The truth is...well...Keith was a bit of a nerd.
Not a Nerd like Pidge always had boasted with pride, or a video game nerd which somehow was different.
Shiro called him a nerd, although it was more in that affectionate tone before the Kerberos mission, when he still had a little bit of mischief in him.
“Keith, you’re such a nerd.”
“Excuse me? A..a nerd?”
“I don’t mean that in a bad way. I’m a nerd too, I mean, have you seen the music I listen to?”
“Oh you mean the-”
“Don’t say it outloud, you Science nerd.”
And that had been that.
But, Pidge had her own thing. Hunk his own thing- everyone had some sort of topic or field that was relevant.
So that was that, and he didn’t bother bringing it up.
(Keith really, really liked biology)
He didn’t know if he was so interested in Anatomy and Organic structures and Chemistry and just... Biology, because he could tell from a young age that he was different, or just irrelevant fascination.
He wasn’t sure if he had simply picked it up somewhere along all of the mandatory physicals where doctors talked in hushed voices over his abnormal charts and measurements.
It was hard to hide his interest in biology with all of the alien planets they visited; all of the original fauna and species they came in contact with.
He had to resist the urge to snatch one of the strange multi legged cricket creatures they found on the surface of one planet, if only to watch and observe its behaviour for another time. He nearly whined when Shiro firmly made sure none of them pet the strange bristly horse like creature, that had fur able to harden on command into quills. Pidge once even tried to smuggle what looked like a dopey salamander the size of a small dog onto the ship- Pidge!
The castle was desperately lacking everything in regards to zoology of alien species, and the medical records of human anatomy were even worse.
(Pidge and Shiro were combing through and working carefully on restoring the correct information on human anatomy and proper functions. With Pidge’s absurd textbook memory, and Shiro’s medical knowledge (turns out he had injured himself a fair bit over the years), they were making progress.)
Something about it distantly hurt Keith though, the idea that the two were slowly restoring the information and hadn’t even asked him for help.
Biology was (in Lance’s terms), his shit.
Logically, he wouldn’t be able to contribute that much, granted that his own anatomy and physiology had minor differences; he wasn’t even sure what a normal human was.
Still, the idea that they hadn’t even asked him for help made him bristle slightly. He doubted that even Pidge remembered the names of all of the useless periphery capillary network names.
Keith was only a tad bit salty, but at the same time he understood why the paladins seemed to have no clue about what Keith liked. Shiro...Shiro wasn’t ever the same after he came back. On good days, there were still large loomings gaps in his memory, spanning all the way back to before he even met Keith.
And Pidge...well, they had met multiple times before the Kerberos mission, at that point he had known them as Katie, and the two of them had a few nice chats about rockets and space. Keith didn’t recall if Shiro had mentioned, or if he had mentioned his area of interest.
The few times he brought up something of interest, it was dismissed or phrased on his side poorly to appear like one of his infamous tired thoughts. (Lance put quotations around them, it wasn’t necessary since everyone knew exactly what he was talking about.)
Admittedly, they hadn’t been Keith’s brightest moment but still, they should have picked up on some of the cues!
( “Lance. Do...do caterpillars know what they’re going to do with their life? Or do they...do they just metamorphosize without having any idea what is going on?”
“...Keith...what the fuck?”)
But it didn’t matter, because that was before and now... now…
(Now he wasn’t a paladin. It didn’t matter anymore.)
The Blades of Marmora mandated medical checkups. With most of Keith’s entire anatomy a mystery to him, maybe they could help with more conclusive information.
Galra were large. Tall looming creatures with lanky limbs that were slightly longer in proportion to torso dimensions.
That was the average generic Galra that he had mentally categorized the species as; until he had the opportunity to walk around the Blades of Marmora’s home base and see everyone.
The first thing he noticed, was that not all Galra were tall.
It was somewhat a relief. Internally he was screaming in delight.
The best he could estimate, the average height was around seven feet tall. More of the population varied between seven and eight feet, yet there was a striking amount that were only slightly taller than Shiro was. There was one galra he saw in the training room only once, who stood tall at what Keith could only guess was ten feet tall. Outliers were to be expected, especially with the one galra commander he had fought once who was just under three feet.
The differences didn’t stop just there.
Keith had spotted a few galra around the base that had no fur and instead seemed to be coated in small slightly shimmering scales.
How did that work?
Keith knew that reptile species in the desert generally shed scales on a few month basis, although that always depended on the type of reptile in general. Snakes shed it in one solid piece, whereas lizards flaked like a bad sunburn in patches like wet tissue paper. Did scaled galra peel like the one time Pidge had a horrible sunburn from straying too close to a solar flare? Did they reabsorb the dead cells like some sort of amphibian?
Keith maybe didn’t have that much social tact, but he knew it was rude (and dangerous) to ask a seven foot galra if they shed every month.
Although galra had fur, it varied so much.
It generically tended to be a shade of lilac to violet, and rather short although not to the degree of being velvet.
But then, but then he had seen the Few.
The ‘Few’ were what he mentally referred to as the few galra which clearly defied all of the norms or notions he had considered normal. Either be it height, or fur, there were a few scattered galra throughout the base that were very clearly not a half breed, but still managed to break his concept of normality.
At first he had thought that perhaps it was the galran equivalency of albinism, or vitiligo. Yet, it seemed too uniform and purposeful to be a genetic defect, and too common and in too many different forms for it to be a recessive detrimental inherited factor. It was possible it was simply the presence of a dormant gene, like when fish or whales grew small vestigial hind legs.
It was driving him insane- especially after one galra brushed past him with red striations along its exposed limbs.
He couldn’t take it anymore.
He had to ask.
Antok was actually rather nice. He was serious, although had a mischievous streak that had caught Keith off guard more often than not.
He was also one of the Few, because he had a two spined tail.
Now, Keith had seen quite a number of galra with tails, although only within the Blade. The galra he had fought didn’t have the faintest hint of a tail, although they could have been hidden. It would be ridiculous to assume that just because he hadn’t seen one, it didn’t exist. On earth, many animal species had a huge variety of tails- perhaps galra species had a short tail similar to a bobcat? Or a fur based tail like a horse that they could groom and keep short?
Despite his speculations (that were starting to dangerously verge into conspiracy theories), there were still multiple examples of visible tails on the Blade of Marmora members.
The average galran tail varied from long and whipcord to thicker and less prehensile. From what he gathered, the thicker it was the less mobile or controlled.
