Sidestory - Daybreak

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 a character having a longform break from reality, some gore (nobody is actually harmed), and trust issues

Dawn Elium was staring at a speck of dust in the wall. She didn't know why it was so fascinating to her compared to everything else in her home. Hesplex had seen to it that she was surrounded by countless luxuries within these walls. Rich carpets under her feet, many books lined the shelves of the walls, games she had painstakingly pieced together, colorful clothes to wear, snacks to enjoy, and of course their eternal company. But all of that didn't compare to how enraptured she was with that one speck of dust.
It was like a black dot resting against the golden tones of the metallic crystalline wall. Something that no light touched, that was absent of the world's rules in its appearance. Like a dead pixel, her brain suggested in an intrusive thought.
Dawn rose unsteadily to her feet. Walking on her own was a struggle at times, but that didn’t stop her from trying. Her ankle would twitch and spasm when she tried to take a step, and on the other side her wooden leg lacked the intricate dexterity to assist with her normal balance. She made it most of the way there before she stumbled, falling and flailing arms out as she crashed into the wall. This left her at eye level to the speck of dust though, so once she opened her eyes the pain of her fall was immediately forgotten.
It was a hole! A small, square hole in the wall. That was bad… wasn't it? Dawn turned to ask Hesplex but found that neither of them were in the room. That was odd, Dawn thought to herself. They always made a point about how she should never be alone. Something about her health? Dawn didn't really understand those things but Hesplex did, so she trusted their judgement on that. And, well, everything else she supposed. Hesplex knew a lot!!!
Oh well. If they left her alone then it must have been for a reason. Dawn turned and looked into the hole. She had to lean in very close to see into it, moving her hands to block out external light entirely as she did. The darkness beyond the speck slowly came into focus, colors and silhouettes appearing bit by bit until it all suddenly snapped into focus.
It was wheat! A large field of rolling hills and golden wheat as far as the eye could see. Dawn frowned. That didn't make sense? Last she checked the Baiera didn't have any secret wheat fields hidden in the walls. Well, it probably *could*, she supposed. There were plenty of places on the ship she hadn't seen personally yet. Like the bridge, or the engine rooms, or that remote lab thing. That could be a secret wheat field. But inside of the walls? That seemed silly.
Dawn turned to call for Hesplex but found that she was no longer in her room. All around her was an endless sprawl of rolling wheat fields. Ah, hrm. That was probably bad?
"Hesplex?" Dawn said aloud. They'd know what to do. Hesplex always knew what to do. When nobody responded she turned back towards the hole. That was still there, at least. A neat little square of absent space floating in mid-air. Dawn leaned over to peek into it again, and this time all she saw was a broad blue color. 
Huh, neat!
Dawn continued to stare at that color as it began to tilt and swirl into itself, other colors gradually bleeding in from the sides to make a colorful spiral pattern until- SNAP!
Dawn awoke in Hesperia's arms. She was back in the living room, draped comfortably over the affini's lap with the plant’s long, slender fingers trailing through Dawn's hair. With dreary eyes the cotyledon rose up from her position, rubbing the sleep from one eye as she looked around the room. Wheat still sprung from the corners, trailing out of the doorways and peeking between the seams of the walls. In the kitchen she could see Ilex quietly working on her dinner, Hesperia at her side providing assistance. She could faintly hear a knocking noise coming from… somewhere.

With a soft yawn the human draped back down into her affini’s lap, letting the alien resume petting her head softly. “Sorry, Hespy. I think I trailed off a little there.”

“That’s okay, little flower.” Hesperia answered, hands moving to hold Dawn’s cheeks on each side. “It’s not your fault that your brain loves to run off with you.”

“Mmm, I still feel bad.” Dawn replied. It happened all the time, cutting her off in the middle of any activity she could otherwise invest herself in. It hindered her ability to make friends, burdened Hesplex with her care, it made all those other humans look at her with such *pity* and, and, and it,

“Shh,” Hesperia soothed her, tilting Dawn’s face to look up at her. Dawn’s eyes trailed up across Hesperia’s chest, past the layers of pointed leaves that made her form up to the wheat-wreathed face above her chest. “You are not a burden, little one.”

“Dawn, dear.” Hesperia had crouched down beside her, arms crossed over over her knees and leaning down to be at her eye level. “Who are you talking to?”

Dawn blinked. “Um,” She looked from one Hesperia to another. “...you?”

