21 - Baiera

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

cw for sad plant being really sad again

Autumn learned two new things about her body when she next woke up.

The first was that if she wasn’t drugged up to her earlobes she’d be in incredible amounts of pain. Apparently the stab wound she endured was complemented with an array of broken bones across her arm, the wicked slash she had apparently inflicted on her own neck, and an array of aggravations caused by her dragging the sawback through her organs and apparently “running through the halls swinging it around like the deli had possessed her”. Despite the fantastical array of medications making her body feel like a vaguely humanoid cloud her gut would still throb whenever she so much as sat up.

Autumn didn’t know how to feel about being so accustomed to Solanum’s misunderstanding of phrases that she didn’t even question them anymore. 
The second discovery was when she finally saw under her blanket and discovered the actual meaning of the medical implants. Poking out of her gut was another array of roots, stems, and flowers that had laced their way through her skin and extravagantly covered the actual injury site itself. This one had caused a small spike of fear to worm it’s way through the numb haze and she attempted to grab it and pull it out of herself on instinct.

Apparently the implants were already keyed to prevent such an act though as even attempting to grab the flowers resulted in a fresh wave of weakness to overcome her body and force her to spend about ten minutes limply laying still each time.

Exploring by touch revealed the third implant stuck into the side of her neck, forming a single open flower and a bundle of tightly wound stems that looped around her neck like a collar. Apparently to Dawn it was absolutely adorable and she went on about how they were practically twins now before she lost herself into another surreal daze.

All of the flowers were a brilliant red color. According to Ilex that was a sign that the implants were working, as they had drawn the color from her blood. Hesperia added that they would help her heal, ideally without any permanent damage. They then proceeded to bully Solanum into revealing that the implants had been drawn from her own body, though she insisted it was an emergency measure. Somehow that information was enough for Autumn to stop trying to grab at her new implants entirely, even when the numbing waves weren’t enough.

Ilex had then cut through the moment by suggesting that if there WERE any permanent damage, they’d be more than happy to take her in as their pet so it’d never be able to bother her. Autumn had a sneaking suspicion that she had only said that to be mean to Solanum, as her affini had a touch more red back in her leaves on her way out of the room and than when she entered.
Hesplex shared a bout of whispered words in the affini language amongst each other after Solanum’s quick exit. The best Autumn could parse was something about a house plant needing watering? The two then spun on their heels in perfect unison to face her. “So! Little one, do you feel up for walking? We’d love to show you more of the lovely Baiera.” Ilex said.

“If you don’t feel up for walking, we’d be willing to carry you.” Hesperia added. The two glanced at the sleeping form of Dawn next to them and shared a quiet giggle. “It seems we’ll need to carry our little flower anyway.”

To describe affini architecture as grand would be doing it a disservice. The walls carried a subtle golden tone, marked by flourishing pillars and abundances of plant life that swept across the open surfaces before bursting overhead. The lighting reached through the overarching branches into soft rays of light that painted the halls of the Baiera with a shockingly natural feel. Autumn couldn’t escape feeling as if she was visiting earth again, strolling through some garden that maintained a forested appearance. Though she also couldn’t escape feeling a dull stab of pain every time she moved her left leg. At first she had to cling to Ilex’s side, then after her second stumble Ilex swept her arm around Autumn’s torso and pulled her up over her shoulders.

Open halls swept into grand lounges with transparent walls that stretched from the ceiling to the floor, delicate glass lights, and an abundance of tiered layers that nested countless affini all hustling and bustling with their pets in tow. 
From one side of the ring Autumn could look out and see the grand petals of the ship trailing off into the infinite distance beyond, and from the other she could see the other rings and into the wide sweeping windows in their lounges, similarly full of lights and life and shapes with another view beyond and again and again.

Autumn couldn’t look that way for too long without her vision beginning to swim into blurs of color. She was way too high on… whatever cocktail the implants were giving her to see that kind of view right now.

“There’s no need to fear the glass in here.” Hesperia had said as they trailed near the view of space outside. 

“This room in particular has taken a hit from one of your adorable little railguns before, actually.”

“Not even a scratch, see?” Hesperia tapped a spot on the window in particular. “The worst it did was make one of our bots go wipe down the window again.” The two broke into another giggle fit at that. The whole space felt unreal to be inside of a spaceship. Too tall, too wide, too extravagant and extra and overflowing with life and- no, wait- Autumn reconsidered that thought. Overly large and dramatic seemed to be exactly what she should expect inside an affini ship.
The grand entrance of the lounge made way into a similarly dramatic foyer, then into a series of elevators that lead them through the microgravity zones in the center of the ship. The affini navigated that area with ease, nimbly using their vines to crawl through the complicated networks of nonsense architecture that made Autumn’s head spin to even try to understand. Countless hexagonal pods, roughly eight feet long and four feet across littered the central section of the pathway, tightly packed together into a dense hive-like structure. “What are those?” Autumn’s eyes traced their with a sleepy sort of interest.

