Aberration House: It's in the Can part 2 by feketenoemi

Raven woke to her phone ringing and the foal’s distressed peeps and chirps. Raven fumbled for her phone and finally answered it. “Hello?”

“Hey it’s Dr. A, did I wake you up?”

“Yeah, but it’s OK. What’s up?” Raven replied as she reached over to try and calm the foals down.

“Someone tried to break into our computer system last night and the IT people we have a contract with aren’t able to handle it. You said your cousin works doing computer security, would he be willing to do some work for us? Paid of course.” Dr A asked.

peep. . . chirp. . .CHIRP!!! the red foal interjected before Raven could answer.

“Is. . .is that a fluffy foal?” Dt. A asked

“Yes, yes it is. “ Raven sighed “Yeah he does do that kind of work, I can have him come take a look. Are you there at the center?” Raven asked.

“Yes, why?” Dr A asked.

“I’ll grab a ride in with him and have you take a look at these foals,” Raven replied.

“You have more than one? What happened?” Dr. A asked.

“I found them. I’ll explain when we get there.” Raven said.

Raven hung up the phone and reached over to collect the foals, “You really don’t want to be ignored, do you little guy?” she said as she scratched the red foal behind his ear. He let out a little coo and leaned into her finger. “Let’s get you two cleaned up and fed so you can go meet Dr. A.”

Raven swung her legs out of bed and sat on the edge. She took a minute to shoot a quick text to her cousin then got up, collected the foals and went into the kitchen to start breakfast. It took a bit of juggling but she managed to get the foals fed and get herself ready with only a bit of fluffy angst. She was nursing her second cup of coffee watching videos when she heard her front door open.

“Hey cuz, you alive in here?” a cheerful voice yelled from the front room. The foals, who had been snoozing happily, started to get restless. A few seconds later a red haired man burst into the kitchen, “You’re even awake and ready to go!”

The foals erupted into frightened chirps and peeps and Raven reached over to try to calm them “For fucks’ sake, Random, I just got them settled down, can’t you walk in like a normal person?”

“I’m not a normal person, you know that.” He responded with a cheeky grin and a pulse of energy.

Raven looked at him sharply, “You know that shit doesn’t work on me, we’re related.” She narrowed her eyes at the figure behind him “And who is your friend?”

“Oh yeah, this is Travis. He’s staying with me and does hacking and security stuff too and I thought it would help to have both of us working on the problem since from looking online and talking to some other people it sounds like other FAR centers got hit as well and two heads are always better than one.” Random rattled off his response like an auctioneer.

Raven closed her eyes briefly and took a slow deep breath. She loved her cousin but dealing with him was like trying to talk to a wildfire and she got lost easily trying to listen to him. It was part of his nature and he tried to rein it in so she knew that it wasn’t fair to get snarky with him about it but some days it took a lot to control herself.

“Sorry,” Random said sheepishly and started over more slowly, “This is Travis, he’s couch surfing at my place and I thought it might help to have a second set of eyes looking at the system.”

“Cool,” Raven said and gave the hoodie clad figure slouched against the doorframe a quick wave “Hi, I’m Raven.”

“Err. . .uh, hi.” he replied then gestured at the foals ”Are those little guys yours?”

“No, I found them last night, and need to get them into the center to get checked out,” Raven said as she reached over to get the carrier closed. “I’m ready, let me grab my bag and we can go.”

A stop for coffee and bagels later they pulled up to back door of the FAR center.

“. . .those factories have really strict QC so I’m surprised these guys made the cut. “ Travis said as he got out of the car and opened the door for Raven who handed him the foal carrier.

“Maybe the aberrations showed after they were already in the cans,” Raven speculated as she hauled herself out of the back seat. “Or somebody was just doing a really crappy job and hadn’t gotten fired yet.”

“I was going to say maybe it was on purpose but if that was the case I’m sure that Hasbio would’ve made a huge deal out of it to wring as much money out of people as possible,” Random said as he collected his gear bag.

