When the team from Suus arrived at Myaad, they placed their ship in a synchronous orbit based on the coordinates provided by the Bivoor. Their cigar shaped ship was stocked with all of the equipment they would need to synthesize the cure for aberidus.
Kiik rarely went out on missions, as the head of research on Suus her responsibilities were quite demanding. But at the request of Ciic she was assigned to a mission that would leave the planet. Kiik didn’t know the details, but she’d heard that the Muse of Mischief had saved Ciic from the Viiv when she was a child. Kiik thought there was a good chance that her involvement was approved because the Muse of Mischief was involved. Suus, deeply indebted to the Muse of Mischief, did not hesitate to provide the best of everything to help solve the problems on Myaad. Kiik was delighted to be a part of that. To actually travel to another planet on official business was exciting. And working directly with the Muse of Mischief… that was an honor she never dared dream of.
The cure for aberidus had worked very quickly on Myaad. One treatment was all that was needed to eradicate it from each individual. Unfortunately aberidus had infected all three of the hives on Myaad, and Kiik was sure that the cure had worked on the hives, but there was a very delicate issue that needed to be discussed. While her team was verifying that all three hives were clear of aberidus, she went to find Bivoor.
Kiik found Bivoor in the usual spot, the office. Bivoor’s workload was much like Kiik’s, Bivoor and the Muse of Mischief were standing near the back wall of Bivoor’s office, it was covered with a variety of maps. “I thought I would find you here” Kiik said to both of them telepathically.
“Oh hello Kiik. Yes, there is no rest for a Bivoor.” Bivoor said while making an attempt to smile. “How are things progressing with the hives?”
“Very well, tomorrow they will be ready for the new Caretaker. But…” now she had Bivoor’s full attention “we need to know how, well who, well what you intend to do about…”
Bivoor interrupted, putting an end to Kiik’s discomfort “Let me help you out here Kiik. I presume you are about to ask how we will replace each of the hive centers. Or as you say, the Caretaker.”
“Yes, we are unfamiliar with your protocol. While we understand how parthenogenetic breeding works we do not know how the Caretaker is chosen.”
Bivoor paused to think about the answer, “We have never had this problem before, so we do not have a protocol to fall back on. The remaining Bivoors have been discussing options, and we base our decisions on what is best for Myaad. Making decisions for the good of Myaad is our purpose, our function. But we are at the very beginning of a new era. We are going to ask for volunteers.”
“A very interesting idea Bivoor.” Kiik said. “Assuming there will be more than one volunteer, what criteria will be used to select the Caretaker?”
“We need one Bivoor, one Dumeer, and one Rogsaar, age and health will be used to make the decision.” “How long do eggs incubate?” M asked.
“It takes only a few rotations for the egg to be created.
But the incubation takes much longer, 400-500 rotations. A Caretaker must rest after each egg is created; the process keeps the Queen very busy. This is why their food and other necessities are provided for them.”
“What are the other functions performed by the Caretaker?” Kiik projected.
“The Caretaker of the hive also monitors the incubation time and quality of development for each egg. They rarely leave the hive, but if absolutely necessary another could step in and perform the monitoring functions for another Caretaker’s eggs. In order to speed the repopulation of Myaad we are going to incubate eggs from multiple donors in each hive. The Caretaker may not even provide eggs as the work of caring for so many eggs at once will take a significant amount of energy and time.”
“So the long incubation time will give you a chance to prepare for a larger population of young.” M said, thinking out loud.
“Yes, Bivoors are working on changes to our rearing methods. Kiik, we understand that the hive skin is no longer showing signs of aberidus, but do you think there is any chance of the new offspring contracting the disease while in the hive? How far into development will the eggs need to be before we can be sure that there is no more aberidus?” Bivoor asked.
“We are confident that the hive is not showing the presence of aberidus. But, the only way to be sure is to complete the incubation process.” Kiik projected.
“That’s what we thought too. Then ethically we cannot create more than a control group quantity of eggs for each hive until we know for sure. We will not knowingly expose new Myaads to aberidus. Of course with the cure, it may not be such a risk. But Myaad has suffered and we do not want to add to that suffering.”
“Is it possible to test just one hive to begin with?” M asked.
“It is possible, yes.” answered Bivoor. “But because there is one hive for each type of Myaad, Bivoor, Dumeer, and Rogsaar, we would have to select just one to reproduce. The other two would have to wait up to 500 cycles to begin repopulation. Bivoors have decided it would be better to test all three hives, with a small quantity of eggs in each. This will maintain balance as we begin to repopulate.”
The possibility of aberidus still being in the hive infecting the new eggs left a dark cloud over the room. The Muse of Mischief, Kiik, and Bivoor all took a moment to consider this possibility. Bivoors were effective problem solvers and never let possibilities dampen their productivity.
Bivoor suggested it was time for a tour, “This is the perfect time to tour a hive, before we start using them again. I can meet you at the Bivoor hive shortly. If you’d like, you can have Agent Brzko join us. Kiik, would you also like to join us”
“Thank you for the invitation Bivoor. But I must decline, I would like to check in with my team’s progress.” with that, Kiik turned and left the room.
