Before he could justify his words, Nex signaled to them to come over. The pair rejoined the men still crowded around Jeannie. She smiled at Kren as he approached, and his hearts softened. No, he could not bear to see her exterminated.
Nex started his report. “No venom pits around her teeth. She isn’t poisonous. Her teeth are all blunt. She could do damage with them, but not if we armor skin.”
Arga pursed his lips. “What defenses does she have?”
“Physically? Not much. Not against one of us. But her brain size is on par with ours.”
Kren said, “So we can assume high intelligence.”
“She needs it with so few fighting characteristics.” Nex lowered his voice as if the human could understand him. “Get this: she only has one heart. One liver. A lot of the other stuff is redundant like us, but not those organs.”
Arga’s startled exclamation rose over the others’. “What? What’s she supposed to do if those are damaged or fail?”
Nex shrugged. “Die.”
Bort spoke slowly, his tone incredulous. “No way she’s made in a Monsudan lab, Kren. They’d never create such a weak thing.”
Kren agreed, but he knew the obstacles facing the female. “Tell that to the elders. They may not allow her to live before we can prove it.”
The men glanced at each other. Jeannie’s brows had drawn together as they spoke, as if she realized they discussed weighty matters. Did she know her life hung in the balance? Kren hoped not. The last thing he wanted was for her to be more afraid than she already was.
Nex licked his lips and spoke carefully. “Don’t take this wrong, but – well, maybe you could delay contacting the Assembly? Not for long, of course,” he rushed to add. “Maybe a day? Two?”
After Arga’s shocked reaction to Kren’s earlier statement, he had to answer as the Enforcement Leader he was. “You know we’ll face censure for such a delay.”
Pon was young enough to speak more rebelliously than most. “Come on, Kren. Look at her. She’s too sweet to euthanize without getting the chance to prove she’s not a Bug Bit. Just long enough to consult with a scholar who might know what she is.”
Arga surprised Kren by somewhat reversing his stance. “What about Mekay or Pas? They know arcane better than anyone. Make it Mekay, and we might not get burned for not approaching the entire Assembly. He is an Elder, after all.”
Kren had never been more grateful to his friend and partner than that moment. “Mekay would be perfect. If we go to him, it’s not like we would be concealing her after all.”
The entire group looked relieved at the compromise. Nex grinned and patted Jeannie on the head. “I think we’ve bought you another day, Jeannie the Hyoo-man.”
She gave him a pained smile, as if to respond to his friendliness while disliking the patronizing head-pat gesture. Nex didn’t seem to pick up on her polite dismay.
No release date set.