Both of the Hesperias gave a small ruffling noise, glancing towards Ilex to say something she couldn’t quite comprehend before producing a colorful flower in the palm of their hands. “Listen to me, love.” The two spoke in unison. Dawn glanced from one to the other, her brain struggling to choose between the two as the array of colors bled out from the flowers.

“Ilex?” Dawn asked. “Ilex, are you there?”

The colors of the flowers drew closer in around her, blossoming out into a spiral that began to consume her senses. Her brain had so much practice in letting itself be consumed in the colorful array, giving more and more to the whirlpool before her until it grew so large that she fully fell into it, submerged beneath the splay of light and drowning in its abyss. Dawn choked on thickened air, feeling the colors surge into her open mouth and flood her lungs until *SNAP!*

Dawn bolted upright. She was alone in the living room, game console left on by her side. Oh, drat, she hoped it wasn’t long enough to burn the screen. These old things were getting harder and harder to come by. She rolled onto her side then pushed herself up to her knees, feeling the length of her body straining with dull aches along veins of plant-matter that coursed through her muscles. She reached over, shaking hand flicking the power switch to turn it off and plunging the room into absolute darkness.

Now lit only by the lights outside, Dawn’s attention was immediately captured by the beautiful aurora drifting by outside. Brilliant strings of color trailed in lazy patterns through space, dotted by motes of light which created beautiful constellations. Dawn’s faltering steps took her up to the window, hands and face pressed against the glass to stare even closer. 

“Hesplex?” She asked. Nobody replied. Just some weird knocking noise in the distance. Dawn wanted to turn and see if either of the affini were there. She wasn’t supposed to be left alone, afterall. But something about the lights pulled on her mind. Something about the threads that scattered apart into the void that plucked at strings she didn’t know she had. The more she stared the more she could see intricate details hidden within them, dancing round and round until the whole thing parted open to reveal a woman in a brilliant dress of rainbow patterns drifting through the void. She twirled in a lazy circle, arms spread wide and a smile plastered over her face, hair twirling into a wide halo of light.

All of a sudden Dawn felt the glass she was leaning against vanish, leaving her tilting forward into the void. The mystery woman spun, arms reaching out to catch Dawn and pull her into the spiralling lights. “Dawn, dear,” She spoke, and her voice rolled with a distant shock of thunder. “Won’t you please go with me?”

Dawn felt her body drifting apart from her, growing ever more distant by the second. A dull noise was ringing louder and louder in her ear. Something repetitive, but barely noticeable against the suffocating silence of space.

“Won’t you please go with me?” The woman repeated. Her hand rested against the surface of the glass, writhing lights surrounding her body. The empty feeling surrounding Dawn’s body crystalized around her mind. Fear. She recoiled away from the woman, hand flinching back defensively. “Dawn, you need to come with me,” she repeated insistently. The world behind her spun with brilliant golden threads, spiralling together. As her hand drew closer Dawn felt a sharp pain blossom inside the back of her neck. Something *writhing* inside of her.

Dawn grasped at her neck. Something was crawling underneath her skin. She could feel it spreading by the moment, squirming about underneath her fingers as it tried to get into her skull. This couldn’t be happening, it couldn’t be- *SNAP!*

Dawn blinked awake. She saw her own reflection in the window cast over Jupiter, bright orange and white streaks painting behind the translucent visage of her own face but… wrong. Blood was seeping out of her left eye and nose, with a green powder scattered haphazardly around her mouth. She was partially undressed, riding some person cowgirl style while someone else was banging on the door behind the two.

Dawn’s body moved in a disassociated haze, like a puppet outside of her direct control that was still absentmindedly riding it’s own high as it rode whoever the lady was beneath her. She groaned in discontent and dismounted the person she was busy with, leaving her a touch confused as Dawn took the two steps across the tiny living quarters to look in the mirror, wipe off the blood, and try to remember how to put on pants before she answered the door.

“Those are my pants,” the lady in the bed whined.

“You’re the one who said I’d look good in them,” Dawn’s body replied. She paused at her reflection, seeing green lines blossom under the skin of her cheek in time with another spike of pain. Dawn’s body then moved to the door, flicked a switch to slide it open, and was then punched in the face as jackbooted police proceeded to pour into the tiny room.

The woman in the bed threw the blankets over herself, shouting “Hey what the fu-!” Before one of the cops hammered the side of her head with the butt of their rifle. She dropped limply to the side, the cops immediately flipping her half-dressed body over and cuffing her.

A man in a black uniform entered after the array of cops, grimacing as he plucked Dawn’s prone form off the floor. “I told you all not to hurt the merchandise,” he said.

