I put a spell on you
No I ain't lyin' (No)
See spoiler tags :#not_so_gentle_femdom #oviposition
Allison could swear she felt every bump in the road as the truck made it's way down the road. The air in the cab was cool, barely warmer than morning air outside. "You know I would have loved it if my Dad took me fishing." Came a gruff voice that made her heart sink. She didn't dare respond.
A rough hand brushed through her shaggy hair, "Looks like you need a haircut on the way home, getting long again."
She winced, God, not again. "Isn't long hair fine? Do I really have to cut it?" She spoke, finding her voice.
"Hmph," Her father grunted, "Maybe, but no son of mine is gonna be a long haired faggot, not under my roof." She couldn't help but think she was supposed to be hanging out with friends today. They had plans for today for three weeks. Her dad flipped when she said she couldn't cancel plans for an impulsive fishing trip. The memories and bruises still ached. Anything would be better than this. Then the truck hit a fairly sizeable bump, causing her head to hit the roof of the cab.
"Are you fucking kidding me? How do you fail English? You speak English!" Her mother shrieked. Allison had tried to hide the report card but to no avail.
"'m sorry..." She mumbled
"'Sorry' isn't gonna get you into college!" Her mother snapped, before taking a deep breath and laying her hands on theirs. "Michael, look, your father and I just want you to succeed and be the best person you can be."
She winced. Fuck she hated that name. "Whatever." It's not her fault the work was so boring and meaningless. How was she supposed to focus on it?
"Don't 'whatever' me you little brat!" Her mother smacked her outside her head.
"Move, move, move!" The Sergeant barked as she struggled through the mud, the barbed wire inches above her.
"How the fuck do you expect me to make you a soldier like this private?! I said fucking move!!!" She pushed herself through the burning in her lungs and muscles fighting to increase her pace through the course.
Once clear she bolted for the next obstacle, an eight foot tall wall. She leapt and caught the edge, pulling herself over it. Both boots hit the ground simultaneously, and the world disappeared yet again.
"Well if you have nothing else to add, I do believe the court is ready to read the sentence." The judge paused.
Allison remained silent. The hum of the ships engine was the only thing to be heard for several moments.
"Right. Well this court has found the defendant guilty on the charge of possessing contraband clearly forbidden by the Terran Naval Code. The defendant has also been found guilty of imbibing in said contraband while on duty. The defendant is to be stripped of all rank and discharged with severance pay. You will be let off at the next port of call, until then you remain confined to your room." The gavel banged.
She was in the Hab unit now, everything was dimly lit and shadows were in every corner. She crept cautiously through the massive room towards the exit. She was no more than a dozen paces from freedom when she felt herself yanked downwards by her collar. Shortly after vines exploded from everywhere at once, binding her from any kind of movement at all.
"Now, now, a good pet asks their owner if they could go outside." Suddenly Dahlia was in front of her, holding her face in her hand so Allison could look nowhere else. Her eyes started glowing brighter and brighter until they consumed her vision entirely. "There's a good kitten."
Allison woke up panting. She was in the oversized bed again, Her limbs capable of moving freely. A tentative hand slowly worked towards her neck. The
collar choker... The item was still there. At least it wasn't beeping.
The dream stuck to her, the details were already fading save for a few of the final moments. She shivered as she felt the phantom hands of her past close around her neck, turning to vines. Allison wanted to cry and scream and vomit and punch a hole in wall and-
"Dear?" Her already queasy stomach did a flip. She was so stuck on Dream Dahlia she forgot she was still in danger from Real Dahlia.
What was she supposed to say? She felt angry, but also hurt. She let out an acknowledging grunt. Words were maybe best avoided when her emotions felt so mixed.
Dahlia entered the room and Allison faced away. She felt the bed shift as Dahlia sat at the end. "How are you feeling dear?"
Allison felt a dozen emotions bubble to the surface. She remained silent.
"I can't read your mind Allison, I need you to talk to me." A vine brushed across her cheek, causing her to jump.
Allison pulled away, "Don't touch me! Y-you don't get to touch me anymore!" She yelp, she could feel the tears start to well in her eyes.
Allison didn't have to look to feel Dahlia recoil, "i-" she started, choking up on the syllable before collecting herself. "I'm sorry Allison, I should have told you about Florets sooner. Initially I thought you would already know from the propaganda the Affini had broadcast but when it became clear you didn't know it was unfair for me to treat you as though you were interested in being domesticated when you couldn't have known what that meant."
Fuck, now Allison was really fighting back tears. "I thought you wanted me. You just wanted a pet, a lump of clay for you to mold. Just like everyone else." She lost the battle, tears started to flow freely down her cheeks. "I-I don't think- I think I need space from you." Struggling, she added, "I trusted you Dahlia."
Dahlia tensed for a moment, "I know you did, I'm sorry. Can you forgive me? Let us try again?"
Allison turned to Dahlia, and bit back a wave of shock at the state of disarray she was in. Her body was half formed, a tangle of vines where feet would normally be. The flowers that made up her hair and adorned her shawl were withered.
