What Sunlight Tastes Like

Chapter 2

by Fallenlog

Tags: #asexual #Human_Domestication_Guide #scifi #sub:male #dom:the_inescapable_reach_of_the_affini_compact #m/m

Private Herschel Goldbaum was having trouble staying on his feet. Standing up straight made his swaying and wobbling that much more obvious, but leaning against the wall for support threatened to lure him into sleep. Between a rock and a hard place as it were. 

He was jolted out of his stupor by the ship lurching. This was it, this was what he’d been training for! Adrenaline shot through him as the klaxons blared. He faced the hangar door as his squadmates scrambled to get their helmets on. Judging from the number of people collapsing sluggishly to the floor, Herschel had made the right move keeping his on. 

Don’t run. Don’t run. Herschel repeated this new mantra in his head. Don’t run, stand and fight. Stand and fight, like a true Terran. True Terrans don’t run. His hands shook as he reached for his sidearm and his eyes darted towards any sign of movement, imagined or otherwise. But the enemy “combatants” didn’t bother bursting through the walls or blasting the door down. Instead, after bypassing the ship’s security, the door simply opened normally and let the invaders in.  

Herschel stood stock still with his weapon pointed right at the approaching affini. Time slowed to a crawl as he realized it wasn’t his gun in his hand, but rather an explosive. More specifically, an explosive that he’d reflexively armed. Throw it! Get it away from you! The enemy is right there. Now or never! He saw one of the affini’s tendrils whipping towards him as time seemed to stop altogether. Drop it and run! Do something! Anything!

But he didn’t. Private Herschel Goldbaum didn’t run, and he didn’t fight. When real trouble came, he simply froze.  

Connifred had moved in to intercept and disarm any of the soldiers he encountered. As he reached a vine towards the impending explosion he caught a glimpse of the Terran’s face through their helmet. What he saw weren’t the eyes of a mad feralist attempting to go out in a foolish blaze of glory. Rather, they were the eyes of a frightened, lost floret. 

Connifred slowly got up from the bed, taking extra care to not jostle his precious snoozing floret. He entered the bathroom and started the water in the bath, dipping a tendril in to ensure it was a Terran-appropriate 35 degrees celsius. The change of scenery and sound of running water woke his floret up. He could tell without looking based on breathing patterns alone. 

Herschel squirmed in his grasp and was met with a melodious “Sorry to wake you precious one, but it’s time to get you cleaned up.”  Between the context clues and the running water, Herschel realized exactly what the Affini meant. He scrambled to stand up on the floor, holding his jacket tight to his chest. 

“Please, wait!” The hoard of vines ready to strip Herschel for the bath froze in place. Connifred looked down towards him with rapt attention. “What is it, sapling?” Herschel swallowed hard and took a breath before continuing. “D-do I have to do this?” 

Connifred’s leaves rustled in an approximation of a chuckle., “After all you’ve been through, you can’t tell me you aren’t in need of a good soak. You must be so relieved to finally get those bandages off.” The vines renewed their attempts to strip Hershel of his clothing. 

Herschel wanted to protest more, but that familiar, bordering on mildly concerning wave of calmness washed over him again. He made an effort to look away as Connifred unwrapped the bandages from his right side and gently plopped him into the warm bath. 

Strike Command troops weren’t strangers to losing limbs, and Herschel had seen his fair share of mangled Terran bodies. For those who could afford them, prosthetics could easily replace if not improve whatever limb was missing. That seemed to be a running theme in the Terran Accord; the ability to do almost anything, but only for those who could pay the price. And pay the price they did, supposedly. 

Credits were the ultimate determination of merit in the Terran Accord. They meant that your labor had value, and that value was determined by your skills and aptitude. The folks at the top were up there because the skills and expertise they provided to the rest of civilization were worth that much more. Asking them to do ridiculous things like pay taxes only crippled innovation and punished people for working hard and being successful. 

Herschel sometimes questioned that logic in the back of his head, but all thoughts on economics and abstract hierarchical concepts slipped away once Connifred began massaging something into his scalp. After that, all Herschel could bother to concern himself with was how wonderful it felt. 

Connifred was happy to see his floret’s injuries were healing perfectly. According to the research he’d done, Terrans generally replaced any limbs they’d lost or permanently damaged. Of course the safest way to know was to just ask. (He didn’t want a repeat of what happened when he offered what he thought was a helpful suggestion to Saguaros’ Mushusha after she lost a limb.) He had so much he wanted to ask his new floret, but he knew their rest was more important.

Private Herschel Goldbaum was having an out of body experience, almost as if the explosion was what knocked him out of his body to begin with. Likely for the best, seeing as a bomb going off in your outstretched hand had got to hurt. As he felt his consciousness being dragged back in, his vision went dark and he mercifully went limp into the Affini’s outstretched vines. 

Connifred held the damaged terran against his body as he retreated back into the Sphenophylla. Every xenodrug he could think of was being pumped into the little guy, and it wasn’t until he made it to the medbay that he realized he’d lost a sizable chunk of himself in the explosion. He barked, “This one needs immediate attention!” 

A cadre of veterinary staff formed a mob around the human. Connifred craned his head over to try and get a look at his would-be attacker and was relieved to see his vitals stabilizing. 

He stood there transfixed by the continuous motion of the fragile terran’s breathing. At some point somebody came by and brought him something to sit on, and a bit after that, some water and a stack of floret claim forms.

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