The Terran rebel ship Eileitheia was, at the moment, having the life squeezed out of her by the vines of an Affini vessel which dwarfed her completely, its green tendrils coiling around her hull like a constrictor snake. Unlike many of the rebel vessels, this one was not crewed by various fascists, eager to protect the decaying corpse of an empire, built by men they never knew. The Eileithia was crewed simply by various people who, at their core, did not want to be domesticated. This did not change the way their ship was dealt with.
The Affini were pouring in through the various holes in the ship, those intended and otherwise, grabbing and quickly sedating each rebel they saw. The gunfire from the various weapons of the rebels had a negligible effect on the Affini boarders: a vine or two may have been singed, but none were in any danger even of needing to rebloom, let alone dying a final death. All in all, little was unusual about the event in the broader scheme of the Affini invasion. The fate of all rebels is either to die or to be made into a floret. Or, as the case may be, both.
Before all of this, the boarding and the constricting, the Fool sat in Eileitheia’s medical bay speaking to a woman who was, perhaps, the only working psychologist in the entirety of the Terran rebel fleet. The rebels were, after all, not particularly interested in the well-being of their crews beyond the most basic level. This ship, however, happened to have a psychologist, she had been the most recent addition to the crew, a few ports back, and this psychologist happened to be allowed to ply her trade.
“I wanted to have a kid one day, maybe two.”
The Psychologist shifted in her seat. “I don’t follow. What does that have to do with why you joined the crew of this ship?”
The Fool bristled. “Is that not obvious?”
“Explain it anyway, if you could, the details will allow me to help you more than I currently can.”
Twenty-five percent of the crew had been subdued by this point, some unconscious from sedative gasses, some standing slack-jawed in the halls, falling into the hypnotic abyss that was the thrumming rhythms and shifting colors of the advancing Affini. When doors were sealed to buy minutes of extra freedom, the Affini exploded like leafy bombs through the air vents which the rebels had, with a lack of proper foresight, neglected to properly defend.
“Well, I’m sure you’re aware of the Affini’s practice of sterilizing their florets, right?”
The Fool continued. “I’ve always wanted to have at least one kid. I know it’s silly, the society before the Affini appeared was hardly ideal to raise a child in, they would have suffered under the capitalist system just as much as I had, if not more, as the entire world circled the drain. I wanted to have a kid anyway.”
“That’s not necessarily an unreasonable desire, even if it might feel as such, but if that’s your reason for fighting the Affini, why not simply lay low and avoid domestication? Even if others are forcibly sterilized by them, you could have avoided it and lived on to do as you liked.”
For a long thirty seconds, the Psychologist awaited a reply from the Fool, who was themself clearly formulating an answer in their seat. Eventually, the Fool spoke. “You’re aware I’m depressed, right? I try to take care of myself, but it’s a struggle at times. I’ll put off cleaning for a few weeks. I’ll avoid brushing my teeth for a few weeks. I’ll stay in bed for most of the day, sometimes. All of that is to say: I wouldn’t be able to avoid domestication. I could avoid it for a month or two, maybe, if I’m lucky and don’t run into any nosy Affini. Eventually, though, I’d run into one that noticed any one of the things I struggle with, and it would decide that I need to be forcibly domesticated for my own good. Maybe it would be for my own good, maybe I would be happier. My dream of having kids, though, would be dead in the water once I would have my haustoric implant put in. I’d be forcibly sterilized, and that would be that.”
The Psychologist chewed on that for a while. “So that’s your reasoning for joining up with the rebels?”
Fifty Percent of the crew had been subdued. Where the defense of the ship had been organized at first, it was now fractured, as communication between various lingering cells, holding out in the med bay or the cafeteria, was jammed by the Affini invaders. The fear ratcheted up and up and up as the rebels sat wondering if their friends or their family had already been taken, already been drugged and assigned to their forever home, their flawless caretaker. Those who were taken would be happy, although whether it was them who was happy, or an entirely new person created by layers of hypnosis and drugs was anyone’s guess. The Affini tended to say yes. The part of the human brain designed to suss out one of their own, the part that caused the deep unease felt by viewers of any human-like form within the ‘Uncanny Valley,’ begged to differ.
