a prison, a body

xxiv. rowan. the argument

by gargulec

Tags: #cw:sexual_assault #D/s #drones #pov:bottom #sub:female #transgender_characters #bondage #exhibitionism #sadomasochism
See spoiler tags : #robots #scifi

When she’d first noticed Helen among the new crop of party guests, Rowan had been standing on the exhibition floor, a drink-tray attached to her chest, and a handsome, half-naked man groping her. It wasn’t, exactly, a passive thing, there was some play to that; of subtle ways of holding to an appearance of a deer caught in the headlights while leaning into the hand cupping her ass. People, as she had learned, were more into the idea of getting their hands on a perfectly-still, body-shaped drink tray than by the practice of having theirs on something still and listless. The trick then was in keeping up the pretense of unanimity while yielding the twitch of the flesh they desired.

In a way, she had come to believe that this was the true appeal that drones had: to give the freedom of handling a living body like a machine or a toy, without the obligations of it bearing a human face.

In practice, this meant that as the man fondled her bottom and stared at the display projected over her head, she kept her eyes away on him and fixated on a point among the raucous party bodies. And it was then that she had realized that there was a person there that stood out from the rest. They were tiny, and unlike most younger people Rowan had seen in the resort, they were not accompanied by an older sugar daddy; nor did they carry themselves with the haughty swagger of a fund kid. Purple and blue light caught on their sports shirt and played in the glitter lining the edge of their face; they stared at the displays around them with the wide-mouthed amazement of a child in a candy factory. And they were not alone.

Next to them, half-faded into the shadows in her signature blacks, there was the woman that Rowan had long yearned to see.

She looked so strikingly apart from everyone around her—a simple outfit and a tense stance, as if unaffected by the lurid frenzy around. She held her tattooed, muscled arms close to her chest, face still like a painting. She was all blacks and whites, short motions, stance heavy; so unfitting for the time and place she appeared almost spectral. But it didn’t matter.

Helen was here.

The realization hit Rowan like a hammer, it pierced her like an arrow to the heart. Had it not been for the grip of programming on her body and her mind, she would have rushed to her friend, breaking every protocol and…


Do not react.

The command flowed in with her thoughts, seized them and directed them. She did not as much as turn her head towards Helen, watching instead the man groping her toast her companion, only for that tiny person to frown with open disgust, grab Helen by the shoulder and drag her away.


Rowan stared dead forward, eyes fixated on a point among the raucous party bodies. The man’s fingers continued skidding up and down her ass, until he too got bored. He slapped her with a loud, rubbery pop, and wandered off to one of the performances, to play with some other helpless drone’s reactions.

It was difficult to remain in her place and continue her work; it was a struggle not to turn her head and look around for the sign of Helen’s passage, to check which attraction pulled her attention the most, find out what fascinated her, what she chose. In Rowan’s mind, images unfolded into a narrative, and her body quivered with sweet, desperate hope.

What if it was that by watching her, by indulging in this surveillance that Galatea provided, Helen had found a new desire in her soul? What if her presence was the fruit of the time she’d spent in admiration of the images offered? Of course, it wouldn’t be love at first sight: it would unfurl from a mixture of disgust and curiosity, only later uncovering the shard of genuine fascination belying them. Rowan imagined Helen’s alarm reluctantly melting away, sparking curiosity, and then that curiosity blooming into a vibrant, confusing obsession...

What else could have drawn Helen in—Helen who had once held hardcore SM porn in clear disdain, Helen who had spent weeks in failed attempts at dissuading Rowan from coming into Galatea’s embrace? Why else would she attend this party, where bodies were made into instruments, and where the chief pleasure was the exhilarating feeling of an overwhelming control over a helpless, living body?

Why else?

Hopes she had never quite gotten rid of, even as she covered them up with a thin layer of accepted defeat, sprang up, frantic and hungry. They broke into her imagination and presented to it the madcap certainty that this was it, that this was her dream, that Helen’s mind had really changed.

That there would be acceptance at the end of doubt.

Would Helen know Rowan was here? If she could watch her through the eyes of cameras, she would have to. Would she find her, then? Select her from the crowd of indistinct drones, meet her sight unseen, smile knowingly? Would she extend her strong hand, would she pull her into an embrace, would she whisper “it’s wonderful” into her ear?

As she shuffled across the floor, serving and being used, Rowan enjoyed the rush of dreams and hopes, so close as to be tangible. Not even Helen’s tense face, nor the fear at the bottom of her eyes, could spoil the moment.

