What Came First?

He hadn’t invented the square-cow, but he had profited from modifications to it. He’d been on the team that had reintroduced aspects of the old printer model to the field. His Boxadaisy was somewhat of an antique, carrying the necessary stomachs and glands to produce five kinds of milk in one softly rounded unit. Now you could pick up a Milkmade that let you swap out the magic box for almost any other species. They’d hired a firearms engineer from the People’s Republic to ensure the modules slotted into place with a satisfying clunk. The market for Mothersmilk had been huge, once they’d figured out the hormonal hurdles, and the delicate balancing act for enabling the wakefulness slider in a way that was acceptable to the Ethical department. That alone covered the development costs, but the lion’s share had come from Mya:ulk. Banyan still wasn’t happy with the name, but it had been a strict requirement of getting the Hindi funding on board. Certainly he’d been fascinated by the work the art department had put into running pass after pass on the sampler, trying to get something that neither the Bruna estate nor the Sanrio ziabatsu could sue over. In the end they had hired a precocious typographer as research revealed their potential customer base had a view of the original animals so skewed that they’d consider cartoons to be exploitative. If he had had cats, he thought, he’d understand.

Each of the ova is in the process of becoming a yolk, remaining in the ovary until it reaches maturity.

He still didn’t quite get that one. His parents had caught live animals and eaten them, even kept them in a cage behind their house. He suspected that if his neighbours knew they’d bring a motion to the residents’ committee to have him expelled. He didn’t even want to consider what would happen if they knew quite what he was doing when he described himself as “variously self employed”.

You can find the complete version of What Came First? in issue 56 of TBD.

Andrew Robertson