Q Girl leads Mara through the workshops, deeper into the Barathrumite compound, her dextrous paw sandwiched snugly between two of Mara's hands. Reassuring pulses of energy radiate from her ulnar stimulators, sending thrills through both of them to match the excitement burning within them.
Mara has never been to this section of Grit Gate - there had been no need for her to enter the personal quarters of the Barathrumites living here as a simple journeywoman. Following Q Girl down a cramped corridor, she muses that even now, in light of her elevated status, there may simply be no room for her to be granted private quarters. Regardless of motive, it would not be the first time a home was denied to her. She was accustomed to the nomadic life.
Her thoughts are interrupted as Q Girl draws up to a door and stops, wriggling her hand gently free to place her palm on a sensor pad in the wall next to it. The pad chimes, and the door slides open.
Q Girl rushes in ahead of her, picking up discarded clothes to corral them into more discrete piles, the servos of her mechanized exoskeleton whirring at the activity.
"Don't tell them I live like this!" she bleats.
Mara blinks, taking in the room sedately as the door slides shut behind her. Truthfully, she's seen worse. A pair of bunks are recessed in the right wall, the bottom bearing signs of inhabitation, the top bearing assorted clutter. Several lockers line the wall next to them, no doubt intended to store clothes despite several of them clearly having been given over towards junk collection. Behind her, next to the door, stands a charging station for the exoskeleton. On the left wall, opposite the bunks, stands a cluttered workbench that shows more signs of use than the bunk itself. Past the bunks, in the right rear corner, several clotheslines and a low wall obscure a washbasin and chamberpot. Opposite them, a terraced arrangement of planters give homes to several glowing hoarshrooms of various sizes.
"It's fine," she says. "I keep all of my things in a couple chests just outside the compound. I have no grounds for criticism."
"You do?" asks Q Girl.
"Aye, there's-" Mara makes an abstract gesture with her lower pair of hands, "-a sweet spot to each recoiler. My chests flank it, so they're always there to greet me when I return, no matter how laden down with water or weapons or other spoils I may be."
She barks a laugh. "So all those times you've lurched into the workshops, cursing and dragging a bulging chest to barter with Spara?"
Mara flushes. "It saves trips!"
"Yes, and your water keeps us alive. Quetzal!"
Mara ambles over to the hoarshrooms, peering at them curiously.
"I didn't take you for a horticulturalist."
"Ah, I'm not. Nor a mycologist, for that matter." She gives a cheeky wink which Mara silently forgives. "They give off such a quetzal light, and I can't seem to kill them no matter how I neglect them, so I'm grateful for their company."
Mara nods, rumbling acknowledgment. She sifts the air and it strikes her by the strength of her scent that Q Girl spends far more time in the workshops than here. She turns and clasps her lower hands with hers, her upper hands settling over her spiny shoulders.
"And I'm grateful for yours."
Q Girl pulls her closer, kissing her deeper than they dared in the workshops. She pulls a hand free to play it down Mara's leafy flank, teasing out lazy drifts of her floral scent.
"I could just breathe you in all night," says Q Girl.
"I believe you could, actually. If Grit Gate ever gets cut off from the surface, just stick close to me."
Q Girl laughs. "I remember when you shared your water with me. You said my thirst was yours."
"It was ceremony, but I meant every word. I meant them in every way."
She digs her claws ever-so-slightly into Mara's flank in a teasing scratch. "You felt it too, then."
Mara sighs dreamily and presses herself closer to her. "I... felt it the moment we met."
"Quetzal!" she giggles. "I remember. You looked exhausted. You said my hair was a quasar. You've always had a honeytongue, haven't you?"
"Have a taste for yourself," rumbles Mara, nosing in for a deep kiss. When she surfaces, Q Girl licks her lips.
"More nectar than honey, I'd say. But sweet all the same."
Mara licks Q Girl's snout affectionately. "I would share far more than my water with you. If you'd have me."
"I would," she breathes. "What next?"
Mara busies herself with her packstraps, shrugging free of her jingling saddlebags and the pack-laden frame that usually spans her lower back. She digs through a particularly fragrant pouch and retrieves a thin strip of witchwood bark.
"Something to set the mood, I'd say. Do you have a burner?"
"Yes! Somewhere. I think. Oh no." She rummages around her workbench for a few moments before she finds a simple oil burner, lighting it for her. Mara gestures for Q Girl to sit on her bed while she wafts the bark over the wick until it catches.
"Folk all across Qud use this for their ceremonies. Gives off a nice perfume, makes for a good headspace."
"Is that what this is? A ceremony?"
She waves off the flame, leaving it to smolder in an empty mortar as it gives off a spicy smoke. She turns and grins. "Nothing quite so formal, I think. But make no mistake: whatever we do tonight? It's as holy as they come."
