The tablet fit well in Zoey's hands, on the screen some form of chat application. As much as the heat and bedding was nice, the fact that she wasn't alone shook her to her very core. How did the weeds get here so fast? Why was she spared from death or enslavement? All of those questions raced through her head as she gleaned over the screen asking her to create a handle for use on the "Overnet" whatever that was. This obviously was some sort of trick to match her usernames online to her. She was sure of it, so in an act of defiance she'll show them who she truly is, a rugged survivor. She began to type onto the keyboard on the screen, and her handle was "RuggedSurvivor" a serviceable handle for whatever thing wanted to contact her. After inputting a name, the tablet displayed a message.
AutumnLeaves: Morning starlight! I genuinely apologize for not seeing you out here all cold and shivering out in this claustrophobic hab. When we heard the this colony was scuttling we rushed to ensure everyone inside the colony was safe, and we didn't expect a cutie like you to have trekked so far out! You were awfully frightened when I initially came to check in on you, I had to sedate you but hopefully by the time you're reading this you're all rested and cozy with my small redecorations! I'll be coming soon to assist you and bring you to my hab where you can stay until another ship comes to pick us up!
This was it, the weed was done with it's teasing. It was going to come to enslave her, it was coming and Zoey's heart raced. Zoey couldn't help but feel the micro-fine sheen of sweat on her forehead. She stepped towards the table to reach for her gun, but instead of contraption of death that would have saved her from the plant, there was nothing. She wanted to laugh, she wanted to cry, her only line of defense was now gone. In an act of desperation she grabbed the rusty stool, if she can't kill it she can at least buy some time... The claustrophobic metallic walls wailed as it hit the sheet metal walls, it felt like at any second it could collapse, she didn't want this to be her coffin. Stool in one hand, the other trying to fiddle the door into opening, she managed to open it. She felt the cold air hit her, yet that heavy feeling of being stuck didn't leave her.
Outside her shelter was the barren wastes of a half-terraformed planet. The soil black and rocky covered by a blood red lichen. The winds whipped as Zoey shivered. she patrolled her cube in the middle of nowhere, her eyes scouring every inch of seemingly empty horizons. While the tundra didn't seem to have any weeds in the distance, she could hear it. Like the beating drum of war tauntingly playing at the beat of her own heart rate, Rising... Getting Louder... And yet? There was nothing in the distance. She couldn't do anything but walk, her vision darkened her lungs felt like they were at half capacity. Even whispering a word felt like it could cause her to loose consciousness. The drumming got louder, her jaw aching from her jaw clenched in suspense, her fingers feeling like they were fusing to the cold metal stool. The drumming growing louder and louder as to force her to taunt her into accepting her death. This was it, this was death on it's pale horse coming to claim her. Masquerading in the horizon only able to be heard by it's pounding of commanding rhythms... And behind her death said it's first words...
Zoey's grip loosened, like a rusted piece of machinery finally buckling under the weight the stool fell, it's sound covered by the drums behind her. She couldn't move, her mouth couldn't move. Not a whisper or a scream, she wanted to tell it to leave her alone, to stop it's taunting and do what has to be done. The only sounds from her mouth being her rapid breathing, a cloud of condensated breath pooling and pooling with every exhale. It was over.
"I.. dirt, can you turn your back for me starlight? I am not here to hurt a cutie like yourself."
As if a key suddenly unlocked her legs, she felt like she could move them without passing out. slowly turning to face that voice. in the border of the blue sky was a large humanoid figure draped in a long cape of a red leaf. vines slowly extending behind it. The being crouched down to meet Zoey face to face. a concerned grimace accompanied by 6 amber eyes that peered into her very being. the vines slowly slithered her way... This was it, it wasn't death it was worse. This plant was going to take her as a slave, and force her to work until her bones were ground into dust. There was no point running, those vines would trip her, she couldn't scream, no one was around to help, all she could do was cry. Zoey could feel as the warm tears slid down her face. So much for being a rugged survivor, not even a day out here and she was about to be kidnapped and instead of fighting... instead of even running she just accepted it. She was a failure to humanity.
"I'm so sorry starlight, but you're safe now. You're okay now, I just need you to calm down for me dear... A deep breath in, and a deep breath out. Can you do that for me starlight?"
She felt as if she was going to faint if she dared tried, she just wanted to be alone. She couldn't just breath a bit and feel better, not after this damn weed wants to enslave her. She knew what it was doing, building rapport. She wanted to just breath but she couldn't she just couldn't... But somehow? her body did. Slowly taking a deep breath in... holding... And letting it out.
"That's good starlight, you're doing an amazing job. I have this needle which will help you feel better, It won't make you feel different or hurt, just help. Is that okay starlight?"
Zoey attempted to nod. She didn't know why she was trying to nod when the obvious answer would be to shake her head and not receive any weird drugs from stars-knows-where. But, a small seemingly unnoticeable nod was produced by her head. The plant smiled, vines slowly slithering towards her, wrapping around her. And to her surprise? They were warm. As much as neurons in her head are firing to break free of the vines, she just couldn't will herself. She felt a small jolt of pain from the back of her neck arriving as quickly as it left, an auto injector carried by one of the vines slowly being brought back to the plant after she felt the injection. The pounding drums slowly quieted to a humming beat, almost unhearable, but present in the plant's presence.
"Thats right, such a brave little sophont, stardust. Are you feeling better?"
Breathing deeply in and out came naturally to her again. The sharp beating of her heart dulling into an aching pain.
"Y-yes..." Is all she can choke out. The plant's vines still around her, warm, comforting almost.. why? Before she could ponder the plant spoke.
"My name is Marama Eliad, Third Bloom, and I use she/her pronouns. Are you comfortable sharing your name starlight?"
Was this some form of trick? Explicitly stating her pronouns? Did she know Zoey was trans? It was worth a gamble... In this fragile sense of okayness, the last thing she wanted to hear was her deadname.
"Zoey... Zoey Coleman. I'm a.. I'm trans, she/her."
The affini gave a warm smile.
"Well, it's nice to meet an adorable girl like you Zoey. A lovely girl like you shouldn't have to face this awful cold, My hab isn't far away. a lot more spacious than that claustrophobic box. You wanna walk, or is it okay if I hold you, for warmth."
Zoey noticed the fact that the plant that calls herself Marama didn't give her the option to just stay in her shelter. With the fact that this plant has given her 2 helpings of various drugs within the last 24 hours, she assumed saying no would mean yet another. A deep breath in...