Inside her a battle raged. Part of her wanted to trust Dahlia still, that she should know Dahlia had only her best interests in mind. It's not as though she hated the treatment until after she found out the context. It was probably fine if she just made it clear going forward she doesn't want it.
Conversely, the other part of Allison screamed that Dahlia had been manipulating her. She had messed with her head and she didn't even know how much! Allison swallowed, and made her decision, "I-I don't know Dahlia... I think I need at least a few days apart." Sniffing to fight back the tears they continued, "I need time to like, process this I think." She tore her eyes away from Dahlia.
Allison could feel Dahlia's pain, her sorrow. It pierced her to her soul. Why did this hurt so much? "I- fine. Yes. I will line up someone else to come in check you tomorrow and take care of some arrangements. I just- I'm sorry little one. I never meant to hurt you. " Allison felt the bed shift again as Dahlia's weight was taken off it. The door shut and Allison broke down into sobs.
Allison couldn't tell how long she had been crying when the door opened again. She looked up, hoping despite herself to see Dahlia.
"Oh goodness, are you alright little one?" The voice was Affini, and somewhat familiar, but distinctly not Dahlia. "Miss Tagetes sent me an urgent message explaining what had happened, do you need anything? Water? A hug?"
She sat up and wiped the tears from her eyes, the Affini that tried to pet her earlier? "Im fine, I can get my own water." She started to move to the edge of the bed.
The Affini puffed itself up, "You are most certainly not fine. Now you can stay in bed while I get you water and we can talk about what happened or I can tie you to the bed and we can do the same."
Ugh. Were all Affini this pushy? "Fine. I'll behave or whatever."
It made a short pleased rumble, "Lovely, I'll be right back." Sure enough, It had returned just as quickly as it had left, carrying a small glass of water. It extended it to Allison to take. "Here you go, drink up."
She only realized how badly she needed it the second the cold water hit her throat. She attempted to chug the rest, but a vine on the edge of the glass kept her intake moderated. "Thanks. Uh, I don't think I got your name?"
The Affini made a mock gasp, "Oh dear, where are my manners. I-" It flared it's wrist and stood fully upright, displaying the blooms dotting it's body. "Am Lily Syringa, 2nd Bloom, Xe/Xem. You may address me as Mx. Syringa." Relaxing back into a natural posture she continued, "Now do you want to tell me what happened between you and Miss Tagetes? She's extremely upset about it."
Allison felt that pang of guilt again. Geh, why should she care if Dahlia was upset anyways, they were the real victim! "Uhm, She told me what a Floret is, that you keep people as pets. Then it sort of hit me that she had been treating me the way she was because she didn't see me, she just saw something she thought she could make into a pet."
"You are half right there little Allison." Syringa huffed, "But you are missing something rather important regarding our Florets."
Allison raised a skeptical eyebrow, "Like what? They aren't actually pets? Or legally property?"
That got xem to frown, good, "No, that would be part of the stuff you did in fact get right. However our Florets are cared for and doted on in every way. We do not carelessly shape our Florets into what we think the ideal pet, but what we think the ideal them is. The happiness of our Florets is everything to us."
Allison strained to raise her eyebrows even further, "If what they are is a pet then aren't those kinda the same thing?"
Lily laughed, "Well, yes, sometimes. Though, for example, a floret may be happiest as a digitized person with a robotic body but have chosen an owner that prefers more a more furry companion. No Affini would deny the Floret their ideal body even if the idealized pet in their head would take in a different shape."
Lily continued, "Of course, there's rarely conflict in this area as Florets largely want what their owners want for them. Or they might take on modifications their owner wants in addition to ones they want. Using my previous example, the robotic body the digitized Floret inhabits might be similar to a cat person and covered in fur even though the Floret is normally neutral on such a thing they might do it to make their owner happy."
Geh, this was so confusing. "So do my wants matter or not?"
Lily laughed again, "Well of course yours matter, you are an independent sophont after all. If you meant to ask 'would what I want matter as a Floret?' that..." She trailed off, seemingly lost in an amusing thought, "That's something that depends on the Affini and the Floret."
"Uh, can you be a little clearer?" Allison asked, "It's been a very long day."
Lily seemed to think for a moment, "I'll tell you what, how about I let you meet some of my friends and their florets? I think you just need to see a few owner/floret pairs for yourself and it'll make sense."
Allison mulled it over. It could be easily staged, or a trap somehow. If the Affini could fuck with her head as much as Dahlia had there's no way she could trust anything they said but... If she was right, if the Affini just squashed people into the pets they wanted, she should be able to at least confirm her suspensions. "...Fine. I don't really do well with groups however."
Lily gave them a light smile, "You know I could give some class E in addition to your prescribed mix." Allison shot her a look causing Lily to throw xer hands up, "Just a suggestion, in that case, maybe just one floret then?" She nodded. "Excellent, I'll let my friend know." Lily pulled a tablet out of herself and fired off a quick message to some unknown third party, "Is there anything else you want?"
