Tag Archive | Feltenner Chickens

The Problem With Ferrets

The completion of the Problem with Chickens/Assignments story.

🐔

Trenner slept surprisingly well, tucked in on a couch that still had its no feet on the furniture sign, in very fussy handwriting, prominently displayed.

After all, if there were strange noises outside, they were no stranger than the ones she might hear in the dormitories.  And if there were strange breezes coming across her, well, her second-year roommate had left the window open all winter. It was, she realized, more relaxing than her trips home, where everything felt not nearly lumpy enough, too quiet, and too soft.

Once she had woken, performed her morning ablutions – she did not ask where the water had come from, and her guide did not tell her, but it smelled sweet and washed her with no ill effects – and geared up, they were on their way into the wilds that had, once, been the Dormitory and Agriculture Quad. Continue reading

The Trouble With Guides…

After The Trouble With Chickens… and The Trouble With Theories… and The Trouble With Assignments….

🐔

Trenner thought she might be losing it.

“I have made base camp,” she wrote, “in the lobby of the Pendington building.  From the signs here, I am not the first to make camp here.  I can see the remains of a fire pit in what had once been the grand Fountain to Athena, and over there in the former wishing well, people, ah, wished in another way.  

My native guide tells me that he avoided the Exploration Club quite handily, and, seeing the way he blends into the terrain, I am not surprised.  He is, after all, not a plant nor a building, nor is he a giant chicken (or a mutant killer ferret nor a feral housecat, although he bears the most resemblance to the last), and thus, even if he did not smell slightly like Wrong and did not look slightly like a pile of detritus, he was not on their agenda.

“What are you writing?”  He sat across the fire from her, roasting something on a pan he must have taken from one of the dining halls – Goldblum, that was the one in the Lost Buildings.  

“It’s my exploration log.  I’m tracking everything I do.”

“Oh, I remember that. They taught us how to do that in first-year Exploration.  Are you still thinking of going back, then? You haven’t tried the eggs yet.”

The egg in question was huge, and he had darted in and out of a nest with surprising dexterity, returning with something it took him both arms to hold.  “I certainly want to try the eggs,” she reassured him. “And I’ll be here for at least a few days. If I come back too quickly, Professor Lokeg-Fridelabout is going to accuse me of cheating.  And it’ll be points on the chart, sure, but it will be more points if I actually manage to prove the professor wrong and he has to eat his words and the egg.”

“Oh, are you still doing that?  I was almost winning, the year I left, but I kept getting points through being sent on deadly assignments, and I decided I wanted to live. There’s a few of us here,” he added.  “Five that I know of, all up in the top of Drummond Hall. It’s safest there. The chickens don’t like to roost on that roof, because it’s too steep, and we blew out the first-floor stairways, which keeps out the ferrets pretty well.”  He noted the way she was looking around. “This time of year, this will be safe, too,” he assured her. “It’s just when they get broody that there’s a problem.”

Trenner considered broody as it related to a beast the size of a wagon.  “How – how are they still here? How hasn’t someone eradicated them?  Did the university really just let them take over a portion of the school?  What about funding?”

She started writing down all those questions almost before she was done asking them, not really expecting answers from him.

“Well, they’re very hard to kill, surprisingly.  The eggs are easy, but you have to survive getting the eggs.  And they have no natural predators, which means there’s quite a few of them.  That’s problem one. Problem two is, the university has always been known for taking the path of least resistance.  In this case, the chickens resisted more than the trustees, so they put up a fence. I’d heard rumors – are you really writing all of this down?”

“Of course I am.  I want to come up with a solution, which means understanding the problem.”

“You really are one of them, aren’t you?”

It was said with such admiration that Trenner could hardly take offence.  “I’m sorry? What’s a ‘one of them?’”

“Oh, ah. My favorite professor, Professor Sojide, used to say there were Golden Students. Um. ‘If they can survive their time here, they will change the world, one way or another.’  I wasn’t one. Ah. Matilde was, but she didn’t survive the ferrets.” He looked down at his feet. “I just want to live. That’s pretty much it. My family all believe me dead, probably.”

“Hunh.”  She had never heard Professor Sojide say that.  She made a note of it in her book. “Can you take me close enough to see them, without risking yourself?”

“Tomorrow.  At noon. I can take you to the right path.  That’s it.” He shook his head. “I won’t go further than that.  But if you want eggs…  eggs I can get you.”  He spooned out a large portion of his concoction onto her plate, more onto his, and then put the pan on a stone in the shadows.

She was not surprised to see movement there, movement that could have been human.  She did not look too closely. They weren’t a danger to her, she didn’t think; she didn’t want them to think she was a danger to them.

