From Ice, Flowers Bloom

A medical mystery

by Hopeschains

Tags: #cw:noncon #D/s #dom:female #f/f #pov:bottom #sub:female #bondage #clothing #cw:violence #fantasy #Human_Domestication_Guide #petplay #pov:top #sadomasochism #scifi

Hello, all you wonderful Sophonts!!!  I hope that you're all having a day/night/wake cycle that is as amazing as you are!!  if this is your sleep cycle, then the fact that you're dreaming of me and this is flattering af!!  as always, drop a comment and let me know what you think.

Gloriananatha Drinadlu, Eighth Bloom ran through the halls of the ship, her vines trailing after her.  She’d been sitting at a cafe and enjoying an article written by Gladialis Dulcisa, Fourth Bloom when her tablet began to vibrate.  She’d nearly ignored it, since the focus of the article  had been something that interested her greatly, namely Norse deities and legends.  It was a side interest, since it had nothing to do with her actual work on Terran history, specifically medical care from the Terran 1800’s to 2100’s, which was when the first mega-corporation that oversaw Terran healthcare was created.  On paper, it was created to maximize healthcare for those who lived in its region of influence.  In reality, it was created to maximize profits at the expense of those it “covered”.   

Once the Terrans began to expand, first to their moon and then to Mars and the Jovian colonies, the mega-corporations merged to form Terra Medical. And it went from terrible to horrific.  Healthcare credits were created as transferrable commodities, at the same time that healthcare debt was allowed to pass down to the next of kin.  Natha had been saddened and horrified, even as she was glad that a new, kinder system was now in place.  One that she was proud to be a part of, since she was not only a student of history, but also of medicine.  She’d been a vet for her last two Blooms, and she found that she enjoyed it beyond anything else.  Just getting to see the little cuties all happy and properly settled, brought back to health, brought warmth to her core.  There was something about seeing them thrive which was just a delight, a balm to her soul.  Some might say that she was a bit driven, pursuing veterinary medicine in addition to archaeology, but she merely smiled.  She liked to be busy, and it wasn’t like she didn’t have her hobbies to keep her grounded.

But the summons had been fairly urgent, so she thanked the owner of the cafe, swallowed the rest of the fortified water, and began to move towards the hangar.  That had been…well, she wasn’t keeping track of time.  The lift had opened and she began to run, nearly losing her tablet, a few flower bandages, and a stethoscope that she habitually kept in her vines as she lost cohesion for a moment.  The cavernous hangar was big enough to comfortably hold a Terran cruiser or five, but it was currently empty except for one vessel at the far end.  A Terran vessel.  She ran closer, and as she approached, she saw the familiar Netflix-Amazon logo on the hull.  Taking a moment to rearrange her vines, she walked up and nodded to the assembled Terrans and Affini there.  “Gloriananatha Drinadlu, Eighth Bloom, She/Her.  I believe someone named Nariminia requested a vet and an archeologist?  It’s your lucky day, since I happen to be both.”

One of the other Affini raised their hand.  “Nariminia Noferili, Third Bloom, He/They/Them.  Thank you for coming on such short notice, Doctor Drinadlu.”

‘Natha smiled as she waved a hand.  “Please, call me Natha.  And the little bit that you told me had me quite interested.  Especially since this…”, and she stepped back, looking at the ship again.  “This is old.  Is it a derelict that someone managed to fly?”

Nariminia shook his head.  “No, Natha.  It’s fully automated, and was in a geosynchronous orbit.  But it’s what’s inside that is interesting.  Here, follow me.”  He led her inside, the other Affini looking around with an expression of wonder on her face.  She looked at the humming towers, the hoses that were winding in and out of them now at work, some sort of liquid gurgling.  Radiator hoses for heat transfer and cooling, she realized.  

“Server banks!!!  These are massive servers, each one is…is zetabytes upon zetabyte of data.  This…oh, I’ve read about this!! This is one of the server-ships that the Netflix-Amazon company created after the Netflix and Chill Bill was made in 2345, Terran years.  I read about them because one of the things that they also stored was patient “HPI” after Terra Medical made a deal with them to rent space on their server ships.  Of course, that “HPI” was really patient debt”, she said as she looked around, the word “debt” sounding oddly like what a foul odor put into words would sound like.  To actually see a ship like this, one in working order with her own eyes….  “This is literally a time capsule, a record of all the media and history that the corporation had at the time.  All bundled and stored here.  Think of the things that we could learn”, she said, looking around hungrily.

“Oh.  That’s interesting, Doctor.  But it’s what’s inside the next room that I think you’re going to really be interested in.”  Nariminia gestured to the next room, and for the first time, saw the doctor look over, curiosity in all of her eyes.  Unusual for an Affini, there were eight of them, four stacked on top each other, and then a pair diagonally over her cheeks.  Each was an orb of pure gold, rather than the multifaceted gems many Affini preferred to have.

