[Silverbloom]: <'That's not even half of it. When we came aboard their ship, they had nothing to fight us with. It seems that their leader, the only one with a name that made any form of sense, kept shouting at them to attack us. With their bare fists. But even more saddening was the way they produced their feeding paste. It was using compilers! Atonic Compilers. How they even got their hands on Affini tech is beyond me. Seems like they didn't even know how to change the settings, only produce the same tasteless paste.'>
[Whiteforest]: <'Very curious indeed… Almost makes me regret having quit my position. I'd have loved to see it myself.'>
[Silverbloom]: <'You can always return, you know. Nothing's stopping you.'>
[Whiteforest]: <'we both know I won't return to being the admiral I used to be. But with that aside… What kind of names were those anyway? Wrath? Fury? Killer? Those are not names. Those are titles and crude ones at that.'>
[Silverbloom]: <'And what about the human that landed in your garden. What was her name? Rage? They indoctrinated those humans from the second they were born to mindless violence and hate. The amount of Class O cases here is… Unfortunate.'>
Hyacynthia paused. It was inevitable, and she didn't want to dwell on it more than she had to. There were reasons she chose to just grow freely without the burden of authority, after all.
[Whiteforest]: <'Not a good name for a sophont under my guard, not at all. Perhaps when the time comes, I'll give her a new one.'>
[Silverbloom]: <'You seem to harbor some affection towards her, Hyacynthia. Where is the stern general that I used to work under?~'>
[Whiteforest]: <'She's long retired and frankly surprised that she's gotten used to typing again, my dear. I've cared for this world for so many cycles that now caring for another sophont feels… Rewarding. New, but in a rather enjoyable way. Regardless… I think she'll wake up soon. I'll talk to you later, Argonia.'>
This time, waking up became much more of a chore. There was nothing around that could threaten them, as far as they could tell. The plants didn't move, and the bedding they were on was nice enough. So Rage just… Slept. Slept until they felt the urge to wake up come across them naturally.
Their stomach felt much better. In fact, they felt full of energy. Those plants they ate… They filled them so much. A hand traced their stomach a little. It was a nice feeling. Nutripaste never gave them this sort of fulfilment.
It was said stomach's rumbles that did eventually manage to get Rage to get up to their feet. Stumbling a little, they felt heavy. Right, the water pool from yesterday. Their jumpsuit felt so… burdening now. Soaked with water. They considered taking it off, if nothing else to feel less cold. But no. They would rather be cold than face the disgusting visage that was their own body.
Regardless, hunger called, and it wanted its fair due. Rage stumbled towards the plant from yesterday, plucking some of the food offered to it, and eating. It felt.. Different somehow. It was still delicious, still incredible and juicy in ways they could have never imagined. But there was a tinge of something else in there. They had no idea what it was. But the taste soon overwhelmed that doubt as it were.
The lone survivor of the Spirit of Vengeance considered their options. They could stay here. There was the water pool to drink from. The plants that gave them food. They didn't need to move, right? They could just stay here, and live. And they would've seriously considered that… If it wasn't for the sound around them. That same entrancing, emanating tune that somehow reverberated through their body. Calling them. They needed to go, but they were afraid. What if they couldn't find more food? And water? They needed to eat, and drink. They needed to survive.
For a moment, they looked back. They couldn't even see the old pod anymore, it was lost behind rows and rows of the big brown plants. They wished they had a name for those. The pod, however, could be left to rot for all they cared.
And so, the days passed. Rage would stumble forward, taking baby steps into a new world that welcomed them with open arms. They would travel until they found some water. Drink. Eat some of the plants that all seemingly had grown food to accommodate them.