Allison wondered for a moment before it hit her, "Dahlia still has my knife, she said she'd give it to me after the vet if I behaved but-"
The smile on Lily's face faded, "Ah, yes," her chest cavity split open a crack, and a vine entered it, "I presume you mean this?" Her knife! Dahlia had given it Syringa! Something about that realization stung. "She had told me she meant to give it to you however," No. No however. Undo however. "While I normally respect her wishes and have even kept your collar on the minimal settings, I can't in good conscience give a blade to a sophont with a tendency to self harm." Well at least she now knew why her collar wasn't beeping.
It dawned on her that if Lily knew than Dahlia definitely did. Allison felt the panic rising, she was never gonna hold her knife again, was she? "I-I've never even used a knife for that stuff. I always used a razor or a scalpel." She realized as she said it, that this probably wasn't a winning argument.
Lily seemed discomforted at the casualness with which she admitted that, "Noted. Be that as it may, I endeavor to keep it that way. For now, this stays with me." Allison watched helplessly as her knife disappeared once again into an Affini. "But maybe after we do our visit, if you manage to stay in line." Xe winked.
Every single Affini is an awful and chronic flirt, Allison concluded. "Are we done with this talk? I'd like to be alone." She paused before adding, "Please Mx. Syringa?"
Xe looked a little smug, "Of course little one." Lily pulled out xer tablet again and made a small gasp, "Oh wonderful, my friend said he'd love to let you meet his floret Chris! I'll be by to pick you up tomorrow at 7pm. Have you learned how to use the atomic compiler?'
Allison tilted her head, "The what now?"
Lily tsk-tsk'd and said something about Dahlia in Affini, at least Allison thought she heard xem say Tagetes. "Well it's a simple matter, simply ask the computer and it'll compile whatever you ask it to- within reason of course." Lily explained.
"It makes stuff?" Allison puzzled, "What kind of stuff?"
Lily flared xer wrist, "Oh just about anything you want, food, clothes, small electronics, paperwork- no weapons or anything a sophont could cause serious injury with of course and it is only accurate within a few angstroms so Its not going to make anything too advanced. However if you wish to obtain something that cannot be compiled in your hab, you may put in a requisition, the computer can also help you that." Xe paused for a moment, allowing Allison a moment to absorb the information. "Now is there anything else you need?"
Allison pondered it for a few moments before giving her answer. It sounded like even if she was forgetting something she should be able to just ask the Hab's computer. "Uh, could I get one of those tablets? I wanna do some research and don't care to do it via voice commands." She then quickly added, "Please, Mx Syringa?"
Lily made a pleased sound, "Well of course dear." Xer chest cavity cracked open and they retrieved an identical looking pad from within. Xe made a few inputs and handed it over. "I've gone ahead and added both myself and Miss Tagetes to your contact list, feel free to choose a username and familiarize yourself with it at your leisure."
Allison opened the tablet. Large, clearly labeled and easily identifiable icons were on the screen, pointing to the net, chatrooms, direct messaging and more. "The interface is designed with Florets in mind so I'm sure a smart independent sophont like you can figure it out no problem." Lily added with a wink.
Hmph. "Are all Affini such awful flirts?" Allison asked accusatorily.
Lily chuckled, "Yes dear, Flirting is in fact the main cultural export of the Affini. We simply cannot help ourselves." Xe paused for a moment to ponder, "Dear, I know you're upset with Dahlia but she really was trying her best for you. I know she'd love to have you for herself but she would have been happy to help you live as an independent too. When you feel ready you should talk to her, she's rather torn up about all this you know?"
Ugh, Dahlia hadn't slipped her mind but she had at least been on the back burner. "I'll think about it." Allison stated flatly.
"Well try not to think too much dear," Lily smiled, "and remember you can always ask me, Dahlia, or any other Affini for help."
Allison fought the urge to roll her eyes, "Thanks, Mx Syringa, I'll keep that in mind." She grumbled.
"In that case," Lily clasped xer hands together, "I will see you tomorrow afternoon, at 7pm, so that we may visit my friend and his floret. Toodles, and I put your meds in your collar so don't worry about remembering them~" And with that, she left.
Allison waited a few minutes before calling out, "Mx Syringa?" A few moments passed with no response. She was alone. She sighed as a wave of relaxation washed over her. Finally a moment where she didn't have to worry about an Affini drugging her or picking her up in their strong and safe vines or calling her cute and doting on her or- Allison stopped there. Nope. Not thinking about it.
She hopped off the bed and took a few moments to stretch her legs. Goodness, that felt divine. With how cramped they felt she must've been laying down for hours. Moving on she stretched her arms, followed by her neck. Cracking the joints in her neck made her suddenly dizzy but she managed to catch herself.
"Careful there cutie!" A cheery, synthesized voice rang from above. Right, the digital assistant. Well the peace was nice for the fifteen seconds she had it.
"'m fine, thanks." She mumbled.
"Acknowledged! Just let me know if you need anything okay?" The hab responded.
Allison rolled her eyes. At least the computer didn't read her expressions and she was free to express her emotions. She wandered out of the bedroom and into the living area. The boxes of her stuff were still there, she made a mental note to dig through it after she finished around.
