Amity scarfed down what she now knew as a pizza. An old recipe from old Terra, done in traditional methods and composed of a lot of different ingredients.
She couldn't help but appreciate the effort. Hyacynthia wasn't the kind of person who had much interest in, what was to her, very much new technology. But she couldn't hide the grin she had when she ground the wheat by hand, formed it into flour, grew the tomatoes needed and slowly turned them into sauce, and coagulated the milk (which was an entirely different thing Amity had to learn about) turning it into a stretchy, salty blob called cheese. She even got an oven, which apparently terrans used to employ in order to cook food at high temperatures. Although not without checking to make sure the manufacturer did not use Martian components, whatever those were. According to Argornia, some old incidents many cycles ago outlawed their use, though making sure never hurts. Besides, Amity knew her well enough to know that the menial work was right up her alley.
And it was delicious! She never knew food could be so complex. Have so many working ingredients. A symphony of flavors that in actuality, it was a bit overwhelming. She wasn't really used to eating something that had more than one component to it.
Even so however, it's hard to compare to her Mistress' fruits.
The idea settled in her mind much better now. Hyacynthia was her guardian and Mistress. Her caretaker who loved and cherished her. Who understood her inner pains and forgave her. It was nice. She felt like there was finally someone who felt for her, even if it was hard to explain to others. She always had someone who she can talk to when it gets too hard.
Their little hab got renovated as well. At Amity's request, her owner got rid of the bed, and joined their bedrooms together, filling the soft earth with grass. Perhaps, the bed was softer. But the grass was familiar and it felt good to sleep with her Affini's vines and arms draped all over.
Still, her attention got back to the kitchen table. She wanted to help with the Pizza, but was told her eyesight wasn't sharp enough and she could trip and fall. Still, she found herself leaning against the white Affini's side as the latter held a large glass of water, absorbing it through an external root. "You know, I can never get these things. Is it easier to sip water from a glass? Surely. But there's a certain… Hmm…"
"Satisfaction in doing it the old fashioned way?" Truly, Amity knew her too well.
"Yeah, that's the ticket. You really are a good floret." She got headpats, to which the ivory girl leaned into. It took time, but she slowly learned to appreciate the physical affection. "Speaking of… There's something I need to talk to you about sweetheart." Amity's eyebrow raised in curiosity. "Do you recall my dear friend Argonia?"
"I think so? She's like your student, right?" Amity wasn't sure where Hyacynthia was going with this, but she leaned in to listen as she took and subsequently chewed on another slice of pizza.
Hyacynthia nodded and mused. "Hard to think she's already at her 37th bloom. How time flies~" She chuckled, shaking her head at nothing in particular as a sigh escaped her lips. "Well… Did I ever tell you about her florets?"
She also her florets? It made sense when Amity thought about it. A lot of Affini kept pets like that, though she couldn't really imagine Hyacynthia treating her like a bona-fide pet. Even if legally, she was. "I don't think so? What about them?"
"Well," another sip of water first, then talking. "She has 8 now, of all things. Her first two were a pinette pair of beeples."
Pinettes was another term Amity learned while staying with her Mistress. As it turns out, the world of florets and their terminology were more complicated than she realized, but she did her best to adjust. And she knew what beeples were too. They were really fuzzy and cuddly to be around. "Well… That's nice, I suppose."
"Indeed, though I'm sure you're wondering where I'm going with this. Do excuse my rambling." They both shrugged, chuckled, and moved on. "The point at hand is her newest, 8th floret. Someone… You knew, Amity."
That's when it hit her.
"Someone… From the ship." She didn't even want to utter its name anymore. It was a bad memory.
Hyacynthia nodded, leaning down and looking at her with a slightly more serious tone. "Indeed. And she messaged me a while ago. Said floret asked her if she could meet you."
Amity didn't respond. She fell into the daunting labyrinth of her memories, not realizing she was being pulled close into a hug and headpats. "It's okay my dear. I know." She heard Hyacynthia's voice, but it felt so far away. Like it was galaxies away, out of reach. She wished she could use those xenodrugs the Affini kept flaunting as the ultimate solution to pain and suffering, but on top of her vet insisting she's going to need a unique blend, it also mentioned it had no clue how to go about it and had to consult a colleague.
The only sound that managed to penetrate this wall of ice that was her mind was the gently melody that Hyacynthia emanated. Her biorhythm. It took her a moment, but in a practiced motion, she let the music ground her, much like it did so long ago. Back in the garden.
She missed that garden, thinking about it fondly as the contents of the room around her came into focus. She knew Hyacynthia missed it too. Perhaps one day, they could go back there, but for the time being…
"...Sorry." She muttered.
"It's alright, my dear little floret." She got another kiss to her head, and breathed in deep. The floral scent and natural rhythm of the Affini managed to calm her down enough. "Before I answer, I want to know. Who was it?" She could remember most of their names.
