20 - Ripped Genes

Hatching takes place aboard Skeksis flagship. Safe environment but arrival will panic mother-birds. Emerge carefully.

Why is this stuff never what I expect. So much for guns blazing.

[!] The Skeksis have mother birds. Your Boobsong feels different now. She's still going to make this metal but be nice to them.

Yeah.

[!] You're going to the egg-making place. You'll flow through pipes and stuff. Hold your dolly tight please.

I make my tight hold even tighter, and my eyes go away so the only thing solid about me is my little bit of arms around Boobsong, and there's a squeeze like the one that pushed me down her throat to get here, and then my goo seems to be in a long shape, going around curves, feeling her moving past me. It's a strange an unhuman comfort to feel her so big around me and be pumped around like this and makes me feel so terribly alien to my own flesh and so at home with her--but then I guess that's why there's something homey in my doll-form's heartstone I don't get as flesh, too.

In no time I've been poured into an egg-shape with Boobsong in the middle of me, and then find myself turning solid, sitting with my knees scrunched up--haaah fffuck cool metal is everywhere going through me just near the surface but in a crazy-quilt pattern all along my arms and legs and body. Boobsong's collar is on my neck but my game's flower is gone--I can feel its missingness as a surprising relief. It was invading stuff. I wear my dragon's collar only. I'm hers. My game is just a toy she uses to manage me because I'm handful and then some and she likes to be this doll right here in my arms.

I take an experimental breath--there's air, enough to hatch with, I suppose--okay fuck that's so amazingly messed up and arousing. I can feel my pussy stroked, inside like fingering, everywhere breathing making the seams all over me slide against each other a little bit. I'm wet enough to move, not stick, so Boobsong must be holding all my parts together or the weight on the chains would hurt.

I blink--holy fizzfrozen silver cookie pearls, this must look so metal. Only one eye blinks. The other is goo, because a big chunk of my face at least is missing, filled in by Boobsong-silver. I feel close to you now, dolly!

How to get out of this...my arms are where they were, holding Boobsong tight as tight, my left hand holds my eravahk like usual, but it's heavier. It's pitch black in here, so I add just a little light and see silver chains shining from my skin, sewing me together freakishly along seams of wet-looking pussy-edge, and my eravahk is a small version of Boobsong's hammerform. The air is thick already, so I turn my eravahk face-out watching the chain-stiches that hold my hand in one piece shine as I move, feeling my pussy all moving slightly against itself, wondering if I can function like this or I'll just be distracted by the fingering, and swing my eravahk up against the eggshell, remembering at the last moment to stop shining to I won't be instantly scary.

Orange light and fresh air pour in the hole I make--and panic, too:

«Hatching! The purple egg is hatching! Escape, flee!»

They're speaking Strawberry. Somehow, I understand them, but I don't speak it since the reset--do I? I can walk in high heels, and that was hard enough to learn, I can tell you, and the StarFox skills I drew on to break my brother out were a lot more developed than the ones that won me New England.

I yank at my eravahk to make the hole bigger, than try to lean for it and call plaintively,

«Please don't leave! We won't hurt you!»

Strange emotions slosh inside of me. I just spoke Strawberry to them. Just like that.

I keep coming to these things pathetically, but that's good. After one after another wrathful entry a few nights ago I'm sick of being that.

«The hatchling, it spoke! Words of our foremothers, the accent is ancient, what--»

«Don't be filled-with-dung. That's just a gasping breath.»

Game, quick, make me sound like a hatchling that's having a hard time breathing!

It squeezes my tummy and makes my throat clench shut so a gasping wheeze escapes my mouth, and then lets go of my inside but keeps my throat shut so my inhaling the air it took from me sounds terrible.

«You see? Get over there! If it's bad it hatches, imagine what'll happen if it comes out dead from there!»

Feathery sounds come closer but the air is still thick so I smash another hole and then a third and start connecting them, trying to break a triangle out of the egg. Boobsong's chains holding me together shine so pretty as I work. She's made heavy silver jewelry chain, and it lies nicely flat along its path, making me look brutally elegant instead of hacked-up and bleeding.

A shadow passes over the light coming in, then something pokes in one of the holes and blasts out--cold fresh air! I take a gasping breath that sounds desperate without any help--I've been going much too slow at this--

[!] There's something special here because your Boobsong can't give oxygen to your cells like she usually does. The Dreams are spiking her. They must be making us seem less threatening but your Boobsong is scared to death. Breathe, Mommy, take the air they give, you were fainting out!

SWEET SCREAMIING COCKSLEEVE CAKES EVERYONE STOP TORTURING MY DOLLY! I take deep gasping breaths, cough a few times, and find a lot more strength, put my anger into bashing at the shell away from where the air-hose is blowing in. The blasting air is cooling my legs, and making the chains that hold them to gether refreshingly icy...and  noticeable. One seam runs down the middle of my shin, splitting my leg in half. Will I be able to talk on that?

