What would an intergalactic nursery look like? -- Anon Guest
Multi-species infant care is a fascinating workplace to begin with. For each species, there are separate demands beyond the standards of clean, warm, and comfortable. There are some general rules, like mammals do best when fed on their parental secretions. Reptilian life forms, for instance, get essential gut bacteria from their parentals' regurgitations. Some, like Humans, thrive with the assistance of gentle physical contact. Others are too frail to be disturbed until they pass certain milestones of early development.
Some species get to choose their infant's gender based on the temperature at which their eggs are incubated. Others, by the temperature in the nest as they proceed past the larval stage and pupate. Some have strict rules about leaving such things to happenstance. It is therefore vitally necessary to know all of this before qualifying for a xeno-childcare license.
In larger space ports and trade centres, it can get ridiculously complicated. Interns and trainees usually don't have to care for more than one species' ward at a time. Unless, like Ka'tho, hir patron hospice is run off their feet with a mutant strain of the Immunoflu and everyone not a vector is set to look to the needs of the smallest and most vulnerable members of society.
The infant care wards, usually a bastion of organisation and neatness, are quickly overrun with reminder notices above each crib/creche unit. Timers with differing alarm sounds abound. Ze and the three other trainees were run off their feet and desperate not to make any kind of mistake. Those remaining in hospice care were those who could not be safely transferred to that of their parentals. Which meant that those infants remaining were the ones who needed the most and urgent of attentions.
Tweep! "Mine," Ka'tho called, heading straight for the incubator crib. Check temperature versus ideal. In the zone. Good. Rotate and shuffle the chrysalises according to the instructions so as to randomise gender upon rehatching.
Zeepazeep! Nanokki had that one. Clean, feed, hold carefully... that one was one of the easier ones.
A musical chime. "Mine!" Ka'tho, now finished shuffling chrysalises, was now rotating eggs. One had a chip. A crack! "We got a hatching commence in crib thirty-two!" And no time to properly document everything. In desperation, Ka'tho set a camera on the nest and stayed for as long as ze dared.
Diverse alarms were going off all over the place. Ze rotated, untangled, cleaned, checked, and nurtured as best ze could. There were species whose infants would perish if they weren't picked up, species whose infants would perish if they were touched incorrectly, species whose infants would perish if they weren't handled with a specific variety of roughness. Babies who needed to be groomed, babies who needed to be bathed, babies who needed this or that gentle care...
And some who set up their own noise because the noise they heard frightened them.
Too many needs, and not enough service. The most Ka'tho could hope for was that they passed through this crisis with zero accidents. Minimal mistakes with minimal impact.
Because one rule was a constant across the known universe. There is no force more deadly and terrifying than a primary parental whose child one has just harmed.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / pisu]
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