Hyacynthia thought for a moment and checked her tablet for the conversation. "I believed you used to know her as Fire? Though her new Mistress decided to call her Aqua. An alternative word for water, from a now extinct Terran language. Really, you humans had so many languages it's hard to keep count."
She wanted to question when had Fire, or rather, Aqua, become a girl. But she chucked it off to the Affini doing their thing. She couldn't have much sympathy for her former crew. Who knew, maybe it would have helped mellow out the hate. "How… Do you know she's not going to try and hurt me when we meet? I betrayed the crew, and got them caught…" A question that her Affini responded to with a caring sigh and a tightened hug.
"Because my dear, if she tried, she would have to go through every Affini in the vicinity, her Owner, myself, and her own implant inhibiting violent thoughts."
She nodded, and the conversation went back to the topic from before. "I think… Okay."
"I'll meet her."
Hyacynthia smiled and pulled her pad, sending a message and getting one a reply soon after. "Alright my love. We'll meet her tomorrow."
The rest of the day was spent mentally preparing. She needed the time, and her Mistress knew how to allow her to cope. They worked the garden a whole bunch, which by now coated half the hab unit. So much raw ground for the two of them to mold into something beautiful and personal.
She was getting better at planting and gardening. It was only a few days, but it just came naturally to her. Perhaps it was because she had an expert on the matter to guide her every step, teaching her softly. Guiding her hands and making sure she knew she was a good girl for taking such a good care of their shared plants.
Amity liked being a good girl.
After finishing their upkeep of the garden for the day, Amity was given a bit of time to relax. She had a pad with overnet access, but she couldn't figure any of it. With unlimited access to floret chatrooms, she just found herself rather alienated. And even for as much as her Mistress and other friends encouraged her, it was just hard to approach florets who've never in their life known suffering. She was happy for them. Humanity was in a better place now. They were under the tender care of the Compact and everyone was happy.
It made her wish she could have been born into a Compact world too. But… If she did, she would have never met Hyacynthia. And she couldn't imagine replacing her old and wise Mistress with anyone else in the universe.
"Ah, Amity! I have wonderful news." She heard the caretaker's voice chime in and she put the pad away. "What is it?"
Hyacynthia had an extra pep in her step and sat next to her floret. "Well, I just got off the call with Doctor Xaxavex. It said it finally figured out how to develop an Implant for you! Turns out asking its colleague Magnolia helped a lot, she's apparently an expert when it comes to xenobiochemistry."
The news managed to raise her mood a bit. "Does… But wait. I already have a part of you in me. How is it different?"
"Well, the haustoric implant connects to your nervous system at large. But there's something else we can do with it. We can use it to connect to your heart and allow me to monitor your heart rate and make sure it's always stable. I could even use the Implant to apply repairs in case anything happens. I promised you I'll always keep you safe. Now it's finally a reality."
A smile spread across her lips. "And… Xenodrugs?"
"They'll work better than ever."
Amity actually squealed a bit, and hugged her Mistress tight. She wasn't usually this prone to outbursts, be they happy or sad, but she just couldn't help it. "And after I get my implant, we'll… Go home?"
Hyacynyhia nodded. "Indeed. We'll finally go home. To our garden."
Amity smiled and leaned closer. There was still some more time until they could go back, but she already missed their garden world. Where she was, in a sense, reborn. Awaken to this new universe where she didn't have to be hurt. Where she could just be fragile and herself, and not pretend to be tough or have thick skin. She was sensitive. She was small, and gentle. She loved to eat fruits and plant the seeds later to grow more trees she can pour love into.
She was Amity.
The next day arrived faster than she anticipated. Amity found herself pacing at her favorite park, with Hyacynthia sitting nearby and connecting herself to the grass and flora. Something she called meditating, and did quite often. Still, she knew her owner would always pay attention if she needed anything. They just had this sort of connection.
Speaking of, said owner raised an eyebrow and peeked. "You're nervous, aren't you?"
Amity fumbled over her feet and turned around all flustered. "I, um, I mean, yeah kinda…" her knees bucked against one another gently, and she saw a green vine coated with white flowers reach out and pat her head. "Don't worry my sweet. Everything will be okay, I promise. Do you want to sit on my lap while we wait?"
She gingerly climbed into the Affini's lap, curling close and just letting the rhythm was over her and calm her nerves. It was hard to concentrate on the outside world when her owner was an advocate of looking inwards, something that rubbed off on Amity sooner than later.At least that way she was able to sink away into a peaceful state of mind as they waited.
Still, she couldn't help but think about it. Ponder what had befallen the others of that ship whose name she didn't even want to utter. And most of all, someone she worked with rather often, was now on her way to visit her. Was she going to be angry? Glad? Would she be happy as a floret, or under constant supervision and threat of sedation?
The human tried to focus. Concentrate on the rhythm. Let herself drown in it, and forget everything else, at least until she had to. And it almost worked, she was on the verge, as a familiar voice managed to stir her back into reality. Different, but… Also the same.