Mara pads over to where Q Girl sits, legs resting over the side, bed creaking under the weight of her exoskeleton. She folds her legs under her, settling down as Q Girl lays back dreamily. The room gradually fills with aromatic smoke.
"Mmmmmm. This is nice," she says. "Perhaps I should schedule myself some ritual time every now and again."
"It's always a treat. Of course, there are others who use the stuff for smoking meat. Gives the stuff a nice, mildly psychotropic bite."
"Quetzal! I can see it," she giggles. Mara traces one of her several hands over her thick, fuzzy thigh, and she hums happily.
"Q Girl," she states.
"Mara," she replies.
"I have a question for you. The question is: do you... top?"
"Top?" grunts Q Girl. She shifts herself onto her side, turning to face Mara as she props up her head with her hand, her elbow to the bed.
"I have searched this gnarled and thirsty and broken land for many a thing," rumbles Mara, "but I've found more sapphires than I have tops."
Q Girl takes a breath, holding up a finger to compose a thought. "Is topping not simply another expression of hierarchy?"
"Not necessarily," says Mara. The air is thick, and her tongue feels thicker. "It can be used by hierarchy, as surely as a gun or a river or an arm. But these things still exist without it, outside it."
Q Girl closes her eyes and hums softly. Mara takes it as a request to continue.
"Topping is... voluntary. It is unnecessary. It is done because one wishes to. To express a personal tendency in a new setting. To experiment with control. To... hm. For other reasons, too. There are plenty."
Q Girl snaps her eyes open, meeting Mara's surprised gaze unwaveringly.
"A theoretical model," she says.
"YES," laughs Mara.
"Oh, quetzal," she breathes. "I love those."
"This one's simple to explore," says Mara. Q Girl starts to lean forward, joints whirring softly as she makes to stand from the bed. "Just tell me what to do and be mean to me."
Q Girl grins toothily, resting her dextrous paws on the still-seated Mara's shoulders. "For an experiment," she says.
"For an experiment," agrees Mara.
"I can do that," she grunts.
She plays her hands down Mara's chest teasingly, reaching the hem of her loose tunic and tugging it up, exposing her pale green belly, patterned with darker green barbed stripes that wrap around her back but taper before they join over her belly. She slides a clever hand under the fabric, the tip of her thumb-claw circling her nipple delicately before she jams her thumb's pad directly into it, punctuated by a jolt from her stimulators.
Mara hisses. Breath and speech flee from her for love of those hands.
"What a quetzal reaction," hums Q Girl. Her other hand slides over her belly, tracing under its hanging curve, teasing down until she cups the sensitive mass of muscle and nerves right where her upper and lower torsos join, between her front legs. She kneads into it, her pulsing stimulators and the hazy air conspiring to melt her body's tension even as the thumb pressed into her breast builds it.
"It's not here, then. I was wondering."
"N-no," gasps Mara. "It's lower. But that's- nice."
Q Girl kisses her, digging her thumb in with another jolt. "You're lucky I didn't say you couldn't talk."
"You're good at this!"
"Quetzal! Like you said, it's voluntary, which makes it- wait. I mean, just for that, you don't get to talk anymore."
Mara grins up at her, then gasps again as she kneads the patch between her front legs harder.
"That is, unless something happens and it's too much for you, then you can talk."
Q Girl eases the pressure off of her breast, leaving her nipple sore and painfully stiff, then reaches behind her to rake her claws all the way down her back. Droplets of sweat start to bead at Mara's brow and along her leafy shoulders. She whimpers, but remains obetiently wordless.
"Er, to clarify, there are ways to communicate that something is too much without talking, if you would still prefer not to talk. Oh, oh, please talk again, I'm crumbling under the burden of conversation. Help."
Mara laughs even as she shivers from the scratches and the tiny shocks. "You're doing fine, hon. Just- ah- get meaner. Get selfish."
"Selfish," muses Q Girl. "Mara. Praise me."
"That's how we got into this mess in the first place!" she giggles.
"Well I wasn't expecting it! But now I- I'm ordering you." She scratches upwards along her back, through her mane, to cup the side of her face. "Praise me."
Mara heaves a heavy breath. "Oh, Q Girl," she whispers. She cups the paw at her face with an upper hand and the paw between her legs with her lower hands, reaching reverently out with her fourth hand to stroke the fluff of her chest. "Your hands are miracles. I fell in love with them."
Q Girl closes her eyes and hums. "You'd like them, wouldn't you?"
"Please," she whimpers.