[!] Yes, but with a scary limp! Your Boobsong got creative here. She hopes you like it lots.

This is the most ultimately metal thing you've done since eating me in the first place. Let's get out of here.

I have the triangle of shell I was working on hanging loose, and when I bash it with my fist instead of my eravahk's hammer-head it breaks in three and pushes outward, and grey-feathered birdy hands pull the pieces off out of the hold and take the air hose and then a Skeksis face peers into the hole and we stare at each other in shock.

Grey feathers, lots of tufts of the thin narrow kind that make up the ruff of a vulture's neck, around a narrow birdy face with a big grey hooked beak and pretty, human-feeling eyes look in at us. I can see why Gorean Starfleet calls them Skeksis, but this one anyway is nowhere near as horrible as the ones from the Dark Crystal. Actually, she's kind of pretty, and kind-looking.

I see her pick up a hammer past the hole, and then a crack above my head tells me she's cracking the egg off starting from the top.

I just sit still and quiet as she breaks the egg the rest of the way off us. She's spindly, and inhuman, but her grey-everywhere feathers are soft-looking and sleek, not haggared. Beyond her I can see a very plain grey room with curving pillars set into the walls and a few in the middle of the space. They look like--actually TOS not-metal-metal, heh. It's got that same abstract plainness the the expanses of grey most of the original enterprise seemed to be made of--I laugh if the Skeksis One I'll be anything it's call thank you prophecy turns out to be Constitution-class.

It's like she can't acknowledge what she's hatching until the last piece of shell is gone and she has to figure out if she's going to try to pick us up or what (which would be a project since she's only human-sized, not huge like me). Finally she puts down the hammer and lowers her head to be level with mine, then turns aside so one eye can see us better, looks us all over, makes a whistling sound with her beak.

«You aren't layed by one of us! Where's your brood-mother, hmmm? Must be scary-big, if you're the hatchling!»

I make my voice as soft and quavery-scared pathetic as I can.

«Please don't run away. I'm as scared as you right now. I need your help.»

She goes stock-still the minute I talk.

«Did you just talk to me? In ancient-mother-tongue? Sounding like historical songs?»

«It's not ancient to me,» I blurt--

«Lucy Strawberry!? Are you the princess we're taught about in handmaiden class!?»

«Maybe.» I hold up my hand, with the stitches of chain running soothing-tingly down the palm. «Was that Lucy Strawberry eaten by a silver dragon--»

«YES! The dragon's not coming, is it!?»

«If I understand right what's going on here you've been holding yourselves in its jaws for generations and I'm here to either bring you home again, or set you free, but I don't know which it is yet. Are you a handmaiden?»

«I'm handmaiden to General Kaari Oxmane herself! I'll take you there right away--can you walk? Are you thirsty? Young birds are famished but you're older than all of us!»

She has her hands out now, like she's going to do something but doesn't know what yet. 

Let's see how this goes. I get my feet under myself--wow moving feels intense--and push to stand, feeling like a mass of chains and sliding seams, which I guess I am. The motion is making me wetter, and I can feel it leaking out my seams a bit. I must be terrifying. Good, I think, though this sure isn't what I was expecting here. I'm wobbly, the pieces of me can move as the chains pull my flesh, and all of it feels incredible, soothing cold metal and sliding fingered pussy and the unsteadiness of it all. I'm panting before I'm even upright, feel like I've been fucked by the hugest cock. If we make it halfway there without Boobsong dragoning out and eating me I'll be impressed, the things this is making me think. On the way up I see that my whole right hand from halfway up my forearm is fake, my left foot from the arch forward, and my back feels cold around the midsection--I have only one wing. That should fuck some heads.

[!] You can unfold them both but the one your Boobsong made is mechanical and you can't fly with it.

Hardcore. No one ever again for the rest of time is allowed to say you don't go hard enough.

I seem to be standing. The Skeksis pops up and starts off, then turns back around.

«Um, I just got put back together. I haven't figure out how to walk this way yet, give me a second.»

«Are those chains hurting you? Does your body feel pleasure from them? Your face says yes but your body is torn apart! Is the spell that's holding you turning pain to pleasure?»

«You're pleasantly curious! You've been with humans, if you know what our pleasure looks like. Sniff the edges in my palm.»

«I am a human, other days! Only while there's work to do, are we like this. That's all the time, of course.»

She takes my hand carefully in hers, puts it up to her beak, then stares.

«Is that everywhere!? Every seam!? Are you dead or flesh in spells that hold strange shape on it?»

«I'm sure my stories tell of the despair that there'd be no heir because my pussy vanished on the day of my unveiling, but the stories are wrong because their tellers couldn't face this. It's still here, everywhere my dragon's teeth bite me. I'm alive, but only her love keeps me that way. Without it I'd fall apart. I'll explain the rest when we get meet your General. Is she the authority here, or is there a Queen over her?»

