While Penelope fetched her research, Rowena checked to make sure Edgar and the birds were soundly asleep before briskly walking over to the cabinet where the empty, sterile sample vials were kept. She had a small window of opportunity while Eric and Horatio slept to collect blood and tissue samples.
She quickly prepared a tray with all the necessary instruments and then quietly walked it over to the table. They had discovered quickly that there was no good way to remove sleep aids from blood samples, so they had developed a subliminal sound “playlist” for animals that induced REM sleep, thus allowing them to collect clean samples not influenced by stress-released hormones, nor contaminated with drugs.
Once Rowena collected the samples she needed, she took her tray of samples to the DNA sequencer. Rowena needed to make sure the wren population they had brought to Alpha Centauri IV were on track in their evolutionary adaptations to the newly terraformed planet. The gravity on this planet was in constant flux of +/-0.2 N. While that level of fluctuation didn’t seem to affect most land animals, birds and fresh and salt-water creatures were having some trouble adapting.
These wrens seemed to be the exception, and could possibly be key in helping other birds survive on Alpha Centauri IV. If she could discover the secret to the wrens’ ability to adapt to the gravity fluctuations, she may be able to save the other birds who weren’t adapting as well as they should be.
Penelope pushed open the door of the lab and took long, purposeful strides through the main corridor. She had a determined expression on her face, discouraging her favorite orangutan lab assistant from approaching her. Penelope saw Sandra’s furry arm reach out and then retreat. She would just have to wait.
Coming to the end of the hall, Penelope stopped, coming to face a seemingly blank wall. Taking a small step back, she crouched down, bending at the knees and waist. Squeezing her eyes shut, she bowed her head into her folded arms. Penelope inhaled deeply, counted to five, and exhaled sharply. As the last of the air was expelled from her lungs, she began to shrink.
Opening her eyes, Penelope found herself in a puddle of clothes. Looking at her hands, she saw the little pink claws of a field mouse. The transformation was successful. Penelope scurried to the wall and placed her paw on a tiny knob and turned. A small door imbedded in the baseboard swung open and she stepped inside.
Taking a number of turns down a dimly lit corridor, Penelope once again stopped to face a dead end. Opening the door before her, she stepped into a tidy, mouse-sized office. Pausing on a tiny oriental rug, tassles all perfectly aligned, Penelope scanned the room. Now, where had she filed that research? Squinting her beady eyes, she scurried towards a tiny metal filing cabinet.