Sidestory - Toast

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 body horror elements, trauma, PTSD, direct emotional manipulation, implications of abuse, petty revenge, and other fun things along those veins

The only thing Qiru knew for sure is that it was fucked. Since passing out aboard that fucking ship everything had been a vague blur of negative emotions and dull pain along it’s spine. It was decently positive that something had happened to it. In fact, it was entirely sure that something downright terrible had happened, but it couldn’t FUCKING figure out what beyond the haze inside it’s skull.

When it had finally woken up enough to start taking in its surroundings, it was dismayed to find out that the darkness was not a result of lighting but because of a blindfold that had been pressed tightly around it’s face. 
When it tried to sit up and reach for the mask it felt a hand suddenly pressing down on it’s chest, pushing it to lay back down. Only when it stopped trying to move against the force did the hand leave. After a few minutes Qiru tried to move again, earning the same forceful hand holding it down until it stopped. Okay then, don’t move, message received.

Alone in that darkness Qiru was forced to try relying on any other sense that could possibly find use. Smell? Just a taste of cinnamon and cloves that permeated the air. Touch? Everything felt weirdly staticy and out of place. It’s hands wouldn’t quite move right even if it focused on them. Legs were even worse.

After an indeterminate amount of time something suddenly pressed up against it’s face, smothering it in that smell as whatever it was pried open it's mouth. Qiru gave a token effort of struggle, but lacked the energy to actually do anything about it before the taste of something hit it’s tongue- OH! Food. Food was good. Qiru stopped resisting entirely, letting itself be nourished by… whatever that smell was coming from.

This turned out to be the new norm of Qiru’s days. Blindly laying in a hazy state, being gently pushed down whenever it tried to move, and fed by whatever carried that scent. At some point it just stopped trying to resist entirely, finding that it had no energy for such actions. After a while the blindfold was suddenly removed, and it’s world exploded into a bewildering storm of light that burned to look at. The silhouettes of three things stood above it, two larger shapes and a third nearly transparent one that seemed to flicker with colors. They were saying something? But the words weren’t coming together into anything coherent.

Qiru tensed and attempted to raise it’s hands to cover it’s eyes until one of the shapes moved and flooded it’s senses with that cinnamon and clove smell. Like clockwork it’s body relaxed into the touch, letting the person simply move it’s head to the side and hold open it’s eyelids. A bright light shone into its vision, practically blinding it entirely. The overwhelming feeling of brightness had become painful by then, morphing into the beginnings of a migraine that was soon chased by a weird cold sensation that bloomed from the back of Qiru’s skull. The blindfold was reapplied shortly after, sending it back into a comforting darkness. Within minutes the chilling calm that had bloomed inside of it won out over the pain, and it slipped into a quiet sleep.

For all Qiru knew, it could have been two days or two years before it next awoke. Everything still felt a touch discombobulated from reality. It raised a hand slowly across it’s body, coming to rest on the edge of the blindfold where it could pry open the side just enough to let the light in. The room beyond seems to have been set to a dim level, blanketing it in a merciful shade. Qiru ditched the blindfold and clumsily tossed it aside.
As Qiru attempted to rise once more it heard the shuffling of feet, and something appeared over it to press it down by the shoulders. The thing flashed a vibrant splay of colors all over in Qiru’s vision, which caused it to flinch and limply lay back down against the force. Qiru stayed down there, eyes adjusting for a number of minutes until everything finally came into a smooth focus. Were eyes supposed to take that long to focus? Qiru felt like it was unusually slow but couldn’t pin it down for sure.

Qiru turned it’s head to the side to see that it was alone in a darkened room positively overflowing with medical equipment, a random assortment of human rations, and one transparent blue xeno Qiru was unfamiliar with quietly shuffling about. Once the xeno grabbed a book it rushed back to Qiru’s side, sitting down beside it and flipping through the pages before tapping the side of it’s chitinous head in sequence. The two remained staring at each other silently for an awkward length of time until it clicked in Qiru’s mind that the xeno was trying to communicate with morse code.

