Monday, July 06, 2009

"Garden," Junk, pt. 1, 402 words

“You wanted to see me?” Susannah Halsey poked her head into the lab door, spotting Marley Rosenberg hunched over a computer display. The lab head was frowning in concentration, and didn't look up at first. Halsey coughed lightly, then cleared her throat when that didn't work. “Marley,” she finally repeated.

Rosenberg looked up with a blink of surprise. She looked around and spotted Halsey, then said, “Oh, Annah. Yes, come in.” She gestured to a second chair.

Halsey nodded slowly and spun the chair about to cross her arms on its back as she sat. “What's up?”

With a wave to the display, Rosenberg said, “I've been running the sequencer on all the samples of higher-order flora and fauna from planetside--”

“You'd have to tie up all the computers for that. Is that why you've given us all a few days off,” Halsey asked.

“Um, yeah.”

“What's the rush?”

“No real rush, as such,” Rosenberg admitted. “But I wanted to verify something... interesting.”

Halsey frowned. “There's something interesting about Rhea's plant life?”

Rosenberg shook her head reproachfully. “I don't know how you got into exobiology,” she said, “if you take that attitude towards alien li-- what is that on your arm? Take it off!”

A guilty look passed over Halsey's face as she glanced down to the green band around her left bicep. A tiny patch in the design of a stylized Earth had been stitched onto the band. “Sorry,” she said, not sounding the least bit contrite. “You pulled me out of a Gaea meeting.”

“Well take it off,” Rosenberg snapped. “I don't want politics in my lab. When you're here, your job is your only concern.”

“All right, all right,” Halsey said, tugging the armband down her sleeve. She folded it up and stuck it into a pocket. “What'd you call me here for, anyway?”

“It's about the samples' genetics...”

“Well, obviously.”

Sighing at the interruption, Rosenberg said, “Yes, well. Have you looked at anything about the genetics results yourself?”

Halsey shook her head. “I've been focusing on organ structure and function, which is kind of boring when the biggest Rhea-mammal is the size of a vole. I haven't really heard anything since the big brouhaha early on when Rhea-life genes were found to be diploid.”

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