Chapter 2.7 (Grace)

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Chapter 2.7 (by Grace)

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.

Chapter 2.5 (Grace)

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Chapter 2.5 (by Grace)

Rowena’s eyes widened. “However did you manage to solve for the flatulence issue?!” she exclaimed, “But Penelope, tortoises in tuxedos? So cliche. Though the tailoring is excellent. Whose work is this?”

Penelope preened ever so slightly. “I actually made the prototype, but I taught the spider monkey-falcon hybrids to sew once I knew the tuxedos would fit.”

“Remarkable,” Rowena stated, “now you were saying that you solved for flatulence. How?”

“We were missing a vital protein strain – No. 394. Once I realized it, it was quite easy to fix the problem. It had quite the stabilizing effect and as a lovely bonus, cured the flatulence issue quite by accident.”

As they finished up their snacks, Henri slow made his way around the room collecting empty dishes and placing them on the tray on Henry’s back. Once all the dishes had been cleared, Henri carefully stepped back into his shell. Henry tapped a small knob on Henri’s shell. The shell slowly came back together until Henri’s shell was once again seamlessly in place. Henry and Henri slowly turned around and made their way back to the kitchen.

“Would you like to see my data?” Penelope asked hesitantly, “It’d be no trouble –”

“What kind of question is that?” Rowena interrupted irritably, “Of course I want to see it. Now close your mouth and go get it.”

As Penelope walked away from the table quietly grumbling under her breath, Edgar jumped up on the table and walked to the sunny spot to settle down for a nap. Horatio and Eric landed on Edgar’s side once he had settled down and began preening each other and then Edgar before falling asleep.

Chapter 2.3 (Grace)

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Chapter 2.3 (by Grace)

With a scoffing laugh, Horatio fluttered his wings with annoyance. “Fine, I’ll let Tiny talk — if that’s even your real name.”

Tiny/Rowena let out a slow, calming breath. “Let me start at the beginning. My colleague over there –Penelope– and I are scientists. We study and manipulate the genes of animals –humans, mammals, reptiles– to make them stronger and adaptable to other planets without needing additional life-support and to live longer lives as well as communicate across species. You see…” Rowena frowned at Horatio who was clearly snoring. She let out a long-suffering sigh.

“Tiny?” Eric asked, “I’m not sure what all the means. I know you are speaking bird — I mean, I think you are. I mean, I understand you…” he trailed off. “Why did you pick us? And how come you change into a two-legs-no-feathers? And what is an Edgar? What’s a Chelsea? Also, are there any good bugs to eat around here? I’m starving!”

Horatio snorted awake. “Did someone say something about food? I’m starving!”

Edgar stalked over to the birds and brushed up against Rowena. Then he sat down and yawned wide, showing off all his teeth. “Did someone mention food?”

Penelope knew she should do something to diffuse the situation, but she did not suffer through years of grad school and thesis papers to become an over-qualified serving wench. It was then she remembered the serving turtles. Now was as good a time as any to see if she had worked out the bugs. Everyone seemed to be edging into hangry territory, including herself.

Chapter 2.1 (Grace)

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Chapter 2.1 (by Grace)

Edgar’s fur seemed to grow and make him seem twice as large. With an angry growl, Edgar demanded, “What do you mean there are no such things as cats?!”

That was Rowena’s cue to step in before Edgar became so upset that he ate one of the birds. Or worse, threw up in one of her shoes. Again.

“Edgar!” Rowena sang his name, “Won’t you be a dear and help this poor creature –” Rowena looked at Fiona, no, Penelope.

“Her name is Chelsea,” supplied Penelope with a weary sigh.

“– Chelsea back to the back? She seems a bit dazed. I’ll take care of our newest guests from here. Thank you, dearest,” Rowena cooed to Edgar.

Edgar shook himself out and then set Eric and Horatio on the arm of the chair. He chirped at Rowena and then sauntered over to Chelsea.

Rowena walked over to the wrens and then flashed back to her bird form.

Horatio immediately began chattering away angrily, “Tiny! What is going on?! WHAT IS THAT THING?!”

Edgar hissed angrily from the table but continued to groom Chelsea.