The night went on. All things considered, it was pretty slow, making it easy to just tap out and allow herself to be guided by the eidolon’s commands and reflexes hammered into her muscle memory. As her body went about its work, she zoned off and dreamed of Helen.

“This drone is not available for such use right now,” she said unthinkingly; or at least heard her voice synthesiser crackle when someone grabbed her by the shoulder and asked to spank her. “Do you want to order another?”

“Sure,” he murmured, and Rowan felt an electric tingle to alert her that the circuitry of her shell had placed the order successfully.

There was a harsh kind of joy to the fact that Helen was here, and Rowan was barred from immediately rushing to her side. The denial was a hook of arousal sunk deep into her gut. She simmered in powerlessness, in the idea that Helen wouldn’t even care for seeing her, that she was here just to have some fun with the person who’d been accompanying her, that Rowan would have to watch, faceless and mute, how her friend’s new fascinations unfolded on a body that wasn’t hers. It was a terrible, lovely fear.

For so long, she had struggled to keep herself from hoping that this day would come, so certain that Helen could never see those desires as anything but diseased. Even now, tiny pin-pricks of suspicion stung in the back of her mind, but she paid them no heed. Doubt had never yielded her much in life, only misery and fear. She pushed against the fear of fear, and welcomed the bright, nigh-fulfilled hope. And then, the eidolon spoke to her, not with a command, but with a promise:

This day was a long time coming.

Rowan felt more than pleasure alongside those words. A sense of contentment and accomplishment sank along the wires connecting her shell to her old skin, an galvanic feeling of being touched, of being held in hand.

It came at no difficulty at all to believe with her full heart and mind that the eidolon had planned this. It was, after all, the voice that had directed her on the way out of misery, that had arranged for joy to come to her. There was a golden moment as the words sank into her consciousness in which Rowan could understand how it must feel to believe in God not as an abstract hope, but a tangible presence overflowing grace. Helen had been given a chance to see Rowan’s joy, and in it, found a joy for herself. It was arranged, it was planned.

Why believe otherwise? Had she not come into Galatea months ago as a sad, terrified wreck, too alone to bear even being herself? Had she not changed according to a fantasy and into a fantasy? Was she not spending her days working amidst erotic wonders she had not even though possible? Had she not become a vessel for something so much greater and her, and yet so loving, so careful, so wonderful? So why shouldn’t other things work out just as well? Why wouldn’t other fantasies go unfulfilled, if this one could be designed for someone as shattered as she used to be?

She swam in light and breathed music; she served and was admired and touched and used, and Helen was here.

Even after all those months, it kept on surprising her how she could just drift her body along, attention and thought only tangentially moored to what it was doing in the moment. The eidolon’s commands had a knack for slipping out of her focus, she would go and do as ordered without even registering that she had been controlled; sometimes she wondered if there was even a will left in her that was fully her own. If there had ever been one, that is.

She realized she was walking off the exhibition floor and into a side corridor, not to get her tray refilled, but to find one of the drone outfitting rooms. She just knew she had to go there, and this knowledge meant doing so immediately. There had probably been a command inputted into the machinery of her brain that she hadn’t even noticed in all of her excitement over Helen.

The room was brightly lit, filled with stacked lockers and a drone docking station; as usual, it was tended to Irena, a perpetually tired-looking woman who spent her nights nose-deep in a book of crosswords. There was another drone waiting there already, sitting upright in a position of idle readiness; a large carrier lay stood on the bench next to it.

Irena raised her eyes from her night’s entertainment, and put the pen down. With an unhappy grunt, she motioned at Rowan.

“Closer,” she commanded, and she obeyed.

With well-practiced motions, she loosened the tray from her torso, then removed the straps locking Rowan’s arms in place. She stepped back, allowing her to wave them a few times to stretch, then crouched. To her surprise, Rowan heard the metallic clicks of the shackles binding her ankles together being removed. She pecked her head in the universal drone gesture of surprise. Those chains going off indicated a very particular protocol.

“Looks like you two are on a top duty tonight,” Irena confirmed Rowan’s suspicion, with the throaty chuckle of someone with far too much affection for nicotine. She stood up and gave Rowan an encouraging slap on the back. “I readied everything that was requested,” she indicated the bag with her shoulder. “I just hope you’ll be allowed to enjoy yourselves too,” she said, slumping back in her chair.