It was kinda strange how vast the living area felt when she was alone. Everything was twice as large and as spaced out as it would need to be which just made her feel that much smaller. It seemed almost reasonably sized when Dahlia had been there with- nope not thinking about it.
Still, the feeling of smallness sat uncomfortably on Allison. She had always been one of the tallest people in almost any given room or on the street and relished towering over the masses but ever since the Affini arrived she felt small for the first time since... Her youth probably? She couldn't recall. It had her on edge.
She shook the feeling off, stimming by flapping her hands and snapping her fingers. Once collected, Allison moved on to the kitchen. It was all still too high to use but only barely. Suddenly, an idea occurred to her. "Hello? Miss Computer?"
The hab chimed an affirmative sound that it had heard her, "Hi there cutie, was there something you needed?" Allison rolled her eyes again, only the Affini would make an assistant this cheery.
"Uhm, could you make me a step stool? Big enough so I can use the kitchen. Like about this size-" Allison gesticulated the approximate proportions.
The hab unit chimed. "Sure thing, but a cutie like you should probably leave the cooking to the Affini. If you just want food I can make that as well, just ask~"
Allison turned as she heard the machinery of the compiler spring to life. It was a strange, almost featureless unassuming box. The noise died down almost as soon as it had started, and the box opened to reveal a foldable stool with three steps. Cautiously, she took it and examined it.
There didn't seem to be anything strange about it, besides the fact it didn't exist until moments ago. She muttered under her breath in amazement. "Goddamn..." It filled them with a bit of much needed determination. She should finally be able to navigate this ludicrously massive hab, she smiled to herself. She made a mental note to see about getting a more readily accessible room when she could.
Wasting no time she set it in front of the counter and stepped up, yes! She could finally reach the cabinets! Allison excitedly opened a cabinet to reveal a treasure trove of ingredients and snacks. She grabbed a bag of salt and vinegar chips and stepped back down, collecting the stool with her free hand.
Allison made her way back to the bedroom to collect the tablet they left there and then backtracked to the living. Using her new stool it was easy to get up on the couch and she settled herself into a corner of it.
Allison opened the bag and ate a chip, delighting in the flavor as she started up the tablet Mx Syringa gave her. She opened up the local net and clicked on the search bar and paused. How, exactly, did she mean to do research on the Affini on their net? She frowned, munching on her chips as she mulled it over. If they collected all the data the corpos and the Accord had on her they'd probably collect data from this thing too.
She closed the search bar. Maybe the chat rooms would prove better? Opening it she saw a hub for all sorts of conversation topics- ranging from general and hyper specific. Oh, there were even ones focusing on Terran Rock! She added a few to her list of saved groups. She noticed two usernames already in her contact list as she did so- LilacLover and TwilightGuide . Ah that must be Lily and Dahlia.
Allison continued to scroll up and down the lists of active conversations, there must be a few hundred million people online at the moment she thought. Finally one caught her eye- New Sophont Support Group. The blurb available describing the server mentioned helping answer questions about life in the compact- and the Affini.
Opening it she was hit with a prompt to set up a username but noted that it can be changed at any time. Allison thought about using one of her old online handles but quickly decided against it. None of them seemed appropriate, so something new then. "Hmmm..." She ran through a few different ones, RotAndRuin? Good album but might give the wrong impression. UserFriendly? Definitely the wrong impression. Geh, this shouldn't be so fucking hard.
She stuffed her mouth with several chips, continuing to think it over. Suddenly a small bit of inspiration hit, and she entered into the text box MyOwnShadow and hit enter. She was hit with several messages from the server at once.
[Server - NSSG]: Hello and welcome to the New Sophont Support Group @MyOwnShadow! Feel free to say hi and introduce yourself when you're ready!
[FramePerfect]: oh hey a fresh face
[NotYourKitten]: Meowdy :3
Allison briefly thought about what to type, just say hi right?
[MyOwnShadow]: Uh, hiya, I'm kinda new to this stuff and haven't used this tablet or the Affini net yet. My pronouns are She/they.
[VerdantTrellis]: do you have a name you like cutie?
[FramePerfect]: Anything you wanna be called?
Allison didn't really feel like entrusting these people with her name quite yet, it's hard to gauge people online.
[MyOwnShadow]: Nah, not really. "Shadow" works I guess.
[FramePerfect]: sounds good, I'll add it to your profile here, just let me or any of the mods or admins here know if you want it changed.
The answer was nigh immediate, Allison smiled as she thought that the username was appropriate at least.
[NotYourKitten]: Well Meowdy again Shadow!
[3000BeesInAJar]: oh my, you haven't used a tab yet? That means we're the first to digitally meet you!
[VerdantTrellis]: Was there something on your mind Shadow?
Ah, the billion credit question.
[MyOwnShadow]: Idk. My world only just came Into the compact like a week ago. There's a lot of stuff I'm having trouble wrapping my head around.
[FramePerfect]: oh really? Well we'll be glad to help you out with whatever's on your mind.
Allison crunched a chip as additional responses poured in, this FramePerfect person must have some fast fingers.