“I… don’t know morse code, sorry.” Qiru admitted.

The xeno ruffled up it’s tendrous frills and flared with a another series of colored lights over it’s chest and face before flipping through the book some more and trying a series of hand gestures. Most of them made no sense until one specific one jumped out in Qiru’s fogged up memories.

“Wait,” Qiru spoke up. “That one, the uh-” The xeno repeated the gesture. “I know that one. Sign language?”

The xeno looked down at the book, flipped through a few more pages, and then threw it aside before leaping across the room to grab another, larger book and flipping through it at a blinding pace. Once satisfied the xeno proceeded to try a series of hand gestures that, though a little clumsy, did manage to make some modicum of sense to Qiru. ‘Feather, name, me, she/her’ She signed, then gestured towards it.

“Qiru, it/it’s.”

‘Meeting, evening, good’ Her grammar seemed to be disjointed from what Qiru would have expected, but it chalked that up to a problem of xenolinguistics which it was absolutely NOT prepared to think about in fine detail. ‘You lay down need. Injury risk reopen’ She continued to sign.

Qiru groaned unhappily. “Can I at least know what happened?”

‘Details know don’t’ Feather flashed a series of blue and purple lights across her chest as she continued. ‘Plants return soon. Fire explain. I help meantime. Understand?’

“Yeah, okay.” Qiru sighed in defeat. It didn’t like the idea of being stuck here but it didn’t like the idea of accidentally making whatever was wrong with it’s back worse. Bereft of much other options Qiru chose to quietly observe Feather, who was already back to trying to sort through the complete mess of a room the two were in. Her body was made of a transparent blue skin that was dotted with bioluminescent dots that were clustered together densely around her chest, coating the surface up her neck before dipping underneath the chitinous helmet that covered her head. Qiru couldn’t see any eyes through all of the plating, but a series of frilled tendrils arose out the back of it that seemed to practically float around her head as she moved.

The weirdest part of her anatomy though was that her organs were all visible through her skin. A series of transparent muscles and fibers and tissue that made an only barely visible distortion in light through her body. The one exception was her spine, or, perhaps something attached to her spine? There seemed to be a clear, dense column that flickered with a series of soft lights along it’s sides that was tightly gripped by an opaque, white mass of root-like structures. The roots burrowed through the central column, then spread out through the barely visible nerves and muscle fibers of her back where it gradually blended together with the rest of her anatomy as it faded into transparency, or further up her back where it only grew thicker until disappearing entirely into the plates that formed her head.
Being unable to move left Qiru in a state of extended boredom, punctuated only by the occasional act of Feather coming back to check it’s vitals and see if it was okay. The touch of Feather’s fingers against it’s skin sent small waves of strange feelings through Qiru’s nerves, all clumsy and awkward as they jerked through its body. Every time Feather was finished checking Qiru felt as if it’s mind was swimming in some kind of warm honeyed state that made it simply float without proper awareness for a while.

Eventually things changed when the door slid open to reveal a pair of- oh fuCK ITS AFFINI. Qiru attempted to shake out of the haze and roll over, but all it got for the attempt was a fresh surge of pain across it’s spine and a struggled yelp before one of the two affini ran over and pushed it back down, pressing it’s wrist to it’s face and fuck it’s that cinnamon smell all over again that rushed into Qiru’s senses and forced it’s body to calm down even as it’s mind tried to scream and kick in a desperate attempt to be free.

“Shh, there there,” The affini over it purred, holding it’s body close as he gently led it back to a resting position. “You’re safe, nothing bad is happening now.”

“Nnnooo,” Qiru weakly whined. The forced sense of calm had mixed with another sense that was pouring in from it’s spine, wrapping around it’s body like a blanket and squeezing the fear right out. But that was wrong. Qiru told itself that it WANTED to be afraid. That it should be running and screaming as fast as it could before the affini got any of their talons into it. But that thought was quickly dying against a soft, intrusive pressure inside of it’s skull that kept saying ‘it’s okay, you’re safe now, you can trust them’.