The other drone stood up, its faceplate briefly flashing a smiley face; Rowan just nodded. The woman chuckled again.

“Shoo,” she waved them away. “Go beat some ass.”

Rowan hesitated for a split-second, before a command kicked in. It wasn’t a function she had been made to perform often. Once or twice, she’d accompanied other drones to their clients, but she had never taken an active role, instead serving as just some more scenery, or an extra tool for the scene. She recalled that night she spent as a mobile tool-box for when Catty was brought up to discipline an adorable gay couple; it was a sweet experience, but all she had done was move and stand still, a glorified carrier case.

This—this was different.

The other drone slung the bag across its shoulder and headed for the exit; Rowan knew that she had to follow. They took side routes, off the main corridor, where the visitors would not wander; they passed another group of drones girded for a similar task, rolls of duct-tape and a large rubber bag in the hands an indication of what they were intended for, and noticed one of the techs help a wobbly-legged drone make its way to rest. One of the performers, Rowan was sure; the stresses it could put even on a conditioned and practiced body were immense. All while in the distance, the music thrummed and coiled, the baffles in Rowan’s ear letting just enough sound to remind her of it was still there.

Their destination turned out to be a private booth that they were to prepare for its guest. It was one of those warm cocoons of a room meant for people intimidated by the rest of the facility. Warm lights seeped from under the gently curved roof; stripes of greenery ran the span of the wall to give it a home-like appearance. Everything was soft whites and pale ambers, concentrated on the wide bed in the back, as if to give it an appearance of being perpetually bathed in the morning glow.

And in front of the bed, there was a padded wooden horse with cuffs and straps. As the other drone opened the bag and started to sterilize the toys in the cleaning station in the back, Rowan knelt by the horse and started to carefully adjust the hidden knobs regulating its height and specific position, until a burst of joy indicated to her she had arrived at the appropriate dimensions. She stood up to get a better look at the other tools arrayed for the night.

It wasn’t a wide selection, but a deliberate one. A soft leather collar and a lead; ointments to soften and prepare the skin, a metal, spider-like device to force a mouth open; a pair of small vibrators that could slide over the tip of a finger; a colourful dildo with the socket to connect to a drone’s chastity belt. The other drone finished washing it, then put it down out of immediate view.

They continued on with further preparations; they double-checked if security equipment was in place, added a few stray petals to the room, just enough to give it the slightest hint of romance, and finally made sure that the refreshments were available. To Rowan’s surprise, there was no booze among them, just crystal bottles of mineral water. There was an implication in that that made her feel warm under her shell; she could only wish for it to be true.

When the room was ready, Rowan knew she had to take the collar and the leash in her hands, and follow the other drone out, deep into the lesser-attended parts of the resort.

There was something swelling inside of her, building up. Not just hope, even if it saturated her with its unspoken, sweet promise, but also a different kind of feeling, whose roots ran past the parts of her that were still Rowan, one that bled over from the greater whole she had become but a part of. And she knew what that something was, just as she knew why she had to take the collar into her hands; yet, she did not want to even think it, out of some silly fear of jinxing it.

She wanted the surprise to take her in all of its sweet promise.

And so, when the two of them finally arrived at their destination, and found Helen waiting for them, sitting with her back against a steel wall, Rowan allowed herself to experience the rush of pure joy, a confirmation of everything that had been building up to this point. And now, the time came for the conclusion she had long dreamed of.

“Miss Hu?” the other drone crackled, its voice made to come soft and inviting. “Are you ready, Miss Hu?”

The woman raised her head and stared at them. Rowan met her eyes. She looked—she looked beautiful, and haunted, and scared, and shy. In the moment, she wanted to reach out to her, to give her a hug, to let her know just how happy, just how overjoyed she was to see her here, to be the one who could finally show her…

“Y-yeah,” she stammered out, standing up. “Let’s do this, I guess.”


Rowan didn’t need the word to drown in excitement and focus. She was going to be one of the hands by which Helen would be pleased, would be made happy, she was going to—she was going to be with her. After all that time. After all those years of knowing what is possible and what is not, she would…

Leash her.

She stepped forward at once, fingers reaching towards Helen’s face, her neck. She knew that her friend couldn’t recognize her, and that was—and that was a part of this beauty. They were so close, but so far. They were together, but…

She touched her, and felt her tremble under the cool surface of her fingers. She brushed her dark hair away and buckled the collar around her neck, letting it fit snugly and comfortably. The other end of the leash rested around her wrist. She watched Helen, looked into her face, noticed her feeble smile, her anxiety...