Antok’s tail was long, but as thick as Keith’s forearm all the way to the end. Then, near the tip, it split in two, the uppermost fork narrowed to a point while the lower narrowed to a normal tail tip. Only when he could examine it closer did he realize that the upper fork was not actually a separate branch of tissue and tail, but it was barbs ; erectile spines that could be flattened or flared like the dorsal fin on a fish.
Keith had learned from personal experience, that the external spine was sharp, composed of some sort of...dense keratin (or space keratin) that was hardened enough to deflect a knife’s edge or leave a thin slice. Was the main spine hollow for mobility? Was it fitted with microscopic backwards barbs to resist removal? Was the outer wall relatively smooth and interspersed with air pockets?
(Keith’s ‘conspiracy journal’ was quickly being filled with terminology like keratinization and longitudinal stringers .)
Antok was also enough of a jerk to antagonize Keith on more than one occasion with his tail. Often Keith would pause during sparring, watching it move and flicker as if mesmerized. Antok never said anything, but Keith had a feeling he found it hysterical.
Antok was also polite enough and considerate enough to be one of the leading medical providers on the base. It made sense somehow, with Antok being well versed in fixing injuries and a field operative. He worked close with Kolivan, so he likely assisted with a medical eye on various operations.
Keith didn’t know all the details, although Antok adored him.
(Galra could purr, as well as click or chirp. Keith was beginning to suspect that they had an entirely different larynx or cartligeal system in the trachea to accomodate the sounds.)
“Any differences?” Antok asked pleasantly, voice deep with the slight rumble and low hisses that seemed to be his norm.
“No,” Keith droned back, well used to the weekly procedure.
The Blades of Marmora had a policy for all new members or new species, to be monitored on weekly appointments to guarantee no systemic infections or disease due to the unique living conditions on the base. It was rather considerate, especially how Coran seemed to always forget that humans were indeed, an entirely different species.
Antok grumbled low in a way that he always did when content. His claws clicked on the holographic keyboard, selection options in text Keith didn’t understand. The gloves he wore were custom, hardened exterior shells on the tips while mobile on the underside. Despite that, there were only two posterior junctions and a much smaller anterior pocket for an assumed thumb.
Did Antok truly only have two digits and then a thumb? Was this common for galra? He had seen galra with an array of fingers and claws before, but in battle he had just assumed they were amputations from weapon damage.
“Why do you have three fingers?” Keith blurted without consciously realizing he had spoken, then froze on the examination table.
Antok’s clicking paused, and he tilted his head at Keith in surprise and amusement. Antok rarely lowered his mask, although his alternative medical mask (with only two glowing eye holes) was less intimidating than the standard Blade mask.
Antok looked (assumedly) at his three fingered hands, then slowly back at Keith.
“Er,” Keith paused, stumbling over how to fix the situation.
Antok laughed, a low rumbling noise that was his version of a laugh at least.
Antok lowered the mask. His pale yellow eyes and average galra face was twitching slightly as if he was failing to remain composed.
He spoke something that the translator paused to catch, whirring before it clicked into a definition, “Syndactyly.”
Keith blinked and struggled to comprehend what that word even meant. He knew it was a human term, but he couldn’t recall the precise definition. He would kill for Space Google right around now.
Antok tore off the gloves he wore using his teeth (so much for sanitary) and revealed the two hooked and rather vicious looking digits.
But...on closer examination...they weren’t right. They actually looked wrong from a medical standpoint- there were four individual digits although they looked fused together, as if his bones were crushed into a strange two clawed state. The nails that sprouted from uneven nail beds were gnarled and twisted, although somehow the deformality made them look even stronger than normal. Had the disruption or bone concentration been redirected into the nail beds themselves?
Keith’s hands were itching to look at them closer.
Antok looked even more amused.
“Some are born with digits gone or morphed,” Antok offered, as if the information was some sort of inside joke, “Very common, most in feet but passed along to kits.”
Keith’s eyes were practically shining, “It’s genetic then?”
Was it X linked? More common in one gender than another? Did galra even have standard chromosomes?
Antok perked up as well, his ears (smaller than most galran ears) lifted into a point straight towards the ceiling, “Yes, those that are more aeshk have it more.”
Keith paused, the translator not managing to decode the single guttural noise, “Ah- Ahsheek?”
Antok grinned, long canines and secondary canines (Did he have a standard set of teeth? No secondary incisors?) protruding,“ Aeshk, an old identity. Some galra came from the mountains on our world, and the caves under. Aeshk have ah, thicker... “ Antok paused, in thought before he wordlessly tapped along the corner of his eye where the yellowish film slid along the rest of his eyelid.
Keith felt a breathless exhilaration bubble under his skin, “That’s a...nictitating membrane? Third eyelid?”
Antok frowned slightly and shook his head, before he started tapping frantically at the holographic display next to where Keith was still awkwardly sitting on the examination table.
Then, a display of an eye popped up, a very obvious galra eye.
Antok helpfully pointed at an entirely different area, the back of the eye along the retina directly dorsal to the pupil.
Keith didn’t even think, “Tapetum lucidum. It’s..it’s like, a reflector in the back of the eye on some uh, species from where I’m from.”
Antok looked positively gleeful, and he clicked to type something down. Keith didn’t know all of the characters for the galra language, but he was pretty sure Antok was writing down the phonetic spelling of tapetum lucidum.
Antok spun around excited, “How many teeth do you have?”
Keith paused, and blinked, “Uh, I think I have too many. I have a few on the roof- the palate.” Keith clarified poking up behind his teeth. He tilted his head back at Antok’s impatient look, and tried his best to not jolt when the much larger galra was suddenly much much closer.
Sure enough, two supernumerary teeth were poking through the hard palate of Keith’s mouth, an extra pair of canines were nestles next to his bicuspids. They were adult sized teeth too, and although they made eating some foods much easier, it made licking peanut butter off the roof of his mouth a very dangerous game.
Antok frowned and pulled back, “That looks not normal, even for your species.”
Keith shrugged and rubbed his exposed upper arm anxiously, “I don’t know. I never really knew what was normal for me until recent. With my genes and all.”
Antok blinked slowly, a very expressive movement for someone who almost always wore his mask, “I assume the paladins have proper medical records of your species?”
Keith floundered, “I- they should? They were making some, but Kolivan said that we can only contact them if it’s important!”
Antok grinned, a predatory gleeful expression, “Yes, but I say it is. Leader Kolivan would be yn karr to not listen to me, or his physical will be very soon .”
Antok, was a very scary galra.
Keith didn’t know how, but in the next two cycles on the base, Antok rather proudly displayed a set of data chips that undoubtedly held the careful collection of human anatomy and physiology notes that Shiro and Pidge had laboured over.