“Oh?”, she said and walked up to the door.  Natha watched as the locks all disengaged, and then the door opened up, letting a gust of cold air out.  She slowly walked in, looking around with interest.  “I…I recognize some of this equipment.  This…this is a DDXR43-C model re-warmer/infuser.  It was made by one of the biotech companies that merged and became Terra Medical.  And that…. That’s a Cray Neotreee…  and this…”  She looked around, amazed.  “These are all perfectly preserved…but why are they here?  This ship is far younger than any of this equipment, by more than a hundred years.  It makes no sense”, she said, looking around.  Saving the best for the last.  She walked up to what looked like a round block of an opaque material, cradled in the vines of Affini tech.  She could see where there had been hookups for the Terran equipment, bulky ports and readouts on power levels and temperature.  So inelegant.  The vines sucked heat from the ambient area, drastically lowering the temperature, so she made certain not to stand too close for too long.

She stepped up, able to feel the intense cold radiating off of the object.  She was able to see that it was a block of ice.  Not just ice, but there was something about this that looked different.  Murky.  She wasn’t quite able to determine what it was without some other equipment, but that could wait.  “So…why did you need a vet?  I get why you’d want a xenoarchaeologist, most of those pieces belong in a museum.  Why did”, and then she looked deeper into the ice.  “I….DIRT!!!!”

“That’s why.”

“Is that a… That IS!!!!  And… we need to get this into my lab.  These instruments here aren’t sensitive enough, and I still have to determine what this is made of”, she said, and then looked up as Nariminia nodded.  Then pointed to the Affini tech that was underneath.  Small wheels unfolded into place and one of the other Affini there began to steer using a tablet.  Natha looked around the ship one more time, noting the open cargo bay doors inside this room, and realized that they kept the ice frozen by exposing the room to the vacuum of space.  ‘And since it was in a stable orbit, they could ensure that it never thawed’, she thought.  ‘Inventive.  And elegant, even if the rest of it wasn’t.’ Something tickled her brain, and she thought as she followed the little procession up the cargo lift and into a conveyance that was waiting.  It rose up and began to travel to her lab as she pulled out her tablet, vines typing rapidly.  

She was thinking of the things she was going to need, the best way to figure out what the ice was truly made of, and how to get at what was inside it.  And then she realized that she had the answers with her.  “Nariminia, I’m going to need access to those servers.”

“Done.  I’ll send you full access now”, Nariminia said.  Seven seconds later her tablet made a noise to let her know that she’d received updated access.  She began to query the server and read, walking with everyone.  She finished the article and switched to another, barely noticing as her shoulder hit the wall with a small grunt and “Oh, I’m sorry” to the wall she hit.

“Hmmm?”, Nariminia asked as he turned, seeing Natha stopped in the street as she looked around, next to a building.  “You ok?”, he asked, and she nodded.

“Oh yeah.  Just…umm…Accidentally hit the wall with my shoulder.  Must have slipped”, she said, blushing as her flowers closed.

“Oh yes.  Could happen to anyone, slipping like that”, he said with a straight face as he looked at the  dry road, which was completely clean and uncluttered.  “I’ll walk next to you and keep you from slipping, ok?”, he said, dropping back as she started to walk again.  Within a few steps she was back in her tablet, and he held her with a few vines.  Just as well that he did, since she began veering off to the side within a few steps.  He kept a solid grip on her elbow as they walked, and they finally wheeled the object into a large building.  Only a last minute pull by Narimias vines kept Natha from walking face first into the door.

The lab wasn’t a fairly large room, as labs went.  Enough space for at least six  Affini to stand comfortably around the whatever it was, and a minimal amount of humming equipment set into the walls.   That was it.  It was only when one looked up that they saw everything else.  The supercomputer that was actually hanging from the corner of the ceiling like a great big cocoon.  The vines that hung at odd intervals from the ceiling.  The robotic octopus that hovered near the ceiling, optical sensors flickering on and looking around.  Somehow, the AI gave the appearance of curiosity as it took in the group and the object they brought with it.  Unfolding multiple arms, it descended halfway, and then took a closer look.

“Excuse me, Doctor?”, a soft yet distinctly feminine voice said, filling the room.  Had Nariminia not known better, they would have sworn that there was an Affini standing behind them.

“Yes, Athirari?”, Natha said, putting her tablet away and taking charge as she directed them where to place the object.  She wasn’t sure what to call it other than that, since ice might not be completely factual, and she wasn’t sure what else to call it.

“Will this be our new project?”, the AI asked as it descended a bit lower.

“Yes, it will be.  I need to know what this substance is made of, and how old it is, if you can date it.  Hmmm…doesn’t appear to be any life signs, no movement, and”, she gave the ice a small push to put it where she wanted it.  “Completely solid.”   She looked at the object again, after wiping the surface down from water vapor in her lab that had frozen due to the refrigeration unit the object was currently nestled in, like an egg in a blanket.

