MAGIC ACT

The semester’s over, the genetics lab is closed for the summer and Samantha can now fully concentrate on the January launch of the Mars mission.
She wishes.
She’d assumed that Vince and Pam, like last year, would spend the summer months as humans working for Sue Havens at the day care center. While Vince will indeed be doing just that, Pam had other plans.
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PREPARATIONS

Science fiction movies never show you the nuts and bolts involved in a space voyage. For example, leaving Earth doesn’t mean we’re exempt from paying taxes. We’re all officially employees of Fastrack, Inc. and we’ve had to arrange for our money to be deposited into our bank accounts while we’re gone, and have our W-2s sent to an accounting firm that will file for us.
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CONTROL GROUP

Managing the lab had always been Samantha’s biggest challenge (and one that’s never been a part of her official job description). That’s supposed to be the purview of the department chair Professor Allele but…it’s not.
As previously mentioned, it was Samantha’s goal to put the lab in capable hands before she left for Mars. Those appendages turned out to belong to Vince and Feryl, two lab assistants who occupy the lowest rung of the department’s ladder (not counting the test subjects). Yet, they’ve shown a unique talent for leading their superiors in ways that aren’t noticed as such.
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TRIANGLE

As she prepares for Mars, Samantha is also keeping a close watch on those remaining behind; particularly Pam, Vince and Feryl. She needs Pam to continue as dorm resident advisor, and for Vince and Feryl to keep the genetics lab from spinning out of control.
The problem is that these crucial individuals form a romantic triangle, no matter how much Pam denies it. The twist is that when Pam is in her cat form, she actually seems to like her rival. For her part, Feryl has absolutely no idea that Pam and Palmtop are the same, and she takes Pam’s insistence that she has zero feelings for Vince at face value.
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PERSONAL EFFECTS

All of crew going to Mars are given a specific weight limit on items to take on the voyage, which isn’t as restrictive as it sounds. Keep in mind that the ship’s 3D printer can create most any item; when one of the children gets bored with a toy, it goes into the mix of plastics and emerges as something new.
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BROKEN ROUTINE

It seems as if life at the lab has entered a state of equilibrium; at the least as close as one can get when the dodos are involved. While the department chair Prof. Allele is nominally in change, it’s actually Samantha who maintains an order that’s prevailed for years, and shows every sign of continuing to do so in the future. Appearances can be deceiving, however.
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GUARDIAN ANGEL

It’s been over fifteen years since Samantha’s grandmother passed away, and during that time she’s been on her best behavior in the afterlife. This week she got her reward: a promotion to the rank of Angel (Second class).
Contrary to popular culture, that designation does come with wings of the recipient’s choosing, plus a halo. The latter is limited to a specific wattage after some individuals went overboard on the brightness. So much for Pride being a disqualifying sin.
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MOTHER VS. DAUGHTER

Brenda Scrim (formerly Laptop the Border collie) has had a career that becomes more interesting by the day. She’s been Jeanine’s campaign manager and chief of staff, and in that capacity became close to the previous Governor (and Jeanine’s mentor). She and the Governor married, so for a time before Jeanine’s election Brenda was the state’s First Lady. She’s highly qualified to assume that top role herself, and plans to run in 2020.
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PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

As previously remarked, Feryl’s reaction to meeting Vince’s parents wasn’t typical of most humans. She didn’t freak out because, as she later said, the signs were all there.
Instead, her immediate reaction was to ask questions. She first began figuring out Vince’s age, since as a human he appears to be about twenty or so. Most of that maturation would have taken place during the time he spent as a mouse owing to their brief lifespan; about a year, tops.
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COMING CLEAN

It all started when Vince decided to transform himself back into a mouse to more easily clean Samantha’s test tubes. While a clever application, he didn’t count on Feryl entering the lab to do her assignments for Rupert and Rosalind. She spotted him immediately and recognized him by his scent.
Now, not many humans have such a finely-honed ability, but the upshot is that she wasn’t wrong. (Remember, she’d encountered him as a mouse during the Christmas incident at the same time she became a cat, and then a reindeer.)
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