It was unfortunate that Antok chose to present his findings, like a cat dragging in a dead bird, in the middle of a spar with one of the Blade’s best fighters, Regris.
Regris also demolished Keith’s preconceived understanding of galra anatomy by presenting a prehensile tail that was as thick as Keith’s waist.
It also hit like a sledgehammer.
Regris laughed, a low hissing noise that was more reptilian than Antok, as he once again used the damned tail to knock Keith’s legs out and pin him to the floor with one oversized hand at his throat.
Keith wheezed, and glared at Antok who likely was grinning underneath the impersonal mask.
“That’s enough, Regris.” Antok spoke calmly, dismissing the other galra to leap off as if he hadn’t been smashing a recruit into the ground.
“You fight well,” Regris admitted, slowly swaying his tail behind him as if it wasn’t capable of serious bodily harm.
“Thanks.” Keith hoarsely returned, watching as Regris left swaying the tail leisurely behind him.
“I have the data from the paladins,” Antok informed him pleasantly, “With cross reference to our databanks, as well as our reference of other half species, we should process a rough framework for what is an acceptable range for you.”
Keith’s brain stilled, before leaping forward in a blaze of fascination, “You have a databank of other half species?”
Antok tilted his head once more, “ I have access to the databank. You do not.”
Keith tried to hide how he wilted slightly.
“However,” Antok sighed, “I am willing to answer questions about our species, if you inform me of your other species. You are fascinating creatures.”
Keith didn’t even think, “Deal.”
Antok’s spined tail whipped around like a puppy.
“Your blood is made out of hemerythrin?”
Antok tilted his head curiously, the most telling sign of all of his, “I do not know that word.”
Keith shook his head and looked at the translated text once more, bless Pidge and their dictionary memory, “Hemerythrin is a protein that I guess you use in your blood. Human’s use hemoglobin, it’s a different structure but essentially does the same thing.” Keith leant back in the chair- thankfully not on an examination table this time, “hemerythrin is clear when it’s deoxygenated, but pinkish when oxygenated.”
Antok paused as the translator worked once more, “Yes, we do not bleed as red as you do.”
Keith paused consideringly, “Do galra bruise? If it’s clear when deoxygenated then galra shouldn’t be able to bruise, right?”
Keith gaped, half out of surprise and half out of sheer exhilaration , “No way. ”
Antok gave a rumbling noise although he wasn’t paying that much attention anymore, instead he was scrolling through the translated version of Shiro and Pidge’s notes, “Humans…” Antok took a clear double take at something, blinking in quick succession as if gobsmacked, “Humans when are...are frightened they vocalize song?”
Keith felt just as confused, ‘what?’
Then he remembered Hunk, and context made everything much better.
“Yeah, okay so, humans sometimes deal with fear or anxiety differently.” he attempted to explain, “one of the paladins used to get anxious often, so what he did to calm down was to start singing, just about what was going on.”
Antok recoiled as if Keith threatened to pour water on him, “ What?”
“We sing, sometimes.” Keith felt the need to defend, “It helps us calm down.”
Antok looked more fascinated as he looked back at the data notes, “You have only two lungs?”
Keith paused, “...how many do Galra have?”
“One, only some possess the second lung.”
Antok peered at images when they appeared in the data tablet, apparently Coran figured out how to make proper working scanners to decode the information from the pods into a visible X-ray (or the equivalent).
Antok chirped happily, peering at the scans excitedly and then back at Keith as if to compare the inner workings.
“ Fascinating,” Antok rumbled under his breath, peering with pure glee at the musculature of what must have been Shiro’s human left arm.
“Oh,” Keith remembered suddenly, “I have a few things different I know. Besides the teeth.”
Antok paused, “More toes?”
He sounded so damn hopeful too.
“Er, no. My spine is bent, like it goes in too far or something. Lord-something. My lumbar vertebrae curve in too far, so my pelvis is on a tilt.”
Antok looked wary, “The Spine is very important, I’d like scans. Better than your primitive rock medical facilities and information.”
Keith felt like he should defend the human race, yet he couldn’t find it in him when Antok was likely correct.
“Alright yeah, sure take whatever you need. But I want to see it also.”
And that, is where everything started.
Galra biology in itself was something of a mystery, although Keith could confidently say he had a decent grasp on it now.
The galran home planet Daibazaal had been destroyed hundreds of deca-phoebs back, but the planet was diverse. Not nearly to the extent that Earth was, but there had been various regions across the planet that gave way to specific adaptations galra presented.
The aeshk were the variant of galra who came from the mountainous regions, although predominantly within cave systems. The ayhgr were from the same mountainous regions, except resided on the cliff faces or the peaks.
The vreli were the main population of galra, living in a mixture of open land and forested areas. The oepdylis were the variant living in deserts, or flat scrublands (although apparently there were large differences between desert oepdylis and scrub oepdylis but they shared the same name just to make everything that much harder.)
Each trait or characteristic was just as normal as black hair or blonde hair on a human. Fur or scales seemed to be relatively the same as skin tone, abnormal amounts of digits similar to human color blindness.
Galra, like the different ethnicities of the human species, all showed different traits that had mingled and genetically mixed over ten thousand years or however many deca-phoebs. Although, a few galra tended to randomly express these traits out of genetic luck.
Human’s sometimes had genes that would skip a generation, or randomly present just on fate of cross genetics themselves; galra were no different.
Descendents from mountain traveling ayhgr had slightly longer legs, lankier builds and larger feet. The descendents from the cavern dwelling aeshk presented brighter yellow eyes, and a more whipcord tail.
Regris had casually explained that he was an anomaly, representing long dormant desert oepdylis genes in his thick tail and thin streamline build; he reminded Keith of a space kangaroo.
Similar to the anatomical mingling, the galra culture and beliefs had mingled and twisted into a single united mixing pot of religious belief, and cultural importance. The translator failed in every aspect when Antok attempted to explain the galran religion, or the significance of victory and honor amidst galra. Culture at least, was able to be translated.
Yet throughout all of these unique traditions and fascinating ideas and concepts, a few remained universally vital to galra.
Concept number one: The brain heart, and tail were all connected by the spinal cord, suggesting unity in both mind, strength, and soul. The intentional targeting or actions to damage anything along the spine was incomprehensible.
Rule number one: you do not remove a tail.
(Guess there was another reason why Keith’s spine was so funky.)
“So…” Keith trailed off, trying to wrap his brain around the strange proposition he had been given, “You...you want to give me a tail?”
