Abscission

1 - Paranoid Spiral

by Fluxom

Tags: #cw:gore #cw:noncon #D/s #drugs #f/f #graphic_violence #hurt/comfort #scifi #accidental_conditioning #anxiety #blood #depression #disassociation #dom:female #dom:internalized_imperialism #dom:plant #Human_Domestication_Guide #medical_play #mindbreak #paranoia #self_care_is_over_were_doing_drugs_now #self_harm #self_harm_is_over_were_still_doing_drugs #sub:female #xenophobia
See spoiler tags : #awake_surgery #parasite/symbiote #plant_vampirism #sadomasochism #torture

Hey! This is a fanfic of Glitch's wonderful perfect Human Domestication Guide and made with her blessing. Please read that first!!! It's very good!!!

CW includes: uh, a lot really. Paranoid delusions, lots of fear, large lovely plant women who want to make other aliens their pets, and of course the use of tasty xenodrugs.

This story was originally intended to be a one-shot, but then in a fit of gay I've already written like three times as much content about what happens between the ending of the first chapter and the epilogue. The epilogue will remain in the first chapter though since it's a nice tone setter. Enjoy!!!!

Also, this is a work of fiction!!! Please don't try to replicate anything that happens here in real life. Frankly for a lot of it I'm not sure how you would in the first place but better safe than sorry.

 
 
 
Everybody heard the rumors. Affini invaded from deep space to conquer all sentient life. Affini had spies on every ship ready to subvert their safety. Those space plants had such advanced pharmacology that even one touch would subvert a person’s free will. Affini were twenty feet tall and ate human flesh. Affini served giant space cthulhus and used people for their pagan sacrifices. With every iteration the rumors would spiral out of control into absurdity. Today the affini ships were twice the size of any human vessel. Tomorrow they’d be ten times the size. The day after the affini didn’t even need ships and could float through the vacuum of space directly and worm their way into a vessel’s life support systems.

Autumn did her best to pay the rumor mill no mind. She did her best to keep herself focused on her job and remind herself that they meant nothing. There was no way the affini were actually shapeshifters who crawled out of black holes and ate people’s souls.

...right?

Autumn was not very good at paying the rumor mill no mind. As a member of the rebel fleet who denied the human government’s treaty with the aliens, everyone’s resources were limited. This resource scarcity included her usual array of pills. It was fine, she told herself. Her dosage was so low that she practically wasn’t taking anything in the first place. Besides, everyone else aboard the Verdant Dawn was certain that they could manage through any hardship because they were fighting The Good Fight. So surely she could too.

...right?

So she focused on the task at hand. As one of the last comms engineers on hand it was her job to make sure that the Verdant Dawn could stay in contact with the rest of the rebel fleet. It wasn’t hard, per se. Well, not hard for Autumn. She had been building entwined networks since she could walk, and was one of the best hands at keeping comm lines open and hidden from both Affini and the earth government. She was good at it! It took her mind off of her many worries such as the supposed Human Domestication Guidelines treaty or the number of blinking lights that had flicked off for good in her contacts list. She wouldn’t think about the number of rebel ships that had vanished entirely since they’d defected from the earth government. She most certainly wasn’t thinking about the rumor that affini could sneak into a ship and infiltrate their vents and jump out in any room at any time.

She most certainly was not thinking about that, just as she most definitely was not nervously staring at the vent in the comms room for nearly an hour after it made a slight rattling noise. ‘A screw is loose,’ She had told herself. ‘It always makes that noise. Nothing is wrong.’

Nothing was wrong at all.

...right?

Nothing was wrong. At all. Autumn reminded herself of this every day as she woke up, clocked into the comms stations, and saw more and more lights wink out for good. Nothing was wrong. The Twilight’s Spree sent a garbled burst transmission, then fell silent. Nothing was wrong. A week later, the Sunset PIllar simply vanished. Nothing was wrong. A month after that, it was the Grotesque Splendor. Then Jupiter’s Fist the day after. Nothing was wrong! Nothing was wrong nothing was wrong nothing was wrong nothing was wrong everything was wrong everything was too bright and too loud and she was breathing too fast and everything was spinning, she’d knocked over her chair and crawled out into the hallway, collapsed against the wall, flailed against the faceless people that crowded her vision and-
 

 
Autumn awoke in her room. Cramped, packed full with what little possessions she had left, and dark as all hell even with the lights on. A note sat on her desk. “You had a panic attack.” It said with a simple written script. “Take the day off, report back-” She crumpled up the note and tossed it aside, leaving it spinning about idly in microgravity. Whatever. No resources to treat her properly after such an attack. Nobody else to relieve her of duty. Nothing to do in the meantime but sit and stew in her thoughts.
 