«They tell the heirless part, but not the reason why! She's the authority. No Queen since--you left. That's hard words to say. I'm sorry if it sounds like guff.»

«No, it sounds like the truth. Take me to your leader.»

Yes of course I had to say it.

«This way. Do you need a helping hand?»

«Let's find out.»

She turns and I look down at the tile floor, squares with little outlines inset, plain but not ugly. I expected all this to be so much more hellish, but of course the Dreams wouldn't allow that. I take a step with my split leg, and it supports my weight, but the chains keep my knee from moving right, making me limp. The rest of me feels like a teetery tower of pancakes.

«Don't go fast.»

I manage to get a rhythm going following her out the door and to the left down a hallway, but now it just feels like I'm being fucked amazingly by my own pieces. Dolly, this is the most awesomely twisted thing ever. You're making me this again soon so we can go clubbing.

EEEEEE pridefuly happy! You look beauuuutiful, Princess, so scary awesome fun!

I feel gorgeous. It's a weird ship. The floor curves gently down but gravity makes it seem flat, and the hall is more of the same as the room, tiled on. Practical, I guess.

The handmaiden turns and opens a door and goes through, and I follow her to find two big Skeksis guards (bigger and meaner looking than the handmaiden, but still more pretty bird than horrible monster) with halberd-looking things (plain black handles, double-edged steel blades with a piercing point you could swing like an axe except I seem to think you're not supposed to use it that way, all plain) crossed across the way forward, and what looks like a situation room beyond, with a big table that projects black lines and dots above it I'm enough of a space nerd to figure out are a fleet movements map.

The handmaiden's standing with her head down to the side in the little antechamber space, and inside I can see a Skeksis I guess to be the general talking with others as they buzz around the table.

And the strangest thing is happening to me. A pressure on my forehead is driving me to, to--

«A-hem,» I clear my throat, pointed and impatient, draw myself up tall, let my mental image of how I look shift shades from sad creepy doll to nightmare queen. Mommy's waiting, General!

Everything's so plain I want to just spew color right here. I will, if they don't--aha.

«I thought she was spying phantoms! Let her in.»

The guards, who would definitely rather be anywhere else, pull their halberds, and I stump forward as prettily as I can.

The general has shoulderpads to mark her rank--at least, the Skeksis with the biggest, fanciest shoulderpads is coming to meet us. That's all she wears, everyone is just in their feathers other than stuff like that, not even jewelry. Did they develop some kind of hate for pretty stuff?

That same pressure but I don't think it's the Dreams or my game or anything but just me--

«The road was long. If there was a Queen of your generation, how many times her grandmother would I be?»

I seem to remember Strawberry Queens came in two main flavors, or maybe two settings: scarily melodramatic, or dangerously blunt. Apparently the second one is right here, according to...stuff.

«Sevenscore. Only half of those who stepped through the doors you made in your anger remain with us. Kaari Oxmane, General in place of the traitor Laarhi, at your service, Grandmother.»

Okay calling me grandmother will get me to smile a little--the terms don't map to english so good here. What she said means Grandmother, but you use it for high-rank people like with Marm in Britain.

«You keep the old ways and remember your loyalty, then. I'm glad, this will be far easier. There's much to do, but first, my handmaiden is among you, and I'll have her back now. I think she'll find her way here on her own when I call for her, but she's to be helped if not. How is this room called to your people?»

«I was there, when you called heaven to account, and it dared not come! The gravel between your toes is mountains torn from the moon! Yes, our loyalty is sweet. Sour traitors desert, and none can prevent it, or slow their path. Paradise can be terrifying, but it has this justice, that traitors never leave anything upturned or sabotaged. Thus you know my loyalty is true, that I stand here and declare it without being contradicted by the air itself! This room is called the lathing-deck. Your handmaiden will not be held back from her path to you--see it so, yeoman.»

This last is barked to another Skeksis who's been watching us. Dreams give me the drama, please? I hated Them all but--yeah...

The Dreams show me a Skeksis with a rifle, standing tall and saluting smartly with an eye turned toward me.

«What does this vision mean? I saw just the slash-and-tail of acceptance, green like fire of copper, in the blackest night field.»

I put my fake (? made of Boobsong, but she's made it seem fake) hand on her shoulder.

«Loyal General, we both get visions. Paradise itself praises your loyalty to me while to you it shows a most sacred thing. See the bareness, the simplicity. What you see is the mark paradise gives--I suppose the tales of me are confused indeed. Were you there, at court, when I was eaten by my dragon? It left me this way. That I ever seem otherwise is illusion. I sure don't seem pained, though, do I? You know what it looks like when a Strawberry Queen finds a good new game to play. See that on me. Paradise is full of strange sweet terrors like this. One I know saw that mark drinking a draught that enslaved her to a fairy queen, only to find on meeting the queen that they feel in deepest love that moment. Tremble and rejoice, for a nightmare comes to you, and when its jaws close around you it will be revealed as the most beautiful dream you could never have imagined. Things which come this way bring a joy beyond anything we could hope or wish for of our own designs, but they take courage to accept, and paradise knows the measure of who it challenges. If after sevenscore generations paradise has called away only half our people, perhaps there's some gravel between all of your toes, so beware--but know the joy is greater too. The mark you've seen is the mark paradise gives to the brave, to help them weather its challenge.»

