The first thing that Elvira notices is the soft clinking of glass against metal, and then distant voices. She opens her eyes, glancing around the room. She was back in the habitation unit, on the bed. She blearily turns her head towards the noises, and sees both affini and Mara sitting at the table, eating a meal. Mara was eating a meal, in any event. She wasn’t sure that the affini even needed to eat.
She coughs, realizing at the same time just how dry her throat has become. Distantly, she hears Nikhila mention her waking, she thinks. Through peripheral vision she can see Akash stand up and walk towards her, grabbing a small shiny bronze rod with a silver tip on the way.
“Hello there, my sleepy little girl~” Akash coos. She starts gently petting Elvira’s chest, and despite the human’s best efforts to deny it, it feels exquisite. She holds the rod above Elvira, being careful to keep it within the human’s wavering field of view. “You’re in no danger darling, but your cuff gave you more xenodrugs than it should’ve,” Elvira scoffs, or tries to, instead just exhaling sharply. Akash continues, “so I’m going to give you a bit of this antidote. You’ll still be nice and calm, but able to talk and have this meal with Mara”.
Elvira blinks. Akash takes this as confirmation and presses the injector against her shoulder. “This will hurt a bit darling, I know you can be brave for me though~”. The injector clicks, and Elvira feels coldness travel up her arm.
Her eyes flutter open in a familiar act of wakefulness. She’s sitting, or perhaps more accurately being held, in Akash’s lap. She squirms experimentally but finds only small movements possible. Before she can begin to complain about her situation, Akash has put a cup of some opaque fizzy liquid up to the human’s mouth. “Drink up dear!”
She considers refusing for a moment, but considering her situation and her still dry throat, she opens her mouth. The liquid is unexpectedly runny, and Elvira soon has some of it flowing down her chin. Her cheeks flush brightly red as she notices Mara glancing at her with an amused & gay look on her face. She quickly looks away, disturbing the cup and causing even more of the liquid to spill.
“Aw, what an adorable, clumsy little human,” Akash puts the cup down on the table, grabbing a napkin in the same motion. She calmly wipes the liquid off of the squirming woman’s chin, drying off the top of her blouse in as much as she can. Elvira feels Akash’s leafy hand smooth back her hair and she gasps and shivers.
Suddenly, a chirping noise rings out. Nikhila produces a shiny tablet from stars know where. She taps on it casually and some affini glyphs appear, animating in some indecipherable sequence.
Akash stands up, sitting Elvira in the far too big chair. The two affini briefly converse in a xeno language. The first time she’s heard any substantial amount of an affini language since before she arrived, Elvira realizes. Nikhila ruffles Mara’s hair, smiling down. “We are needed elsewhere dear. We will return shortly.” Both affini glance at Elvira, who flinches briefly under their gaze.
Akash addresses Mara, “Please keep an eye on Elvira for me Mara, keep her out of trouble~”. Mara dutifully nods. “Absolutely miss Akash! I’ll keep my eyes on her!”. Elvira breaks their gaze, turning around in the chair and listlessly poking at the food in front of her. “And you..,” Akash firmly grabs Elvira’s chin, forcing the human to look towards her towering form, “Behave yourself Elvy~”. She smiles, and releases her grip on Elvira, tapping her nose before she walks to the door, Nikhila following loosely behind.
As the door slides shut behind them, Elvira groans, clutching her forehead with both hands as she leans backwards. “You didn’t have to tell Akash about that nickname Mara, it’s so humiliating coming from her!”
Mara sighs, “Miss Akash would’ve found out sooner or later.” Elvira scoffs.
Mara continues, “It really will be easier this way, I promise you Elvy — Elvira. It’s not bad once you get used to it!”
Elvira shakes her head, one hand still firmly supporting her forehead. “I promise I’ll get us out of this Mara, there’s got to be a way out”.
Mara opens her mouth to object, but instead takes another bite of the flatbread she’s been eating.
Elvira takes an experimental bite of the noodle adjacent substance in front of her, and finds it delicious. She hurriedly takes several more bites, washing it down with a substantial gulp of the opaque liquid. In her peripheral vision she notices the glint off of the medical injector. Her eyes widen as mental gears start to turn.
She grabs the injector, standing with a wobbly posture. As she begins to examine the injector, Mara interrupts. “Elvy, what are you doing..?” Elvira smiles with determination. “Getting us out of here.” She injects herself, wincing from the pain. It is near instantly as if a fog has lifted from her mind. She curls her fingers in sequence into a fist, slamming it into her waiting palm.