Which quickly turned out to be a terrible idea. Alone in the dark her mind happily latched onto the various invisible threats it fabricated and ran wild. It pictured her door silently sliding open and a plant woman floating right there, arm already stretched out to grab her before she’d notice. She imagined the rattle of the vents silently announcing a hidden gas that was already intoxicating her and leading her to step out into the affini’s arms.

What did they even want? If she believed the news, they saw themselves as protectors who were trying to take in people as their pets. They professed that they saw her kind as adorable and lovely and and and- she couldn’t shake her mind of the rumors. That perhaps it was a farce. Propaganda announcements about the Affini’s conquest over the rebel ships being inevitable played out simultaneously with whispered words of how the affini were probably torturing every rebel they captured. 
 
They were plants, right? What if they were covered in hidden thorns that could rake over someone’s body. As a comms engineer they could easily torture her, drug her, break her, make her confess every contact she knows. They could do it, right? (Nothing was wrong). She was spiraling. Maybe they didn’t even need to torture her. Maybe they’d already turned someone on the ship against her specifically. Maybe they’d turned everyone on the ship against her specifically. (Nothing was wrong.) Everyone was already an affini agent except her.

That was absurd. She was spiraling. It was much more reasonable to assume everyone was actually an affini in a perfect human disguise who got off on seeing her spiral. That was reasonable. Maybe. She needed to do something. She gripped her chest tightly and rose from her bed, trying to not stare intently at her door as she changed to clothes she hadn’t spent her whole sleep sweating in and trying even harder to not stare at her vent as she drifted out into the hallway. Water. Water was good. She needed to hydrate. She’d take a leisurely stroll to the mess hall and get some water.

The lights were low the whole time as she drifted along the curved hallways. Doors on one side, windows out to space on the other. All the way out from microgravity habs to the low-spin rings surrounding the ship. She told herself that low foot traffic was a result of the ship being in night mode, and nothing else. There wasn’t a conspiracy against her. Nothing was waiting outside the window and staring at her. Even if she did glance towards the glass more than she should have.

By the time she finally made it back to her room and closed the door behind her she had been holding her breath long enough to hurt her chest. She was fine! See? She had plenty of water now, a snack to eat, and nothing had happened. Nothing at all was wrong. Even if curling up back in bed meant resting her head under the vent that kept her from choking on her own CO2 in her sleep and maybe, just maybe, imagining it pumping toxic fumes to her sleeping face instead. She wouldn’t even wake up. Or, worse, she’d wake up briefly to know she was doomed and slip back under immediately.
 
Autumn tried to focus on enjoying her bag of water instead of picturing those plants spiriting away her sleeping body in the middle of the night.
 


Autumn had a problem. Her paranoia was out of control. She was hyperfixation on the possibilities of her capture and feeding off the rumors she heard to spiral out. She was burned out on her work. She was tired, so fucking tired all the time. Every day she awoke kicking off the sheets just in case an affini had already crawled on top of her. She checked the vents to make sure the air still smelled right. (Did it always smell like that?) She was a coiled spring every time a door silently slid open to reveal an empty hallway on the other side. (There could have been something there, maybe.)

To top it all off if she wasn’t pondering running headfirst into an affini she was pondering being broken by them. She couldn’t stop imagining an affini wrapping their vines and flowers around her face, forcing her to breathe deep of their toxic fumes until her struggles weakened and she hung limp in their arms. She contemplated the possibility of having a vine piercing into her arm and pumping her heart full of drugs directly, eroding her will until she professed the name of every vessel she had ever contacted. She pictured their thorns raking her skin and leaving her crisscrossed with scars until desperation made her mimic one of the voices that echoed over the public channels. The ones that claimed the affini only wanted to show people love and care. She’d break, she knew it. The affini had advanced pharmacology that could break anyone’s minds. She didn’t stand a chance.