Dawn’s body grunted in discontent. “You know as well as I do that they don’t give a shit if I get hurt.” He was… something with a C? It barely flitted past Dawn’s mind. Clarke? Charles? The cops were too busy riffling through the woman’s things to give a shit about what he said either way, but on his orders one of the thugs came over to take her body in his place.

She barely moved at their touch, but once she was on her own two feet another cop came over with their rifle butt raised. “I said-” The man in the black suit spoke again, but was cut off when the rifle collided with the side of Dawn’s head. Everything jerked to the side, dropping her into an overly elaborate bedroom where she was handcuffed to the side of the bed. Beyond the window she could see an endless sprawl of wheat across the curve of the station’s interior. Colorful fish danced above the ceiling window.

“Dawn, are you even listening to me right now?” A voice spoke, and the cotyledon turned to look towards it. Two silhouettes stood at the far end of the room, slowly coming together into form as they spoke.

“Honey, please, she’s probably still spaced out on… what do kids these days call it? Star dust?”

“I don’t *care* what they call it I care that people are going around saying our *daughter* is a junkie!” The first silhouette coalesced together, becoming the tall form of Ilex as she stepped forward to tower over the human. “You’re a disappointment, Dawn. You have been since the first day you crawled out of those labs.”

Dawn felt her world run cold at the sight of the affini glowering at her. The pain along her spine heightened, becoming a coil of agony that spiked out along her nerves.

“Well, Dawn, she’s not wrong in that we are feeling disappointed in you right now.” The other form crystalized into Hesperia as she stepped forward. “But dear this is about your *education*.”

“Education nothing, she is ruining our reputation! The rest of our kids are shining examples of terran citizens, but *this* failure,” Ilex gestured viciously towards the human. “Is nothing but the detritus that gets ground up under heel.”

Dawn couldn’t bear to hear this from Hesplex. Let it be the real faces at least. The scowling assholes who hated her for coming out of that test tube imperfect. The- fuck! She gripped the side of her head in pain. The world spiralled out around her, scale becoming distorted as the writhing mass crawling through her skull. Why did she know this place? When was she here? Why did it hurt? She couldn’t… she couldn’t make it fit right. Hesplex were still shouting at her. She was a failure, blah blah blah, a problem child out doing drugs in the middle of the night and getting a ‘wrong’ education. When Dawn looked up she saw wheat bursting through the seams of Hesplex’s body and spilling out through the floorboards of the room. She screamed and fell back, pulling at her arm until it stretched inhumanly between her and the bedpost, chained in place by the cuff. The mass exploded apart in a mess of green vines and red flowers, sending her rocketing back against the far wall where her skull collided with the stone.

In the center of the room Dawn could still see the phantasmal silhouette of herself being chewed out by Hesplex’s hateful words. A failure. A waste of space. A stain on the family reputation. Dawn gripped the bleeding side of her head and ran, bursting through the door and stumbling out into the dark hallways beyond.

Ominous machines surrounded her on all sides, the floor similarly coated in a deep blanket of cables and wires that made it wholly unsuitable for her to travel across. Large glass tubes with floating masses of flesh flanked each side, providing the only light in the form of an ominous green aura that cast deep shadows around her. A writhing mass darted across the end of the hall, and with it a new form of fear blossomed in Dawn’s chest. She had to go.

Dawn bolted in the opposite direction, tripping and stumbling over the paths as she went, each step leading her deeper and deeper into the net of machinery while the fleshy masses grew more and more distinct. The pain across Dawn’s body only grew louder each step of the way, spiking into a horrid twist as the plant-like mass that was her arm suddenly burst out into a series of flowers that raced up towards her chest. From the wound along the side of her face thin vines began to slip free from her skin, wrapping themselves tightly against her as she traveled. She had to go.

Eventually the glass tubes around her reached a horrifying clarity, all becoming masses that mirrored her own body every step of the way. She saw herself repeated over and over again, with flowers bursting out of her chest or head in a horrific splay of viscera. At times she even saw her own heart laid bare, plant matter having split apart her ribs like a flower of gore to frame it perfectly in place. Each time she wanted to scream, but the overriding fear in her brain kept pushing her forward. *She had to go.*

Another step, another spike of pain, this time a series of vines squirming along her back before bursting across her stomach. The next time she lost all sensation in her legs. Then her remaining arm was lost in a daze of mist as thorns slid through her skin, flaying her apart to reveal dead flesh beneath.

