43 - Liminal Entity

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 uhhh a lot??? I guess???? ASCAB (all space cops are bastards), mention of death in the past, brain fuckery, a cute bug who hugs, feelings of despair and sorrow, mentions of serious health problems caused by negligence of uncaring authority figures and uhhhhh idk writing these warnings is hard sometimes be kind to yourself and exercise due caution when reading anything I write please

Autumn drifted through a haze of half-lights and empty sensations. With the slow lifting of fog she opened her eyes to find herself once more in the surgical theater, her body suspended by endless jagged poles with her spine once more thrust out upon the world. That… was interesting. She turned her head to look back at herself, seeing a trio of spinal structures spiraled out- oh she’s dreaming. Autumn dropped out of her spot, landing painlessly face-first on the floor before rolling over to see a shadowy silhouette where she once was.

She felt a small pinch at the base of her neck, then an unfurling of flesh as a millipede crawled out from her back to drape itself over her shoulders. “Sorry about that,” The bug said, it’s antenna waving slightly in the fabricated breeze. “I’m interfacing with your memories right now and accidentally triggered a lucid episode.”

Autumn blinked several times as she looked the bug right in it’s… eyes? She just realized that she had never actually seen a millipede before and thus didn’t really know where it’s eyes were.

“Give me a minute, I can have you back out-”

“That’s okay.” Autumn interrupted. She moved to pet the insect, her arm feeling like a vague cloud thing as it moved. “Are you Nyx?”

“Kind of?” It chittered back. “I’m basically your brain’s attempt at interpreting the gestaltation of the implant’s nervous systems with yours combined with your colorful imagination and externalization of such thoughts.”

“That’s complicated.” Autumn huffed.

“Let’s just say yes and move along, then.”

Autumn crawled out from underneath her phantom self and stood up to look around. Sinapis’ silhouette was reduced to little more than a pair of pearlescent smears of color flickering about the room, with the spider above similarly having been reduced to a fog of sharp shapes over her body. Solanum, on the other hand, appeared like a collection of paint splatters that rendered her visage in an impressionist spray. Her eyes were wide and gold, glimmering against the dark that otherwise blanketed the room. She reached out to touch the simulacra in her memorie- everything jerked to the side with an electric jolt of pain.

“Sorry, that was me too.” Nyx said flatly. Autumn saw flickers of light dance over her vision, becoming a blur of lights and colors and *heat* as Solanum’s voice echoed within her ears. “This is why florets are usually drugged for this part.” The bug sighed, it’s endless legs clicking as it crawled over her shoulders. “Easier than having to experience something intruding in your brain.”

Autumn’s mind slowly drifted back down into the dream room, the lights growing more distant as she drifted while the illusory fog pushed back in. When everything came back together the world had shifted to a distorted version of her hab, everything made of spiralling brush strokes in gold. The growing form of Nyx spread across the distant wall, encompassing her mind’s view entirely. Autumn moved to speak, but her mouth just gaped silently before another small jolt snapped her back to a state of lucid awareness.

Autumn skittered up to her feet, scrambling to a corner of the imagined room. “What- that-”

“I’m interfacing with your brain, I told you earlier. It’s not particularly pretty, and honestly it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.” The bug answered calmly.

Autumn drew in a sharp breath, realized that her dream self didn’t actually need to breathe, and instead silently slipped down to a seated position. “This is weird.” She mumbled.

“Extremely.” Nyx agreed.

“So will this be one of those deep and meaningful revelation type dreams?” She asked with a hopeful tilt to her voice.

“No, it’s just me stimulating your nervous connections to get a better understanding of how your brain works before I start plugging into everything. But feel free to stick around and draw some deeper meaning if you really want to.”

Autumn huffed again. “Can I at least pretend that this is a revelatory dream and that you’re some kind of shoulder friend to reflect with?”

The bug shrugged it’s thousand legs in unison. “I suppose.”

Autumn leapt to her feet triumphantly. “Yes!” She cheered. “So do you have secret knowledge from beyond our mortal realm? Dark perspectives from ancient gods?”

“No, I just know whatever you know but with an altered perspective.”

Autumn pouted once more, wholly ignoring how the room around her spun and bled apart into the familiar sight of the party she had been. Already she could see the memory fray apart at the edges, everything but the focal point of her attention becoming foggier and foggier as it spiralled away. A small twitch jolted up from her spine, and the room shifted once more to the kitchen, then the grocery whatever-it’s-called. Images of herself carried upon Hesperia’s shoulders blended with a growing beam of light as the knife’s razor edge encompassed more and more of her vision.