The Fool began their explanation as the Psychologist rose for a moment to grab them both some tea. The Fool wasn’t the biggest fan of tea, but they drank anyway, to be polite. “Well, putting my own feelings on the matter aside, there is a larger picture. Whether they want to admit it or not, the Affini are effectively committing genocide on a large scale. I don’t just mean a genocide of humanity, although the human population will surely see a massive drop-off as so much of the population is sterilized. Whether it would be enough to see a complete collapse of the species is anyone’s guess, and it’s not the part that really scares me the most anyway.”
The Psychologist sipped on her tea. “What part scares you the most?”
“Well, we can agree that there are certain groups of people that tend to be domesticated more often, right? Depressed people, neurodivergent people, people who have been hurt over and over because of their gender, many of them, at times, struggle to live a perfectly healthy life. They might struggle to clean, or to have friends, or to trust others. And so, in far greater numbers than neurotypical, cishet people, they tend to be domesticated. We can agree on that, right?”
The Psychologist considered for a moment. “Sure.”
The Fool continued. “Right, well, people who are domesticated by the Affini, people who become florets willingly or otherwise, are sterilized, as you know. The Affini’s justification for this is, as far as I understand, because they don’t want to have to integrate children into the structured society created after a species is domesticated. It’s a reasonable enough desire, children shouldn’t be hurt, and on that both I and the Affini can agree. Sterilization isn’t the answer, though. All those trans people, all those neurodivergent people who got domesticated in much higher numbers than other groups? They’ve been sterilized. And just like that the Affini have undertaken a genocide of those groups in particular. I’m sure it’s not intentional, but the intention doesn’t make the results any better. All those people who deserve to have lives, all those groups that should be an accepted, loved part of society, will be wiped out within a few generations.”
The Fool added on again, as the Psychologist remained silent, herself looking uncomfortable. “It’s not like this has no historical parallels in our own society. Plenty of governments in the 20th century did the same thing in the name of eugenics. They sterilized all those who they deemed unfit to have children because they had supposedly ‘bad genes.’ How many people were hurt by those policies then? And how could I not fight when I see vulnerable populations being hurt yet again? The Affini mean well, I think. I want to be charitable to them because they’ve done so much to improve the quality of life of those living in the regions they’ve conquered. But whether they mean well doesn’t matter. What matters is that they’re perpetuating the same kind of harm as was forced on people so many centuries ago. The ends are, ultimately, the same.”
For a while, neither the Fool nor the Psychologist spoke. The Fool, seemingly exhausted by her explanation, drooped a bit in her seat.
Eventually the Psychologist spoke up. “Isn’t it easier not to think about that?”
Seventy-five percent of the rebels on the ship had been subdued. There were no more cells of resistance, holding out in defensible locations. There was no more resistance. There was just running, and hiding, and desperately holding breath in order to not be heard. The ship was as silent as a tomb.
The Fool bristled a bit, slowly sat up in their seat. “What the hell do you mean easier!?”
The Psychologist continued. “Living is hard, isn’t it? The question of kids and where they fit into the world of the Affini is hard, isn’t it? Isn’t it better to just… not think about it?”
The Fool felt their limbs grow heavy. “What…?”
“All these things, all these questions, all these doubts… why don’t you just let them go? You won’t need to worry about all that nasty history or population statistics or anything once you have a Mistress! You can just let the Affini take care of all that! You’ll be so happy! Everything you’ve been talking about, it’s been stressing me and you out. It’s so, so much better to just let it all go.”
The Fool had fallen asleep, falling from their chair, bumping the table, and spilling their drugged tea all over the carpet and their pants. It was okay. The Affini could get that stain right out.
The door to the room opened and the Psychologist leapt from her seat into the arms of the Affini who entered. “Mistress! You’re here!”
The Mistress patted the head of her Pet. The Pet spoke. “This feralist was saying all sorts of scary things! I don’t really feel well…”
“Say no more, Pet. I’m here now.” The needle tipped vine slipped into the Pet’s neck, and she drifted off in a haze of bliss. The Mistress bends down and picks up the limp body of the Fool. “Let’s get this feralist to a loving home. They’ll be so happy!”
One-hundred percent of the rebels on board the ship had been subdued. Eileithia and the dreams of her crew were, like all rebellion, lost to time. After all, the Affini always save the day.