(THEME MUSIC UP AND UNDER)
Announcer: Hello and thanks for joining us for this edition of “What’s on YOUR Bucket List?” here on the Sol-Sys Holo-Cast Net. Today, we’re coming to you live from Mars. We’re at the Ciscan Cloister Exoveterinarian training clinic, on the outskirts of Arsia City, in the deep end of the Valles Marinaris canyon system. Today’s guest is Zenn Scarlett, a young woman in her novice year of exovet training at the cloister. So Novice Zenn, tell us…. say it with me, everybody… “What’s on YOUR Bucket List?”
Zenn: All right… this is a little weird, but the main thing I want out of life right now… is to get a message shard from my dad. Or any kind of message. He’s a lawyer out in the Enchara colony which is, like, 60 light years away. And he’s sort of just dropped off the map lately. We, um… we argued right before he left. I really wish now we hadn’t done that. But he kept at me about how I was too young to start my novice year of training, that it would be too dangerous. I said I was more than ready. And I am! I’ve tagged along with Uncle Otha on his rounds to treat the alien animals here at the clinic since I was old enough to walk. I already know more than most third year students. Anyway, we haven’t heard anything from my dad for a couple of months, and I’m getting a little worried. Just a little. But still.
Announcer: Well, we all know that communications from the Outer Reaches have been a little spotty lately. We all hope you hear from him soon. So, moving along, what’s next on your list?
Zenn: Well, I’d like to pass my end of term tests and move up from Novice Second Order to Novice First Order.
Announcer: Tests! I hated tests! Tell us, what will they be grilling you about?
Zenn: Actually, the first one is pretty simple: a medicinal eye-wash for a Mu Arae whalehound.
Announcer: A whalehound? Those things are pretty big, aren’t they? Huge, really. Maybe your dad was right… about the danger thing.
Zenn: Whalehounds are about 80 feet long. But we’ve got bigger animals here at the cloister. And hounds aren’t really a threat to humans. Like most animals, you just need to use a little common sense and stay safe around them. We’ll gentle him down using the general sedation field, then I’ll climb up onto his muzzle wearing a tank-pack filled with antibiotic solution and rinse his infected eye. Shouldn’t take more than ten minutes.
Announcer: All righty… if you say so... Next item?
Zenn: I’d seriously like to get some straight answers from Liam Tucker. About why he’s seems to be hanging around so much lately.
Announcer: Ah, a boy enters the picture! What a surprise. Let me guess: he’s about your age, and he’s kinda good looking?
Zenn: Well, yes, he’s my age. But good looking? I’d never say that. He’s hard enough to put up with already… Anyway, he’s a towner boy, one of the few towners who comes out to the cloister on a regular basis. Most people in town don’t like us. Well, they don’t like that we keep big, alien creatures at the cloister compound. Anyway, Liam’s suddenly started showing a real interest in the animals here. Which is great. But odd. I mean, he’s had a rough life so far. His mom ran off with a perma-frost miner, left him on his own. Just doesn’t strike me as someone who would want to learn about off-world animals. Sister Hild says he’s actually more interested in talking to me than finding out about whalehounds or Kiran sunkillers… you know… that he’s being “friendly”, teen boy hormones and all that. I really couldn’t say. But either way, it’s kind of annoying, and I don’t really have time right now to figure him out. I need to focus on school.
Announcer: Probably a good idea. So, another thing you’d like to check off your list?
Zenn: I’d really like a passing grade on my second test. That’s an in-soma pod insertion on a Tanduan swamp sloo.
Announcer: Right. For our viewers who aren’t familiar: just what is an in-soma pod?
Zenn: It’s a self-propelled medical vehicle, three feet wide, eight feet long, shaped like a big pumpkin seed. We use it for doing internal exams and treatments on the biggest animals. Like our swamp sloo. She’s about 200 feet long, 50 or sixty feet high, kind of like a prehistoric Earther plesiosaur crossed with a giant ant eater… So, the exovet lies down inside the pod, and the lid is sealed. Then, the pod is either inserted into the animal, or the animal is encouraged to swallow it. I can control the pod once I’m inside the patient, and make examinations, administer meds, or scan nearby organs as the pod enters the esophagus and passes through the gastro-intestinal tract.