Nyx slithered off of Autumn’s shoulders to wrap up the knife and hide it under a blanket of darkness. “Let’s deal with that later,” It said with a chipper tune, skittering away through the endless rows of produce. Autumn followed after, eyes locked onto the shimmering carapace of the little bug even as more and more of her life spun around her in reverse order. Nyx had *said* it only knew what she knew, but she didn’t feel that connection going two ways yet. As it skittered and scampered about she didn’t particularly feel anything from it, actually. No glimmers of thought, no emotions, no *goals*. Yet it moved with purpose, clearly with thoughts of it’s own stewing in it’s tiny little insect head.


“Yes, Autumn?” The millipede twirled back and clambered up her leg, spiralling over her back then perching once more upon her shoulders.

“We’re connected, right?”

Autumn felt another jolt rise up from her spine before Nyx answered. “Ah, I see,” It curled around her neck like some sort of insectile scarf before crawling up the side of her face and perching upon her head. “I’m probably still merging the finer intricacies of our nervous systems together right now. Or, perhaps, in externalizing my interactions you’ve unconsciously blinded yourself?” Antenna wiggled about left and right in thought.

Flickers of charts and graphs from Sinapis’ book played over Autumn’s eyes, painting the walls of her memories in a paper tone as they went. Everything fluttered apart before coming back together to a series of microscope slides that depicted the actual process of haustoresis, where the fine boundary between the implant’s cells and the owners faded apart over time. By the late stages the implant was discernible as little more than a slight gradation of color against the host’s own cells.

“See, you’re probably here,” Nyx spoke, pointing with one antenna at a chart that showed two wholly unconnected cells next to each other.


“I’m an imaginary best friend with a bunch of plant matter stapled to your spine, cut me some slack.”

“Okay, that’s fair.”

“As I was saying, you’re *probably* on this part but currently healing to the next stage,” The pages flashed to a more precise selection of pictures, this time depicting the boundary having fizzled apart while tendrous formations clung to nervous tissue. Autumn pictured the millipede wearing a little mortarboard and monocle, which immediately poofed into existence upon it’s head. “Which is when we *should* be able to have some proper communication going on. Based on how you’re doing I’d estimate that we should be at least there by your next REM cycle which- you know what, we’ve been talking in circles, let’s skip to that part.”

Before Autumn could properly reply Nyx suddenly squeezed in around her head, causing her to suddenly pop like some kind of balloon.

Autumn’s consciousness drifted up from a blank fog into- dreaming, she was still dreaming and this was her waking up again. Or rather, had been asleep and dreaming, or…? This was too complicated to figure out.

“You were in deep sleep and now you’re up in REM sleep again for a bit.” Nyx replied, and this time Autumn felt the words slither through mind with a jarring clarity. When she opened her eyes she could see it once more on her chest, and through it’s eyes see her own dream self looking back up at it.

Autumn blinked several times at the sight. “You’ve grown big.” At this point Nyx was large enough to lay across the full length of her body and seemed quite happy to be laying across her to demonstrate it. She could readily *feel* Nyx’s satisfaction brimming inside of her this time and wow- that was kind of weird. Like an emotion centered along her upper back instead of her head and chest. “Can I um, sit up?”

“Of course,” Nyx chirped back in reply, it’s many legs clicking and clacking as it moved around her, allowing her the mobility to at least get halfway up but still refusing to stop cuddling up around her. She couldn’t deny it felt pretty nice to be all wrapped up and- hm, was Nyx also reading her emotions now? “Yes, I am.” Well then Nyx you may continue to cuddle. “I absolutely intend to.”

Autumn felt a bit silly working her way up to her feet while trying to maneuver around the giant millipede that slithered around her, but eventually she succeeded while only kind of looking like a clumsy fool in the process. By the end she appeared much like she was wearing a broad black scarf, except that said scarf also wrapped around most of her chest and torso before resting a fanged head beside hers.

It seemed the two were floating through a facsimile of the Verdant Dawn, where silhouettes of herself slipped through dark halls and shied away from anything that could even begin to scare her. “You don’t have many actual memories pieced together from this time,” Nyx helpfully chirped. Trauma has a habit of halting the brain’s ability to actually write anything it reads anyway, it continued in her thoughts. “Mostly snippets and fears laying about.”

