Why would you fancy partners, when seeking is challenging and there are no guarantees you will actually land on one? There’s no reason to bother with mating - tricky, teasing, tiring, sometimes even painful - when you can manage to breed without. And all that mess! These were more or less Threlena’s thoughts, in that sunny September morning when she finally delivered six perfect babies, very much copies of herself. A sparkling example of parthenogenesis, which in turns made the Outside World interested indeed.
She looked at them with her eyes full of pride, admiring their healthy scales and their minuscule tails, while gobbling up with enthusiasm void shells and unopened eggs. A girl has to eat, after all that hard job. The hatchlings were quiet, their eyes closed; one, more adventurous, had just started opening her jaws. A tiny greenish tongue darted fast in the air, ready to pick up her first nourishment.
Threlena was going to take good precautions, keeping the babies coiled up in her tail. No predators she could see around that pristine glassy cage of hers, but hey, you never know. And guess what, motherly care never fails. Yet another surprise in store for her Keepers. They hadn’t ever seen one of her kind so attentive with the brood, she was ready to bet. She couldn’t wait to look at their amazed faces – and that was just the beginning. Threlena could only imagine all the photos, TV sets, and social networks – her popularity was going to be unrivalled – but that was only the beginning. Because she was going to use her celebrity to achieve something meaningful: make her species join the space exploration, the real one. If only those lusty space geckos in the Russian sex satellite had thought better before going out…She didn’t know if there had been others in the past, but she was sure they was not going to remain the only ones in the future: after all, you can’t trust lizards to be reasonable. What had they believed to achieve by luring their own Keepers into sending them on orbit, achieving immortality? Morons. It had been short-lived fame, and now they were resting dry, frozen and very dead somewhere in a science museum. If that were going to be the end game, she would still prefer her very worldly but comfy box.
Looking at her little ones, at those tiny slick bodies now eagerly swarming around in discovery, she could deem herself satisfied for the moment. But, as there’s no perfect happiness, there were a few other items on her to-do-list. For a start, manage to make hatchlings grow up safe, fit, and ready to strike. There was a dramatic scarcity of suitable live preys in the area, and it promised to be challenging to teach babies how to hunt. Note to self: make Keepers aware of the issue. Have Them fetch the necessary.
Second, get some satellite attention as well. News channels to be preferred. Just to show the brazen-faced, four-legged cousins they were not the only ones with initiative and prime time.
And then, the most important thing: beat the rest of the reptile world – mammals had never been real competitors; without that convenient Cretaceous meteorite, they would be still hiding up in the trees – and get first in line for the space race.
Going where it really mattered: Mars. Not on the surface, for sure – that, she would rather leave that to those crazy bipeds, thank you very much, and any suicide-inclined lizard – but in orbit, safely snuggled against a
scientist’s shoulder. Sure it existed some kindred spirit willing to take her and her little ones on board for the future glory of Planet Earth.
In exchange, she should do for them what no reptile had ever done before: educate the Outside World about the arcane details of snake breeding. That was a task that required time and efforts (lots, lots). They were powerful, her Keepers, and tech-savvy, yet lacking any observation spirit. Oddly believing that nature had to mirror their energy-consuming and inefficient replication process. Otherwise, They would have realised how things were for her long before. Well, no longer.
Threlena the space traveller was going to reward the fortunate ones on her path and make up for that shameful ignorance. After all, looking with your own eyes at another planet’s surface is the dream of all species, and they were entitled to her gratitude.
Coiling up in elation, Threlena let out a satisfied sigh. That was definitively not bad a thing for a six-year old captive green anaconda from Essequibo, Guyana. She slithered through the dew-brimmed foliage and devoured a solitary cricket, thankful for such a good start of the week.