Melody stared at the ceiling, lost in a miasma of slow-moving thoughts. The name "Greshul" was still skirting about in the recesses of her mind. It took almost an hour for her to fall asleep, and then she was woken up minutes later by...some kind of noise. The human girl sat up and rubbed her eyes. A shaky moan of annoyance (which had some exhaustion mixed in too) escaped her body with her breath. She hesitated for a second and then stood up. She hated to disturb Cordelia's sleep, but…
Her implant squeezed. She tensed up. It was still new to her, even if the recovery period from her surgery was technically over. Something made a noise in another room. Had her implant woken Cordelia up? She shrugged and retrieved her tablet. If Cordelia didn't come in ten minutes, she'd-
No, the implant practically hissed into her mind. It felt...weird. She had experience with hypnosis but this was completely incomparable. The voice was decidedly an other, closer to a headmate than anything she'd been granted using post hypnotic suggestions in the past. The implant gave her a warm cozy hug from the inside and her eyes rolled back with pleasure as a familiar wave of excuses came roiling to the surface and were gentle dismissed.
"She needs sleep." Said Melody's brain defiantly.
"You do too, precious," the part of Cordelia that lived inside of her reminded her brain. "Your sleep isn't less important than hers."
"She's done enough for me already today," Melody's mind tried to counter. The implant was prepared to contend with that one, too.
"And you think you're a better judge of that than she is?" It massaged directly into her brain. She wasn't actually able to answer "no;" the implant saw to that. "Go ask her to help you, Precious." At this, every dissenting thought inside Melody shattered instantly. She smiled blankly and got up.
The implant was right. She was precious and she deserved help when she needed it! She felt her heart fluttering in its cage as she skipped about. She was a good girl! She was a good girl! A very very good girl!
Melody skipped on out of her room. The implant sent her a soothing supply of relaxing chemicals as a reward. She felt a desire to slip it out of its spot in her neck and give it a nice big hug-
"Please do not attempt this," it requested of her inside her skull. Melody giggled out loud and bobbed back and forth where she stood. She felt free and spacey and loved in a way that she never had back on her home planet.
"Cordeliaaaaa," Melody whined as she stepped tentatively into her owner's bedroom. The pinkish affini was, to her surprise, still asleep. Oh, oh no. "I'll just…" Melody whispered to herself. She started to back away. The implant buzzed back into her skull with yet another gentle objection.
"Go on, Precious. It's okay. You can wake her." A very persuasive pulse of calming, soothing evergy came up through her spine and washed over Melody's brain. It was like a warm blanket was blossoming across her body the way that a flower might. Melody shivered happily and a small whimper snaked out of her body.
"Oh...okay Impy." She wasn't sure if it was considered normal to name your implant, but she'd done it anyway. She quite liked Impy. Melody clambered up onto Cordelia's bed, which took a minute and some doing, but she did ultimately manage. Once there, Melody sat up on her knees and started experimentally pushing at bits and pieces of Cordelia's body. The plantlike being's form rustled and wriggled on its own, and in slightly different ways where she touched and prodded, but she didn't seem to be getting any results. Melody got sidetracked and just spent a while poking at bits and pieces of Cordelia's body so she could watch the ways they all reacted. Their movements seemed to follow some sort of inaudible music's rhythm. She tapped at one flower to watch it un-andre-furl at her touch.
This sort of playful, experimental song and dance lasted for several minutes. Melody was starting to get tired. Sleep, still, was not intent to come for her. Cordelia shifted in her sleep, as though to sate an itch, and then dropped a heavy arm on top of her floret.
Melody flopped down instantly under the crushing weight of her owner's massive appendage. An involuntary (and rather loud) squeak of surprise and fear burst instantly out of her. This, where her gentle touches had failed, returned Cordelia to the waking world. The affini shot up to attention.
"Melody dear??" She asked, "are you alright?" Melody shakily got up onto all fours and moaned weakly.
"Yeah. I was having trouble sleeping and the implant...you know."
"Oh it's working already?" Cordelia asked. She pulled Melody's body into an almost kaleidoscopic embrace of vines and flora and soft bark. Every cell in Melody's body simultaneously hummed in bliss and relaxed. She felt at peace, adrift in a warm ocean of love and safety. "Gooood little dear. Here, let's hook you up with some help. Relax and open your mind." A clasp of flowers closed around Melody's face. A mist of soft sleepy gasses drifted into her lungs and propagated throughout her body. Within moments, Melody was fast asleep.
Melody stood in a room that was part of her high school. She was a visitor here-yet so, somehow, was everyone else there. Some old friends she still talked to occasionally were there, but something seemed...off. they were hazy, almost like an oil painting. Their voices felt strange and new, in a nice kind of way.
She heard footsteps. They were unusually clear and stood above the other din of the room. She turned in the direction of the sound and saw...him. There was something different about this guy. He was carefree, he had a soft confident smile, and...well, for one he had that old smeared camera haze about him that old tv shows used to use for signaling the pov character had a crush.
She wasn't sure what that meant.
"Hello! Match?" Oh, right, that thing she did. Melody found herself blushing. This was the new person that beat the champ and curb stomped her friend.
Melody wasn't going to get shown up by some new guy!
The room cleared away in favor of a supernaturally beautiful bright green field under the kind of vibrant sky she only knew from fiction and postcards. Her challenger rose a bright blue cube in one hand with a smirk.