The affini continued to hold it’s wrist against Qiru’s face as he turned towards the other affini. “See, Exima? I told you the scent training would be worth it. One whiff and it’s already calming down.”

Exima, meanwhile, had bent over a little to catch Feather after she had excitedly run over and leapt into their arms into a twirling hug. They squeezed themselves around the xeno, humming happily to be back with their pet already before they even acknowledged Pyrus’ presence once more. “And *I* told you that you could just have the implant force that part instead.”

“But that’s not as fun!” Pyrus spat back. “Besides, it’s still interfacing right now. Speaking of,” He slipped open one of Qiru’s eyes and peered in towards it’s pupil. “Nope, still dilated.” Two of his vines lifted the blindfold off the ground again and slid it into place over Qiru’s face. “Here you go, little one. You need this so you don’t hurt anything.”

“Nnnott a pet,” Qiru attempted to speak, but it’s muscles barely seemed to want to listen to them anymore. Every impulse that trailed down it’s spine just sputtered out into little more than twitches and spasms along it’s shoulders, at best translating to a small twitch along it’s finger.

Exima sighed, still holding Feather close as they stepped up beside Pyrus and peered down over it. “Pyrus, I’m not explaining this part for you.”

“Do you think I should call Sinapis? I feel like the eyes should have been fixed by now.” Pyrus asked.

“It’s probably a side effect of the interrogation. Direct hypnotic control messes with those nerves for a bit.”

Interrogation? Qiru didn’t recall anything about being interrogated. The affini next to it made a series of concerned noises before turning to face it directly again. “Still awake?”

Qiru attempted to shake out of the affini’s grasp but barely even managed to move, practically entranced by the overwhelming scent. “Nnot pet” Qiru mumbled.

“Aaaaabout that,” Pyrus said. “You were captured aboard a rebel ship, and taken aboard the Baiera as one of our prisoners, aaaaand now you *are* a pet. Congratulations!” His excitement was not mirrored by the near delirious person stuck in his grasp. After a moment Pyrus turned towards Exima, “Do you think we should do this later? It’s kind of uh… still not all there.”

Exima shrugged. “Probably?” Feather flickered with a series of bright colors in response. “Dear, you were a volunteer, this is probably going to be a touch more complicated than your experience.” Feather crossed her arms as reds and blues danced over her chest. “Well I’m glad to know it was well behaved at least. C’mon, I got you some of the snacks you like.” At that Feather excitedly hopped out of Exima’s arms and practically danced the whole way out of the room, affini following after her in short order.

Alone Pyrus awkwardly fiddled his four thumbs for a while before plucking a tablet out from within his ribs and fiddling with that instead. “Look, uhm, I know this probably isn’t what you were hoping to do with your life but I promise I’ll try to make it good for you, okay?” Qiru groaned, wanting to squirm away to anywhere else. “Just sleep for now, next time you should be able to move again.” Another cold wave emanated from it’s spine, washing over it’s body in short order and drawing Qiru down into a medicated sleep.

Qiru pretty much immediately hated attempting to walk when it was an option. Exactly four steps in it had to be quickly dragged into the toilets to hurl everything that had been shoved down it’s throat. The onrush of nausea mixed with pins and needles all over it’s extremities had been too much for the poor thing to handle, and even after it’s body had been once more able to rest it was stuck in a delirious sensory spin. All it could properly perceive was the constant onslaught of touch over it’s body and the broiling storm of emotions that kept surfacing through it’s addled mind.

Qiru hated having to struggle with *feelings* of all things. it wanted to just slip back into the numb haze from before, like it always did when it was supposed to be helpless. But despite the great abundance of practice it had in being numb, it’s mind no longer seemed to care to follow it. Instead, it was stuck having *emotions* again for all that THAT was worth anything. Comfort at the affini’s touch, relief to have the bile-stained clothes stripped from it’s body, joy when it was all cleaned off and redressed and laid upon a soft seat to settle.