Dawn collapsed to the floor, feeling her flesh writhe apart around her as more and more of the plant matter split her apart. It was crawling into her heart. It carved through her brain. It pierced her lungs and left her to suffocate. “Dawn,” A voice spoke, and brilliant colors of light bloomed across her vision. Once more she saw the woman in the colorful dress again, reaching out towards her. “It’s time to go.”

She limpy reached out with the stump that once was a missing arm towards the person, all while the colors around her spiraled more and more until *SNAP!*

Dawn awoke in her own bed. Hesplex were on either side of her. It was a dream. She sighed in relief, relaxing into place. All just a dream- a spike of pain erupted in her chest. Vines slipped between her ribs and pushed against her sternum. It hurt. It hurt, it hurt, it hurt, she gripped Hesplex tightly as her ribs blossomed open and her heart raised out of it, coated in the soft light of distant stars to *SNAP!*

Dawn awoke in her own bed. Hesperia was wrapped around her tightly. It was a dream. She sighed in relief. All just a dream. Dawn quietly slipped out of Hesperia’s grasp and slipped to the end of the bed, taking one step before all of reality broke apart like a thin sheet of paper that left her spinning out into space farther and farther away from the Baiera by the second and *SNAP!*

Dawn awoke in her own bed. Ilex was tucking her in. It was just a dream, Dawn begged. All just a dream. As Ilex bent down to give her a kiss goodnight, she grabbed the affini. “Am I awake?” she asked.

Ilex looked confused, but gave a soft smile before she opened her mouth to answer *SNAP!*

Dawn was falling through space again. Her voice echoed through the void in a constant, silent scream. *SNAP!*

Dawn was trapped in the cables of endless machinery, burrowing through her flesh and reaching ever deeper inside of herself. *SNAP!*

Dawn awoke in bed. Fish were swimming outside the window. They were so beautiful. Dawn awoke in bed. Autumn was wrapped around her tightly. She wanted to stay there, to feel the human’s breath against her neck all night. Dawn awoke in bed. Blood seeped from every part of her face. Dawn awoke in bed. Nothing felt real. It was all dreams, one after another after another. She felt a distinct fear that she’d be stuck here forever. In a liminal space between the comfort of true dreams and waking. Again and again and again as her flesh withered away and Hesplex fretted over her comatose form. She wanted to scream and beg and cry out. She wanted to hear Hesplex once more telling her everything would be okay.

Dawn awoke to the most terrible sensation of them all: lucidity. She felt the swampy sheet of sweat that lay over her body and pooled into the sheets. She felt the warmth of Autumn’s arms wrapped tightly around her as she slept. She felt the cool vines of Hesplex and Solanum all wrapped around the two, leaves and vines rustling softly in the false breath of their sleep. Dawn laid still, just in case she was still dreaming. But no women in colorful dresses appeared begging to take her away, and no fish flitted outside the window.

Instead she was stuck wide awake, feeling the yawning void of clarity washing across her mind and the nagging sensation that Hexplex was hiding something from her.

That was a weird thought.

Dawn put a hand to the side of her neck and felt nothing stranger than the flower that was always there. No new vines or thorns or blood staining the place. That was good. Good signs!!! Dawn quietly wiggled herself out of Autumn’s grasp, moving her body down across the overly large bed in the hopes of getting off and onto her own two feet- foot? She looked down at her leg and saw the wooden thing that replaced her left leg. Foot, then. About halfway across the bed though, Ilex quietly stirred and folded herself back together. The affini’s body formed an arch from her hip to her shoulders as she raised up midriff first, then lurched as her shoulders dragged up afterwards. Her head hung limply behind her shoulders after that, snapping forward only as her backwards arch turned into a forward slouch that left her still towering at twice Dawn’s height.

“Dawn, love,” Ilex whispered quietly. “Is something wrong?”

Dawn froze in place, surprised to be caught out so immediately then concerned about why she felt instinctively worried to be caught by one of her affini owners. “Uh, I,” She stuttered. “I was thirsty?”

Ilex nodded sleepily and slid off the bed entirely before grabbing Dawn to lift her and place her beside the affini. “Come along then, let’s get you hydrated.” Dawn instinctively took the affini’s offered hand and followed her out before spending the entire walk stewing inside of her own head. She was lucid. This was unusual. She also couldn’t recall ever having felt this lucid before in the past. She tried to recall but all she got back was a weird… blob of emotions that encompassed the entirety of her memories. The more she tried to focus on finding a memory the more she felt her mind… slipping around the edges.

This was temporary then.