She looks intense, freaked out by my hand and speech, but in a steely way.

«Or maybe the nightmare's already here, and only the beauty is to come. I think myself more beautiful than ever this way, but I don't think I'm easy to look at! Either way, I call my handmaiden.»

I take my hand back raise it in the kind-of universal I'm-dreamtalking sign.

Hey. I'm onboard the flagship, or so say the Dreams. I hope it hasn't been long for you. I'm in the Lathing-deck, and General Kaari is being very nice so far. She just gave the order for you to be let up here, so come on up! The know me as Princess Lucy.

Fizzpopping sourbuns am I glad to get that command! I'm on my way. Main bridge is where I am, so it's not far.

Of course you ended up there. Can't wait to see you. Hearts.

Hearts! I'm flying!

Love you so much.

But I pull my connection before she can answer, because a little squirming will really get her running.

«If the nightmare has come, what is it--you, you mean!? I've waited for this centuries beyond counting! Yes you are fearsome, and beautiful, so Queen Lucy of Strawberries is here at last, I say.»

«There was a time when holding this doll made me a traitor to all the world, in the eyes of some. I'm glad to see that's not so, here. However, here is the first step of nightmare: Though my mother's rule is ended, I'm Princess Lucy, only, and always will be--but that changes nothing for you, as yet, and you'll see it brings you a gift: Strawberry Home still stands, and I at last understand the homesickness you  write on the empty walls of your ship here, and so you could return there, to live as you once did, but with all the joys of paradise, and none of the sorrows of our old world. Is there somewhere we can sit? It's not that standing is hard exactly, but--if I'm going to feel this I'd rather get lost in it.»

«Sit we must, if Strawberry Home stands! How is that possible? Did you not crush the very book upon which the world was written to pulp and cast it into fire? Here we write nothing indeed on the walls of our ship. How did you see what we feel every moment? This way, there is a lounge.»

I limp gorgeously after her--Dolly I have to say this feels almost as much like fucking as our fucking--Kaari fidgets something on her shoulderpad, and stairwell opens in front of the table, and she leads us down.

Climbing is an experience. I have to lurch each step because of my split leg, and that means each one is a little like a full-body pussy-spank as my parts all thud together. Sex like this would...be a wild ride...

We come down to a smaller room, with couches facing each other. Everything is still grey, but there's a hookah on the table between the couches, and the end of the room is black windows (though lights on inside hider what's outside, they don't seem here to have Isht Visht's zero-reflectivity tricks).

Kaari parks on the couch and starts messing with the hookah in a way that reminds me a little Wait--good idea, actually.

«Need fire?»

«Only as much as this cotton can absorb!»

I grin, touch the little silver cap full of fuel-soaked cotton (just what the hell kind of hookah is this) with a burst of IR between my fingers, and take Boobsong to sit opposite Kaari--eep what's the couch made of? Like sort of plastic stuff. Okay. White with a little texture. Heh hope I don't make it too slippery to sit on! This'll fuck my handmaiden's mind good!

Okay, sitting down. I always flop when I sit, but maybe not this time--no, what am I saying!? I turn and flop like always, and shivers run up my spine as I feel every part of my midsection pull halfway apart it seems like and then slidingly come back together. As a coda to my little performance, I get my feet up, out of the way but showing off more silver bits. I feel about twice as wet having done that as when standing, and Boobsong's still holding me together just as faithfully, but now I can feel the added wetness between my bits.

Kaari sits back from the hookah and takes a few pulls, offers me a drag.

«I think if I combine this form with any drug I'll melt right through my chains, but thank you.»

Flip...

Hi Kaari!

I turn Boobsong out and sit her on my lap.

«Boobsong greets you, happily. She hears us, but likes pretending to be a doll. It soothes her like my chains soothe me.»

«There another nightmare seeming sweet now. Here sits the dragon who ate our future, snuggling as a child in her mommy's lap! Greetings, oh dragon!»

«How ironic you'll find those words, ate our future, soon," I grin, a little evilly.

«To answer your questions, I don't honor burning books, but if burn a book must, may not one save the single beloved page they can fit between their cleavage? So I did. It waits there now, but listen to my tale before your hope makes you imagine there's nothing to face on the way.»

She asked you why you know they're homesick.

RIGHT.

«The answer to my seeing what you write unseen over every surface here is a story. It may be hard to hear. Be strong. What story do you tell of the day Boobsong devoured me?»