For a horrible second, Keith could only imagine Shiro’s expression towards his right arm, the horrific galra technology that was forced on him.
Kolivan didn’t look affected, his facial expressions barely twitching. Antok stood at his side, tail swishing unnaturally in hostility.
Antok’s mask was activated, which only made the lack of telling facial features all that more confusing.
“We found information on your scan results which is most pressing and concerning.” Antok hissed out the last work, tail thrashing more vigorously.
Kolivan turned his head slightly towards Antok, who almost instantly stilled his tail and relaxed his clenched claws.
“...right.” Keith cautiously added, if only to break the tense atmosphere.
“Antok, if you will.” Kolvian spoke, a calm monotone that was comforting enough even for Keith.
“Yes,” Antok stepped forward, retrieving data chips and projector cards that Keith had used multiple times with the Blade of Marmora for mission log information.
Antok twisted the activation area, and instead of a blueprint or a weapon schematic, a rough skeletal and muscular figure appeared.
It took Keith a second to realize that it was his, or assumedly his based on the tense posture of Antok.
“Ah, yes.” Keith cleared his throat, waiting for more information, or the thing he obviously wasn’t in the loop about.
“We received these scans from the Paladins. I’ve taken liberties to highlight the differences in galran anatomy that appears on your structure.” Antok growled out, swiping out another chip to play the two side by side.
It must have been Lance’s structure, because it was roughly Keith’s size, and not the broad chest of Shiro or the hulking figure of Hunk.
Then purple highlights appeared, all along the back and spinal areas where Keith’s lordosis was pronounced and evident even from a distance.
“I’ve studied the terminology you apply to your physiology and uploaded them accordingly to the universal translator,” Antok helpfully provided, clicking from under the mask as he swiped claws towards the purpled areas, “As you can see, your musculature and development is not at all restrained to the dorsal planes of the human figure. In fact, several muscles and tendons are uniquely found on your anatomy, and not at all on human anatomy.”
“Based on the information Antok has provided, we have determined that your physique most likely suggests a form of post pelvis appendage.”
Keith paused and as the words processed in his head, he spluttered.
“Wait, what unique physique?”
Antok took center stage, pointing out several small areas that looked strange but surely enough, different than Lance’s scan.
“Here, we have different branching for the latissimus dorsi on the posterior connection point to your pelvis.” Antok professionally traced the muscles of Keith’s lower back, “On top of that, we have unique branching from the lumbar nerves, likely to innervate these unclassified muscles and tendons.”
True to Antok’s words, an entirely new sheet of muscle ran along Keith’s lower back, parallel to his spine and branching around his pelvis towards the base of his iliac crest.
“Along with the general amount of vertebra, yours are slightly different shaped on the spinous process, as well as the size and quantity. You possess one more lumbar vertebra, although all of yours are slightly smaller in size. This is what has caused the overemphasized curvature of your back.”
Keith squinted at the scans and followed the path.
“More than anything, we noticed a strange concentration of nerves that neither align with your limbs or current anatomy, instead they simply….stop, as if severed. Your sacral bone is broken and disfigured from the human shape.”
Where a human tailbone curled inwards to protect the hollow center of a pelvis, Keith’s didn’t narrow and instead arched out.
Now that Antok pointed it out, it did look like something had been there before.
“The Blades of Marmora permit and treat all ailments or injuries to members of our organization,” Kolivan explained calmly, although something small in his expression betrayed anger at something, “As such, we feel it necessary to provide medical assistance or alternative if you decide so.”
Antok hunkered forward and hissed, “His tail!”
Kolivan blinked slowly, “In galran culture, it is a... grevious error to remove one of their tail. A crime that is too horrendous to speak of.”
“Zarkon doesn’t even cut off tails!” Antok howled lowly, sounding similarly horrified and wounded.
Kolivan winced, his face twitching and expressing similar disgust. “As such, we felt that we must inform you of the alternative immediately, as such treatment to a kit is....” Kolivan’s face twitched, teeth pulled into a wordless snarl of unadulterated rage.
Keith paused, staring at the holographic image of his unique physiology and trying to ignore the sudden warmth over the two’s display of protective instincts.
It...explained a bit. He always had a bit more flexibility than others with his back, he could touch his toes with no problem even with his legs straight. He could curl and arch a bit further as well, despite having such an insane inwards curve.
But to have an extra vertebrae in itself seemed insane. Not only that, but the fact his tailbone was made to- well, accomodate a tail…
At the same time...how many people would ever have the ability to say that they had a tail, or even had one for a short while? How would it move- would it be subliminal like a cat’s tail or would it rely on conscious thought and control like how Regris used his? How would the nerves function- the same degree as an arm or lesser, like the thickened epidermis on the bottom of his feet.
What shape or size would the tail be? Thick and long like Regris, or thin and spined like Antok? Would a tail even be useful?
Keith felt giddy at the possibilities, especially with how practical a tail would be in a fight. Regris used his like another limb, able to type on holograms with it.
“We would be required to attach it to the preexisting nerves that you still possess.” Antok explained further, poking at the nerve cluster near the top of his pelvis, “With how primitive this...this dismemberment was, there is a greater opportunity for us to remedy the situation.”
“Wait,” Keith blurted, thinking of Shiro and his hesitation and complains about his galra arm, “Would it, ah, hurt?”
Antok reached up with one hand, deactivating his mask and revealing the twin fanged face behind it. He blinked slowly, as if to try and soothe Keith, “It would not. It is fortunate you do not experience phantom pain due to the removal. It is likely you will have to learn how to use it once more, but it will be simple connection and removal points.”
“I’ve overseen many brothers with tails, few have complained.” Kolivan sagely added.
Keith perked up, tilting his head slightly as he crossed his arms defensively, almost hoping it was true, “It comes off?”
Kolivan gave a slow nod himself, “Indeed, it would not be advisable to send agents out when still adapting to a new limb.”
“It would have an attachment point, small and barely visible yet easily removable.” Antok added helpfully, clicking with two claws rapidly as he drew up what looked like schematics for some sort of cross between an implant and an import station.
‘It’s like a USB’ Keith thought to himself, almost laughing at the analogy.
Well, he’d be able to take it out, it wouldn’t go on him for missions, and best of all, the other Paladins wouldn’t need to know about it.
The best part? He could experience a tail.
The...the experimentation he could undergo, his findings could not only help his own curiosity, but he doubted the galra actually experimented with as many variables. Antok seemed fascinated when Keith had shared his rough theories before, pointing out the correct ones or contemplating the unconfirmed ones.
