Volume 5 - Slime Time, Chapter 30 - All Good Things...
Agent Will pushed his sunglasses into place. “Of course. This explains so much!”
Haru tilted her head nearly 90 degrees. “Really? How’s that?”
He grinned. “Well, I should fill you in on some things first, then you too can see how everything came together so perfectly, thanks to my detective skills!”
Yuisu sighed and rubbed her temples. She was happy that Agent Will finally made it here after his business trip, but she didn’t have the energy to deal with his cheesy murder-mystery-reveal. “Just hurry up then.”
He swept his gaze over Yuisu, Haru, Mara, Tsuen, and the tiny sad form of Quess, who sat in the middle of the group like a criminal on trial. “First, and perhaps most important, Quess isn’t a queen, at least not of any country. She’s a Queen Pink Slime alright, but that’s just a name for pink slimes that are smarter and more powerful than normal.”
Mara raised a hand, looking a bit like a schoolgirl in class. “But what about the underground kingdom that she was always bragging about?”
“There’s no such place, and she didn’t come out of your hot spring either. I’m pretty sure falling in an underground river like in her story would be fatal to a slime anyway.” He paced around the table. “Nope, I bet Quess snuck a ride in from town after the sakura festival. All those flowers would be a feast to a pink slime, so that’s probably what brought her to town. But she knew it wouldn’t last forever. She needed to find a constant source of food, and a house full of women in their prime would certainly fit the bill, for a creature that can eat sexual energy.”
“So she’s been lying to us all along?” Tsuen asked with a pitiful frown.
“I’m afraid so,” Agent Will said with a solemn nod. “She is really good at it too. Though from what you all told me, it sounds like lying takes a lot out of her. She’s already operating at a level of intelligence far beyond most slimes, and exploiting human nature enough to deceive people isn’t easy either.”
Yuisu waved a hand in a circular ‘hurry up’ motion. “Yeah, yeah. But what’s with her crazy aphrodisiac powers?”
Agent Will smiled broadly. “That’s the part that explains so much. We’ve long wondered what pink slimes do for food after springtime is over, since we thought they only ate things like flower pollen and nectar. However, it was recently discovered that they can consume tantric energy and pheromones from people. You four found that out firsthand, of course.”
He raised one finger in the air. “But what if there’s no horny people around, you ask?”
Haru muttered, “No one asked that…”
“Well normal pink slimes would have to hibernate, but queen pink slimes have the ability to make people horny via carefully crafted pheromones of their own! The slime invests a bit of her energy to get people revved up, and then she gets it all back with interest!” Agent Will grinned proudly, as if he had just delivered enlightenment to the masses.
His audience didn’t seem impressed. After an awkward pause, he resumed. “It sounds like Quess put that ability to use on Tsuen and Mara so she could feed,”—both of them blushed at that—“as well as on Yuisu, but for a different reason.” He looked down at Quess, who was staring at the tabletop with the saddest look on her little slime face. “So you’re in love with Yuisu, is that right?”
Quess looked up at him. “Kinda,” she said in a low pinging tone, “Little Quess doesn’t understand love. That’s Big Quess’s exper-, exertise-, uh, specialty.” She turned to Yuisu, her big eyes glistening. “I’m sorry we did that bad thing…”
Yuisu gently patted the little slime on the head. “It’s okay. It isn’t your fault, and it isn’t really hers either. It’s your nature after all,” Yuisu said with a smile. “Can you switch to Big Quess for a bit? I’d like to talk to her.”
Little Quess smiled for the first time that day. “Okee!” she said as she bounced from the table to the seat of an empty chair.
By burning some of her stored energy, Quess expanded her mind and her body. She grew into a humanoid shape, then gained definition and detail until she had a face, hands, and feminine curves. Then, her dress and jewelry appeared on the surface of her body. Finally, her crown materialized, replacing the tendril on top of her head. She glanced at the faces around the table, then stared down at her clasped hands, looking and feeling like a prisoner.
Yuisu spoke softly. “Quess, can you please answer some questions for us?”
Quess nodded without raising her eyes.
“Why’d you lie to us about so many things? We would have welcomed you even if you told the truth,” Yuisu said. Tsuen and Mara nodded along, but Haru still wore a stony expression.
Quess spoke with a flat, exhausted voice. “Sure, you might have taken me in, but it would have been out of pity, not respect. When I’m a queen, people look up to me. I can get my way and people value my input. When I’m powerful, people have to respect me.”
She slouched against the back of the chair and some of the definition faded from her features and clothes. “When I’m little, I’m just cute and stupid. A curiosity, to marvel at and to mock. No one respects that.”
Tsuen frowned and her ears folded down against her head. She was guilty of treating Little Quess that way, at least a bit.
“Are you really a different person than Little Quess?” Yuisu asked.
Quess shuddered, then said, “Maybe. I don’t even know anymore. I think Little Quess is the real me, and this,”—she tugged at a slime-formed bit of lace on her dress—”is all an act. It’s a persona I had to make up so I could pretend to be a queen. But it took on a life of its own, and got me into all this trouble.”