[NotYourKitten]: Oh nyo! Well I'm sure mew are going to be much happier in the compact!
[VerdantTrellis]: Have you tried talking to an Affini about it? They are able and willing to help out sophonts in all manners of ways~
She contorted her face in light disgust.
[MyOwnShadow]: Im actually here cuz I'm a bit put out in the Affini brand of help. Also the Affini in general I think.
[FramePerfect]: oh yeah?
[3000BeesInAJar]: hmm they can be a bit much at first yeah
[VerdantTrellis]: did you feel up to sharing what happened?
Allison hesitated, thinking of the best way to tell it.
[MyOwnShadow]: I bumped into one like three days ago and I kinda just went along with whatever because I was kinda scared of what'd happen if I didn't. Then yesterday she tells about Florets and I thought she liked me but like. It feels like she doesn't want me for who I am but to own me as some kind of pet? I got heated about it and sent her away cuz I realized she had been treating me like a pet but I kinda feel bad about it?
There were several moments before the responses started to come through.
[FramePerfect]: lmfao are you for real? This is too much.
[VelvetRabbit]: Oh hey came back just in time for the Seed
[3000BeesInAJar]: I diagnose you with Seed
[NotYourKitten]: khkxkykysyzcn incredible
Allison furrowed her brow.
[MyOwnShadow]: What's "seed" mean? I keep hearing that term
[FramePerfect]: I don't doubt it
[FramePerfect]: Seed=Sophont that's predisposed to being a Floret
[VelvetRabbit]: Holy shit this girl
She balked at the response. Predisposed?! Her?! The audacity! Allison quickly collected herself.
[MyOwnShadow]: Ah, IDK about that. Being around her was nice but it feels like she betrayed my trust by doing all that stuff before letting me know the implications of it. I don't think I would have let her do most of it if I knew.
[MyOwnShadow]: Also she took my knife and messed with my head
[MyOwnShadow]: Can't say I care for either thing :/
[FramePerfect]: Ah, I think I understand now. That's a less than ideal situation for sure but I don't think she meant to hurt you. She probably just couldn't find a good time to tell you.
[VelvetRabbit]: Hm, yeah that's a little different than I thought
[NotYourKitten]: Mew had a knife?
[3000BeesInAJar]: Mistress says she probably was just waiting for a good time to tell you, and that it sounds like you were enjoying yourself up until that point which almost certainly complicated matters further.
Geh, that was a pretty good point. Allison could have done without being picked up but there was a part of her that ached to feel Dahlia's vines caressing and stroking her again. She bit her lip, fighting back the feeling. There hadn't been much opportunity to explain things, moving to the new Hab and everything else had happened so fast.
[MyOwnShadow]: I think you might have a point Bees. I'm still kinda mad at her though :/
[MyOwnShadow]: Also yeah if it wasn't for that knife I'd've died like 8 years ago and maybe a dozen other times since lmfao, not having it is making twitch a little tbh.
[VerdantTrellis]: Oh goodness, well I'm sure I speak for everyone here when I say I'm glad you didn't, little one. Have you tried telling her this?
[3000BeesInAJar]: Thanks but it's my Mistress's point lol, she says you should tell her (ur Affini that is)
[MyOwnShadow]: I wouldn't call her my Affini lol
[MyOwnShadow]: but no I haven't told her, I'm not sure I'm ready to see her again. Being around her is... compromising. I was just gonna avoid her forever and maybe apologize through text I think.
[FramePerfect]: God you have it bad
[NotYourKitten]: I think Shadow has the right idea tbh, if she's as susceptible to their biorythms and such being in the same room as an Affini will likely end up with her being domesticated.
[VerdantTrellis]: Why you say that as if it is a bad thing~
[3000BeesInAJar]: Personally I can't imagine life without my Mistress <3 independence is overrated :P
[VelvetRabbit]: Nah that plan sucks, trust me, nothing is more sure to get Affini crawling all over you than trying to avoid them.
[NotYourKitten]: xkbxifaufg nyooo, domestication just isn't fur everyone mew know. Shadow wants to avoid it after all.
[MyOwnShadow]: Thanks, and yeah, avoiding domestication would be ideal lol.
[FramePerfect]: lol if you say so Shadow.
[VerdantTrellis]: I'm sure she'd be delighted if you ever changed your mind~
Allison fumed for a moment, closing the chat and munching on a few more chips. Swallowing, she realized she was starting to get thirsty from all the salt. She figured she could use a break from being taunted anyhow. Putting the chips and tablet aside she scooched herself off of the couch. "Hello? Can I get a glass of water please?"
The hab chimed, "Sure thing cutie, it's waiting for you in the kitchen!" It sang.
Allison made their way to the compiler and retrieved the glass. Taking a sip and feeling better she made her way back to the living area. She considered opening her tablet and continuing the conversation but decided against it. They all seemed dedicated to misunderstand her for the most part anyways. Still some of the advice wasn't entirely unhelpful.
