Perils in Pets
by Jez Patterson
The only possible way that transporting animals involved a step up from human passengers was because you held it aloft to examine what you'd just trodden in.
The space-limo business didn't look so bad now.
"Have you fed it?" Captain Percina Saunders asked her husband.
Once, Martin had been her first mate. Then Percina had paid for various physical and mental enhancements to make Martin a husband worthy of a captain of the Fleet, married him... and was promptly assessed as unworthy as a captain of the Fleet.
A man who wears pips on his shoulders, her mother had proclaimed at the time, is one whose output of bullshit is hoping to fertilize them.
"I don't want the Tfiulk waking up," Percina said. "Their food is drugged to make flights less stressful."
"The Tfuilk didn't say he was stressed."
"I wasn't talking about the Tfuilk."
It was a long time since ships had carried mops and buckets. You might not hear a scream in space, but that didn't mean you contributed to its fame for being airless. So Martin had better--
"Hang on," Percina said. "You just said 'The Tfuilk didn't say.' Don't tell me you can speak to animals now?"
"I didn't need to," Martin said. "His English is perfectly understandable."
Percina blinked, turned to her controls, turned back to Martin, blinked some more.
"But it's a pet."
The only pet worth having on Hoosten was a Tfiulk. Tfiulk had limbs like sloths, moved slightly faster, and could be taught to sit, fetch, guide the blind--all the usual tricks dogs were taught on Earth.
But Tfiulks didn't talk.