So yes I have been mired in seemingly endless bouts of writer's block, and can't seem to move forward with my main stories right now. I promise to return to Scars, and the others, as soon as my muse and my attention span allow, but in the mean time I have been trying silly little side projects to get the creativity flowing again. Not sure where on Earth this one came from, other than I am a biologist by trade and really couldn't help myself.
There's a diagram and explanation on deviant if anyone wants to know more. For now, just enjoy the silliness and sorry if the writing itself is really poor.
On the classification of Martian bikers.
Slamming the book shut, Charley groaned as she stood and stretched away the last twelve hours worth of hunching over her desk. It was just after two a.m. and her eyes were burning; she had been so absorbed in what she was doing that she hadn't even noticed the hour – nor had she any recollection of when the guys had given up trying to distract her and left for their own beds.
Bed. Yes, that was a great idea. She would tackle finishing up this thing tomorrow, it was late and her brain was far too exhausted to even contemplate thinking about doing it now.
In a haze of sleepiness Charley performed her usual last checks on the garage, knowing that her alien visitors struggled with the concept of doors, let alone the idea that just closing them wasn't enough to ensure the security of her home. After all, they were raised in caves on a planet where locks meant nothing if the enemy came armed to the teeth and bearing explosives. Getting robbed in the middle of the night was not at the forefront of their minds when they went to sleep, that was certain.
As she herself finally crawled under her own covers, and switched off her bedside lamp, the human woman lay back and tried to imagine what it must be like for them living so far from home, amongst people who were in reality nothing like their own kind. Everything they did share came through years of monitoring stray satellite signals, and some things that might seem the same superficially were actually quite different if you looked closer. Their bikes, for example. Their basic design was just like what Charley normally dealt with on a day to day basis, but look beyond the mechanics and into the tech, not to mention the weaponry, and their vehicles deviated from familiar to downright bizarre. Alien, in fact.
Which of course they were, too. Her guys were aliens; they were from a different planet, with a different history, different culture and environment, and so their origins were somewhere very far removed from that of her own species'.
But their similarities were tantalisingly suggestive. Most humans associated 'aliens' with little green men, but there was equally plenty of other media in which alien species were portrayed as humanoid. Her guys were neither. Her guys fitted into the category of 'anthropomorphic' – a non-human species with human characteristics. They walked and talked just like humans did, but also not like humans - if you looked a little bit closer.
Charley sighed, slowly relaxing, and allowed herself a small chuckle. She could just about picture the look on their faces when she told them what she had been up to all night. All week, even. They hadn't been able to figure it out; they thought she was working and had largely left her to it, but when Vinnie had spotted her hauling the entirety of her Encyclopaedia Britannica off her shelves they began to get suspicious. She hadn't wanted to hurt their feelings, and so to fob them off she gave a vague explanation in the form of helping out a neighbour's kids with a project and not wanting to be disturbed until it was done.
They had been baffled, and bored, and repeatedly tried to interrupt her study and get her to think of something for them to do. In the end they gave up and went out to see if Limburger wanted his tower redecorating. This suited the mechanic just fine, and from the early evenings onwards had had the peace and quiet she needed to solve her little puzzle:
Just what exactly were her guys?
This question had been bugging her from day one. From the moment they had told her, and she had since not questioned (not out loud at least), that they were not gerbils (as she had guessed), nor rats (an insult likely to result in serious injury and property damage) but mice. Martian mice.
As if it wasn't hard enough to comprehend that life existed on the red planet (because everyone knew that there was no life on Mars... right?) but here were three giant rodent-like beings that walked and talked like humans, wore clothes like humans, and rode around on bikes like humans. But they weren't human, nor were they little green men, or even overgrown gerbils. And definitely, definitely not rats.
These strange Martian beings that shouldn't even exist had been kicking around Charley's home town for nearly six months now, and not once had they offered any kind of explanation as for why.
Not why they were here (saving her city from Limburger gave them a free pass) or why they rode bikes (a major plus as far as Charley was concerned) or anything else to do with their culture or history (why they liked rock music and hated cheese, for example). Rather, what she really wanted to know, what had niggled at her enquiring mind for the last half year and had eventually drove her not only to the library but to several museums and the local university to harass a number of busy people for their specialist knowledge, was why mice?
A brief trip into Throttle's memories explained the aggressive reaction behind being referred to as rats, and indeed those other sentient beings sharing their planet really did have a strong resemblance to those other kind of rodents. But that still didn't explain why they had even picked rodents at all.
Of all the creatures they could choose, they had to go and call themselves after something most humans feared, or loathed. They might as well have gone with 'cockroach' or some other pest that tended to result in screaming, except for the fact the guys were clearly nothing resembling an insect and almost everything resembling furry and buck-toothed mammals. Was this simply an issue of semantics, or did it really rest wholly on the anatomy of their rather large front teeth?