If she got caught. She wouldn’t get caught, that was simple.

She still thought about it all the time. Her stomach hurt every day now. Pure anxiety tied up her intestines and gave her a horrid cramp.

Whatever. Focus on her work. Pretend she wasn’t a burnout. Check the comms and keep contact. Ignore the voice on the public channels telling her that affini victory was inevitable and that she doesn’t stand a chance. Stop imagining it slipping into calling her out by name, promising her relief, telling her that all her pain can stop if she just gave up and turned herself in.

Wait, no, bad thoughts.

But even as she pondered that her hand reached over and turned up the volume on the broadcast. What if… what if it was real? Just on the off chance, what if the woman standing on that platform, with glazed eyes and clean hair, no sign of exhaustion, smiling warmly as she professed her love for the aliens and their love for her. Autumn’s vision swam. She could practically see herself in that woman’s place. Having her soul broken apart into an alien’s hands and put back together into a more… domesticated version of herself. Sleeping soundly at night.

Her hand slammed the button to shut off the console.

That was wrong. She was a free terran, or at least that’s what she told herself. All the pain and exhaustion and anxiety and paranoia and hallucinations and fear would be worth it when she could finally stand on her own two feet and be free again. She told herself that again and again for the rest of the day, even as her mind refused to stop thinking otherwise.
 

 
Autumn walked the hallways at night more often now. She still feared the affini but it seemed… inevitable. Pointless? If they could crawl through the vents then she wasn’t safe from them regardless. If they could swim through the void then they’d see her through the window no matter when. She was still afraid, but a resigned sort of afraid. Or perhaps a suicidal sort of afraid. So she walked, alone, in the dark, nervously checking every corner and sure that *this* time they’d be right there. That they’d be waiting for her and strip away her ability to fight back.

She used to lock her doors, but not anymore. She sniffed closely at the vents to make sure the air was clean, but now just breathed deep in the morning. If they came for her she wouldn’t be able to stop them anyway. They could shapeshift! And sneak into the pipes and flood the air with their toxic pollen and claw out of the walls whenever she wasn’t looking.

She was exhausted. Her brain wouldn’t let her stop spiraling out in fear but her body couldn’t keep it up anymore. Her motions at her desk were dull and automatic. Maintain the systems, keep contact, send and receive updates from the other ships, see more lights wink out for good. Goodbye, Nocturne Spiral. Sweet dreams, Eloquent Fugue. So long, Verdant Dawn. Eventually. Inevitably.

The empty blanket of despair consumed her day to day and ate her whole. She couldn’t stop them. She couldn’t stop working as a rebel. She couldn’t submit to them. She couldn’t make a difference. She just… couldn’t. Over and over. Every day. Every week. Every month.



To Autumn’s good fortune, the captain of Verdant Dawn had decided that everyone needed some long overdue shore leave. They’d organized fake IDs for everyone involved, faked the name of the ship, found a space station carved out of a rock in the asteroid belt that was only partially administratively controlled by the affini, and touched down to kick up their feet for a week. She practiced her fake backstory, recited her fake name to herself in the mirror, and pretended she wasn’t seeing shadows flit by the edge of her vision in the shape of vines reaching out to grab her.

She needed this. It was the first time in… months? Years?? She had properly relaxed back and eat ice cream. Actual ice cream! It melted on her tongue with such sweetness that she could have sworn that she’d died and already gone to heaven. She was sure she could go any number of years out in the void of space just to be able to enjoy this again. Then there was the park, where she could take off her shoes and run with the grass beneath her feet and feel the dirt between her toes. It was almost like being back on Earth. Just enough to remind her of why she fought.

Autumn laid in the grass and sighed in contentment, at last feeling well and truly free from all of her worries. Even the swaying branches above her didn’t set off her paranoia now, nor the smell of fresh flowers on the simulated wind or the feeling of leaves brushing against her as they fell.