«You stood in court, on the day of your unveiling, with her in your arms. The box was presented, and your toy put away. Moments later, she exploded from it without command or wish and snapped your head in her jaws before one could blink, and the rest of you in a bite that took your whole body in. She destroyed the wall of your room, promised vengeance on any who filled the gap, and flew off. A fortnight later, you came down from your room with the doll in your arms as if nothing had happened. You were different though. You burned the box with your light the moment you laid eyes on it, and fed the jewelry of Jenner from her body to Boobsong as yamcakes--one moment--»

A hand to her shoulderpad again.

«Your handmaiden arrives. She will come down to you presently. She has some matter of import of my yeoman, it seems.»

«Of course she does. In good time, then. Jenner was the traitor who saw words that towered over our mothers for generations carved in stone with art beyond our skill, and yet wrote over them in her mind the opposite, yes? Go on, either way.»

I wrap both arms around Boobsong.

«The very same. I know not what of her. She has not been heard from since you banished her on pain of Boobsong's undoing the magic which held you whole before her eyes. After that all was strange. You arrived in stately garb of the otherworld, or gave promises of famine's end forever by the harvest, and the Openveil Witch came and beckoned us sail with her in journey to see the shores of paradise which none may find but with child's eyes, and gave us child's eyes who before had not the heart to see if they could find the way, and on to the end-of-day with wonders and strange items from the other world. Once you gave us purple grape sweets, and said upon Grandmother Strawberry's lifestone, never had these been near any plant, except sugarcane. Always thus. You were a whirlwind of wonder and bafflement. The dragon eating you took your life away, your said, and gave your freedom back, and now here we sit, only an ending world and centuries between that and now.»

«Do you know what kindled Boobsong's wrath, that she turned from a child's toy, into the prophesied Beast of the Apocalypse? All she is from head to toe is the shape of my heart's wish, so why would she devour me?»

«She said it then that the box was a sacrilege, against you and her and all her kind, and that far from avoiding the Apocalypse, Jenner had brought it on us, that the warning was against her as much as any barbarian house. To devour you took you away from court. We thought you lost, and the secret of what passed between her lunge and your return a fortnight later is black to us, but clearly you were not destroyed. Why escape, when you drove court before you like sheep, after that? Here I have not wisdom to know the ways of my Mommy's mind.»

«I was a child. I have killed gods and wiped stars from the sky, but when Jenner brought that box to court I could barely walk. I was no more than any of you then. That box was the dragon that devoured my beloved ten times a day for twelve years. Even here in paradise, only Boobsong's jaws are enough to crush it from my nightmares.»

«We slaughtered barbarians like livestock who used children as payment to placate their gods, but even they killed those kids, and were done with it. Jenner and those who followed her sacrificed me over, and over, and over. Is how I am now the wage of that? I think there's too much of beauty in it to say so, but this tale isn't about me. Our world held motherhood so sacred. What could drive Jenner to torment a child that way, or Laarhi to try to kill her?»

«Laarhi's dead, by the way. His soul unfurled like the paper candies from the otherworld came in as he saw paradise through the gate you made. I asked his fate, and saw that. Jenner feared that death would come to every slave and Queen, she said then.»

«I wondered when your words began why paradise let your mistake stand, but you answered me. You saw me strip him bare, turn him back to childhood to start again. I thought then I took revenge, and had the sweetness of it, but paradise tricked me, and I'm glad of it. Know that his road was still one of pain, through that door! I brought him within an inch of death to make sure he could do nothing else.»

«You said to me now Jenner feared that death would come to all. Paradise allowed you to make her mistake, to understand me now. Jenner said she feared death for all, but paradise now shows you the truth behind her words with that example: she feared Boobsong and me would unwrap all and make a new beginning, for unless I misremember the prophecies said we would do as much. The end they promised was always our opening those gates to paradise. Is that not the fulfillment of everything the name Strawberry stands for? Always was our way a bolt fired into the sky that became one of the missiles I told so eagerly of the otherworld throwing to the moon and beyond, and finally a ship like this one, and further still.»

«Now another tale. I'm homesick in the same way you are. The life we lived in the otherworld after we left, was sweet, and there were many things I loved about it. Mother was far happier than she ever was as queen, and finally Boobsong and me could be honored as heartformers should be--and I was unleashed, with Boobsong at my side. I vowed on my mothers' graves and the rocks that found this paradise or something equally oversacred I would hold nothing back bringing that new world to heel in the way I failed to do with ours. I did as much, with Boobsong at my side, till even the barbarians' hellfather--he was powerful there, almost as we were in our world--recanted all his atrocities and commanded his followers to help us open the gate to paradise. Now that's all over and here we sit.»