Also, a constant and nearly overwhelming sense of bewildering fear the entire time that it’s back was exposed. For some ungodly reason that it couldn’t understand the second it’s shirt was stripped and it’s back was open to the air it immediately began to feel a wave of panic chased by a cold wave of chemical calm inside of it’s body. However, despite the cold wave’s best effort it still wanted to thrash and flail and do anything it could to cover it’s back. The closest it could could come to actually understanding *why* though was some vague concept of a machine spider that wanted to eat it’s spine????

But as soon as it was seated and it’s back was protected by the soft seat beneath it, the fear became little more than a muted blur in the back of it’s memories. From it’s new perch, Qiru slowly settled back into it’s own body once more, gradually becoming properly aware of the dim lighting around it as well as the affini and Feather sitting across from it.

Pyrus mimicked a cough as he began. “So, I am Pyrus Vulgaris, First Bloom. This is Exima,” Exima waved. “And Exima’s floret, Feather.” Feather waved excitedly. Qiru felt a touch awkward in this position, as it never really liked being the center of attention to begin with. Furthermore, it couldn’t help but notice an odd sensation in the back of it’s skull that kept repeating. Like a bud of anxiety that was attempting to slide free before being snipped by some unknown means all of a sudden.

“Uhm, hi, I guess?” Qiru replied, hands folded in it’s lap and fingers tapping over each other. “I’m Qiru Aglis.”

“Mhh, actually, that’s… part of what we wanted to sit down and have a talk with you about.” Exima replied.

Fear and contempt bloomed in equal measure just to be cut down prematurely, leaving Qiru to simmer in a state of elevated concern without an understanding of why. “Qiru, you were captured while aboard the Gravity’s Tempest and taken onto the affini ship Baiera, and are currently in our lovely home.” A hole opened up inside Qiru’s chest. it was captured? No, wait, of course it was captured. Why didn’t it properly realize it before, this wasn’t a rebel ship, these weren’t humans trying to lash it into obedience this-

This wasn’t a rebel ship. Qiru deflated against the back of the seat. Tears formed around the edges of it’s eyes. This wasn’t a rebel ship! Uncontrollable emotions of relief surged up from it’s heart, sending it shivering and it broke into a sudden fit of weeping at the realization. It’s over! It’s over, it’s over, it’s over, it’s over, it's- oh fuck it's all over. “The rebels,” Qiru said, voice faltering into a gasp. “Are they-”

“All bundled up and accounted for, yes. They can’t hurt you anymore.” Exima answered calmly.

Qiru breathed a sigh of relief that then turned into an open laugh. Hands wrapped around it’s sides, body falling over and laying upon it’s back as it’s mouth flew open to laugh triumphantly into the air. It was over! All of those dumb fuckers in the ship were gone! Emotions of relief and joy and excitement were all burning through it’s nerves with such jarring clarity, overpowering it with such ease that it felt positively helpless against it’s own neurochemistry.

...but *why!?* Why was it feeling things again!? It’d been numb for so long that it’d grown comfortable in that place, no longer feeling joy or happiness or fear, just the empty void that mirrored the long silences before the rebels would drag it out to do their menial labor again.

Pyrus coughed again to catch it’s attention. “That said, you are also considered one of the captured individuals, and as such you have been enrolled into our domestication program as my new floret. As such, you are now considered to be named Qiru Vulgaris in the eyes of the Affini Compact.”

Qiru tensed, feeling that familiar sense of anxiety surge up then vanish, bundled with a wave of hatred that was quashed with similar ease. It laid there, wet eyes opened blindly towards the affini and lost in the confusion of it’s own chemical haze. “...can I decline?”

“Unfortunately,” Exima answered this time. “The moment you stabbed Autumn that no longer became an option.”

Ah. Right. Autumn must be that woman then. The one it’d been seeing in it’s dreams every day since that fucking event, always pointing and accusing and screaming bloody murder. Guilt rushed up from it’s gut, a pit far deeper than it had ever had to suffer before. Like a yawning vacuum in it’s mind, reminding it that it was *terrible*, that it should have died back when it was first found, that every act in it’s life was a mistake that only led to other’s suffering. It wanted it to stop. Begged internally for the numbness to return in it’s place. This was why it had hated feeling anything so much. Always this empty pit. “...I see. I guess I deserve this then, don’t I?”