At last, she truly felt that nothing was wrong.

Until she sat up and saw the affini at the other end of the park.

She was easily ten feet tall at least, with her antenna flowing freely in the simulated wind and the myriad of vines and leaves dancing around her. She was almost ethereal, only seeming humanoid in the overarching shape while looking closer revealed tightly knit vines and patches of bark where one might expect flesh. Her dress danced around her and shimmered in the artificial lights of the space station, mirrored by the scattering of red leaves that formed an aura around her. She was beautiful, in a way. But terrifying in another. Autumn saw the flowers and the needles folded within her form, saw her eyes glow with a dull red light within, saw the teeth hidden behind the simulacrum of a mouth. She saw how her body bent in an approximation of a human shape instead of true joints, how she flowed rather than walked, how the wind blew through her body with ease where she could unravel and pounce and inject and capture and- Autumn’s breath caught in her throat. She pictured the affini’s body in a hundred different ways easily wrapping itself around her, binding her, subduing her with a mix of drugs and honeyed words and pain, she could see it easily snapping her bones with half a thought and killing her outright, or dragging her through the mud just to demean her.

In Autumn’s mind the affini was here for her specifically. It already knew she was here, it knew her by name, it knew her face, it knew her crew, it knew all she did down to when she was alone at night. It knew her every fear and was ready to tear her self apart to the smallest piece. Autumn’s fists clenched tightly through the grass, and suddenly she became acutely aware of the plants around her once more. The leaves were once more as talons, the smell brought a reminder of fumes that could knock her down, the branches above were once more hands reaching out for her.

The affini turned and saw her. Was she staring? She was staring. She had to go. The affini just looked back, eyes wide open and a smile on her lips, and waved sweetly. She knew. Autumn just knew that she knew innately. She knew and she was going to come over and use those teeth to rip open Autumn’s stomach and suck out her intestines. Or maybe Autumn was already paralyzed by a gas agent and the affini was just going to pick her up and whisk her away. Make her disappear like any other crewmate who had simply never returned after shore leave. Autumn couldn’t breathe. Her chest hurt. Her stomach was tied up in knots. The affini’s smile faltered into a concerned expression and she tilted her head curiously.

Autumn ran. Like a spring suddenly cut loose she left her shoes behind and ran barefoot out of the park and through the hard metal hallways of the space station. She ran until she collapsed against a hallway at a bend, then stumbled until she slumped against a window to space completely out of breath and exhausted to her bones, then faltered for ten more steps and collapsed completely. She must’ve circled the space station a few times in her mad dash and didn’t even know where was now. Hell, she was too tired to even sit up.

This was fine, she told herself. She’d escaped. She’d be safe. The footsteps that she heard approaching were most definitely human crew come to help her. Keep her safe from the aliens. Hands grabbed her shoulders and helped her sit up against the warm glass of the window. “Are you okay, little one?” She heard a simulation of a human voice speak.

Autumn looked up and screamed. Adrenaline rushed through her veins once more at the sight of an Affini towering over her. All red flowers and green leaves, with wood and vines bundled together into a false body with a false face that smiled falsely down upon her. Eyes just slightly too large peered through her, a mouth with too many teeth and too many tongues spoke to her, and arms thicker than her torso held her. 
 
Autumn's voice was just bundled terror in audio form, a horrific scream that quickly petered out into a desperate gasp of air. Words that broke apart into bubbled whimpers. She flailed meekly, too low on actual energy to manage an escape. The affini was speaking but something about her voice was *wrong* to Autumn’s ears. She refused to hear it and refused to be captured easily. This affini *must* know who she is to grab her like this.

“Hey, hey, it’s okay. You’re safe, see?” The affini pulled back her hands and held them, palm out towards Autumn. Autumn could only see the flowers loaded with venomous sap and needles hidden within her palm. Autumn tried to strike out to protect herself, flailing futilely. She wasn’t even seeing properly anymore, just pure red across her brain as she desperately tried to escape without the ability to do so. “Honey, please, you’re safe, nothing is going to hurt you.” The affini spoke, not that her voice was actually heard.

