Charli glared at the intercom. Agent Miller wasn’t putting pressure on her mother again, was he? Sometimes she swore most of the unpleasantness over their government funding and her mother’s strict secrecy didn’t come from Miller’s superiors, but from Miller himself. What did he think it would profit him to get Dr. Rachel Carson to make claims and release her findings years ahead of schedule, when everything was still theory? True, they had had some successes in the last two years, but that was no reason to leap into the spotlight. Recreating medicinal plant species that had been lost in the destruction of the rainforests was a delicate process that couldn’t be forced or predicted. One time, she had caught Miller arguing with her mother, accusing her of holding back on releasing her research findings because she feared someone would attack them here, in this isolated lab, just like her husband and Charli’s father had been attacked all those years ago.
The cub whimpered. Charli turned away from the intercom so fast, she almost lost her balance. She reached for the edge of the table, grasping it to brace herself, and dragged her bad leg a few steps when it twinged. Her anger drained away as she unwrapped the cub. It looked up at her, holding still, its eyes enormous in its muddy little face.
“Hey… it’s gonna be okay. I promise.” Slowly, she offered her limply clenched fist to the cub. To her delight, it nuzzled her hand, then latched onto her thumb, sucking. Charli winced when the sharp little milk teeth dug in. “I bet you’re hungry. Are you up to eating anything solid or are you still on milk?” Grinning, she straightened up and gently tugged her hand free. “Yeah, like you understand a word I say. I’m gonna fix you up. Sorry, but medicine comes before food. You’re more likely to take the medicine if your belly isn’t full.”