“Little human,” Exima started, and Qiru immediately snapped back.

“Don’t call me that!” A powerful flame of anger burst through it, quashing everything else in it’s path before being cut off just as suddenly as it’s fear had been. “I’m not, don’t call me that, please.” it’s voice slowly mellowed out with a forced sort of calm.

Feather turned towards Exima and flashed a series of cold tones over her face. Exima moved to speak again, but Pyrus put up his hands to stop them. “What would you prefer we call you then?” He said, voice even and eyes locked on Qiru.

It paused, chewing it’s lip before it could answer. “Promise you won’t laugh?”

“I won’t laugh, and if I do I’ll let you take a bat to my ribs until you feel better.”

“I’m not making the bat promise.” Exima answered. “But I won’t laugh either.”

“I’ll beat them up if they do laugh.” Pyrus replied with a thin smile. “You can index swear to that.”

“I prefer to be called a machine. Or a rat.” The second the words formed on it’s tongue the thoughts began to slip together in place and spilled out afterwards in short order. What was wrong with it? First the emotions and now this… this ease with which it’s thoughts would spill out for the plants. “The terran accord, they always go on about human dignity and empathy and all that bullshit when raising human kids but it’s all just a vapid fucked up front to the actual system that they made. There’s no ‘human empathy’ in how they squeeze people dry for money, no empathy in how they casually damn millions to die of medical shortages, or just outright bomb a colony to dust when they whisper a little too much about unionizing.”

Qiru shook, hands gripping white-knuckle tight in place. “The Accord did nothing but hurt people, and when it came to other species it was all too quick to turn it’s preaching of ‘human spirit’ to an excuse to glass them into space dust. So I don’t want to be like them. I don’t want *anything* to do with them. I had a good life going selling scrap to Rinans, and I didn’t care if the humans called me a rat straggler when I did it either because fuck them. I *am* a rat! I crawl around inside the walls of dead ships all fucking day and I like it there more than anywhere else in that terran shithole system.” The energy that had overcome Qiru in that moment of passion quickly crashed down to another calmed state, leaving it bent over in it’s seat and shivering at the memories. Then the fear of it’s back being exposed returned, and it snapped back up to cover itself with the seat’s back.

Pyrus tilted his head towards Exima and said “Hey know what this means? I’m the first affini to have a robot rat floret.” Qiru wanted to complain about being a pet but it was too busy appreciating being validated for fucking once in it’s life to quite react to that in time.

“So I’m stuck being your pet no matter what?” Qiru asked, all of a sudden feeling drained. “...Did the person I hurt live?”

“Barely,” Exima grunted.

Qiru breathed a sigh of relief.

Pyrus continued. “There’s also some additional matters of concern here. See, if it had just been an attack you would have been put into the domestication program and sent on your way, but as your attack was also recorded and used for rebel propaganda I’m afraid we’re going to have to do some more things as well.”

Qiru felt as if it should tense up in fear at such a vague comment, but the fear never came.

“Once you’re considered fully recovered and of a sound state of mind you and all of the conspirators will be making public apologies, condemning the rebels, so on and so forth blah blah blah.” Pyris said with a lazy sort of flourish. “Any questions?”

Thoughts rattled about in Qiru’s skull. Names, faces, grudges, wounds. “You said you got all of the rebels?”

“Down to the last.” Pyrus answered.

“Even Captain Hattock?” Acid burned on Qiru’s tongue to say their name. Even with the enforced calm in it’s skull it still felt the ages of contempt it had accumulated for that one person. All of the beatings, the broken bones, the bleeding wounds, the *touching*, the constant words that they ‘didn’t have to be like this’ if it’d just ‘learn ‘her’ place already’. Hatred wasn’t a strong enough word to describe it. Even in the cold numbness of despair Qiru had nursed a deep curse inside of it’s heart for that one person.