“I’ll do it.” Keith agreed, feeling just as excited as Antok looked.
“I’ll send word,” Kolivan agreed, a small smile curling around his face as his ears tilted backwards happily, “We shall treat you well, kit.”
The implant was actually ridiculously easy, and fast to do. Keith had thought it would be a laborious process, or some sort of alien operation with hacksaws and strange alien worms.
Instead, four thick metal prongs were inserted around the base of his tailbone, just above the waistband for his normal human clothes (although he did wear low waisted jeans). For his Blade suit, there was already a section of cloth that removed to accommodate a tail. The prongs were a centimeter long, and barely stung as they were injected quickly by Antok.
Coran had hurt him worse while attempting to fix one of Keith’s many laceration wounds. Antok’s swift proficiency was a cool balm on his anxiety.
Once the pins were in place, Antok sternly informed him to not move , lest it endanger his curled hair thin nerves that were apparently ‘untangling from the medieval torture’, and seeking out the pins like some sort of magnet.
(Antok started talking about something that was eerily similar to how spindle fibers functioned in cell reproduction and division, yet the galra didn’t seem to understand at all what Keith was explaining.)
After that, through minor calibration and interaction with Keith’s own muscular structure to make sure the nerve fibers had correctly attached, they would find the proper tail structure to fit his physique.
Keith had squirmed far too much for Antok’s patience. The galra only left after he supplied Keith with a data chip explaining the color and fur variation of galra species.
It was dull reading, yet at the same time it was positively thrilling.
“We use the size of the lowest existing vertebrae to determine the tail thickness,” a galra offered, one that was tall and lanky and equipped with a long thin whipcord tail coated in fine black fur along the dorsal edge. It wasn’t until Keith took a closer glance that he noticed the slight purple hue and cracks; then he realized the tail was in fact, a prosthetic fitting seamlessly to the galra.
The galra at least, seemed well informed and likely was the tail fitter for the entire base.
(How about that, a tail fitter for aliens.)
“Human anatomy is so fascinating,” the galra added almost shyly, “Your final vertebrae are fused together and narrow so quickly, within three inches it narrows so small.”
“Er, I guess.” Keith shrugged, shifting his hips subtly from where he could almost feel the small nubs of the pins.
The galra flicked its ear, peering at the scans and even more scans (these ones including the pins) before he clicked something rapidly on the holographic keyboard.
“I believe that your anatomy suggests a-” The galra gave a bark of something guttural that the translator had no hope to decipher.
Keith paused, and then exhaled slowly through his nose.
“Sounds fine to me.” Keith slowly said, keeping his shoulders relaxed as the galra perked up happily and clicked again.
Almost on cue, a barely recognizable storage shelf hissed free from the other wall, shimmering slightly as the locks disabled.
The galra slid the door open and paused, contemplating the contents before he carefully unwrapped something small and bundled, compacted in a rough rams horn spiral.
It unrolled and oh it was happening.
It was a beautiful tail from a biological standpoint, especially granted that it was entirely synthetic. It looked genuinely that the galra had simply torn it off the back of another.
It was an aesthetically pleasing dark violet, bare of any fur until the very tip where a customary lion tuft sprouted.
It was thin and long. Easily as long as Keith’s entire leg, and as thick as his wrist.
“It’s advised to try it for a day and discuss any alterations necessary, sleep for a quarter cycle to allow your system to comprehend its addition.”
“Ah, alright.” Keith awkwardly took the tail in his hands, as if he was holding a coil of rope instead. It was coarse, likely waterproof and very cold in his hands.
The doctor waved him on his way with a very galran salute before seeing his next assignment. Keith was left shuffling back to his living quarters while holding a severed tail.
All things considered, he had done stranger.
The tail was cool.
It was flexible in a way that reminded him of how his hoverbike performed on open desert. It could shift one way or the next. The weight was noticeable, and forced his back to bend and arch in a way that straightened his back somewhat into a stance that felt right.
The tail sent sensations too, prickles of feeling or information he barely understood and could control even less. It jolted, jerking and slamming into the back of his legs nearly tripping himself a few times. It also hurt, sending spasms of pain through his back and sides.
He had expected it, essentially the muscles had never worked a day in their life. He remembered when he started exercising, or when he pushed himself too hard against the gladiator. The burn in his muscles was a welcome sensation.
He kept with the long whip tail for a solid week, removing it whenever necessary or whenever he practiced and trained (the tail removed with his touch as if pulling two very strong magnets apart. It connected just as easy. It wouldn't detach for anyone else.)
The first day he tried training with a tail, Regris took it as his private mission to beat him savagely. Using only his tail.
Regris was a certified jerk.
The next tail he tried was something short and blunt- pointed like a dinosaur and only reaching his mid thigh.
It didn’t have any of the flexibility that he wanted, and he struggled even harder to control or make it move with his motions.
The third tail was longer and although more flexible, had no strength to it at all. It reminded Keith of a cat, or a monkey. It coiled and wrapped around his legs and waist. Twice he had to tug and try to get it to unlatch from where it had curled tightly around a door handle like a stubborn python. It wrapped around the wrist of one galra in the hallway. Keith tried in vain to salvage the situation, internally combusting with embarrassment as the other galra found the kit-like action adorable.
The fourth tail was like Regris’. After only a few dobashes he was stuck on the ground, struggling to lift himself up from the pain and throbbing from his back and sides. Not only that, but sitting down was near impossible with the thickness of the tail’s base- human thighs were not made for such weight.
The fifth tail ended up being the last tail model he tried. It was something between the first model, and Regris’.
It was much thinner and less in weight, at the widest it was as thick as his bicep. I was slightly shorter than the first, brushing just above his ankles with a still fairly thick width. It felt heavier, stockier and sturdy. Less maneuverable than the others, but it felt more to him like an extension or a possible limb.
Regris looked thrilled at his selection, and instantly challenged him once more to a spar.
(He lost of course, but he managed two good strikes. One even with the tail.)
After he selected his tail, Antok did something he called ‘tuning’.
He opened the blocked signals, and from there, Keith couldn’t tell where he and his tail, were split.
He could feel the cold of the room, the thrumming of the floor from where the tip brushed against it. He could feel the slightest beat of air where the air cycling system expelled it from the vents.
It felt like another leg. He didn’t think about movement he just...he moved , and his tail responded. Gently lowering or lifting in according to the tensing of his (still sore) back. It arched and relaxed, curling the best it could around his leg before dropping limply behind him. The weight was reassuring, keeping his posture straight and legs bent just enough.