Autumn took a step through the mess of half-formed terrain and watched the world bend around her. A room made of vents left ajar, a wall of lights, a silhouette of herself crouched in the corner and crying for mercy. The dark feeling of solitude crushed in on all sides. “Yeah, that makes sense. The whole thing might as well have been one long panic attack in spaceship form.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“I’d feel silly repeating things you already know.”

“Actually it’d probably help with processing information to get some extra active thought on the matter.” Nyx clicked back, though despite their words Autumn could feel the brimming sensation of curiosity hiding beneath the visage. How cute, so it didn’t automatically know everything yet.

“Fine, fine,” Autumn gave a little wave. “Let’s see… Verdant Dawn, that was the ship I was stationed on before everything went tits up with the affini’s arrival.” Outside the window the silhouette of the terran ship flickered into existence, framed against the silhouette of the vastly larger Baiera.

“What was it like before the affini?” Nyx chirped.

“Boring, honestly. It was a middle of nowhere ship full of nobodies with nothing to do all day.” As Autumn spoke the ground slid beneath her, rapidly spinning to turn into a memory of the comms room back then. Silhouettes of people sitting shoulder to shoulder cramped in by the glittering lights of endless machinery and cables.

One of the bodies flickered before forming a mirror of Autumn back when she was in uniform. Distantly Autumn could feel the itchy material chafing over her hands all over again, and silently felt a bit of relief in knowing she’d never have to put THAT on again. “I spent most of my time fiddling with the Dead Station lines and keeping a… less than legal ear on a SETI stream.”

“Fond of aliens?”

“Well the last one we found were the rinans, and they’re cute as a button.” Also may have accidentally started a small war through a misunderstanding, but hey that’s part of the importance of xenolinguistics. Or at least that’s what Autumn kept telling herself over the various times she had to fill out scholarship forms over and over again.

“Yet you were scared of the affini.”

“You try being off your meds for months at a time.” Autumn huffed.
“Literally never going to happen anymore now that I’m here.” Nyx huffed back, but given it’s insectile form it sounded more akin to a series of clicks before a soft puff of air. Oh right, it’d be able to handle that for her now. She moved her hands to rest over it’s black carapace, feeling the ridges and folds of it’s structure with a shocking clarity compared to the dazed fog that painted the rest of the dream. It’s sinuous body tensed in response, a kind of lengthy hug that laced over and under her arms and squeezed in around her whole rib cage at once.

“Thank you for that,” She whispered.

“Just doing what I was made to,” Nyx clicked happily in response, and Autumn felt a deep sort of satisfaction resonate within her spine. Well isn’t this an easily satisfied little bug? “I have the benefit of certainty in knowing I have purpose and just got complimented for doing it.” …damn, Autumn felt a little jealous then.

Around her the world flickered, colors sliding past each other to rearrange into a different end of the Verdant Dawn. Autumn’s mind slid with it, parsing it all into bits and pieces of associated moments of her life that cropped up around her. Various halls of bare metal pipes with barely even a shoulder’s width between them. Barely larger paths with open windows to outer space, where the dim light of the stars would cast hazy shadows against the dark interior. Like a clip show on fast forward she saw her own shadow skulk through these halls until it drifted into her room and collapsed on the bunk.

She used to have to share that tiny thing with two other people. With their lives split into strict six hour sections, all three shared the same cycle of sleep-work-leisure-repeat disjointed by one segment, so each day Autumn would end by kicking out the previous inhabitant and greet the next getting kicked out herself. Over and over again until one vanished near the asteroid belt and the other got spaced for expressing ‘pro-affini ideologies’ later in the rebellion stage. By that point the schedule had already broken down from ‘work whenever you’re awake and able’ to ‘we literally don’t have the staff to replace you so work when you can’ with an unsubtle threat of violence against her person if she didn’t.

“That’s dark.” Nyx commented.

“It felt more manageable at the time, given that I thought if we failed I’d get… I don’t know, sacrificed to an evil space god?” Autumn shrugged.

“Well you DID get housed with an oblivious gay plant and now make blood offerings to her regularly does that count?”

Autumn giggled, “I guess that’s close enough.” Her shadow had by then kicked up the blankets and zipped herself into place, then a moment later slipped back out to reach under her bed. Autumn tensed. “Can we… skip this part?” She asked as her shadow pulled a familiar knife out and rolled up her sleeve. Nyx sprung out, wrapping itself around the vision and plunging the whole thing into darkness. 