“Hooks for some nasty fish,” Hesperia answered with a wry sort of smile.
Mercifully Autumn only had to cling to Ilex as they navigated their way through the length of the Baiera, ultimately coming out back into a low spin zone near the back of the ship. “Behold!” Ilex gestured to beyond the viewing deck.

Hesperia mirrored the gesture, “This is our favorite spot to watch space drift us by.”

“Additionally, you can see the engines from here.” Ilex led Autumn up to the clear pane. Beyond Autumn saw an endless array of nested conical patterns spiraling out from the backside of the Baiera, creating a dizzying pattern of lights that danced like glitter off into the darkness behind them. Even grander petals flourished out from the base of the engines, baring brilliant colors within in contrast to the muted tones on the outside. “Believe it or not we actually use a simple ice layer on the outside of those petals. It absorbs the smaller impacts in our flight without a scratch.”

Autumn tilted her head, and in the process felt a sort of vague fog stir through her body that made it seem for a moment like she was spinning. “But don’t they move? How does the ice follow it and remain useful for plating?”

“That’s the tricky part, but if you’re nice we’ll tell you later.” Hesperia winked.

“Come, let’s show you the habitation sectors.” The two carried her back through the central column once more, this time to a massive ring towards the center of the ship. The complicated patterns reached a new sort of density, creating a fractal bloom around the ship that looped and curved around itself, creating a beautiful complicated structure that countless lights twinkled within. “The ring on your old station was sufficient for living, but we thought it was so terribly, terribly dull.”

“What’s the point in having a home if it can’t be beautiful?”

“Extravagant, even?” Ilex gave a little twirl in the microgravity, arms spread wide out towards the structure around them.

“Excessively luxurious.” Hesperia was brimming with energy. Autumn just felt overwhelmed. The whole time her body had stayed in it’s constant hazy state, blissfully unaware of the pain that was supposed to be positively incapacitating her the entire ride. Her brain had only partially taken in all the sights she had seen, and in her memories they blended together into a vague blur of colors, shapes, and noise at best. Exhaustion was catching up to her quickly, not in the physical sense but in the extremely powerful mental sense where she couldn’t find the will to use any of the energy she had.

Hesplex spoke quietly to each other in the affini language once more. Something about… pillows? Autumn was not confident in that translation. “Come, little flower. Let’s show you your home for your stay.” The four of them slid through the paths into the terrifyingly complicated ring, coming back down to low-spin gravity once more where Ilex carried Autumn in her arms and Dawn remained sleeping in Hesperia’s.

“Let’s see… what was it again, dear Ilex?” Hesperia asked, idly counting the grand doors as they passed.

“Hesperia, dear, as I recall we’d planned ahead and settled on the spot across from ours.” Ilex replied.

“Oh yes! Do feel free to visit whenever, we’ll have the door keyed to your implant so you can just walk in anytime, little flower.” Autumn felt a hand ruffle through her hair suddenly, visiting her with a brief sense of delight dancing through her nerves followed by a heavy spinning sensation across her body. “Ah, here we are.”

Hesperia silently shifted Dawn’s sleepy body onto her back, clinging to her with an array of vines as she cracked her false knuckles audibly. With a grand gesture she thrust her hand into the wall next to the door, twisted it, and then wrenched a fist-full of plant matter clean out. Ilex then used her vines to force open the door directly, revealing the hab within.

More importantly, she revealed that Solanum was present within there, looking extremely shocked and confused. “Ilex, what are you doi-”

“Catch!” Ilex lazily tossed Autumn through the air, sending her in a slow, lazy arc curving across the room in the simulated gravity before she landed against Solanum’s chest. Sol wrapped herself around Autumn automatically, arms wrapped around her protectively as she landed backwards against the floor, cushioning the human’s path into nothing more than a soft bump.

“Ilex.” Solanum groaned. “I already told you, my duty with her is finished-”

Solanum was cut off once more by the flat glare that Ilex was shooting her. All at once the playful aura she had entered the room with was cut off, replaced with a silent danger that seeped out of her every vine and bled into the air. Her eyes were wide open, lights focused into tightened pinpoints against a perfect darkness that were unblinkingly locked into Solanum’s position. “Sunflower,” Her voice was deeper than it had ever been before, with a menacing hiss that followed it. “I’m not interested in playing any more games where you hurt yourself and pretend it’s right.”

All at once Ilex snapped back to her usual cheerful self, clapping her hand to the side and striking a silly sort of dramatic pose. “You two have fun! Do feel free to call anytime if you need us, Autumn.” With a wave she twirled out of the room, thrust the network of plant matter back into the wall, and disappeared beyond the door that slid shut behind her.
“...So,” Autumn slowly wrangled herself up to a relatively coherent position, followed by Solanum attempting to reform herself from a confused lump to just confused.

“...So,” Solanum echoed, awkwardly looking around the senselessly extravagant hab room.

“...How’ve you been?”

“Wilting, you?”

Autumn lifted her broken arm. “Been better.”