She needed something else to do. Allison picked up the tablet and closed out of the chat room application, looking at the time. She had another 2 hours to kill before she normally turned in, and she wasn't that tired yet. She ruminated for a moment. She didn't need to account for time to make a meal at least so she had maybe an hour to an hour and a half to fill. She felt kinda antsy, maybe she should go on a walk?
No. A walk these days meant running into Affini, though on second thought it's not like she had to leave to stretch her legs. The distance from one end of living area to the other was easily over 100 meters, perfect for walking around until they felt tuckered out. Just one other thing crucial for any good bit of walking "Computer? Can you play me some music please? Just any Cyberdeath Cannibal album you have."
The hab made an error noise, "Sorry cutie, it looks like that band has been flagged as inappropriate, do you want me to contact your owner and ask her if she wishes to bypass it?"
"I don't have an owner," Allison grumbled, "and what do you mean it's flagged?"
"Of course cutie! 'This artists work involves and glorifies violence and suicide and is unfit for consumption by sophonts prone to such topics.'" the hab cheered.
What? She can't even listen to one of her favorite bands now? "Uhhh how about Deathmarch Cadence?" She asked, their vocals were largely intelligible so maybe?
Oh come on, that band was instrumental! "King Dread?"
"Ugh, nevermind." Well that was to be expected at least. Gah, how was she supposed to find one of her bands that the computer would let her listen to? Suddenly, she recalled the boxes with her possessions, maybe her phone was in there with all her music on it! Then she wouldn't have to deal with this bullshit!
She eyed the three boxes. Each one was tapped shut and none of them were labeled beyond having "Allison" on each of them. She longed for her knife in her pocket. Working her finger between the box and the tape she managed to open all three of them.
One held all her old clothing. Sweet, now she had something to wear besides that dress. It was not what she needed at the moment though. The next one held a few more articles of clothing and some electronics. Allison dug through it, digging out an old computer, her old tablet, some memory storage- Ah! Her headphones. Perfect! She dug around a little more and found her old phone and tried the power. Thank goodness it still had some battery, only about 28% but that should be plenty to listen to some tunes.
Plugging it in she navigated to her music library and after a few moments of deliberation she went with an old favorite of hers and sighed as the heavy riffs and harsh vocals filled her ears. She let herself move to the music, pacing around the room and screaming along.
The album ended on a gunshot with a cut to silence, leaving Allison suddenly in the silent afterglow of the experience. She collapsed into a blissful puddle against the couch. God, how did the Affini expect her to live without this? She checked her phone, geh, 7% now. She didn't see an outlet but maybe the hab could charge it somehow? "Hello? Computer?"
The hab unit chimed, "Heya cutie, what do you need?"
Allison pointed at her phone, "Is there any way to charge this? I'd hate to lose access to what's on here."
"Sure is!" It responded.
Allison waited a moment, expecting it to continue before she realized that it considered her question answered. "Uhm, could I please have something to charge my phone?"
"Of course cutie, it's in the compiler!"
Allison's legs ached slightly as she stood. "Oh can I please get some dinner too? Steak and mashed potatoes if you can." She added, it was getting time to turn in.
"As soon as you take the charger I'll whip it up!" Man the Affini really went a bit too far in making the assistant cheery, she thought as she made her way over to the compiler. She retrieved the strange device, a cord like the one her phone took was attached to a small nondescript box. She span it by the cord examining it before plugging it in, her phone immediately beginning to charge. Setting it aside she retrieved her dinner as well.
Hm. She had left her stool in the living room. Getting into the chairs of the kitchen table would be difficult without it. Shrugging, Allison sat on the floor and had her meal in front of the compiler.
It was strange, it didn't taste quite like the steak and potatoes Dahlia had made her. It had a strange unnatural perfection to it. It was delicious sure, but the flavor profile was just odd. Regardless she made short work of it and fed the dishes into the disposal of the compiler, fascinated as it dissolved into nothing.
Allison yawned, yeah she was definitely ready for bed now. She blearily made her way to the bathroom and brushed her teeth. Spitting, she noticed her gums weren't bleeding today. Huh.
She collected her stool on the way from the bathroom to her room and climbed into bed, immediately sinking into it. Allison could already feel herself drifting off, "Can I get an alarm for 5pm please?" Two hours should be enough to get ready right?
"Sure thing sweetie!" It answered.
Allison sighed and let the darkness take her.
"WAKE UP CUTIE YOU GOT TO GET READY FOR THE DAY!" Blared from the hab's speakers.
Allison jumped, startled awake by the immense sound. "Geh! The fuck?!"
"Language!" It chided, "You requested a wake up call for 5pm and it is 5pm."
Allison rolled her eyes, "Yes thank you. Can you get breakfast ready please?"
"Insufficient command data, what kind of breakfast did you want?" Ugh her mind was still caked in dream residue, she needed a few moments before she could properly think.
"Uhh, fuck I don't know, how about eggs and hash browns? Some toast on the side?" Allison went with the first thing that came to mind. A chime let her know it was ready in the compiler. She took a moment to try to get her head in order, lightly smacking her cheeks to rouse herself. Feeling a little less like she was one foot in the grave she dragged herself out of bed. She took another few minutes to stretch, bracing herself against the bed so she didn't lose her balance. Alright, now she was ready to face the day.