“This is the most level headed I’ve felt since I’ve got here, fuck.” Elvira practically jumps with joy. She starts pacing around the unit, looking for something. “Elvira! You have to be careful, we have no way to know how much of the antidote that just gave you!” Wringing her hands nervously, Mara starts to pace herself, “Stars, what am I gonna tell miss Akash, what am I gonna tell my Mistress… I promised to keep you out of trouble, I said I wou—”
Mara is cut short when Elvira holds a long cardboard box up triumphantly, exclaiming, “I knew there’d be some!” She opens it, pulling out a long sheet of metal foil.
“Aluminum foil..?” Mara wonders aloud.
“Yes! Remember back to electronic warfare training? I can block the signals from our cuffs with this!”
Elvira isn’t paying any attention, instead tearing the sheets into stripes for the cuffs and collars. Before she can object, both humans’ cuffs are wrapped securely in foil. With one hand she grabs hold of Mara’s hand, picking up a butter knife with the other.
She leads them to the door, prying off the control panel cover with the knife, stabbing into the bundle of vines behind it. The door slides open. Elvira shrugs happily. “Figured they’d have a failsafe.”
Cautiously, Elvira peeks her head out into the corridor beyond the habitation unit, finding it devoid of any xenos or other humans. She ducks back in, gesturing for Mara to follow her.
“Elvira!” Mara whisper-hisses, “you’ve got to come back here! Nik — Mistress and Miss Akash could be back any moment!”
Pulling at Mara’s hand, Elvira grins, “all the more reason to get the hell out of here!”. She runs into the hallway, pulling Mara close behind. “I think I remember the way to the transit bay, if we can get there we can probably get to a shuttle dock!”
As she dashes through the corridors, Mara close behind, plans of escape flash through Elvira’s mind. With an affini shuttle they could feasibly outrun the Helianthus, at least for long enough to make several jumps to throw them off. They would have to figure how to deactivate the tracking mechanisms onboard, but between the two of them, Elvira was certain it was possible.
She pulls herself and Mara up against the inside wall opposite the internal transit bay, waiting long enough to listen for any approaching pods. The sound of an approaching pod has the human nervously fiddling with her knife till it passes through the station without stopping, its sound receding. They enter the room and Elvira approaches the control console on the nearest transit terminal with a wicked grin, prying at its cover with her knife. She whisper yells to Mara, “Keep watch! We may need to hide again”
“Fucking plant-tech, why can’t they use proper electronics!” Elvira struggles with the console, but soon succeeds in getting the doors of one of the waiting pods to open. She pumps her fist, spinning to find Mara. The other human is anxiously pacing, muttering something to herself. Elvira hurriedly gestures for Mara to get to the pod.
Mara walks towards Elvira, keeping close to the nearby wall. A few meters away, she stops, and looks up at Elvira. “Is something wrong Mara? We’ve not got long!”. Mara sighs and smiles timidly. “I’m sorry Elvira, but this is for both of our own good.” Before Elvira can respond, Mara has pulled down a recessed handle in the wall, and an alarm blares.
Elvira’s eyes go wide, and she almost drops her knife. Stuttering, “M-Mara.. What! Why!”. Swearing, she scowls and turns for the pod, only to find the door has shut. She nearly slips on the floor when she turns and makes for a connecting corridor. As she rounds the corner into it, she runs directly into an affini.
Akash grins coldly down at her human, “Well, I wasn’t expecting finding you to be this easy.” Elvira jabs the knife into Akash’s torso and spins on her heel, stumbling and running towards another corridor. She slides to a stop in the middle of the transit bay as numerous other affini step out of the shadows in each hallway.
Her eyes wild, she backs up towards the closed pod door, hyperventilating. Akash approaches, pulling the knife out of her leaves near effortlessly. She examines it, cyan sap dripping to the floor. The affini disappointedly tsks, “You know, I had thought we were past your silly little plays at misbehavior, but this,” she twirls the knife in her fingers, “this is really something else, isn’t it darling.”
Elvira’s eyes dart from Akash to Mara, the human being held tightly by Nikhila as she cries. “M-mara…” she reaches out in Mara’s direction, her voice wavering. As the reality of what’s happened continues to wash over her, her hand clenches into a fist. “Mara! I hope I never see you again, traitor!”.
Akash kneels down in front of the trembling human, bringing her eye level in line with Elvira’s. “You look anxious darling, why don’t I help you with that~”
“No! Stay away!” Elvira pushes herself against the pod door as much as she can, desperate to escape the inevitable. Dozens of vines shoot out from Akash, quickly restraining the human.
“It’s time for a little nap, but we’ve got a lot to talk about when you wake, Elvy”. The gentle of hiss of several medical injectors operating punctuates Elvira’s hyperventilation.
Akash smiles, pushing the shaking girl’s hair out of her eyes. “For now though, just relax for me”.
As Elvira quickly feels her consciousness spiralling out from under her, the last thought she has is that Akash’s vines feel wonderful wrapped around her.