A second affini arrived in short order, then a third wearing a white outfit with red marks on it’s sleeves. Autumn collapsed onto the floor and curled up into a ball, hands over her head and whimpering loudly. Her breath was coming only in strained bursts, and her whole body was drawn tight like a string ready to snap.

The affini spoke amongst each other in their foreign tongue, words slipping by fast between them and occasionally glancing towards her. A fourth arrived with a gurney, followed by a fifth carrying a dark blue bag of medical gear. They were saying something to Autumn, but by then she was barely even awake. She felt something grab her arm and she didn’t have the strength to resist. A tingling sensation bloomed from her skin wherever she felt the affini’s flesh touch. Something pricked her forearm, more hands were moving her, something was being strapped to her face. She needed to run. She couldn’t move. Liquid calm was slowly blossoming through her veins and oxygen was being pushed into her system. Everything was… everything… hazy… couldn’t… she was being strapped down and ferried away. Windows blurred past. Voices spoke. Her body was so heavy. Her breathing was strained. Her brain was exhausted. Everything hurt. Darkness crept upon the edges of her vision. For a brief moment she was dimly aware that she was surrounded by medical staff. Some human. Some affini. One of them was smiling down at her. “You’ll be okay.” It said, but which was it? Human? Or a false face on an alien’s body? She couldn’t tell. She couldn’t… do anything. Anything but lay there and let sleep take her.

 
 
 
 
 
Autumn bolted upright, knocking aside the sheets that had covered her. She looked down to see that she was still dressed in the same clothes, there were no needles or tubes connected to her. Hell, someone had even found her shoes that she had left behind. “Oh good, you’re up!” A human nurse said as they rose from their desk and came over to her. “You gave us a real scare there.” He said playfully. “You just had a little panic attack, though. We looked you over and made sure there wasn’t anything else wrong while we were at it and we-” Autumn interrupted him by leaping off the bed and bolting out the door. He stumbled back in shock, then shouted something about medications after her as she ran.

How long had she been out? What had the affini done to her? Did she have any of their poison in her veins now? She blitzed through the hallways, this time with enough focus to make her way back to her ship and stumble straight into it. She ran all the way back to her room and shut the door behind her. Back to the sterile recycled air, to the cold metal and the flat surface beneath her feet, where no trees swayed and the only wind was from life support. She held her breath for a single, silent moment, then broke down into tears.


 
Autumn was compromised. She was sure of it. She was sure it wasn’t just the paranoia that gnawed on her brain. The affini that grabbed her MUST have done something. They have advanced pharmacology! More sinister and influential than any human could understand. Surely they knew who she was, and whatever had subdued her had… twisted her mind. Made her loyal to them. Crave them. That was why she couldn’t get the mental image of surrender out of her mind. Of crawling back to that same affini and confessing everything, then begging to feel their sting again. She was compromised! The right thing to do as a free terran was to turn herself in.

So instead she went right back to work and tried to focus on anything else instead.

They HAD compromised her, right? Right? Was that tingling feeling she felt on her fingertips a sign of their chemicals burning her nerves to serve her new masters? Or was the tension in her ribs a result of a newfound addiction working it’s way up her body? It couldn’t be, it couldn’t be her, she wouldn’t let her take them like this. She’d fight, somehow. It was possible, right? She COULD do it, right? Despite the inevitability of the affini’s conquest and their abilities and their drugs and their propaganda and and and - deep breaths, Autumn. She was hunched over her desk and shaking once again. She was afraid to sit up now. Afraid to see more lights that had gathered dust from all the ships gone silent. Afraid that she might see a beast made of wood and vines the size of an entire hallway rampaging through the ship and tearing people apart with ease.

She couldn’t be compromised, she was a free terran. She told herself this again and again, as if doing so enough times would eventually make it true. Fighting the affiini was her purpose. Even if the one that had grabbed her had just… what? Tried to help a stranger that was suffering an obvious panic attack? Or, no, it had to be a trick. She wanted it to be a trick and not just the kindness of a stranger who tried to help her. She wanted to believe that the drugs that they had pumped into her were purely to pervert her mind and break her will, and not just something to calm her raging flesh. It had to be a trick, right? Or was her paranoid mind spiraling out over nothing again?