“Right, yeah. Sorry.” Solanum wavered into an awkward silence. Damnit, Autumn. Don’t just let things whimper out like this. “Would you like some tea?”

“Yes, please!” Autumn took the offering as fast as she possibly could. Solanum scooped her up into her arms, rising back up to her feet to deposit her in a seat in her kitchen, then slowly sifting through the overstocked shelves for anything that would resemble tea bags. This was a chance to actually sit and Talk About Things. She should do that. She should find something and say it instead of sitting in silence like some kind of awkward stuffed animal.

Autumn was acutely aware of the fact that she might NOT actually be in a good spot for a serious conversation. She still felt as if every movement of her head made her brain slosh around inside of it like a water balloon. Was the room spinning? Or was she spinning. She hoped this would wear off soon, or- no, she looked down at the implant poking out of her gut. This wasn’t going to wear off until that left her body.

Solanum quietly put a pot of tea on the table with two glasses and took the seat next to her. Practically on instinct Autumn switched to leaning over onto Solanum’s side, which elicited a small flinch before, after a tense moment, Solanum returned the gesture.

The two simply sat there in silent contact for some time, drinking their tea until the whole pot ran dry. “...Solanum,” Autumn practically whispered. Something in her throat felt weird.

“I’m sorry, little one.” Solanum answered ahead of her question. “I, I was ashamed to face you. It was my failure that led to you getting hurt and I wanted to believe that if I separated myself from you it’d be the best for you.” Solanum’s body language was all over the place. Vines tensing in one spot and slipping past each other in a different spot. What few remaining leaves were practically shaking from how they’d twist in nervously then flatten against her defensively. Autumn could tell she was holding things back still but... it was close enough.

“It hurt more to be left behind, Solanum.” Autumn said. She weakly moved her good arm over to Solanum’s, brushing the back of her hand against hers. “Just.. just please don’t leave me like that. I mean it when I say that, you know?”

Solanum raised her hand, holding it over Autumn’s and shaking with raw nerves. Her voice was silent. Her fingers twitched. The moment dragged on forever.

Autumn sighed quietly. What was she doing? Hell, why did she even bother? “...I’m sorry if I pressured you. I can go.” She quietly rose from her seat, taking two stumbling steps away from her affini before Solanum practically leapt out of her chair to grab her wrist.

“Wait!” Solanum’s voice broke out. Her grip on Autumn’s wrist was so… weak. The affini couldn’t stop shaking over her entire body.

“What are you so afraid of?” Autumn didn’t even realize what she had said until it was already out of her mouth.

“So many things I don’t even know where to start.”

“Ilex told me you’ve never visited the affini core systems. Are you afraid of that, too?”

Solanum’s grip tightened into a clumsy mess. “Yes.”

Solanum’s voice might as well have been a whimper. “Memories.” Autumn turned on her heel, faltered, then fell over. Solanum’s vines surged up around her, catching her mid-air before the two stumbled over together. She clutched Autumn tightly against her chest, body wrapped entirely around her protectively. “It’s my memories. When we talked before, about my past, I had so much to say about Streum, the times were so vivid to me, but for Pollyon- I, I rebloomed partway through my time with him, and after I did all my memories from before just… just started to fade.” Her voice choked. “The Pollyon I remember clearly is the one I knew in his sunset era. The one who suffered. I had good memories, before, supposedly, so I’ve been told. But they’re gone now, gone with the Pollyon I no longer know.”
Autumn’s hand trailed up to grip the side of Solanum’s face, finding silent tears dripping from cracks in the wood around her eyes. She was dimly amazed that even an affini could cry, even as she brought her own face up to rest beside Solanum’s.

“I’m scared to lose everything that’s left of Pollyon. I’m scared to lose the memories of my youth that made me who I am. I, I, I loved Streum so much and I’m scared that everything I knew of them will be gone just like Pollyon is.” Solanum buried her face down against Autumn’s chest, eyes closed tight and grip practically crushing in it’s pressure. “I’m scared to go to the core worlds because I’m scared to find out that all of the affini have lost like I have, and all of their old pets are nothing more than footnotes in paperwork ” 
“That’s why you’re letting the withering take you.” Autumn spoke, her hand laced through the vines on Solanum’s head in an attempt to console her.

“I can’t let myself lose Streum again.”

“Coward.” Autumn didn’t know why she said that. She shouldn’t have said that.
Solanum was shaking against her. “I know.”
“Do you even care about the people who you’re going to hurt by leaving?” Goddamnit Autumn just stop talking.

The affini's grip tightened, practically bonecrushing. “I don’t know. It’s so hard to see any of that “
“Would Streum even want this?”

“I don’t know.” Solanum’s voice faltered. “I just don’t know.”
Autumn sighed and rested her head atop her affini’s, awkwardly moving her casted arm in an attempt to return the tight hug. “You’re like some kind of puzzle, Solanum. Every time I think I can start to figure you out, there’s more.”

“Please stay with me tonight.” The affini asked.

“Shh, I’ll be right here. Promise.”

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