Abscission

20 - Gilded Shells

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

When Autumn next awoke it was in an unfamiliar room in an unfamiliar place. She turned her head to look out an unfamiliar window and saw an unfamiliar sky drift past. Distantly she heard someone shout, and not long after a gaggle of persons burst into the room to surround her. First and foremost surprised her as Dawn practically leapt into her bed, reaching over to grab a hold of her uninjured wrist as she spoke. “Autumn! My dear I’m so glad you’re awake.”

Hesperia stepped up after her. “When we heard you were attacked we were so worried.”

“Don’t move too quickly, little one, you’re still recovering from that nasty wound.” Ilex soon followed.

Exima arrived third, with a polite wave and some words that were immediately overshadowed by Pyrus running in shouting a string of curse words that even Autumn was left stunned by. My oh my that boy learned fast. Allium announced herself by throwing a book into the back of Pyrus’ head to shut him up.
 
Last was Solanum, who looked even worse for wear than Autumn had expected. Her branches had become near barren, and her vines had lost their lustre entirely. Her eyes were dull and lightless, while what few leaves remained had all turned a pale red over her body. Solanum was hunched over, arms around her chest and nervously tapping at her sides even as she silently walked over to a seat and took it, waiting in the back of the crowd. 
 
The whole group of affini crowded around her far too large medical bed, all of them talking either at her or amongst each other faster than she could follow. Only Dawn was quiet, sitting at her side of the bed and grasping her hand tightly.

“Everyone, please, I think we’re overwhelming her a little,” Exima spoke up, their arms raised up and quietly shooing people away form the side of the bed. “One at a time, please.” When nobody stepped forward Exima turned to Autumn themself. “Well, I guess I’ll go first.” They gave an awkward cough. “...I, uh, I don’t actually know what to say.”

Pyrus slid up beside them and threw an arm over their shoulder. “Autumn! I’m glad you’re not dead.” Dead…? Autumn looked down at her body and saw that her right arm had been wrapped up in a stiff bundle of roots that criss-crossed over her flesh from her fingers down to her elbow. The exposed portions revealed a network of plant matter that had spread under her skin and dyed her flesh into green veins, culminating in a burst of brilliant blood red flowers coiled tightly around her wrist. She couldn’t feel a thing from there, nor so much as move a finger within the botanical cast. If she stared long enough, she could even see the small twitches that her muscles would make on their own. Muscle stimulation…? She couldn’t move it on her own, so it must’ve been. Neat.

She stared at it blankly for a few minutes before anything clicked in her mind. She had a PLANT growing out of her ARM! She tensed, then reached over to grab at it to tear it out, but as soon as her fingers started to close around the bouquet they lost all tension and flopped uselessly at her side. A renewed sense of exhaustion rose up over her, paired with some weird tension inside her stomach.  What was she just doing? Everything felt so foggy and vague like a pleasant haze and it was so easy for her to just slip back into it instead of actually thinking about anything.

Dawn quietly took her free arm and returned it to her side. Pyrus, who had been talking the whole time without actually being heard, gave a quiet “Maybe we should do this later?”, wished Autumn well, and then carried Exima bodily out of the room. Allium followed their exit path with her eyes before turning back to the little human and saying, “I know we barely met, but I hope you get well soon, little one. Feel free to call me if you need anything.” She then parted after them, muttering something about irresponsible children.

Get well soon…? Autumn blinked. Oh, right. She’d been stabbed. Maybe? Or was that a dream. She wasn’t entirely sure. Hesperia loomed over her on one side, Ilex on the other, and together they ran their hands through her hair reassuringly. “Little one, are you confused?” Hesperia asked.
 
“Would you like us to explain?” Ilex followed.
 
“Or perhaps Solanum should?”

“Oh dear, Dawn’s already fallen asleep.” Ilex moved to pet the dozing form of the cotyledon that was now bundled up next to Autumn’s side, eyes glossed over with pupils dilated wide as her brain drifted off somewhere else.

“She looks adorable sleeping there, perhaps we should leave her?”

“We can wait over there and let our dear Sunflower do the talking.”

The two of them suddenly leaned in close and continued with whispered words.

“By the way,” Ilex said.

“If you’re up for domestication, we’d be very interested.”

“You’ll never have to hurt again, and Dawn already likes you a lot.”

“We’d love to have you.”

“Keep us in mind, dear.” They both gave her a soft tap on the cheek then sprung back up, walking over to Solanum’s seat and practically throwing her off of it. Solanum was stock still as her body was lifted a clear foot off the ground, coming to land on her feet with barely a stumble. She froze in place, awkwardly standing and staring straight ahead for a long moment. Then, with a resigned sort of rumble she rose to a more natural standing position and walked up to Autumn’s side.