“We can process that bit another day too,” Nyx chirped as it slithered up her leg once more. “So, where were you before that ship?”

“Not going to hazard a guess?” Autumn asked, intercepting it’s path with her arm to lead it up into her hands. For such a massive thing it seemed to just be able to decide to weigh nothing when it felt like it. All coiled up in her hands like an oversized ball of spaghetti she would even dare say it’s cute. Autumn felt another warm buzz in her upper back at that one. “Yes, yes, you’re a very cute millipede, now are you going to blush all night or brave an answer?”

Nyx hummed as it strolled over itself. “Perhaps… a military academy?”

Autumn laughed. “If only. Maybe then I’d have had a proper wage.”

“Boot camp?” Nyx asked incredulously.

“No, no, it was a port school just off Mars.” Autumn answered, and with that the world flickered back in around her. The massive red dot of the martian world eclipsed the sky above the two, while the port school weaved itself into existence around them. Fields of false grass begat a glass dome towards the red sky above, then beyond dull grey buildings cropped up to dot the horizon. Shadows of people running their morning drills ran past them, while streaks of color above announced the coming and going of ships through space. “By my estimation this memory should put me right… about there.” Autumn pointed to a shadow that broke off from the pack, strolling over to rest under the shade of a tree. After a moment the shadow pulled out a small box with headphones and put them in, tapping her foot to a half-remembered tune as she drifted off.

“It wasn’t… too bad,” Autumn continued. “Drills in the morning, classes after noon, ship-board practice at night until sufficiently psychologically exhausted so that all we can say is ‘yes, sir’ and collapse in our bunks.” She walked right up to her shadow self, plucking the elusive box from it’s grip and holding it up in her hand. The thing flickered ephemerally, then snapped into sharp focus in her hand to reveal a technological mess of duct tape and fond hopes.. “At least I had pirate radio.”

She’d first built a receiver that could tap into such… less than legal broadcasts before she was even two digits old. It technically wasn’t illegal to have such a device, just to sell it. But the cops would readily take the sight of such a thing as a tip that she was probably one of those communists they were always going on about. But the first time she tuned in to a 28/9 space crash stream she was hooked. It ran off one of the many distant orbiting bodies beyond neptune, bouncing between dead stations it broke into before echoing across the airwaves through the rest of the solar system.

She could still recall the androgynous voice smoothly playing out between fits of chaotic nonsense music. At the time it was the pre-recorded clips of the show host telling everyone to stay tuned. Sometimes it was the host playing live, reading a book out loud, reciting poetry, or just going off at length about the Terran Accord’s financial policies.

That last point was a real stickler for the forces that be, and eventually the cops managed to hunt them down and shut that channel off for good. Not that it did anything to stop the tide of illegal streams that filled out space. Automated nightcore channels, full time audiobook recordings, a channel that was literally just some person playing their violin practice from the hours of 6 to 8 Jovian time, Autumn would tune into all of it with a ready sort of curiosity.

“Where’d they go?” Nyx clicked. Autumn looked over at the big bug in confusion. “All the streams, yet you just listened for SETI broadcasts by the time you were on Verdant Dawn. So what happened to the rest of them?”

“Big crackdown from the military on that matter after the affini first showed up. They’d threatened to run a bunch of guns up on anyone who was still broadcasting illegally because it’d ‘alert the enemy during wartime’ or whatever. SETI channels were one of the few things that weren’t glorified ad streams left, so, that’s what I’d tune into.”

“That’s kind of sad.”

“When it comes to the Terran Accord, I expect pretty much just the worst or the saddest thing to be what happens every time.” Around her the world began to be pierced by streams of light, color fading apart into fog once more. “Deep sleep time already?”

“Looks like it,” Nyx clicked back, curling up across her arms to hug around her chest again. “See you next REM cycle.” The fog rushed in after her, splitting apart to become a blade of light that sliced across her vision. All at once her body began to feel a million times heavier with a dull ache following any small twitch she tried to give.

Autumn’s eyes slid open just a fraction, enough to see the blurred shape of the dim room around her. Solanum was resting at her side, hands intertwined with hers. The smallest movement was enough to wake the affini, whose eyes shot open to reveal brilliant green spheres locked right onto her. “Autumn, dear, are you okay?”

