Penelope skittered to a stop in her human office and sat back on her haunches. A tiny paw absentmindedly stroking her long whiskers, Penelope contemplated the whereabouts of her research files. She knew they were in this office, but where? Her beady little eyes darted here and there.
Suddenly, without warning, an offensive odor filled the air and then almost immediately Chelsea slid into the room at an angle, reluctant to use her claws as traction on the cement floor. Her tongue hung out of her mouth as she panted, quite out of breath. Penelope froze, unsure of how Chelsea might react to her mouse form.
Never having been in this particular room before, Chelsea gazed wide-eyed at the quite mundane office as if she were in an elaborate museum. She crept slowly towards a towering bookcase overflowing with dusty volumes as if it were a fascinating exhibit. Noticing her preoccupation, Penelope began to plan her exit, and extended one back leg cautiously towards the door. Somehow Chelsea noticed this disturbance and whipped her entire body around and lept the distance between them until they were nose to nose. Penelope tried to ignore the stench. She held her breath and involuntarily blinked several times in rapid succession. She noticed Chelsea’s tail swishing from side to side. “Feline or canine?” Penelope fretted.
“Hi!” Chelsea yipped cheerfully. Penelope breathed a sigh of relief. After a brief conversation, Penelope scrambled up onto Chelsea’s back. She held onto the scruff of her neck as the unlikely duo bolted out the door and into the corridor.
Just as Rowena was getting ready to put the samples in the DNA sequencer, a small paw reached up and slapped the sample out of her hand. Chelsea batted the sample around the room, growing and yipping at it as she slapped it up under Edgar’s favorite chair.
Rowena gritted her teeth in frustration. The playlist should have put Chelsea to sleep like the rest of the animals. Clearly she was not at all affected. This would not do.
Rowena stalked into the corridor. “Penelope!” she called. “Penelope! Where are you?”
Chelsea came barreling down the corridor after Rowena with the sample in her mouth.
“PENELOPE!!” Rowena bellowed as she started to chase after Chelsea who had run past Rowena. She seemed to have spotted something that caught her attention more than the sample.
Rowena stopped and picked up what was left of the sample and sighed heavily. It was completely ruined. She was going to have to tweak the playlist so this didn’t happen again. She would need Penelope to do a scan of Chelsea to know how to tweak the playlist. Speaking of Penelope, where was she?
“PENELOPE!! Where are you?” Rowena stalked off in the direction of Penelope’s office. It also happened to be in the direction that Chelsea also went in quite a hurry.
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.