“Brzko and I we will see you there Bivoor.”
Bivoor, the Muse of Mischief, and Agent Brzko, were gathered outside of the Bivoor hive. The area is beautifully landscaped with a variety of colors and textures. There is a circular patio, lined with benches on two sides, leaving two narrow openings opposite each other. Leading away, from the back of the patio, is a narrow path. The path leads to the main entrance of the hive. The hive is a large dome like structure, except it isn’t a round shape, it is more complex. The center, and tallest area is rounded, but branching off of that are several other mini domes. Lines of these domes look like they are attached to each other, spanning out in all directions.
“It smells wonderful in here, like fresh clean air.” Brzko said as he turned in the lobby, taking it all in.
The lobby was round with two doors opposite the entrance. Both doors were tall with rounded tops, neither door was marked.
“We will start with the chamber of the Caretaker.” Bivoor said as she opened the door on the right. The Muse of Mischief stepped through the door, followed by Brzko, then Bivoor, who came in and closed the door.
“This is a Caretaker’s private quarters. There is a communications portal here,” Bivoor said gesturing toward the equipment. “There is no need for sustenance preparation facilities, Caretakers are cared for. Through here is the resting chamber.” Bivoor walked through the entrance into a small room.
The room seemed to be made of living tissue. Everything was a pale pinkish-orange color, and it looked soft, comforting. “May I touch the surface?” M asked.
“Yes, please do. You may find it pleasing.” Bivoor said.
M and Brzko both reached out and ran a hand along the wall near them. The back wall of the room had a bench like protrusion that was made up of the same material. “This is amazing; it’s soft and somehow calming.”
“Yes. The hive fabric is wonderful for incubating the eggs. Keeping a Caretaker comfortable is important. In the past they would spend their entire adult life reproducing and caring for the offspring. Would you like to see the hive now?” Bivoor asked.
“Yes” M and Brzko said in unison.
They followed Bivoor back out into the lobby and then through the door on the left. They were at the top of a T like intersection; there are long hallways to the left, to the right, and straight ahead. The hallways are rounded and made of the same material they had seen in the Caretaker’s sleeping chamber. Bivoor began walking straight ahead. After a short distance she paused, turned to M and Brzko, and lifted both hands, pointing to openings, one on each side of the hall, directly opposite each other. They are small rooms, maybe five feet tall and of course rounded at the top.
“Because the hive is not active it is safe for you to enter an egg chamber.” Brzko walked toward the chamber on the left and M to the one on the right, ducking down they each stepped through the entrance. Inside the chamber they were able to stand completely upright. The small rooms look like a miniature version of the Caretaker’s resting chamber, bench surface and all.
M stepped back out into the hallway “Is there one egg incubated per chamber?” she asked Bivoor.
“Yes, that’s right. The Caretaker will place an egg on the resting surface, and then a thin membrane of the hive fabric will extend over the egg. It is a very pliable material. It will grow with the egg, yet stay translucent, allowing the Caretaker to monitor the development of the egg.”
Brzko had re-entered the hallway, “How many eggs can be incubated here at one time?” he asked.
“Close to ten thousand” answered Bivoor. The surprise was obvious on both M and Brzko’s face. Bivoor continued, “It sounds like an impossible number of offspring to manage but they are not all incubated on the same schedule.”
“How many will be incubated in the first group?” Brzko asked.
“There will be thirty, ten Bivoor, ten Dumeer, and ten Rogsaar. Unlike our normal process of one Caretaker creating all of the eggs, this time each egg will be from a different donor. That way they can all start incubating within a few days of each other. Then, the volunteer Caretaker will have the sole responsibility of tending to them.” Bivoor explained.
“Is there anything else we can do to help” M asked.
“You have already given us so much, we can never repay you.” Bivoor said with sincerity.
“It’s our pleasure Bivoor. Brzko and I don’t expect repayment. We do these things because it is the right thing to do, because we can.” M explained.
“Myaad will be forever indebted to you and your friends.” Bivoor said.
“Speaking of friends,” Brzko said, “I’d like to be with Emperor Bartala on Ploosnar when the Rogsaars begin to arrive. Were you able to contact all 127 of them?”
“No, nine of them did not respond, almost every one of them wants to travel to Ploosnar. All of us on Myaad are relieved that they will no longer be alone in distant Worlds.”
“We will speak to Emperor Bartala about the nine that did not respond. It’s possible that their ships are no longer able to receive communications from Myaad. He may be able to send out search parties.” Brzko said.
M continued his thought, “That way, at least we will know if they are still alive. We should also arrange to return their ships to Myaad, or what’s left of them. There is still much to do. Bivoor thank you for the tour of the hive. If you don’t need us for anything else right now, Brzko and I need to speak with Emperor Bartala on Ploosnar.”
“Thank you M. Kiik and her team will be here with us while we populate the hives, and I have a direct line to Lelelu in case I need to reach you and Brzko.” Bivoor said.
“OK, then, we’ll be in touch soon.” M said. And within seconds she and Brzko were gone, instantly arriving at the Ploosnar Palace.