“Horatio, please calm down!” Tiny/Rowena pleaded. “I’ll explain everything, but please stop insulting Edgar.”

“But Tiny,” Horatio whined, “he said he was a cat!”

Edgar bristled and started growling.

“Shut up, Horatio!” Eric whispered fiercely, “Let Tiny talk and stop making Bi– I mean Edgar angry!”

Chapter 1.9 (Grace)

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Chapter 1.9 (by Grace)

While Penelope and Rowena reviewed the data Rowena had collected, Edgar stretched languidly in his chair. Horatio and Eric were still flitting around the room in a frenzy. Their panicked flight path brought them closer and closer to Edgar’s chair. Before either bird realized how close they were to the big-face cat, Edgar deftly jumped mid-air between both birds and gently snatched both birds in his paws.

“Hmph. Chelsea learned all her moves from me, you know,” Edgar told the birds.

Eric and Horatio were so stunned, they froze. Horatio found his voice first. “What’s a Chelsea, Big Face?

Indignant, Edgar growled, “My face is perfectly proportioned to my head and body!”

“S-s-sorry Big Fa- M-Mr. Big Fa…ce? We don’t know your name. You were just…a face…we saw in the glass…and your face was…(big)…” Eric trailed off as he realized his explanation was making theĀ not big face angrier.

Edgar sighed heavily. Must he do everything? Teach everyone? “My name is Edgar Percival Crane. I am the most majestic animal to ever grace this planet. When I one day pass from this earthly plane, the heavens will cry at the loss of my presence to grace their view. I am…A CAT.”

Horatio and Eric Exchanged confused expressions. “But everyone knows cats aren’t real!” Horatio blurted out.

“Yeah!” Eric chimed in, “cats are just make believe stories mamas make up to make fledglings behave! What are you really?”

Chapter 1.7 (Grace)

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Chapter 1.7 (by Grace)

The trio shrieked in fear and rage as the cat? dog? kittypup? appeared out of nowhere and snatched them out of thin air and dragged them into the box. Once inside, they quickly got away from the thing that looked like a cat but smelled like a dog.

Tiny shrieked in fury and began dive-bombing the kittydog. “How dare you! Do you know who I am!?” Tiny began to vibrate. And then she began to glow.

“Tiny, no!!” yelled Horatio and Eric, but it was too late.

The light around Tiny began to pulse, and then it began to grow. Everyone – all creatures and human alike – covered their eyes as the little bird seemed to grow in the light and then seemed to explode.

Tiny was no longer tiny. Or a bird. Instead, a fully clothed woman stood scowling angrily at Dr. Glyndor.

“Fiona Glyndor, we agreed that these experiments would stop! What on EARTH were you thinking splicing feline and canine genes. What is the meaning of all this!!” raged Tiny. AKA Professor Rowena Crane, head scientist of the research lab she was once again standing in after leaving two years ago.

“I go out to gather data and you’re creating…what IS that poor, undignified creature?” Professor Crane continued as she walked over to Edgar’s favorite chair to become reacquainted with her cat.

“Well Fiona? Don’t just stand there trying to catch flies. What do you have to say about all this?”

Chapter 1.5 (Grace)

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Chapter 1.5 (by Grace)

Eric shook himself in disgust. Horatio thought he was brave, but Tiny wasn’t afraid of anything. This did not bode well. He turned to Horatio.”Don’t just sit there with your beak open like food is gonna come to you! We have to catch up to her before she does something dumb and goes into the box!”

Eric pushed Horatio off the branch and took off after Tiny. Horatio took off after Eric.

When the boys caught up to Tiny, she was hopping back and forth on the ledge, pecking at the glass. They could hear her calling for the face.

“Hello? Big Face? Are you there? Hello? Are you okay?”

Horatio and Eric landed on the ledge by Tiny. They were both really nervous and kept fluttering up high trying to see, and also in case they needed to get away quickly. Eric narrowed his eyes.

“Hey! I think I see something in the back where the light is…” he trailed off, “…um, guys? What is that?!”

Tiny and Horatio flitted up to where Eric was to see what he was looking at in the back of the room.