She grabbed the stool and headed to the living area, stopping at the boxes that held her clothes. Allison rummaged through them until she found what she was looking for, haphazardly stuffing the rest of the articles back into the box. Stripping herself of the PJs Dahlia gave she tugged on tights, a skirt with a print like a spiderweb, a tanktop with yellowed skull that had spiders crawling all over it and out of the gaps of its teeth a spiderweb In one of its eye sockets, the other held a single rose. Above the skull scrawled in an illegible script was the band name. She tugged her long sleeved jacket, its stripes composed of charcoal, onyx and graphite. It had worn holes of frayed fabric around the sleeves, elbows and armpits. Lastly she tugged on her boots, pulling the laces tight and letting them loosen slightly as she tested her ankle's range of motion. Finally, she felt like herself again, ready to disappear into the shadows without notice.
Her stomach growled as the scent of her breakfast in the compiler crossed her nose. Grabbing the stool again she headed to the kitchen and set it up by a chair before retrieving her food. Unceremoniously she dug in, it was delicious but it also had that weird inhuman flawlessness to it. Allison guessed that it was probably hard to program the variance of cooking even for the Affini so they went with making everything perfect instead.
Finishing up and taking care of the dishes, Allison checked the time. Still a solid twenty minutes. Nothing to do but wait for Lily. She walked over to the bathroom and inspected her reflection, turning this way and that, admiring the uniformly dark outfit she had assembled. She arranged her hair and checked her face, finding it was still perfectly smooth. Odd, but in a fairly pleasant way.
"Having fun dear?" A melodic voice came from behind her.
Allison nearly jumped out of her skin, turning to face Lily, "oh Mx Syringa it's you. I didn't expect you for another forty minutes. Or hear you come in." She clutched her chest trying to get her heart rate under control.
Lily moved around Allison, examining her, "Well I figured I should show up a bit early just in case you slept in, or needed help getting ready." Finishing xer examination xe sighed, "Seems like you managed it all on your own though. I already grabbed your tablet for you, we should be able to leave shortly." Xe put a hand to xer face in a thoughtful gesture, "Are you quite sure about that jacket?"
Allison blinked, "what's wrong with my jacket? This is like my favorite one."
Lily poked at a patch of skin that was showing through one of the holes, "It seems a tad ruined is all."
Allison pulled her arm away and crossed it with her other, "It's not ruined, it's well loved!" What did xe know about it anyways!
Lily put a hand over xer mouth stifling a small giggle, "You know I think I'm starting to understand what Dahlia saw in you."
Allison determined to ignore whatever that meant if it killed her. "Anyways, I can just zip up my jacket if it causes issues. I'm ready to meet this floret."
"Of course! They're both rather excited to meet you, you know." Lily remarked, "It's rather far by the way..." Xe lead.
Her mind span in place for a moment, what did xe want her to say? "Uhh okay?" Allison hoped xe would clarify.
Luckily, that's exactly what Lily did, "I would like to carry you if you are feeling better about physical contact." Xe smiled.
Oh! Duh! She had almost forgotten she told Lily not to touch her. She kicked at the ground considering her response "Uhm, yeah, that should be fine. But still no general touching please."
Lily clasped xer hands, "Wonderful! I'm glad you are feeling better today, did anything exciting happen last night?"
Allison reexamined her night and then shrugged, "Not really. I just fucked around in a group chat for little and then listened to some music on my phone because the hab assistant wouldn't play anything good."
Lily's face didn't betray whatever was beneath it, "Hmmm, sounds like you had a relaxing time. I do want to remind you to watch your language in public though, most Affini do not care for cussing."
"Noted." Allison stated, "Can we go now?"
Lily swept Allison up in xer arms, causing her yelp and her heart to race. "Of course cutie, let's get you to your little playdate, hm?" Allison scoffed as Lily carried her out and away.
Allison was gently set down somewhere she didn't recognize. There were no buildings in the immediate vicinity, just rolling grassy hills, trees and other vegetation. It took a moment for it to dawn on her that she was in a park- since when were there parks on Eris-Minor?
"They should be here any- oh there they are!" Lily exclaimed, waving to an approaching Affini. "Mesua! Over here!"
The Affini stood slightly taller than Dahlia or Lily did, bark was pale stark white, mottled black in spots. Vines and large spade shaped leaves formed its body with an array of flowers More interesting however, was the creature clinging to it.
The creature- Chris presumably- was lithe and sleek. If Allison was able to form associations she might recognize that he seemed to be some sort of ferret. He crawled all over his master, settling into draping his long body across his neck and nuzzling into a hand for attention.
Soon, the two were right in front of Allison. Lily and the other Affini exchanged some words in their language before xe turned to her, "Allison these are the people I wanted to meet, did you two wish to introduce yourselves or shall I?"