Rowan’s thoughts frayed, and she was glad her own face was unseen, because there were tears in her eyes, and she should not allow her to see this. Not yet. There would be time for that, afterwards, in the sweet hours of tender aftercare, if only she was going to be allowed it.

She took the lead, guiding Helen through the corridors and back to the room that had been prepared just for her. The other drone walked behind, and softly, lovingly explained.

“This will be your education,” it said, “as you have asked, you will be taught: the pleasure of restraint, of pain, of serving the needs of another.”

She had asked for it. Helen had asked for it. She wanted it. The words were music to Rowan; she couldn’t believe her own luck.

“You will bring someone the utmost joy tonight,” it continued. “And then you will be rewarded in kind. From this, you will understand.”

“Right,” Rowan heard Helen reply. “S-sounds good.”

It did. It really did.

The room welcomed them like a warm embrace. Helen looked around nervously, eyes skipping from the bed to the horse, then to the drones tending to her.

“Please remember,” the other drone said as Rowan came in closer to unlink the leash from the collar, “that the purpose of all that is done to you is to bring joy to another. Please remember that your chosen safeword is ‘red’. We will understand it even if it is not intelligible when you utter it. The scene, as you have requested, will continue until you use it, or learn. Is this all right by you?”

“Yeah,” Helen said with a deep breath, turning her head away. Even in the golden light, she appeared a bit pale. Rowan felt like she recognized this fear; this worry of jumping into the deep water, this moment just before a leap of faith. But she knew that there was a reward at the other end, just as there was when she first let the eidolon in. There was joy to be claimed. In the end, it would all work out.

“Please strip,”

Rowan had never seen Helen naked, and the sight was no less lovely than she had once imagined. Her friend had a strong, athletic body, muscle visible under skin; as she folded her clothes on the bed behind them, she could not stop herself from admiring the lines of flesh with all the little imperfections in them to remind her that this was not a phantasm, but Helen, in flesh and blood, hands bashfully covering her mound, whole body trembling.


It was excitement. It had to be. That, and the anxiety of learning. It couldn’t be anything else. She wouldn’t be here if it was anything else.

“You are beautiful,” she said, maybe not necessarily of her own volition, but absolutely not against her will. Her voice crackled, distinct, alien, unrecognizable. “You are a joy to behold.”

Helen’s face was burning-red. She said nothing; she was just breathing in and out.

“Kneel,” the other drone commanded.

She looked at it, face momentarily tense, then obeyed, dropping down on her knees.

“Hands behind your head.”

“Why?” she asked, then reflected, folded her palms as ordered.

Rowan and the other drone knew what to do next; there was a plan to the scene, an arc to follow. Commands flowed into her ear like a rustle of a distant stream, subtly weaving into her thoughts, allowing her to finally touch the body she had yearned for so long. They knelt to her sides, hands splayed over her skin, and began to teach her the feeling of being held and handled. She went stiff under their palms; she did not move at all. Her heart beat like a hammer; Rowan could feel its frenzy as her hand circled Helen’s small breast, played on the skin, felt the nipple harden under pressure. They held her close, secure, strong.

“How does it feel?” she was made to ask.

“I don’t know…” Helen mumbled in response, all her muscles tense. “I don’t know.”

“It will feel good soon,” the other drone promised. “You just have to give in.”

“How?” she asked, a brittle edge to her voice. “How?”

“Resist less,” it replied into her ear, its fingers—and Rowan’s—curling over the flesh, digging into it, pinching, grabbing a handful. The woman did not as much as twitch, eyes staring straight forward. “Do not be afraid.”

“It’s not…” she started, but before she could finish, the other drone’s arm swung; there was a sharp slapping noise and Helen grunted quietly as the hand grabbed the bottom it struck. She said nothing more. Rowan watched her intently, not stopping the caress, not giving up the touch; even through her shell, she could feel the woman’s warmth, the throb of blood under the skin, the pulse, the breath. The breaking point had to be near; it was hard to imagine herself in Helen’s position and not feel faint and sweet. The breaking point had to be near.

They lifted her up the floor and brought her over the wooden horse; she went ragdoll limp in their hands as they laid her on her stomach, limbs dangled to the side. She did not move or test the bonds when they strapped her in, tight to the padding. She let her head slump, fingers curling slowly.

It was not a look of immediate happiness. Rowan thought that…

Put on the dildo.