"Nobody's beaten this guy before," he said with a cheeky smile as he crushed the bottom of the Inscrutable Cube. The top half came unraveled into bright blue streams of whispy liquid light which whipped all about him. A black fox with colored rings around its stumpy tail gracefully stepped out of the light show and perched on his shoulder. He paused and exchanged loving nuzzles with the creature. "You can do it, Mane!" The lad pointed at her and his companion ran up his arm to leap off his hand into position for combat.
Melody pulled out an Inscrutable Cube of her own, and the battle was on. Mane chased his tail and spawned clones from the afterimages, ate her first monster's attack, and recovered by gnawing on an apple core.
Then it kept spawning more. And more. And more.
"THIS is how you beat them?" Melody asked. Her companion, a black tiger with a spiked crown, roared and loosed a wide burst of electrical agony. Every Mane caught in the blast was unaffected-they were all fake.
"No, this is how. INVENOMATE!" Ah. The real one ran past her tiger friend and paused briefly to douse it in awful chemicals. It roared and started pulsing bright purple. A health bar appeared above its head and depleted a little. Shit, she was on a timer!
"You little BASTARD!" She accused the new guy, struggling not to laugh. "That's so fucking rude!"
"I'm not even done setting up yet."
"Mane, Phantasm Shot!" The fox snarled at Melody's monster and shot a beam of dazzling, bright colors out of each eye. Oh god, no. Her monster was Startled now!
"You have a fifty percent chance to fail to attack every turn and take a bit of damage, a SUBSTANTIAL chance that whatever attack you try will fail to find its target, and nowhere near enough firepower to bank on killing him in one shot." Mane-or one of the clones-dashed up the boy's side and wall jumped off his shoulder. He high fived one of its paws as it twirled away. "Well? Make your move!"
Melody just smirked. She loved a challenge! "I just need a lucky crit! Thunder Shout!" The tiger roared once more and a cone of lightning ejected out of its mouth. This one caught the real Mane. It fell twitching to the ground and its health bar appeared.
It went down...by about an eigth. It chewed on the apple core. Half of that lost health came back. The tiger took more damage.
This trend continued. One after another of Melody's loyal companions gave their all to pin Mane down, and they got a few lucky hits in, but it only barely amounted to more than its passive healing could reverse.
Melody was down to her last Inscrutable Cube.
"This one's my ace in the hole," she said with a confident smile. She held it up and crushed it. "It's your time to shine, Pengi! Heed my hour of need!" The top half of the cube opened fractally into a whirlpool of light and her faithful spiked penguin emerged from it, landing on the ground with confidence. It stared its many foes down. "Tidal Wave!" Obediently Pengi loosed a warbled cry of battle. Water from the ground and the air formed a neon ball in each of the four-clawed hands that Pengi had in the back of its shield-wings. Pengi roared and smashed the orbs together. The water exploded out and literally swamped over Mane, all the clones-Mane's owner-
It critically hit!
By some miracle Mane's health bar fell the rest of the way down. The boy laughed and kneeled over his beaten comrade.
"There, good boy, you did your best." He scooped his fingers over Mane and the beast's cube formed around it and lifted it into his hand. He stood up and faced her with a smile.
"HAH! Your ace is down!"
"Who said that was my ace!" The boy raised another cube-one of only two, Melody noticed. "This big guy's been with me since before I could read! ROAR, OFFSCALBADALB!" Melody resisted the urge to burst out laughing and watched him crush the cube. The top took to the air, turned bright red, swelled, and then exploded in a phantasmagorical sphere of reds and oranges. A haunched red wyvern snaked out of the blast and curled around its owner. The boy wrapped his arms around its neck and they exchanged nuzzles. Then the dragon beat its wings, flew in a circle, and took off straight upwards.
The boy pointed straight up after his dragon, grinning toothily.
"Flames of my heart, burn brighter than coal! Grant my friend the power we've cultivated together for years! My love, my triumph, and all my sorrow! TRANSFORM!" A pillar of fire spun around the boy. His open coat fluttered dramatically as the glowing vortex surrounded him, reached over him, billowed up and up and around the dragon into an egg shape and up past that into the sky. The fire glowed and writhed and pulsed, and it turned neon blue. The beast's wings burst fully open and the fire exploded outwards without leaving a trace. The wyvern, now black and blue with tusks and three pairs of short stocky arms ending in three hooked claws each, swooped past the boy. He grabbed it and yanked himself on to ride it effortlessly. He laughed giddily as the dragon soared, and there was an...honesty, an unguardedness, in his laughter. Melody wanted to learn about him. She...wanted to be in his life.
"Pengi, Tidal Wave!" Pengi roared and prepared his attack once again. The boy's mount turned towards it and erupted in flame.
"Sunbreaker!" The dragon roared and spun, blazing like a comet. Pengi launched the torrent of cold water, but it wasn't enough. The dragon plowed through it easily and smashed into Pengi. Pengi's health dropped to zero almost instantly.
Melody woke up. She'd been tucked back into her bed. A note informed her that Cordelia had chosen to let her sleep. It had one number for her owner, one number for her owner's friend, and another for food.
Melody sat up. She'd...liked that dream.
She wished Mane could have stayed that bright shiny figure forever. Perhaps, if it had survived long enough, that friendly warmth which had drawn Melody to her might have become even brighter when Mane transitioned. She'd never know now, though.
And it hurt.