Tara fished out her trusty bioscanner from her pocket and entered some commands into it. “I’m not entirely sure why I immediately jumped to this conclusion. Perhaps Derek’s old personality was rubbing off on me, making me think of things outside-of-the-box. Or maybe it was because the more I saw the multi-coloured underwing plumage of any Onathin, the more it looked like discoloration from an infection, rather than unique markings.” The device in her hand beeped incessantly. She slowly spun it around in her hand to show the others.
“When Derek and I were last on Sechalla Station, we paid Seddin a visit. While I was distracting him, I had Derek take a full bioscan of him.” A brown-feathered Onathin was stretched across the small screen. Its wings were slightly extended, exposing the multi-coloured feathers underneath. “This is what happens when I input the data that I just got when we sequenced the biological contaminant.” She entered some more commands into the device, and immediately the screen lit up with numerous red dots. Most of the red indicators were clustered around the non-brown feathers of the underwing plumage. A small portion of red dots blinked and pulsed in Seddin’s head and beak.
“It’s not just a parasite that destroys their wings so that they can’t fly. It’s also a neural parasite, and it’s affecting how they think and act. This is why they preen themselves with their beaks so often, since it provides an easy way for the parasite to spread to their brains. This is why they didn’t notice the parasite spreading through their civilization! This is why they’ve long since abandoned trying to understand why they lost their ability to fly in the first place!”
The other humans stared at the blinking red dots in shock. Slowly, small details and mannerisms about the Onathins clicked together like an ancient jigsaw puzzle in Tyler’s head. That head twitch at the portrait halls. Was that the parasite? What about Academic Lysion’s reluctance to sequence the contaminant?
Tara glared defiantly at Seddin’s bioscan. “This is why we needed their genetic sequencing technology. They can’t save themselves, so we’re going to do it for them.”