The eidolon’s command sliced through the worm of doubt in her thoughts; she felt warmth flood her as she grabbed the prepared toy. She gingerly cupped it in her hands before Helen as the other drone delicately rubbed an ointment into her exposed back, the sound of rubber on skin a sweet music.

Rowan made a show of connecting the fake member to her shell; she had learned how to perform well, and immensely enjoyed the slow, studious movements, extending the sequence of donning a dildo in front of restrained, terrified Helen. It was such a wonderful device, linked to her somehow; as it came online, she could feel her hand over it, transmitting sensation straight into the wiring of her suit, so very personal, and yet nothing like her bio-cock. It was as if electricity was running through every inch of her nervous system, setting her entire body alight.

And yet, she kept looking in Helen’s eyes the entire time and saw in them… resistance, reluctance, the final obstacles to be broken. Were those her thoughts? Was it really what she saw? An echo of sorts resounded in her mind; which thoughts were hers, which were the eidolons? Helen started at her, expectantly, resistively?

Good, the eidolon crooned into Rowan’s ear and again the gloomy notions receded. This had all been carefully planned, just as her own transformation. There was no reason to be concerned. Rowan didn’t want to be concerned. She had hoped for so long.

They circled Helen like well-coordinated dancers, giving her time to calm down, to accustom to her bindings, to soak in the atmosphere. They stroked her exposed back, her face, they guided her with touch; there was no need to rush.

“Are you ready?” they asked.

“Let’s get it on with,” Helen replied meekly.

She yelped quietly when the first blow came down on her ass, then took the next few without a sound and without a movement, resolutely biting on her lip. It was such a shame she did not let herself moan, did not let herself go with the impact, and had to…

“You don’t have to play brave,” Rowan offered, or was made to offer. “You are safe with us.”

“Yeah,” Helen replied, maybe not with conviction.

Pins and needles ran down Rowan’s spine, but she ignored them. She did not know how much she had been yearning for a moment like this. There was an arc, and she could see the conclusion, emerging from behind the horizon. She couldn’t wait for arrival, and yet each hesitant moment just stretched out this wonderful certainty. She just had to hope it would all work out. But then again, why wouldn’t it? Why was doubt still there?

Gag her.

Helen was compliant and passive when Rowan forced her mouth to stay open. The metal ring fit snugly between the teeth, perfectly sized for the dildo. She stepped back to admire her handiwork, watching the spit already start to pool and drip, and thinking of how it would feel to just thrust inside. She was ready.

“Please it,” the other drone commanded, sliding the tiny vibrators over its fingers and placing itself behind Helen, hand caressing the inside of her thigh. “And you will be rewarded.”

Helen nodded, and then, when the drone ran its finger across the edge of her labia, shuddered. Her face contorted, eyes wide-open. She stared at Rowan with a mute challenge in her face, a dare against her and the world she represented. There was so much courage in it, so much resolve and so much disgust.


She felt the systems of her shell whir to high power as nausea lanced through her body. Once she tried, it was not hard to see. Helen was not enjoying any of it. Helen was bound there ready for sex, shot with fear and disgust and a suicidal desire to see it through in spite of how much it repulsed her and—
—how could she do it?

Betrayal rushed past the sensation of sickness, sinking into Rowan like swamp-water. Helen had made her hope again hope, had given her every reason to think that she had come around, and right now, she stared at her with nothing but revulsion, everything they had done for her, every little touch of care and pleasure rejected, refused, just because she was too reluctant to go with the flow, to throw herself into the depths, to let the pleasure in like Rowan did and—

Fuck her into understanding.

The command threw Rowan a step forward. She gripped Helen’s chin, lifted it, lined the agape mouth with the high-tech cock and—

—and she knew this story.

How many games had she played with this plot? How many smutty stories had she read that followed this arc? The reluctant, prim woman, corrupted into enjoyment of something she was afraid of, something she was disgusted by, something she had always secretly dreamed of. All building up to the same conclusion: resistance, pain, mind-break, joy and happiness once the prison of the soul was thrown off.

Rowan had always loved this story. It reassured her to entertain the idea that there might be force in the world that would smash her open and pour into her everything she had wanted to but could not be. That dream had come true. Had come true more and better than she could have ever hoped, than she had had any right to hope for.

And now she was commanded to share it. And maybe it would work, but—

Helen looked at her, resigned. Why wasn’t she safewording? Why was she insisting on getting hurt? What possessed her to go along with something that revolted her so sore?