«Imagine though, what I made of that world, without the restraint I showed at court after Boobsong ate me, and with the full use of the terrible powers loyal to us whose barest tip we saw only fleetingly in that strange year before the end. It was like a Heartwarming bauble hurled at the ceiling, and in the shattering moment when it was undone, the flying splinters of glass made a starscape that seen from within was beautiful to me. For that breaking-glass world, I'm homesick. It lasted decades, enough to get attached, but still, always was it falling splinters, hurtling toward the unmaking moment of that gateway to paradise opening.»

«I have this faith, that a sincere wish to paradise would create that world anew for me, hold the shards in space for me to sit happily in the middle of again, but just as I'm not really whole, now, that world wouldn't really be itself, no matter how perfect the recreation, because while that moment was beloved, the truth of that world was that it was freefalling toward doorways to heaven appearing on every streetcorner, not that it was suspended shards in a certain shape. I pine to visit again, taste the food, see the stares at how I dress myself and my beloved, maybe even fight more of the battle to bring it through the gates of heaven. Would the mere image of those moments though it was flawless in every detail be enough?»

«Suppose they were. Suppose they were better. Suppose what that world was transformed into something even more beautiful without the ticking clock above its head. Boobsong's kind are each the copy of an image, a moment or tale, that in the mould of a loving heart becomes far more than that image ever was. Perhaps I owe it to all to make that wish, to see what would happen. I haven't the heart so far to tell, but I think somehow it will be asked of me soon.»

«There your nightmare begins in truth, for Strawberry Home is that to you. Jenner feared that Boobsong and me would fulfill it, because just as the other world I loved was a shattering bauble, so Strawberry Home was one of those thundering missiles that spends itself in the task of reaching heaven. Its only true calling was change and betterment. Our nobles unveiled ourselves to celebrate to ourselves and all our ability to build houses so big and comfortable, and train servants so joyfully loyal, they became our grab and armor, and we called that the foothills of the mountain we would climb. Here in paradise, where all is possible, what remains? Where is the next rung of the ladder, when you reach its top?»

«Your homesickness is for a moment along that climb, as mine is for a time in that shattering, yet each of us faces the doom that that moment seemingly must be unreal without the founding-stone of advancement each of our worlds was built upon. If Strawberry Home now were placed into paradise, and handed back to Grandmother Strawberry as some might claim just, what do you think she would make of it?»

«There would be nothing left! All replaced by better ways, more of the pleasures she commands, easier beds, more happy hearths.»

«She haunts my steps, you know. I'd not be surprised if she listens to us now. I can't wait to see how strange and wonderful her house here in paradise is.»

It's probably just my addled eye from this incredible form, but as I mention her I can't help thinking I see a very tall crown in the window's reflections.

«So there is the trap in which you're caught, and you were there long before I was born, and will be there still, unless the terrors I bring you now come to pass. Only one thing paradise can never offer, the original of something which never was! Strawberry Home is lost to you if it is to be Strawberry Home as our family always held sacred to make it, for it must end as you just said. I can give a home under the same roofs my mothers did, and have them stand as we knew them for eternity, but that's not Strawberry Home--is it?»

«To me then it seemed as if every word I spoke of the otherworld was silence. Did you hear of Disney, and the castle that never was there, that was as beautiful as anything we ever built, and sweeter to many? He and I became friends. To make a portrait of a wish like that is his form as an artist. I thought, earlier today, to give Strawberry Home to him to do that with. Now, I don't know if paradise will judge it belongs instead to one of my mothers, but if it's mine, it passes to him to be that way, and he'll look at it and me and our people and what we are here--"

--I pound my cleavage, feel the chains between my breasts dig into my hands and gulp at the way it parts the left and right halves of my chest for a moment--

«--not on the pages of a history book, and make that of Strawberry Home. If you would return there, I think that's your hope of having the home you're homesick for. Otherwise, Strawberry Home, and the Strawberry Dynasty, are ended, and your task is to grieve. One of these roads, you and yours will choose to walk, today, though I think paradise is not so cruel as to keep those whose minds change from doubling back to take the other path.»

«That's all a long tale, but now I can answer your question, how I know, because I feel it as well. Images of that shattering world draw and repulse me, tear my heart in half. The very frozenness of them reminds me of what's impossible, that what they show be eternal. You and your people want no other images than your lost home, but you can't bear those, either, for whether they were a moment or long tales of years there, they wouldn't be of the true Strawberry Home whose name is ambition-to-the-stars. Was I right?»

I've been half in trance, clinging desperately to my words over emotion and the way this form feels, but when I look up, Kaari is crying, not moving or making sound but tears come out...and her feathers are falling away from her human face. She's beautiful, with full lips and hair combed into ridges atop her head. She reminds me just a bit of Sex--harpies--okay later.

«What have you done to me? Always, happiness, only that...now my heart breaks and feathers fall? Yes, that is why our walls are bare and our feathers gray.»

