In the hospital, Karen hurried over to a small separated area with miniature diagnostic benches, fiddling nervously with a lock of her long golden blond hair, which she hadn’t done since she was a child. There, hooked up to a machine, was a fluffy white cat. Dr. David Atland, who got a vet degree before his surgical-medical one, was tending to her diligently. The middle-aged Mexican-descended Lopez focused on her younger boss.
“We’re administering painkillers continually,” Lopez explained gently. “For a thirty-year-old cat I wouldn’t suggest another organ transplant. Everything is failing, quite quickly now.”
There were tears streaming down Karen’s face. “Yes, I know it’s time to let it happen.” At her voice, Fluffy perked up her ears and lifted her thin neck slightly. Karen stroked her gently. “I’ve had her since I was four years old,” she whispered. “The first word I said when I saw her became her name. I was the one she always followed around, so when I was done school, she moved in with me.”
“I understand,” Lopez said gently. There was a little beep, and the head of surgery added, “She’s gone. We’ll give you some privacy.”
Lopez did a quick search on her Pocod and headed down to Weinz’s lab. “I need a bit of regular growth medium,” she announced, not bothering with a greeting.
“I mixed a big batch, but I’ll have to account for it all,” Weinz said.
“Don’t worry, I’ll report the source and amount,” Lopez said. “I have done science before, you know, I’m not just a surgeon.”
“I’m aware,” Weinz said. “The fact that you grew your own daughters in a lab leads me to ask what you’re doing.”
“Relax, it’s quite legal. We have a complete library of gametes and cloning scaffolds from Earth creatures on file in case the QDD goes caput and we have to colonise a planet. Meanwhile, we need them for research or hopefully to exchange with aliens who can help us. I need to do a test to make sure we can grow organisms with what we brought, in the ship environment, before we get too far from Earth. With no medical emergencies right now, it’s the perfect time.”
“Fine,” Weinz said. “Over there.” He pointed to the large open vat he assumed was still pure. No one thought to test it for tiny escapees from the tampered tube.
Innocently satisfied, Lopez headed off with the medium, and in her own lab, she made a bee line for a slide-out door labelled, Felis Domesticus. Might as well make it something the Ambassador might want when the time was right.
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