“Can you imagine how obnoxious the marketing would be for that?” Travis asked as they walked into a small mudroom.

“Just thinking about it gives me a headache,” Raven replied as she unlocked the interior door and usher them into the staff area, only to have to come to an abrupt halt because Poe was hovering in midair in front of the door. “Poe, move, you’re in the way.”

The fluffy continued to hover not indicating in any way that he had heard her.

“Poe, c’mon move,” she said a bit louder. He still didn’t move.

With a deep sigh she reached out and gently nudged the fluffy. Poe whirled around and floated backwards coming to a stop a few feet away. “U dawe to nudge Poe wike a bawwoon!?!? Shame, shame on u an’ u famiwy! Shame fo’ tou’sand yeaws!” the fluffy exclaimed, drew itself up and hovered there looking deeply insulted.

“This is Poe, our resident disabused Victorian orphan,” Raven said as she walked past the frowning fluffy. They stepped into the hall just as August floated past carrying a variety of office supplies in his tentacles.

“Hewwo Miss Waven,” the fluffy said cheerfully as he zipped by, “Am hewpin’ Doctoh A wif’ hew woom.”

“Aaand that’s August.” Raven turned and led them down the hall in the fluffy’s wake.

“Does he have. . .?” Travis started to ask.

“Tentacles, yes.” Raven filled in.

“Alrighty, then,” Random muttered.

They found Dr A in her office helping Micah move a bookcase while August sorted pens and put them in a drawer organizer. Dr. A turned after Raven knocked on the door.
“Hello,” she said cheerfully “I’m glad you guys are here so we can try to get this sorted out.”

After a quick round of introductions Micah took Random and Travis to one of conference rooms while giving them a run-down on what had happened.

“Ok now that is taken care of you can tell me how you ended up with two chirpy babies,” Dr A said and took Raven in to an exam room. She went to collect supplies and Raven set the carrier down on the table and popped the top.

“Alright,” Dr. A said as she walked back over, “Lets take a look at you two.”

She carefully detangled the black foal from the little fluff pile the foals had created and began to examine it.

“Very unusual, it looks like she had two horn nubs on the top of her head like a goat. And then these little bits of matter. . .” Dr. A set down the black foal and picked up the red one, and looked at him in surprise, “Goddess you are so warm, but aren’t in distress.” She frowned, “Where on earth did you find these two?”

“At a Foal-in-a-Can machine downtown,” Raven explained, “The little red fellow was on the pavement next to the machine. He was generating enough heat the pavement around him was dry and the snow evaporated before it reached him.”

“And the black one?”

“She was in the machine. Her can looked a bit like a lava lamp with all the motes floating around.”

“How strange, I though the QA process at the factory would have caught them before they made it into a can.” Dr. A said then looked down at the red foal. “Well, little man let’s get a closer look at you.”

The red foal, of course, was not having any of it and began fussing as soon as she began her exam. “Yes, yes, I know, end of the world,” Dr. A muttered to the foal as she tried to work.

“Dat chirpy babbeh? Do yu need hewp wi’ babbeh?” They turned to see Ruby trotting into the room.

“Yes, I do. He’s upset and I need to do my exam , so lets get you up here to keep him settled down until I get finished,” Dr. A said and reached down to lift Ruby onto the exam table. Ruby laid down next to the foal, nuzzled him a bit and began hum tunelessly. The foal gradually settled down and Dr. A was able to examine him without any problem until she took his temperature. That set off another round of angry offended chirps. The exam done, Dr. A handed the foal to Ruby, who began to cuddle him.

“Ruby, what do you think?” Dr A asked

Ruby sniffed the foal and paused, “Dis gud babbeh, smewws buwnie but stiww gud babbeh,” she said firmly and shifted position so she could put the foal down to nurse.

Dr. A scooped up the black foal again, startling it which set off a flurry of motes. She looked down at her hand watching the motes bounce off her hand. “Is this normal for her?”

