(Glossary of terms on the last page).
Kani Frandis feels nervous as she approaches Laboratory two-hundred at ‘The Facility’, in New Harjes, on planet Frandis. The Facility is like a city, with more than one-thousand laboratories sprawled over the complex. Although some may view her arrival as an insignificant event, just another ambitious scientist trying to make a name for themselves. Others secretly hope she can be the pebble if thrown correctly, that sets off an avalanche.
She feels her stomach churn as she steps off the bus outside of laboratory two-hundred. It’s always difficult being new at a place that has been established a long time. She wonders whether they’ll like her, but more importantly whether she’s be able to persuade them to her way of thinking. The outer doors look like any other, gray and dirty. Taking her ID badge she swipes the reader and waits.
As the doors slides open to Laboratory two-hundred, Kani meets an unexpected taun from her past. An old-school friend called Jinta, back from when she was young. A flash of mischief immediately crosses his face as he sees her.
He flashes her a smile. “Kani? I heard you were coming to work here.”
“Jinta Cufba? How on Prantas did you end up here? I thought you doesn’t qualify for higher learning?”
She said this to deliberately make him feel bad and judging by the frown he develops, it worked. I see she’s as spiteful as ever, he thought feeling his stomach drop. “I work for Pima Lags, the head Veterinarian in this lab.”
Kani laughs. “Oh, you clean out the cages, how quaint. Can you direct me to Pima Hilts office, he’s expecting me and you’re holding me up.”
Jinta’s face goes dark for a moment as he wrestles with telling her where to go. She isn’t his boss, even if she does outrank him being a scientist. However, he thought better of it. Who knows, when she’s feeling her heat coming on, old Jinta may get lucky, he thought.
“That door over there,” he said pointing to a white door on the far-right side of the room. “I had better get going, work to do.”
She had already begun walking toward the door when she said it. Stuck-up bitch, Jinta thought, she’ll come running when she needs it, just wait and see Jinta old friend. So he shrugs and leaves through another door that shut silently behind him, however, she doesn’t see it.
Kani straitens her pristine white jacket and licks her palm to smooth the fur on her face. She taps on the door and after hearing a deep voice say enter, she does. Pima Inlo Hilts sits at his desk, the taun in charge of the laboratory. He looks at her as she enters with violet eyes, his tan fur now showing a gray tinge. He wears a monocle over one eye nestled beneath the prominent brow ridge common for their race. Hilts sniffs the air taking in her sweet scent, so he stands politely offering the chair in front of his desk. She’s beautiful looking, so hot, Hilts thought feeling his dangle stir.
“Ms. Frandis, I’ve been looking forward to your arrival. You look as pretty as you sound on the link,” he said with a slight bow.
Kani bows back, as is customary in official greetings. “The virility of your voice also matches your taunly appearance, Pima Hilts. Please, call me Kani.”
“Kani, please sit, we have much to discuss.”
She sits as his eyes devour her tuun form. They tell him she’s a looker, and he’s not disappointed. Her fur is black, her eyes are yellow with specks of red flashes in the light, a startling contrast. Her breasts looks perfect too, a nice handful, and he senses her rear equally perfect. After she sits, he continues straightening papers on his desk to emphasize his importance, to impress her.
“So your trip to this world was satisfactory?” he asks conversationally.
“Six weeks in hyperspace is always a chore, but the excitement of this challenge kept me occupied, Puma Hilts.”
“Well, with the success you had saving the Zarlk’s from extinction, I only hope you can perform the same miracle here. This species is in a sorry state, I’m afraid.”
“How many are left now?”
“All told around fifteen-hundred, divided into three laboratories,” Hilts said leaning back into his chair pompously. “The Emperor sees it as a kotaunitarian project of utmost importance. I think it’s a waste of money, resources, and time, myself. This species will never recover. It’s been a millennium, and we’re still no closer to solving the riddle.”
“Why does the Emperor take such an interest in this species?” Kani asks.
Hilts shrugs. “Ours is not to question the will of His Majesty. Besides, ‘The Stapo’ have eyes and ears everywhere these days and love nothing better than to ruin a career for loose talk. All we can do is our job, and leave the questions to those with a higher pay grade.”
Kani nods. A typical middle management response, she thought. “True, may I see the creatures, err, Hooma’s? Did I say right, it’s such a strange word to me.”
“Sound’s right to me. Come I’ll give the full tour.”
They stand and head out the door.
He takes her to a viewing area overlooking the domed compound. The layout reminds her of a zoo, more than a research laboratory. This compound has three large cages surrounded by a concrete path. The Hooma’s are separated into two groups. Each group occupied an outer pen, the middle pen stands empty. They huddle together in groups. Poor creatures, she thought, they look totally bored out of their brains. She had seen pictures of them in her briefing documents, however, the sorry sight of them made her feel sad. They are mostly a fur-less creature with only thin smatterings over their small bodies. Their skin color varied from dark brown to pale white.
They’re much shorter than a Kotaun. The tuun Hooma’s only have two breasts because they only give birth to one offspring at a time. The taun Hooma’s have dangles like her species, with fur around their heads and faces, and short sparse fur on their bodies (except their groins). It makes them look wild, which excites her.
“The reports I read coming here said they have intelligence. Is that true?” she asks Pima Hilts.
Before Pima Hilts can say a word, another mature voice answers from behind. “Their intelligence is overrated, young tuun. At best, it equates with a child of our species. They can be devious, though, so watch yourself with them.”
Pima Hilts face develops a deep scowl when he sees this newcomer. “Ah, Lags, meet Ms. Kani Frandis, she’s a Xenobiologist who specializes in sexuality and reproduction. Ms. Frandis, meet Par Lags, our head vet.”
Pima Lags eyes practically jumps out of his sockets as he looks her over. “Yeah, I read your paper on the Zarlk’s. Outstanding work, Ms. Frandis,” Lags said with a smile. “But alas, Hooma’s don’t have pheromone glands as best we can determine. So your work with Zarlk’s will mean little here.”
Kani smiles, ignoring his put-down. “Pima Lags, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” They briefly touch paws. “Can I ask, why do you keep the sexes separated? How are they expected to mate, if they don’t have access to each other?”
“Every time we put them together they fight like Zeenlebs. It baffles us, maybe you can see something we’re missing.”
The way he looks at her makes her think he doesn’t really think she will. Kani has experienced this before in labs, the newcomer who might challenge the status quo is always met with resistance. Sometimes with covert dislike, and sometimes open hostility. A game will now begin where the entrenched staff will try to get her to become like them. Adopt their attitudes and approaches with the promise of being accepts and liked in return for abandoning her ideals. She has to try to affect some change without ruffling everyone’s ego simultaneously. It’s a complicated game that most of the time the newcomer loses, meaning they either accept the way of the entrenched staff or leave feeling bitter about the lab.
“I’ll do my best,” Kani said lightly. “I’m sure you’ve been very thorough in your observations. So I look forward to reading your reports.”
Pima Hilts coughs to draw attention back to him. “Well, there’s plenty of time for that. No one is expecting you to solve everything on your first day. Now if you’ll excuse us Par, we have an orientation to get through.”
“Certainly Inlo.” Bowing slightly to Kani, he said, “If you need anything, and I mean anything, don’t hesitate to contact me, Ms. Frandis.”
“Thank you Pima Lags,” she said, her lips glowing a pleasant purple-blue that indicated an attraction to him.
Hilts noticing quickly ushers her away from the Vet. If anyone is going to pfloug Kani around here, it’s going to be me, he thought angrily.
Continued on the next page (link below).