«You're not so foolish that you can't be brought to see the truth, and now a spark of hope is in your heart, however small, that what you loved, in its particularity, isn't wiped away after all. In sevenscore generations you must have learned some of what paradise can offer, and yet still, your home is grey ship and grey feathers, because you want Strawberry Home, as I want my shattering bauble. Until now it seemed that could never be. Now, if you let Strawberry Home be ended, and grieve that, maybe the eternal one you come to might warm your heart where before would be only the accusation of grief. You might yet go home. You know better than to put all your hope on that, but it's enough to let a heart grieve and let go the worn out shred of nostalgia it was clinging to as the only happy thing in the multiverse. I guess much. Is any right?»

«The lot of it! How have you come so wise?»

«I'm the same pussybrained heartplease I ever was. The Dreams--how I call paradise--helped me a lot with this, and Boobsong, and a lot more besides, and it wasn't just for your sake. I'm telling myself how go home and hoping I'm right--and that's a strange thing to say for me, who has as many homes here in the Dreams as as any Princess should.»

«Now do you see why I'm Princess forever, never to be Queen? The answer is in that when Boobsong ate me, I became her pet Princess, not a Queen-to-be. Her hoard is my realm, now, my handmaidens and her especially my subjects, and that's enough for me. In that way I come home every moment. Why become Queen now? The Strawberry Empire needs none, anymore...yet it might still have subjects. Can you do my riddle?»

Kaari sits very still, as if she wants to see all the feathers come off on their own. It's happening.

«Princess is another thing which is changing. It charges toward Queen--or death, I suppose--as your bauble falls and the Strawberry Empire rises. Change is the nature of it, yet you will be that eternally. What remains if change is pulled? Elegance, airs of royal power, entitlement to good things and happy jewelry, the life Boobsong makes for you in her dragon's hoard--like the candy-hogs our mothers keep that are the true Queens of Strawberry! So it becomes another thing, like you are cut and patched, missing parts filled in with beautiful silver or chains of love--and every seam, if that is what I smell--getting fucked the by way you're cut apart and put back. Terrible, to look at, but wisely said, that your freedom came, when she devoured you. You became a pleasure-slave, whose jailor wants a candy-hog to spoil dead! So it is with us. Paradise offers nothing else. These are games we play, we know that now, though not at first. Then we could not have stood the thought. Now, what else is there? We have reached the top, the task is done. Let us play these games. Very well. We will come with you to Strawberry Home. How do we get there?»

I pet Boobsong a moment, just running my hands over her, then hug her tight again.

«I don't know yet. When I do, you will too. It will not be exactly as it was. Some things will change. You see the shape of it now, if you see my shape. I think it must be soon, maybe even moments from now, if I'm here, though. And yes, that's what you smell. This is indescribable.»

«Try, I'm curious!»

A wet, panting moment of thinking about that, but no words will come...another, better idea does, though. The Dreams must be holding back my handmaiden so I can sell this. 

«It seems to be beyond me, though maybe I'm distracted. I could make you a candy that would let you try it, for an hour, or a day, or a year, as you willed--all but one part.»

I run my hands over Boobsong again, cup her breasts, pinch her nipples.

You Boobsong is moving! Not much lust but enough for that!

 «Hug me, sweet one.» Click.

RRRAAAAAA!

Every chain tightens, gently moving to squeeze my seams, pulling a rising moan like three fat cocks invade my holes all at ones--yes that's two as once for my ass I'm trying say how intense I sound. It moves my body some, and I can feel girl-goo squeeze out here and there. Every pussy-lip the chains pull on feels like a cock pushing in and the pressure is such comfort...I was going to make her hug until I ordered Boobsong to let go, but I'm not sure I can now!

You found a trap! This is too good to get out of voluntarily. Seed-ghost is making her let you free in five minutes. Trap reward explained afterward. 

Yes it is holy fuck!

«See...what would...gulp...miss?»

«The chains that hold you aren't chains at all, they're Boobsong! Your beloved is threaded through you and replacing parts of you like sewing cloth together. No wonder you say no words for this! You make me envious!»

«Why ennnvy when you can hhhave?»

My voice is a hrtpounding gaspy mess. Perfect.

«My heart screams in my chest--»

Dolly tighter click.

PRINCESS YOUR BOOBSONG IS COMING HANG ON EEEERAAAH!

"AAAAH!"

It sounds painful and it is painful which might maybe might be enough to hold me together as I do this.

«--to--»

I have to gulp and fight the tears as well as the pleasure.

«--I think maybe I can give the Dynasty an heir after all. You've pined for me, for thousands of years, but I'm not me, am I. I'm not me but I can be the image of me like I am now or maybe another way. I--don't know what's right, but I know where this line ends, really, what it was always coming to. You need a Queen. If you've held to this all this time you need me to come back and rule. The...the next step of your...nightmare is...that I won't. I can't. I got eaten by a dragon when I was twelve. The Dreams have an answer but it's terrible and you have to have courage. You know how Boobsong's kind come to be. You understood her and me well enough just now. Her mother is a Queen in her own way, or at least someone so powerful I was afraid before Boobsong put this collar on my neck I might flow to her like water downhill--»

[!] Mommy keep going you're getting her you're almost there!