She was absolutely compromised. She was sure of it. Or if she wasn’t now she would be, eventually. The memory of her drugged haze as the affini had carried her away blended with all the propaganda and paranoia in her rotten mind. She’d be compromised eventually if she wasn’t already, that was for certain. Even if she hadn’t been captured then she would be later. At another station. At another shore leave. Even if they somehow won the war against the affini and walked freely on earth once again there’d be one left and it’d find her, capture her, and spirit her away to deep space for…. Whatever it is they do. She was marked. Doomed. If she stayed they’d find her here. If she left then the rebels would sink her immediately. If she surrendered at the next shore leave she’d be tried as a traitor. If she just… just… There were no open doors left. There was nothing left for her to see amongst the storm of delusions taken over her brain.

Her shaking hand reached across her desk.

The waiting was the worst part, she decided. She’d been waiting since the first day she saw a light wink out. Since there were a dozen people in this room, all the brightest minds that could encrypt data and send it across the entire solar system without anyone smelling it. Since the first day one of them simply… vanished. Eventually she would be one of those who vanished. A lost face disappeared into an affini vessel. Inevitably she’d be the one on camera professing the inevitability of the plant’s victory against the rebels. She’d be broken. She’d lose. She was tired.

So fucking tired.

Her hand landed on a switch. Her fingers clenched awkwardly around the buttons and flicked the levers. Then she dimply deflated, and succumbed to waiting.

It took less than ten minutes for the ship to shake. An Affini vessel had flown in from their blind spot and launched thick vines that bound the Verdant Dawn against it, then several more that burrowed into the hull. Autumn was dimly aware that the air tasted different, and giggled weakly to herself. So that rumor was true, at least. Rushing feet ran past her door. Gunfire echoed down the halls, then ominously stopped.

Proper protocol in this situation would have been to seek a gas mask and a sidearm.

Autumn didn’t even lift her head. She felt… relieved? It was finally happening. The wait was over. Her fears were all becoming real and through that reality, justified.

The vents rattled, the lights flickered, the walls shook. The affini could burrow through the vent and shift and bend and leap out from any angle. Distant shouts of surprise were the only sign of their sudden strikes, followed by weak mewling as the drugs took hold. Of course fighting back was useless, Autumn thought with a smile. Their chemicals of choice would leave any human completely weak and helpless in their arms in no time. Already her body felt so heavy just from the air, so distant from her mind, as if she’d float away at a moment’s notice.

She was only dimly aware of the door sliding open. Someone ran up to her and grabbed her by the shoulders, spinning her around to face them. It was… the captain? Or, no, she couldn’t tell. The gas mask obscured their face and voice. Everything was already so blurry anyway. She simply felt too relaxed to worry about it as well. Being relaxed was nice. Maybe she’d get to feel like this all the time, finally without the perpetual knot of pain in her stomach and the tension in her spine.

“What did you do!?” The man shouted and shook her shoulders. Her head rolled limply to her side, only held up by his hands. “WHAT DID YOU DO!?!?” He shouted this time before dropping her in frustration, leaving her body to drift aside in the low spin gravity until she rested upon the floor. The air was denser with drugs down there. Some distant part of Autumn’s mind suggested that the gas must be heavier than air then. Would she suffocate without the displaced oxygen? She giggled weakly. That’d be a real twist.

The man stepped back from her and pulled out his sidearm. Right, she was a traitor now. Not just to the earth government but to the rebel ships too. Oh well. He lifted the gun to her head. The lights flickered, then dropped out.

When they turned back on he was simply gone. No noise. No trail. No sign.

Autumn lay in perfect silence for a while, breathing easily and evenly. She was so relaxed. So calm. She missed this. She wanted to feel this way every day now. Who cared if under some alien's thumb? It was all just… inevitable anyway.

Even footsteps approached her station. The door slid silently open, and the rustling of leaves announced someone’s presence as they bent down to enter. Powerful hands scooped up Autumn’s body and held her against their body. They tilted her head back and purred softly as they pet her head. They held up a hand to her face, a golden sap trailing down one of their fingers. Drugged, obviously. It tasted so sweet on her tongue, and it coursed quickly into her veins. The world spun, and her consciousness was slipping away from her. This was it. She’d finally been captured. She was going to become one of their… whatever they used people for.