“One last question. Why’d you use your aphrodisiac on me?”
“Because I love you, and I wanted you to love me,” she said simply. “You’re so amazing. You cared for me, but you also stood up to me, to a queen. You didn’t care whether I was a queen or not, or that I’m a slime.” She wore a sad smile as she looked up at Yuisu. “You just treated me like a person.”
“But I went and ruined everything, like an idiot.” Quess shrunk even more and all the details of her clothes faded away. Her voice turned echoey. “I’m so sorry, Yuisu. I’ll leave you all alone now, and go to whatever prison Agent Will has for me.”
Agent Will jumped up from his seat. “Whoa now. Nobody’s going to prison. The only official thing I’m here to do is get you registered in the exchange program. Though, if you want to leave here, I can find you a new home.”
“Yes, I want to leave. No one here could ever respect me after what I did…” As her mood fell, Quess degenerated further, into a blobby pink puddle that could barely stay on the chair.
“Wait!” Tsuen yelled. “Don’t leave, Quess! I respect you. I respect how you owned up to your mistakes, and I respect how you’ve overcome so many difficulties to get here. It’s been hard for all of us to adapt to human culture, and some of our ways might never be perfectly compatible with humanity’s, but that’s no reason to give up!”
A tear ran down Tsuen’s cheek. “And I’d miss you if you left.”
Mara smiled and added, “I’d miss you too, Quess, even if I do get jealous of you sometimes. When you aren’t acting like a pompous jerk, you’re actually pretty cool.”
Haru, her wings still folded across her chest, nodded stiffly. “If you drop that queen act and stop lying all the time, I wouldn’t mind you sticking around,” she said in a soft voice that undermined her tough words.
With each kind comment, Quess regained a little composure, turning back from a blob to a beautiful woman. Her frown changed to a hint of a smile.
All the girls turned and looked at Yuisu expectantly. She took a deep breath and said, “I’m sorry, Quess. Last night, I overreacted and treated you awfully. You didn’t do anything wrong. You just followed your nature.” Yuisu shrugged and continued, “Pink slimes have always used pheromones to attract a mate, and I’m flattered that you chose me.”
Haru tensed up at that, until Yuisu snuggled up against Haru’s wing and added, ”But I’m taken.”
Haru grinned and punched Yuisu lightly in the arm with a feathery fist. “Darn right, you are.”
“Anyways...” Yuisu smiled broadly at Quess and said, “You’ve got a good heart Quess. You are welcome here, if you want to share this home with us.”
Agent Will raised an eyebrow and looked from Yuisu to Quess. “Well, what do you want to do, Quess?”
Quess reached up and grabbed her crown with one hand. She pulled on it, stretching it out and away from her head. When she let go, it had changed back to the same yellow tendril Little Quess had. “I do want to stay here, and I want to start over.”
She bowed her head. In a callback to her first introduction, she said, “Hello, friends. I am Quess, and as you can see, I’m am no queen. I once pretended to be royalty, but I am just a pink slime. Thank you for welcoming me into your home.”
“Holy crap. I think that’s the first time Quess has ever said thanks!” Mara said with a grin.
Haru smiled warmly and said, “I like this Quess more already.”
Agent Will and Quess had to fill out a mountain of paperwork, which took all of Quess’s remaining brainpower and reduced her back to Little Quess by the time they finished. Afterwards, Agent Will tracked down Yuisu in the living room. “Hey, Yuisu. I forgot to mention this earlier, but I need you to help me out with something.”
Yuisu looked up from the TV, which was showing some sort of game show featuring humans and liminals cooperating on silly tasks. “Oh, what’s that?”
He scratched his chin and looked up at the ceiling. “Well… we’ve got a new diplomatic program now. An extension of the Interspecies Exchange Program, but between human countries.”
“Okay…” Yuisu wasn’t sure where this was going, but she still had a bad feeling about it.
“And a couple months ago, before you had such a full house, I may have volunteered you as a host for the pilot program.”
Yuisu nodded slowly, intensely. If a nod could be a threat, this was one.
Agent Will blurted the next bit out quickly and braced for the pain, like ripping off a bandaid, “So there’re two liminals from Canada coming to stay with you for a couple weeks!”
Mara peeked around the corner of her bedroom, where she had apparently been listening in. She cheered, “Ooh, visitors! When? When?!”
Agent Will frowned. “Yeah, about that… This is entirely my fault, but the plans got kind of mixed up, because of the language barrier, so…” He smiled sheepishly, then said, “So I don’t actually know. Sometime within the next few days, I think.”
Yuisu took a very deep breath, let it out very slowly, then stood up from the couch. In a strained, artificially level voice she said, “Okay then. I’ll start preparing now. We’ll need to move all that heavy exercise equipment to storage and turn the exercise room into another guest room. We barely use it anyway, with our Sports Club Kobold memberships. Mara, can you gather the other girls to help?”
“You got it, Yui. While I do that, what are you gonna do?”
“I’m going to visit the liquor cabinet.”