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.

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Chapter 2.4 (Naomi)

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Chapter 2.4 (by Naomi)

Rowena flashed back to her human form and rubbed her temples. Too many flashes in a short period of time gave her head a dull ache. She turned to Penelope who was still observing the whole situation from her seat at the table, chin resting in her hand. Rowena caught her gaze and Penelope raised an eyebrow. This exchange was their signal that the specimens in the lab needed a snack in addition to their regular meal routine. It was a necessarily wordless exchange because any hint of a mention that the animal might be hungry would sometimes result in indignation and hurt feelings, which could lead to accidental ingestion down the food chain.

Once she saw Rowena’s almost imperceptible nod, Penelope gathered up all her energy. “Henry and Henri are most probably interested in a visit!” She sang as brightly as she could muster. She stood up and strode quickly into the lab.

After a few moments Penelope returned followed by two Aldabra giant tortoises in single file. On their backs they carried trays of food for each hungry species in the room. For the birds a worm and insect medley of two types of beetle, earthworms and wingless flies. For Edgar, salmon sashimi on a bed of leafy greens. For Penelope and Rowena, lightly grilled tuna steaks served on beds of rice and a side of sautéed spinach with a hint of garlic and sesame oil. Rowena greeted Henry and Henri and stepped aside. Henry, who stood behind Henri, grasped Henri’s tail firmly in his mouth and gave a little tug. Henri’s shell expanded away from his body into a cube with holes. With care to not disturb the food, Henri stepped backwards out of his shell and began distributing dishes around the room to everyone.

As they sat at the table eating, Rowena took a breath to say something, but Penelope cut her off, “Yes they’re still slow, but Chelsea is the key. And you must admit — the flatulence issue has finally been solved!

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.