Autumn tried to move her mouth but found it had fallen silent. Her tongue felt dry and bloated behind her teeth. A raspy breath slid out from her throat, becoming a soft groan of discomfort. Stars above it all why did her chest still feel so *cold*!?

“Honey, you don’t need to suffer through this part of healing.” Solanum said as she pulled out an injector. Stars, fuck, damn. She didn’t want to just slip away from consciousness entirely yet. Not with Nyx right *there* What if she woke up and couldn’t find it anymore? She still wanted more. Another chance to hear Nyx’s words and feel it so clearly on her hands in the ephemeral dreams. Autumn’s body spasmed from the attempt to move, shooting a wave of pain up through her back and giving another troubled gasp of air. Solanum’s face tightened up in tension. “Dear, I think this will really be for the best.” She said as she took her human’s arm.

Move, you stupid little tongue. Autumn focused all she could into her mouth, but nothing would listen to her. Not until a soft jolt danced up from the back of her neck, greasing the wheels of her face to allow a small “Nnnooo.” to whimper out.

Solanum paused. “...are you sure, dear?”

“Please,” Autumn whispered, already feeling exhaustion crawl back through her body. The affini made another noise, then tucked away the injector for now. She slithered back down to rest upon Autumn’s side, body draped over hers in turn. With a satisfied sigh Autumn relaxed back into place, readily accepting the gripping hands of sleep to pull her back down. Exhaustion returned tenfold over her, and within seconds she could no longer muster the energy to move enough to even open her eyes. Then darkness swam in, and her mind dropped once more.

Autumn felt hands gripping around her waist, a breath blowing warm against her neck followed by countless fangs playing across the surface. Thighs slid between hers, followed by a chest being held tight against her own. Sleepy eyes drifted open, and in that instant Autumn finally became aware of where she was. The bunk aboard her old home on the moon was a familiar if dated sight, though the person she shared it with was new. They looked just like Autumn, or at least a more androgynous form of her as a basis. But across their body was an endless array of black chitinous plates, marked by thin spikes that skated across the surface of her skin before weaving into her, almost appearing like hundreds of insectoid legs which- oh!

“Hello Nyx,” Autumn said, and it clicked a sinuous tongue against it’s razor teeth in response. “You’ve… changed.”

“We’re fusing together,” It responded, voice now playing with smooth melodic notes where clicks and chirps would echo together. She could see a deep purple venom pooled inside of it’s mouth, hiding beneath it’s black tongue. “You should see how you look to me right now.” Autumn looked up at it in confusion, but the implant just smiled as it slid it’s hands over her eyes. “Here, we’re still separated enough that I think we can still do this right… just breathe dear.”

Autumn closed her eyes, feeling a touch silly to do so in a dream but nonetheless willing to obey the bug's whims. Everything felt dark, then after a moment there was an odd pulling on the edge of her psyche followed by a *snap*. Then she was the one on top, feeling acid dripping through her own mouth and body clicking together underneath chitinous plates. The thing beneath her was equal parts familiar and wholly strange. Black vines with purple roots had laced through her body, blooming red flowers across her chest and face which sprouted fierce needles pointing out to the world. Wooden plates form a facsimile of chitin across her ribs, then scattered into smaller scales further along the length of her body.

“Look familiar?” The body below her spoke in her voice.

“A bit like myself,” Autumn answered through Nyx’s flesh. “A bit like you, a bit like her.”

“Every moment between is another small act of becoming,” Nyx replied as it sat up, bringing the dreamed vision of flowers through flesh up to rest it’s forehead against hers. “With each breath we’ve been becoming a bit less ourselves, and a bit more us.”

Autumn moved back, discovering that both of their bodies were now intertwined by passing right through each other as if they were completely immaterial. Legs slipped through each other, waists sliding past bones without a care, bodies pulling apart until she leaned back enough that they were connected by nothing more than the palm of their hands stuck together. Autumn pulled, but found that she couldn’t separate them any further than that.

“I think we’ve crossed the line where it’d take an involved surgical operation to separate us now,” Nyx said as it looked over their joined hands curiously. It pressed forward, moving it’s palm through hers and sliding down the length of her arm towards her chest. “Does that worry you, dear?” It said as it crawled forward, pushing her down onto her back and resting above her once more before pressing it’s other hand through her chest. She couldn’t deny a touch of worry that had pierced through her heart. She knew the implant would change in some meaningful way, but seeing so visceral a transformation in her dream was still a shock.

