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"Oh, that's good, because I absolutely wouldn't stop if you didn't." She pokes her phone to open an aperture to one of the hallways. A shark swims underfoot.

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She noticeably blushes. Her breathing gets heavier. She places a bony hand on Monoceros's plump arm as a clumsy gesture of affection.

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"Are you allergic to anything or do I get to dust off my allergen testing stuff and find out the hard way?"

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"Pretty sure I'm not. I get in science there's no such thing as 100% certainty, but if I was allergic enough to anything to actually kill me I'd have probably found out by now, and I'm willing to risk a brief rash. Evidently that's the least of the weird shit that's gonna be happening to my body."

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"You're definitely not allergic to Gilesian pearls, and if my skinny li'l European-style breadstick should react to fugu I can fix it up. Why are you so skinny, anyhow?"

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"Eating just feels like a chore most of the time, especially given my limited options since I don't have much money and don't really know how to cook. It's probably a depression thing, but I'm sure as hell not gonna risk going to a psych about it. They'd just have me locked up. Or, well, I guess I've been locked up, but in way more habitable conditions, more pleasant company, and less unpleasant medical procedures than a psych ward. And way better food, I gather."

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"Oh yes. Anyplace with a Michelin star knows if I show up they just need to give me five to ten thousand cal of the best and nobody gets hurt. Sometimes I even pay them if their insurance might not cover acts of Monoceros. But I usually eat in, I took a few chefs home with me early in my tenure and goons to do grocery runs. Goon!"

"Boss?" says the nearest goon. They must be stationed so she can always get hold of one wherever she is.

"I am going to fatten this priceless specimen of a kouign-amann up till she will no longer fit in a muffin tin. Tell the kitchen to get us two of my dinner, deliver to the Red Room, and tell the pharmacy techs I need an amp of the pink stuff in vat eight-B."

"Yes boss." Off goes the goon.

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Her cheeks pinken further. "What's a kouign-amann? Is that like, Klingon, or from Dune or something?"

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"It's a pastry. Like croissant dough, only denser and sugarier, and you put it in a muffin tin with even more sugar, and you can fill it with whatever. Like Gilesian pearls."

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"Fuck, that sounds tasty actually. We should have that sometime. So like, are the pearls gonna give me superpowers, or do you have to like, refine them, or crush them up and snort them or something?"

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"They'll need a little work after I slice 'em out. I might let you have one or two if you ask real nice."

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"Will one or two only give me a small amount of superpowers, or the full amount temporarily, or what? I don't really know how these things work." She's starting to re-evaluate her position here. Being kidnapped and fattened by a sexy supervillain may have been hot in the short term but wildly impractical and potentially life-ruining in the long term, but the prospect of getting powers makes it a whole different ballgame. If she's telling the truth, that is. Big if.

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"We'll find out! Captain Stellar's only got six!"

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"I get to be your test subject in more ways than one? Fun!" Fun indeed, if powers are on the table. "And how many do you expect I'll be able to produce?"

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"Depends how big you get. I think for best returns I shouldn't implant anything till you're at least two hundred, maybe two fifty depending how you carry it."

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"Huh. I take it I'm gonna be here for a while. How long do these pearls take to grow?"

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"Well, I'm optimistic I can cut it down a fair bit, but in their original habitat on Gilese IV it's usually ten to fifteen years."

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"Oh. I'm gonna be here a WHILE. That's a lot of plans I'm gonna have to cancel." And just when things seemed to be looking up, too. Figures.

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"Well, if you want me to send goons to get all your homework, I can do that too, my candy apple. What do you weigh right now, and what's the percentage - goon!" Another goon steps out of a goon-lurking location. "Get me my good calipers, the good ones."

"Boss, the good calipers were -"

"Right, damn. All right, never mind, as you were." Instead she taps her phone on her jaw a couple of times, seizes Katie by the arm, and bites her. She doesn't break skin, but only just.

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She emits a noise somewhere between a shriek and a moan. "What the hell did you just do? Also, around 100lbs even, I think."

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"...I bit you, sugar cube. Good calipers are at the bottom of the Great Salt Lake but I can approximate it with my jaw, which believe it or not I never misplace. Wow, you are all bones. Here's your room!" The room has a red oblong shape on the door in lacquer. It opens at Monoceros's tap to reveal a room painted flame-red, with the bedspread and carpet in a darker carmine color. The effect is saved from being oppressive by the soft blue from the ocean-facing window, and the crown molding and baseboards both being generously packed with recessed lighting. The ceiling is white and so is all the furniture. There's lace. There's sequins. The en-suite bathroom is tiled in pink. The pillows on the bed are shaped like hearts. The wall-art has red octopuses and batfish and red coral. It looks a little like an ocean-themed Valentine.

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"Wow. Looks like the stereotypical hotel honeymoon suite you see in movies. So what about that food? The stress kinda made me forget it, but my body is starting to remind me that I haven't eaten in like 12 hours." She's already thinking about all the things Monoceros could do to her on that bed.

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"Twelve hours! Outrageous. Goon! Tell the kitchen to get us an appetizer in five." Footsteps take off from a goon emplacement out in the hall. "You should've gotten one of those waffles from the place across from bus stop. Slightly overbeaten batter but they knew their topping selection."

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"I didn't know waffles with toppings were even a thing."

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"Let me guess, you put an Eggo in the toaster and if you're having a really good day you put fake syrup on it."

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