Pyrus glanced down at the tablet beside him before nudging Exima in the side. “Exima, could you give us some privacy?”

“You sure?”

“Absolutely.” The taller affini and their floret quietly exited the room. After their leave Pyrus stepped over to lock the door behind them. Pyrus stood there for a moment, back towards Qiru and tablet in hand before turning just enough to look towards the machine out of the corner of his eye. “Exima can’t see whats going on in your head, but I can.” He flipped the tablet towards his robot, revealing a splay of charts measuring brainwaves, hormone levels, compiled data on emotional surges and countermeasures. “And it’s fascinating to me. You felt the most vindictive brand of joy when I told you we’d captured the rebels, and the sharpest spike of pure hate when you mentioned that Captain’s name.”

Qiru couldn’t even feel shock before it got consumed by the overarching calm. “You’re in my head.” it said. “That’s why I’ve been feeling things.”

“Oh yes, it seems your trauma was causing a rather muted emotional reaction in your brain, so I went ahead and turned that back up for you.” Pyrus said while tapping the screen. A feeling of joy bloomed over Qiru’s mind, then dashed the instant Pyrus tapped the screen again. “Don’t worry, I won’t exploit this if I don’t have to.”

“How?” Qiru’s voice faltered with fear.

“You have a haustoric implant cultivated from my cells within you. You saw that white pillar inside of Feather?” Pyrus asked, turning and walking right up to Qiru to tower over it. “You’ve got one of those linked up to your spine and plugged into your skull.”

Now that it knew what that feeling was coming from, it was all too obvious to single it out. The emotional interference was external, just as was a subtle sense that kept trying to reach through it’s skull that it was safe here, that nothing bad would happen, that it should be happy to be so close to it’s owner. Pyrus tapped something on the tablet and all of a sudden the snipped emotions came surging back. Raw panic, hatred, fear, everything all in one wave that broke through it’s mind in a clean sweep that sent Qiru bowling over, hands grasped desperately at the back of it’s neck as tears once more flowed freely from it’s eyes.

“Feeling better?” Pyrus asked with a smirk.

Qiru shivered. “Fuck you.” It couldn’t stop crying.

“Tell me honestly, how do you feel about the rebels?”

“Fuck them.” Qiru spoke between gritted teeth, the full force of it’s anger finally free to storm over it’s mind.. “Fuck them all, I had a good life selling junk until the rebels came by and kidnapped me.”


“They blew up my fucking home!” Qiru shouted, suddenly finding the energy to rise up defiantly against Pyrus before it was overcome by another nauseous wave. it collapsed back into the seat weakly, still shivering and weeping. “They looted my ship, dragged me in chains onto their stars-damned boat and beat me ‘till I scrubbed their fucking laser lenses for them. Captain Hattock was the worst, they-” Qiru choked on the memory.

“And tell me, little machine, what do you think would be the best revenge against them?”

“I used to want to blow the lot of them up. Trip some fuses in the engines and just… pop it all, take myself out in the blast too. But after a while I stopped even wanting that much. I just wanted to go home and live my own life again.” Qiru curled inward into itself. “I just want to go home.”

“Hmm, yes I suppose living a happy life is the best revenge one could have against those who tried to stop them. Personally I find that a little boring to be all, so how about we make a deal?” As Pyrus talked he stepped over to a console by the outer window and flicked a switch, turning the glass opaque and plunging the room into darkness in the process. The glass then began to softly load a backlighting, giving the room a fresh dark glow that backlit the affini’s silhouette into Qiru’s vision. Pyrus then flicked another set of buttons on the tablet before producing an earpiece and speaking into it. “Hesperia?” He said. “When do you have a former captain Hattock scheduled?” After a moment of silence another smile played across his face. “That’s perfect actually. Could you pipe the vid to my hab unit? Thank you.”

The window buzzed to life, revealing a sterile surgery room where a pair of affini were busy affixing a human to an elaborate series of machine arms. The sight of such a thing stirred a dark memory within Qiru, some hollow sensation of metal bits piercing into it’s bones.

