sleep, yet while the anxiety was lessened it still kept him alert. Luis heisted for a second, minor tremors of exhaustion and anxiety trembling up his legs “do not hurt them, and nothing that will affect their minds long term…please.” Imagine that he put more faith in the invading xeno than his own crew. Treason, there was no other word for it, rotten, dirty treason deserving of the wall.
The sweet smell continued to drift in the air, pleasant and gentle…Ageratu’s vine around his left arm wrapped itself tighter “we won’t harm your brood, I promise. There is a way for me to make them…docile and happy, I should be able to sustain it until we are rescued. The problem is that we will need to hide them, or the rest of your brood will become aggravated. Is there a place we can keep them safe and secluded?” Docile and happy? That sounded miles better than any other alternatives.
This was a perfect opportunity for her to do to him what she had requested back on the bridge. There was no doubt she could break into his mind and puppeteer him without effort. Instead, she was…trusting him “before Border Command commandeered this ship it was a civilian trading craft. The bottom floor that was used to hold cargo is no longer in use. Would that work?”
Alyssum nodded, a subtle smile on his face “indeed, how do you suppose we get them there?” Honestly not very difficult, he was still the captain.
Luis noticed that his breathing had become a lot slower, relaxing waves spreading out into every limb on each intake “leave…” A deep yawn interrupted the sentence, Betula cooing softly at the sound “that to me, same with why they have to stay there. You are sure they won't get hurt? They have weapons and…and...” The sudden spike in anxiety as terrible sights of death manifested was muffled as more vines from Ageratu entwined around him, the waist and chest this time.
“shhhhhh, no one will be harmed, I shall make sure of it myself. Now you need to get some rest, it is far too late, okay?” But…but…some hard ingrained instinct fought to resist the offer “you need to get some rest”….he needed to get some rest…she only wanted to help…wanted to help…<oh, that was a bit more than I intended.> The world had become very fuzzy, black curtains slowly falling to cover the green and blue around him <I will take the brood mother to his quarters, we can discuss the rest later.> Feeling returned to his limbs as the vines gently pulled him up.
Luis swayed slightly, a couple of vines holding him stable as they began to move. Ageratu walked close, leading the way while allowing him to subtly lean against her. The sweet smell was so…where were they going?...and again there was that beautiful hum in the air…it couldn’t be that important.
They were in his cabin now, Ageratu looking worried at the mess before guiding Luis towards the bed. A vine moved down and removed the hat, the golden glowing eyes of the affini becoming apparent. Ageratu was looking down at him, her lips parted in a smile “awwww, you look much better this way,” her hand reached down and with a single finger lifted his chin “such an adorable ‘captain’.” A warm feeling filled his face as he stared into her eyes….Her eyes…they were so…hungry. Sparkling hooks into his tired mind, dragging him inwards, into the cascading light “you have no idea how much I wish to prolong this moment, but now you need to be a good brood mother for me and go to sleep.”
The bed felt softer than it ever had….when had he gotten into bed? Ageratu loomed over, a vine stroking his chin“…that right, nice an-“ The feeling of the vine brushing against the hairs broke the tranquility with repulsive shock “oh dear…shhh dear, look up here, aren’t my eyes fascinating?” a hue of blue had entered them, a new force of the light pressing the revulsion away from his mind “good…<hm…we will figure out that later>…brood mother. Sleep now, everything is alright.” The final vestiges of energy drained out of limb and consciousness. The sweet smell and rhythm pushed his body across the threshold it had balanced at for hours, the sweet embrace of sleep finally taking hold.