«You want me to wish. For a heartswish. Of you.»

I shake my head, mouth a silent no, tears steaming down, click Boobsong a notch tighter. It hurts like fire now or I couldn't say the next.

«Not of me. She might look like me but the way I am right now is what you need because you need your imagination here. Of the Queen you've been waiting for all this time. Maybe it won't happen or you can't for some reason but please, let me have done something other than stomp out because the fear and smallmindedness of a few people brought the wrath of paradise down on our house.»

Kaari puts the forgotten hookah down, gets up and leans forward, brushes feathers away, and makes for my feet--like a duchess pledging fealty. She gets down on the deck on her knees beside the table where I have my feet up, pulls her beautiful hair back, and wordlessly leans up and kisses my fake Boobsong-silver toes reverently.

EEEEAAAAAAAHH SEEDS COMING OUT THAT'S SO MANY HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH EEEERRAAAH! Hi kids be good to your Mommies now or Grandmother Strawberry will be super mad at you!

The doll-foot expands out from Kaari's lips touching it and my feet are pushed off the table to make room for--there she is. She doesn't look like me, not a single bit, at least form behind, different shape and skin color and strawberry-pink hair dyed already. She waits, motionless, while Kaari's lips linger.

Grandmother Strawberry if--

Get that crown on her right now, and join your Mommies in the afterlife. Your job is done. YAH!

Grandmother Strawberry does an amazing dreamtalked eravahk-whack.

Releasing you from chain-hug. Cannot stand, otherwise.

I gasp as the tension goes, and the crown is in my hand. It's rainbow now, but I think that's right. I stand, carefully, and with Boobsong squeezed tight--click--

RRRAAAAH SQUEEZE ARM WITH EVERYTHING!! HUG YOU PRINCESS YOU'RE DOING GOOD WITH THIS THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD BE!

Boobsong's hug gives me the strength to get up on the table beside the Strawberry Queen, hold the crown out over her pink head, and shatter in tears as I lower it into place.

I can feel the weight leave me as it touches he hair and settles into place. She knows I'm there, but she's busy with her heartformer, like she should be.

Family who's watching I think someone has to pull my fingers off it.

Is someone touching me, what's happening--fingers pull my hand away, put it by my side, then pull my other arm back and step me back, strong as iron but soft and sleek--

"We're getting out of here. Grab your dolly tight. Got your handmaiden right upstairs. Just keep going out that door."

Grandmother Strawberry's strong, sweet hands move me back and aim me at the door and I put my head down and hold Boobsong so tight it hurts and suddenly my backside stings and my legs are moving though it feels like I'm trying to climb a down escalator or running in a dream or something so I try to focus on the happy news that I'm at least this much into getting spanked by Grandmother Strawberry she makes me feel very ripe and good but that door just taking forever--no here's the frame passing the stairs stumbly under my feet but there's only one way up the staircase and as I round the landing voices exclaim something or another and there at the I think that's her my poor handmaiden whose name I still--

"Rainbow Starshine get up here--"

"--you big galoot!"

A very much wound Sex appears at her side and they're at the top of the stairway so I just charge up and crash into them and they catch us and wrap us up in a big hug and we all teeter and I stumble onto my split leg but we stay up and keep hugging and somehow I blurt,

"I hope it doesn't seam weird if I go all to pieces--you guys I just--"

Tears take over.

"Hi," I mumble through them as they hold me--ack! Click!

Capped so nice and good.

They just hug and pet, it's so, so sweet, but i want off this starship. I don't even wanna go back and see Riker and everyone--that's thinking too far I know--

"We're getting out of here grandma-style! Hang on, everyone! Oh wait, got nothing to. We'll hang onto you!"

Hands touch us, handmaidens looking so beautifully like home in their jingly outfits with arms out, they have some kind of strawberry-pink glasses on and I can't figure out if there's one or many--

The world goes bright and twists all pours into new shape as Grandmother's handmaiden uses some kind of dimensional-warp device or something and then we're all standing on--a hoop of light twists around yes just the one handmaiden and she flashes negative-images and disappears in a pluck of neatly-twisted space, leaving us all--where is this?

I pick my head up from my handmaidens' shoulders enough to see--I--gulp--

Okay. I come back to hugging.

"Rainbow, I'm asking you nice, okay, tell me straight--"

"Can't," I mumble into her soft arm. "Super gay."

"--you know what I'm saying here--"

She actually sounds kind of tortured, poor thing. I manage to get my head up to look at her.

"Well normally I would but there's just no way I can tell you anything straight being a huge Lesbian and standing here looking at at least like five makeout couches in the high gallery of Strawberry Home standing right outside the elevator to my chambers."