Mesua pet his Floret as he spoke, Chris's eyes going fuzzy and blank, "I am Mesua Tridentata, 5th bloom, He/Him, and this adorable floret," Mesua redoubled his attentions, causing Chris to writhe and emit animalistic sounds of pleasure. "Is Chris Tridentata, Second Floret, He/It." Mesua let up, allowing Chris to recover. "Are you feeling up to talk pet? The girl that wanted to meet you is here." Chris seemed dazed for a few moments before nodding.
Mesua contorted himself to make it easy for his pet to crawl off him and onto the ground. It moved towards Allison on all fours, standing upright before her it stood almost a head taller than she did. Okay that was just unfair. It looked down at her quizzically for a moment before speaking, "Ah, hi, I'm Chris Tridentata, Second Floret." It waved at her, bearing a dopey smile, "Master said you wanted to meet a Floret? I don't know if I can help but I'd be happy to answer any questions you have."
Right. She was here for answers. A dozen burned in her head before she grabbed one almost at random, "Have you always been like, uh," Allison motioned towards Chris, "That?"
It seemed as though her words took a while for Chris to process, like he was lagging behind a bit, like an interstellar video call. Once the words seemed to actually land he sniggered lightly, "No, not even remotely. Before I met Master I still hadn't even realized I was a guy, let alone a ferret."
Allison blinked, huh? "So you used to be Terran?" Just how much could the Affini change a person? How much would they change her?
Chris frowned for a second before it melted away in a look of pure bliss as Mesua scratched his back with a few vines with stubby thorns. "My little Chris here is a ferret, but had you met him prior to coming into my vines, he would look identical to a Terran." Mesua explained, taking over for his pet momentarily.
Allison furrowed her brow, just when she though she was getting better at accepting Affini weirdness... "How did you even figure something like that out?" She asked.
Mesua helped Chris collect itself so it could respond, "It wasn't easy, I mean when I met Master and before I gave myself to him he helped me work out being a guy but I was still really unhappy." Another slight frown transitioned back to it's default guileless smile, "I couldn't figure out what was making me so unhappy on my own, so I let Master break me and make me his." Chris turned to stare lovingly at it's owner, "with the implant, he was able to dig to the bottom of it. I've never been happier."
Allison's heart beat. Fuck that actually sounded... Kinda nice. And hot. One question burned, however, "Implant?"
Chris looked at Allison confused, then back to his owner, however, it was Lily that answered their question. "The Haustoric Implant is something Affini use to help care for their florets," Xe began, directing Chris to turn around with a vine. On it's back were a few small scars, at the top of them, a single bloom of one of Mesua's flowers. "The Affini takes a bit of themselves, combines it with some advanced biotech and then it is inserted along the central nervous system. For cute little Terran based sophonts like you and Chris, that's here," Allison shivered as Lily slipped a vine under her shirt and traced a portion of her back, "Along the spine."
Allison pulled away from the intruding vine and turned to face Lily, "But what does it do?" It sounded rather dubious but it had occurred to her that many things the Affini did occupied that area.
"I was about to explain that." Lily smiled, "The Haustoric Implant is the pride and joy of the Compact. With it an Affini can monitor their Florets' emotional and physical state, administer any Xenodrugs, surgeries are much safer and can accomplish more and it can even help curtail intrusive or otherwise undesirable thoughts. The Haustoric Implant is what let's us shape our Florets into their best self."
Wait one second, "So if it can edit your thoughts, what's stopping the Affini from just making you want whatever they want from you?"
Allison did not care for toothy- thorny?- grin on Lily's face. "Hmm, that is a good question. Let me answer that with one of my own: What do you suppose is stopping me from turning the settings on your collar so high you can't even get moderately upset without it dosing you?"
Allison felt her eye twitch. Xe... Xe wouldn't actually do that right? What was stopping xem from doing that? Then it hit her. It was the same reason Dahlia asked if she could pick her up after she made it clear she didn't care for it. The same reason she was so hurt when Allison said she'd felt betrayed. She spoke her answer, "Trust, I suppose. A degree of respect and care too I imagine." Oh God she needed to apologize to Dahlia.
Lily rumbled, pleased with her response, "What a good and smart little sophont you are, I knew you'd be able to figure it out."
Mesua chuckled, Chris having already wrapped itself around him, chirping with pleasure as his master stroked him. "Ha, yes, I do believe Miss Allison has finally figured it out." He faced Lily, "If that's all, it is getting close to this one's bedtime."
Lily bowed her head, "Thank you for assistance Mesua, and letting us borrow you and your floret. I should get this one back to her hab too." Xe tugged at the hood of Allison's jacket.
Mesua and Lily exchanged a few brief parting words before Mesua left, doting on Chris as they both disappeared into a small forest. Allison was playing the events over and over in her head when a vine tussled her hair, "You seem like you're having some serious thoughts, anything you'd like to share?"
Allison bit her lip, "Uhm, I was wondering if I could get my tablet? I-i think I need to send a message."
"I thought as much." Lily smiled, retrieving the item from within xem and gently pushing it into Allison's hands.
She opened the chat app- pushing past several notifications from last night-
[MyOwnShadow]: Dahlia? This is Allison. I was hoping we could meet up?