His Blade of Marmora outfit was easy to adjust and navigate, shifting his tail (his tail! His tail!) through the opening was no harder than stepping through or sliding his arm through a sleeve.
The customization was also, in his opinion, quiznaking cool.
Since the galra species varied so much either in skin, scales, fur, or simply color, the tail synthetic fiber had been made to alternate to various forms and states before finalizing and sending the data to the manufacturer to create a single, heavily advanced tail of the same design. He could experiment with black fur one day, to matching his pale skin tone and going hairless.
(That had been a disaster. He looked like a Chihuahua.)
The darker black-purple tail matched his hair and didn’t overall look that bad, although the long fur threw the look a bit into uncertain territories. He never was that good with fashion, although he thought the black velvet-esq was rather fitting. And functional.
Another thing Keith learned, was that although galra were superior in strength and speed, they were horrible with dexterity.
Considering the long claws and the lack of opposable digits, it made sense in some way. Keith’s quick mastery of the various movements of the tail was no harder than learning a new training drill with his sword.
Of course, that was all before Regris forced him to use the tail in all of his interactions.
(Kolivan walked in one day and watched in wordless humor as Regris and Keith competed in tossing an empty knife sheath from one to the other, only using their tails.)
He broke the tail while sparring. Apparently it wasn’t intended to use in battle like another sword.
Regris was a jerk.
Although Regris did have good ideas now and again, especially in regards to using a tail in combat.
The spines along Antok’s tail were unique, and used almost like a whip with an extension of a spear on the edge. A flexible scythe, controlled and terrifying. The spine was savage when used properly, tearing through simulators without any difficulty. Due to the thin tissue and relative weakness of his tail body, he tended to refrain from using it in battle.
The spine was sharp like a blade, so Keith tried a tail coated in them. Although the spines took away from the extensive mobility, they would form decent protection.
The next prototype had Keith feeling like he was walking around with half a porcupine attached to him. At least he wouldn’t break it while fighting.
(It lasted three training sessions. It reduced mobility so much, he struggled to jerk it to the side fast enough to deflect the glancing blow with a knife.)
The next prototype had the thin spines glancing along only the external edge, leaving the top and bottom uncovered for mobility and also to reduce the risk of him accidently knicking anyone in passing.
(It reminded Keith of a few lizards he had seen in the desert outside his shack.)
Regris liked it, and so did Antok.
Kolivan had remarked about the creative design, although he was a skeptic of its practicality. Keith took him on in battle, and although Kolivan was much more experienced fighting new recruits, Keith was neither new to fighting, or only wielding one sword now.
‘It’s remarkable,” Kolivan admitted, after both were tired and worn out from the scuffle, “It amazes me that humans do not have tails to begin with.”
“Well, I’m not all human.” Keith admitted, stretching his arms behind his back. He heard his shoulders crack, and his tail curled contently on the ground where he sat.
“Why is it you enjoy your tail so much, kit?”
“I don’t know...I think...It’s nice to just...fit in? Like, I was weird for a human and now I just-”
“You’re galra for us kit, tail or no.”
Keith coughed, panting and gasping something harshly as he retched dryly onto the training room floor. His lungs throbbed, the air seared his throat, and he felt like his nose was running.
He slowly lifted himself upwards, deactivating his mask just to wipe the back of his hand across his nose. He spotted blood, but it wasn’t enough to stop him.
His legs were shaky but they supported him. He held his knife up, pausing as he surveyed Regris who was already prepared for another fight.
Keith took a breath, held it, and exhaled it slowly. His arms and legs burned, and he was ready.
He took off at a sprint at Regris, who already tensed in preparation.
Slash, slash, duck, jab. It was repetitive, practiced, regular.
They moved in sync, Regris was a good teacher and a good match, despite the massive height difference.
Regris lashed out in a spin, a two clawed foot swinging towards Keith’s face.
Keith blocked with his forearm, breath hitching as he saw Regris’ tail swing around in preparation to slam.
Keith grinned, blood staining his teeth as dark black tail clashed, spines clattering along the black and purple armor along Regris’ tail.
Regris grunted, a low hissing noise as he stumbled, pressing further and struggled to remain balanced on only one foot.
Keith panted, struggling against Regris’ superior strength as the galra pressed further and further- the galra’s tail started sneaking around, more prehensile than Keith’s.
‘Quiznak’ Keith thought, sweat dripping as his eyes flashed to his knife, currently trapped under Regris’ leg and pointing safely away from the galra.
Keith twisted, dropping his arm with Regris’ force to catch him off guard. Once free, he tugged away, trying to dance out of Regris’ range to gather himself for a new tactic.
Except...except Regris’ tail grabbed his .
Regris gave a loud hissing laugh as he yanked, pulling Keith back towards him and dragging him for a few steps across the ground. Keith’s back muscles flared in pain, causing him to wince as his spine screamed in exhaustion.
Except, he had a way to combat situations like this.
Keith flexed, feeling the phantom sensation as real as his own limb. The spines along the lateral sides flared from their normally retracted state. Regris hissed, a high pitched clicking noise as he jolted, yanking his tail away as quickly as he could.
Keith had a different idea in mind than Regris’ tactic. Where Regris’ tail was another limb, capable of physical blows or even grabbing weapons, Keith’s tail….
Keith’s tail was a weapon.
Keith twisted away, holding his knife low to protect his front with his tail out behind.
Regris was considerably more weary, holding his tail protectively behind him as it oozed something pinkish.
“Not bad,” Regris admitted, clicking contently as he swished the gouged tail.
Regris charged again, and this time, he wasn’t holding back.
Keith didn’t last that long, but then again he had been going at it for a long while already. Kolivan had instructed Regris to be Keith’s main teacher, or at least sparring partner as Keith quickly improved.
It wasn’t as if there was much else to do on the base besides train and recover from the last training session. It was quiet, isolated, and they rarely came in contact with the others unless necessary for a mission. Keith didn’t get distracted, and besides his own experiments and notes he had written for his own discoveries with the tail and his own biology, he really had little else to do.
It had inspired and impressed Kolivan, who looked at him proudly as he observed his quick improvement. The other galra at the base were not as skeptic either, and had quickly welcomed him with open arms and strange protective urges when they had seen the cybernetic tail and realized what happened.