She was changing. In some real and permanent fashion that couldn’t ever truly be undone. Even if the trajectory of her self was only altered a bit that meant it would continue on in a vastly different path from then on forward, and what would that mean for who she was now? Or, worse, what did that mean for Nyx?

“Don’t worry about me, little Autumn.” It answered, it’s voice sliding between an androgynous hum and Solanum’s own growling rumble. “The fact that we can talk at all is unusual, I was always meant to be an ephemeral thing.”

Autumn’s hands shot up, sliding through Nyx’s body to hold the sides of her face. “I’m going to lose you?”

“I’m going to become a part of you, it’s different.”

“But I don’t-” Autumn started to speak, but Nyx interrupted by moving right past her, leaping out of the bed and pulling her after it.

“Then show me around! Clocks ticking, our nerves are melding, and if you waste what we got with moping then you’ll miss me even more later.”
Autumn stumbled on after the bug, practically collapsing to the vague memory of a floor. “I- fine, FINE!” She shouted as she awkwardly stumbled up to her feet. “This was my old home where I was raised and lived ‘till I joined the navy.” She held out her arms, easily touching the two sides of the tiny room. One wall held the entirety of two bunk beds, while the other had all of the kitchen appliances shoved within it. Between them the floor had barely enough space for an adult to stand. Autumn could still recall memories of setting up a makeshift desk from materials under the bed for homework or an improvised dinner table, and spending many nights staring long at the sky of space out beyond the window and- oh, yeah, those were the crystals her dad hung up for ‘channel positive energy’ or whatever. She was convinced they just thought those rocks were pretty and wanted an excuse to hang them up.

“Seems awfully cramped,” Nyx added.

“It didn’t seem too bad when I was growing up. Dads would let me sleep in the top bunk, did their best so I wouldn’t feel as poor as we really were when we were home, and, honestly I didn’t spend much time at home besides homework and sleep anyway.” Autumn shrugged, then turned and moved towards the front door. A practiced hand flicked the familiar switches to release the locks on the heavy metal thing and shove it open, revealing spiralling halls made from foreshortened memories of her travels. “Come on, there should be a park… somewhere around here I could show you.”

“Wonderful~” Nyx’s voice flowed with satisfaction as it followed her steps, it’s joy mirrored by the warmth Autumn felt crawling through her back.

“I could have sworn this place was bigger,” Autumn said as she gestured to the underground vista around them. Great metal pipes and wires coated the roof of the internal structure, while skyscraper-esque buildings line the entire distance from the top to the ground. Autumn recalled it all clearer than she ever expected to, down to the faintly dusty taste in the air and the rattling that always echoed through the ventilation tubes.

“That can’t be good.” Nyx said after one whiff of the air.

Autumn just shrugged. “I try not to think about it.”

“Something that’ll disappoint me again?”

“Negligence on the part of the governing body, so, yes.”

“So, something that was either profitable to someone or outright spiteful?”

“As I recall about a year after I left a report came out that the ventilation systems for this city were improperly sealed and trace measures of moon dust had leached in.”

Nyx groaned in discontent and flopped over forward, though thanks to the wonder of dream physics that just resulted in it floating after Autumn. “That’s pretty bad.”

“I try not to think about it. Like microplastics in the food processors or carcinogens in the water or mercury poisoning in garden’s soil, I just…” Autumn sighed and slouched over, feeling the familiar dreadful anxiety of the state of the world crawl back up from her gut. Then, with another small jolt from her spine, it was quashed out in favor of a dull pleasant hum tracing through her veins. “I just bottled it all up.”

Nyx swam forward and popped up before Autumn to look her in the eyes. “That’s not healthy and you know it.” It said, flicking the girl’s nose in the process.

“I was a small trans kid with undiagnosed mental problems being raised by two poor hippies on the moon, which, by the way, was an ultra capitalist hellscape, and if I tried to do anything about it then THIS would have happened.” Autumn kicked the corner of her view, and the whole world shattered around her to reveal a full blown riot tearing down the town. Cops in full gear stormed the streets, launching gas weapons with a reckless abandon and sticks out happy to beat down some of The Poors again. They weren’t even supposed to be using gas weapons in a closed environment! Not that they got any repercussions for it.

Autumn was glad to have a bit of enforced calm pumping through her veins right then, as she was pretty sure it was the only thing keeping her from full on devolving over the subject. Just *thinking* about the weeks of tainted air and labored breath and- uhg. All that over he3 farmers asking for more than minimum wage.

