The Amity Incident

By CM_Weller All Rights Reserved ©

Scifi / Adventure

17.

There was something loud in the jungle. It crashed about in the branches and was off again before T'reka could identify it.
She hid in her lab and piloted the remote cam, setting it to target the source or sources of the noise and identify it.
Anything that loud had to be dangerous, carnivorous, venomous and many other fearful things ending in 'ous'. And if she meant to continue doing science in this locale, she had to find out what it was, confirm its hazard level and, if possible, find a way to discourage it from being dangerous wherever she happened to roam.
Finally, the wretched machine targeted the source of the noisemaking. Followed it. Zoomed in on it.
It was a frog. Just on the cusp of capture size for the drone.
Which meant it was a frog four times the size of the largest amphibian that T'reka had ever heard of.
She instructed the drone to capture it for study, anyway. She would quickly find out how dangerous it might be in safe conditions. And since she had to stay in her lab until the drone - now slowed with its live cargo - returned and she could begin on that task… T'reka left the drone to its program and got on with classifying all the leftover samples from the previous day. It was almost meditative work. Relaxing her nearly to the point of stupor.
And thoroughly enjoyable.
All the raw data went into the data feed for the listening base at Kal'rike. She didn't have her life-monitoring on, because she was not outside. She wore the equipment, anyway, in case something alarming approached once more.
If she died unexpectedly, here, at least those back in Kal'rike would know why.
Enough morbid thoughts. On with science.
Two so-far-poisonous plants may have applications in medicine, conquering tumours and, according to her results, genetic hatching defects. Administration of such medicine would be a problem for another scientific mind.
Her job was merely identifying all of it. She simply lacked any of the equipment necessary to run any testing of the chemistry she identified here.
She ran tests on the seeds, as well. Just in case they had benefits that the leaves, bark, wood or roots did not share. T'reka frequently wondered how a root and a branch from the same plant could have different qualities. And, when there was fruit, how the flesh of a fruit could have different qualities to the seeds within.
Just one square Flight's worth of jungle was a wealth of scientific knowledge.
In a week, maybe more, she would have enough information to run a Heads-Up Display to inform her of previously-unidentified plants.
Then she could really explore. Find animal trails. Trap local creatures for analysis. Build hides to study them in their natural environment.
The drone finally lumbered into its airlock/dock and deposited the giant frog in a glass encasement. It was enormous. Almost the size of a preschool-aged child. It showed no fear of her and threw itself against the secure glass to spread mucus on the formerly pristine surface.
T'reka activated a host of scanners to gather data without harming the beast.
Insectivorous. Predated on small birds, keep out of reach from infants. Smarter than any amphibian known previously to science. But then, that wasn't hard. Some slime moulds were smarter than amphibians known to science.
The frog crawled around its glass walls. Once around. Once up and down. And it knew better than to crawl on its ceiling. Then, it returned to the middle of its enclosure to watch T'reka as if it had nothing better to do for the rest of its life.
The creature knew it could not escape, and had decided not to try.
T'reka began filing an application to study the creature under approved laboratory conditions. As a tree-borne amphibian, studying it in the wild would be problematic. Capturing this one had also been problematic. She doubted she'd get another in a hurry.
Therefore, she had to keep this one alive.
T'reka set the automatic insect catcher to send a portion of already-identified insects into the live containment unit. There were plenty of bugs and, if she calculated correctly, there would be plenty for the giant frog to eat.
It owlishly stared at the first insect to enter its new world. Then lazily snapped it out of the air with an elastic and sticky tongue.
T'reka amended the entry on the frog to read, Keep well out of reach from infants.

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