Announcer: Better you than me! (Laughs nervously). I’m almost afraid to ask what else you want to do before you die!
Zenn: I’d like to have a chance to treat a Stonehorse. You know, a Lithohippus indra. These creatures are just so remarkable.
Announcer: Well, everyone is familiar with indras, of course. There wouldn’t be star travel without them, would there?
Zenn: Yes, that’s just it. To evolve the ability to tunnel through space-time, to move an entire starship across a dozen light years in the blink of an eye. Their biology is just so incredible. It kind of gives me chills every time I think about even being around one them. And with the recent disappearances of indra-powered ships, well, it’s a serious problem, and we need to figure out what’s causing it. So, yes, I’d want to add that to my list: to someday have the chance to help solve the mystery of the vanishing indra ships.
Announcer: Wouldn’t that be amazing? All I can say is I hope you get your chance. Now, time for just one more bucket listable.
Zenn: All right. I’d like to somehow be able to make people understand that just because an animal is different, you know, big or strange looking or kind of scary or… alien… that these animals deserve basic, humane treatment. They deserve to live lives free of pain or fear. They have a right not to be hunted, or caged up or exploited or treated like they don’t feel the same pain or terror or longing to be with their own kind that humans feel!
Announcer: Well, that’s admirable, Zenn. Of course, I’m not sure the New Law faction that’s gaining power on Earth these days would agree with you. They’re pretty adamant about the fact that it was aliens who brought the Orinoco virus to Earth. After the chaos that caused, the New Law seem to think we’d all be better off if there were simply… no aliens anywhere, ever.
Zenn: But that’s just it! There’s no scientific basis for thinking like that! The origin of the Orinoco has never been established. There’s zero proof it was carried by alien animals and—
Announcer: Well, I’m afraid we’ve ventured into a subject that’s a little above my pay grade. And, unfortunately, we’re out of time! So that’ll wrap it up for today. I’d like to thank our guest, Zenn Scarlett, and wish her all the luck in the universe during her novice year here at the cloister exovet clinic. Sounds like she’ll need it! Now, be sure to tune in tomorrow as I go aboard the starship Kiran Pride. Be there as I gain admittance to the sanctum sanctorum of the indra pilot room to ask astro-navigator Thendra Reth Cannia “What’s on YOUR Bucket List?” B’bye for now!
(THEME MUSIC UP AND UNDER, FADE OUT.)
About the Book
Zenn Scarlett is a bright, determined, occasionally a-little-too-smart-for-her-own-good 17-year-old girl training hard to become an exoveterinarian. That means she’s specializing in the treatment of exotic alien life forms, mostly large and generally dangerous. Her novice year of training at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic on Mars will find her working with alien patients from whalehounds the size of a hay barn to a baby Kiran Sunkiller, a colossal floating creature that will grow up to carry a whole sky-city on its back.
But after a series of inexplicable animal escapes from the school and other near-disasters, the Cloister is in real danger of being shut down by a group of alien-hating officials. If that happens, Zenn knows only too well the grim fate awaiting the creatures she loves.
Now, she must unravel the baffling events plaguing her school, before someone is hurt or killed, before everything she cares about is ripped away from her and her family forever. To solve this mystery – and live to tell about it – Zenn will have to put her new exovet skills to work in ways she never imagined, and in the process learn just how powerful compassion and empathy can be.
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About the Author
Born in the American Midwest, Christian started his writing career in earnest as an in-house writer at the Walt Disney Company in Burbank, California. He then became a freelance writer working for various film, home video and animation studios in Los Angeles. After moving from LA to a farmstead near Iowa City several years ago, he continues to freelance and also now helps re-hab wildlife and foster abused/neglected horses. He acquired his amateur-vet knowledge, and much of his inspiration for the Zenn Scarlett series of novels, as he learned about - and received an education from - these remarkable animals.
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