“Qiru, you’ll be pleased to know that within the next two hours the person responsible for your misery will be implanted with a generic and kept in life support until a new owner is selected for them.”

“Yipee.” Qiru grunted. it wrapped it’s arms around it’s legs, feeling all of the nausea boil up the longer it stared at the image. Seeing it’s abuser so thoroughly helpless as metal bolts pierced into their flesh was a sick sort of satisfaction, but the machinery itself left only cold fear in it’s wake. Curled limbs. Sharp implements. A spider of machinery.

“Mhmm. Do you find that unsatisfying? You don’t need to answer, I can see here that you do. So I’d like to give you an offer. See, when you were implanted we did the surgery as a waking procedure for interrogation, and administered amnesiacs afterwards to try to reduce the trauma. Currently, the former Captain is scheduled to meet the same fate.” Faint echoes flitted through Qiru’s skull. Something about skin splitting open. Pins and needles from a second spine. “I’m willing to cash in some… favors the relevant affini owe me to have this Hattock’s fate altered just a touch.”

“Get on with it.” Qiru groaned. it buried it’s face into it’s knees to escape the vision, but that just meant being lost in the half memories.

“Hattock skips the amnesiacs and then gets shifted directly to class O treatments, harshest drug set we have, completely obliterates their mind into the exact type of domesticated pet their rebel propaganda is so afraid of becoming. Even better, I’ll schedule it to be a slow on ramping, so they’ll know it’s happening and know it’s entirely revenge for your sake.”

“And in exchange?”

“You’ve been resisting the implant since it’s been put into you, even if you haven’t been aware of it. Those… intrusive thoughts, emotions cutting in and out, all of that. Give in to it instead, and let yourself go to live a happy life they’d be jealous of.”

Qiru wanted to vomit. “You want me to break.”

“The sooner you do, the more autonomy you’ll be able to keep.” Pyrus smiled, false teeth behind false lips glinting in the light.

“I don’t deserve to be happy.” The empty pit in Qiru’s stomach spoke.

“You’ll make amends for what you’ve done, just leave it to me to make sure of that.”

“I should have just died. You should just vent me already.” The grief that rampaged through Qiru’s skull screamed.

“I’m afraid that you’re no longer the one who gets to decide what *should* happen to you, anymore.”

“I want to go home.” Qiru begged.

“Let me make this your home, and you’ll always be safe here.” Pyrus answered, and when Qiru looked up it saw that Pyrus had moved to kneel down before it, one hand held out towards it in offering.

“...how do I do it?” Qiru’s body was shaking. On the video feed the person had begun to wake up and was screaming against their restraints. The affini in white was explaining something to them. A series of arms came down and painted their back a myriad of colors.

Pyrus eyes locked onto the machine. “It’s as simple as relaxing a muscle you didn’t know was tense. It might hurt to do so, since you’ve never done it before, but I believe you can do it.”

“I, I want…” Qiru started, then trailed off in uncertainty.

“You can tell me, little rat. It’s my job to ensure your happiness now.”

“I want… safety. Rules.” Qiru started. “Don’t touch me without my permission.”

“Barring a medical emergency, I’m fine with that.” Pyrus answered calmly.

“And, and, and don’t let anyone call me human.”

“I’d already do that, dear robot.”

Qiru sniffled back tears. “If I’m going to do this, I-” Deep breath, feel the tension in it’s ribs, the knots in it’s muscles. “I’m giving myself up for you, you understand?”


“Don’t let me regret it,” it whimpered. “Not once.”

“Don’t worry, my Qiru Vulgaris.” Pyrus’ voice dripped with equal parts warmth and want, practically slithering around Qiru’s consciousness as he spoke. “I won’t ever let you feel that this was the wrong choice. For the rest of your life, I’ll make you so happy to have surrendered that you’ll only be able to thank yourself for breaking for me.”

