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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.)


Samantha is always thinking twenty steps ahead of everyone else. Case in point is the new lab assistant for Rupert and Rosalind, Feryl. She’s a freshman who just happened to move into Samantha’s old dorm, and came to Samantha’s attention due to her relentless pursuit of Vince.
Samantha and the rest of us will be gone to Mars for three years, so Samantha had to staff the lab with those she trusted to keep the place running in her absence. The department chair Prof. Allele is useless, and while Rupert and Rosalind are brilliant researchers they have zero management skills. Vince has proven himself trustworthy, but he needed help. Enter Feryl.


For all the details Samantha came up with while planning the Mars mission (And remember, she spent a lifetime doing that, and time-traveller Maria brought the results back to the present day), she didn’t indicate who the Commander would be. Now we know. It’s her.
She had called a meeting to discuss that very thing, and intended to convince everyone to vote for Luis. However, there was a crisis at the lab that required her attention, which put her in rush hour traffic. That delayed her for another 90 minutes. By the time she finally arrived at the house the vote had already taken place. (Luis was voted second in command.)