Kaylee hadn’t moved from her spot the entire time Matteo had been shopping at H-E-B.
“Just what are you playing, anyway?” Matteo asked, startling her and making her realize she’d lost track of time.
“I’m playing Ocarina of Time for N64 with a mod. It makes all the fairies naked with square boners and triangular tits. Hey, I have a question for you two,” she spoke to an empty corner with her Power Glove grasping the air. She was going to prove a point to Jorge.
“Bombs away,” said Jorge, still somewhat consumed by the hobbit solitaire, of course.
“I think you mean shoot,” said Matteo.
“It’s serious, though,” said Kaylee. “Ok. If you could download yourself into a computer…” her mouth opened and she looked to the right quickly.
“Yes?” said Matteo.
“Sorry, got distracted. If you could live forever, like by being downloaded into a computer, but, but technology limited your virtual world to Kokiri Forest, would you do it?” she asked.
“Uh… tits or no?” asked Jorge.
“Tits,” she said, with a sigh. “Of course.”
“Hmm. Still no deal, no. Immortality is a plague on my home planet. I don’t trust it,” said Jorge.
“Matteo, what about you?” she said, a bit irritated it was very possible that Jorge didn’t even pick up on why she was asking what she was asking.
“Hmm, probably. Depends on what my elf boners are like,” said Matteo. Was he trying to flirt with her instead of answer the question?
“There’re no elves in Kokiri Forest. They are fairies,” said Jorge.
“When the alien’s right, he’s right,” she confirmed.
“Wait no, I take it back. The fairies, they don’t really talk, do they? You’d be stuck reading the same conversations over and over,” Matteo said.
“That would work for Jorge. He’s totally incapable of conversation,” said Kaylee. Matteo hadn’t answered strongly in the affirmative, so she decided to go along with Jorge’s evaluation and keep everything a secret. Even though Matteo’s stupid flirting had some weird appeal to it.
“Some species appreciate the quiet,” said Jorge.
“Speaking of village elf clans, I think we should start a club. I mean, we are like… ” said Matteo.
“What?” asked Kaylee, quickly turning her head away from him.
“A club. We’re the only three biohackers in Alamo City. Maybe even Texas,” said Matteo. He started to unpack some of his new clothes.
“Oof! H-bomb! We are not going to self-identify as hackers,” Kaylee started laughing a little and pulled off her VR helmet, her golden hair static-clinging to it for a moment. Blood rushed back to the white places on her cheeks and nose.
“Shh… it’s the best part, turn it up,” said Kaylee, turning towards the holo-movie.
Jeff Goldblum leaned forward and told the incredulous minority-race scientist, that maybe even if Jurassic Park consisted only of female dinosaurs, unable to reproduce…
“We kind of are, though, a hacking club,” said Jorge.
“Just a club of hacks. Wait guys. Shh… I know what we should call us… Wait for it…” Kaylee turned the surround sound volume up from her Mist.
“Life, uh, finds a way,” said Goldblum, with the faintest, inspired smile. The bass in his voice sounded incredible in their insulated lair.
“Yesss. We should use that as our club name, ‘Life, uh, finds a way’. And! And if you forget the ‘uh’ in the password, you get killed!” she said.
“Haha, sure, why not?” said Matteo.
Jorge offered an improvement, “We should make an acronym out of it, like contemporary biologists often do. LUFAW for short.”
Sounds like “Love? Aww…” said Matteo.
“Aww…” they said in unison.
“Who knows, if everything works out, maybe we can genetically modify Matteo so he can actually speak Spanish,” she said.
“Callate el bocas, cabron,” said Matteo.
“I think Kaylee should continue to speak. Her insights are of great value to this group,” said Jorge.
“Maybe you should give up, Jorge. You will never understand humans. Matteo here is just immature and teasing me in an immature way.”
“Show me how to scoff, again,” said Jorge.
Kaylee scrunched her eyebrows and exhaled with a slight flare of her nostrils. “Hah!”
Jorge said, “HA! My species is capable of understanding the geological flow of planets made up of a hundred times the number of elements humans are. I think i’ll get the hang of human culture. HA!”
“Settle down. It’s so weird watching a movie with so many physical special effects. Who has the joint?” Kaylee appeared pleased.
“Joint? There’s a ton of CGI in this. It was one of the first movies, I think, to use Photoshop like that,” said Matteo.
“Yeah, but that velociraptor is a puppet. Clearly. Everything is mechanical in that obvious way humans make machines. Look at that Jeep — it is tangible,” said Jorge, skipping himself after lighting a marijuana cigarette.
“None for you, eh?” said Kaylee. She exhaled. “This Alamo City shit is weak.”
“It doesn’t affect my brain the same way as it affects humans. Keep it away from my cards. They are magnets for smoke damage,” said Jorge.
“Right. Buddy, can you just wait a little longer to say more crazy things so I can be stoned when I hear it,” she replied.
Matteo started stocking an empty shelf with some instant noodles he bought at H-E-B.
“Hey, Matteo, look at this!” She was holding a new bottle of mezcal and three clay cups.
“Where the hell are you hiding those, for real?” said Matteo.
“You weigh like a hundred pounds, too,” said Jorge.
“Maybe on your goddang planet. I’m like one fifty-shut-your-mouth. We’re almost there, Matteo.” She patted his head. “Your Byte debt is nearly good as gone. Why don’t you go and get the malaria cells ready for culture then you can join in on the pot and booze. Do a slow thaw, a quick spin to get rid of decayed cells, take the top healthy layer, then add some cell food. The all-media is in the fridge, cells are in the freezer. We only have the disposable plastic pipettors for now, so be careful not to waste any.”
“How’d you get all-media? It locally releases the right buffers and salts depending on the specific cell surface it encounters, right?” said Matteo.
“Yeah, but even that’s not enough. You’ll have to add some of my own red blood cells to the mix. They like that. The parasites will grow in the cells you revive, then burst and infect mine. That way we have a bunch to work with. I have like ten milliliters pure Kaylee red blood cells ready to go.”
Matteo walked over to the mini-fridge. He opened the single door and pried open a sandwich tupperware with a piece of red tape on it, labeled “IMMO SAMP1 07/22 Ch. Grove”, which had been stored in a tiny upper frozen shelf. “Nice minus 20, y’all.”
“Yep. Laziest way to get a mixed culture going this side of the galaxy! State-of-the-art cryostorage brought to you by Jorge’s winnings!”
“It’s true — ” Jorge said.
“Yaaah!!!” Matteo sounded like he was confronting death incarnate.
“Jesus what?” she said.
“Ahhh, ahhhhh.” And then Matteo made a weird gurgling sound.
“I was expecting, expecting cells, frozen cells in a fucking tube. Not a fucking FINGER!” Matteo spat.
“Well where do you think cells come from? Sheesh.” Kaylee put her helmet back on and took a swig of mezcal from the her cup somewhat blindly. “Take another shot and get some rest after you stick that in media. Gonna be a long day tomorrow. For you.”
“But whose… finger… ? Nevermind,” said Matteo, a look of horror still on his face.
“If you get those cells into culture in less than twenty minutes, I’ll treat you and Jorge — I mean I’ll treat LUFAW, to delivery Whataburger. Then, when you get us some supplies tomorrow, we can FINALLY get those suckers sequenced,” she said. “The we’ll be filthy rich.”