“Okay fine. Fuck them. And fuck all of the rebels, too.” Qiru felt something in it’s head shift. Like a small glass vial just splintered apart into nothing. “Stop the video, I don’t want to see this, just... “ Qiru grabbed his hand. “You’re my owner, aren’t you? Can you, can you hold me for this? Please?”

Pyrus switched the window back to show the endless expanse of space before he slipped over to sit next to it. “C’mon, sit up, I’m here now.” He said as he pulled in Qiru for a hug. “Ready to break for me, little robot?”

Qiru nodded, shaking violently as the nerves took over.

“Very good,” Pyrus purred, vines handling the tablet to flick the implant’s emotional controls back on. Qiru felt the familiar wave of calm bleed into it’s head, and this time it tried not to resist. Instinctive fear still took hold, though. “May I rub your back, little Qiru?” Pyrus asked, and it nodded. The affini ran his hands across the length of it’s back, squeezing down on the muscles as he tightened his embrace. ”Breathe for me, dear. Nice and steady. Let yourself relax.”

Qiru took a shaking breath, held, and exhaled. Then a second, and by the third it’s body began to properly relax into the affini’s arms.

“Do you feel it in your head now? Feel that touch in your thoughts?”

It told Qiru that it was safe, that this was a good place to be, that it belonged as Pyrus’ pet. Qiru let it continue, listened to it, letting the thoughts grow louder and louder with each repetition just as that vague *twitch* in the back of it’s skull intensified.

“Good, you’re so relaxed for me now. I’m proud of you, Qiru. Usually rebels make themselves suffer senselessly before they break like this, but you do it so readily.” Pyrus shifted Qiru’s limp body around, bringing it into his lap and holding the tablet before it. “See those red line? They’re measuring factors that are resisting the implant’s influence.” The line kept shaking, then dipping lower and lower over time. Qiru felt that instinctive fear again, and several of the lines jumped up to mirror it. “Shh, that’s okay. It’s natural to feel such worry, to have these moments is not a failure.” Qiru released a held breath, and the lines settled again.

Moment by moment the graphs measuring it’s brain shifted, marking out each second of surrender with a fine numerical clarity. Again and again the unwanted bits would dip lower, and then weakly attempt to surge back up before deflating back down in surrender. Each time Qiru felt the voice of the implant grow louder inside of it, and the boundary between it and the implant had become vaguer. All the while Pyrus continued to whisper quiet affirmations as it dropped, always holding it dearly close.

It was simple to surrender, the voice said. Whether it was Qiru’s own thoughts or the implants it wasn’t sure. it just had to relax. Accept. Be open to it’s influence. Qiru tensed, but reminded itself that it was *supposed* to surrender. That breaking was the correct choice, now. Breathe. Release, let the voice in.

Eventually, with almost a sense of complete finality, the markers of Qiru’s resistance hit zero and remained there while every other factor on the charts surged up around it. Qiru felt a wave of brilliant light burst forth from it’s skull, showering it’s body with untamed joy for having been such a *good pet* that *loves it’s owner*. Qiru smiled, now wholly convinced that the voice it heard was it’s own.

“Good robot, what a good precious robot you are. May I adore you now?”

“Please,” Qiru begged, and Pyrus dropped the tablet entirely, instead taking fully to adoring the machine in his lap that happily squirmed and gasped with enhanced delight. Qiru felt as if it were drunk on the affini’s touch, lost without a sense of time and place where all that it could tell was how much of a *good robot* it was and how much it loved it’s *owner*, how happy it was to *submit* and become Pyrus’ in mind, body, and soul.  It was so glad to have been *rescued* by him, and so happy to have *broken* for him in turn.

Within that storm of touch and emotions Qiru’s new mind cemented itself into place, revelling in the vindictive knowledge of those that had wronged it getting their due comeuppance from the *wonderful affini* and how it was getting away easy into such a loving life. it laughed with a vengeant joy, happily letting the chemical bliss intensify even further and egging the affini on to bring in ever more loving affection.

Qiru Aglis had already withered away, but with such loving reinforcement Qiru Vulgaris truly began to bloom.

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