Question 19.5: Have you at any time been required to appear before a Sub-Sentient Species Treatment Review Board for questions pertaining to Regulation WLO.q3098? If so, please explain, submitting appropriate research authorizations and additional NSE throughput as necessary.
"It's not a volcanically destructive event, you know," Walt said, leaning around Wanda to see the screen. "Everybody and their pair-sibling goes up in front of S-Strib at one point or another - you will not dissolve in lava over this."
"Yes, for temperature controls and adjustments in the appropriate amount of roughage," Wanda said. "Not for a complete recalibration of the design!" Wanda sighed. "It's no good. I'll tell them about the whole thing - play up the similarities to the Woglinde papers, show how closely we mirrored their study design - for the love of infinite space, we used the same data-modeler they did!”
It had been such a coup, at the time: the same tool that their Revered Ancestor Woglinde, smoothly to digest evermore, had used to pioneer the field of Semi-Sentient Species Support. Their study design had been ingenious: 106 variables, all flowing seamlessly together to indicate appropriate levels of potential to mate in currently non-mating pairs; an environment calculated to the toe to induce bonding and mating; the best in reproductive aids on hand to handle the combination of genetic material and gestation.
All of which would have been incredible on its own - but Woglinde had managed to achieve success with the very first pair selected, inducing them to mate within hours of the study’s inauguration. Woglinde had been heralded as a genius, a groundbreaker, an Improver of the highest reach.
And what a reach!
“You know that they don’t mate properly,” Wanda said, looking back at Walt. “They’ve got some sort of coding disorder - on their own, they’ve only got a fifty-fifty chance of finding a compatible mate, and even then you can’t guarantee offspring! The timing has to be right, and the environment, and sometimes even if they start to mate they don’t do it properly - they can’t even figure out how to keep their ovipositors unobstructed, half of the time!” Wanda leaned back against Walt. “And they communicate with sound waves, of all of the ridiculous things - can you imagine it?”
To take a species so deprived of communicative and reproductive abilities, and to manage to induce mating on the very first try - and then to have viable offspring from the pairing - truly, Woglinde had been beyond compare.
“I know, dear,” Walt said, and of course Walt did - once the Woglinde studies had been broadcast, the data had been mandatory consumption for all students, regardless of their domain. Walt had scanned the data beside Wanda, the two of them vibrating with excitement, with possibility - and now Walt had a very nice appointment analyzing the poetics of the Pegasusians, and Wanda was fighting with S-Strib for renewal of supply of material on a study that had yet to even attract one viable pair.
Walt brushed up against Wanda again, soothingly, and Wanda looked up, grateful as ever for a bond partner who understood how important and how frustrating this was.
“Thank you, sucrose,” Wanda said. “I’m sorry to make you listen to all of this - it’s not like you don’t know all of this already.”
“You’ll work it out,” Walt said. “Woglinde will be with you on this one.” With that, Walt glided off across the room to check on the progress of their genetic material.
Wanda turned back to the work. If this proposal didn’t get finished in time, the facility might be destroyed, putting an end to several cycles of work. It had to be viable - if only SSSTRB would give them a little more time -
Wanda looked up, as was often the case, at the poem etched on the curve of the residence - one of Walt’s first translations, painstakingly derived from the original Woglinde tapes.
you do not have anything
to change things.
I do not do it, because—
the first thing:
that you're the only person in the galaxy"
This would be done, because this had to be done: for Woglinde, and for Walt, and for their future genetic recombination. Resolved, Wanda began inputting a response to the question.
Study 230-FS was designed as a continuation of the original Woglinde studies (designation 125-RE) and was intended to provide a dedicated facility for reproductive assistance. Our study design was created using WRX-10, the data-modeler used by Revered Woglinde, and we endeavored to maintain all conditions as in the original experiment, with the exception of those aspects which were specifically noted as objectionable by pair W-1. Specifically, we recalculated aspects of subject housing, including...
“I don’t care what you say, Colonel,” Rodney said, eying the building with distaste. “I am absolutely not going in there.”
John looked up at the building, which seemed to be made entirely of right angles, and shrugged. “You’re the one who wanted to look at the energy signatures, Rodney,” he said. “I’m just here because I’m not allowed to let you out on your own until your arm heals up.”
Sarah’s exact words had been, “Until Dad learns to stop poking stuff before he’s figured out what it is,” but John had been married to Rodney McKay for close to twenty years now, and he knew when to pick his battles.
Rodney snorted. “And the fact that you’ve got ten gigs of staff evaluation paperwork on your home machine has nothing to do with it, of course,” he said.
“Lorne’s handling it,” John said. “It’s good for him - he needs more experience on that side of things. I’m delegating,” John added, smugly.
“You need eyeglasses, is what,” Rodney said. “Look, I know I said there were signatures, but I’m not getting anything now - energy or life signs - “ he added before John could ask, “ - and, frankly, that place gives me the heebie jeebies.”
“You want to go back to the pond with the weird tentacle-rabbits, see if we can catch some for astrobio?”
Rodney shrugged. “I was thinking more the glowing trees, but if you want to hunt down some bothrio-lagomorphs, sure, go for it.” He shouldered his pack and headed back up the path, and John followed him gladly.
At the top of the hill, something caught the corner of his eye, and he looked back at the small, squat building for a moment, wondering if maybe they were missing something —
“—Oh, ew,” Rodney said, in tones of considerable satisfaction, and John turned back to his husband and his job, leaving the strange building behind him.
Honestly, he wasn’t that interested in Strong Fresh Baby-Flavor Tea, On Demand, either.