Fuck her into understanding!

The command boomed in her head, and it was—it was just the need to throw caution to the wind. To trust the eidolon. To risk it. To make Helen take the plunge. It could work. It really could.

The other drone stood still, as if confused by the sudden hitch in the scenario. Helen glared; Rowan could barely bring herself to look at her anymore. And yet—and yet she yearned to follow the eidolon’s command, to grab that face and thrust into it, to feel it around her cock, to finally experience what she had long for, to guide Helen from the dark and towards pleasure, to show that it was nothing to be afraid of, nothing disgusting, nothing terrible, just something she had not understood and could be made to—

Had it not worked for her?

There was a pressure mounting inside of her, muscle primed to spring into motion, gestured directly wired into her nerves; she shivered as her body strained to move into commanded action. It was so easy to imagine letting it happen, letting her body shatter every barrier in Helen, bring her to tears joy and—

It was never going to happen. A leap of faith was something you took, not forced.

It was funny; she had never tried to resist her conditioning before. She had no reason to. She was never asked for anything that she didn’t want, on some deep, guttural level. And by the time she thought of doing it, she had already done it. All that remained was just committing to a choice.

She turned away from Helen.

There was a split second when she was afraid—afraid like she hadn’t ever been before—that it wouldn't work. That the muscles wouldn’t answer the command, that the body would just go along autonomously with the eidolon’s desire, and she would hurt her friend deeper than she could have ever dreaded.

But instead, all she felt was a strange tear, a sense of vertigo as a well of sadness opened alongside the faultlines of her heart. Beneath the helmet, there were tears rolling down her face. It was giving up something she had held onto for so long. It was the end of a dream.

“No,” she said, into the void that was the eidolon’s face. The voice synthesiser in her throat crackled; the sound that came out was not words, but gibberish hiss. “It won’t work.”

She didn’t expect that the brief moment before her words and the wave of emotion slamming into her would be filled with bittersweet pride.

A soul swept into her, one that had shared every part of her body, one that had commanded, ruled and wielded her, one that was a part of her, one that she wanted to never leave. It was the electric buzz of her shell, it was the feeling of a hand closing in, it was a voice building up to a thunderclap.

She is consenting.

She asked for it.

I can make her see.

Why do you refuse me?

Why can’t it work out?

She expected anger. She expected to be seized with pain, to be punished. To have the wounds of her soul opened again in retribution for defiance. But instead, all she received were words trembling with the desperate yearning of someone who couldn’t understand.


Rowan knelt in the corner of the room and watched Helen sit half-dazed on the edge of the bed, tired and sad. A man in Galatea livery tood over her, explaining in a worried rush that the on-site psychologist was ready to see her, that she could be provided with any sort of help, including a wide variety of appropriate medication, that they would set up her with therapy if she so required. She stared past him numbly, head hung in defeat.

No one ordered Rowan to stay where she did. In fact, the voice of the eidolon seemed entirely absent, and she was afraid, deeply terrified, that it would not return. But she had made her choice, and would have to stick with it, and that probably meant sticking with Helen. If only she could talk right now.

Now that the elation of hope had gone away, she could only wonder why she allowed herself to be fooled in the first place. But was it even a question? She knew. She really, really wanted Helen to be like her, to deep inside share the same loves, the same desires. She had dreamed about it for so long that to be offered a sliver of a chance was enough to throw any sort of caution to the wind.

But not everything could work out.

“No,” Helen grunted at the man, “no I don’t want any of it. Just give me—” she paused, looked around, sighed. “I need to talk with Aphrodite.”

“I…” the man started, voice trailing off. He looked at Rowan, sighing heavily.


The voice of the eidolon slithered into her ear, distant, meek, and yet she met it with joy, and, against her better reason, hope. She focused on it, trying to get her body back into feeling it like before; she didn’t want it gone. It worked, somewhat. Her attention centered on the sound.

She is right. I promised to talk to her. Can you help me?

Without hesitation, Rowan nodded.

Then, one more time, let me in. Please?

Rowan stood up, and approached Helen, arms folded behind her.

“Miss Hu,” she said with words and thoughts that weren’t her own. “I’m here.”

Simulated Beehive 2022-04-13 at 18:07 (UTC+00)

I started crying at this chapter, and continued for the rest of the story. I’ve been rereading and turning everything over and over again in my mind since I finished reading the first time. You’re really good at writing alterity and the gradual acceptance of difference.

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