FERAL FERYL

Due to a mix-up (Thanks, dodos.), Vince and Feryl found themselves transformed into a mouse and cat, respectively. That mishap was compounded by Pam sneaking into the lab to see what they were up to. She left the open behind her, and the panicked Feryl escaped.
Now with mouse vision, Vince was able to see better in the dark. He located Border collie DNA for Pam to track Feryl. That, of course, basically turned Pam into her mother Laptop (now Brenda Scrim).
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TRESPASSING

Samantha’s had a number of lab assistants, but Vince has really proven his value to her. He’s focused, dependable, completely reliable. …And he’s a mouse.
A former mouse, that is. After the incident earlier this year when he lost his tail in a dumpster (and worse, had to rely on Pam to save him), he seems to have lost his taste for the life of a small scurrying rodent. He’s embraced his human existence and seems to be thriving in it.
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FIELD TRIP

Space is an inhospitable environment, especially when taking kids along.
There will be four children on the Mars mission: Leonardo, Marlon, Candide and Clay. Marlon is the oldest; at the time of the January 2018 launch he’ll be about to turn eight. Meanwhile, Candide and Clay will have just turned six. With all of his time traveling it’s hard to guess Leonardo’s age, but he appears to be somewhere between those ages. (Of course, from another perspective you could also say he’s 565.)
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MISSION STATUS

We’re under fourteen months away from the launch date. Most of us who previously had jobs are now full time employees of Fastrack, Inc., the company funding the mission. The exceptions:
Samantha, still at the Havens U. Genetics Lab
Bambi, still on her final concert tour before the launch
Me, who will have one more season as mascot for the WNBA’s San Jose Twitters
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LAB PROCEDURE

For Samantha, Rupert and Rosalind have always been able colleagues, and good friends as well. Working with Samantha they’ve been a part of a brilliant team of geneticists mapping the far reaches of the field’s possibilities. That said, they can be a problem.
The issue is a surfeit of enthusiasm, leading them beyond the restrictions of standard scientific procedure. During their years together Samantha has always been there to rein them in. But…what happens when she’s 140 million miles away?
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AFTERMATH

The feelings were decidedly bittersweet. Governor Argus won reelection in her final campaign, but elsewhere her party experienced shocking disappointment that’s still being processed.
Even the outcome of the Governor’s race ended up being anticlimactic, since it came to a conclusion not with a bang but the whimper of Claude Carp’s disappearance. After he ran off into the ocean there was speculation that he’d drowned, but of course we knew that couldn’t happen to someone who is actually merfolk. Then, the next day there were cryptic messages sent from his cell phone that proved he was still alive. The human authorities are looking for him, and his assets have been impounded. There’s an international search for him underway on both land and sea. (Too bad that the humans are unable to coordinate with their aquatic law enforcement colleagues, since they don’t know they exist.)
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DIGGING FOR EVIDENCE

Days before the deadlocked election, Remora received word from her fellow merfolk that Samantha’s blue whale was nearing the coast. No reason was given, but Samantha knew it had to be important.
Samantha and Remora arrived at the pier before dawn and spotted the whale in the distant waters. Then something landed in the sand behind them.
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DEADLOCK

It’s nine days before the election and Samantha’s mother is in the fight of her life. Polls show that she and Claude Carp are tied, with neither moving much up or down. It will all come down to turnout.
Governor Argus is generally well-liked in the state, but this is a year when it can be a liability to be an insider. Of course, that skill in brokering deals in the legislature is what propelled her from being an unknown state senator to the Governor’s mansion. It’s ironic, then, for her to be seen as the Establishment candidate when she only won her first race a mere 14 years ago.
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SABBATICAL

Samantha was greatly annoyed when the department chair, Professor Alelle, insisted that her voyage to Mars be regarded by the university as a sabbatical. While it’s true that she’ll be taking time off from her department duties and obligations, she’s slightly insulted by the bureaucratic designation.
In the end she went along, filling out the required forms. She’s not in this for the fame; after all, the project won’t be revealed to the public until after the crew is actually launched. She just wants the achievement to be recognized with the respect it deserves.
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BAKE SALE

One of the ironies about Samantha’s awesome powers of genetics is her insistence on keeping them under wraps. While she continues to pursue her research she’s unable to profit from it, saying that humanity isn’t yet ready for such responsibilities. One doesn’t have to look far to know she’s right. Maturity seems in short supply these days.
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