Autumn closed her eyes with a smile and fell into a peaceful sleep.











Epilogue


Autumn Vitis, Third Floret awoke from her nightmare gently. Her body felt like it was floating on water at all times now, and as she drifted back to consciousness she didn’t feel a lick of tension actually reaching her muscles. But her brain still reeled from it’s false dread in sleep. A hand settled on her stomach gently, followed by a body sitting down next to her. Solanum Vitis, her owner, her mistress. Autumn leaned into her touch with a familiar ease. “Awake already, dear?” Solanum asked, her voice a warm rumble that reached Autumn’s ears like sweet honey.

“Just bad dreams,” Autumn grumbled.

“Oh, darling,” Solanum scooped up Autumn into her arms and held her close. “Would you like to talk about it?”

Autumn blushed meekly at the Affini’s touch. “It was just-” She paused, momentarily stuck on her words. They didn’t come quite so easily anymore. Something about the cocktail of drugs that were always in her blood. Kept her calm, pliable, happy but… perhaps a little slow at times. “From before. I was dreaming about Verdant Dawn again, I think.” Solanum’s grip turned into a tight hug which Autumn returned gratefully. Thoughts broiled in her head, straining to manifest itself despite the chemical blanket. “I won’t go back, right?”

“Of course not, little Autumn.” Solanum had been sweet beyond measure since they first met. Autumn was so scared, so unprepared for anything, expecting the worst at every turn. She’d lashed out, she’d cried, she’d struggled, said terrible things. But through it all Solanum had been… too kind. She felt she didn’t deserve this. Her delusions still wormed their way through her mind and told her she was terrible. That she was a reject from earth and a burnout from the rebels. That she deserved to be tossed out the airlock and given not a single lick of love. “Dear, you’re spiraling again.” Solanum spoke softly, one hand trailing through Autumn’s hair before trailing down her back to the surgical scar along her spine.

Autumn wanted to stay here forever. To stay intoxicated off Solanum’s liquid calm that coursed through her body. But… but what if…?

“Eyes on me, dear.” Solanum spoke, and Autumn listened. Her wide verdant eyes filled Autumn’s vision once more, and reminded her of the calm that she always felt in Solanum’s hands. “Talk it out, I’m here.” Sol spoke softly.

“I… I was just thinking. Maybe I deserve to have been left behind on the Verdant Dawn. I- I fought against you- I betrayed them- I, I-” The dam in Autumn’s mind burst, and all her fears came pouring right out. “What if they come back for me? Or recognize me in passing and attack me? Or, or, all the terrible things I said to you before!?” On and on her voice rambled, spilling out her fears that started out off a grain of truth and spiraled out to the absurd. How she felt she didn’t deserve Solanum’s love. How she was afraid that the other humans who had been captured would seek revenge. How she was afraid that maybe ALL of the other humans who had been captured was seeking revenge against her personally. What if literally all of the earth government was poised to strike back against the Affini Compact and reclaim all the lost humans *just* to punish her for being a betrayer on two counts!?!? WHAT IF SOLANUM WAS IN ON IT!?!?!?!?

“If I was part of a grand conspiracy it’d be much more to my interest to conspire to keep you, wouldn’t it?” Solanum interrupted.

Oh, that makes sense.

Autumn tapped her lips in thought.

Solanum DID spend a lot of time and effort breaking her into being a pet. Not to mention when she was healing from the implant and Solanum tended to her hand and foot.

“And the humans?” Autumn mumbled?

“None of them can hurt you now, my lovely little doll.” Solanum purred in response.

“And the earth's government?”

“Never stood a chance to begin with.” Solanum leaned in and planted a small kiss on Autumn’s forehead. “You’re mine, and you always will be.” Autumn embraced her back, shaking gently as the anxiety finally slipped free to bleed out of her system, quickly lost into the haze of intoxicants. “Though dear, I think we should try upping your dose for the paranoia problem.”

“Gladly, Mistress.”

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