Dawn tried to think of anything else. Even as Ilex led her into the kitchen and pulled aside a seat for her Dawn’s head spun around desperately. Where was she? Hesplex’s hab. What happened? She was dreaming of… something. Something that she couldn’t quite parse into reasonable sense. She lived with Hesplex, and has for… however long it’d been. Two years, maybe? Three? Four? Stars, it could be twenty and she wouldn’t know the difference. Since she… she… what *had* happened? Dawn blinked. Why was she here again?

Ilex appeared before her again, glass of water in hand. “Is something on your mind, love?” The affini spoke, and Dawn dearly wanted the affection to be real.

“Why am I here, Ilex?” Dawn asked bluntly.

Ilex paused, placing the cup on the table next to her before continuing. “You are in Hesperia and I’s care, and you live here so that we can better fulfill your needs.”

“Where did I live before?”

“In the labs, but you weren’t doing very well there.”


“You were sick.”


Ilex paused, staring Dawn straight in the eyes contemplatively. After a minute something clicked, and she realized the meaning behind the focused expression Dawn wore. The affini saw the familiar flicker of light that so rarely shone behind her eyes. “You’re lucid again.” She gasped.

Again? “Have I been this way before?”

“Rarely. Last time was over a year ago.”

“Are you hiding things from me?”

Ilex squirmed uncomfortably. “...yes.”

Dawn could feel the slippery feeling inside of her skull spreading by the second. Ready to take more and more of her thoughts back into the yawning void. Her time was limited and draining by the second. Moment by moment until it would draw her back down under the waves and drown her mind once more. With shaking hands the human gripped the affini’s face, pulling her in close to stare her in the eye. “Tell me it’s for a good reason,”

“Dawn,” Ilex started to reply, but the cotyledon continued regardless.

“Lie if you have to, I don’t have enough time to hear you out I just- I just need to hear that it’s for a good reason. That there’s a purpose to all this and that you’re not just lying to me and pretending to care as my brain withers away.” Dawn felt cold tears sliding down her face, echoing the quivering sense of fear that was rapidly being quashed within her chest. Memories of all the caring moments that Hesplex had given her were echoing within her skull, reminding her of how kind it would be to just let go and slip under once more.

“Dawn,” Ilex insisted this time, taking the human’s wrists as she did. “Hesperia and I love you more than we can bear, and it would wound us to no end to hurt you again. I promise we’re trying to help you, and I promise there is a reason for all of this.”

Dawn leaned forward quietly, head resting against her affini’s. Her head felt like it was swimming all over again. Her ability to focus was… slipping. She didn’t want to go, she didn’t want to lose touch again, she wanted- she wanted-

“Hesperia and I are trying to help you. Some day everything will be okay again. Some day we can explain everything and, and I promise-” Ilex’s speech was cut off by Dawn suddenly tipping over to the side. Her eyes stared off into nothing as her body went limp, then shivered, then rose back up with a dazed sort of expression.

Dawn looked around in mild confusion. Did she doze off again? Or maybe she slept, she did feel kind of tired. Maybe Hesplex could tell her what happened- oh!!! Speak of the deli, Ilex was right here. “Hello Ilex!” Dawn said with a wide smile that shifted to a concerned expression once she saw the look on the affini’s face. “Why are you crying?”

The affini’s expression was stuck somewhere between pain and fear, clear sap flowing like tears from fissures across her wooden face. “It’s nothing, dear. Just a memory that came back to me.”

Dawn pouted. “A sad one?”

“Only by my own fault.”

“Well!” Dawn tapped her on the forehead. “I know something can help with that!” Words she’d said before, playful thoughts that looped around like a loving inside joke. “Sounds like you need a prescription from the best doctor on the Baiera.”

“Dawn, love,” Ilex started, but the human cut her off by planting a kiss on her forehead.

“Just like that!” Dawn beamed, then mirrored the gesture by planting a kiss on each of the affini’s simulated cheeks. As much as Ilex would have possibly pouted earlier she couldn’t help but break into a soft smile, then open giggles as the human continued her onslaught onto the affini’s pointed wooden nose. With one last, big smooch right on the affini’s lips Dawn slid back into her seat with a wide smile. “The operation was a success! See? Told you I’m the best doctor here.”

Ilex put her head down into Dawn’s lap, letting her giggle fit flutter into the human’s thighs before she slid back up with a small sigh. “You’re right, love, I’m sorry for worrying you.”

“It’s the least I can do, dear. You always help me when I’m worried.” Dawn moved forward to hug the affini. The two embraced tightly, Dawn sighing in content at the affini’s warmth while Ilex held on desperately to something more precious to her than she could ever possibly describe.

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