“I still think you should bring this up with Solanum.”

“And what, wake up saying ‘hey by the way thanks to willful negligence on the parts of people who didn’t give a shit I might develop lung cancer and die around the age of 60 or have lesions in my lung that will kill me by I’m 40 or might have been exposed to carcinogens that’ll make my stomach develop a cancer that’ll kill me or, I don’t know, increased risk of heart failure from my hormones or- stars fuck it all I know you’re right.” Autumn collapsed forward onto her knees. “I- you’re right, I’m sorry. Can we just- can we skip this part, please? I just want to be with you right now not… dwell on all this.”

Nyx tilted her head back, looking once more at the panorama of excessive violence around it before snapping its fingers and shutting the whole thing off. They were left adrift in the void, clinging tightly to each other. 

“Nyx, be honest with me, are you going to disappear?” Autumn asked, and Nyx once more slid through her body with a ponderous sort of gaze. She didn’t notice how much their forms had begun to overlap at this point, with the boundary between them having grown ever more hazy and thin over time. The human closed her eyes, focusing in to draw out the symbiotic emotions that laced between them both.

Fear. Anxiety. A nervous tension between her shoulder blades. It didn’t know what would become of it, or even why such a secondary psyche would crop up in the first place. Yet simultaneously it was blessed with a clarity in purpose and being, and knew that even if it did dissipate entirely it wouldn’t vanish per se. That’s what they were supposed to do.

Small acts of becoming. With each moment on a cellular level the walls between one organ and the next drew thin. With each breath the psychological barrier between who she was and what the implant would make her into became weaker. Every blink, every glance, every lingered breath was another chance for something to slot silently in place never to be the same again.

Autumn gripped Nyx tightly. She wouldn’t let go, and it knew that. It gripped her just as tightly, desperate for comfort. Between them the boundary blurred apart even more, flesh slipping apart into fog to give way to ribs that slid past each other. Where their lips met their bodies splintered apart into subatomic dust. Hands gripped with fingers interlaced, then bones crossing to meld together and shatter in turn, bodies repeating the gesture again and again until their hearts clashed in the middle, arteries whipping in the breeze of their own shattering to lash the two together tightly.

Then they were falling. Deep into the void of darkness that encompassed them faster and faster until it consumed them completely.

Autumn felt as if her body was woven out of fog and- dreaming! She bolted upright. “Nyx?” She called out, and nobody answered. She threw off the covers and leapt out of bed, finding herself once more inside her childhood home, but without her companion in sight. Autumn pushed past the silhouettes of memory and ran out into the halls, finding herself inside the broad golden halls of the Baiera once more. Great shafts of light expanded outward into infinity and *Nyx was nowhere in sight*.

“Nyx!?” Autumn shouted. “Where are you!?” She ran, shoving past anything that got in her way. Shadows of Hesplex towered over her and shattered apart into fog as she ran through them. Solanum was rendered in loving splatters of vibrant colors that shattered into fine shards around her path. After a turn she left the Baiera and found herself inside the tight corridors of the Verdant Dawn. Copies of herself littered the path, each a half-remembered moment in her endless treks through the paths. Even more of herself lingered outside the window as facsimiles of fears that once dominated her mind. “NYX!?” She shouted.

This wasn’t fair. It wasn’t even right. She shoved past one memory to another chasing after any sign of what was without a care for the facade that lay before her. Even in her dream she felt her voice run hoarse, and with endless steps her legs grew heavy. A weight pushed in on her chest, followed by lights dotting across her vision. Not now, damnit.

Autumn gripped her own face, feeling only a dark metal plate where skin should have been. Stay asleep. Keep looking. She needed more time. She screamed, unable to feel her mouth beneath the mask. Everything crushed in, claustrophobia giving way to suffocation fighting against a desperate need to just Keep!! Dreaming!!

But it was already too late. Autumn surged forward in the dream, and felt her body jolt into alertness. Her eyes snapped open, motion to her hand translating only to a spasming flail at her side before falling limp into the bed once more.

“...nyx?” She whispered to the cold air above her, and only silence answered.

fun fact i'm scared of bugs because they're so small and i'm so big and what if I hurt them???? relatedly I didn't like millipedes that much before writing Nyx and now I'm emotionally attached uhg this power comes at a pyrhhic cost


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