“Athirari, begin recording.”  There was a chirp.  “This is Doctor Gloriananatha Drinadlu, Eight Bloom.  It is…”, and she paused, looking up.  “Errrmm…what day is it today?”, she asked.  After one of the other answered, she repeated the day, and continued.  “I have brought the object back to the lab for further study and inspection.  It was found amidst museum quality pieces of what would have been cutting age technology in the approximate Terran years 2120, and deliberately exposed to the vacuum of deep space for an unknown length of time, but I would surmise at least two hundred cycles, based on the ship it was found in.”  She walked around the object, detailing its height, weight, and physical appearance.   “The ice appears to be quite solid, especially after it’s time exposed to the vacuum.  No background radiation either, no Gamma, Beta, or Zeta waves, so whoever put this in there was at least careful.”  Now for the horse kicker.

“There is what appears to be a mass of some other substance embedded in the ice.  It appears blue in what would be considered the visible spectrum, and shows no sign of activity, electrical or otherwise.  It”, and here was where her voice faltered.  “It appears to…No.  Further testing will be needed to determine what this substance is, and how it got here.  End recording.”  She sighed, and her legs dissolved, a mass of vines and flowers sprawling to slowly writhe and move.  She sighed, and then a vine with a gorgeous violet flower rose up and swiveled.  “Thank you for your assistance, Blooms.  But I have quite a bit of work to do, so if you’d all be so kind?”  She watched as they all left, Nariminia being the last.

“Errm…Doctor?”, he asked.  “When you know what this is, can you contact me?  I’d like to know.”

She nodded, and once he left, she closed the door and locked it.  “Well….well, what to start with first?”, she wondered out loud.  Athirari was taking a gentle scraping with a monoatomic scalpel, sliping the molecule thin sheet of ice into an analyzer.  Picking up her tablet, she accessed the servers on the Terran ship.  The interface was almost easy, and as she began to query, she heard a ding.  “Hmm?”, she asked, looking over.  “What did you find, Athirari?”

“The substance is a close relative to the Terran ice-slurry mixture called Pykrete.  This one was made with a composite of pykrete and a hydrochemical gluconamide additive.  It has a very low freezing point, but the additive prevents ice crystals from expanding, and was treated in some form that I cannot detect.  It’s quite possible that whatever was also used has degraded over time, which was why it was shipped into deep space.”

“I see.  Thank you, Athirari.  Prepare for a full scan and analysis.  I want to know what it is, how long its been there, and everything else.”  She turned her attention back to the tablet, switching it from the smaller tablet to the wall sized workstation.  Laying back, she began to read, a vine swiping in midair to navigate.  The beeps and sounds of Athirari working faded into the background.  

After an hour, she sighed.  She wasn’t getting anywhere, there was simply too much data to filter through.  Dumping her original query, she decided to try something else.  Going back to her original search, she considered and took another tack.  She began to query scientific papers, and again lost track of time.  What she found had her sitting up and reading quickly.  Which was when Athirari beeped again.

“What do you have, Athirari?”, she asked.

“The Pykrete-ice, and it is Pykrete, has been carbon dated to 2026.  I can’t find any evidence of re-freezing, so whatever happened has been unchanged since then.  The material in the center is organic, and corresponds to Terran tissue”, the AI said.  “There is large evidence of massive  tissue damage secondary to trauma, likely from before, since the material appears undisturbed and there are no air pockets or evidence of trauma once the ice was solidified.  There are no discernable vital signs, and I cannot detect electrical activity anywhere.  Would you like me to detail the damage?”, Athirari asked, and then wondered why Natha had shaken her head.  

“No…no, you don’t…I’m reading the medical files now”, Natha said.  She kept reading, vines rising to cover her mouth in horror.  But she couldn’t stop, she owed it to this sophont of years past to keep reading.  Cross-referencing things with four open screens, vines dancing and adding chemical equations and watching as they played out, she slumped back and then looked at the time.  

Getting up, she crossed into her office, grabbed a packet of minerals and fixed herself a bowl of ice water.  Mixing the minerals and proteins in, she lifted it to her lips and drank the whole thing down, enjoying the taste and the way the ice chilled her vines and the stomach she’d had grafted on.  Then she walked back to her workstation, copied everything she had found, and started crying.

Once she’d stopped, she messaged Nariminia.

<Aclimingvyn>  Nariminia, this is Doctor Drinadlu.

<Radar>  Hello there!  Any news, Doctor?   

<Aclimingvyn>  Come to the lab.  I know who this is.

Hello!!!!  I hope you enjoyed the deepening mystery of what's going on.  Now...some of you may have noticed that there are some names that you recognize in this story, and that's because the three (at least) stories that are currently also being told all interweave at some point.  Especially seeing as they all take place on the same ship, the same way that Autumn and Hesplex are seen in Kittens story.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed planning it all out.

Don't forget to drink your water, take your meds, and get enough sleep.

Remember:  The universe beautiful, vast, and full of wonder.  And so are you.

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