“As far as I can tell, yes. It settles down when she is calm, but when she is upset more and more of the motes pour off of her.” Raven explained.

“Fascinating, I wonder what these little things are. They definitely have mass so they aren’t an illusion.” Dr A commented “Let’s take a closer look .” She dug around in a drawer to find a magnifier then reached out to catch one of the motes on her finger. She peered closely at the mote and frowned.

She passed the magnifier to Raven, “Take a look and tell me what you think.”

Raven reached out and caught one of the motes on her finger and watched it tumble along. It eventually tumbled off her finger and back into the cloud around the foal. She caught another one, letting her hand’s temperature drop which slowed the mote and she watched as it shifted between looking vaguely like a fluffy and a looking like a blob.
“I’m not sure what it is but it seems to keep changing shape. It’s like a tiny amorphous blob trying its hardest to look like a fluffy and failing.” Raven observed as she handed the magnifier back.

Dr A nodded, and picked up the foal up carefully. “It’s very odd, hopefully as she gets older and used to us it will get easier to look at them and work out what’s going on.”

A few minutes later the exam was done and Dr. A handed the foal to Ruby, “What do you think of this one Ruby?”

Ruby sniffed the foal, jerking back a bit when she inhaled some of the motes and looked at it closely. “Dis one smewws bad, bu’ is nu bad babbeh.” She declared after a few seconds and then maneuvered the foal down to her other teat to feed.

“How can she smell bad but not be a bad babbeh?” Dr. A asked, puzzled.

“Smewws weiwd, wike. . .wike diwt, wotten twees an’ owd tings,” Ruby tried to explain, “Smeww is bad bu’ nu wike bad babbeh. . . nu knu way to ‘splain. August an’ Poe smeww same way.”

“What does she mean by bad bebbeh smell?” Raven asked.

“It’s something Hasbio coded into fluffies, babies who are runts, deformed or sick have a distinctive smell to them. The idea was that it would allow breeding mares to alert breeders to foals with problems at birth and then the breader could either treat the baby or euthanize it if necessary. The problem is that when fluffies were released into the wild the programming was incomplete so it doesn’t always work the way it should.” Dr. A explained.

“Oh, and the rest?” Raven asked.

“Fluffies have an excellent sense of smell, they can identify their mate, children and herd members by scent alone very easily. They would be able to smell if a baby has an aberration, but we don’t have any idea how most of them would handle it. Ruby helps with my practice and has learned to tell me what she smells, the problem is a lot of the time she doesn’t have the vocabulary to explain it.“ Dr. said with a sigh.

“Well to be fair it’s hard for anyone to explain what you sense when dealing with eldritch power so it isn’t just her.” Raven pointed out and watched as first the red foal detached from a teat with a tiny burp, followed shortly after by the black foal. Ruby gathered up the foals and began to sing a mummah song to them.

“I think it would be good for them to stay Ruby if you don’t mind. It will let her get a good start on training them and it would make it easier for me to draw blood and run diagnostics as the grow up.” Dr A said as she finished cleaning up and getting the sampled ready for the lab.

“That’s, I’m not really set up for raising fluffy foals, ” Raven replied as she set the carrier aside. “I can keep this in case I find any more.”

“You might also consider getting a basic enclosure as well, that way you’re prepared for older fluffies too.” Dr. A pointed out.

Raven nodded. “Well, since my ride is working on the network, I figure I’ll go get a start on sorting through those records we received and see if I can make any sense out of them.”

“The boxes are in my office as long as August hasn’t figured out a way to move them.” Dr A laughed. “C’mon Ruby, let me get you down so we can go back to my office and you can take the babies to your nest where it’s warm.”

“Otay,” Ruby said and set down the foals. She stood waiting patiently for Dr. A to lift her down to the floor then carefully set the foals in her fluff.

Ruby trotted off down the hall with Raven and Dr. A following a few minutes later.