They quickly learned which plants to trust. The ones who had white ends growing out of them. The smaller ones on the ground, the bigger ones too. It seemed that the ones painted white were the path to follow, at least for the time being. Of course, that didn't mean Rage didn't appreciate the other plants too. Now that the fear has subsided somewhat, they could finally appreciate the world around them. It was so… Mysterious. The skies gleamed with colors of white, blue, green, and other colors. The plants around them came in many shapes and colors. They even began to differentiate between them. Some of the bigger plants had slender, straight trunks that seemed to go up into a nice bloom. Some of them only grew around the pools of water they occasionally found. They even saw plants that grew on the water, though approaching them was an issue. Unlike those plants, Rage couldn't float.
They even began to appreciate the smaller ones, the white plants that sprouted from the ground. Sure, they could never shake the feeling that somehow they were being watched, but… They minded it less and less by the day.
And the dreams! The dreams were so… Mesmerizing. The same dream began to reoccur every night, as Rage slept soundly. There was this… Other being. They've never seen someone like it before. It was hard to tell, a person, yet not. They never really encountered such a thing, and found it rather silly that their brain would start making up illusions like that now of all times. They were sleeping though, and Rage didn't want to bother them, instead just watching the wonderful colors that danced in their eyes as they slept until they woke up.
Rage kept stumbling through the forest. They felt much more at ease, for some reason. The fear that lurked inside them subsided somewhat. Still there. Still checking, that everything was okay. But this new emotion that bloomed a few days back took a much bigger role in their day to day activities, roaming this strange planet.
Curiosity. Curiosity was a good emotion. It kept them moving and exploring.
Rage poked yet another plant. They began to make a list of plants in their head and what properties they had. How much would they bend under pressure, what colors they had, etc. The white ones, as always, had top priority. Though it seems that even among the white plants there was variety.
At some point they began to follow one such plant. It was an oddity. It was like a hose, the kind they used to take out fires with, but instead of being flat and empty it was all round and soft to the touch. They wondered where it would lead them. Curiosity, once again, reassured them that it would be exciting. Who knew what they might find.
Though with their impaired vision, they could only follow it as closely as they could see it. Going around and around, through some of the other plants, coiling around them and gently interlacing with their own growths. They were sure of it, this long plant would lead them somewhere. Somewhere, somewhere…
Their head hit the ground. And then their behind. And then their head again. They were falling, tumbling down through plenty of other plants who grew in big, round patterns. Screamed as the terror reawakened. They didn't even register the initial fall before it was too late. They tripped, and now they were falling down a stretch of ground tilted downwards.
Before they knew it, something stopped them mere inches off the ground below. It was… One of the long plants. One with white growths on it. They breathed a sigh of relief. It… Saved them. Gently letting them down, as they heard this voice that echoed around them like a melody.
<'I'm so sorry little one, I'm sorry. Are you alright? Are you hurt?'> They still couldn't understand a word. But they could start to recognize tones. It was extremely daunting, seeing as they barely heard this voice before, but somehow, they knew it was worry. Worry for them, perhaps? What a strange thought. Wouldn't that be funny, the same plants that they were warned about their entire life coming to their aid. Saving them from further injury. <'Thank the stars you're okay petal. I'm so sorry, I didn't notice the hill.'>
That prompted Rage to inspect themselves. Moving hurt somewhat, sitting was out of the question for the time being. But all in all…They were relatively okay. A bruise. They had worse, like the time that Fire decided to experiment with further optimizing the engine and ended up burning the whole crew. They did notice something else, however.
Their clothes were torn to shreds from all the pointy ends of the plants.
They cringed heavily. It was in a way, inevitable. Bound to happen sooner or later. Those work clothes would crumble with time as is. With no other choice… They shed them.
Only to find that their body changed somewhat while they were traveling.
The hair that used to plague their body was all but gone. Replacing it was smooth, soft skin that seemingly had no trace of what little muscle mass that Rage built inside it.