It was overwhelming at first, all of the strange protective instincts the other galra displayed. He had been given extra portions of food, and often other galra would pester him subtly until he finished it. A few others would find him at odd times and take him for miniature ‘lessons’. He’d been snatched during the equivalent of the night, just to train his ‘night vision’ (he had better vision in the dark than a human, he knew that, but trying to see like a galra was downright impossible) , he’d been trained on various galra ear movements for body language (Keith could barely wiggle his ears. Barely.), the proper technique for hissing (it was more guttural than he had thought), and even the right way to bare teeth in either a greeting or a threat.
Regris on the other hand spent an obscene amount of time training him on proper tail greeting etiquette.
(Thank Quiznak for that too, he positively charmed one galra with a six foot whipcord tail who was itching to pick a fight with Keith just before.)
It changed when they were on a mission, a simple information retrieval in a planet’s marketplace that quickly erupted after they arrived.
Ironically, having a tail on missions improved the success rate, something about the sheathed spines gave more of an imposing appearance and tended to repel hostile local species. Keith wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth, especially how now he stumbled when he didn’t have the additional weight.
Kolivan had sent him down with another operative named Yvalt, who was a smaller galra (an anomaly, not a regional difference) and less obvious in a crowd even with the outer wear..
It was pure luck, or misfortune, that that planet was the one where the Paladin’s of Voltron were causing chaos.
And by chaos, it was the release of 5 Jholreans, which were almost like bulls the size of rhinos, with six feet.
Keith was honestly minding his own business, letting Yvalt do all of the diplomacy while Keith stood guard and casually observed a fruit which looked strikingly like a kiwi yet with tentacles instead.
He heard the shouting down the road and peered out from under the stall overhang, sighing through his nose as two of the large chaotic creatures smashed a stall and the produce inside.
The local inhabitants screamed and bolted, running as fast as they cool from the furious creatures, tangling themselves in ropes all along the sides.
Yvalt sprang out, peering out and exchanging a gutteral curse under his breath.
“We are to not interfere unless relevant.” Yvalt explained, watching the scene with tense shoulders. Keith felt like growling, taught as a bow’s string as he watched a third creature go skidding around the corner.
Then, something neon green shot out and wrapped around one of the large horns, yanking a small figure behind.
Keith gasped in alarm, eye’s widening, “Pidge!”
“Wait!” Yvalt hissed, clutching Keith’s arm with one four fingered claw, “Leader said-”
“It’s Voltron related!” Keith shouted back, activating his mask to remain anonymous as he sprinted out into the road, drawing his knife as he scrambled to figure out how to stop the Jholreans.
Yvalt cursed something and took off climbing, scrambling up the building towards where the overhanging ropes were connected to the support posts. Without pausing, Yvalt withdrew a knife and began sawing at the rope.
Keith caught on instantly and used his blade similarly to tear at where the rope connected to the ground, yanking it free as well as the giant flap of fabric it was woven into.
Keith sprinted across the gap, raising the cloth like an extravagant fishing net for catching space bulls.
The first two creatures skidded uncontrollably into it, tangling around and flapping their horns (Oh, they were tenticles) as they collapsed and belted from under the fabric.
The last one, the one Pidge was being dragged behind was running full steer ahead with no goal of stopping.
Keith licked his lips anxiously, judging the distance and releasing a heavy breath.
He jumped, flipping once and righting himself just to grab one of the tentacles of the strange bull and pull , hoping his additional body weight would teeter the thing off balance.
And it fell, belting in surprise as it tipped slowly, then with speed as Keith’s compacted galra density yanked it down.
Pidge flew past, screaming as her inertia didn’t stop. Keith jerked on reflex, lifting his tail around her estimated midsection.
Pidge bounced off his bulk like a ping pong ball on a paddle. She skipped once, before rolling in a groaning mess into the dirt.
“I hate Lance.” She groaned in the ground, barely audible if not for how often Keith had heard the phrase.
“Pidge? Pidge are you okay?”
Pidge groaned, slowly lifting herself as her bayard retracted, one hand moving to fix her askew helmet, “Yeah, I’m fine. Some of the Blade are here and stopped three of these things.”
“Awww, they’re here too?”
“Lance, you were the one to release them.”
“I didn’t mean to!”
“How about next time you don’t try to pet them? They aren’t space cows! That’s Kaltenecker! These things are- are mutated water buffalo!”
Pidge rolled her eyes and righted herself, looking around before spotting both Keith and Yvalt.
“Thanks for that,” Pidge smiled, cracking her neck with a wince, “Are you on a mission for Kolivan?”
Yvalt looked at Keith, before he stepped back and reached for where he had a communicator. Right, he would have to contact Kolivan about the mission complication.
Keith sighed, and reached up to deactivate his face mask, “Yeah, something like that.”
Pidge did a double take before her face lit up, “Keith!”
“Did she say Keith? She said Keith! Keith is here! Why is Keith here!”
Pidge scowled and smacked her helmet, muting the mic as she grinned, “Thanks for the save! Should have figured with that ninja stunt.”
Keith gave a small smile, peering at the chaotic pile of wiggling moaning animals, “Is this Lance’s fault?”
“Isn’t it always?” Pidge deadpanned, startling a laugh out of Keith.
And of course, because Keith relaxed and was content, his tail curled up behind him in a happy ark out from his ankles.
The swishing drew Pidge’s eyes, who paused and blinked, then leant obnoxiously to the side to see further.
Keith shifted sideways, tucking the tail tighter back. Pidge’s eyes narrowed at the challenge, and thus began the strange reunion dance that was accompanied with Pidge’s venomous “Keith! Let me at it! What is that! Keith! Keith stop it!”
Pidge leapt at him, clamoring over his shoulders and yanking on his hair to peer over his shoulder with a loud Ah-hah!
Keith sighed and stood still as she reached and yanked-
“Ouch!” Keith hissed, jerking away and arching his tail to keep it further away, “You can’t- you can’t pull it!”
Pidge’s eyes were wide and shining in awe, “Keith, you grew a tail?”
Keith was never more thankful for Pidge’s action of muting the mic. He winced, tugging futile with his tail to tug it awway, only furthering Pidge’s grin from where she wrapped her hands around the circumfrence.
“Let go!” He grunted, tugging again and try and free it. Pidge cackled, yanking it roughly in her direction and sending a flare of pain through Keith’s back.
Pidge was wearing her paladin gauntlets which Keith knew first hand could stop a knife, so without any mercy his eyes narrowed and his tail flared.
Sparks flew, legitimate sparks as the metallic edges of the spines jammed sharply against the Altean metal.
The resounding twang and vibrations were enough for Keith to hiss lowly in surprise pain. Pidge yelped, freeing his tail and stumbling backwards, staring at her hands in surprise.