The only reason it had taken Charley this long to decide to address any queries as to their species nomenclature was that, superficially, her guys actually did resemble gigantic, two-legged, bike-riding Martian mice. Superficially, that is. Just like everything else about them and their kind.
It had been by chance that she had had the television all to herself the weekend before, having sent her noisy and rather messy freeloaders out to do something useful (on patrol, and pick up some groceries whilst at it) and the first thing she saw as she switched it on was a National Geographic special on Darwinian evolution. Everything from bacteria to the blue whale.
Charley wasn't much of a biologist but, in light of her alien guests being what they were, it had got her thinking. Once she started she couldn't stop; the questions forming in her mind had been waiting for something like this to trigger their growth, and now they were so pressing she simply had to do something or else it was going to drive her crazy.
One week, two museums, three field trips, seventeen phone calls, and numerous library visits later, Charley had learned quite a lot about the evolution of life on Earth, and could quite safely say she finally had something that actually made sense.
She had started at the top. Her guys were 'animals' as opposed to plants, fungi, bacteria or any other of the single-celled organisms that existed on Earth, and probably mammalian, or at least mammal-like (having recently met Carbine, she was quite solid in that assumption). They were covered in fur, were warm-blooded, and yes... those were definitely nipples hiding away on their rather well-formed chests. Not that she had been meaning to look that hard but... Well no self-respecting woman would be able to tear her eyes away from those beautiful specimens of the male gender.
But Charley had solidly ruled out 'humanoid' or any direct relationship between Martians and humans, despite their upright stance and gift of speech. She hadn't quite set aside 'primate' however, as opposable thumbs coupled with forward facing eyes were distinctive of that group of animals (to which humans belong anyway) and not really found in any other of Earth's mammalian species.
There was something else: The guys also possessed fully prehensile tails. According to her books, and the professors at the museums and university, this trait is limited to a few groups of mammals, mostly those in the new world (the Americas). This was another score for primates, anyway, as new world monkeys have prehensile tails, and fur-covered ones at that. Charley had noticed that her guys tails were also furred, something which in their minds distinguished them from their cousins the Martian rats, and many other species' that are able to grasp hold of things with them. That includes Earth rodents.
Indeed, most rodents of the 'mouse' variety have notably sparse hair on their tails, and those that do have furred tails don't have the ability to grasp with them. In fact, the only mouse with a fully prehensile tail – the harvest mouse – has nothing like the soft velvet covering on its tail her guys were sporting. The only other rodent with a fully prehensile tails is a species of porcupine, and those with a partial ability include tree porcupines, and – alas – the rats. A dangerous thing to even mention.
So Charley had revisited primates again, comparing their features to the Martians that now practically lived with her (she did her best to not let them see her continued staring at them, and usually pretended to be working deep inside some engine or other when actually she was taking a good long look at their tails/hands/ears/muscles... Plus the 'accidental' bursting into her occupied shower room gave her a really good, long look at everything from the waist down). The one thing that still bothered her though was that most primates have quite flat faces with odd shaped noses, and the only ones she saw with anything like the snouts that Martian mice have were the lemurs – but she quickly ruled those out too. No lemur is able to support itself by its tail alone, or anything even close.
Primates also fell foul of the one thing that really did point her guys towards their chosen kind. Monkeys, apes, lemurs – the lot – do not have endlessly growing incisors, regardless of any that might have been even vaguely labelled 'buck-toothed'. Yet if her guys were going on their teeth to classify themselves, then what about other animals that do have large incisors, and consequently frequently mistaken for being rodents?
Rabbits and their relatives were one such group, but it was clear her guys were nothing like them. That left shrews, and the tree shrews. Both of those did look quite mouse like, and the latter even have a good amount of tail fluff. But alas, no prehensility is found in any species of either of those groups.
Charley had reached this far, and still stubbornly insisted she had been closer with gerbils. At least they were rodents, and had tails of velvet (though not prehensile) like her guys did. All right so their ears are a bit smaller, but their back legs are quite long, and they live in burrows in deserts, which is kind of like living in a cave on Mars. No primate she could think of lived underground like those little rodents.
It was frustrating. On the one hand she had one group of animals that shared some key characteristics with her guys, but not others, and on the other she had a completely different group that matched for those that the first did not. Primates with their forward facing eyes, opposable thumbs, and furry prehensile tails, and the rodents with their buck teeth and burrowing, desert-living relatives.
And then Charley picked up the last book on mammals in her encyclopaedia collection. How could she have missed this? she thought. Why had she not seen it earlier? It was so obvious looking at it, it almost made her cry just thinking of all the effort she had just put into this little project, only to find the answer had been staring right back at her all this time. But at least she had found it, even if two a.m. in the morning was a little bit on the late side.
As the tired woman slowly drifted off, her mind finally winding down after its marathon of information gathering, she thought of the one last thing that she had to do. One more task before she could finally lay the whole bothersome issue to rest.
Charley smiled. Just how was she to tell the guys that they weren't really mice, and that their closest relative on Earth was actually the common brush-tailed possum?