“Autumn, dear.” She said. Her voice sounded dry and weak. Autumn tried to reach out to her but she could barely move her arm through the drugged haze. “You were attacked by a terran rebel aboard the station, and suffered some wounds during the encounter. I,” She paused, eyes following the brace over her arm to trail up to her neck. “I had to take some extreme measures to assist you, but I think you’ll recover just fine. Eventually.”

Solanum glanced back towards Hesperia and Ilex, who both shot her mirrored hand gestures that seemed to imply they’d prune her if she didn’t keep going.

“You were kept under sedation and locked down in the medical wing after the incident, then were moved aboard the Baiera before being awoken.” Autumn’s mind spun in circles over that tidbit. She looked out towards the windows again to see space slowly streaking past her, and in the distance was the retreating light of Jupiter chasing after them. She was on the affini ship already? A hole formed in her stomach. Or perhaps it was the hole the knife had made that just decided to open up. 
 
Was her time with Solanum over so soon then? 
 
“This… is my fault, and I’m sorry.” Solanum’s body flattened. “According to our investigation, rumors of your status had started as soon as you were first transferred to the medical wing after the Verdant Dawn’s capture. I should have had you transferred out of the system as soon as possible.” Her voice broke into a weak stutter. “Or, or perhaps if I had been more involved with the medical staff instead of staying with you all the time they would’ve been better equipped to handle you with all those xenodrugs in your system. Or-” Ilex coughed, and Solanum tensed. “Sorry, I guess it’s a little late for regrets.”

Autumn tried to reach out towards her, to try to take her hand and whisper that it’d be okay. But her voice was caught in her throat, and her hand would barely move to her command.

“You’re being taken further into the affini systems than we originally intended. You’ll be safely beyond all of this mess.” Please don’t go. “In the meantime, please rest so you can recover. You have three medical implants now, and they’ll help you get back in top shape, but it’ll still take time. Again, I’m sorry.” Solanum bowed her head, then turned to walk out of the room. Autumn tried to cry out after her. Her hand barely slid up over her body, and even then it was only with exhaustive effort that she was able to reach after the affini.

Solanum didn’t see any of it. She kept herself turned away as she walked out of the room.

“Coward.” Hesperia hissed.

Ilex shrugged. “Or perhaps oblivious?”
 
“Maybe both.”

“Too busy in her own head either way.”

“Completely blind.”

“Terrible for everyone.”

“Autumn, did you know Solanum has never been to the core systems? She’s afraid.”

“Won’t tell us why either.” Hesperia sighed in defeat, then rose from her position with a sort of dramatic flourish that could only be achieved by someone that didn’t actually have a spine. Ilex mirrored the gesture in reverse right after, and the two came over to Autumn’s bedside in short order. “By the way, little one, we didn’t tell Solanum this as we didn’t want her getting a little overeager for revenge, but our trip to Mars is going to be a little delayed.”

“You see, we’re going to be going fishing.”

“There’s a nasty little school of fish that seemed to think they could get away with a spot of revenge.”

“Went and sent the video around on their net for their silly ‘propaganda’ games too.”

“And that’s just far too rude!”

“But can you keep a secret, little one?” The two held hands and twirled together , coming to rest at the side of Autumn’s bed, each on one leg with one in the air. Their faces rested right over Autumn’s, eyes wide open in a red so deep it bled into purple. Thorns danced across the vines that spun within their chest, and their body flowed with a barely contained sort of excitement.

“We already know where their nest is.” They spoke in perfect unison, arms clasped around each other so tight that they might as well blend together. “And they won’t be running for long for what they did. We’re going to pluck each and every naughty little fish out of their hole and see to it that they’re collared up nice and safe for everyone’s sake. So don’t you worry, little one, you have more time than you think to reach Solanum, and when we’re done even the person who stabbed you themself is going to be on their knees begging you for forgiveness.” The two broke into a manic laughter, their bodies contorting unnaturally to spin back to their original position in a pillar of plant matter that split into two indistinct shapes, then reformed back into Hesperia and Ilex wearing the opposite’s attire.

Autumn felt a shiver of fear dance through her numbed spine.

“Would you like us to leave Dawn with you?” Ilex asked, tipping into a small bow as she adjusted Hesperia’s hat upon her head.

Hesperia, meanwhile, adjusted the exact fit of the bow Ilex had previously been wearing. “We’ll need to be close by, but we can give you two some privacy if you need.”

“She is a frail thing, after all.”

Autumn nodded weekly. Dawn’s warmth was a small comfort, even if Dawn herself wasn’t present. “Delightful. Do call if you need anything.”

“Or even if you don’t! To see your cute face again is enough of an excuse for us to linger.” The two shared a more pleasant laugh this time as they joined hands and twirled out of the room.

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