Keith winced, flexing and retracting his spines quickly to try and get the throbbing to cease, “Really Pidge?”
Pidge was grinning, “You have knives on your tail?”
“It’s not knives.” Keith muttered sourly, flattning the spines and curling the tail out of her grubby fingers, “And it’s prosthetic.”
Pidge actually jumped in surprise, looking at Keith as if he had baffled all of her theories right then, “A prosthetic? I didn’t think you’d want to go for one after Shiro…”
The two trailed off with equally sympathetic looks, they each had seen Shiro’s trauma and reactions to his own arm.
“Not like that,” Keith sighed, “I had the preexisting nerve roots, we just untangled them and hooked it to a prosthetic.”
Pidge frowned slightly and cocked their hip, “I don’t think it’s that easy.”
Keith frowned and felt a small smidge of annoyance, “It wasn’t. The nerve roots near my cauda equina were all tangled, because the spinal tail nerves were coiled up and snipped it got twisted around a few of my sacral nerves.”
Pidge tensed and looked at him with narrowed eyes, “Galra knew what a cauda equina was?”
Keith felt salty so he snapped out, “No, I do.” And brushed past them with all grace of a Marmora soldier. It had taken him a while to master the imposing walk, that somehow still possessed the grace.
Pidge scrambled to chase after, looking dutifully sheepish and apologetic, until her helmet buzzed loudly with “Pidge, we ah, do you know where the other creatures went? We found the owner of them, and they’re really not happy.”
Pidge sighed and Keith watched as she clicked her mouthpiece, “Yeah, where are you guys at?”
“Two streets over. Lance is about to get into a fight, I’d appreciate your help, maybe you could help with the electric fence? Allura is doing her best to fix the situation.”
“On my way.” Pidge chirped back, looking at Keith expectantly.
Keith sighed through his nose, “Lead the way.”
Shiro had been understating the situation, because rather quickly even from a distance it was obvious the large hulking alien was furious.
The type of pure anger that Keith had only seen a few times, the type of anger where fists were almost certainly about to fly.
“Oh Lance,” Pidge sighed, walking closer with Keith standing ear her flank, mask drawn over his face.
Shiro looked visibly relieved when Pidge was near, which only further emphasized how screwed the group was.
“I’m sorry sir, but now that the Green Paladin is here we can make efforts on rebuilding the fence system.” Allura tried to soothe.
“That he ruined!” The large alien snarled, a thick globules violent drool dribbled from its three tusks. Lance grimaced away from the alien, looking more disgusted than worried.
“I said I was sorry!” Lance protested, pointing at Pidge dramatically, “They’ll fix the fence for you!”
“I don’t want it fixed! I want you to pay!” The alien roared furiously.
Keith spotted a short bright green tail on the alien, strangely reminiscent of a pineapple.
“We’ll of course supply you funds for damages caused.” Allura attempted to soothe once more.
The angry alien pulled his lips back, revealing smaller serrated teeth along with the three tusks.
“I want him to pay, not credits!” the creature howled, and Lance gulped quietly.
The small pineapple tail was bristling noticably, tense and shaking in anger.
Keith was struck suddenly with an idea with how to escape unscathed. All at risk was his dignity.
The alien reached and pulled out something from its side- a large spiked club.
Alright ignoring dignity.
Keith stepped forward, brushing between the group while standing sideways in front of the creature.
With a slow breath through his nose, he arched his spine slightly and let his tail slide around towards the alien’s.
It was strangely textured, more squishy than Regris’ tail. Almost like an over inflated water balloon. The alien jerked in surprise, and slowly moving through the proper greeting and movements he had learned from the Blade, Keith attempted his best at ‘tail charming’.
It had worked on the one huge galra, and amazingly enough it was working on this alien.
“...Oh.” It spoke, blinking rapidly as the tension in its body rapidly drained from its limbs.
“They meant no harm, and apologize. They’ll fix the fence, and we’ll leave.” Keith explained with a light warble in his tone betrayed the high stress.
The alien blinked and grudgingly ducked its head, “Fine. Don’t mess up again.” It growled at Lance, although looked noticeably more relaxed and less agitated.
Keith carefully withdrew, careful to not prick or knick the other with the various spines. The alien spun on its heels and stomped away.
“What?” Lance asked pinched, hands raising to twist in his hair, “ What?”
Pidge managed a solid ten seconds before laughing, something on the edge of disbelief and genuine humor.
“Okay so that happened,” Hunk added, looking almost on the verge of crying.
“Tail charming,” Allura blinked, looking stunned, “Of course, almost all species known have a form of nonverbal communication. Tail charming, tail charming.”
Shiro hunched his shoulders as if a tremendous weight had been removed.
He turned to Keith, and gave an honest smile.
“Thank you, I couldn’t think of a way to deescalate the situation any better. We’re of course very thankful for everything the Blade does, but in this occasion thank you personally for helping us out.”
Pidge cackled like a banshee.
“Thanks,” Keith smacked the side of his mask, deactivating it while also giving a playful glare at Lance, “Seems I still cant get away from cleaning up Lance’s messes.”
“Hey!” Lance blurted, crossing his arms and pouting.
“Oh my god, Oh my god guys.” Hunk gasped something strangled, “Galra Keith grew a tail. He grew a tail.”
Lance reached out subtly, Keith flared his spines and smugly smirked when Lance yowled and stumbled backwards.
Allura looked at the tail in surprise, “I was not aware humans were capable of regeneration!”
“We aren’t.” Pidge grinned, “Keith just wanted a science experiment.”
Shiro looked surprised, “A science experiment? I thought you stopped with those?”
Keith’s tail flicked its tip and twisted worriedly, “Ah, well.”
“Wait wait, science experiment?” Lance’s jaw dropped, “Keith is a nerd?”
“Keith was one of the best biology fans I knew,” Shiro smiled fondly, his eyes glazing slightly, “He had more books on anatomy than I had on physics.”
Pidge’s eyes gleamed, “Have you been taking notes on that thing?”
Keith scowled at her, offended. He twisted his tail, coiling just so... and stole Pidge’s glasses.
“Hey!” they shrieked in anger, jumping to try and grab them, mindful of the spines.
“Okay, that’s actually really cool.” Hunk confessed, “Like, really cool. Can you hang from it? Where does it attach?”
“Oh my god,” Lance gasped, “Keith, Keith, mullet man, you’re like...a cat. A giant space cat.”
“I hate you.” Keith deadpanned, letting Pidge have the glasses back in favor of smacking Lance’s helmet from his arms, “And no, you can’t pet it.”
Fanart drawn by Sarapsys