Curiosity hit again, and Rage began to trace their hand over their body. Everything felt… Relatively supple. Even their face! That they had to see. Walking swiftly, they took extra care until they found the next pool of water. Which, fortunately, was not that far off. So far, every time they approached such drinking fountain, they would close their eyes and refused to see what lurked in their reflection. But they had to see now. They approached, gently, and with a deep breath… Peeked.
The being that looked back at them resembled them plenty. It was still Rage. It was still them. But it was also… Different. Their face was much smoother, and all the disgusting hair on their face seemingly shedded off when they slept. They also noticed that their usually black hair began to change color just slightly, having a few white streaks to it. Who could tell if this was the plants' doing. Regardless of if it was… Rage didn't mind. They actually… Tolerated this. This reflection of theirs. It was hard to see, but it was worth seeing.
That's when they noticed their eyes were white and dim. That would explain the nigh blindness. At least now they knew not to enter cryostasis with their eyes open.
And yet despite all that… They found their lips curling upwards. Much like the captain did when he was pleased. Were they… Pleased?
Happiness. It was a foreign emotion. But not an unwelcome one. They felt this smile creep across their faces, and didn't bother trying to fight it down. It just felt… Nice. To appreciate their own visage.
Rage began to pace again. They felt calm. Taking another plant to eat, they chewed on it, swallowing the delicious flesh of their meal and humming to themselves. They didn't really know where this tune came from. It was just, the same thing in the air. Protruding them at all times and lifting their spirit, encouraging their curiosity and happiness and pushing gently against the fear and hate. They could easily imagine some of their former comrades reviling in this. Trying to fight back against this influence, which Rage was becoming more and more sure of was external. But they didn't need to fight.
The war was finally over.
[Whiteforest]: <'She's blooming every day, Argonia..'>
[Silverbloom]: <'Really? Have you been doing something to her?'>
[Whiteforest]: <'It's not that. While true, my natural biorhythm is drawing her in, I don't see any resistance in her. That and… Well.>
[Whiteforest]: <'I've been filling the fruits I grow for her with some xenodrugs. Mostly G's, E's and A's. I hope that it helps her.'>
[Silverbloom]: <'I wasn't even aware you can generate class G's on your own like that.'>
[Whiteforest]: <'Initially I didn't, but I've had plenty of flora here to merge with. Granted, the others I could already use because it was a useful skill to have when pacifying sophonts. But… Eventually, being here, I realized how to expand my horizons.'>
[Silverbloom]: <'Hmm… Well, I'm glad that at least she's not doing the usual terran behavior of rampaging through your gardens, destroying everything. Things here have been… Hectic, to say the least. I might be getting a new floret soon.'>
[Whiteforest]: <'Adopting from the ship you captured, I presume?'>
[Silverbloom]: <'Yeah, more or less. I found one of them there that was a total cutie, though I'll admit, having to restrain them and bliss them out is hard. However, it's better than Class O. I just hope this one decides to corporate once they see what humanity is now…'>
[Whiteforest]: <'Now now, I'm sure the new top admiral of our Core Worlds' navy can handle a new feral. I've seen you tame much more troublesome races.'>
[Silverbloom]: <'Glad to know my mentor still has confidence in me.'>
[Whiteforest]: <'I never had anything but confidence in you. Now, if you'll excuse me… I think I need some rest. Having to deal with our renewed conversations and the sophont roaming my plant has left me… Rather taxed.'>
Hyacynthia slowly retracted the vine. She left it out by now. No point unmaking it and remaking it every time she got a message, or one sent out. Which as it turns out, is very often when you have a sophont to deal with.
Her consciousness was rather spread thin as it were. At least with her flora, she could only look every once in a while, perhaps steer their growth in just the right way, and go back to her usual existence. But this human… Oh, they required so much more. Constant care, constant attention. Making sure they weren't hurt, making sure they were fed and that they drank plenty.
And yet, she didn't feel regret. Sure, it cost her a delay of her 100th reblooming, but it was worth it.
Perhaps, when all is said and done, she'll have to go visit her core world for an implant.