Q Girl strokes, tenderly, achingly, along Mara's face until her thumb levels with the side of her mouth. She slips it in, chirring happily as Mara lavishes her tongue around it. Her efforts are immediately rewarded with a mild shock directly into her tongue, sending her eyes rolling back in pleasure.
At this point, neither can ignore the unmistakable sound of viscous dripping emanating from between Mara's rear legs - still folded beneath her in the manner of a big cat. Least of all Mara.
"Quetzal," breathes Q Girl.
She pulls her thumb from Mara's mouth - who reluctantly lets it go - and kisses her.
"I'd like to see it, Mara."
"Y- hHHEEEP-" Before she can so much as respond, Q Girl braces her hands together under Mara's lower sternum. With a wailing of servos, she lifts her bodily off of her front legs, her rear legs staggering upwards to desperately keep balance, her head nearly hitting the ceiling. Her exoskeleton locks an arm in place as she crouches smoothly to inspect Mara's pale green underbelly.
"You have so many nipples down here!" she calls. Mara, for her part, can only gasp and squirm. Her front paws - resembling those of a big cat - pedal helplessly in midair. Half of her body weight bears down on one single point: Q Girl's hand, adorned with an ulnar stimulator still sending shocks into her writhing body. The pressure is nigh unbearable. Q Girl gasps.
"Quetzal! Mara, your dick! It's - you have the most beautiful dick I've ever seen!"
"You should see a snailmother's," she responds through gritted fangs.
"Give yourself some credit!"
By objective standards, Mara's dick is a marvel. It blossoms out of her, teased forth from her internal workings. Thick, squishy petals in densely packed and overlapping spirals make up its body. The petal edges are a vibrant, ripe red that transitions into a healthy green the closer they get to the central stem - assuming there is a central stem. It's a weighty, ponderous thing.
Even as Q Girl watches, several drams of clear fluid, pooling along its underside, drip free of her shivering petals and spatter to the floor.
She leans in, her exoskeleton creaking, and takes Mara in her mouth. From her crouching, bracing position, she can comfortably fit about half of her inside her owing to the length of her snout. The rest is just out of reach. The faintest contact sends her juices gushing from her petals and into Q Girl's waiting mouth. It's a shock - the spice and tang of ginger, blended with the salt and silk of melted butter, all flowing into a viscous, runny nectar. It hits all the right notes to her palate.
Mara looses a guttural whine, her shaking rear legs nearly giving out. She gropes desperately for the upper bunk, trying to relieve some of the pressure from her chest. None could doubt her stamina, her endurance, but this tests her limits in a way none of her travels ever had. The fragrant witchwood smoke makes her head spin. She takes two wobbling steps forward to grant Q Girl access to more of her length.
She takes it. Reaching gently forward, Q Girl wraps her fingers around the base of her bloom, guiding her forward as nectar spills through her digits. She relishes it. The texture of her petals, the soft resistance that gives giddily as she slips her tongue into the folds between them, the satisfying heft and overwhelming juiciness of the whole thing. The noises coming from Mara with her every ministration.
She slips it free of her mouth. "Mara, how do I know when you're- done?"
"It doesn't-" she gasps. It's hard for her to catch her breath. "I don't- when it's out it just goes, there's no done. When you leave it, it goes back in."
"That's beautiful," she muses. Her stimulator-clad hand, still wrapped around Mara's shaft, pulses a shock directly into her.
"-------!!!!!!!!!!!!!," she says.
"Quetzal," replies Q Girl, a look of awe crossing her face.
"Down!" gasps Mara. "Please, down!"
"Easy, easy," coos Q Girl, unlocking her exoskeleton, bearing Mara down with mechanical smoothness until all four paws rest squarely on the floor. Thusly returned to the earth, she promptly falls over.
She heaves in shuddering breaths, her legs stretching forward, paws splayed and clawing at nothing, her arms draped weakly around her, her dick still spilling nectar to the floor.
"Do you need some water?" Mara nods, still not quite ready for words. Q Girl rises, rummages through her lockers, finds a waterskin and hands it to her.
As she focuses on the waterskin in her grasp, realization flickers across her features. She looks to Q Girl. "This is your water," she says.
Q Girl reaches down and strokes her vinelike hair. "Your thirst is mine," she grins. "My water is yours."
Mara uncorks the skin reverently and quenches herself. She passes it back, and Q Girl drinks deep, letting her water wash down Mara's nectar.
"I'd say we shared a pretty quetzal secret already," she muses.
"On topping," pants Mara.
"Topping, and the nature of hierarchy."
Mara grins in exhaustion, shivering as Q Girl strokes her flank. Too tired to respond.
"But I have a secret for you, Weary Paw Mara." She leans in closer. "I'd like to explore the other side of that voluntary hierarchical model."
"Just wait until I get my second wind, honeytongue," says Mara.