The egg was better than anything she’d ever eaten.  She said so, three times. In the end, her native guide – who still would not give her a name – colored and looked away.  “There’s some tricks to cooking them. But the biggest tricks are in just finding them.”

“I look forward to seeing that, then.”  She had never been more sincere. “And the eggs.  Are they fertile, do you think?”

She had just had a glimmer of an idea, and it looked like her being able to walk out of here alive.

 

The Trouble With Assignments….

After The Trouble With Chickens… and The Trouble With Theories…, without which this story won’t make much sense. 

🐣

The Lost Buildings encompassed what had once been the pride of the University.  They were tall and glorious, stately, and done in the Pecerin style of architecture that nobody seemed to be able to imitate anymore.

(Personally, Trenner thought it had something to do with the amount of opium Pecerin and her disciples had partaken of, but that had gotten her a few too many Hate Points in her architecture elective.) Continue reading

The Trouble With Theories…

After The Trouble With Chickens, to poll-selected continuation.

Trenner Oujiduie was not her professors’ favorite student.

That was not entirely true: she was the favorite, or one of three favorites, of Professor Sojide, but since nobody else in the entire Sciences and Studies wing wanted to even acknowledge that Professor Sojide existed, that did Trenner not a bit of good, and, in the grand scheme of things, probably hurt her more than anything.

She had been keeping informal score with Sojide’s other favorites – what crap assignments the other professors gave them, when the professors ignored them to call on someone who clearly didn’t know what they were talking about, and so on. She had not been in the lead until that paper she’d done for Professor Lokeg-Fridelabout about the Feltenner Chickens and their uses in a broader academic-sustainability plan.

It hadn’t been a brilliant idea, but Resklin Tarajirra was beating her in points and she really was quite fascinated with the chickens. They were a triumph of science – over the scientist, even! – but, more importantly, the meat they could provide – and eggs! – could totally deal with the food shortage down in the Lower East Quarter

That explained why she was walking out into the Lost Buildings – what had been the former Science Wing, before, well, everything – carrying a small harpoon gun, a set of spears, and every religious icon anyone on her dormitory floor could provide her.

(For a school of science, they were immensely religious. She liked that. And if only one of the gods noticed her tonight, Trenner thought it was well worth the extra weight of necklaces and bracelets.)

“If you are so fascinated with the Feltenner Chickens, Trenner.” Professor Lokeg-Fridelabout’s voice had gotten that deep sound of threat and danger in it, then why don’t you bring one back? We can see if the meat is edible and see exactly what Feltenner did to these things.”

Trenner moved very slowly through the overgrown dogwoods. She was fairly certain she was being stalked by a rooster taller than she was.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1315524.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

Next: The Trouble With Assignments. 

The Trouble With Chickens…

“The trouble with chickens,” Professor Feltenner had written in her journal, “is that they don’t scale very well. And when they scale up, their instincts do not. They have been domesticated for far too long. What I need is a wild chicken, a chicken who has never been bred for tameness and domesticity. That, then, should be clever enough for what I need.”

Professor Feltenner’s travels into the jungles were the stuff of academic legend. It had become the very morbid joke around the university that if you did not like a student, it was a clever idea to get them to take Feltenner’s classes, because there was a very good chance she would then take them with her on one of her summertime or winter-break expeditions – and then there was a very, very good chance that they would not return.

Professor Feltenner, on the other hand, always returned – even that last time, that fateful trip when she came back with one bedraggled grad student, two smallish cages, and a man named Gorvald she claimed to have found in the middle of the jungle. Since Gorvald’s accent spoke of the Rus and the far-Eastern mountain ranges, everyone at the university raised eyes at that – but Gorvald was good with the things in the cages, and someone needed to be. Gods above knew the poor grad student whimpered every time she saw so much as a feather.

“The trouble with chickens ought to be solved by working with a more pure specimen,” Professor Feltenner wrote in her journal. “Today, Gorvald and I begin the experiment on the junglefowl we have acquired. With luck, working from an enlarged junglefowl pair, we can begin breeding better and juicier meat with a much more sensible bird.”

The junglefowls’ thoughts on that were never properly recorded; once they had dealt with Professor Feltenner, they (with brains that scaled up, it seemed, much better than their domestic counterparts’) opened the doors to the lab and fled, taking several carriage-sized domestic fowl with them. You could hear their cries late at night in the forests near the University, and the professors had a new way to rid themselves of difficult students.

Next: http://www.lynthornealder.com/2017/04/30/the-trouble-with-theories/

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1280875.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable